S-350E is superior in features and combat efficiency to comparable foreign products and the existing S-300 system.
In Soviet Russia, weapons were usually only allowed to be exported abroad when their own requirements were met. There were exceptions, however, when Soviet weapons were especially designed and manufactured for foreign countries. In post Soviet Russia, financial pressures have inspired a greater effort to market first rate weapons systems internationally.
Recently, Russia launched its most advanced medium-range air defense missile system, the S-350E, also known as the 50R6 Vityaz. If the S-400 will be a nightmare for strategic bombers, the S-350E will be the weapon that scares enemy tactical fighters most.
Russian media said the state-level testing program with S-350E air defense missile has been completed and it will be produced for the Russian Aerospace Forces or the Russian Army. According to information posted by Reuters, Russia was ready to deploy the S-350E Vityaz missile system from 2019 to start the process of replacing the older S-300 missile systems.
Interestingly, the S-350E system originated from the KM-SAM Cheongung project, a joint project of Russia and Korea that had been launched long before, from 2001 to 2011. At that time, due to insufficient financial resources as well as technology for independent production, Russia implemented a design cooperation program with a foreign partner. This was to gain experience in the design process as well as financial resources for the production of its own military equipment.
KM-SAM is a Korean medium-range surface-to-air missile system developed jointly with Russia’s Almaz-Antey. During the development of radar for South Korean air defense systems, Almaz developed the S-350E Vityaz based on the Korean partner’s idea.
According to Deputy Director in charge of external economic activities of Almaz-Antey Group, Mr. Vyacheslav Dzirkaln, the S-350E is superior in features and combat efficiency to comparable foreign products and the existing S-300 system.
The S-350E is believed to share the same 9M96 missile with the existing S-400 air defense missiles. A Vityaz combat system includes one or two 50N6A multifunctional passive electronically scanned array radar units, 360 degree coverage for early detection, target illumination and missile guidance.
There is also a new 50K6A command post, fully autonomous but with the capability to interact with from 1 to 8 50P6 missile launchers and reload vehicles. The missiles are housed in twelve large tubes, the entire launch pad is set behind the BZKT 8-wheel heavy military truck chassis.
The trucks are manufactured by Bryansky Avtomobilny ZAV with diesel engine, all-wheel drive, and the cabin is arranged in the usual way in the front.
The S-350E is designed to engage all types of flight targets, from current and future aircraft, including stealth technology, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles.
The specifications of the S-350E are still quite vague, according to some information, the radar station can operate completely automatically, without operators. Each radar station has 8 channels of target illumination and 16 missile control channels, allowing it to guide 16 missiles to simultaneously attack 8 targets at once. At the same time, this radar system is capable of simultaneously tracking more than 100 targets. Therefore, two radar stations can track more than 200 targets, and simultaneously launch 32 missiles to attack 16 targets at one time. Forming a powerful regional air defense network, the system can operate in an extremely intense environment.
9M96 air defense missile
What makes the S-350E Vityaz so powerful are the variants of the 9M96 air defense missile. With a small size and an effective range of 30km, some newer missiles allow the S-350E to destroy targets up to 120km away.
If S-350E is combined with Pantsir-S1 and S-400, it will create the most complete and feared air defense network in the world today. Depending on the type of missile used by the S-350, maximum intercept speed can reach Mach 5.3 and above. In the future, the Algerian military is expected to buy a series of these S-350E missile systems from Russia.
According to reports, the S-350E missile system was deployed for testing in Masyaf town in Hama province, Syria in September 2017. At the end of December 2019, S-350E was officially handed over to the Russian Ministry of Defense.
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