HYPERSONIC ARMS RACE – Russia Tests S-500 ‘Prometheus’ Air Defense Hypersonic Missile-Interceptor

Screenshot from Dylan Malyasov via Twitter

Even as it promotes its hypersonic nuclear cruise missile ‘Zircon’ (Tsirkon), Russia is also aggressively testing its new hypersonic missile-killer. Forget the S-300, and now even the S-400 Russian surface-to-air-missile (SAM) systems. The latest S-500 Prometey (Prometheus), also known as 55R6M “Triumfator-M,” is a Russian extremely high-altitude surface-to-air missile/anti-ballistic missile system intended to replace the A-135 missile system currently in use, as well as supplement the S-400.

The S-500 is under development by the Almaz-Antey Air Defence. Russian leader Vladimir Putin recently said he expected the S-500 to be deployed soon, probably this year.

“Next in line is the delivery of the S-500 complex to the troops, tests of which are already being successfully completed,” he claimed.

In a recent ‘warning’ video from the Russian Ministry of Defense, the missile is shown being test fired from its large, mobile, wheeled transporter erector launcher (TEL).

The Sun reported that:

The footage shows a giant rocket being fired from a mobile launcher’s twin tubes raised to the vertical position.

One of the 77N6-N missiles is propelled out of the tube, and a second later its rocket engine ignites and sends it streaking into the sky.

The defence ministry then claimed it successfully hit a high-speed ballistic target at Kapustin Yar near the Caspian Sea.

The S-500 surface-to-air defence system is designed to bring down enemy aircraft and missiles up to an altitude of 125 miles.

That brings ballistic missiles and potentially even low orbit satellites within range.

The new 77N6-N can reportedly hit a target travelling at over 11,000mph – or three miles a second – while being guided by an advanced radar tracking system in a second vehicle on the ground.

The 77N6-N and 77N6-N1 are ‘kinetic kill’ weapons capable of hitting their targets at 7 kilometers per second, which the Russians believe would be enough to destroy any incoming aerial target as far as near-space, or possibly even low orbiting satellites.

Along with the test firing and apparently successful strike of a sea borne target 217 miles from launch by Russia’s newest Zircon’ hypersonic, nuclear armed cruise missile, I described earlier, these latest trials at Kapustin Yar range highlight the feverish pace of Russia’s military modernization which continues despite Russia’s economic woes.

Putin recently put his arsenal of “invincible” hypersonic missiles on combat alert in another warning to the West. And as I also reported, most recently Putin warned the U.S. and NATO against deploying hypersonic missiles in Europe.

The Sun reported Major General Babakov, commander of Russian missile defence troops, as boasting:

The S-500 air defence system is capable of destroying hypersonic weapons of all modifications, including in near-space, in addition to aerodynamic and ballistic targets, which makes it possible to say with confidence that this system is unique.

According to the Russians, Prometheus can reportedly engage ballistic missiles at a range of up to 375 miles and aircraft at about 310 miles. In a 2018 test, the Russian claimed the S-500 successfully hit a target 300 miles away, the world record for a surface-to-air missile.

Two of these missiles would likely be fired in a salvo to ensure a “kill.”

While some analysts believe that might be theoretically possible – there have been some media claims that the Prometheus system could target stealth aircraft, calling it an F-35 killer. However, to date, there has been nothing to substantiate that claim. ADN

Paul Crespo is the Managing Editor of American Defense News. A defense and national security expert, he served as a Marine Corps officer and as a military attaché with the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) at US embassies worldwide. Paul holds degrees from Georgetown, London, and Cambridge Universities. He is also CEO of SPECTRE Global Risk, a security advisory firm, and President of the Center for American Defense Studies, a national security think tank. - paulcrespo.substack.com - PAULCRESPO.COM

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Lloyd Gilham
Lloyd Gilham
1 year ago

Are Russians stupid or just drunk. They continue to ruin their economy building high cost weapons to impress the west when the west has no intention to conduct offensive operations against them. The weapons are too good to sell to Turkey or India so it seems the Russians are going to bluster themselves further into the poor house.

1 year ago
Reply to  Lloyd Gilham

They are neither stupid nor drunk. They don’t trust us in the US, and what would be so unusual about that ? Biden doesn’t trust over half the country to have guns.

1 year ago

Did I see right in the hole that thing left in the cloud it passed through ?

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