TechRussia to Deploy S-500 Prometheus: A New Era in Missile Defense

Russia to Deploy S‑500 Prometheus: A New Era in Missile Defense

S-500 system, illustrative photo
S-500 system, illustrative photo
Images source: © CC BY 4.0 Deed, Press service of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation
9:03 AM EDT, April 27, 2024

This year, the Russian military will begin receiving the latest S-500 Prometheus anti-aircraft missile systems, as announced by Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on April 23. Moscow states that the system will come in two different versions and be capable of detecting targets up to approximately 1,243 miles away. So, what exactly do we know about Prometheus?

It's important to note that many reports from the Russian media or government officials are considered elements of propaganda, part of the informational warfare conducted by the Russian Federation.

The S-500 first made headlines in 2015 while it was still in the design stage, with Russian media already lauding its potential capabilities. Mass production began in 2021, and, according to Ukrainian service Defence Express, that same year saw the first S-500s deployed around the Moscow region for combat duties. In mid-2021, Russia also ordered ten such systems, with initial deliveries planned for 2022, although these faced significant delays.

Is the S-500 Russia's New Wunderwaffe?

The S-500 Prometheus is an advanced anti-ballistic and anti-aircraft system with long-range capabilities. It is seen as a further development of the S-400 system. It features enhancements designed to intercept ballistic and hypersonic missiles.

The Russians tout it in superlatives. A February 21, 2024 (Eastern Time) test was reportedly successful, demonstrating its efficacy. The Russian Ministry of Defense claimed that an S-500 at the Chizha test range intercepted an intercontinental ballistic missile, R-29RMU2 Sineva, launched from the Tula nuclear submarine in the Laptev Sea.

According to available information, the system, produced by Russian concern Almaz-Antey, comes in two variants: a long-range anti-aircraft missile system and a missile defense complex. Its purpose is to tackle threats from current and future air and space technologies. The EurAsian Times suggests that the S-500 will be "capable of countering fifth-generation aircraft, low-orbit satellites, and a spectrum of missile threats".

Moscow's Great Hopes

Russian officials claim that the Prometheus can destroy air targets up to about 373 miles away and engage altitudes up to 124 miles. It also boasts the capability to attack up to 10 targets simultaneously. According to Army Recognition, its reaction time is about three to four seconds, markedly faster than the S-400's nine to ten seconds. The system is designed to launch various missile types tailored to specific threats and operational needs, including 40N6M missiles and 77N6-N-type missiles.

A key feature of the S-500 is an advanced radar complex, which, as per the EurAsian Times, includes four vehicles per battery: an S-band detection radar 91N6E(M), a C-band detection radar 96L6-TsP, a radar 76T6, and an anti-ballistic missile detecting radar 77T6. These enhancements enable the Prometheus to detect ballistic (with a reported range of about 1,243 miles, covering all of Ukraine) and aerial targets (with a range of about 497 miles).

Despite Russian claims that only the S-500 can intercept hypersonic missiles like the Ch-47M2 Kinzhal, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense has reported several successful interceptions of such missiles using the Patriot system, which involves launching multiple missiles from various angles. For instance, in early May 2023, Oleksii Reznikov reported that six Ch-47M2 Kinzhal hypersonic missiles had been shot down.

Related content