Russia has stopped the production of world-famous S-300 missile systems. The production of the systems for export has been stopped too. Igor Ashurbeili, who chaired the company Almaz-Antei, the maker of S-300 before 2011, said August 15 that the last complex for the Russian army was made in 1994. Russia was producing export versions of S-300 systems afterwards, but new export orders for the complexes have now been put to an end as well.
In 2010, Moscow refused to deliver S-300 systems to Teheran and automatically lost the 800-million-dollar contract because of that. Russia is expected to make the last export division of S-300 to Algeria before the country stops the production of well-known missile complexes.
"The problem is that we have stopped accepting the orders for S-300 and haven't started accepting the orders for S-400s," Ashurbeili said. S-400 systems were supposed to replace S-300 on the arms market. It was said that the new generation of the complex would be able to intercept ballistic missiles.
The expert also said that Russia was going to build the new missile defense system for Moscow on the base of S-500 systems to replace the outdated A-35. The S-500 does not exist yet. Ashurbeili said, though, that it would be a mobile system that would be used both for Moscow's defense and for the new European missile defense system.
The new anti-missile system will be an air-based one. "Aircraft will be used to control airspace, detect and destroy targets," Ashurbeili said. The new systems are already being tested, although there is no information to confirm that.
Russia's program to reequip the national missile defense system with S-400 complexes fails to achieve the desired results despite efforts. Only 4 of 56 divisions have been passed into service for the time being. This makes up only seven percent from the general needs of the country.
Analysts said that the production of the S-400 was so slow because the defense industry was still making its predecessor, the S-300. Russian authorities decided to build two factories in Nizhni Novgorod and in Kirov. However, the makers of missiles for the national missile defense system say that it is not going to solve the problem.
The S-400 was originally designed as the system that operates with short, medium and long range missiles. Only short range missiles have been finished off yet: the missile is capable of striking targets within the radius of up to 150 kilometers. The medium range missile (up to 250 km) is still under development.
The problem with the long range missile is still unsolved. The appearance of the missile that can strike targets at a distance of up to 400 kilometers would cause serious problems for the actions of combat aviation of a potential enemy, including AWACS aircraft. Since there is no long-range missile, the S-400 loses one of its major advantages - to strike targets at large distances. Some officials say that one should not make a drama out of it, because the S-400 system with the long-range missile is nothing more but the legendary S-500.
Russia's potential enemy - NATO - has been developing its air defense hardware very actively. Can Russia build the reliable air defense system against such a background?
Alexander Khramchikhin, deputy director of the Institute of Political and Military Analysis:
"The situation here is absolutely dull. There are no long-range missiles for the S-400, and it seems that they are not going to appear in the foreseeable future. Rumor has it that there are tests being conducted for the new missiles, but that's all we know. As for the S-500, this complex only exists as a dream. It would be silly to expect this system by 2015, because we can't even establish the normal production of S-400s. Without the long range missile, we will have the S-300+ at best. The S-500 will most likely appear some time in 2020, when the USA develops hypersonic arms."
Leonid Ivashov, the President of the Academy of Geopolitical sciences:
"With S-500 systems, we can only see it as propaganda rhetoric. What can we say about the S-500 if we can't finish off the S-400? Some of the factories that produce such missiles have gone bankrupt. They didn't have orders for years."
Vladislav Shurygin, an expert for air defense:
"The S-500 is nothing but an ephemeral dream, and no one knows whether this dream is going to come true ever. The S-300, which appeared 30 years ago, needs to be replaced indeed. It was expected that the long-range missile for the S-400 system would be ready this year, but since there is a conflict between defense enterprises and the defense ministry, no one knows what is going to happen eventually.
"The latest modifications of S-300 systems will continue their serivce because there is nothing to replace them with. Almaz-Antei, the maker of the systems, is now dealing with a whole bouquet of problems to solve the further fate of the national air defense and the whole country in general. The company is still capable of producing high-quality products, but much of its equipment was made during the 1970s and 1980s. What will happen to the company in the future?"