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Russia stops producing famous S-300 anti-missile systems

Published time: August 15, 2011 18:16
Edited time: August 15, 2011 22:16

S-300 (RIA Novosti / Dmitry Korobeynikov)

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The country has given up the production of its most popular arms exports, the S-300 long-range surface-to-air missile systems.

The rockets have been used worldwide to protect large potential targets, such as military bases and even cities.

The last air-based missile complex for the Russian Army was produced in 1994. Since then Russia has only exported them to customer countries.

The rockets have been quite popular in Eastern Europe and Asia; among those who have bought the S-300 missiles in bulk are Armenia, Azerbaijan, Venezuela and Syria. China bought the license to produce them under their own name.

The main reason for Russia stopping production was the decreasing demand, meaning it became unprofitable for the country to build the missiles.

Iran was among the last potential buyers. The country wanted to purchase five battalions of S-300s worth $8 million. The idea, however, did not appeal to many world powers. The UN Security Council imposed new sanctions against Iran and its controversial nuclear program that forbade any countries to sell arms to Iran, so Russia also gave up on the idea of making a deal with the outcast.

Now Russia is ready to replace the ground-based systems the army is currently using.

“The next generation of missile-defense systems which will replace the S-500 complexes (expected to enter service by 2016) will not be ground, but air-based,” said co-chairman of Russia’s Expert Air and Space Defense Council, Igor Ashurbeili. “They are already being developed and tested.”

Initially, it was thought that Moscow’s S-500 would join NATO’s anti-missile shield, but Washington never expressed enough interest in the project. As time goes by, there are less and less chances that the new missiles will end up in Europe.

However, Russia is planning to replace the air defense systems around Moscow and other major cities with brand new S-500 missiles by 2050.

“The S-400 and S-500 are very versatile systems,” military analyst Igor Khokhlov told RT. “They are able to hit not only aircraft and cruise missiles like classic air- defense systems, but also ballistic missiles, naval and ground targets. While the S-500 is only in development, the S-400 missile has three different missiles to cover its operational envelope and longest distances of up to 400 kilometers which is far beyond any system in the world.”

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