Russia has completed the formation of its aerospace defense (VKO) – an analog of the European missile defense system - and it is expected to start operating on December 1, Lieut. Gen. Valery Ivanov, VKO commander, said on Friday.
July 22 is marked as the Day of Defenders in Moscow.On this day, 70 years ago, the Soviet air-defense troops repulsed the first massive air attack by Nazi bombers on the country's capital. Today, as memorial events were held to commemorate the heroes, Russia's modern air-defense was also in the spotlight.
Talking to journalists in the town of Mozhaisk in the Moscow region – where a monument to WW2 soldiers was erected – Valery Ivanov announced that "the aerospace defense system has already been created". It will enter service on December 1, cites Interfax. Currently, the VKO is “developing, improving, integrating, and modernizing”, the aerospace system commander noted.
"We are now merging our Space Forces with the operative strategic command of the aerospace defense system," he said.
In answer to a question regarding what the new entity would look like in the future – whether it would be a corps within a preexisting branch of the military or constitute a new branch of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, the commander said that that as of now, that point is yet to be determined.
“A final decision will be made by the political leadership of our state,” Ivanov said.
Earlier, in November 2010, President Dmitry Medvedev ordered that a united air and space defense system be created by 2011, one which would bring together the air defense and missile defense systems, as well as the early missile warning and space control systems, under a unified command.
Speaking on Friday, the VKO commander also said that by 2015, the Russian Army will get the S-500 Samoderzhets (Autocrat) surface-to-air missile system – a new generation of defense weaponry that is currently under development by the Almaz-Antey company.
"We will receive new radio technical equipment, new fighter jets, and new S-500 systems by 2015. These fifth-generation tools will form a shield over Moscow," Ivanov said. The system, which has a range of 600 km, will be able to simultaneously track and destroy up to 10 ballistic missiles at a range of 3,500 kilometers.
According to the military chief, the aerospace defense currently covers 2/3 of the territory of the Russian Federation with its shield.Every day, around 800 people are on duty to ensure Moscow's security, he added. The VKO's key task is to protect the capital and the central industrial regions.