Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered his military commanders to prepare the S-500 missile system for mass production and boost the country's strategic nuclear forces، according to "Press TV".
Speaking to Russia’s top brass and executives of defense-sector enterprises، Putin said Wednesday that enhancing "anti-precision warfare means" was a priority for Moscow.
"It is necessary to develop and build up technological groundwork in the area of air defense، to continue modernization of Pantsir systems، to finish the development and preparations for mass production of the S-500 newest systems capable of hitting targets at super-high altitudes، including near-the-earth space،" he said. Under development by state weapons manufacturer Almaz-Antey، the missile system is planned to enter service in 2020.
While the project remains a well-kept secret، some reports suggest that the S-500 will have a range of 600 kilometers (370 miles) for the anti-ballistic missile variant and 400 kilometers (250 miles) for the air defense version.
The system is also said to be capable of engaging up to 10 ballistic hypersonic targets flying at speeds between 18،000 kilometers per hour (11،000 miles per hour) and 25،000 kph (16،000 mph).
This means the system will be best equipped to counter ballistic missiles with a launch range of 3،500 km (2،200 miles).
According to some reports، the S-500 will be able to use nuclear-tipped missiles to wipe out multiple warheads at once or take out individual warheads with hit-to-kill missiles. The S-500 is expected to offer considerable upgrades over the S-400، Russia's current flagship air defense system. However، higher production and maintenance costs mean the S-500 system will only be used against threats that are out of reach for its predecessor.
Nuclear force boost
During the meeting، which was attended by Russia's acting Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu، Chief of General Staff Valery Gerasimov، Deputy Defense Minister Yuri Borisov and other officials، Putin also made it clear that he wanted to reinforce Russia's nuclear triad as well.
He called for continued work on the ongoing modernization of Russia's strategic nuclear forces and rearming 14 regiments with Yars intercontinental ballistic missile systems before year end.
"Strategic nuclear forces have key significance for defense and security،" he said. "Pursuant to provisions of the state program for armaments، we'll continue replacement of the outdated Topol missile complexes with the newest Yars systems and will put them on the tables of equipment at fourteen missile regiments."
An upgrade of the Topol-M missile، Yars has a range of around 12،000 kilometers (7،500 miles) and can carry three to six warheads.
Putin said Russia’s air force was going to receive modernized Tu-95MS and Tu-160 long-range strategic bombers، modified to carry the advanced X-101 and X-102 nuclear-capable cruise missiles.
He also stressed that the construction of five Borey-class strategic nuclear submarines must continue on schedule.
Russian warships remain alert on Syria
Putin further noted that a series of Russian Navy warships armed with Kalibr cruise missiles were going to be permanently on duty in the Mediterranean to counter potential attacks against the country.
"As the risk of attacks by international terrorists in Syria remains، our ships armed with cruise missiles will be permanently on duty in the Mediterranean،" he said.
Russia has been one of the key supporters of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in his country's war against foreign-backed militants.