At the end of February 2020, the Russian Aerospace Forces received their first S-350 Vityaz medium-range air-defense missile system. This initial battery will be used at the Anti-Aircraft Missile Troops Training Center of the Aerospace Defense Military Academy, located in the Leningrad region (Novy Uchkhoz village, Gatchinsky district), to instruct all units that will be assigned to operate S-350 systems (RIA Novosti, February 26).
The S-350 was created to replace older S-300PT-PS anti-aircraft systems. It is intended to combat advanced standoff weapons threats, such as cruise missiles, manned (including stealth) aircraft, medium and heavy unmanned aerial vehicles, as well as tactical ballistic missiles (RT, December 23, 2019). Initially, the S-350 was also supposed to supersede the Buk combat air-defense system, but the new weapon’s failure to meet certain force standards means it will ultimately only be deployed at local air-defense bases to protect Russia’s most important state, administrative, industrial and military facilities.
The newest addition to Russia’s air-defense inventory is capable of following and engaging targets in a full 360-degree area, not just by sectors as the S-300. Moreover, it boasts a significant increase in the number of missiles and target-handling channels (Interfax-AVN, March 17, 2015). According to the head of the Aerospace Defense Military Academy, Lieutenant General Vladimir Lyaporov, this boosts Russian effectiveness in defending against cruise missiles by 2–2.5 times (TV Zvezda, December 27, 2019).
The S-350 can fire several types of interceptors: the active radar-seeking 9M96E/9M96M (40-kilometer firing distance, 20 km target altitude) and