Russia is developing an advanced, never-before-seen S-550 air defense missile system, the Russian Defense Ministry announced Tuesday. The statement indicates that at the meetings in Sochi, which took place on 1-3 November, Russian President Vladimir Putin “made a special emphasis on the importance of the advanced development of domestic air defense-missile defense systems, and deliveries of the S-350, S-500, S-550 to the Armed Forces.
Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu did not provide any details on the newly mentioned S-550 missile system but the Soviet Union had been developing S-550 “high-mobility terminal air defense system” in 1981-1988. That project, along with many others, was reportedly scrapped as part of Soviet-U.S. arms control agreements. It was not immediately clear if the newly announced S-550 is related to the Soviet development.
Shoigu’s announcement comes after the Russian military for the first time showed footage of a live fire test of the S-550’s predecessor S-500, an intended replacement for S-300 and a supplement to the advanced S-400 systems, in July. Shoigu’s former deputy and current Deputy Prime Minister Yury Borisov said in September that the Armed Forces have started taking delivery of the S-500, though it was thought to be scheduled for delivery in 2025.
The S-500 ‘Prometheus’ is a universal long-range (600 km) and high-altitude intercertion complex capable of intercepting ballistic, cruise missiles, as well as aircraft. Its delivery to the military started a few months ago. The S-500 carried out the world’s longest surface-to-air missile system test in 2018. Experts suggest that the S-550 will become an intermediate version of the S-500, which will be cheaper and will perform other tactical tasks.