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S-500: Russia’s Plan to Shootdown F-22 and F-35 Fighters in a NATO War?

NATO F-35
F-35 JSF from the Netherlands. Image Credit: Lockheed Martin.

Russia’s Mighty S-500 SAM System Is One to Reckon With – If you are following the war in Ukraine, undoubtedly you have heard about a no-fly zone. So far, NATO allies have avoided this tactic in order to refrain from becoming directly involved in the conflict. So, the Ukrainians have relied on the antiquated S-300 surface-to-air missile system to help patrol the skies.

But this is not the full story. The Russians have concurrently leaped ahead with their S-500 SAM system which is nicknamed the Prometheus and it is certainly mighty in its capabilities – even better than the already powerful S-400 Triumf SAM battery.

The S-500 is still being developed by the Russians, but it will make their air defense umbrella over their country much more effective.

What Are the Russians Working On?

The Russians began work on the S-500 mobile ground-based SAM system in 2010. Russian air defense artillery forces wanted something with an ultra long range and high ceiling – even a SAM that could attack against low-flying satellites, not to mention every enemy airplane under the sun, including drones. The S-500 would also defend against ballistic and cruise missiles. The Russians plan to have missiles for each one of these missions – anti-aircraft, anti-missile, and anti-satellite. The Russians will likely configure future interceptors to address hypersonic missiles.

S-500 Has Endured Schedule Slip

As usual, like many of its struggling weapons acquisition programs, the Russians are behind schedule on the S-500. The system was supposed to have been ready by 2014, but even after some successful test launches, it is still not completely serviceable.

The S-500 since its capabilities are so advanced would probably be arrayed around Moscow to supplement the S-400s already in service in that area of operations.

Its Aims Are Ambitious: A Counter to the F-35

You have to give Russia credit, if its claims are true, that the S-500 has set records in long-range target acquisition.

The interceptors, if claims are accurate, can take out incoming bogeys at up to 300 miles away – even reportedly radar locking and “painting” an F-35 Lightning II flying over Syria. The United States disputes that this encounter happened, but it shows how ambitious the Russian S-500 program is. It is a huge improvement over the S-400 that can only address targets that are 37 miles away. Plus the S-500 interception altitude could be as high as 650,000 feet, although that could be a Russian exaggeration, but it plainly can go after targets at high altitude.

Optimism About the S-500 Shows No Bounds

The Russians certainly know how to hype a new weapon. “The S-500 anti-aircraft missile system has no analogues in the world and is designed to defeat the entire spectrum of existing and promising aerospace attack weapons of a potential enemy in the entire range of altitudes and speeds,” the Russian Ministry of Defense said in a news release.

Multi-radar and Sensor System

An S-500 unit consists of up to twelve two-shot TEL-based launchers, re-supply vehicles, a command-and-control unit, and many different radars. These are carried on BAZ-6909 type trucks with 6, 8 or 10 wheels. One radar provides long-range search capability, another sensor executes higher-altitude missile detection. A basic radar provides fire control guidance, and an additional multi-mode radar is focused on faster-flying ballistic missiles.

Should Stealth Pilots Be Worried?

Could the S-500, if it is ever deployed in numbers (and this could take another few years), ever endanger American-made stealth F-35s and F-22s?

It certainly has several different radar systems that could latch onto a stealth airplane that would include the B-2 and B-21 stealth bombers. The Russians believe it could be the “silver bullet” against stealth technology and even independent analysts think it could successfully engage stealth airplanes.

For that to happen, the Russians would have to deploy the S-500 in numbers, and it is not clear how many of the batteries can actually be employed in the coming years. But the S-500 is something that will concern U.S. Air Force and Navy aviators, even if the Russians (and some observers) are exaggerating its capabilities.

Now serving as 1945’s Defense and National Security Editor, Brent M. Eastwood, PhD, is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood.

Written By

Now serving as 1945s New Defense and National Security Editor, Brent M. Eastwood, PhD, is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer.

12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. Sam

    April 12, 2022 at 9:16 am

    It is a nice fantasy. How many such unverified propaganda fantasies about Russian woderweapons have you published in recent years? The truth is that Russian army is not even capable of building a decent brick house.

  2. jack

    April 12, 2022 at 4:59 pm

    Another Russian fairytale for the masses…..”what me worry ?” The evidence of the “mighty” Red Army’s incompetence in the Ukraine reminds of the Fuckowees of “F-Troop” fame. The concern over Putznicks threat of nukes aside, the West should’ve, could’ve, should’ve called his bluff and together with USA put this asshole in his place…once and for all…..He has NO military against a similar sized, weaponized force.

  3. George

    April 12, 2022 at 5:15 pm

    So true, so true. They are not able to launch anything due to the kleptocracy. All their weapons are on paper

  4. David ho

    April 12, 2022 at 6:37 pm

    RUSSIA SHOOTING DOWN OUR PLANES IS A BAD JOKE, they could not shoot down a pigeon more less our planes .any threat of russia doing any thing towards the usa is a joke . Bring it on borskie, your nothing but a blow hard bag of wind , glory to ukraine.

  5. RMS

    April 12, 2022 at 6:41 pm

    650000 feet?

  6. Steve Jordan

    April 12, 2022 at 7:15 pm

    Hmmm…24 missiles, say another 10 pieces of mobile support equipment.

    Does anyone else think of a drone swarm with radar spoofing emitters(giving off F35 returns).

    A couple for each missile to to try to decide on, and two more kill vehicles (kamikaze drones?) for each piece of equipment.

    Bang, bang, boom, boom…no more S500 battery.

    Some pimply faced kid at at video screen in Omaha earns another stripe on his uniform Tshirt.

  7. Alex Michaels

    April 12, 2022 at 8:30 pm

    Why is the site pretending Russia can build this system at all? They can’t even build tanks with proper reactive armor, can’t even give soldiers bullet resistant vests, much less build next-gen ANYTHING. Stop hyping fantasy bullcrap.

  8. Eric

    April 12, 2022 at 8:35 pm

    How much does it cost? Even if the claims are true, it’s probably very expensive. They can’t field 100 systems if they are a billion dollars each.

  9. Mimo

    April 12, 2022 at 9:29 pm

    You can build what you want but if you have unskilled pilots that fighter is useless. Another junk reporter. Propaganda!!!!

  10. David Ford

    April 13, 2022 at 4:56 am

    The little KGB desk clerk can’t train or properly equip soldiers or pilots much less build and field an advanced air defense system. His empty threats are bad jokes.
    If we rained Hell upon his troops and tanks, pussy putin would do what he did after we killed over 200 Russians in Syria. NOTHING! LOL!

  11. MA

    April 13, 2022 at 9:53 pm

    I only hope that Putin makes 1 little mistake concerning NATO and that the response will be quike,decisive,accurate and precise!They will take out all of the Russia advances in one quick act.So tired of seeing innocent people being murdered, entire towns destroyed, progressive people who want & deserve their freedom and own country, 100K’s leaving behind all that they have because of a crazy, unhinged madman and his cronies. Show no mercy!!! Stop them now!!

  12. Alex

    April 13, 2022 at 10:43 pm

    The Bandera Nazis have a snow hysteria. Youngsters understand everything: both politics and military engineering. And at their own place, the only ship was welded to the pier, and later drowned.
    On the subject: The S-500 is not designed for the F-22 or F-35. The S-400 is designed for them, which perfectly sees these aircraft. The S-500 is a weapon that is already in the army and ahead of its time. The S-450 and S-550 are being prepared for serial production, which also have their own special range of tasks.

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