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United regional air defense system could expand within CSTO

RIA Novosti

13/03/2007 14:11 MOSCOW, March 13 (RIA Novosti) - A united regional air defense system could encompass almost all territory of the former Soviet Union within the framework of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a senior Russian military official said Tuesday.

"The [air defense] system could be expanded within the CSTO framework to cover all former Soviet Union territory," Air Force Commander Vladimir Mikhailov said. "Obviously, it would be of great benefit to all those states bordering Russia, as they have less military capability and funding, than we have."

CSTO members - Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan - use the organization as a platform for fighting drug trafficking, terrorism, and organized crime, and have pledged to provide immediate military assistance to each other in the event of an attack. The bloc has a Collective Rapid Reaction Force deployed in Central Asia, and is continuing to build up its military forces.

Mikhailov said that Russia is about to sign an agreement on a common air defense system with Belarus within the framework of the Russia-Belarus Union State.

In line with plans for a single air defense system, Russia has delivered four S-300 (SA-10 Grumble) anti-aircraft missile systems to Belarus, deployed near Brest and Grodno.

Mikhailov added that Russia has started to develop an advanced fifth-generation air defense missile system on the basis of existing S-300 and S-400 air defense complexes.

"We are in the process of developing a new air defense missile system more advanced than the S-400," he said. "We are currently moving from the theoretical to practical development [of the system]."

The new missile system will combine elements of air, missile and space defenses, and will be developed by the Almaz-Antei air defense consortium.

Almaz-Antei, one of Russia's largest defense-industry holdings, specializes in the development of air defense missile systems and is famous for its S-300, S-400, Pechora-2A, Buk-M1 and Tor-M1 ground-to-air missile systems.

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