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New 'missile shield' to be built around Moscow after 2015

RIA Novosti

11:40 15/08/2011

MOSCOW, August 15 (RIA Novosti) - Russia will deploy new S-500 air defense systems around Moscow after 2015, a leading Russian aerospace defense chief said on Monday.

"This deadline is set in a contract with the Defense Ministry. The project is currently at the engineering design stage," former Almaz-Antei corporation chief designer Igor Ashurbeili said in an exclusive interview with RIA Novosti.

Almaz Antei is Russia's main producer of medium and long-range air defense missile systems, and its S-300 and S-400 systems are among the most capable in the world, with the ability to intercept theater-range ballistic missiles as well as aircraft and cruise missiles.

S-500 will not be self-propelled like its predecessors S-300 and S-400, but towed, due to its large size and heavy weight.

"But it should be mobile in order to protect not only Moscow, but also any threatened region [in Russia]," Ashurbeili said.

"The current A-35 anti-ballistic missile [ABM] network around Moscow was built in the early 1970s and is largely obsolete now," he said.

Ashurbeili said one type of interceptor missile currently in service is practically not serviceable, while the other "has warheads stored separately from their carriers."

Moscow's existing missile shield was of limited size and was not updated due to the constraints of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty signed with the United States in the 1970s.

The United States abrogated the treaty during President George W Bush's presidency.

Russia has expressed concern over NATO's plans for a missile defense shield for Europe, claiming it undermines Russia's own nuclear deterrent.

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