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S-400 air defense systems to participate in live firing drills

RIA Novosti

13/03/2008 18:39 MOSCOW, March 13 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's new S-400 air defense missile systems may participate for the first time in live firing exercises at a test site in south Russia, an Air Force spokesman said on Thursday.

The Russian Air Force Special Command senior staff and officials from the Almaz-Antei company, which manufactures the systems, held a meeting at a military base near Moscow to plan a series of exercises in August.

"The participants of the meeting discussed the preparation of the S-400 systems for live firing exercises at the Ashuluk testing grounds in the Astrakhan Region [near the Caspian Sea] during summer and the gradual replacement of current air defense complexes with S-400 systems," Colonel Alexander Drobyshevsky said.

The S-400 Triumf (SA-21 Growler) air defense system is designed to intercept and destroy airborne targets at a distance of up to 400 kilometers (250 miles), twice the range of the U.S. MIM-104 Patriot, and 2.5 times that of the S-300PMU-2.

The S-400 Triumf is to form the core of Russia's theater air and missile defenses through 2020, or even 2025.

The first S-400 battalion was deployed in August 2007 to protect the airspace around Moscow and industrial zones in central Russia.

A regular battalion comprises at least eight launchers with 32 missiles and a mobile command post, according to various sources. The new state arms procurement program up to 2015 stipulates the purchase of enough S-400 air defense systems to arm 18 battalions during this period.

The Russian Air Force Special Command currently provides air defense for 140 strategic sites in 13 regions of central Russia, including administrative, industrial, and transportation facilities, as well as nuclear power stations.

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