The long-awaited and most interesting information about the progress of the C-500 project at the end of February was revealed by Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin in an interview for the Kommersant publication. A senior official in charge of the defense industry spoke about recent work and successes in this area. Among other things, he mentioned current work in the field of anti-aircraft systems. Without going into details, D. Rogozin announced information about work in the framework of the last two projects of anti-aircraft systems.
According to the vice-premier, the recently opened and launched Nizhny Novgorod machine-building plant is now engaged in manufacturing products in the field of air defense. He has already “started production of the final C-500 and C-400 systems on the automobile chassis”. In addition, the company assembles components of similar systems based on wheeled semi-trailers.
From the latest statements of the vice-premier, it can follow that one of the most important recent projects has reached the stage of production of experimental equipment. Thus, in the near future, tests of the C-500 will have to start, according to the results of which the complex, after finishing the process, will be able to get into service. In the recent past, military authorities indicated that such systems would begin service in 2020. It turns out that there is not so much time left for checks and necessary improvements of Prometheus.
According to known data история The modern project began in the first years of the last decade. By 2005, Almaz-Antey Concern experts studied the current state of affairs and opportunities for the further development of anti-aircraft weapons. Soon there was a decision to launch the project, the leading role in which was given to the State Design Bureau Almaz-Antey. It was also planned to involve in the work many other organizations of the defense industry, which should have been commissioned to create and produce individual components.
According to different sources, the technical design of the new air defense system was created by the year 2010. Already by this time some components of the future complex were manufactured and tested. To carry out certain checks, the enterprises participating in the program built a set of different layouts and simulators.
At the same time, in the 2010 year, the index of the new system, 55Р6М, appeared in the open press. The modern designations C-500 and Prometheus became known later, only in the spring of 2012. Almost at the same time, plans were announced for the future mass production of new equipment. Especially for the assembly of missiles and other means of a promising complex it was proposed to build two new plants. Part of the components for modern and promising air defense missile systems were planned to be assembled in Kirov, others - in Nizhny Novgorod. According to the initial plans, both plants should have earned already in 2015.
For several reasons, as often happens with complex projects, the timing of the implementation of individual stages and the entire project as a whole has been repeatedly shifted. So, as far as we know, the first tests of the full-fledged components of the complex were originally planned to be held at the end of the last decade, and by the year of the 2014-15 Prometheus could have entered service. Subsequently, the plans seriously changed. For example, as early as in 2013, adoption was transferred to 2017-18 years.
However, these plans were not justified. For certain reasons, the testing of the new complex’s missiles began only in the summer of 2014, which markedly shifted further phases of the project. About a year ago, Deputy Defense Minister Yury Borisov pointed out that now the delivery of a prototype C-500 air defense system is scheduled for 2020.
Recent reports from officials may be cause for optimism. After repeatedly changing the work schedule, the industry still managed to launch new phases of the program. As D. Rogozin told a few weeks ago, the Nizhny Novgorod Machine-Building Plant had already started assembling some components of a promising complex. Obviously, we are talking about ground-based anti-aircraft systems, such as self-propelled launcher, control and communication machines, etc.
If at present the industry is building such equipment, then there are no grounds for negative forecasts. The manufacturer and related enterprises are fully capable of completing the necessary work within the prescribed period and transferring the prototype Prometheus / Triumphator-M to the tests for the 2020 year. Thus, after a series of hyphenation and certain problems of one character or another, the most important C-500 project will nevertheless be brought to the desired final.
Considering the time required for testing, it is possible to imagine when the industry will be able to launch full-scale mass production of new equipment, and troops will begin to receive the ordered samples. If an experienced C-500 goes to the testing ground by 2020 and does not face serious problems, then the development of serial equipment will be able to start in the first half of the twenties. The required number of complexes, for obvious reasons, is still unknown. We can talk about at least several dozen sets.
Officials have repeatedly mentioned some details of the future organization of mass production. So, the missiles for the C-500 complex are planned to be produced at the Kirovsky machine-building enterprise, which began work only two years ago. The final assembly of machines with ground facilities of the complex will be carried out in Nizhny Novgorod, where in the recent past new production facilities were also built. Various other enterprises from the EKM Almaz-Antey Concern will participate in the role of suppliers of various components in the Triumfator-M program.
Most of the information about the technical characteristics and appearance of the C-500 complex has not yet been disclosed. Moreover, even the exact appearance of the system and its individual components remains unknown. At the same time, the statements made by individuals, as well as published documents, allow us to draw up an approximate picture and to understand what the Russian armed forces will receive in the future.
From the known data it follows that the aim of the C-500 “Prometheus” project is to create a new anti-aircraft complex, conditionally attributable to the fifth generation, and capable of solving a wide range of combat missions. The complex will have to fight with both aerodynamic and ballistic targets. It should be expected that in the latter case, the air defense missile system will be able to attack short-range or medium-range ballistic missiles. At the same time, he should receive long-range or extra-long-range anti-aircraft missiles.
According to various estimates, the C-500 air defense system will be able to attack targets at ranges up to 350-400 km. There are also more courageous forecasts, according to which the firing range of some of the used missiles will be much higher. At the same time, the complex may not include short-range and medium-range missiles, which is why work on such lines will be placed on other anti-aircraft systems. Obviously, being a complex for object air defense, C-500 will work in conjunction with other systems that have different characteristics.
In connection with special tasks, the advanced complex should include a radar detection station with high performance. According to various estimates, when operating as a means of air defense, the C-500 complex, using a standard detection radar with an active phased antenna array, will be able to find targets at ranges of at least 500-600 km. In the case of work on ballistic targets, the estimated detection range can reach 1500-2000 km. However, officials have not yet mentioned the real characteristics of the radar complex.
For obvious reasons, the complex will include a separate command center, whose task will be to collect information from its own means of detection with its subsequent processing and issuing commands to the launchers. It should be expected that the controls of the C-500 air defense system will be able to issue information about the tactical situation to other consumers, as well as receive relevant data from the outside.
According to known data, in terms of mobility, the Prometheus complex will be similar to the existing C-300P and C-400. All funds will have to be mounted on special high-capacity wheeled chassis with high mobility characteristics on highways and off-road. According to various data, BAZ and MZKT cars can become carriers of equipment from C-500. In the past, various exhibitions and other similar events have repeatedly featured images of special chassis, equipped with units from the anti-aircraft complex.
It is expected that long-range and ultra-long-range anti-aircraft missiles will differ in their respective dimensions, due to which their launcher must have the appropriate dimensions. In this connection, Bryansk and Minsk machines having at least four axes can be used as a carrier of special equipment. Thus, the Bryansk auto-builders created the BAZ-69096 chassis with the wheel formula 10х10. Belarusian enterprises, in turn, developed a similar machine MZKT-792911 with six leading bridges.
The promising anti-aircraft complex C-500 "Prometheus" is a new representative of the domestic direction of long-range systems designed for object defense. At the same time, during the creation of such a complex, actual threats and possible ways of development of the shock systems of the future were taken into account. All this makes it possible to approximately imagine what role the new complexes will play in the updated air and missile defense system.
Domestic air defense in the past and now has a layered architecture and includes complexes with different characteristics that provide multiple cover for specified areas. The C-500 air defense missile system, differing by enhanced characteristics, is capable of complementing the existing long-range systems in their area of responsibility, as well as expanding the capabilities of the air defense system, increasing the maximum target radius. The ability to intercept ballistic missiles of operational-tactical class, short and medium range significantly increases the potential of the air defense system and missile defense system as a whole.
It was previously mentioned that the first production complexes of the S-500 will be deployed near Moscow. Their task will be to cover the main administrative and military facilities, as well as the entire central industrial area. Apparently, Prometheus is planned to be used together with the existing strategic missile defense system of Moscow and, possibly, they will work together with the existing detection and control tools. In the future, the position areas of Prometheus will have to appear in other areas of the country. With their help, the army will be able to cover the naval base fleetstrategic missile forces, etc., large cities and industrial areas.
The number of C-500 systems planned to be ordered and put into service remains unknown. According to the current plans of the Ministry of Defense, by the end of the current decade, the armed forces should receive and put on duty the 56 divisions of the C-400 air defense system. 46 of such kits has already been handed over to the customer and sent in parts, and the remaining 10 will be built and handed over as soon as possible. Soon after, the army will receive the first serial C-500. Which approach to rearmament will be used is not yet specified. Probably, the new Prometheus will first complement the existing C-400. The replacement of the latter should be expected only in the distant future.
The advanced C-500 anti-aircraft missile system has special requirements, which in a certain way affects the complexity of the work. The result of this was a few delays in the start of testing and production. However, all major problems were overcome, and the industry launched a new phase of the program. As it became known at the end of February, the assembly of the ground-based components of Prometheus has now begun in Nizhny Novgorod.
After many years of research and development, a new model of weapons for air defense has come close to testing and subsequent adoption. Everything indicates that the actual plans for the start of operation in the 2020 year will be fulfilled. The armed forces will receive the most advanced air defense and missile defense complex at the moment, and the country will thereby increase its defense capability.