Ukraine’s ATACMS Missiles and the Russia’s S-500  to Play Hide-and-Seek in Crimea

Russia deploys S-500 air defense system in Crimea, sparking speculation about its effectiveness against Ukrainian attacks.

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Joseph P Chacko
Joseph P Chacko
Joseph P. Chacko is the publisher of Frontier India. He holds an M.B.A in International Business. Books: Author: Foxtrot to Arihant: The Story of Indian Navy's Submarine Arm; Co Author : Warring Navies - India and Pakistan. *views are Personal

The Russian army has deployed the S-500 air defense missile system in Crimea. This was stated by the head of the Main Intelligence Directorate (GUR), Kirill Budanov, in an interview with the United News telethon on June 12.

According to Budanov, the Russians are strengthening their air defense system.

“This will be a rather experimental application. But they have already appeared there,” Budanov stated.

It is apparent that Budanov’s assertions on the deployment of S-500 in Crimea are far from fake.

The deployment of the S-500 “Prometheus” surface-to-air missile battalion or regiment on combat duty in Crimea could have been immediately detected when these specific radar systems, such as the 91N6M long-range radar detection system for ballistic and aerodynamic targets with its rotating antenna post and dual-reflector phased array antenna in the S-band, as well as the advanced 77T6 illumination and targeting radar, were first turned on.

These radar systems have distinct amplitude-frequency characteristics and operating modes that distinguish them from the S-400 system’s all-altitude detectors VVO 96L6 and 92N6 illumination radar.

The question is whether the S-500 ‘Prometheus’ SAM systems, also known as ‘Triumfator-M,’ can intercept periodic strikes by can intercept periodic strikes by Army Tactical Missile Systems – ATACMS Block IA and ATACMS Mod 2000 ballistic missiles, as well as British/French Shadow Storm/SCALP-EG cruise missiles on ferry crossings, electronic intelligence positions, the Belbek airbase, and directly on the firing positions of the S-500 batteries in Crimea.  

Since the end of May, attacks in this area have intensified, particularly against Russia’s air defense systems. The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine reported large-scale strikes, including this week, against S-300 and S-400 systems.

It is believed that Ukraine carried out these strikes using a variety of methods, including ATACMS that were supplied by the United States.

Ukrainian forces launched attacks against Russian S-300 and S-400 systems located on the peninsula on the evening of June 12.  

According to Russian media reports on the S-400 deployment in Crimea, the S-400 divisions are spread around the peninsula, with bases in Dzhankoy, 30 kilometers from the Ukrainian border, Feodosia, Sevastopol, and Yevpatoria. Pantsir-S1 missile-gun systems guard the S-400 system positions. The adoption of the S-500 “Prometey” and S-350 “Vityaz” systems in this region will make the local air defense system more layered and effective.

It is anticipated that the S-500 “Prometheus” air defense system, which is equipped with high-speed interceptor missiles and advanced radar capabilities, will offer adequate protection against ATACMS missiles over Crimea. This is based on the specifications that have been published by the Russian media. At extended ranges, the 91N6M radar detector is able to detect ATACMS missiles. On the other hand, the 76/77T6 illumination radars provide the 77N6-N interceptors the ability to engage the missiles at distances ranging from 50 to 100 kilometers. With a fire performance of 25-27 units, each S-500 battery has the capability to intercept up to ten ATACMS missiles simultaneously. This firing performance is about twice as high as that of the S-300PM2 or S-400 systems. The S-500 is capable of efficiently countering any attempts to breach the air defenses of Crimea when it is augmented by S-350A “Vityaz” SAM systems.  

ATACMS- Tactical Missiles
ATACMS- Tactical Missiles

The transportable multi-channel medium-range S-350 “Vityaz” complex is intended to defend state, industrial, and military installations, as well as troop formations, against strikes from modern and advanced air attack weapons. This system can destroy targets in the sky at distances of more than 120 kilometers and heights of more than 30 kilometers. The time required to bring the complex to combat readiness following a march is no more than 5 minutes.

According to Russian media, the S-500 is a new generation of air defense missile systems that can destroy ballistic and aerodynamic targets individually. The S-500’s primary task is to combat the warheads of medium-range ballistic missile. According to certain reports, such interception will be possible at distances up to 3,500 kilometers.

As per the experts, the latest air defense system will be capable of shooting down not just planes and nearly all forms of drones but even hypersonic missiles traveling at speeds five times the speed of sound. It can even destroy targets in nearby space. The S-500 can use information from missile attack warning stations to operate autonomously or as part of an integrated air defense system, engaging with the S-400 and S-300.

The installation of S-500 systems in Crimea may have been planned, as Russian military authorities have stated as early as 2021 that they will be deployed in the region. The war will allow Russia to perfect the system.


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