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Long-range air defense missile system


Once introduced the S-300P was one of the most potent air defense systems

Entered service
Entered service 1978
Maximum range of fire 150 km
Maximum altitude 27 km
Number of targets engaged simultaneously 6


   In the late 1960s Soviet Union started to build a new surface-to-air missile system. It had an entirely new design. Developers considered the lessons of Vietnam War and the Arab-Israeli conflicts. First generation of this new missile system was the S-300PT, referred in the West as the SA-10 Grumble. It was adopted in 1978 and first deployed in 1979.

   Unlike the previous systems, the new system used a radar set, including 3 radars. Each of them had its own tasks. The 5N63 (Western designation Flap Lid) was the first Soviet phase array radar. It is used as for acquisition and engagement. This radar has 10 000 elements, about 300 km range, capable of detecting 100 targets and engage 6 of them. The second radar was 76N6 (Clam Shell). It was used for target acquisition and surveillance, and for low altitude and moving targets. Its detection range is stated to be more than 90 km for targets at 450 m altitude and about 125 km for 900 m altitude. Most likely that these numbers improved in later versions. The Clam Shell radar can detect and track targets for engagement. The third radar was the 35D6 (Tin Shield). It can detect targets with a Radar Cross Section (RCS) of 0.1 square meters at an altitude ranging from 90 m out to 47 km. At medium to high altitudes to more than 175 km the system can track 100 targets or 30-60 targets automatically.

   For better surveillance, all of radars can be fitted with a 23.8 meters tall 40V6, 40V6M and 37.8 meters tall 40V6MD static towers. Also the radar set can be integrated with a 54K6 mobile command post.

   The S300PT used three 5P85 TELs in each battery. Each TEL carries 4 missiles.

   All elements of this missile system are based on MAZ-543M 8x8 special wheeled chassis or towed by KrAZ-260 or MAZ-537 trucks.

   The second version of the first generation, was the S-300PS. It appeared in 1982. It is an improved version of the previous S-300PT series. The main difference between the S-300PS and earlier versions is the full mobility of the missile launchers and radar units. All of them have a 5 minute set-up time. The earlier S-300PT has a set-up time of 30 minutes.

   The S-300PS system uses 5P85TE/D/S TELs. An batery of S-300PT/PS includes the 5N63 (Flap Lid) radar, two 5P85D and one 5P85S (in the S-300PS version). Other radar sets were optionally equipped in battalions.

   First generation of the S-300 system like the PT/PT-1/PS versions use the 5V55 missile family including 5V55K missile with a range of 47 km, the 5V55R missile with a range of 75 km, 5V55KD missile with a range of 90 km. In 1992 a much more capable 5V55U missile with a range of 150 km was introduced. All of these missiles have high-explosive warheads. There is also a 5V55V missile with nuclear warhead. However it is no longer deployed.

   The S-300PT air defense system no longer used. All surviving Russian S-300PT systems were retired by 2008. Some S-300PS systems are still in the Russian inventory. However the numbers are reducing. These are being replaced with more modern air defense systems. However the S-300PS are still in service with Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Ukraine.

   The second generation of the S-300 system is the S-300PMU. This air defense system entered service in mid 1980s. It is referred in the West as SA-20 Gargoyle. It is a deep modernization of the first generation S-300 systems. Recently it has been reported that production of all S-300 series systems will be stopped by 2016 in favor to the new generation S-400 system.


Missile Year Range Altitude Length Diameter Weight Warhead weight Guidance
5V55K 1978 47 km 25 km 7 m 0,45 m 1 450 kg 100 kg Track-via-missile
5V55R 1982 75 km 25 km 7 m 0,45 m 1 450 kg 100 kg Track-via-missile
5V55V ? 75 km ? ? ? ? ? Track-via-missile
5V55KD after 1982 90 km ? 7 m 0,45 m 1 450 kg 133 kg Semi-active radar homing
5V55U 1992 150 km 27 km 7 m 0,45 m 1 470 kg 133 kg Semi-active radar homing


Enshan Ostadrahimi


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