by Oleg Burunov
The Vityaz air defense systems are designed to tackle both ballistic and aerodynamic targets at an altitude of up to 30 kilometers.
Russia’s S-350 Vityaz missile system has downed several Ukrainian warplanes and drones in the special operation zone in fully automatic mode, a well-informed source told Sputnik. The source added that “for the first time in the world, the Vityaz performed the automated detection, tracking and destruction of Ukrainian air targets in combat conditions.”
What is the S-350 and does it get the better of the US-made Patriot air defense system in terms of performance characteristics? Sputnik explores.
What is the S-350 Vityaz?
The S-350 Vityaz is a mobile surface-to-air missile (SAM) system, which entered service with the Russian armed forces in 2019. The SAM is designed to destroy both ballistic and aerodynamic targets, which include combat aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and cruise missiles, such as the US’ Tomahawks and the UK’s Storm Shadows.
The Vityaz system comprises a self-propelled launcher, an all-aspect radar with electronic space scanning, and a command post. The SAM, which is mounted on the special wheeled chassis BAZ-69092-012, can be put on alert in less than five minutes. The system is capable of simultaneously engaging 16 aerodynamic targets and 12 ballistic ones.
What is Range of Vityaz Missiles?
The S-350 missile system is equipped with the 9M96 and the 9M100 medium and short-range missiles, which are fired via a so-called “cold” vertical launch. When fired, a launch container throws a missile to an altitude of more than 30 meters, turning it towards a target with the help of a gas-dynamic system.
The Vityaz system is capable of destroying aerodynamic targets within the range of up to 120 km (74 miles) and at an altitude of up to 30 km (18 miles). As far as ballistic targets are concerned, the figures stand at 30 km and 25 km (15 miles), respectively.
Is Vityaz Better Than the Patriot?
Moscow-based military expert Alexander Mikhailov told Russian media that despite the fact that the Vityaz can be compared to the US-made Patriot air defense system in terms of performance characteristics, S-350 missiles move faster and are capable of hitting low-flying targets.
Namely, he explained, the Vityaz can engage the targets flying at an altitude of ten meters, while the Patriot is unable to shoot down objects moving lower than 100 meters.
Will the S-350 Be Upgraded?
Another Moscow-based military expert, Yury Knutov, was cited by Russian news outlets as praising the SAM’s ammunition capacity. According to him, just one Vityaz battalion is enough to repel a massive enemy air raid.
On the whole, the S-350 Vityaz has great potential in terms of upgrading, given that it was created on the basis of “open architecture,” according to him.
“In the future, the system can be improved by means of replacing certain components. This will significantly increase the SAM’s technical capabilities and combat performance. The S-350 is a breakthrough and unique system that only Russia has,” Knutov concluded.