Russia launches a major program to densify the country's anti-aircraft and anti-missile defense

Prior to the Russian aggression against Ukraine, a majority of analysts considered, not without many objective reasons, that Russian multi-layer anti-aircraft and anti-missile defense was one of the most efficient, if not the most performance of the planet. This indeed associated several types of specialized and complementary systems, such as the S-400 dedicated to anti-aircraft and anti-missile defense at medium and high altitude, the S-300PMU for anti-ballistic defense, the Buk for medium and low altitude tactics, as well as the TOR and Pantsir systems for close defense. This defence, supplemented by the A-135 heavy anti-ballistic systems positioned around Moscow and Saint-Petersburg, covered a very wide perimeter along the Russian borders and also ensured the protection of sensitive sites, while being presented as perfectly integrated with the air defense composed of A-50 air surveillance aircraft, Mig-31 interceptors and Su-35 and Su-27 air superiority aircraft.

The war in Ukraine, and in particular the strikes attributed to Ukraine against several sensitive Russian sites, be it the Rostov air base and the Belgorod fuel depots at the start of the conflict, the strategic air base of 'Engels a few months ago, or the strike less than 200 km from Moscow this week, using Toshka ballistic missiles, Mi-24 combat helicopters or Tu-141 drones, have significantly undermined the image of absolute opacity that Moscow wanted to give to its air defense so far, to the point that even Turkey seems to want to turn away from the S-400 to develop its own long-range anti-aircraft system. But while the issue is already sensitive internationally for possible future Russian arms exports, it is also important domestically, with both public opinion and Russian commentators increasingly puzzled by the apparent lack of performance. of the country's air defense which is supposed to be impossible to fault, including by NATO.

The S-350 system is lighter and more mobile than the S-300 it replaces

It is in this context that Sergei Shoigu, the Russian Defense Minister considered Vladimir Putin's designated successor before the war in Ukraine and on the verge of disgrace since, announced a vast program aimed at modernizing and strengthening defense anti-aircraft and anti-missile protection of Russian territory, and in particular considerably toughen the protection of Moscow. For this, the Ministry of Defense intends to organically reorganize the Moscow defense, creating an anti-aircraft and anti-missile defense division consisting of anti-aircraft and anti-missile defense brigades equipped with S-400 and S-500 systems , as well as air defense regiments that will receive the new S-350s for this mission. In addition, a hundred battalions to date equipped with S-300s will be converted to S-350s, while a large number of Pantsir close protection systems, more than 500 by 2023, will be delivered to local defense units in across the country. As for the A-135s, they will be replaced, by 2025, by the new A-235 Nudol which has anti-ballistic capabilities but also extensive anti-satellites because it can reach targets up to 700 km in altitude.

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