The development of the latest air defense system 50R6 “Vityaz” (50R6 should replace the famous S-300) has reached its final stage, Izvestiya reports.
According to a source close to the Ministry of Defense, the Supreme Command of Russian air forces and Almaz-Antey concern have scheduled the testing of 50R6 for autumn 2013. "This refers to preliminary missile launching and some other tests. Following the results of these tests we will define the dates for 50R6’s state testing and putting the air defense system into operation", — the source reported.
Despite their outstanding combat characteristics, the well-known S-300 air defense systems must be replaced by the state-of-the-art ones able to countervail the highly-maneuverable and low-observable air targets, including UAVs and cruising missiles.
The development of “Vityaz” was started in mid-2000s. It was intended for protection of strategic facilities and ground forces within a range of 8-40 km (9М100 missile) and up to 120 km (9М96 missile). As distinct from S-300 having a number of immobile versions, its successor is totally mobile, because it will be installed on the wheeled chassis manufactured by Bryansk Automobile Plant or KamAZ.
Despite the claimed performance, the MoD is skeptical about the future of 50R6. A representative of the Supreme Command of Russian air forces reminded that according to a contract signed in 2010, Vityaz should be put into service in 2013 instead of being tested.
9М96 and 9М100 missiles were tested in 2011 using S-400 and Redut air defense systems. In both cases the seeker failed to acquire the target and the missiles missed. Almaz-Antey was de-bugging the seeker during the whole 2012 and carried out its own ground testing. A representative of the defense industry familiar with the situation said that now the missiles are ready for the acceptance testing.