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S-300 PMU (missile)

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S-300 PMU is the starting designation of a series of highly respected, Soviet-designed surface-to-air missiles, the initial land version of which is designated SA-10 GRUMBLE in the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA)/North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) system. The ship-based version, mounted on the Kirov-class and Slava-class cruisers, is SA-N-6 GRUMBLE. Later versions have anti-ballistic missile against theater ballistic missiles and also against cruise missiles. [1] They were developed by the Almaz Central Design Bureau.

Upgrades are designated S-300PMU-1 and S-300PMU-2 Favorit. Favorit is described as an essentially new system.[2] Developed by the Fakel Design Bureau, the missile is designated SA-20 GARGOYLE.[3]

The S-400 (missile) system is its replacement, with even more antimissile capability. It can control at least some of the S-300 missiles; its basic new round is the 48N6E3.

Effectiveness and impact

It is comparable to the U.S. MIM-104 Patriot in a land-based version and the RIM-156 Standard SM-2 at sea, although the Russians argue it is superior to Patriot. While surface-to-air missiles are defensive, missiles of this quality affect the strategic balance: if Iran, for example, puts a significant S-300 system around its nuclear facilities, the Israeli Air Force may not have sufficient suppression of enemy air defense capability to penetrate it. [4] There were conflicting reports, however, if Russia has actually shipped them to Iran. [5] Russia said, on 11 June 2010, they will not be sold to Iran.[6]

S-300 systems definitely have been sold to China and India. China also manufacturers a less capable, perhaps reverse-engineered, derivative, the HongQi-9/FD-2000, which may have been offered to Iran. [7]

In 1998-1999, complex negotiations among Greece, Turkey, and Cyprus downgraded a planned S-300 installation on Cyprus to a SA-15 deployment on Crete. [8]

System characteristics

At the center of a deployed system on land is a 54K6E command and control vehicle, which connects to radar vehicles, up to 12 transporter-erector-launcher (TEL) vehicles carrying the missiles, and support equipment. Each TEL holds four missiles, in sealed canisters forming a vertical launch system giving 360-degree coverage. With well-trained crews, the system can be firing 5 minutes after the vehicles stop.

Originally, the system X-band ground radar was a 30N6E (NATO FLAP LID), then 30N6E1 NATO TOMB STONE), which can be upgraded to a 64N6E; it also uses track-via-missile with a linked active radar in the missile. The radar and computer system can engage six simultaneous targets, with two missiles fired at each target.

VHF band radars, designated TALL KING by NATO, can be added for long-range search. VHF is more effective at detecting stealth aircraft than is X-band.

In the S-300PMU2, the battle management van upgrades to a 54K6E2, but, more significantly, there is a 83M6E2 command post, associated with a long-range X-band 64N6E2 radar, NATO designation BIG BIRD. The 83M6E2 can coordinate the activities of up to six 54K6E2-centered systems, giving capability against 36 targets (i.e., 72 interceptors in flight).[2]

Missiles, as well, are upgradable. As with the Patriot in its PAC-3 version, some range against aircraft was sacrificed to get better anti-missile performance.

Missile vs. Aircraft vs. TBM
5V55 5-90 km range
maximum altitude 30km
maximum speed 1150 mps
35 km engagement range
vs. 300 km class SRBM
48N6E 5-50km range
maximum altitude 27 km
maximum speed 2800 mps
40 km engagement range
vs. 1000 km class MRBM
48N6E2 10 meters-200km range
maximum altitude 27 km
maximum speed 10000 mps
200 km engagement range
vs. 1000 km class MRBM