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Russia denies testing its new S-500 missile defence system in Syria

October 3, 2019 at 3:04 pm

Russian missiles destroy streets of Duma, Damascus Syria on 10 November 2016 [Firas Abdullah]

Russia has denied reports that it successfully tested its new missile defence system, the S-500 Prometev, in Syria yesterday.

It was previously reported that sources within the Russian Defence Ministry informed the Russian daily newspaper Izvestia that the test firing of the new system took place in Syria yesterday, with experts noting “certain problems” with the equipment before immediately fixing them and declaring the tests as having been successful.

Hours later, however, the Russian military denied that any tests were conducted, claiming that the system needs to be tested in difficult climatic conditions in order to properly test its effectiveness, making Syria a non-ideal terrain.

Russia’s state-owned Tass News Agency quoted the armed forces as stating that “The S-500 is designed to combat ballistic and aerodynamic targets at long ranges. There was no need for testing the S-500 anti-aircraft missile system in the Syrian Arab Republic.” It also pointed out that there are already a variety of Russian air defence systems within Syria, such as the S-400, Pantsr-S1, Tor-M2, and Su-35S, which are all active and currently protecting the Russian military and its interests.

READ: Russia’s Duma advises Saudi Arabia to change defence systems after attack on Aramco

The S-500 missile system is a significant upgrade from its predecessor, the S-400 system, which has been sold to a variety of countries and militaries throughout the world including China, Turkey and is being sent to India next year. The capabilities of the S-500 and its power of destruction is far greater than that predecessor, however, having the ability to shoot down even military satellites, warheads in near space, and having a range of 481.2 kilometres – 80 kilometres further than the S-400’s reach.

Earlier this year, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu stated that the S-500 system would be supplied to the military starting from 2020. It has, however, been reported that it would not be available for sale to other states and militaries for at least five years after its production, and that it will remain exclusive to the Russian military during that time.