Moscow: Russia's new medium-range Vityaz air defence system will replace the out-dated S-300PS systems by 2014, former chief designer of Almaz-Antei corporation, Igor Ashurbeyli, has said.
"Vityaz should be ready to enter service in 2013-2014," Ashurbeyli said in an exclusive interview with Russian media. "Only the insufficient funding of the testing of a new missile for this system could cause a delay."
The Vityaz is expected to replace the out-dated S-300PS systems, whose service life is coming to an end in the next two years.
The term 'Vityaz' refers to a Russian knight who is victorious in battle.
According to Ashurbeyli, the new system will have more advanced radar and a launcher with 16 missiles compared to only four on the S-300.
He pointed out that the service life of the S-300PS systems, which, along with the more modern S-400 Triumf systems protect Moscow and other strategic targets, will expire in the next year or two, but the new Vityaz system was yet to be readied to replace it.
According to Ashurbeyli, though induction is expected in 2014-15, delays were possible due to problems with the new missile. Unlike the S-400, he points out, the Vityaz, has just one base missile.
It will cover the same mission profiles as the S-300PS and S-300PM.
The latter were last manufactured in 1994, and several dozen of the ''fresh'' lot will still have a shelf life for the next 7-10 years.
Most were updated to the Favorit (S-300PMU2) level yet they have aged.
According to Ashurbeyli, Russia needs to produce enough of the Vityaz systems to fully replace its inventory of S-300PS and S-300PM batteries.
Ashurbeyli also revealed that the Morfey system was a super, short-range system and part of Russia's tiered system of air defence. While Vityaz is a medium-range system, and Pantsir and Tor are short-range weapons, Morfey was super short-range.
If developed as conceived, Morfey will be a unique system, he said. It will have an omni-directional cupola-type radar, instead of a rotating one.
Ashurbeyli said he believed that the Morfey, Vityaz, S-400, and S-500 systems would be sufficient for the ground-based component of Russia's air defence network for 20-25 years.
The more complex S-500, Ashurbeyli notes, will take a longer time to develop.