The new system is described as “a new and unrivalled mobile strategic missile defence system,” capable of intercepting “spacecraft, ballistic missile re-entry vehicles, and hypersonic targets at altitudes of tens of thousands of kilometres,” according to the source. According to TASS, this information has yet to be confirmed by official sources.
The new system will be integrated into Russia’s comprehensive missile and air defence system, including low-altitude Pantsir systems, long-range S-350, S-400, and S-500 systems, and S-550 systems (in space).
At the Dubai Airshow 2021, Sergei Chemezov, the Rostec state tech corporation head, said the S-550 would have a longer-range target detection and missile interception capability.
The S-550 was initially thought to be a shorter-range spinoff of the S-500. The S-350 was a medium-range missile that complemented the longer-range S-300 and S-400 systems.
Chemezov later told reporters at the Airshow that the S-550 would detect and intercept ballistic missiles from a greater range than the S-500. The physical elements are already in place.
The S-550 is expected to be a mobile strategic defence system capable of defending against ICBMs that arc high into space before raining nuclear destruction at speeds of up to twenty times the speed of sound.
Russian sources also stress the importance of a “space attack” or “space defence” capability. Furthermore, kinetic anti-satellite missions could include intercepting spacecraft in low-Earth orbits, such as the X-37B of the U.S. military. According to reports, there are no plans for a naval version of the S-500.
The A-135 Amur, a silo-based anti-ICBM missile defence system, launches 53T6 ABM interceptors capable of reaching Mach 17 to intercept ICBMs carrying a ten-kiloton nuclear warhead. However, the A135 is limited to defending Moscow and its industrial areas. Because the 1972 ABM Treaty only allowed Russia and the U.S. to deploy two ABM sites: one to protect ICBM silos and the capital.
According to earlier TASS articles, the S-550 could be operational as early as 2025.