Get Ready, America: Russia Will Soon Deploy an Air Defense System Better Than the S-300

Get Ready, America: Russia Will Soon Deploy an Air Defense System Better Than the S-300

Here comes the 9K317M Buk-M3.

The Russian military is expected to receive its first operational 9K317M Buk-M3 surface-to-air missile system next month. The new highly mobile air and missile defense system—which will be used by the Russian Ground Forces as part of its maneuver units—is more capable than some versions of even the much-feared S-300 family.

“There are plans for providing for the air defense of the ground forces and for Aerospace Force two air defense missile systems Buk-M2 and Buk-M3 and six air defense missile and artillery system Pantsir-S, which have already undergone acceptance tests,” Russian defense minister Sergey Shoigu told the Moscow-based TASS news agency.

The new weapons are expected to be delivered to the Russian military this November, according to the BMPD blog—a product of the Moscow-based Centre for the Analysis of Strategies and Technologies. However, as the blog notes, the first Buk-M3 has already been spotted operating with the Russian Ground Forces in Ulyanovsk region where the system is built.

According to CAST, the mobile 9K317M Buk-M3 system consists of a 9S510M command post, a 9S36M search and target designation radar vehicle and two self-contained, self-propelled 9A317M launch vehicles armed with six 9M317M surface-to-air missiles each. The system can also support up to two additional 9A316M launchers vehicles loaded with 12 9M317M surface-to-air missiles. The system also includes a 9T243M transport and loading vehicle.

Though designed to accompany and defend Russian Ground Forces formations from air attack as they advance, the Buk-M3 offers performance that is superior to the S-300P and is capable of engaging targets such as short-range ballistic missiles. “The results of the state tests indicate that by a number of its characteristics the [Buk-3M] system has fully complied with the technical requirements and equaled the S-300, and by some of the parameters has even surpassed this system,” a Russian defense ministry official told the Moscow-based TASS news agency. “First of all, the Buk-M3 target-destruction probability has reached 0.9999, which the S-300 system does not have...This means that the system is surely capable of destroying a target with one missile.”

The new 9M317M missile has a maximum range of up to 70 km—about 43 miles—and minimum range of 2.5km or roughly 1.5 miles. It can hit targets as high as 115,000ft or a low as 50ft. The missile uses a blast-fragmentation warhead and can be used against surface targets in extreme situations. Overall, it is an extremely formidable weapon system.

Dave Majumdar is the defense editor for The National Interest. You can follow him on Twitter: @davemajumdar.

Image Credit: Creative Commons License/Author - Vitaly V. Kuzmin.