The S-500 Prometheus is a mobile, surface-to-air missile system (SAM) currently under development by Russia. It is designed to counter aircraft and ballistic and cruise missiles, and reportedly can target low-orbit satellites.
S-500 Prometheus at a Glance
- Originated From
- Possessed by
- Surface-to-Air (SAM)
- Mobile, ground-based
- 500-600 km
- In Development
Russia began developing the S-500 in 2010, shortly after deploying its first batch of S-400 in 2007. The system would reportedly be capable of defeating fifth-generation aircraft and low orbit satellites, in addition to ballistic and cruise missile threats which could already be dealt with by existing S-300 and S-400 units. Russia’s Almaz-Antei oversees its design and development.1
The S-500 has faced significant delays. Russia had declared its design development completed in 2011, but has pushed its serial production from 2014, to 2017, to 2021, and most recently to 2025.2 Russia may be purposely delaying S-500 induction to keep production lines available for the S-400 and continue exports.
Russia has conducted several tests launches of the S-500 system. In May 2018, Russia conducted “the world’s longest surface-to-air missile test” using the S-500, striking a target nearly 482 km (300 mi) away.3
Russia will very likely develop an export variant of the S-500. China is a likely S-500 customer, and despite Turkey’s controversial S-400 acquisition, Istanbul has also signaled interested in procuring the new system. In May 2019, Turkish President Recep Erdogan announced that Turkey would jointly produce the S-500 with Russia.4
The S-500 can launch several types of interceptors. These include the 40N6M for use against aircraft and cruise missiles, and the new 77N6 and 77N6-N1 to counter ballistic missiles or satellites.7 The 40N6M can range 400 km; the 77N6 series interceptors reportedly range 500-600 km.8
The system features four radar vehicles per battery, including the 91N6E(M) S-band acquisition radar, 96L6-TsP C-band acquisition radar, 76T6 multi-mode engagement radar, and 77T6 anti-ballistic missile engagement radar.9 This radar complex reportedly allows the S-500 to detect ballistic and airborne targets at up to 2,000 and 800 km, respectively.10
In June 2021, Russian media reported that the S-500 would be equipped with interceptors capable against hypersonic weapons, although this capability remains uncertain.11
- Christopher F. Foss, “S-500,” in Jane’s Land Warfare Platforms: Artillery and Air Defense (London: IHS Global, 2016), 580.
- Mark Episkopos, “Russia’s S-500 Missile Defense to Enter Service in 2021,” The National Interest, February 5, 2021, https://nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/russia%E2%80%99s-s-500-missile-defense-enter-service-2021-177685.
- Amanda Macias, “Russia quietly conducted the world’s longest surface-to-air missile test,” CNBC, May 24, 2018, https://www.cnbc.com/2018/05/24/russia-quietly-conducted-the-worlds-longest-surface-to-air-missile-test.html.
- Ahval News, “Erdoğan says Turkey will produce new generation S-500 with Russia,” May 19, 2019, https://ahvalnews.com/s-500/erdogan-says-turkey-will-produce-new-generation-s-500-russia.
- Military Today, “S-500,” April 5, 2017, http://www.military-today.com/missiles/s500.htm.
- Roman Krezul and Anton Lavrov, “With ‘Prometheus’ in mind: the Ministry of Defense began to train personnel for the S-500,” Izvestia, April 13, 2021, https://iz.ru/1150375/roman-kretcul-anton-lavrov/s-prometeem-v-raschete-minoborony-nachalo-gotovit-kadry-dlia-s-500.
- Roger McDermott, “Moscow Weighs Options to Procure S-500 Air-Defense Systems,” Jamestown Foundation, March 24, 2021, https://jamestown.org/program/moscow-weighs-options-to-procure-s-500-air-defense-systems/.
- Joseph Trevithick, “Russia’s S-500 Air Defense System Reportedly Hits Target Nearly 300 Miles Away,” The Drive, May 24, 2018, https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/21080/russias-s-500-air-defense-system-reportedly-hits-target-nearly-300-miles-away.
- Alexander Stepanov, “The Legend of “Prometheus,'” May 28, 2018, https://versia.ru/oboronka-zaderzhivaet-sroki-sozdaniya-novejshej-zrs-s-500.
- Anton Lavrov and Anna Cherepanova, “Fire will be added to Prometheus: S-500 will receive new interceptor missiles,” Izvestia, June 3, 2021, https://iz.ru/1173752/anton-lavrov-anna-cherepanova/prometeiu-dobaviat-ognia-s-500-poluchit-novye-rakety-perekhvatchiki.