Following an earlier report by EurAsian Times, Russian Deputy PM has confirmed that the highly acclaimed S-350 Vityaz air defense system recently accomplished an extraordinary task by successfully shooting down a Ukrainian aircraft while operating in “automatic mode.”
The Minister said that the Vityaz anti-aircraft missile system operating in the NVO zone demonstrated unparalleled capabilities by autonomously detecting, tracking, and destroying Ukrainian air targets without any operator intervention.
This remarkable achievement marked the first instance where a system operated fully automatically using artificial intelligence in combat conditions.
Earlier, the EurAsian Times explained that the implementation of the automatic mode followed the principle of non-interference by human operators with the decisions made by the artificial intelligence components of the complex.
In other words, the operator refrained from canceling or overriding the decisions made by the complex’s AI based on the prevailing air combat situation. This approach confirmed the effectiveness of the chosen operational algorithm of the machine.
The Vityaz system effectively operated in both active and passive radar modes simultaneously. This dual-mode approach significantly enhanced the complex’s ability to detect and categorize targets while improving its resistance to external interference, commonly called noise immunity.
According to the Minister, Russian air defense systems stand as the sole systems globally with the capability to intercept and destroy hypersonic missiles. He also disclosed, “Several combat aircraft and drones of Ukraine were shot down by missiles of the system.”
In August 2022, images circulated on social media indicating the deployment of the S-350 Vityaz air defense system at an airbase located within a distance of fewer than 40 miles from the Ukrainian border.
The S-350 Vityaz air defense system elements were first spotted in a video released by the Russian Ministry of Defense (RuMoD). While the video showcased close air support activities of the Su-25 Frogfoot aircraft near Ukraine, it was the S-350 that attracted the most attention.
At the time, defense analyst @GuyPlopsky identified components of the S-350 Vityaz system in the video. These included a 50N6A fire-control radar, a 96L6-TsP acquisition radar, and two missile launchers resembling the 50P6 transporter-erector-launcher (TELs) and the 50P6T launcher/loader vehicle.
Russia’s S-350 Air Defense System
The Almaz-Antey concern has developed the S-350 Vityaz, a highly capable mobile anti-aircraft missile system designed to protect a wide range of critical facilities and military installations.
This system serves the anti-aircraft missile forces of the Russian Aerospace Forces and is specifically designed to counter modern and advanced air attack weapons.
The development of the S-350 Vityaz commenced in the early 1990s, and after successful flight testing in 2013, the Russian military received its inaugural batch of S-350 systems in December 2019.
According to reliable sources, the S-350 Vityaz complex exhibits impressive operational capabilities. It can effectively engage ballistic targets at a maximum range of 25 kilometers and engage aerodynamic air targets, including aircraft, drones, cruise missiles, and similar devices, at a remarkable range of 120 to 150 kilometers.
The Vityaz missiles can intercept targets traveling up to two kilometers per second, ensuring swift and efficient defense against airborne threats. The S-350 is a wheeled system that provides exceptional mobility that enables rapid deployment into combat positions within minutes.
This flexibility allows the launchers, radars, and control center to be strategically positioned several kilometers away from the S-350 air defense system while maintaining operational effectiveness.
As stated by the manufacturer, the S-350 Vityaz surpasses its competitors in multiple aspects. Firstly, it boasts a larger number of missiles in its arsenal, providing extended firepower and increased defensive capabilities. Additionally, the system incorporates an advanced radar with improved anti-jamming resistance.
This radar utilizes a circular scanning mode, allowing for environmental monitoring from all angles. These features enhance the S-350’s effectiveness and situational awareness, making it a powerful air defense system.
A spokesperson from the Almaz-Antey Air Defense Concern design bureau recently revealed that the S-350 Vityaz possesses the potential for integration into foreign air defense systems.
The representative emphasized the system’s impressive attributes, including its all-aspect coverage, enhanced firepower, significantly higher ammunition capacity for anti-aircraft guided missiles (four times greater than the S-400), and improved survivability.
The S-350 is deemed more accurate than the operational Patriot missile defense system in Ukraine, according to a Russian expert. While comparable in functional characteristics to the US-made Patriot system, the Vityaz system’s faster missile speed and capability to strike low-flying targets give it a significant edge.