Explainer: How is Russia's S-500 missile defence system superior to S-400?

WION Web Team
New DelhiUpdated: Dec 14, 2021, 05:39 PM IST

File photo: A Russian serviceman walks past S-400 missile air defence systems in Tverskaya Street before a rehearsal for the Victory Day parade, which marks the anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two, in central Moscow, Russia April 29, 2019.  Photograph:(Reuters)

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Russia has already begun the delivery of S-400 Triumf surface-to-air missile systems to India. The S-500 surface-to-air missile defence system can target hypersonic cruise missiles including UAVs.

After acquiring the S-400 missile defence system from Russia, India may now buy the S-500 Prometey surface-to-air missile defence system.

Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Yury Borisov told Russia's TASS news agency that "India will be the first on the list if it expresses its desire to buy these advanced armaments."

Russia has already begun the delivery of S-400 Triumf surface-to-air missile systems to India. So how is S-500 different from S-400?

What is the S-500 missile system?

It is Russia's most advanced new generation surface-to-air missile system capable of intercepting intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM).

It can also target hypersonic cruise missiles and can intercept ballistic missiles within a range of 600kms. It can be deployed easily and has an airborne engagement range of 400-500km.

It can also target spacecraft including unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Reports claim Russian defence officials have been training Army officials since 2017 to operate the sophisticated system. Reports claim the Russian Army will be equipped with the new system by 2024.

S-500 vs S-400 missile defence

The Russian Army is reportedly set to replace the S-400 missile defence system with the S-500 in 2024. The S-500 air defence system was tested successfully in July this year against a ballistic target at Kapustin Yar in Russia. 

The S-400 has been in service since April 2007. It has an operational range of 400 kms. However, the S-500 is a much more sophisticated version that can target ballistic missiles from 600 kms away compared to just 60km by the S-400. Also, the fact that the S-500 can target hypersonic missiles gives it an edge over the S-400.

The S-500 can also reportedly target  B-2, F-22 and F-35 stealth aircraft.


In October 2018, India had signed a $5 billion deal with Russia to buy five units of the S-400 air defence missile systems despite warning from the former Trump administration that going ahead with the contract may invite US sanctions.

Two US Senators, India caucus co-chairs Mark Warner and John Cornyn had earlier sent a letter to US President Biden urging him to waive CAATSA sanctions against India.

Under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), the US can take punitive action against countries purchasing defence hardware from Russia.

US sanctions on Turkey

The former Trump administration had hit Erdogan's Turkey with sanctions after it agreed to buy Russian S-400 air defence system.

The US government had blocked the sale of next-generation US F-35 planes after Erodgan's deal with Putin's Russia. The sale led to a bitter row between the US and Turkey as Erdogan demanded compensation as Turkey had made a $1.4 billion advance payment. 

President Erdogan has been pushing the Biden administration to deliver the older version of the F-16 fighter planes instead, however, there has been no confirmation from US officials.

(With inputs from Agencies)