US ally Saudi Arabia ‘would be well advised’ to look at Russian missile – RT analyst
An anti-missile system developed by Almaz-Antey, a Russian defense contractor, for foreign buyers is specialized hardware that would be of particular interest to Saudi Arabia, an RT military expert has explained.
The Saudi leadership “would be well advised” to take notice of the new system, named Abakan, suggested Mikhail Khodarenok, a retired colonel who served in the Russian Aerospace Defense Forces.
This system can alleviate practically all concerns that the kingdom has in terms of defense from tactical ballistic missiles at minimum cost and maximum efficiency.
The 98R6E Abakan was first presented to the public last year during the Army Expo in Russia. The export-oriented product was derived from Almaz-Antey’s domestic S-300V4 air defense system and was tailored to counter tactical ballistic missiles.
It happens to be the exact threat that Saudi Arabia currently faces from its opponents in Yemen, who regularly launch ballistic projectiles, including at Saudi Arabia itself. Riyadh has been dealing with the regular barrages by deploying US-made MIM-104 Patriot surface-to-air missile systems.
As a specialized tool, Russia’s new system can do the job better than the Patriots, which were designed to intercept a wider range of threats, Khodarenok argued.
“Before Abakan, nobody had created an air defense system for this niche application. Just like there is no system designed to take down specifically A-10 Thunderbolt or even specifically air-launched and ship-launched cruise missiles. Modern systems tend to be multipurpose,” he said.
The Russian system’s detection and targeting radar, 98L6AE Yenisey-E, can be used for sustained monitoring of a particular sector – which is what would be necessary in Saudi Arabia’s case – and can detect targets with cross-sections as small as 0.01 square meters (0.10 square feet), according to specifications.
The launcher is essentially the same as in the S-300V4. The interceptor is launched vertically, which can save crucial seconds during deployment. It takes about three minutes to prepare a pre-positioned Abakan battery, or 15 minutes if the system is deployed after repositioning, Almaz-Antey said.
The interceptor itself, the 9M82MDE, is a modification of the heavier missile used in the S-300V4 system. Almaz-Antey said the new system can shoot down ballistic missiles incoming at speeds of up to 4,000 meters (13,000 feet) per second at a range of between 12 and 40km (seven and 12 miles) and at altitudes of 2 to 30km (one to 18 miles). A full battery of four launchers would have eight missiles at its disposal and could fire them all to take down up to four targets simultaneously.
The relative simplicity and automation of the Russian systems mean they require fewer trained personnel to operate.
Potential foreign customers could get a look at Abakan in November, during the 2021 Dubai Airshow, though Almaz-Antey didn’t include the optional command-and-control vehicle in the demonstration.