What You Need to Know About the Weapon System & Who Owns It After the S-300 Missile Hits Poland
According to Poland, the missile that struck a grain storage facility on Tuesday and killed two people close to the Ukrainian border was likely a “vintage” S-300 rocket, a missile system from the Soviet era that is still in use by both Russia and Ukraine.
Jens Stoltenberg, the head of NATO, stated that it was probably being deployed as a Ukrainian air defence missile, but that Russia bore ultimate responsibility for the tragedy because it invaded Ukraine and started the conflict, which has now lasted for almost nine months. Towards the time, Russia was launching dozens of missiles at Ukrainian cities.
WHOSE THE S-300 IS? A family of surface-to-air missiles known as S-300 was first developed by the Soviet Union. It took ten years to develop, and in the late 1970s it was first put into use.
The S-300 rocket comes in a variety of configurations with varying technological prowess and ranges. The Center for Strategic and International Studies estimates that the conventional missile’s maximum range is 150 km (93 miles), and that the warheads weigh between 133 and 143 kg (293 and 315 lb) (CSIS).
Which version may have been applied in the incident on Tuesday is unknown.
S-300 missiles are designed to intercept incoming cruise and ballistic missiles, drones, and planes. Radars that track approaching targets are included in full S-300 launchers. Guidance systems on missiles allow them to automatically lock onto their targets. The firing of several individual missiles at various targets is possible concurrently.
The Antey-2500, the most recent iteration of the S-300, which entered service in the early 2010s, has a 350 km range, according to a catalogue item on Rosobornexport, Russia’s government-run arms export agency. According to Rosoboronexport’s website, the system has “excellent tactical and technological features that provide use for air defence of the most important administrative, industrial, and military structures, soldier groups, coastal infrastructure, and naval forces at stationing site.”
WHICH PARTIES USE THE S-300 MISSILE?
According to CSIS, a Washington-based research tank, it is utilised by both Russia and Ukraine as well as 18 other nations, including NATO members Greece, Slovakia, and Bulgaria.
According to military specialists, Russia appears to have used modified S-300 missiles to strike ground targets during the conflict in Ukraine, possibly a sign of depleting missile stocks.
Among other nations, Moscow has already sold S-300 missiles to Venezuela, China, Iran, and Egypt.
Russia has stationed S-300 missiles in Crimea, which it took from Ukraine in 2014, and has placed them in Syria.
The S-300 missile system reportedly saw its first use in combat during the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia.