July 21, 2024

Big Fat Missiles To Take Down Big Fat Russian Planes. How Ukraine Brought Back Its Massive S-200s.

According to Ukrainian magazine Pravda, the missile the Ukrainian air force used to shoot down a rare Russian air force A-50 radar plane on Friday wasn’t an American-made Patriot, as many observers assumed.

No, it reportedly was an ex-Soviet 5V28: the missile component of the S-200 air-defense system.

In retrospect, it should have been obvious that something other than a Patriot shot down the A-50. The lumbering radar plane was around 120 miles from the front line in southern Ukraine when it plummeted to the ground. Where a Patriot usually ranges no farther than 90 miles, a S-200 can hit targets 150 miles away or farther.

We already knew the Ukrainians had reactivated some of their aged S-200 batteries—out of 16 the Soviet air force once maintained all across Ukraine—because they’ve been lobbing them at targets on the ground in occupied Ukraine, and even in Russia itself.

We didn’t know the Ukrainians were firing the brutish missiles at aerial targets until this week.

But the development makes sense. The S-200 isn’t the most accurate air-defense system in the world. It’s certainly less accurate than the Patriot is. But what the S-200 lacks in finesse, it makes up for in sheer power.

The eight-ton 5V28 “is a honking big missile with a really heavy and voluminous seeker space,” wrote Trent Telenko, a former quality auditor with the U.S. Defense Contract Management Agency. The 5V28 packs a massive, 500-pound warhead.

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