Key Point: Systems could come online as soon as this year.
Russian state media have begun leaking some information about the country’s next-generation air and missile defense system, the S-500.
While maintaining that “most of the new system’s technical characteristics remain under wraps,” Sputnik this week began shedding some light on what those technical characteristics will be (although many of them have been previously reported elsewhere). According to the report, the S-500 “is expected to be able to engage targets at altitudes of over 60 miles,” which is higher than any existing missile defense systems. Sputnik went on to claim that “sixty miles and more is also the near space zone where the majority of foreign military satellites are now orbiting our planet.” While it is technically true that military satellites are flying at heights of sixty miles or more, most of them are much higher than sixty miles and thus likely outside the S-500’s range.