Contradictory media reports have emerged regarding the deployment of the Russian S-550 missile defense system. While Russian news agency TASS reported that the system, built-in secrecy and was already operational, Russian state-owned news agency RIA Novosti said that no full-scale prototypes were built for the system yet, The Drive reported.
The TASS report is sure to have raised many eyebrows at the Pentagon given that the first reports about its existence emerged only last month. For the system to have remained under the radar for most of its development and now even deployment would sure to have been a failure for the U.S. intelligence. Apart from that, it would also be a major hurdle in strategic terms, given the system's abilities include intercontinental ballistic missiles as well as hypersonic targets.
The S-550's operational deployment would have also been a big achievement for Russian President Vladimir Putin who had announced the program in November since a Soviet-era missile defense program that used similar nomenclature never materialized, The Drive reported. An additional threat from the S-550 is its alleged ability to fire at satellites which not only threaten U.S. strategic assets but can also derail space programs at large.
The TASS report that claimed the deployment cited a source that was close to the Russian Defense Ministry and there was no official confirmation of the development, which was rather peculiar. The RIA Novosti report instead claimed that a hypersonic target was shot down in the Arctic, which can even include a ballistic missile, The Drive reported.
It is likely that the TASS report mistook an S-500 test for one conducted by S-550 with the former reported to be closer to deployment. Nevertheless, the Russian establishment is keen on developing and deploying anti-missile defense systems in its bid to prepare for alleged ballistic and hypersonic weapon deployment in Europe in the future, The Drive reported.