Russia's Ministry of Defence will deploy three battalions of S-400 Triumph air defence missile systems in 2012, Russian Air Force Chief of Staff major general Viktor Bondarev confirmed.
"One battalion is currently being deployed at Nakhodka [Russia's Far East], a second will be based near Moscow, and a third in the Air Force and Air Defense Force chief command. All systems will be delivered by the end of this year," he said.
Russian Air Force commander Alexander Zelin said that the new systems are likely to be deployed in the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad in response to the US-led European missile shield initiative, which Russia considers as a threat to its national security.
The Russian Defence Ministry said that it has no plans to export the S-400 systems and the production of S-300 systems will be replaced by S-400 systems for the Russian Armed Forces only.
Developed by central design bureau Almaz, S-400 Triumph long- to medium-range surface-to-air missile system is an upgrade of the S-300 missile system family.
The system has been designed to intercept and destroy airborne targets such as stealth aircraft, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles using a range of missiles, at a distance of up to 250 miles, an altitude of 40,000m-50,000m and a speed of up to three miles per second.
The S-400 (code named SA-21 Growler) air defence regiment consists of four air defence systems each, with two or three battalions.
The first S-400 regiment has been deployed in Electrostal, near Moscow, according to RIA Novosti.
Russia is planning to arm 56 battalions with S-400 systems by 2020 to create a cornerstone of Russia's theatre air and missile defences.
Image: A Transporter Erector Launcher of S-400 Triumph, an upgrade of the S-300 missile system during a parade. Photo: UMNICK.