The S-300 (NATO designation and codename of SA-10 "Grumble) is a long-range surface-to-air missile system developed in the latter decades of the Cold War (1947-1991) years. The system was designed specifically to content with the rise in use of cruise missile weapons originating from the West which would have been used in the opening rounds of a full-scale war with the Soviet Union. The S-300 missile was developed by MKB from the period beginning in 1967 and entered Soviet military service in 1978. Consistent modernization programs have kept the S-300 series a viable battlefield instrument which, coupled to its powerful radar system, has let it remain a potent anti-aircraft defender despite its Cold War root. An export-minded version has also ensured its place among many global operators (mostly those with Soviet Cold war-era roots). The S-300 is comparable in its battlefield qualities and scope to the American MIM-104 "Patriot" battery and is now competing with designs such as the Chinese HQ-9 system recently adopted by Turkey over the Russian product.
The S-300 missiles are generally fielded through multiple-cell launchers which are fitted horizontally atop heavy industry trucks for mobility. The typical photographed transporter is an 8-wheeled vehicle with front-mounted engine and driving cabin offset to the left side of the chassis. The vehicle is deployed with its own dedicated radar vehicle to provide the scanning and tracking prowess required. When ready to launch, the launcher component of the vehicles is raised to a vertical position with setup time for the system being just five minutes. While the 8x8 chassis is typically used, the launchers can be set upon any wheeled or tracked vehicle capable of carrying the launcher's weight.
The S-300 missile and phased array radar series is highly-regarded in air-defense circles for its potency, even against modern aerial systems. Its radar can track upwards of 100 individual targets and can engage any twelve of them with improved qualities against any launched countermeasures. However, it deserves mention that no S-300 launcher/missile has been used in anger in any modern conflict to date (2013). Primary S-300 series missiles are the 9M82, 9M83 and 9M83ME reaching speeds in excess of 5,400 miles per hour and engagement altitudes of 98,000 feet depending on variant. These missiles carry a warhead of 330lb with guidance offered by a semi-active radar homing feature. Other missile types are also available, broadening the tactical value and foreign appeal of the S-300 family considerably.
According to sources, production of the S-300 system concluded in 2011 with primary manufacture handled under the MZIK brand label. The original variant was the S-300P. S-300PT and S-300PT-1A were improved forms for better low-altitude defense (primarily cruise missiles). The S-300PS and S-300PM models were nuclear-capable missiles while the S-300PMU was a modernized standard missile model. The S-300F was a navalized missile form of 1984 and this was joined by the updated and improved S-300FM of 1990. The S-300V gained anti-ballistic missile qualities and the S-300PMU-1 was a new design of 1992. The S-300PMU-2 followed in 1997 as an improvement. The S-300VM and S-300V4 are upgraded S-300V marks.
The S-300 family is in active use with the armies of Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, China, Greece, Iran, Kazakhstan, Syria, Slovakia, Russia, Ukraine, Venezuela and Vietnam. Croatia is a former operator. Former Czech units were absorbed into the new Slovakian Army in 1993 while East German units were disbanded following the reunification of Germany. Ex-Soviet models were inherited by the new Russian military. Syria is a possible modern-day operator.
The S-300/SA-10 series has been supplemented by the more advanced S-400 (SA-21 "Growler") system. This launcher, radar and vehicle system was added to the Russian air defense inventory in 2004.
The original Iranian order called for five vehicles but this deal was suspended by the Russians in 2010 due to the in-place embargo on the Gulf Nation. Iran then sued in 2011 but the deal was not pushed through until early in 2015 as relations between Iran and the West had started to thaw. The final S-300 system should be in Iranian hands before the end of 2016 - adding a prolific air defense capability. For this reason it is believed that the Israelis have invested in the technologically-advanced Lockheed F-35 Lightning II strike jet.