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Second S-400 of the Belarusian Air Force was put into service

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In an exciting development, the Belarusian Defence Ministry recently disclosed that a fresh battalion of S-400 long-range air defense systems is now in operation.

As of June 30, Belarus’ air force has bolstered its protective measures significantly with the activation of this new S-400 Triumf battalion. This follows the confirmation in 2021 that Russia would be supplying new units to the country.

Offering his insights on this development, Major General Andrey Lukyanovich, who leads the Belarusian Air Force and Air Defence Troops, shared that the personnel assigned to the new battalion have undergone rigorous training. They honed their skills at the renowned Kapustin Yar firing range in Russia and are now ready to undertake combat missions as needed.

Belarus welcomed the new batch of S-400s to its shores on May 28. Prior to this, Belarus had been relying solely on seven battalions of Soviet-built S-300PS systems for high-altitude air defense. These are expected to remain in service, complementing the capabilities of the newly acquired S-400s. There had been some conflicting reports in the early 2020s, with Russian state media suggesting that Belarus may have already deployed some S-400s or related components to boost its defense network.

In a bold move towards fortifying its air defenses, Belarus has activated its second S-400 battalion. This comes on the heels of joint exercises held with Russian S-400s in May 2022, a testament to the burgeoning defense alliance between these two nations.

With production of the S-400 ramping up, it’s clear that Belarus is not the only beneficiary. Each year, multiple regiments, consisting of two battalions with eight launch vehicles each, are rolling off the assembly line. Notably, the Russian Aerospace Forces and the Indian Air Force are also adding to their arsenal, with India securing approximately four battalions annually.

While the price tag on the international market for a battalion of S-400s hovers around $500 million, Belarus has managed to secure a bargain. Its strategic positioning within the Union State of Russia and Belarus has allowed it to acquire these assets at a similar rate to the Russian Defence Ministry – quite the steal.

With a relatively small defense budget, Belarus has historically relied on Soviet-era hardware. This reliance was seen as a potential risk to its aerial warfare capabilities, threatening to render them obsolete by the late 2010s. However, a strategic pivot towards modern weaponry, such as the Su-30SM heavyweight fighter aircraft in 2018, and now the S-400, has addressed this concern. The S-400, in particular, offers a cost-effective solution, allowing Belarus to significantly scale its acquisitions without breaking the bank.

As NATO members continue to bolster their F-35 fighter jet fleets in Eastern Europe, Belarus has responded by ramping up its defensive capabilities. The value of the S-400 air defense system lies in its ability to target stealth aircraft. Using a network of radars operating in complementary wavebands, it provides a detailed view of the battlefield, unparalleled by other air defense systems.

In addition to the S-400s, Belarus has also been stockpiling Iskander-M tactical ballistic missile systems. These acquisitions offer an advanced surface-to-surface strike capability, offsetting the limitations of Belarusian combat aviation. The decision to obtain these systems was influenced by the political unrest that swept across the Belarusian capital in 2020. Both Minsk and Moscow assert that these protests were orchestrated by Western states to destabilize the Belarusian government and install a NATO-aligned administration.

Amidst escalating economic sanctions from the West and an increasing NATO presence along its borders, Belarus has found an ally in Russia. This culminated in a nuclear sharing agreement signed in May, marking a significant step in solidifying their security ties.

Belarus has unveiled a game-changing strategy with the activation of Russian nuclear weapons on its soil, delivered by its state-of-the-art Iskander arsenal. The S-400s, stationed in Belarus, are predicted to be a significant asset to the Russian military. With a detection range of up to 600km against large aircraft, these units can offer a deeper insight into NATO territory right from Belarusian soil.

Belarusian officials have stirred up discussions on the possible deployment of the advanced long-range S-500 system. Given the country’s strategic location, such a move could considerably bolster Russian security interests. Russia’s only other ally on the continent, Serbia, had also contemplated acquiring S-400s in the late 2010s. However, due to Western pressure, the country decided against it.

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