September 27, 2007: Russia is upgrading the
electronics for over a thousand medium range (5-30 kilometers) air defense
systems. Most of these are mobile, mounted on wheeled or tracked vehicles.
These systems are most effective against helicopters and low flying jets. The
United States, and most Western air forces, can keep their jets¬† high enough (20,000 feet) to be safe from
these systems. Currently, the only low flying American jets are A-10s, and an
occasional F-16 coming down for a bit of precision gunnery.
For the last decade, Russian arms industries have
been producing largely for the export market. But in the case of anti-aircraft
systems, there's a substantial domestic marker. Over half of Russian systems
are Cold War relics, and barely worth keeping in working order. Russia
apparently sees an export market in countries that are fighting low tech
neighbors, not Western air forces. Thus most of the world is a viable market for
this stuff, especially if there are exciting interfaces for the operators, and
more reliability than found in past generations of Russian gear.