Belarus to put 4 air defense systems on combat duty by December

MINSK, October 27 (RIA Novosti) - Belarus will have all four S-300 air defense systems supplied by Russia on combat duty by December of this year, the country's defense minister said Friday.

Russia and Belarus signed an agreement on deliveries of S-300 (SA-10 Grumble) anti-aircraft missile systems in September 2005. Russia delivered two systems in April, and they have already been deployed near Brest, on the border with Poland.

"By December 1, another two S-300 systems will be put on combat duty near Grodno," Leonid Maltsev said.

The S-300 system is considered by some experts to be superior to its U.S. equivalent, the Patriot. It can simultaneously engage up to six targets at altitudes from 30 feet to 16.7 miles.

The systems will improve the air defenses not only of Belarus, but also of the Integrated Air Defense System of the Commonwealth of Independent States, the minister said.