Russia could start producing a new air-defence missile system for export by 2009, developers say.

The S-400 Triumf, developed by central design bureau Almaz, is an upgrade of the S-300 missile system family.

It is designed to intercept and destroy airborne targets such as stealth aircraft, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles, at a distance of up to 250 miles, and a speed of up to three miles per second.

According to local media reports, the first S-400 systems have been deployed to an air defence missile regiment near Moscow.

Almaz head Igor Ashurbeili says the system will be tested by the military and if there are no problems export production will begin within two years.

Russian airforce chief Colonel General Alexander Zelin has already officially suggested the system could be used to provide security for the 2014 Winter Olympics, to be held in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

“The organising committee will prepare the city for the Olympics, while we will prepare air-defence systems and ensure the security of the games,” he says.

Reported by Elizabeth Clifford-Marsh