Moscow: Russian military experts have forecast that Western nations will have 80,000 cruise missile by 2020, a top military official has said.
"We expect Western countries to have at least 80,000 cruise missiles by 2020, including about 2,000 of them nuclear-powered," Gen Igor Sheremet, deputy commander of the Russian General Staff, said in an interview to the Ekho Moskvy radio station.
Sheremet said the missiles were clearly not simply designed for drilling or intimidation purposes. "They can deliver disarming or even `decapitation` strikes."
Thus the plans to develop Russia`s air and space defence system in 2011 as instructed by President Dmitry Medvedev was justified, he said.
The new system will combine the existing air defence and missile defence networks, missile early-warning systems and airspace monitoring systems under a unified strategic command.
In mid-February, Valery Ivanov, commander of the strategic command of the new air and space defence system, said the system would be set up and start operating by the end of 2011.
The Russian political and military leadership has long considered plans to develop strong missile and space defences by 2020, but no concrete steps have been taken so far and the country does not even have a well-defined command structure to tackle this problem.
The military plans to build a comprehensive air and space defence network consisting of S-400 Triumf and future S-500 air defence systems and the Soviet-era MiG-31 Foxhound supersonic interceptors.
The S-500 system is expected to have an extended range of up to 600 km and simultaneously engage up to 10 targets. The system will be capable of destroying hypersonic and ballistic targets.
Russia`s leading missile manufacturer Almaz-Antei said last March that it was developing at least six types of advanced air defence systems to be available for the Russian military in around 2015.