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Kazakhstan, Russia sign contract on S-300 air defense systems

Kazakhstan has signed a contract with Russia on the purchase of S-300 air defense missile systems, the Kazakh defense minister said on Wednesday. "We have recently signed a contract with Russia and are buying S-300 systems," Danial Akhmetov said. Last month, Kazakhstan announced plans to equip 10 battalions with S-300 air defense missile systems bought from Russia, with deliveries to begin in 2009. The latest version of the S-300 family is the S-300PMU2 Favorit, which has a range of up to 195 kilometers (about 120 miles) and can intercept aircraft and ballistic missiles at altitudes from 10 meters to 27 kilometers. It is considered one of the world's most effective all-altitude regional air defense systems, comparable in performance to the U.S. MIM-104 Patriot system. Russia announced last year it was planning to expand military-technical cooperation with members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and set up an integrated air defense network with them. The CSTO is a post-Soviet security grouping comprising Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. Akhmetov said in mid-February that the delivery of S-300 systems "would help the republic's integration into the CSTO and significantly enhance the protection of the country's airspace."

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