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Russian SAMs and ABMs

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Russian SAMs

Russian SAMs
Credit: © Mark Wade  
Perhaps no missiles ever produced had as much historical influence as the surface-to-air missiles of the Soviet Union. Originally conceived to provide a defense against the American bomber fleets of the early Cold War, they decisively affected the turn of events when they shot down American U-2 reconnaissance aircraft over Russia and Cuba. Soviet-provided missiles accounted for a hundred American aircraft over North Vietnam and set the terms of the air battle. A new generation of missiles presented a huge technological surprise and took an awful toll of Israeli aircraft in the 1973 war. To this day, Russian surface-to-air missiles provide the only defense available to most countries against American bombers, and Russian man-portable anti-aircraft missiles are a major part of the terrorist threat.

Until the fall of the Soviet Union, Russian missiles were only known in public by the designations assigned by the Western military. Since the 1990, the true designations and technical details of these missiles have become known. Not unsurprisingly, a large number of missiles that never reached production of which the West was unaware have also been described. Here all of the previously-secret details of these four generations of weapons are presented. There were huge failed projects that reached the hardware stage - Dal and V-1000. There were plans for enormous equivalents to the American Bomarc and British Bloodhound missiles. All appear.

Sergei Korolev made the first Russian experiments with surface-to-air missiles before World War II, but his imprisonment ended further work. During the war the Red Army experimented with use of Katyusha rockets as anti-aircraft barrage rockets.

After victory in Europe, Stalin ordered that German surface-to-air missiles be put into production. Teams were established headed by Sinilshchikov (Wasserfall = R-101, R-108, R-109), Rashkov (Schmetterling = R-102, R-112, R-117), and Kostin (Taifun = R-103, R-110). Isayev led the team developing Soviet storable liquid engine technology from German originals.

Within four years missiles were in flight test but it was found that the Germans themselves had not solved the guidance problem. Finally Stalin ordered his secret police chief, Beria, to conduct a ruthless crash program to solve the problem of the defense of Moscow against American bombers. Beria's son worked in an existing missile design bureau, headed by Kuksenko. Beria established absolute priorities, and exploited Russian and German engineer-prisoners. The KB-1 bureau developed the S-25 air defense system in record time. In 1953, two years from the start, tests were being conducted against crewed copies of B-29 bombers and sites around Moscow had gone into operation. This first production Soviet missile was known to the West as the SA-1 Guild.

Following Stalin's death, surface-to-air missile development returned to more standard Soviet practice. Kuksenko and Beria's son were removed from their posts and competing design bureau were designated to design the next generation of missiles.

Design and development of most of the missiles used with air defense systems over the forty years that followed was accomplished by Pavel Dmitrevich Grushin (the organization later known as Fakel MKB) Beginning with his 32B alternate to the S-25, Grushin developed a series of missiles that were the bane of American and Israeli pilots during the cold war - the S-75 (SA-2 and SA-N-2 Guideline), S-125 (SA-3 and SA-N-1 Goa), S-200 (SA-5 Gammon), S-300 (SA-10 and SA-N-6 Grumble), Shkval (SA-N-3 Goblet), Osa (SA-8 and SA-N-4 Gecko), Tor (SA-15 and SA-N-9 Gauntlet), S-300 (SA-10 and SA-N-6 Grumble). Grushin also provided the exo-atmospheric interceptor missiles for the V-1000, A-350 (ABM-1), and A-135 (ABM-3) anti-ballistic missile systems. At the time of Grushin's death on 29 November 1993, MKB Fakel had produced over 16 basic types of surface-to-air missile, 30 modernizations of these basic versions, and exported missiles to over 50 countries.

Other design teams that entered the missile design business over the years included those headed by:

L V Lyulev (at OKB-8 GKAT, later EMKB Novator named for L V Lyulev), responsible for the unique Krug (SA-4 Gainful) ramjet-powered missile, and later the super-high acceleration missiles for the A-135, Buk (SA-11 Gadfly), and S-300V (SA-12 Giant/Gladiator) systems. Lavochkin (OKB-301), responsible for the missiles for the original S-25 system. The bureau got out of the surface-to-air missile field after the disastrous Dal program in the early 1960's A I Lyapin (KB-82 Factory 134 GKAT, later GosMKB Vympel) responsible for the unique Kub (SA-6 Gainful) missile

Different firms developed the overall anti-aircraft and anti-ballistic missile systems themselves, as opposed to the missiles that were part of those systems. This meant that air defense systems developed by different bureaus could use the same missile. Leading system designers were:

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