TechBrits undeniably identify Russia's key weapon

Brits undeniably identify Russia's key weapon

Tor anti-aircraft system, illustrative photo
Tor anti-aircraft system, illustrative photo
Images source: © Russian Ministry of Defense
ed. MT

5:59 PM EST, December 3, 2023

The contest between Russia and Ukraine to surpass each other's land-based anti-aircraft defense systems continues to be a significant aspect of the continuing war, as stressed by the British Ministry of Defense. In their daily intelligence update, they emphasized the crucial role the SA-15 Tor plays for Russia, noting its considerable effectiveness. But what is it that makes this weapon so vital?

The SA-15 Tor, which is its NATO code (Russians refer to it as 9K330 Tor), is a short-range ground-to-air missile system with a maximum range of approximately nine miles. It's employed by Russian army air defense units to protect their front-line ground forces.

Contrastingly, the British Ministry of Defense noted that other short-range systems, such as the SA-22 Pantsir, are managed by the Russian Air Force. These systems are typically set up to defend command nodes, long-range ground-to-air missile systems, and air bases.

The report further highlights, "The SA-15 is currently acting as the frontline of Russia's extended air defense network in Ukraine, specifically used to counter Ukrainian unmanned aircraft operations. One of the potential limitations of this system in the current conflict could be crew endurance. Each system is managed by just three individuals, suggesting maintaining a high state of readiness over an extended period could be incredibly taxing."

The history of the SA-15 system can be traced back to the early 1980s in the USSR. Equipped with advanced radar technology and a high level of automation for its time, the SA-15 remains capable of tackling various types of airborne targets — from airplanes and helicopters to unmanned aircraft (UAV), maneuvering missiles, and guided missiles.

Several modifications to this system have been made by the Russians over time. The Tor-M was introduced in 1991, followed by the Tor-M1 and Tor-M2. The enhanced versions offer, amongst other improvements, a better minimum range (0.6 miles in the Tor-M2).

The missiles incorporated in this Russian system carry approximately a 33-pound warhead and can reach speeds of around 2005 miles per hour. The system utilizes a crawler-based chassis, designed to negotiate rugged terrains, reinforcing the mobility of the SA-15 in challenging environments.

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