- The S-300 system can fire different kinds of interceptor missiles, but the main one Ukraine has is the 5V55R missile, which has a semi-active radar homing terminal guidance
- The 48N6 missile uses a guidance system called track-via-missile (TBM), which combines radio command guidance with semi-active radar homing in the last part of its flight.
During the annual Air Force Association conference, Gen. James Hecker, who is in charge of the US Air Forces in Europe and Africa, said that these huge losses of aircraft cut the Russian ground troops off from the air support they needed to take and hold territory.
Hecker also said that one of Ukraine’s biggest requests at the Ukraine Defense Contact Group meeting at Ramstein Air Base in Germany was for more SA-10 and SA-11 missiles. However, these weapons were made in the Soviet Union, and the US does not have any of them.
“It’s hard to bring them down. In fact, they are. Hecker said that the SA-10 and SA-11 air defence systems would be hard to take out even with fifth-generation stealth aircraft and better flying. He also said that Russia didn’t try hard enough to take out the Ukrainian air defences at the start of the conflict.
#Ukraine: The Russian forces claimed to hit a Ukrainian S-300 battery, consisting of what appears to be a 5P85S launcher and 5N63S engagement radar, with a cluster munitions fired from a Smerch MRL- causing a massive explosion. It is unknown when or where precisely this occurred. pic.twitter.com/Vp62VR9OAM
— 🇺🇦 Ukraine Weapons Tracker (@UAWeapons) May 6, 2022
“We would have put that at the top of our list.”
The SA-11 Gadfly And The SA-10 Grumble
The SA-11 Gadfly (also known as the Buk-M1) and SA-10 Grumble (also known as the S-300P) are medium-range and long-range air defence systems that pose a threat to Russian planes flying at medium altitudes or higher.
The S-300 system can fire different kinds of interceptor missiles, but the main one Ukraine has is the 5V55R missile, which has a semi-active radar homing terminal guidance, a maximum range of about 90 kilometres, and can hit targets at high altitudes.
Buk-M1 can fire 9M38 and 9M38M1 missiles, which have a maximum range of about 32 and 35 kilometres and a maximum altitude of 20 and 22 kilometres, respectively.
Before Russia invaded, the Ukraine had about 300 S-300 launchers and 72 Buk-M1 systems. Aside from that, Finland also gave the Ukraine some Buk-M1 units that had been in storage for a while but were kept ready to use in case of a war.
More than six months into the war, it looks like Ukraine has lost around 24 S-300 launchers and six Buk-M1 launch vehicles, according to the numbers put together by the military tracking blog Oryx. These numbers are based on visual confirmations.
Even though the real number of losses may be higher, the slow and steady loss of Ukraine’s air defence systems, especially the long-range S-300 systems, could cause Kyiv officials a lot of worry.
#Ukraine: A Russian Su-25SM air support jet was shot down by the Ukrainian army using a MANPADS over Volokhiv Yar, #Kharkiv Oblast. According to the Russian side, the jet crashed, but the pilot was evacuated. pic.twitter.com/r5fielrtXR
— 🇺🇦 Ukraine Weapons Tracker (@UAWeapons) September 7, 2022
A previous EurAsian Times article said that Ukraine loses at least three or four S-300 launchers every week.
Air defence systems that work at medium to high altitudes are also needed to force Russian planes to fly below 4.5 kilometres, which is right in the range of the man-portable air defence systems (MANPADs) that have played a big part in the Ukraine war.
Since the war started in February, many different kinds of MANPADS from many different countries have been sent to the Ukrainian forces all over the country, and more are on the way.
But these MANPADS won’t work without the S-300s and Buk-M1s, which are needed to make it possible to shoot down enemy planes from lower altitudes. So, Ukraine needs high-level SAMs to stop the Russian military from having the upper hand in the air during the conflict.
Several Sources Of S-300 Systems
In March, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky asked the US Congress for help to get more S-300 systems. This showed how important the S-300 was and could mean that the Ukrainian military may have a serious lack of SAM batteries.
There are several possible places in NATO where Ukraine could get more S-300s to add to its defence systems.
Greece has 12 S-300PMU-1 systems, which are an improved version with a new 30N6E radar and can fire 48N6 interceptor missiles. Bulgaria only has one S-300PMU system.
The 48N6 missile uses a guidance system called track-via-missile (TBM), which combines radio command guidance with semi-active radar homing in the last part of its flight. It is known that the maximum ranges of the different types of missiles are between 144 and 258 kilometres.
After the breakup of Czechoslovakia, Slovakia also got a single S-300PMU battery. This is the only system that is known to have been given to Ukraine so far.
But the Russian Ministry of Defense has already said that Kalibr cruise missiles launched from the sea were used to destroy the S-300 air defence system that Slovakia gave to Ukraine. This happened near the city of Dnipro.
In a statement sent to the Associated Press, the office of Slovakian Prime Minister Eduard Heger said, “Our S-300 system has not been destroyed.” This was in response to Russia’s claims (AP).