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Man-portable shoulder-launched surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems

The ever rising role of combat aircraft in contemporary military confl icts dictates the need for enhanced force and potential target defenses against air-to-ground attacks. Man-portable shoulder-launched surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems are capable of engaging attacking aircraft flying at low and very low altitudes. Man-portable SAM systems still remain the most efficient anti-aircraft weapon to date, and, in some cases, they have no alternative as a means of defeating threat aircraft. The Ukrainian defense industry proposes packages to upgrade the man-portable SAM systems STRELA-2M and IGLA-1to more capable configurations STRELA-2MM and IGLA-1M, respectively.

The STRELA- and IGLA-series man-portable air defense [MANPAD] systems (including license manufactured) are currently deployed with more than 60 armed forces throughout the globe. Most of these systems need to be upgraded to the modern-day requirements that are made on effective means of countering a variety of hostile aircraft types.

Ukrainian weapons designers have developed upgrade packages for the STRELA-2M and IGLA-1M MANPAD systems to enhance their performance capabilities to the STRELA-2MM and IGLA-1M standards, respectively. Improvements in the systems’ performance capabilities are provided by means of replacing their standard IR guidance units with more up-to-date designs proposed by the Fiscal Enterprise Arsenal Central Design Bureau [Arsenal CDB]. Specifically, this is about the optical seekers OGS 36-45 for the STRELA-2MM and the OGS UA-424 for the IGLA-1M, which have already been demonstrated at international arms exhibitions. The upgraded STRELA-2MM is a head-on attack missile capable of effectively countering hostile fixed wing and rotary-wing aircraft. The missile’s optical seeker integrates technologies enabling it to defeat IR decoy flares and natural interference, and it also offers enhanced performance capabilities in severe jamming environments. The optical seeker OGS UA-424 for the IGLA-1M provides enhanced capabilities against IR countermeasures, along with improved single-launch kill probability, and, most importantly, it offers a far extended range as compared to the baseline design while attacking its targets head-on. The Arsenal CDB proposes one more upgrade package for the IGLA MANPAD system, known under designator “336-24”. The 336-24 upgrade incorporates a newly-designed guidance unit replacing the standard 9E418 IR seeker fitting the baseline IGLA missile. The new seeker is expected to provide much better performance capabilities than the established MANPAD systems such as the STINGER, IGLA-1 or IGLA, and much superior to the STRELA-2M. In particular, the MANPAD system ‘336-24’ provides the single-launch kill probability of 0.4-0.6 while operating in heavy ECM environments, as compared to 0.1 for the IGLA. The 336-24 upgrade offers a maximum effective range of 5,200 m.

The 336-24 upgrade program for the IGLA-1 man portable SAM system provides a good example of highly fruitful cooperation between Ukrainian defense companies. In particular, the manufacture of the optical seekers designed for the system by the Arsenal CDB could be launched at the Research-and-Manufacturing Complex Progress, and the Chemical Plant in Pavlohrad, Ukraine’s top manufacturer of rocket propellants for several decades now, has developed a new solid propellant for the 336-24 missile to enable extended effective ranges and enhanced maneuverability performance. The upgraded MANPAD systems can be integrated into batteries, each consisting of 4-6 launchers, and they are also suitable for installation on combat platforms such as armored infantry fighting vehicles. In the latter case, considering that weight restrictions are not as tough there as with man-portable configurations, the missile can be fitted with a heavier, hence more powerful propulsion to allow for extended ranges.

By upgrading the available MANPAD systems to more capable configurations, the Ukrainian Armed Forces could fill in the current void in their short-range tactical air defense capability.