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Russia Builds Highly Effective Pechora Surface-To-Air Missiles

The Pechora S-125 - file image
by Nikita Petrov
Military commentator for RIA Novosti
Moscow (RIA Novosti) Aug 21, 2007
The final stage of the Combat Fraternity 2007 military exercise will be held at the Ashuluk firing range in the Astrakhan Region (southern Russia) on August 22. Defense ministers from ten CIS states will fly to the range after the opening ceremony of the MAKS 2007 aerospace show, which opens in Zhukovsky near Moscow on August 21.

They will see the operation of the S-125 Pechora (NATO reporting name SA-3 Goa), S-300PMU (SA-10 Grumble) and other air defense missile systems, as well as the flights of the Su-27 Flanker interceptors and Su-25 Frogfoot close support aircraft.

In fact, the ministers will see in action in the lower reaches of the Volga what they saw on stands in Zhukovsky. The Joint Air Defense System includes the absolute majority of CIS states, even Ukraine, which is not a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). Seeing it in action makes a strong impression on air defense specialists and defense ministers, who are political leaders rather than generals.

However, some systems will not take part in field firing exercises. One of them is the Pechora-2M SAM system, which Egypt has bought after a long period of dealing with other countries' military exporters. About a dozen countries outside the CIS want to buy Pechora. Among the former Soviet republics Tajikistan has bought it, Uzbekistan is negotiating the acquisition, and Armenia is considering a deal. What attracts them?

Vyacheslav Korotayev, deputy director general of the Defense Systems company that produces Pechora-2M, said it is a revamped version of the S-125 Pechora, which seven CIS countries still have, along with missiles for it. Although Pechora-2M is supplied together with new 5V27D and 5V27DE missiles, which have an improved radio detonator and warhead, it can also use the older 5V27 missiles, which is quite economic for any army.

The new Pechora is mobile and can be redeployed within 20-25 minutes, compared with three hours needed to move the old version. This is of crucial importance for an air defense system, because air battles do not last long, and the system also needs to evade return enemy fire. The sooner it moves away, the more chances it has to survive until the next battle.

Besides, Pechora-2M has cutting-edge microprocessors, with their service life advanced from 30-40 to 2,000 and even 10,000 hours. Moreover, the new jam-resistant system can successfully cope with enemy ECM (Electronic-Counter-Measures) systems and missiles.

Experts recall that the United States had used Shrike anti-radar missiles against targets in Vietnam. But things have changed since then, and even the sophisticated HARM anti-radar missile is unable to hit Pechora-2M aerial posts because they simply vanish off the screen. Unlike its predecessor, which had a 26 km (16 miles) range, the new SAM system can hit enemy aircraft 35 km (22 miles) away.

The new system's aerial and command posts are located up to 300 meters from missile launchers. Commanders relay orders via telecode and optronic networks, which shield telecommunications and engagement control equipment from enemy ECM systems and enhance personnel survival in case of air strikes.

The Pechora-2M features an optronic network comprising one TV channel and one thermal imaging channel, allowing it to attack and destroy aerial targets day and night in conditions of electronic warfare. Consequently, the Pechora-2M can hit F-16 fighters at a 30-km (19-mile) range and larger aircraft at a range of up to 35 km (22 miles).

The revamped Osa-AKM, Tor-M1 and Buk-M1-2 SAM systems have similar optronic networks, but one Pechora-2M can cover an area assigned to six or eight Osa or Tor systems. This is a serious advantage in terms of the price-combat efficiency ratio.

It is for the latter reason that the CIS countries are buying Pechora-2M, rather than S-300 or more expensive S-400 systems. Military experts claim that it is more profitable for Russia to sell the cheaper Pechora to its CIS and CSTO partners. Why?

To begin with, Russia does not have enough modernized S-300 and the cutting-edge S-400 systems for its own armed forces. Second, Pechora-2M can deal with many air targets, including some types of ballistic and cruise missiles, no less effectively than S-300 or S-400, and for less money.

And lastly, a fence of modernized Pechora SAM systems along the Russian border (Belarus has a similar system) deprives the potential air aggressor or terrorist of the surprise factor. The incoming targets can be destroyed long before they reach the country's industrial, economic or cultural centers.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.

Source: RIA Novosti

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