how the air defense system “Kub” changed the tactics of the air war – Rossiyskaya Gazeta


54 years ago, the Soviet 2K12 Kub anti-aircraft missile system was adopted. Famed during the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, it became one of the world’s most famous Soviet combat systems and has played an important role in a number of armed conflicts. The high combat effectiveness and the unprecedented accuracy of the air defense system for its time forced the aviation to change tactics.

In October 1973, in the first three days of the war with Israel, the Syrian air defense shot down fifty fighters. In Tel Aviv, they were perplexed. Just six years ago, their aviation dominated the air, inflicting crushing blows on the Arab coalition forces. Now, the wonderful American F-4 Phantom fighters, one after another, did not return from missions. Some had time to report that they had been shot down by a missile fired from the ground. On October 12, the commander of the Israeli Air Force, General Peled, reported to the Minister of Defense that he had 50 of the 99 Phantoms left. By the end of the war, the victorious score of the Syrian anti-aircraft gunners had grown to 64 aircraft. 95 missiles were spent on their destruction.

The secret of the Syrians’ success came from the USSR, rode through the desert on tracks and was called “Square”. It was an export version of the Soviet Cube air defense system. In response to the supply of American supersonic fighters to the Israelis, the Soviet Union provided the Arab coalition with the latest means of destroying them. “Square” was simpler than “Cuba” and lacked some of its capabilities, but it was enough to clear the Syrian sky.

For Israeli pilots, the new anti-aircraft systems came as an unpleasant surprise. The electronic countermeasures that arrived from the United States along with the Phantoms did not work on the Squares, since they were designed for the S-75 and S-125 air defense systems operating at other frequencies. But even if Tel Aviv knew the wavelength along which the Kvadratov missiles are guided, it would not help them much. The 3M9 anti-aircraft missile was well protected from interference and had semi-active guidance. Its head captured the target immediately after launch and did not release it any more, and the ramjet engine allowed the rocket to quickly catch up with the target and intensively maneuver.

The 3M9 was not easy for the designers of the Vympel design bureau – testing and refinement of the design lasted seven years. But the rocket turned out to be wonderful: fast, maneuverable and very accurate. “Cubes” and “Squares” often shot down targets with a direct hit, which was a rarity for anti-aircraft systems of that time. “Someday the Syrians will erect a monument to the inventor of these missiles,” wrote Pari Match.

In addition to an excellent rocket, “Cube” was able to receive data on the whole not from one radar, as was customary, but from several operating in different ranges. Now admire the S-400 “Triumph” and other domestic systems that can work with various means of detection. The foundations of this practice were laid half a century ago.

The command vehicle of the complex in a combat position had a somewhat unearthly appearance. For compactness, the designers of “Cuba” placed two radars on one machine at once: detection and guidance. In the transport position, their antennas were folded, and the racks were lowered into the car body. On a signal of readiness, the “Cube” blossomed like a steel flower.

At the cost of heavy losses, the Israeli pilots managed to develop tactics to counter the “Squares”, but by that time the USSR was already testing the next generation air defense system, the Buk. And “Cube” took part in many armed conflicts in Africa, the Middle East and even in Europe. In 1995, the Serbian “Kvadrat” shot down an F-16 fighter, four years later, the Yugoslav air defense system destroyed several NATO aircraft in the same way. He is at war now: in Libya, Syria and Yemen, where the Houthis manage to shoot down American drones with old Soviet missiles.


Source: Российская Газета by rg.ru.

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