Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The NIIP/Vympel 2K12 "Kub" (Russian 2К12 "Куб" - cube, NATO reporting name SA-6 "Gainful") mobile surface-to-air missile (SAM) system is a Soviet low level air defence system designed to protect ground forces from air attack. Each battery consists of a number of similar tracked vehicles, one of which carries the 1S91 (NATO designation "Straight Flush") 25 kW G/H-band continuous-wave radar (range 75 km/47 miles) in addition to an optical sight and is usually accompanied by four triple-missile TELs and four trucks carrying three spare missiles and a crane. The original system went into production in 1967. It is sometimes claimed that the SA-N-3 naval SAM system is a version of the 3M9 but this is not the case, the SA-N-3 is a separate system and, unusually for Russian SAMs, has no land-based version.
The most famous use of the SA-6 in a conflict was during the 1973 Yom Kippur War when a number of Israeli aircraft were shot down early in the conflict. The radar warning receivers on the Israeli aircraft did not alert the pilot to the fact that he was being illuminated by the radar. Once the RWRs were reprogrammed and tactics changed the SA-6 was no longer such a grave threat. In fact, it is estimated the four times as many friendly aircraft were shot down by the SA-6 batteries than Israeli aircraft.
Missiles and Versions
The fairly large missiles have a maximum effective range of 3-24 km (2-15 miles) and an effective altitude of 50-12000m (164-39,370 ft). The missile weighs 599 kg (1321 lb) and the warhead weighs 56 kg (123 lb). Top missile speed is approx. Mach 2.8. Propulsion is via a solid fuel rocket motor which, when burned out, forms the combustion chanber for a ramjet in a pioneering design putting this missile far ahead of its contemporaries in terms of propulsion (not to mention other areas).
In 1977 a new version, the 3M9M1 (US DoD SA-6B) was created with three missiles fitted onto a different chassis (the same as that of the SA-11 "Gadfly", the SA-6's effective replacement) with an integrated "Fire Dome" missile guidance radar.
The 9K37 "Buk" (NATO reporting name SA-11 "Gadfly") is the evolution of the 3M9. For comparisons between the 3M9, 9K37 and 9K38, see the 9K37 entry.
An earlier incremental upgrade saw the 2K12 missiles replaced with the 2K12E versions and this system was known as "Квадрат" (square).
Additional Radar Systems
The SA-6 can also be used at a regimental level. If used as such it is accompanied by a number of extra radar systems for target acquisition at longer ranges and lower altitudes, in addition to the "Straight Flush". These are:
- P-12/1Rl14 "Spoon Rest" 314 kW A-band early warning (also used by the SA-2, range 275 km/170 miles)
- P-40 "Long Track" E-band early warning radar (also used by the SA-4 and SA-8, range 175 km/108 miles)
- P-15 "Flat Face" 380 kW C-band target acquisition radar (also used by the SA-3, range 250 km/155 miles)
- "Thin Skin" or "Side Net" E-band height finding radar (also used by the SA-2, SA-4 and SA-5, range 240 km/148 miles)
- "Score Board" IFF radar
The "Spoon Rest" and "Thin Skin" are mounted on a truck, "Long Track" on a tracked vehicle (a modified AT-T ) and "Flat Face" on a van. ("Score Board" unknown)
Without the P-40 "Long Track" mobile radar vehicle, the SA-6 is unable to track aircraft at high altitudes.
The SA-6 system shares a lot of components with the SA-4 system. In may ways they are designed to complement each other; SA-4 is effective at long ranges and high altitudes, SA-6 at medium ranges and intermediate altitudes. The SA-7 and SA-8 systems complete this picture with the low-altitude and short range capabilities.
The system is able to acquire and begin tracking targets using the 1S91 "Straight Flush" radar at 75 km (47 miles) and begin illumination and guidance at 28 km (17 miles). IFF is also performed using this radar. It can only guide between one and three missiles to a single target at any time. Guidance is via command with terminal semi-active radar homing (SARH). Detonation is via either the impact or proximity fuze. On the latest models, this vehicle is also fitted with an optical tracking system which allows engagement without the use of the radar (for stealth reasons, or due to heavy ECM jamming) in which case the effective altitude is limited to 14 km/46000 ft. The optical tracking method also allows engagements to altitudes below that where the radar is able to track targets. Maximum target speed is around Mach 2 for head-on engagements and Mach 1 for tail-chase engagements. Top speed of the missile is approximately Mach 2.8.
Surveillance Radar Photos
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