TechUkraine bolsters air defence with modernised S-125 Neva system

Ukraine bolsters air defence with modernised S‑125 Neva system

A missile from the Neva-125/SC system launched by Ukrainians near Odessa towards a Russian flying object.
A missile from the Neva-125/SC system launched by Ukrainians near Odessa towards a Russian flying object.
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Przemysław Juraszek

3 July 2024 20:03

A photo showing the S-125 Neva anti-aircraft system operation near Odessa has appeared online. We present the performance of this system, which Ukraine received from Poland an unknown number of batteries.

Ukraine has significant shortages in anti-aircraft defence due to the depletion of missile stockpiles for post-Soviet systems and insufficient deliveries of modern systems from the West. For this reason, outdated systems such as the MIM-23 HAWK systems from the USA and Spain, or the S-125 Neva-SC and S-200 Vega from Poland, are also in use.

Although these relics can't handle challenging targets like ballistic missiles, they can still deal with, for instance, helicopters, large drones, aeroplanes, or even strategic bombers like the Tu-22M3 under favourable circumstances.

S-125 Neva-SC - an oldie modernised in Poland

The S-125 Neva systems were developed in the 1960s, and the Polish SC variant, which stands for self-propelled and digital, was created in the 1990s. The Polish modernisation focused on replacing the analogue fire control systems with microprocessor-based systems, thanks to cooperation with the Military University of Technology and the Military Electronic Works in Zielonka. This reduced the system's reaction time and increased its resistance to electronic warfare systems (EWS).

A key element of modernisation was also increasing the system's mobility. The missile launcher of the S-125 Neva SC system was installed on the chassis of a T-55 tank, and the radar on an eight-wheeled MAZ-543 platform.

The remaining elements, such as the radar and missiles, remained unchanged, meaning that even the modified Neva can engage targets at a distance of up to 25 kilometres and an altitude of up to 18. This is not much, but it is better than handheld anti-aircraft sets like PPZR Piorun, Mistral, or FIM-92 Stinger, which have a range and maximum altitude for engaged targets below 10 kilometres.

Guidance of two missiles simultaneously in the S-125 Neva system is done via radio command. Each missile has a 72-kilogram fragmentation warhead that generates 4,500 fragments upon explosion. The missiles have a two-stage design, with the first stage, a rocket booster, falling off a few seconds after launch. One launcher carries four missiles.

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