9K33 Osa
(NATO reporting name: SA-8 Gecko, SA-N-4 Gekko)
9A33BM3 transporter-launcher and radar vehicle of the upgraded 9K33M3 Osa-AKM
Type6×6 amphibious SAM system
Place of originSoviet Union
Service history
In service1971–present
Used bySee list of present and former operator
Production history
DesignerNII-20 Research Institute
ManufacturerZnamya Truda Plant
No. built1,200[4]
Specifications (OSA-AKM)
Mass17.5 tonnes
Length9.14 m (30 ft 0 in)
Width2.75 m (9 ft 0 in)
Height4.20 m (13 ft 9 in) (radar mast stowed)
Crew5 soldiers

6 9M33, 9M33M1, 9M33M2 or 9M33M3 missiles
EngineD20K300 diesel
Ground clearance400 mm (16 in)
500 km (311 mi)[5]
Maximum speed 80 km/h (50 mph)
8 km/h (5.0 mph) (swimming)

The 9K33 Osa (Russian: 9К33 «Оса»; English: "wasp"; NATO reporting name SA-8 Gecko) is a highly mobile, low-altitude, short-range tactical surface-to-air missile system developed in the Soviet Union in the 1960s and fielded in 1972. Its export version name is Romb.[6]


Polish OSA-AKM

The Osa was the first mobile air defense missile system incorporating its own engagement radars on a single vehicle.

All versions of the 9K33 feature all-in-one 9A33 transporter erector launcher and radar (TELAR) vehicles which can detect, track and engage aircraft independently or with the aid of regimental surveillance radars. The six-wheeled transport vehicles BAZ-5937 are fully amphibious and air transportable. The road range is about 500 km.

The 1S51M3-2 radar system of the 9K33 Osa TELAR received the NATO codename Land Roll. It was derived from the naval 'Pop Group' radar system but is smaller as it does not require a stabilisation system. An improved system, the Osa-AKM (NATO reporting name SA-8B 'Gecko' Mod 1) was first seen in Germany in 1980. It had improvements to the launcher configuration, carrying six missiles in ribbed containers.

The system is reported to be of the frequency-agile monopulse type. It consists of an elliptical rotating surveillance antenna mounted on top of the array, operates in H band (6 to 8 GHz) and has a 30 km acquisition range against most targets. The large pulsed J band (14.5 GHz) engagement antenna is mounted below it in the centre of the array and has a maximum tracking range of about 20 km.

Mounted on either side of the tracking radar antenna is a small J band parabolic dish antenna to track the missile. Below it is a small circular antenna which emits an I band uplink capture beam to gather the missile shortly after launch. The final antennas in the array are two small white rectangular ones, one on either side of the array mounted alongside the I band, used for command uplink to the missile. The twin antenna system permits the 'Land Roll' radar to control up to two missiles simultaneously against a single target.

Two missiles can be guided on different frequencies to further complicate electronic countermeasures (ECM). The 9Sh33 electro optical tracker is fitted to and above the tracking radar, used to track the target when the main tracking radar is jammed by ECM.

A 9K33 battery comprises four 9A33B TELAR vehicles and two 9T217 transloader vehicles on BAZ-5939 chassis with reload missiles and a crane. A reload time of five minutes has been reported per TELAR.

In addition to the TELARs, each regiment is assigned a 9V914 radar collimation vehicle (initially on the BAZ-5938 chassis but more often found on the ZiL-131 truck) that assists in the alignment of the TELAR's radar systems, ensuring accurate target tracking and engagement.


SA-N-4 launcher covered by a circular plate on the Slava-class cruiser Marshal Ustinov.

The 9K33M3 is also able[citation needed] to use wire-guided missiles, presumably for use in an ECM-heavy environment where radio command guidance may not operate properly.


9M33M3 missile
TypeSurface-to-air missile
Place of originSoviet Union
Service history
In service1971–present
Used bySee list of present and former operator
Production history
DesignerMKB "Fakel"
ManufacturerZnamya Truda Plant
Variants9M33, 9M33M1, 9M33M2, 9M33M3, 9A33BM3
Specifications (9K33M3[8])
Mass170 kg (370 lb)
Length3,158 mm (10 ft 4.3 in)
Diameter209.6 mm (8 in)
Warhead weight16 kg (35 lb)[7]
Contact and proximity

PropellantSolid propellant rocket motor
15 kilometres (9.3 mi)
Flight altitude12,000 metres (39,000 ft)
Boost time2 s boost, then 15 s sustain
Maximum speed 1020 m/s (Mach 2.9)
dual-thrust rocket motor.
Accuracy5 m

Engagement range for early versions is approximately 2–9 km (1.3–5.6 mi) with engagement altitudes of between 50 and 5,000 m (164–16,400 ft). The 9M33M2 "Osa-A" missile extends the ranges to 1.5–10 km (1–6.2 mi) and engagement altitudes to 25–5,000 m (82–16,400 ft). The 9M33M3 missile greatly enhances the altitude engagement envelope to 10–12,000 m (33–42,500 ft), and are able to travel further (about 15 km/9 mi). However, the system is unable to engage targets at longer ranges, due to other factors such as the limitations of the radar tracking of the missiles. The system is designed for use primarily against jet aircraft and helicopters in any weather.

The 9M33 missiles are 3.158 m (10.3 ft) long, weigh 126 kg (278 lb) and use command guidance. A backup low-light optical tracking system is available for heavy ECM environments. The latest 9M33M3 missiles have an increased total weight of 170 kg (375 lb) in order to provide extended range coverage and larger warhead. Propulsion is provided by a dual-thrust solid fuel rocket motor. Both versions feature a missile speed of around Mach 2.4 (peaking at around Mach 3) for a maximum target engagement speed of around Mach 1.4 for the original 9M33 missile and Mach 1.6 for the 9M33M2\M3 missiles. The warhead for 9M33/M2 versions weighs 19 kg (42 lb), increased to 40 kg (88 lb) in the M3 version to improve performance against helicopters. All versions have impact and proximity fuzes.

There have been unconfirmed reports of other possible versions of the missile with both infrared and semi-active radar terminal homing seekers.

Each TELAR is able to launch and guide two missiles against one target simultaneously. Kill probability is quoted as 0.35–0.85 for the Osa and 0.55–0.85 for the Osa-AK and Osa-AKM (presumably depending upon target aspect, speed, maneuverability and radar cross section). Reaction time (from target detection to launch) is around 26 seconds. Preparation time for engagements from transit is around 4 minutes and missile reloading takes around 5 minutes. Each battery of four TELARs is usually accompanied by two reload vehicles carrying 18 missiles in sets of three, with a crane mounted on the reload vehicles to assist in moving the missiles.

When launched, the booster motor burns for two seconds, permitting the radar to gather and control it at very short ranges (about 1.6 km). The sustainer motor burns for 15-seconds, bringing the missile to a top speed of about Mach 2. Once launched, the missile is command-guided for the whole flight, and the warhead is detonated by its proximity fuze or possibly command. The warhead is said to have a lethal radius of 5 m at low altitude against an F-4 Phantom II size target. [citation needed]


P-40 'Long Track' radar set

Deployment and Operational History

Produced by the Soviet Union/Russia, the system was exported to many countries, including Cuba, Greece (from the former East Germany), Poland, Syria, Ecuador and Iraq.

During the 1982 Lebanon war in which Syrian air defenses were obliterated by a massive air campaign against Syrian SAM sites in the Beqaa valley, the Syrians deployed Osas. An F-4 Phantom in a SEAD mission was shot down on 24 July 1982 by an Osa system. The WSO (back seater), Aharon Katz was killed, while the pilot, Gil Fogel, survived and was held captive by the Syrians for two years.[9]

In the late 1980s, Cuba deployed several 9K33 Osa units in southern Angola, which posed a significant threat to South African air superiority at shorter ranges.[10] The South African 61 Mechanised Battalion Group captured an intact 9K33 Osa anti-aircraft missile system on 3 October 1987 during the Battle of Cuito Cuanavale. This was the first time that such a system had fallen into possession of non-Warsaw Pact forces, giving Western intelligence agencies an opportunity to examine an important Soviet-bloc weapon system.[11]

Iraq fielded Osa systems during the 1991 Gulf War.

The system also saw use in the 2008 Russo-Georgian War by both the Georgian and Russian militaries.

Libya deployed 9K33 Osa, with some destroyed during the 2011 Libyan Civil War by NATO airstrikes.[12]

Yemeni Civil War

On 29 November 2019, Russian sources speculated a Soviet made 9K33 Osa fired by Houthi forces shot down a Saudi Arabian Army Aviation AH-64 Apache.[13][14] Neither Yemen nor Iran had any 9K33 Osa in their armed forces, while known Houthis' operated systems are based on the Soviet made 2K12 Kub surface-to-air missile system which employs a two-stage rocket engine, and the air-to-air missiles R-73 and R-27T which both have a single stage rocket engine.[15]

2020 Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

The Armenian Air Defense extensively employed 9K33 Osa missile systems during the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. During the opening days of the war, several videos released by the Azerbaijani military showed several Armenian 9K33 Osa and 9K35 Strela-10 vehicles destroyed by Bayraktar TB2 armed drones,[16][17] with a number of them destroyed in the following weeks when found on the battlefield.[18] Twelve 9K33 Osa missile systems of Armenian Army were destroyed during the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict by Azerbaijani Bayraktar TB2s.[19] On 4 October 2020, an Azerbaijani Air force Sukhoi Su-25 aircraft was shot down by Armenian forces, probably by a 9K33 Osa while targeting Armenian positions in Fuzuli. The pilot, Colonel Zaur Nudiraliyev, died in the crash. Azerbaijani officials acknowledged the loss in December 2020,[20][21] with the 9K33 Osa vehicle possibly using passive detection and shoot and scoot tactics to survive the Azerbaijani suppression of air defenses (SEAD) missions.[22]

Russo-Ukrainian War

Ukrainian 9K33 Osa launcher destroyed during the 2022 Russian invasion.

Both Russia and Ukraine have 9K33 Osa systems in their inventory.

On 30 March 2019, during the war in Donbas, the Ukrainian Joint Forces reported destruction of an Osa-AKM surface-to-air missile system along with a Zhitel R330Zh automatic jamming system.[23]

For the main phase of hostilities starting in spring 2022, and as of 20 September 2023, 15 losses of 9K33s by Russia are documented with photos or video. Of these, 8 were destroyed, 2 were damaged, 1 was abandoned, and 4 were captured by the Ukrainians.[24]

On 23 March 2022, following the Russian invasion, The Washington Post reported that the United States was sending additional Osa systems to Ukraine.[25]

Command post

PPRU-M1 (PPRU-M1-2) is a mobile command center for a mixed grouping of air defense forces, including 9K33 Osa, and Tor missile system, 2K22 Tunguska, 9K35 Strela-10 and 9K38 Igla.[26]



T38 Stilet


In 2019, Poland began modification of the whole environment of the Osa system. Those works has been commissioned to WZU Grudziądz. The total cost is about €40-50 million.[33][34][35][36]


Armenian 9K33 Osa missiles during a military parade in Yerevan
Romanian 9K33 Osa missile launch at the Capu Midia firing range.

Current operators

Indian 9K33 Osa missile system in Delhi during a military parade

Former operators



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