| 9K33 Osa
(NATO reporting name: SA-8 Gecko, SA-N-4 Gekko)
|6×6 amphibious SAM system
|Place of origin
|See list of present and former operator
|NII-20 Research Institute
|Znamya Truda Plant
|OSA-A, OSA-AK, OSA-AKM, OSA-M
|4.20 m (radar mast stowed)
|6 9M33, 9M33M1, 9M33M2 or 9M33M3 missiles
8 km/h (swimming)
The 9K33 Osa (Russian: 9К33 «Оса», literally "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.
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-launcher and radar 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 on the 9K33 Osa TELAR received the NATO codename Land Roll. It was derived from the naval 'Pop Group' radar system but is smaller since it does not require the elaborate 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 added 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 that 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. These are used for command uplink to the missile. This twin antenna system permits the 'Land Roll' radar to control up to two missiles simultaneously against a single target.
The two missiles can be guided on different frequencies to further complicate electronic countermeasures (ECM). There is a tubular device fitted to and above the tracking radar; this is a 9Sh33 electro-optical tracker. It can be 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 also assigned a single radar collimation vehicle 9V914 (initially on the BAZ-5938 chassis but more often found on the ZiL-131 truck). This vehicle assists in the alignment of the TELAR's radar systems, ensuring accurate target tracking and engagement.
The 9K33M3 is also able to use missiles which are wire-guided, presumably for use in an ECM-heavy environment where the radio command guidance may not operate properly.
|Place of origin
|See list of present and former operator
|Znamya Truda Plant
|9M33, 9M33M1, 9M33M2, 9M33M3, 9A33BM3
|Contact and proximity
|Solid propellant rocket motor
|15 kilometres (9.3 mi)
|12,000 metres (39,000 ft)
|2 s boost, then 15 s sustain
|dual-thrust rocket motor.
Engagement range for the early versions is approximately 2–9 km (1.3–5.6 miles) and engagement altitudes of between 50 and 5,000 m (164–16,400 ft). The 9M33M2 "Osa-A" missile extends the ranges out to 1.5–10 km (1–6.2 miles) 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 as such are also able to fly further (about 15 km/9 miles) but the system is not able to engage targets at longer ranges, due to other factors such as the radar tracking of the missiles. The system is designed for use primarily against jet aircraft and helicopters in any kind of weather.
The 9M33 missiles are 3.158 m (10.3 ft) long, weigh 126 kg (278 lb) and use command guidance. There is also a backup low-light optical tracking system for heavy ECM environments. The latest 9M33M3 missiles have an increased total weight of 170 kg (375 lb) in order to provide the 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 missile and Mach 1.6 for the M2\M3 missiles. The warhead for the initial and M2 versions weighs 19 kg (42 pounds), 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 being 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. Time to prepare for engagements from being in 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, this permits the radar to gather and control it at very short ranges (about 1.6 km). The sustainer motor has a 15-second burn, 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 possible command. The warhead is said to have a lethal radius of 5 m at low altitude against an F-4 Phantom size target.
Produced by the USSR/Russia, there are many export customers for this system, including Cuba, Greece (from the former East Germany), Poland, Syria, Ecuador and Iraq.
After the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982, in which Syrian air defenses were obliterated by a massive air campaign against Syrian SAM sites in the Beqaa valley, the Syrians managed to deploy Osas. At least one F-4 Phantom in a SEAD mission was shot down on July 24, 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.
In late 1980s, Cuba deployed several 9K33 Osa units in southern Angola which posed a significant threat to South African air superiority at shorter ranges. 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 ever fallen into the hands of non-Warsaw Pact forces, giving Western intelligence agencies an opportunity to examine an important Soviet-bloc weapon system.
Iraq used 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.
Libyan 9K33 Osa were used, and some destroyed during the 2011 Libyan Civil War by NATO airstrikes.
On 29 November 2019, Russian sources speculated that a Soviet made 9K33 Osa fired by Houthi forces shot down a Saudi Arabian Army Aviation AH-64 Apache. Neither Yemen nor Iran had any 9K33 Osa in their armed forces, while known Houthis' operated systems are based on the Soviet made surface-to-air 2K12 Kub 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.
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, with a number of them destroyed in the following weeks when found on the battlefield. Twelve 9K33 Osa missile systems of Armenian Army were destroyed during the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict by Azerbaijani Bayraktar TB2s. 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, Col. Zaur Nudiraliyev, died in the crash. Azerbaijani officials acknowledged the loss in December 2020, with the 9K33 Osa vehicle possibly using passive detection and shoot and scoot tactics to survive the Azerbaijani suppression of air defenses missions.
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.
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.
On 23 March 2022, following the Russian invasion, The Washington Post reported that the United States was sending additional systems to Ukraine.
PPRU-M1 (PPRU-M1-2) is a mobile command center for a mixed grouping of air defense forces, such as 9K33 Osa and the Tor missile system, 9K22 Tunguska, 9K35 Strela-10 and 9K38 Igla.
In 2019 Poland started 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.
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