Russian army integrates Igla MANPADS with newest Buk-M3 air defense system

The Russian Armed Forces integrate the newest Buk-M3 medium-range surface-to-air missile (SAM) system with the Igla (NATO reporting name: SA-18 Grouse) man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS), according to the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD).
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Buk-M3 air defense system (Picture source: Army Recognition)

In early April, the Buk-M3 and Igla air defense weapons of the Western Military District were employed to protect critically important installations during an exercise in the Kursk Region. The crews of the systems engaged targets imitating unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) at altitudes between 5 km and 10 km. The exercise saw the involvement of some 500 servicemen and more than 90 weapon systems, said the MoD.

The Russian military has been switching to a two-tier tactical air defense network that combines a very short-/short-range system and a medium-range weapon. Typically, the S-400 long-range air defense system (SA-21 Growler) is covered by the Pantsir-S (SA-22 Greyhound) self-propelled anti-aircraft gun-missile (SPAAGM) weapons, while the Buk-family system is integrated with MANPADs.

The 9K38 Igla MANPAD system has been developed by the Kolomna-based Machine-Building Design Bureau (KBM, a subsidiary of Rostec’s holding High-Precision Weapons). According to the catalog of the enterprise, the weapon engages aerial targets flying at a range of up to 5,200 m and at an altitude between 10 m and 3,500 m. The system’s solid-fuel missile carries a high-explosive fragmentation warhead.

KBM has upgraded the Igla MANPAD, with Igla-S being the latest iteration of the weapon. Compared to the baseline Igla, the export-oriented 9K338 Igla-S system carries a warhead with improved effectiveness. The weapon’s target engagement range has been extended to 6,000 m. The Igla-S can be operated at night with the use of night-vision goggles.

It should be mentioned that both Igla and Igla-S air defense weapons have been complemented with a modern electronic simulator developed by JSC Tulatochmash and JSC Training Systems. These devices allow the users of the system to train operators for modern combat.

Both Igla and Igla-S MANPADS are popular in the global arms market. At the Aero India defense show held in early February in Bangalore, Deputy Director of the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation Vladimir Drozhzhov told the TASS news agency that the preparation of a contract for the delivery and licensed manufacturing of the Igla-S air defense weapon in India was at the final stage.

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