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Russian SA-8B Osa-AKM air defense missile systems destroyed 115 Ukrainian air targets

According to information published by the Russian Ministry of Defense on August 10, 2022, the modernized Osa-AKM (US DoD designation SA-8B "Gecko Mod-1") air defense missile systems have eliminated more than 100 targets, most of which were drones, during the military operation in Ukraine.
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Russian army 9K33M3 Osa-AKM SA-8B mobile air defense missile system. (Picture source Vitaly Kuzmin)

The SA-8 Gecko NATO code name (Russian name 9K33 OSA) is a Russian-made highly mobile, low-altitude, short-range tactical surface-to-air missile system. It entered into service with the Soviet armed forces in 1971. The engagement range for the SA-8 Gecko missile is approximately 2–9 km and engagement altitudes of between 50 to 5,000 m.

The 9K33M3 "Osa-AKM" (US DoD designation SA-8B "Gecko Mod-1") with TELAR 9A33BM3 and missiles 9M33M3 was introduced in 1980. It has an extended firing range of 15 km and a maximum altitude of up to 12 km. It also features an IFF antenna.

According to the Russian Defense Ministry, air defense servicemen have destroyed 115 air targets while accomplishing their combat missions. Several of these targets were identified as Turkish Bayraktar TB2 drones, judging by the fragments found. Unmanned aerial vehicles produced in other foreign states were also downed. The air targets were shot down with the help of the Osa-AKM air defense system.

As the Defense Ministry said, the Osa crews are covering the Russian army’s units round the clock. “The system’s capabilities enable the crews to reliably protect the troops during marches and pontoon bridge deployment, cover artillery firing positions and effectively counter unmanned aerial vehicles,” the press office said.

It was earlier reported about the repeated use of the complex during the special military operation. On June 15, 2022, the Russian Defense Ministry posted video clips showing the work of crews of Osa-AKM air defense systems. The footage showed an Osa-AKM self-propelled launcher moving to combat positions, the operation of target detection and tracking station, and a missile launch. The Defense Ministry said in a comment to the video that the crews of the air defense system were monitoring the air situation, promptly determining target coordinates and effectively destroying various types of targets, including drones.

“Our main task is to cover friendly troops from adversary air-launched weapons, in particular, unmanned aerial vehicles. The activity of drones has decreased in recent months, they have begun to keep away from air defense units to avoid losses. We are coping with work successfully, all the crews are well prepared, everyone is coping with the tasks,” an Osa-AKM battalion commander said.

While accomplishing missions, launcher crews perform long marches to assigned areas, negotiating water obstacles. The ability of this system to cross various water reservoirs is highly valued among the troops, the Defense Ministry stressed. Other types of air defense systems need pontoon crossings or bridges, while the Osa-AKM only needs a shelf approach.

Russian SA 8B Osa AKM air defense missile systems destroyed 115 Ukrainian air targets 925 002
Russian army 9K33M3 Osa-AKM SA-8B mobile air defense missile system. (Picture source Vitaly Kuzmin)

The Osa-AKM is an upgraded version of the Soviet-made SA-8 Osa air defense system, the development of which began in the 1960s. The system was made operational in 1971. A decision on its modernization was made in 1975. The upgraded Osa-AKM complex passed state tests in 1979, and in 1980 it was put into service.

The air defense system consists of a self-propelled launcher, target detection and tracking stations, a computer, missiles, and a transporter-loader vehicle. The system is carried by the 5937 6×6 floating cross-country chassis. It is powered by the BD20K300 diesel engine with a capacity of 300 hp. The Osa-AKM has a maximum road speed of up to 80 km/h and a swimming speed of up to 8 km/h, which is provided by two jet engines.

The Osa-AKM is armed with six 9M33M3 surface-to-air missiles capable of striking adversary air-launched weapons at an altitude of 10-5,000 m, at a range of 1.5-10.3 km (0.9-6.4 mi) and at a speed of up to 500 m/s. The missile has a high-explosive fragmentation warhead.

Compared to its predecessors, the Osa-AKM is able to destroy hovering helicopters and those flying at a speed of up to 80 m/s at almost zero altitudes at ranges from 2 to 6.5 km (1.2-4 mi).

In addition to Russia, Osa-AKM systems are in service with the armed forces of Belarus, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Bulgaria, Greece, India, and some others. The Ukrainian Armed Forces also operate these systems. The Russian Defense Ministry reported on their destruction on June 1, 9, and 17.

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