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Ukrainian forces destroy Russian Buk-M1 detection radar alongside full system

According to a tweet from the Ukraine Ministry of Defense on September 2, 2023, Ukrainian Special Forces located and destroyed a Buk-M1 system. This system included the 9K37 Buk-M1 launcher, the 9A39M1 reloader, and the less common 9S18 Kupol, a component responsible for detecting and designating missile targets in the BUK system.
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Ukrainian forces destroy Russian 9S18 Kupol detection radar alongside full Buk-M1 system (Picture source: Twitter and Yandex)

The Buk-M1, also known as the SA-11 Gadfly, is a medium-range surface-to-air missile system initially developed by the Soviet Union in the early 1980s. It has undergone multiple upgrades, enabling it to engage multiple targets simultaneously, including aircraft and cruise missiles. The system's radar allows for tracking and targeting in all weather conditions, with a range of up to 32 kilometers.

The 9A39M1 reloader for the Buk-M1 can hold 8 missiles, double the capacity of the Buk-M1 launcher. This reloading vehicle closely resembles the 9K37 SA-11 Gadfly but is equipped with a crane for missile loading. While it can launch missiles independently, it requires cooperation with a Fire Dome-equipped TELAR for precise missile guidance. The reloading vehicle can transfer its missiles to a TELAR in approximately 13 minutes and reload itself from stores in about 15 minutes.

The 9S18 "Kupol," also known as "Tube Arm" in NATO reporting, plays a critical role within the Soviet and Russian 9K37 Buk air defense missile system. This advanced station is responsible for detecting and designating air objects and was developed under the guidance of chief designer AP Vetoshko at the Research Institute of Measuring Instruments (NIIIP) MCI.

Operating within the centimeter range of radio waves, the 9S18 "Kupol" can detect and identify air objects at varying distances. It can detect air objects at distances ranging from 110 to 120 kilometers and low-flying targets at altitudes of up to 30 meters at distances of up to 45 kilometers.

The 9S18 station employs two scanning methods to achieve its objectives. Electronic scanning involves directing a beam at different elevation angles: 30°, 40°, and 55°. Additionally, mechanical scanning is accomplished by rotating the antenna in azimuth, with the option of using a hydraulic or electric drive for antenna rotation.

The scanning speed of the station depends on the review sector and the presence of interference. For a 30° sector review, it can take between 2.5 to 4.5 seconds, while a circular sector review typically ranges from 4.5 to 18 seconds.

Importantly, the 9S18 station can transmit up to 75 target designations during a single scanning period via a telecode line to the command post 9S470, facilitating communication and response coordination.

There are variants of this station, including the 9S18M1-3, with enhanced capabilities. Operating within the centimeter range of radio waves, the 9S18M1-3 conducts electronic scanning at angles of 40° and 55°, extending its detection range to 140-150 kilometers and enabling the transmission of up to 120 target designations.

Technical specifications include a mass range of 23,500 to 27,000 kilograms, a maximum speed of 65 kilometers per hour, and the ability to operate in a broad temperature range from -50°C to +50°C. The station's adaptability to various environmental conditions is crucial to its effectiveness.

The 9S18 station has been adapted for use with different air defense missile systems, such as the Buk-M1 and Buk-M1-2, with modifications tailored to the specific requirements of each system. Additionally, efforts were made to develop an export version of this station for the Ural air defense missile system, based on a ChMZAP wheeled semi-trailer, demonstrating its potential for international deployment.

Ukraine Special Forces destroy Russian Buk M1 detection radar alongside full system 925 002

The Buk-M1 reloader can launch missiles independently (Picture source: Yandex)

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