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Weapons Of Karabakh War: The Soviet 2K12 Kub Mobile SAM Defense System

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Weapons Of Karabakh War: The Soviet 2K12 Kub Mobile SAM Defense System

Click to see full-size image

The 2K12 Kub (NATO reporting name: SA-6 “Gainful”) is a mobile surface-to-air missile system is a Soviet low to medium-level air defence system designed to protect ground forces from air attack.

Its successor is the Buk family of self-propelled, medium-range surface-to-air missile systems.

Regardless, the Kub SAM defense system is currently in use by the Armenian forces in defense of Nagorno-Karabakh. According to Azerbaijani reports on November 2nd, one such system was destroyed.

Its development commenced in 1958. It was adopted in 1967 and was first publicly revealed during the same year. Since its introduction the Kub system, as well as its missiles, were constantly improved.

Production ceased in 1983. Over 500 of these air defense systems were produced, alongside with several tens of thousands of missiles. A downgraded export version of the Kub, the Kvadrat, was widely exported to Soviet allies.

The baseline Kub can engage aircraft and helicopters at an altitude from 100-200 meters up to 5-7 kilometers and out to a range of 20 km with a first missile shot-down probability of at least 70%.

However, the Kub is not that efficient against targets flying close to the ground and maneuvering aircraft.

The baseline version was not efficient against hovering helicopters. Also, it cannot engage ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, anti-radiation missiles, smart bombs and unmanned aerial vehicles.

Additionally, modern standards the Kub has a number of limitations and is rather vulnerable to jamming and hostile countermeasures.

The Kub system includes a radar vehicle (Western designation Straight Flush), which searches for targets, tracks them and guides missiles.

Weapons Of Karabakh War: The Soviet 2K12 Kub Mobile SAM Defense System

Click to see the full-size image

The radar vehicle also performs friend-or-foe identification. It is based on a GM-578 special tracked chassis and has a crew of 4.

This vehicle detects air targets at a range of up to 70 km and out to an altitude of 7 km. It could track a contemporary Western F4 Phantom interceptor and attack aircraft at a range of 50 km with a success probability of 90%.

Though detection range is reduced when targets are flying close to the ground. It seems that the Kub radar was rather vulnerable to jamming, even though it had some countermeasures against it.

Also, the baseline version was extremely vulnerable to anti-radiation missiles, such as a US Shrike.

The system also includes launcher vehicles, that carry 3 missiles each. The launcher vehicle is based on the same GM-578 special tracked chassis and is operated by a crew of 3.

The baseline Kub system used 3M9 missiles.

  • The missile is 5.8 m long and has a 599 kg launch weight.
  • It can achieve maximum speed of Mach 2.8.
  • The missile has a semi-active radar guidance.
  • If the enemy uses countermeasures and tries to jam the missile, it self-guides on the emitter of jamming signals.
  • The missile has a 40-75% probability of hitting a target.
  • This figure drops to 20-55% if the target maneuvers with an overload of up to 8g.

Once the Kub air defense system is in position it takes 3 minutes for the crew to turn on the radar, find a target, track it, identify weather it is friend or foe, launch missiles and destroy the target at a maximum range. It takes 15 minutes for the system to leave its position.

It is an incredibly dated system, which would be ineffective against most modern aircraft and missiles.

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