SA-13 Gopher (9K35 Strela-10)

The 9K35 Strela-10 is a highly mobile, visually-aimed, optical/infra-red guided, low-altitude, short-range surface to air missile system. The NATO reporting name is SA-13 Gopher. The 9K35 is a SAM system with electro-optical guidance. It has the capability to use radars for target acquisition and range.Development of the system has started in 1975. It continued throughout the years and by September 2007 the 9K35M3-K Kolchan variant, mounted on a BTR-60 wheeled chassis, was displayed for the first time at the Moscow Air Show MAKS 2007. Rather than being mounted on an amphibious but lightly-armoured BRDM chassis like the SA-9, the SA-13 is mounted on a slightly better protected and more mobile tracked, modified MT-LB. Four missiles are mounted on the turret in boxes, ready to launch, and eight more are carried inside the vehicle as reloads. Reloading takes around 3 minutes.

SA-13 Gopher (9K35 Strela-10)
Class Missile
Type Surface to Surface
Manufacturer Saratovskiy Zenit Machine Plant
Origin Russia (USSR)
Country Name Origin Year
Russia (USSR) 1975
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
Afghanistan View
Algeria View
Angola View
Armenia View
Bulgaria View
Croatia View
Cuba View
Hungary View
India View
Iraq View
Jordan View
Jordan View
Libya View
Poland View
Russia (USSR) 1975 View
Ukraine View
Yugoslavia (Serbia) View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Saratovskiy Zenit Machine Plant 1970 View

The 9K35 is the successor of the 9K31 Strela-1 (SA-9 "Gaskin") and can also use the Strela-1's missiles in place of the 9M37.

Development of the 9K37 Strela-10SV system was initiated July 24, 1969. The decision to begin the development of a new non-all-weather system was taken despite the simultaneous development of an all-weather hybrid gun/missile system 9K22 "Tunguska" mainly as an economical measure. It was also seen as advantageous to have a system capable of fast reaction times and immunity to heavy radio-frequency jamming.

Rather than being mounted on an amphibious but lightly armoured BRDM chassis like the 9K31, the 9K35 is mounted on a more mobile tracked, modified MT-LB, with more room for equipment and missile reloads. Provision for amphibious capability is provided in some variants in the form of polyurethane-filled floats.

The Strela-10SV system and its 9M37 missile were tested in Donguzkom range from 1973 to 1974, but the results were disappointing: the system was found deficient in terms of missile probability of kill, vehicle reliability, among other things. Acceptance to service was thus delayed until May 16, 1976, by which time improvements had been introduced to the system.

Development of the system continued throughout the years through Strela-10M, -10M2 and -10M3 variants introducing among other things improved radio communications and provision for better integration to the Soviet integrated air defence system air picture data. Also improved missiles (9M37M and 9M333) have been developed and by September 2007 the 9K35M3-K Kolchan variant, mounted on a BTR-60 wheeled chassis, was displayed for the first time at the Moscow Air Show MAKS 2007.

The Russian Armed Forces will receive 72 advanced mobile “night” short-range anti-aircraft missile complexes “Strela-10M4? by 2016. In 2014, the Russian Airborne Troops received the first batch of 18 “Strela-10M4? vehicles. Modernization of equipment extends the “life” of an air defense system for 3-5 years.

Angolan War

On February 20, 1988, 31-year-old Major Edward Richard Every from 1st Squadron, SAAF was killed in action when his Mirage F1AZ (serial 245), was shot down by a SA-13 Gopher surface-to-air missile in Cuatir (near Menongue) while on an operational attack over Southern Angola.

Operation Desert Storm

Iraq had several operational Strela-10 systems in the beginning of the 1991 operation to liberate Kuwait from Iraqi occupation, most if not all of which were organized as part of the battlefield air defence systems of the Republican Guard divisions.

During the operation, a total of 27 coalition aircraft are believed to have been hit by Iraqi IR-homing SAMs, resulting in a total of 14 aircraft losses. Some of the aircraft losses were shot down on the spot, while others, such as the OA-10A 77-0197, managed to return to base only to be lost on a crashed landing. Others still landed safely but were since written off as total losses.

At least two of the losses are believed to have been due to Strela-10 hits: on Feb 15th an A-10A Warthog 78-0722 of 353rd TFS/354th TFW was hit by a SAM believed to be Strela-10 some 60 miles north west of Kuwait city while attacking Republican Guard targets. Pilot Lt Robert Sweet ejected and was made a Prisoner of War. While attempting to protect Sweet on the ground, his wingman Steven Phyllis flying A-10A 79-0130 was also hit by what is believed to have been a missile from a Strela-10. Phyllis was killed in the incident.

Kosovo

One, possibly two OA-10A Thunderbolt II aircraft are believed to have been hit by Serbian Strela-10 SAMs. Both aircraft landed safely and were repaired and returned to service.

General Information
Developed by Russia
Deployed by Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cuba, Czech Rep., Hungary, India, Iraq, Jordan, Libya, Poland, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Ukraine
Development Year early 1970s
Deployment Year 1975
Platform See description
Number deployed 900 launchers(?), 2,800 missiles/year manufacturing
Design Nudelman OKB-16 Design Bureau
Manufacturer The Saratovsky Zenit Machine Plant
Unit cost $85,000 (est.)

Dimensions and Performance
Length 2.2m(missile), 2.33m(launcher)
Body Diameter 12cm (missile), 29cmx29cm (launcher box)
Wing/Fin span 40cm
Launch Weight 35.9kg(9M37/37M), 42kg(9M333)
Range 800-5,000m (9M37/9M37M), 200-5,000m (9M333)
Speed Mach 2.0
Altitude 10-3,000m

Components
Propulsion Solid propellant
Warhead 4kg HE fragmentation(2.7kg HE and 100 rods)
Guidance passive IR seeker (9M37/9M37M), dual mode passive photocontrast/IR seeker (9M333)

End notes