SA-8 Gecko (9K33 Osa)

The 9K33 OSA is a highly mobile, low-altitude, short-range tactical surface-to-air missile system. Its NATO reporting name is SA-8 Gecko.The SA-8 was the first mobile air defence missile system incorporating its own engagement radars on a single vehicle. Engagement range for the early versions was approximately 2-9 km (1.3-5.6 miles) and engagement altitudes of between 50-5000 m (164-16,400 ft). Later missile development enhanced the altitude engagement envelope to 10-12000 m (33-42,500 ft), and as such are also able to fly further (about 15 km/9 miles) but the system is not able to engage targets at longer ranges, due to other factors such as the radar tracking of the missiles. The system is designed for use primarily against jet aircraft and helicopters in any kind of weather. There have been unconfirmed reports of other possible versions of the missile with both infra-red and semi-active radar terminal homing seekers.As well as the USSR/Russia, there are many export customers for this system, including Greece (from the former East Germany), Poland, Syria, Ecuador and Iraq, who used Osa systems during the 1991 Gulf War.

SA-8 Gecko (9K33 Osa)
Class Missile
Type Surface to Air
Manufacturer Znamya Truda Plant
Origin Russia (USSR)
Country Name Origin Year
Russia (USSR) 1969
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
Algeria View
Algeria View
Angola View
Armenia View
Bulgaria View
Croatia View
Cuba View
Greece View
India View
Iraq View
Jordan View
Libya View
Russia (USSR) 1969 View
Russia (USSR) 1973 View
Tajikistan View
Ukraine View
Yugoslavia (Serbia) View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Znamya Truda Plant 1969 View

As well as the USSR/Russia, there are many export customers for this system, including Cuba, Greece (from the former East Germany), Poland, Syria, Ecuador and Iraq. In late 80's Cuba deployed several SA-8 units in southern Angola and posed a significant threat to South African air superiority at shorter ranges. Iraq used Osa systems during the 1991 Gulf War. South African 61 Mechanised Battalion Group captured a complete SA-8 anti-aircraft missile system on 3 October 1987 during the Battle of Cuito Cuanavale. This was the first time that such a system had ever fallen into non-Warsaw Pact forces hands, giving Western intelligence agencies an opportunity to examine an important Soviet-bloc weapon system. The system was also seen used in the 2008 South Ossetia War by both Georgians and Russians. Libyan SA-8s were used and some destroyed during the 2011 Libyan war.

Syrian Civil War

During the Syrian civil war in December 2012, rebels fighting Bashar al-Assad's forces managed to capture at least one Osa system after a raid on an air defense base near Damascus. Later, on different occasions, videos showing rebels using the system appeared. On 31 July 2013, a video surfaced showing the successful missile launch for a rebel operated Osa system with a possible hit on a Syrian helicopter. On 16 January 2014 a video of the shooting down of a Syrian Mi-8 or Mi-17 helicopter was uploaded. The heavy damage on the plunging helicopter appeared to confirm the use of a bigger missile to hit the helicopter compared to the damage caused by MANPADS. Also, a video filming the TV screen inside the Osa vehicle matches another video taken outside. Another video surfaced on 18 January 2014, this time missing the intended target.

General Information
Developed by Russia
Deployed by Algeria, Angola, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cuba, Czech Rep., Greece, India, Iraq, Jordan, Libya, Russia, Serbia, Tajikistan, Ukraine
Deployment Year 1969, 1973
Platform 6 wheeled launcher vehicle, IVAN ROGOV CLASS Project 1174 Large Landing Ship Heavy Missile Cruise Ship, Project 1144.2 Kirov Class(Osa-MA)
Design Antey Scientific Industrial Organization
Manufacturer Znamya Truda Plant in Moscow

Dimensions and Performance
Length 31.5m
Body Diameter 21cm
Wing/Fin span 64cm
Launch Weight 130kg(9M33), 170kg(9M33M3)
Range 1,600-12,000m, 1,500-15,000m
Speed Mach 2.4
Altitude 20-10,000m, 10-13,000m

Propulsion solid propellant
Warhead 19kg/40kg HE fragmentation
Guidance command guidance

End notes