S-25 Berkut

The S-25 Berkut (Russian: С-25 «Беркут»; "Berkut" means golden eagle in English) is a surface-to-air guided missile, the first operational SAM system in the Soviet Union. It was deployed in several rings around Moscow starting in 1955 and became combat ready in June 1956. It was used only to defend Moscow, the more mobile S-75 (SA-2 Guideline) would be used in almost all other roles. Several improvements were introduced over its long service lifetime, and the system was finally replaced by the S-300P in 1982.

Its NATO reporting name is SA-1 Guild. S-25 is short for Systema 25, referring to the entire system of missiles, radars, and launchers. Portions of the system include the V-300 missile, R-113 and B-200 radars, and A-11/A-12 antennas for the B-200.

S-25 Berkut
Class Missile
Type Surface to Air
Manufacturer Lavochkin
Production Period 1955 - 1982
Origin Russia (USSR)
Country Name Origin Year
Russia (USSR) 1955
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
North Korea 1961 1961 View
Russia (USSR) 1955 1982 View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Lavochkin 1955 1982 11000 View

Development of the S-25 was authorized on 9 August 1950 by a decision of USSR and was appended by Stalin: (We have to get the missile for air defense in a year). The system was assigned to design to SB-1 (Special Bureau No. 1).

The initial design included:

  • E\F band A-100 "Kama" radar based in two concentric rings; a near ring - 25–30 km from Moscow, and a far ring, approximately 200–250 km from Moscow, for early warning and target detection.
  • B-200 missile targeting radars, deployed in two rings.
  • V-300 SAMs deployed around the B-200 radars.
  • G-400 Interceptor aircraft. These were Tu-4 with G-300 (izdelie 210, downsized version of V-300 with aerial launch) missiles.
  • Possibly, Tu-4 based AWACS aircraft D-500.

The first combat elements of S-25 were delivered to the military in 1954. In March 1954 most sites were being prepared for the installation of the missiles and launchers. The final tests were completed in the beginning of 1955. The first batteries entered service on 7 May 1955. The system entered combat duty in June 1956. The launchers were located at a distance of 75–85 km from Moscow, a dense ring (at a distance of 10–15 km from each other). The locations were masked by forests.

After the system have entered service some parts of Glavspetsmash (Glavspetsmontazh and Glavspetsmash) were disbanded, the KB-1 was transferred to the Ministry of Defense Industries.

In order to operate the S-25 system, the "Separate Army for Special Purposes" was established under the command of general-colonel K. Kazakov in the spring of 1955, being part of Soviet Air Defense Forces (PVO Strany).

A number of improvements was made to the initial S-25 design during the service. The latest modernized S-25M was retired and replaced with S-300P air defense complexes in 1982. Most sites of the original S-25 complex were dismantled in the 1990s and are now summer cottage developments for Moscow residents.

Type Strategic SAM system
Place of origin Soviet Union
Service history
In service 1955-1982
Used by Soviet Union
Wars Cold War
Production history
Designer Lavochkin OKB
Number built more than 11 000

End notes