A short and medium-range, low and medium-altitude surface to air missile system designed by the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The system is complete but has not yet entered full production.
The SA-17 is to the SA-11 what the SA-11 was the SA-6; all three systems are very similar visually. The SA-17 is the result of a comprehensive upgrade package on the SA-11 to improve its capabilities; it is intended to replace the SA-11 but history suggests it will be used alongside both SA-11 and SA-6 units, and that an upgrade package will eventually be produced to bring SA-11 units up to or near SA-17 performance levels.
The system is intended to protect mobile battlefield assets from most types of air threats: helicopters, unmanned vehicles, tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and bombers (high and low-altitude). Design of the system was done by the Tikhomirov Instrument Research Institute, work which was completed in 1990. The prototype was accepted for production in 1995, though for budgetary reasons this has not taken place on any large scale. Small numbers have been manufactured and these are in use with the Russian Army, but as yet no export orders have been received.
The major difference between the SA-11 and SA-17 is that the launch vehicles incorporate Chair Black target acquisition and tracking radars, both of which are mounted on a separate vehicle in the SA-11 system. This improves the autonomy of individual launchers and makes SA-17 batteries smaller. Like the SA-11, there are several other vehicles that collectively make the SA-17 system but they are all based on the same chassis:
- Command post vehicle
This vehicle has target readouts from all of the launch vehicles' target acquisition systems and allows the battery commanders to select and designate up to 36 individual targets to up to six specific launch vehicles.
- Target acquisition radar
Though it is capable of operating without, the SA-17 system can also incorporate a separate target acquisition radar. I could not find any specific reason for this but with a detection range of 160km , 40km over the radars of the missile TELARs, range is probably the reason. This vehicle is typically sited with or near the command post.
- Chair Black Missile guidance radar
Appropriately enough this vehicle is nicknamed 'Giraffe'. Very much like the tracking radar vehicle employed in the SA-10, this vehicle has an electronically-scanned phased array radar receiver mounted on top of a telescopic mast, which may extend in height up to 21 metres for greatly enhanced low-level coverage. This radar monitors targets passed to it by the target acquisition radar and supplies missiles with guidance commands once they have been launched. It also provides command and control to the loader/launcher vehicles (see below).
- Missile TELAR
Carries four rack-mounted missiles on a 360°-rotating turret. These may be elevated up to 85°. On the front of the turntable is the phased-array Chair Black target acquisition/tracking radar. Using these in-built facilities it may track up to ten targets simultaneously and engage up to four of them. These capabilities are more limited than those of the separate targeting/tracking vehicles but it allows launchers to operate completely independently of the rest of the battery if necessary.
- Missile loader/resupply vehicle
This is similar to the Missile TELAR but carries eight missiles instead of four (the other four are stowed horizontally on the turret, below the four mounted on the rack) and does not have any radar. It can still be used as a launcher if necessary (but requires targeting data from either the target acquisition unit or another launcher) but its primary purpose is resupply of other launchers, using the folding crane that is mounted on the front of the turret. It takes about 13 minutes to reload a launcher, and 15 minutes to reload itself.
Visually the 9M317 missile used by the SA-17 system is similar to that of the SA-11 and, according to Janes, the AA-9 Amos missile used by the MiG-31 Foxhound. It is a considerable performance improvement over the 9M28M1 missile used by the standard SA-11, though it apparently uses the same warhead. The missile is slightly longer and wider but more importantly, has a higher top speed (mach 3.5), can manoeuvre at up to 30 gees and has a range of up to 50km, 15km more than the 9M28M1. As noted in my SA-11 writeup, this missile was also employed in a major upgrade package for the SA-11. I suggest referring to the third paragraph from the end of that node for further information on its capabilities as I don't want to repeat myself too much.
Although the SA-17 is unproven in combat, if the performance reports of the late-model SA-11s (which the SA-17 appears to outstrip) are anything to go by it is a very flexible and high-performance air defence system. It seems unlikely that it will see widespread use in the foreseeable future though, like much of Russia's current generation of military hardware.
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I'm sure some of you will be relieved to know this concludes my Soviet SAM noding project. Only took three years.
- Pike, John; "SA-17 GRIZZLY / Buk-M1-2
SA-N-12 GRIZZLY / Yezh
- Various authors; "SA-17 Grizzly"; <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SA-17_Grizzly>
- Cullen, Tony & Foss, Christopher; "Jane's Land-Based Air Defense 2003; Tikhomirov Instrument Research Institute 9K40 Buk-M2 (SA-17 'Grizzly') low-to-high altitude surface-to-air missile system"; Printed word, published by Jane's Information Group; ISBN 0710623208