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SA-14 GREMLIN 9K34 Strela-3

The Portable missile system "Strela 3" is equipped with small size solid propellant guided missile. The missile has an improved system of overcoming countermeasures, increased range and flight altitude. It is developed for destroying low flying aircraft and helicopters. The missile can hit the targets both in chasing and confronting headings.

The SA-14 GREMLIN (Strela-3 9K34) man-portable SAM is the successor to the SA-7/SA-7b (Strela-2 9K32 and Strela-2M 9K32M). The system consists of the 9P59 gripstock, 9P51 thermal battery/gas reservoir, and 9M36-1 missile. The external appearance of the SA-14 is very similar to the SA-7, and the gripstock, launch canister and aft missile body are almost identical. The most significant differences are the new seeker system and the substitution of a ball-shaped 9P51 thermal battery and gas reservoir for the SA-7's canister shaped battery.

First generation IR missiles such as the Veitnam-era Strela-2 (NATO: Grail) SA-7 are tail chase weapons that must pursue their targets from behind. They essentially chase the hottest item in the sky such as the thermal signature from the exhaust and hot sections of the aircraft. Because of this, they are highly susceptible to interference from background sources such as the sun, flares, and various directed energy countermeasures.

Second generation IR variants such as the SA-14 Strela-3 (NATO: Gremlin) use coolants to cool the conical scanning seeker head and in turn filter out most interfering background IR sources as well as permitting head-on and side engagement profiles. These second generation missiles are effective against traditional flares and use a cross-scan or rosette-scan two-color targeting capability. This enables the seeker to use IR as a primary and UV as a secondary emissions source for target acquisition.

The SA-14's new nitrogen-cooled lead sulfide seeker allows it to home in on the exhaust plume of jet engines, turboprop and helicopter gas turbine engines. The enhanced seeker allowed the SA-14 to be fired against targets from much broader angles, as well as defeating countermeasures such as exhaust shrouds. Optical filtration was added to the seeker to reduce vulnerability to typical IRCM flares.

The warhead of the SA-14 was nearly doubled in weight over the small warhead of the SA-7. The guidance electronics were reduced in weight and a new solid-propellant motor was introduced, compensating for the heavier warhead and improving aerodynamic performance. The SA-14 has a maximum range of 4500 meters, and a maximum altitude of 3000 meters.

A Belgium-based DHL Airbus 300, basically a passenger plane outfitted to carry cargo, sustained a MANPADS hit on 22 November 2003, while departing Baghdad. An SA-14, Strela-3 was the likely culprit and it significantly damaged the left wing, associated flight controls, and all three hydraulic systems. The crew managed to crash land the badly damaged aircraft and survive, but the aircraft itself was a total loss. While the DHL aircraft was not a military chartered flight, this incident illustrates that MANPADS can inflict substantial damage even to large category aircraft.



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