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Air Defense of Ground Troops (PVO Sukhoputnykh Voysk)

Surface-to-Air Missiles Anti-Aircraft Artillery

SAM Radars

SA-24 Grinch
S-500 Samoderzhets

The Ground Forces relinquished control of air defense for their field formations in 1948 when the National Air Defense Forces -- later renamed the Air Defense Forces -- became an independent armed service. In 1958, however, Soviet air defense was decentralized again, and the Ground Forces acquired antiaircraft guns and formed tactical air defense units. In the 1960s, air defense became an integral combat arm of the Ground Forces. Since then, Air Defense of Ground Forces (PVO Sukhoputnykh Voysk) has been independent from the Air Defense Forces, although coordination of their respective operations remains necessary.

Elements of the Air Defense of Ground Troops are integrated in various other combat commands and have mobile anti-aircraft guns and surface-to-air missiles. Tactical air defense forces (Voyska PVO Sukhoputnykh voysk ) were a separate arm subordinate to Soviet Ground Forces Headquarters. The anti-aircraft units belonging to the army made up the Army Air Defence Troops (PVO-SV) and were not integrated into the national air defence system. The Army Air Defence Troops were subordinate to the Military Districts and Groups of Forces in peacetime and to the Front and Army Staffs in wartime.

A major reorganization of Soviet Air and Air Defence Forces took place between 1978 and 1980, including Frontal Aviation, Long-Range Aviation, interceptor aircraft of the National Air Defence (IA-PVO) and Ground Force Troops of the Anti-Aircraft Defence (PVO Voysk). PVO Strany was reorganized in 1981 and its name was changed to Voyska PVO (Air Defence Troops), but it maintained its status as an independent branch, and the main body of army air defence troops, including the military schools, were annexed to it. Voyska PVO yielded responsibility for theater antiaircraft systems to Air Defense of Ground Forces.

Since August 1980, this arm's commander, Colonel-General of Artillery P. G. Levchenko, had been referenced in activities associated exclusively with the Air Defense Forces component. His obituary revealed that he had, in fact, assumed a newly created position as First Deputy Commander-in-Chief of PVO. In addition, sometime in early 1981 the name of the military academy created in 1977 to provide advanced training to tactical air defense officers was changed from "Military Academy of Air Defense Forces of the Ground Forces" to "Military Academy of Troop Air Defense" (Voyennaya akademiya voyskovoy PVO).

Air Defense of Ground Forces was equipped with a mix of antiaircraft artillery as well as surface-to-air missiles to defend Ground Forces units against attacking enemy aircraft. During the 1970s, the Soviet military introduced five new self-propelled air defense and radar systems into its force structure. In 1989 Air Defense of Ground Forces operated 5,000 surface-to-air missiles and 12,000 antiaircraft guns organized into brigades, regiments, and batteries. As of 1989, combined arms and tank armies had air defense brigades equipped with high-altitude SA-4 surface-to-air missiles. Motorized rifle and tank divisions had air defense regiments with the mobile SA-6 or SA-8 for medium- to low-level protection. Ground Forces regiments had SA-9, SA-13, and ZSU-23-4 antiaircraft gun batteries. Motorized rifle and tank battalions had surface-to-air missile platoons equipped with new low-altitude, shoulder-fired SA-16 and older SA-7 missiles. The SA-8, and SA-15 are division-level short-range SAMs; the SA-6 is a division-level medium-range SAM; the SA-11 is an army-level medium-range SAM; the SA-4 is an army- or army group-level medium-range SAM; the SA-12a and SA-12b are army group-level medium-range SAMs.

The Soviets introduced the SA-3 into service in 1961. The SA-3 system is not mobile. It is movable, hut its displacement time is considerable. Newer, more mobile systems with improved capabilities (for example, the SA-6 and SA-8) replaced it in its original role as a low-altitude air defense weapon in support of maneuver elements. However, it continued in its role as a rear area air defense weapon. The Soviets introduced a quadruple launcher in 1973 for this purpose.

A total of 27 SA-4 TELs were organic to a front/army SAM brigade. The brigade comprises three battalions with three batteries each. Each battery has three twin launchers, one PAT HAND radar, and one loader vehicle. All are tracked. Besides providing high-altitude air defense for an advancing army, the system's excellent mobility allows some batteries to support the army's for-ward maneuver elements, filling gaps between low-altitude SA-6 or SA-8 batteries. Thus, three SA-4 batteries might typically follow about 10 kilometers behind the army's foward forces, with the other batteries moving in a belt 25 kilometers behind the front lines. The SA-4 TEL is air-transportable in the An-22 transport aircraft. All are tracked. In the 1980s the SA-11 and SA-12 systems were replacing the SA-4 in nondivisional air defense units. The Soviets deployed the SA-11 in army-level SAM brigades; they have initially deployed the SA-12 in front-level SAM brigades.

The MRD and TD SAM Regiment (SA-6) made up an important part of an extensive air defense envelope over the battlefield. Although the SA-6 SAM regiment appears as standard at division level. However, many divisional SAM regiments have the SA-8 as an alternative to the SA-6. The Soviets first displayed the SA-6ain Moscow in November 1967. The Soviet Army placed it in service around 1970. Either the SA-6 or SA-8 had replaced S-60 AA guns in most divisional air defense regiments. Anti-aircraft artillery (AAA) regiments equipped with the 57-mm towed antiaircraft gun S-60 still existed in some divisions in rear areas.

Every MRB and airborne battalion has an organic air defense platoon in which nine SA-7 operators with gripstocks are transported by the platoon's three BTRs, BMPs, or BMDs. A SAM section consisting of one vehicle and three SA-7 gripstocks normally attaches to each of the battalion's three MRCs. Similar air defense platoons are organic at battalion level in air assault and airmobile assault units.

The Soviets introduced the SA-8a in 1974 and first publicly displayed it in 1975. The SA-8b variant was first seen in 1980. Along with the SA-6, the SA-8 systems have replaced the S-60 AA gun in most division-level air defense regiments.

A platoon of four SA-9 vehicles is organic to the air defense battery of MRRs and TRs. The SA-9s are teamed with a platoon of four ZSU-23-4s. The SA-9 also is organic to Soviet naval infantry regiments and brigades.

The SA-11/GADFLY is a low-to-medium altitude SAM. The SA-11 Gadfly' was developed in the early 1970s and entered service in 1979 to replace the SA-4 'Ganef in Army level Brigades. The SA-11 TELAR is based on a tracked chassis also used for the radar vehicles associated with the SA-11. Although SA-11 batteries (if deployed at division level) or battalions (if deployed at army level) have longer-range surveillance and target acquisition radars, each TELAR, with its on-board guidance and tracking radar, can operate independently for surveillance and target engagement.

In the Soviet Army the fully amphibious NBC-equipped SA-13 Gopher mobile SAM system, in operational service in 1977, had virtually replaced the far less capable SA-9 'Gaskin' BRDM-z system on a one-for-one basis to improve the mobility of the anti-aircraft batterres in the Motorised Rifle and Tank Divisions. A platoon of four SA-13 TELARs is organic to the air defense battery of MRRs and TRs, where they are complemented by a platoon of four SP AA guns. The SA-13 is also organic to Soviet naval infantry brigades.

The SA-12A mobile system provides air defense against all types of aerodynamic vehicles, including cruise missiles and some tactical ballistic missiles. The SA-12A/GLADIATOR system is a replacement for the SA-4/GANEF in nondivisional SAM units. Initial deployment was to front-level SAM brigades.

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Page last modified: 25-10-2021 17:30:11 ZULU