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Like the US Stinger, the Igla-S is an autonomous portable system (it weighs about 15kg) that can be fired by a trained operator any time of day and night, regardless of the weather, at approaching and receding targets, and despite electronic and thermal interference. It could become a formidable threat to any air target flying at an altitude of 10m to 3.5km at a distance of up to 6km.

Streltsy were the units of Russian guardsmen [Strelets - literally "shooter"; often translated as "musketeer," but more precisey "harquebusier"]. They were the main forces of the Russian army up to the reforms of Peter the Great. Strelets took part in all Russian military campaigns from XVI-XVIII century, and proved their superiority over the enemy while capturing Kazan, during the Livonian war, Asov campaigns, the war with Poland and during the first period of the Northern war. Established in the middle of the 16th century, they formed the bulk of the Russian army for about 100 years. Providing the tsar's bodyguard, and, at the end of the 17th century, they exercised considerable political influence. Originally composed of commoners, the streltsy had become a hereditary military caste by the mid-17th century.

Peter, a son of Alexis I, who ruled Russia from 1645 to 1676, was born in 1672. Fyodor III, who succeeded his father Alexis I as tsar, but died without an heir in 1682. A bitter struggle for the throne ensued between two families, the Miloslavskys and the Naryshkins. The Supported by the patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, a majority in the boyar duma (Russia's council of nobles), and a gathering of the gentry (untitled landowners), the Naryshkins gained an early victory when nine-year-old Peter was proclaimed tsar in April 1682. However, in May 1682, the Miloslavsky party, led by Alexis's daughter Sofia [Peter's half-sister], inspired a rebellion of the streltsy. Conservative powers grouped around Tsarevna Sophia and the Miloslavskys and used Strelets' discontent for their own purpose. The streltsy in Moscow murdered leading members of the Naryshkin clique, and the Miloslavskys seized power. At the request of the streltsy, the boyar duma declared Ivan senior tsar and allowed Peter to be junior tsar. Sofia was made regent.

A new rebellion of the streltsy, against Sofia's regency, inspired a final confrontation between the Miloslavsky and Naryshkin parties in August 1689. Peter was acknowledged as the real ruler of Russia.

The reign of Peter The Great was accompanied by numerous riots. Often those riots were led by that part of boyars, clergy, merchants, men in service, whose interests were in the contrast with Tsar's reforms. Peter's reforms required enormous efforts on the side of practically every estate of Russia and were accompanied by increasing of the yoke of the serfdom. It brought to the outcry of all the levels of Russian society. In the period of transition to the regular Army Strelets as men of service were not required by absolutism. Being deprived of their original rights and means of subsistence, they accused Peter and his reforms of it, and thus rose up in revolt many times.

The riot raised in 1698 in Peter's absence, was the most dangerous. Four Strelets' regiments had moved from Polish boundaries to Moscow, but were met at New Jerusalem by two Guards and Butyrsky regiments led by boyar A. Shein and General P. Gordon. The onslaught of forces devoted to Peter made the strelets surrender. After the investigation, 130 Strelets were hanged, 140 were lashed with a whip and the others were exiled. Tsarevna Sophia, who had supported the riot, was made a nun and imprisoned in a convent. Peter, who urgently returned from abroad, demanded re-investigation of the Strelets' case. According to his order, more than a thousand of strelets were returned from exile and were executed at public, with Peter himself performing as one of the executioners. The rest were dispersed among regular army units and the strel'tsy ceased to exist as a force.

The Strelets (Archer) multiple launcher unit was developed for use with the 9M39 Igla (NATO SA-18 "Grouse") and Igla-1 (NATO SA-16 "Gimlet") missiles. It provides an automatic remote launch capability in either single-round or salvo modes when mounted on various launch platforms. Strelets is a weapon system comprising control and launch elements (platforms) that can fire four to eight Igla-S missiles. The tactical and technical characteristics of Strelets and Igla are the same, but Strelets must be mounted on a rail located in an ordinary vehicle (like a Jeep), the turret of an armored car, a patrol boat, or on the undercarriage of a helicopter gunship. To fire a missile from Strelets, there must be a platform on which it would move: it is impossible to shoulder-fire a missile from a system that weighs anywhere between 80kg and 120kg depending on the number of Igla missiles in it.

Another fundamental difference between Strelets and Igla-S is that the targeting and control system of Igla is located on the launcher tube, while the control instruments of Strelets are removed from the launching sector. They are connected with the launcher by shielded electric cables or can be located in the cabin of the vehicle, the turret of the armored car, at the helicopter control panel, and on the bridge of the patrol boat. The Strelets launcher with a missile but without controls would be useless, including for terrorists, as targeting becomes impossible.

Russia agreed in 2005 to sell Syria short-range anti-aircraft missile systems to bolster its capability to protect strategically important facilities from "potential air strikes." Israel and the United States spoke out against the 2005 deal, claiming that Syria would pass on the system, which fires Igla ground-to-air missiles, to Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon. Russia consistently defended the deal, saying that "international agreements place no restrictions" on the sale of such missiles.

Russia has not yet signed a contract on deliveries of a short-range ground-to-air missile system to Syria, the head of the Russian arms exporter Rosoboronexport said 23 January 2005. "A contract on deliveries of the Strelets air defense system has not been signed, and it is hard to say when it will be signed," Sergei Chemezov said, adding that the negotiations have been complicated. "They [the Syrians] want the Igla portable air defense system, but we have refused to supply it," he said. Syria first has to decide whether it wants to purchase the Strelets system or not, the Russian official said.

Syria, a long-time client of Russia's defense industry, had accounted for up to four percent of Russia's annual arms sales, which totaled a record $6.1 billion last year. However, it was unclear whether the head of Rosoboronexport was referring to a new contract or to part of the previous agreement, which was signed in April 2005. The details of the deal had never been made public, but Valery Kashin, head of the Kolomna-based Engineering Design Bureau, which designed the Strelets system, said earlier that Russia met all of its commitments in 2006 under the contract to supply Syria with the Strelets system, confirming the delivery of equipment under the 2005 contract.

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Page last modified: 19-09-2013 17:43:54 ZULU