Strela 2

Strela 2

Infobox Weapon
name=9K32 Strela-2
NATO reporting name: SA-7 Grail

caption= KBM Kolomna 9K32 Strela-2 missile and canister
type=Man portable surface-to-air missile launcher
service=1968- present
used_by=See article
designer=KBM Kolomna
design_date=1964 approx
variants=9K32 Strela-2, 9K32M Strela-2M
weight=9.15 kg (Strela-2 missile)
4.17 kg (launcher)
length=1.438 m
diameter=0.072 m
range=800 to 3,400 m (Strela-2)
800 to 4,200 m (Strela-2M)
filling_weight=370 g HE, 1,15kg warhead weight
detonation=non-delay impact and grazing fuzes, 14...17 second delay self-destruct.
wingspan=0.3 m
altitude=50-1,500 m (Strela-2)
30-2,300 m (Strela-2M)
speed=430 m/s
guidance=Infra-red passive homing

::"For the STRELA computer, see" Strela computer.::"For the Apollo test mission see" A-102

The 9K32 "Strela-2" (Russian 9К32 "Cтрела-2" - "arrow", (NATO reporting name SA-7 "Grail") is a man-portable, shoulder-fired, low-altitude surface-to-air missile system with a high explosive warhead and passive infrared homing guidance. It is broadly comparable to the US Army FIM-43 Redeye. It was the first generation of Soviet man portable SAMs, entering service in 1968, with series production starting in 1970 cite book|title=Jane's Land Based Air Defence 2005-2006] .

The 9K32M "Strela-2M" (NATO reporting name SA-7b "Grail" Mod 1) was introduced in 1971 cite book|title=Jane's Air Launched Weapons, Issue 44] and featured a number of improvements, increasing both its range and the size of its warhead. Green's tail launch system consisted of the MK-5 gerbal, which is also a tail chace missile system.

The SA-7 is a tail-chase missile system and its effectiveness depends on its ability to lock onto the heat source of low-flying fixed and rotary-wing aircraft. The missile's simple infra-red seeker mechanism is easily overwhelmed by simple countermeasures like flares, and pulsing "hot brick" jammers, and even environmental effects like infra-red reflections from clouds.

The Strela-2 has a small directed-energy blast fragmentation warhead with impact and grazing fuzes. The impact fuze detonates the warhead immediately upon impact, while the grazing fuze reacts to the slightest bending of the missile fuselage. The warhead weighs 1,1kg, including 370g HE content in a pre-fragmented casing.

The small warhead had the drawback of low kill probability against jet, and especially multi-engine targets; as the missile homed in on the hottest spot, it typically hit only the afterburner nozzles, and due to the small size and instantaneous fuzing was not unusual that it failed to destroy even the engine that was hit. Although the basic warhead design remained the same in all Soviet MANPAD systems from Strela-2/2M through Strela-3 and Igla-1 to the final Igla, the later missiles had much-improved lethality with little extra warhead weight due to better terminal homing aimed at hitting the aircraft fuselage, delayed fusing allowing the missile to penetrate into the target before detonation, and in later variants also a 20g secondary charge to set off remaining rocket fuel.

Despite its shortcomings in range and lethality the Strela-2 did force enemy pilots to fly higher, into the engagement envelope of more capable air defence systems. In addition, in several cases it has forced enemy pilots to adopt higher altitude bombing tactics, which degraded the accuracy and usefulness of air strikes .

The maximum range and altitude of these missiles were consistently underestimated in the West. For example, although an altitude limit of 1,500' was widely quoted, an SA-7 hit an Omani jet (in 1974) at 11,500 feet. []

The SA-7, like many other MANPAD systems, leaves a white vapor trail that can betray the location of the launcher. []


In the immediate post-WWII period the Soviet air defence doctrine had placed a heavy emphasis on national air defence against nuclear-armed bombers. Numerous long-range, high-altitude SAM systems were developed to counter this threat, but in the meanwhile relatively little development took place in mobile battlefield air defences able to move with army maneuver elements and defend them against low-altitude air attack in a conventional war.

The Korean war showed that the era of conventional war was far from over, and the Soviet Union responded with a 10-year plan that called for several mobile battlefield air defence systems to create a multi-tier system to cover all altitude ranges. The new doctrine listed 5 new requirements:
* front-level medium to high altitude area defence system 9K8 Krug (NATO designation SA-4 "Ganef")
* army-level low to medium-range area defence system 3K9 Kub (NATO designation SA-6 "Gainful")
* division-level low altitude short-range system 9K33 Osa (NATO designation SA-8 "Gecko")
* regimental-level all-weather radar-guided gun system ZSU-23-4 "Shilka"
* battalion-level very short range systems Strela-1 (NATO designation SA-9 "Gaskin") and Strela-2 (NATO SA-7 "Grail") Both Strela-1 and Strela-2 were initially intended to be man-portable systems. However, as the Strela-2 proved to be considerably smaller and lighter system, the specifications of the Strela-1 were changed, calling for a heavier vehicle-mounted missile of higher performance to support the ZSU-23-4 gun systems in the regimental air defence role.

As development began in the Turopov OKB (later changed to Kolomna), the detailed information of the US FIM-43 Redeye became available. While it was by no means a simple reverse-engineered copy, in many ways the Strela design borrowed heavily from the Redeye, with which it was developed simultaneously. Development was protracted and many difficulties were faced in designing a sufficiently small seeker head and rocket. Eventually the designers had to settle for a simpler seeker head than that of the Redeye.

The initial version, the 9K32 "Strela-2" (US DoD designation SA-7A, missile round 9M32) finally entered service in 1968, 5 years behind schedule.

The Strela-2 was quickly followed by the slightly improved version "Strela-2M" (US DoD designation SA-7B, missile round 9M32M) in 1970, and then a more radical improvement, the 9K36 "Strela-3" (NATO reporting name SA-14 "Gremlin", missile round 9M36).

There is a naval version of this missile. Its NATO reporting name is SA-N-5.


The missile launcher system consists of the green missile launch tube containing the missile, a grip stock and a cylindrical thermal battery. The launch tube is reloadable at depot, but missile rounds are delivered to fire units in their launch tubes. The device can be reloaded up to five times. [] The operator points the missile in the direction of the target, applies half-trigger, and observes the internal light. When this light turns from red to green it is locked onto the target. Full trigger is then applied, and the missile is fired.

After visual spotting a target, the Strela-2 operator put the system in the launch position (on his shoulder) and turned the power on. The system’s reaction time from power on was about five seconds. Then the operator aimed the launcher at the target so the missile’s seeker could acquire it. After the missile locked onto the target, a sound and light signal informed the operator. Subsequently, he pushed the trigger to half-position, enabling the gyro to measure the track data. When the missile was ready for launch, the operator was informed by another sound and light signal. He then pushed the trigger fully, and the missile took off from the launcher

Manufacturer lists reaction time measured from carrying position (missile carried at soldier's back with protective covers) to missile launch to be 13 seconds, a figure that is achievable but requires considerable training and skill in missile handling. With launcher on the shoulder, covers removed and sights extended, reaction time from fire command to launch reduces to 6-10 seconds, depending greatly on target difficulty and shooter's skill.

After activating the power supply to the missile electronics, the gunner waits for electricity supply and gyros to stabilize, puts the sights on target and tracks the it smoothly with the launch tube's iron sights, and pulls the trigger on the grip stock. This activates the seeker electronics and the missile attempts to lock onto the target. If the target is producing a strong enough signal and the angular tracking rate is with acceptable launch parameters, the missile alerts the gunner that the target is locked on by illuminating a red light in the sight mechanism, and producing a constant buzzing noise. The operator then has 0.8 seconds to provide lead to the target while the missiles on-board power supply is activated and the throw-out motor ignited.

Should the target be outside acceptable parameters then the light cue in the sight and buzzer signal tell the gunner to re-aim the missile.

On launch, the booster burns out before the missile leaves the launch tube at 32 m/s, and rotating the missile at approximately 20 revolutions per second. As the missile leaves the tube the two forward steering fins unfold, as do the four rear stabilizing tail fins. The self-destruct mechanism is then armed, which is set to destroy the missile after between 14 and 17 seconds to prevent it hitting the ground if it should miss the target.

Once the missile is five and half meters away from the gunner, approximately 0.3 seconds after leaving the launch tube it activates the rocket sustainer motor. The sustainer motor takes it to a velocity of 430 meters per second, and sustains it at this speed. Once it reaches peak speed at a distance of around 120 meters from the gunner, the final safety mechanism is disabled and the missile is fully armed. All told, the booster burns for 0.5 second and the driving engine for another 2.0 seconds. []

The missile's uncooled lead sulphide passive infra-red seeker head detects heat emissions between 0.2 and 1.5 μm in wavelength. It has a 1.9 degree field of view and can track at 9 degrees per second. The seeker head tracks the target with an amplitude-modulated spinning reticle (spin-scan or AM tracking), which attempts to keep the seeker constantly pointed towards the target.

The guidance system tracks the movement of the seeker relative to missile body, and uses proportional convergence logic, also known as angle rate tracking system, to guide the missile towards the target on the basis of this information. In practice this means monitoring the seeker's angular velocity, and issuing steering commands to turn the missile towards the direction where the seeker is turning to (not necessarily where it is pointed at), in an attempt to bring the seeker-to-body angle rate to zero. Given constant missile and target velocities and non-maneuvering target, the angle rate is zero when the missile is headed straight towards the intercept point.

Combat use

The missile has seen use in a large number of conflicts.

Middle East

Jane's credits the first combat use of the missile as being in 1969 during the War of Attrition by Egyptian soldiers. Between this first firing and June 1970 the Egyptian army fired 99 missiles resulting in 36 hits. Syrian forces shot down 11 Israeli aircraft with an unspecified number of missiles in 1974.Fact|date=February 2008 The missile proved to have poor kinematic reach against combat jets, and also poor lethality as many aircraft that were hit managed to return safely to base.

outh-East Asia

The Strela-2 system was also given to North Vietnam forces, where along with the more advanced Strela-2M it achieved 204 hits out of 589 firings against US aircraft between 1972 and 1975. These produced a total of approximately 40-50 kills, all but one TA-4 Skyhawk against helicopters and propeller-driven aircraft; US fixed-wing losses are listed in the following table. As in the War of Attrition, the missile's kinematic performance proved insufficient against fast jets and results were very poor, although at least one South Vietnamese F-5 was also shot down by a Strela in addition to the US Skyhawk. Against helicopters, however, the system was lethal until the use of decoy flares became common. The United States lost at least 10 AH-1 Cobras and several UH-1 Hueys to Strela-2/2M hits in SEA.

The table shows heavy losses particularly in the beginning of May, with especially lethal results on 1st-2nd of May, where the shootdown of the O-2 FAC led to further losses when rescue operation was attempted. After the initial success, changes in tactics and widespread introduction of decoy flares helped to counter the threat, but a steady flow of attrition and necessity of minimizing time spent in Strela envelope nonetheless continued to limit the effectiveness of US battlefield air operations until the end of US involvement in South-East Asia.


Strela-2M was used also in Afghanistan during the Soviet invasion by the Mujahiddeen. The missiles were obtained from various sources, some from Egypt and China (locally manufactured Sakr Eye and HN-5 versions of the SAM), and the CIA also assisted the guerrillas in finding missiles from other sources.

Results from combat use were not dissimilar from experiences with the Strela-2/2M from SEA: while 42 helicopters were shot down by various Strela-2 variants, apparently including also a few Mi-24s until exhaust shrouds made them next to invisible to the short-wavelength Strela-2 seeker, only 5 fixed-wing aircraft were destroyed with the weapon. Due to its poor kinematic performance and vulnerability to even the most primitive infra-red countermeasures, the guerrillas considered the Strela-2 suitable for use against helicopters and prop-driven transports, but not combat jets.


During the Rhodesian Bush war (1964 - 1979) terrorists utilised the Strela against unarmed civilian aircraft and brought down two Vickers Viscount passenger aircraft belonging to Air Rhodesia. There was great loss of life in both instances as the flights were returning from Kariba, a well known tourist attraction.

Vickers Viscount, Flight RH825, 3 September, 1978 - shot by down Strela missile near Kariba Dam. 18 of the 56 passengers survived the crash, but ten of them were executed on the ground by ZIPRA guerrillas. [1] Vickers Viscount, Flight RH827, 12th February, 1979 - shot by down Strela missile near Kariba Dam; all 59 people on board killed.

In the first incident the terrorists followed up the crashed aircraft and systematically murdered survivors from the aircrash as they lay in the wreckage. The Archbishop of Mashonaland described this act as the most barbaric act of the war in a well publicised sermon that subsequently saw him removed from his post.

Other use

Some Strela-2M missiles were available also to Argentinian troops in the Falkland Islands during the 1982 war. A few missiles were fired, but no kills were scored.

The system was used on a large scale during wars in former Yugoslavia by all Yugoslav successor states and fractions engaged in air defence operations.

Two missiles were fired during the 2002 Mombasa attacks both missing a Boeing 757. [ [ Proliferation of MANPADS and the threat to civil aviation - Jane's Security News ] ] [ Microsoft PowerPoint - prsentation bolkcom ] ] It was said that had the attackers waited until the plane had reached a higher altitude, they would have had a better chance of hitting it. []

A missile was fired on a DHL airbus leaving Baghdad in 2003, striking and forcing it to crash land.

They are used with other MANPAD systems in the ongoing Iraqi and Afghan wars, however with limited success. []

al Qaeda is said to have produced an hour-long training video on how to use SA-7s. [] []

In 2006, an Apache helicopter was reportedly downed by an SA-7; the helicopters were designed to be able to withstand such hits, but this one did not. []


*9K32M Strela-2M - "SA-7 Grail"
*Strela 2M2J Sava - Yugoslav version
*CA-94 and CA-94M - Romanian versions
*HN-5 - Hongying 5, Chinese version
*Anza MKI - Pakistani version
*Ayn al Saqr - Egyptian version
*Hwasung-Chong - North Korean version


*FIN (Withdrawn from service)
*GER (former East German Army assets)
*IND (being withdrawn from service)
*SLO (in reserve)
*flagicon|Somaliland Somaliland
*Flag|South Yemen
*flag|Tamil Eelam

*Many other countries, along with numerous Terrorist and Paramilitary groups.


External links

* [ Training of Czech Air defence units - video]

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