The SA-9 (NATO codename of "Gaskin" and formally designated by the Russians as the 9K31 Strela-1) was a four-wheeled mobile anti-aircraft defense system produced in during the Cold War. The system mated a traversable turret mounting twin surface-to-air 9M31 missile systems to the BRDM-2 amphibious scout car. Production of the Gaskin began in 1966 and the system entered service in 1968. It is still fielded by a variety of operators today though it has been superseded by the tracked SA-13 "Gopher" in Russian Army service.
The SA-9 carrier vehicle (or "TEL" - Transporter Erector Launcher) is a modified BRDM-2 amphibious armored vehicle. It sports four large road wheels but does away with the original's "belly" mounted wheels. The chassis weighs approximately 7 tons and is powered by a single GAZ 41 series V8 water-cooled gasoline engine delivering 140 horsepower at 3,400 rpm. Crew accommodations amount to three personnel made up of the driver, commander and gunner. The driver and commander are both afforded infrared vision systems. The entire crew is protected from small arms fire by way of armor thickness ranging from 5- to 14-mm as well as complete NBC (Nuclear, Biological and Chemical) protection. Operational range is listed at 750 kilometers while a top speed of 100 kilometers per hour is list. As the SA-9 carrier is born from the BRDM-2, it can also traverse water and hit speeds of up to 10 kilometers per hour in this fashion. When off road, the SA-9 can utilize its grand 0.43 meter ground clearance and 4x4 wheels to good effect. The turret is designed in such a way that it can be brought down against the top of the vehicle for travel or reloading of the missile launchers. Besides the turret, however, the appearance is generally that of the base BRDM-2 scout car.
The 9M31 Strela-1 surface-to-air missile is the heart of the SA-9. It is a single-stage solid propellant rocket-powered projectile utilizing a passive IR homing seeker guidance system. Top speed is a reported Mach 1.8 and operational range is roughly 4 miles with an operational ceiling of 11,000 feet. The warhead is of a Frag-HE classification and weighs in at 2.6 kilograms. Detonation is provided via RF proximity. Total length is approximately 5.4 feet. The 9M31 has also been developed into the 9M31M variant which features a 5 mile range and a 20,000 foot operating ceiling. Either missile type takes just five minutes for the crew to reload. Interestingly, most SA-9s did not carry reload missiles. Typical launching actions would see the SA-9 operator fire off two missiles for an increased hit probability. By classification, the SA-9 is a low-altitude, shot-range air defense system and not an end-all solution.
The 9M31 Strela-1 missile was developed concurrently with the 9K32M Strela-2 and both were intended to be small, man-portable weapon systems by project's end. However, the Strela-2 advanced into a more compact design which led to the decision of making the Strela-1 the heavier of the two. As such, the Strela-1 mounted a larger warhead and provided better maneuverability and slightly better range at the expense of additional drag. It was envisioned that the new missile would be fitted to a turret system atop the proven BRDM-2 and be fielded to provide protection to the vulnerable ZSU-23-4 "Shilka" tracked anti-aircraft weapon systems at the regiment level. Four SA-9 Gaskins would back up four ZSU-23-4 Shilkas.
Notable operators of the SA-9 include Cuba, Croatia; Egypt, India; Libya; Poland, Serbia, Syria, Ukraine, Vietnam and Yemen. Former notable operators include Czechoslovakia and Iraq.
The SA-9 has been used in a variety of conflicts during its tenure and include the Arab-Israeli wars, Lebanon wars, the Iran-Iraq War, the Yugoslav wars and the 2003 Invasion of Iraq (fighting alongside Iraqi Army forces).
An improved SA-9 entered service in 1970 as the SA-9B "Haskin-Mod0" (Soviet designation of 9M31M-1M).
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