SA-16 (Gimlet) / 9K310 Igla-1
Man-Portable, Shoulder-Launched Anti-Aircraft Missile System
The SA-16 Gimlet anti-aircraft missile launcher was born of the same Soviet initiative that produced the improved SA-18 Grouse form.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited:
The 9K310 "Igla-1" (NATO: SA-16 "Gimlet") was designed, developed and produced alongside the improved, and technologically superior, 9K38 "Igla" (NATO: SA-18 "Grouse") man-portable, shoulder-launched anti-aircraft system. Both series entered service with the Soviet Army in 1983 and continue widespread use today (2013). Production is managed by KBM of Koloma, Russia.
The 9K310 and 9K38 series received their origins in a Soviet initiative to improved upon previous ground-launched, portable anti-aircraft weapons including the SA-7 and SA-14 families which made use of the Strela-2 and Strela-3 missiles respectively. The primary limitation of the preceding series was their consistent unreliability particularly when facing aircraft countermeasures. As the new program developed, it was decided to produce two distinct missile forms - a short-term, improved solution in the 9K310 and the longer-term, more advanced 9K38. The 9K310 was assigned the Igla-1 missile system with sported an improved homing and guidance suite.
The 9K310 inherited the same form and function of preceding Soviet anti-aircraft missile launching marks. The system consisted of a slim launch tube with integrated optics, power pack and trigger group. The missile resided within the tube until launched to which a series of spring-loaded fins emerged from the missile body. Detonation was through contact and grazing fuses while propulsion was through a solid fuel rocket motor.
The 9K310 series was eventually produced across a handful of variants. The Igla-1 was the base missile designation while the Igla-1M was an improved form of the late 1980s. The Igla-1D was a more compact variant intended for airborne infantry while the Igla-1N featured a more potent warhead. An air-launched form existed as the Igla-1V.
9K310 missile systems were used in anger during the 1991 Persian Gulf War and then again in the Bosnian War against NATO forces. Their reach was such that it was widely exported and featured in the inventories of over twenty nations in time including many former Soviet allies and nation states such as Armenia, Georgia, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia, Serbia, Syria, Ukraine and Vietnam.
The 9K310 and 9K38 series have since been replaced (and improved) through the adoption of the 9K338 (NATO: SA-24 "Grinch") series with its new "Igla-S" missile.