9K35 Strela-10 is designed to defend troops on the march from low-altitude aircraft and helicopters, precision-guided munitions, and reconnaissance UAV.
With high mobility, quick reaction ability, Strela-10 was mobilized by Russia to participate in the war in Ukraine. This air defense complex has successfully intercepted many Ukrainian air strikes. 9K35 Strela-10, NATO designation SA-13 “Gopher”, is a highly mobile, short-range surface-to-air missile system, developed under the Soviet Union. The system was introduced in 1973 and entered service in 1976.
9K35 Strela-10 is designed to defend troops on the march from low-altitude aircraft and helicopters, precision-guided munitions, and reconnaissance UAV. According to Armyrecognition, In a recent development in the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the Ukrainian army successfully destroyed two Russian Strela-10 air defense systems. The prioritization of destroying Russian air defense systems is essential in the counteroffensive scenario, given the importance of controlling airspace in modern warfare.
The 9K35 is mounted on a mobile tracked, modified MT-LB, with more room for equipment and missile reloads. Four missiles are mounted on the turret in boxes, ready to launch, and eight more are carried inside the vehicle as reloads. Reloading takes around 3 minutes. The launcher pedestal mounted to the rear of the center of the vehicle is 360º traversable. The Strela-10 is operated by a crew of three. Missiles are visually aimed.
Missile of the Strela-10 was improved comparing with the Strela-1M. It can engage faster air targets at longer range and higher altitude. Missile is 2.19 m long. It is slightly longer, comparing with the Strela-1M missile, but has the same diameter and wing span. It weights 40 kg. High-explosive fragmentation warhead contains 3 kg of explosive material.
Missile has both optical (photo contrast) and infrared guidance. It has the capability to use radars for target acquisition and range. The Strela-10 can engage enemy aircraft and helicopters at a range of up to 5,000 m. Mimimum range is 800 m. Missiles can reach their targets at altitudes from 25 m to up to 3,500 m. There is a 10-50% possibility to hit fighter aircraft with a single missile. Reaction time of the system is about 6.5 seconds. Some vehicles have a pintle-mounted PKT 7.62 mm machine gun in front of the forward hatch for local protection.
The Strela-10 has been widely exported to Soviet allies, and some other countries. After collapse of the Soviet Union these air defense systems were passed on to successor states. This air defense system has fought in several hot spots around the world, including: Angolan Civil War, Operation Desert Storm, Kosovo War, Syrian Civil War, 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, and now the Ukraine war.