In the context of Soviet-era air-to-air missiles reaching the end of their useful life, India has successfully developed an air defense system, called Surface to Air Missile for Assured Retaliation, or SAMAR.

Designed for air defense missions against low-flying targets, the SAMAR system uses expired R-27 and R-73 air-to-air missiles but have been upgraded by the IAF to extend their life cycle. The development combines two options: to shoot down targets at low altitude and eventually to get rid of stockpile of Soviet air-to-air missiles.

According to information from open sources, SAMAR-1, is designed for the R-73E missile with infrared guidance. The similar in design is the SAMAR-2 SAM system, designed for firing R-27ET missiles with infrared guidance. On December 20, 2023, the Indian Air Force inducted the SAMAR-1 short-range air defense system. This milestone followed qualifying trials held in mid-December 2023. Although the exact number of SAMAR-1 systems currently in service with the Indian Air Force remains undisclosed, estimates suggest a potential delivery of five such systems, as reported by Janes.

The presented air defense system was ready to fulfill its primary objective — to provide the Indian military with an improvised anti-aircraft system capable of utilizing the available stockpile of approximately 4,700 expired R-73 anti-aircraft missiles. About the SAMAR-1. The system has two R-73 launchers and an optical-electronic guidance station, mounted on a wheeled 6×6 chassis.The SAMAR-1 has a target engagement range of 10–12 kilometers, while the maximum target altitude remains undisclosed. The R-73Es are refurbished and upgraded to perform surface-to-air roles and the missiles can be launched in both single and salvo mode.

The similar in design is the SAMAR-2 SAM system, designed for firing R-27ET missiles with infrared guidance. The declared firing range is up to 20 km (although in its “air-to-air” role, the R-27ET launch range is up to 90 km). The Indian Air Force has not yet announced whether it will adopt the SAMAR-2. The platform is an 8×8 wheeled Tatra-815 chassis, and fire control employs an electro-optical station, too.

According to open sources, the IAF has purchased about 4,700 R-73 missiles and several hundred R-27 missiles since 1987, which will apparently now be used as ammunition for the SAMAR systems. Air defense systems of this type will close the niche of short-range air defense equipment for the Indian Air Force, and at the same time will be a way to clear a stock of old Soviet missiles.

Utilizing old weapons systems to improve defense capabilities has been done similarly in Ukraine, under the name FrankenSAM. The aim is to create hybrid systems based on Soviet-era air defense systems equipped with modern air defense missiles. As a result, the first combat units entered service on the Ukrainian front lines.


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