In a move to evaluate the practical capabilities of the new short-range mobile air defense system, Gibka-S has been confirmed to be deployed in Ukraine.

The Russian army received the first Gibka-S short-range air defense systems in 2022. Since then, the system has undergone field tests, and has proven effective against airborne targets while moving at speeds of up to 30 km/h. Completion of the state trials represents a significant milestone in the commissioning of the system with the Russian armed forces.

In a move to evaluate the practical capabilities of the new short-range mobile air defense system, Gibka-S has been confirmed to be deployed in Ukraine. This air defense system, based on the chassis of the “Tiger” armored vehicle, enables the Russian military to significantly increase its anti-aircraft arsenal, offering a rapid and efficient response to diversified aerial threats.

Gibka-S is classified as a Very Short-Range Air Defense system (VSHORAD) – a new self-propelled mobile air defence system. The system has the capability to protect deployed and marching units from the threat of low and extremely low flying aircraft during day and night. It is composed of two major components, including a combat vehicle and a commander’s reconnaissance and combat control vehicle.

The Gibka-S light anti-aircraft system is based on the Tiger-M tactical vehicle. The vehicle is designed to carry man-portable air-defence system operators along with missile load and associated equipment. The armoured vehicle is capable of launching Russian-made Igla-S and Verba MANPADS missiles. It can carry four ready-to-launch missiles loaded on the missile launcher and four ready-to-load missiles.

The vehilce can accommodate a crew of four, including two MANPADS anti-aircraft gunners, a commander, and a driver. The combat vehicle also features a missile remote control unit and an electro-optical tracking and targeting system. New Russian air defense system can engage targets with Verba or Igla-S missiles. The infrared-guided missiles are installed on a turret mounted on the combat vehicle.

The Igla-S missile can strike targets flying at an altitude of up to 3,500m at a speed of 400m/s. It has a maximum target engagement range of up to 6,000m. The missile is fitted with a high-explosive (HE) blast fragmentation warhead with a proximity and impact fuse. The Verba 9М336 has a range and altitude similar to that of the Igla-S missile. Guided by a tri-mode passive homing seeker, the Verba missile carries a HE warhead weighing 2.5kg.

The Gibka-S system also comprises a commander’s reconnaissance and combat control vehicle for battery commander. Equipped with Garmon 1L122-2E small-size radar, the vehicle enables communication with the higher command posts. Once a target is detected, the combat control vehicle alerts one of the combat vehicles to engage it. The radar has a target coverage range of up to 40km and can detect targets flying at an altitude of 10km.

In recent months, responding to substantial losses, Russia has notably strengthened its short-range air defense capabilities to counter the intensifying threats in Ukraine. This strategic move is aimed at enhancing the defense of its ground forces and key infrastructures against aerial attacks, including drone strikes.

The addition of Gibka-S to the air defense arsenal to deal with growing air threats. The focus on short-range air defense, including the deployment of the Gibka-S, indicates a tactical shift by Russia to more effectively counter asymmetric threats like drones, which have become a significant aspect of the conflict in Ukraine.

The deployment of the Gibka-S in Ukraine serves not only as a strategic tool but also as a real-world test to assess its effectiveness. These tests reveal the system’s performance under various combat constraints, a crucial aspect before mass production.


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