A Brief History of the SA-15 

The SA-15 is a mobile, all weather, medium range and altitude SAM. Development of the SA-15 started in 1975 and it was designed to replace the SA-8 Gecko. Two versions of the system were developed in parallel, the land based tracked chassis version that we know and love in BMS and a navalised variant designated SA-N-9 “Gauntlet”. 

An SA-15 at a public demonstration

The System

The Radar and Vehicle

The launch vehicle used to transport the turret is the 9A330 combat vehicle. This provides the SA-15 with excellent cross country and on road mobility, allowing the SA-15 to provide a bubble of protection and follow fast moving combat divisions along the FEBA. Additionally is also allows the Gauntlet system to set up in hard to reach areas which may provide greater concealment and allow the Gauntlet to ambush enemy aircraft while hiding. The vehicle has a crew of 4, one driver and three operators responsible for the control of the engagement procedure. 

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An SA-15 on parade – here the search radar mast is stowed

The system has two radars. One scanning radar mounted to the top of the turret (this can be folded down during transit or storage – or to give the vehicle a lower profile on the battlefield). And one tracking radar which is mounted on the turret front. This is important as it allows the SA-15 to search for, acquire and track targets while moving at full speed – a capability that was not possible on the SA-8. In reality the TOR-M1 can also engage targets while moving. The target acquisition radar is a 3D F band pulse doppler radar. The radar is augmented with a truncated parabolic antenna and is a PESA (newest versions are AESA) type radar. The radar has an average power output of 1.5KW giving a maximum detection range of 25Km or 16 miles. The system has the ability to detect up to 48 targets and track 10 of these 48. 

The Missile

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A pair of SA-15s on exercise – note the SA-15 engaging on the move in the background

The SA-15 is armed with the 9M330 missile which has gone through an extensive upgrade program. Weighing in at 160Kg with a length of 3.5 the 9M330 is on the smaller side in the SAM missile size chart. However, it packs one hell of a punch, the missile carries a 15Kg warhead and has a top speed of Mach 2.8. The missile is guided to intercept via command guidance and utilizes both a contact and radar proximity fuze. The missiles are capable of maneuvering at 30Gs and engaging targets in excess of Mach 2 – in reality, this allows the system to engage ballistic threats (missiles like AGM 65) as well as helicopters and planes. The launch procedure for the 9M330 missile allows the SA-15 to fire over obstacles or when the system itself is in defilade. Upon the establishment of a valid target track and launch authority being granted the missile is ejected vertically from the launch tube in the turret of the 9A330 to a height of 15-20m. Vectored gas-dynamic maneuvering system then turns the missile into the direction of the target and the main rocket motor of the missile is activated. The missile will then accelerate upto Mach 2.8 and begins to intercept the target. Typically in BMS the SA-15 will engage you at a maximum range of 7nm at a height of 15,000’. 

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The 9M330 missile

How To Defeat SA-15 in BMS

The SA-15 is an extremely dangerous SAM both in reality and in BMS – especially with the new SAM AI logic introduced in 4.34. The SA-15 is designed to counter medium to low altitude threats, both fixed and rotor wing. Because of this the 9M330 missiles are exceedingly maneuverable thus a kinetic defeat is not advised unless the SA-15 has engaged you at near maximum range. If an SA-15 does launch at you a high G pull towards the ground combined with chaff should be used, when you are NoE perform a series of rapid pull ups with more chaff. This will either force the missile into the ground or make the missile lose a lead track of your jet. 

The initial stage of an 9M330’s launch

How to Destroy SA-15 in BMS

The SA-15 is an easy target to identify due to the distinctive turret and radar dish. While the SA-15 is protected from small arms fire it is very prone to missile and bomb attacks. Due to the low altitude ceiling of the SA-15 it is often best to hunt them down from above 15,000’ with wither GBU-12 or AGM65D/H before engaging the rest of the battalion. 

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Four SA-15s in transit

Tactical Use of SA-15 in BMS

Usually a pair of SA-15s are deployed as a battalion air defense asset to provide close in air defense, not just against fixed wing tactical fighters but also against helicopters. It is used most commonly in HQ battalions as these are high value assets and often augments ManPADS and SHORAD systems already attached to the battalions. 

Quick Reference

  • Rmax – 7nm
  • Rmin – <1nm
  • AltMax – 15,000’
  • AltMin – N/A