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An SA-19 with the search radar stowed

A Brief History of the SA-19

Development of the SA-19 (GRAU Designation 2K22) started in 1970 and the programs goal was to replace the aging and out moded ZSU-23-4 Shilka (NATO codename “Gun Dish”). The main design criteria outlined that the 2K22 was to be armed with 30mm cannons at minimum as it had been observed that NATO attack aircraft such as the A-10 were becoming resistant to 23mm cannon fire. Overall the system was designed to be twice as effective in terms of range and engagement range and altitude. Additionally the system was to have a minimum reaction time of 10 seconds from target detection to engagement. The SA-19 was also a step forward in capability for the USSR as it was a combined gun and missile platform. This would allow the 2K22 to engage targets at a greater range, using the 30mm cannons for close in targets and the missiles for longer range or higher altitude threats. After a rocky period in the late 1970’s when SA-8 Geko was introduced development was finally restarted with the intention to primarily engage attack helicopters and low flying aircraft. The 2K22 was initially deployed into Russian army service in 1983, however this version looked different to the SA-19 we see nowadays and in BMS. During the 1990 the 2K22 was the subject of a major upgrade program, the number of missiles ready to fire went up from 4 (two per side of turret) to 8 (four per side of turret). This version of the SA-19 was designated 2K22M (or 2S1M) by the Russian army and is the version of the SA-19 we see in BMS. 

A 2K22 at a firing range

The System

The Radar and vehicle

The 2K22M is based on the GM-352M chassis, the same one found on the SA-11/17 system and on the SA-15 Gauntlet. The maximum speed of the SA-19 is 65kph with a road range of 500km. The chassis can navigate a maximum incline of 60%, a maximum side slope of 30%, cross a trench 2m in length without preparation and finally ford to a depth of 0.8m without preparation. The SA-19 has a crew of 4, one driver (who sits in the left front hull position), one radar operator (right turret front), one commander (left front turret) and one gunner (rear centre turret). 

An excellent image showing the parabolic search radar

The SA-19 features two radars that feed information to the operators. One top mounted search radar (this can be stowed to maintain a lower profile or during transit) and one tracking radar to direct the guns and missiles. The search radar operates in the E band and is a surveillance type parabolic radar with a reported maximum range of 18km in reality. The “Hot Shot” tracking radar is mounted frontally and operates in the J band with a reported tracking range of 16km. Both the search and tracking radars are integrated into the same system designated 1RL144M – this allows detection to engagement times to be radically reduced. Upon a target being detected and identified as hostile, the search radar automatically feeds target azimuth and range to the tracking radar causing the turret to automatically slews the turret around to match bearings. The tracking radar then takes over, locking the target and automatically super elevating the missile tubes and if the target is close enough elevating and providing lead for the 30mm cannons. All of this is done automatically but both the gunner and commander have the ability to override this. In a high jamming environment backup optical modes can be used. 

The Cannons and Missiles

The primary armament of the SA-19 consists of two 30mm 2A38 twin cannons.The 2A38’s are water cooled, gas operated and electrically fired. The cannons have an inbuilt device for measuring muzzle velocity and this data is fed into the fire control system. Like many large calibre weapons the 2A38’s can fire a variety of ammunition such as, HE-T (high explosive tracer) and HE-I (high explosive incendiary). The 2A38’s are mounted either side of the turret. Each cannon is fired in turn to provide a stated variable fire rate of between 1,950 and 5,000 rounds per minute. This spectacular rate of fire allows a high probability of kill even if the target is within the engagement zone for a short amount of time. Additionally the 2A38 cannons are fully stabilised allowing for firing on the move with a similar degree of accuracy even while moving.

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An SA-19 displaying the awesome firepower of the 2A38 30mm cannons

Mounted below and outwards of the 2A38’s a bank of four 9M311 missile tubes per side are located (8 ready to fire missiles in total) – organised in two blocks of two. These missiles can be elevated separately to the cannons and the blocks of two missile can elevate separately to the tubes next to them. The 9M311 missile is propelled by a two stage motor that gives the missile a maximum stated engagement range of 8,000m by the Russian MoD, take that as you will. The 9M311 is highly agile allowing to engage both helicopters and tactical aircraft. The 9M311 missiles have a reported top speed of 500m/s. The system is capable of engaging targets at a minimum altitude of 15m and a maximum altitude of 3,500m in reality. In BMS the 9M311 has a maximum engagement range of 5.7nm with a maximum altitude of 28,000. However the usual engagement distance of the SA-19 in BMS is around 3.8nm at 10,000’. 

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A bank of 2 9M311 missile elevating

How to Defeat SA-19 in BMS

The SA-19 is a very high threat system. To avoid the 2A38 cannons jamming and rapid weaving should be used, both vertical and horizontal – combine this with the liberal and frequent use of chaff to spoof the tracking radar and force the guns to engage you manually. If the SA-19 shoots at you with the 9M311 missiles then a kinetic defeat is your best bet. Combine chaff with a high G (7G+) turn away from the missile while descending. The SA-19 will more than likely engage you at short range so quick reaction times are essential. Again the missile has a smokeless motor so acquiring the missile visually is a challenge. 

A truly excellent photo showing the rate of fire of the 2A38 cannons

How to Destroy SA-19 in BMS 

The SA-19 has limited protection. It is protected against small arms and shrapnel. Because of this most anti armour weapons are perfectly viable against an SA-19. The best weapons to use from the authors point of view are AGM-65D ro GBU-12. Locate the SA-19 in the convoy and take them out. 

Tactical Use Of SA-19 in BMS

The SA-19 is deployed to protect high value battalions (such as HQ and tank battalions) in BMS. The SA-19 provides a short range bubble over these battalions protecting them from low level threats such as tactical aircraft and helicopters. 

Quick Reference

  • Rmax – 5.7nm/2.2nm (missiles/guns) 
  • Rmin –  0.8nm/0nm (missiles/guns) 
  • AltMax – 28,000’/10,700’ (missiles/guns)
  • AltMin – 0’/0’ (missiles/guns)
A 2K22 on parade