What will substitute “Strela” air defence systems?

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Since Soviet times, the base of air defence system of the Land Forces of Belarus is the “Strela-10” short-range anti-aircraft missile system. Adopted in the distant 1976, the complex has experienced a number of upgrades. But along with the times, air attack systems are changing. The military are looking for a substitution for “Strela” systems.

On May 19, 2015 the development of “… an absolutely new short-range anti-aircraft missile system” within the framework of the “Union State of Belarus and Russia” (Union State) was announced. The start of the development was planned for the 2016. On the Russian side, KB Tochmash was to participate in the development of the air defence system.

However, there was no news on this issue in 2016. At the Milex-2017 arms exhibition in May 2017, it was stated that work on the Belarusian-Russian project to create a short-range air defence system had not start at all. The formal reason is lack of money. While the budget of the so-called “Union State” in 2016 had surplus. Representatives of the Belarusian military-industrial complex expressed the hope that the work will begin and will be supported with the “Union State” funds.

After this the topic disappeared from the agenda again. Thus, on January 31, 2018, at the meeting of the Commission of the State Military Industrial Committee (SMIC) on the results of its performance and of organizations’ included in its system activities, the modernization of the combat vehicle of the Osa 9A33BM2 (3) anti-aircraft missile system to the level of 9A33-1B was called an important project in 2017. At the same time, not a word was said about the prospects of creating a joint Belarusian-Russian short-range air defence system. What gives reasons to ascertain the “death” of the project.

It is possible that everything is not so unequivocal and sad. During the Russian armament exhibition “Army-2018” a serial model of the new anti-aircraft missile system “Sosna” was demonstrated for the first time. It was developed by the abovementioned “KB Tochmash”. The system has successfully passed state tests and should change the “Strela-10” air defence system in the Russian army. And maybe not only in Russian one. Thus, it is stated that the system has Belarusian-made components and “Sosna” is a joint project designed to meet the needs of the armies of Belarus and Russia for military air defence.

But there are some confusing details. Originally, the creation of a fundamentally new air defence system was discussed. While “Sosna” is the result of a deep modernization of the “Strela”. It had been developed since 2005 – for almost 12 years.

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