MEET THE S-125 NEVA – THE DEADLY MISSILE THAT BROUGHT DOWN THE FIRST AMERICAN STEALTH FIGHTER AND THE MOST POWERFUL RUSSIAN WARPLANE
As fighting rages across Ukraine with an aggressive Russian push in the eastern and southern regions of the country, some Soviet weapons systems deployed by Ukrainian forces are making Russian forces flee.
Recently, a Russian Sukhoi Su-35, the most powerful aircraft in the Russian inventory, was shot down by Ukrainian missiles while conducting SEAD operations. This was the first-ever loss of the Su-35E Flanker, which entered combat service in 2016 and is believed to be the best fighter in the Russian Air Force.
Experts confirmed that the Russian Su-35 was flying to eliminate an air defense system based on remnants on the battlefield.
Now, social media is agog with reports that the system responsible for causing such massive losses In the Russian Air Force, it was only the original Soviet air defense system S-125, which is remembered for its attack on American combat aircraft decades ago. The EurAsian Times has not been able to independently verify this.
The S-125 is a two-stage, solid-fueled, low to medium altitude surface-to-air missile system designed to defend critical government, industrial and military facilities against all types of airborne threats flying at extremely low and medium grades. altitudes such as bomber aircraft, fighter bombers, multirole aircraft and cruise missiles.
Although withdrawn from the Russian Army due to its lack of mobility, the S-125 is still in use in more than a dozen countries. Ukraine restarted its units in late 2020, having upgraded them to the standard S-125-2D Pechora, giving them a much longer range of 40 kilometers. They were operational when Russia launched the invasion in late February, although those available use stationary launchers and are therefore not very mobile.
Although the state has already retired S-125s, local companies have continued to develop modifications and maintain the system, including testing a new missile in 2018. With the acquisition of new interceptors with improved capabilities and updated radars, the S-125 system has changed over time. Complete Pechora systems often consist of a number of stationary or truck-mounted launchers, as well as a variety of target altitude radars.
The missile launcher, which first entered service in the Soviet Air Defense Forces in 1961, has a long history of defeating high-performance fighters. The system is better at neutralizing objects at lower altitudes, but as its sensors have improved and its range has increased, it has also developed the ability to engage higher targets. If confirmed, the shooting down of the Su-35 would cement the S-125’s reputation as one of the most lethal anti-aircraft missile systems in history that already boasted some unprecedented killings of the best combat aircraft in the Western arsenal, that day. .
During the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the regime reportedly shot down several Israeli F-4E Phantoms, which at the time were the best fighters in the Western world. The war took place between the State of Israel and the Arab world led by Egypt. While the former had close military ties with the United States, the Arabs tended toward Soviet military equipment.
The most famous killing of the S-125 occurred in 1999 when it was used by Yugoslav forces to shoot down at least one of two neutralized USAF F-117 stealth aircraft. It can be remembered as an exceptional kill because the F-117 was the first ever stealth fighter jet built with a low radar signature and advanced design. By shooting down this aircraft, the S-125 proved its superiority in air defense.
To effectively combat superior Russian air power, Ukrainian President Zelensky has called for a “no-fly zone” and MiG-29 fighter jets from Poland. But both demands were rejected by NATO for fear of angering the Russians to the point of escalation. So far, NATO countries have refrained from arming Ukrainian forces with offensive weapons, especially combat aircraft.
But that did not prevent the resistance forces from obstructing the Russian planes and tanks. Taking advantage of ground-based air defense systems and man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS), Ukrainian forces have recorded several killings of Russian aircraft, especially helicopters. Now, with the best fighter jet in Russia’s arsenal hit, Ukraine has proven it can do a decent job with its surface-to-air missiles, MANPADS and anti-tank guided missiles like the home-made Stugna. Not only this, Ukrainian forces have also reportedly taken over abandoned Russian air defense systems. Ukrainian forces recently acquired some of the latest Russian military equipment, including the 9S935, which is compatible with a wide range of Russian air defense systems.
The United States also announced a few weeks ago that it was transferring some Soviet-made air defense weapons that it obtained surreptitiously decades ago to help the Ukrainian army defend itself against Russian air attacks. It also proposed to Turkey the transfer of Russian air defense systems to Ukraine. Although Ukraine is fighting against a force much larger and much more advanced than its own, these weapons systems have allowed it to exercise stiff resistance to the aggressor.