Here's What You Need to Know: This powerful SAM system is about to get better at stopping enemy UAVs.
The Russian military’s Tor-M2 short-range air defense missile system was developed to counter a range of targets including unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), guided missiles, cruise missiles, helicopters and high-precision weapons that fly at very low to medium altitudes. The full-automated surface-to-air missile (SAM) system is manufactured by Almaz-Antey’s Izhevsk Electromechnical Plant to also deliver effect air defense in jamming environments.
The Tor-M2 is able to engage a target within ten seconds while on the move and, and within just eight seconds from a short stop. It integrates Passive Electronically Scanned Array (PESA) radar that allows for faster and more precise beam control, and it can engage somewhere between four and ten targets simultaneously.
However, against some targets the Tor-M2 would be overkill—in essence comparable to targeting flies with a shotgun—which is why the Russian military has now announced that it developed a small-size missile for the SAM platform. These would be used as a counter-weapon specifically against UAVs and other small drones.
“Currently the air defense system Tor-M2 is the most effective means against tactical drones,” commander-in-chief of Russia’s ground forces, General of the Army Oleg Salyukov told the government-published daily Rossiyskaya Gazeta, Tass reported.
“The cost of one guided air defense missile is way above the cost of a small-size drone. For this reason a relatively inexpensive small missile is being developed for this system,” Salyukov added. “The existing multi-echelon air defense system guarantees effective protection from them by and large.”
The Tor-M2 SAM, which is equipped with two 9M334 modules, each containing four 9M331 SAM guided missiles, was designed to operate around-the-clock in all weather conditions.
Export Sales and Variants
According to Army-Technology, the Tor family SAM systems has been widely exported as the Tor-M2E, which is based on a tracked chassis. Its capabilities were first exhibited at the MAKS 2007 Airshow in Moscow and then again in 2011. The Tor-M2E is now in service with the armed forces of Azerbaijan, Belarus, China, Cyprus, Egypt, Greece, Iran, Ukraine and Venezuela.
A navalized variant was developed under the name 3K95 “Kinzhal,” also known as the SA-N-9 “Gauntlet.” This naval version utilizes the same 9M330 missile as the land based version, and the system can be mounted on vessels displacing over 800 tons.
The Chinese military has developed its own version of the original Tor-M1 system as the HQ-17. It incorporates an IFF (Identification, Friend or Foe) on top of electronically scanned array radar; and features modernized electronics, an all-terrain launcher and ability to datalink with other connected Chinese military systems and platforms. China’s FM-2000 short-range air defense system (SHORAD) also bears a host of technical similarities to the Tor-M2K. Both platforms came about from China copying the dozen or Tor-M1 platforms that Beijing purchased from 1996 to 2000.
Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com.
This article first appeared in October 2020.