On December 11, 1957, by the Decree of the Central Committee of the CPSU and the Council of Ministers of the USSR, the SA-75 "Dvina" anti-aircraft missile system with a 1D (B-750) missile was adopted for the armament of the country's air defense and the air defense of the Ground Forces (more details here: The first Soviet mass air defense system S-75) …
SAMs of the S-75 family for a long time formed the basis of the Soviet anti-aircraft missile forces and after the appearance of the low-altitude S-125 and long-range S-200 they served in mixed brigades. The first complexes "Dvina" in the late 50s were deployed on the western borders of the USSR. At the personal request of Mao Zedong, several missile divisions, along with Soviet specialists, were sent to the PRC. Later they were deployed in the rear areas of the USSR around the administrative and industrial centers, the SA-75 "Dvina" was covered by Soviet troops in Cuba and in the Warsaw Pact countries.
Their combat score "seventy heels" opened on October 7, 1959, shooting down an American-made high-altitude reconnaissance RB-57D in the vicinity of Beijing. Then, on May 1, 1960, near Sverdlovsk, they "landed" U-2 Gary Powers, and in 1962 over Cuba, their victim was U-2 Major Rudolf Anderson. Subsequently, the S-75 of various modifications took part in numerous armed conflicts, having a great influence on the course and nature of hostilities, becoming the most belligerent air defense system in the world (more details here: Combat use of the S-75 anti-aircraft missile system).
The moment of defeat of the B-750 SAM system SA-75M "Dvina" of the American F-105 fighter-bomber
Based on the results of hostilities in Vietnam and the Middle East, in order to improve the operational and combat characteristics of the S-75 air defense systems, the S-75 air defense systems were repeatedly modernized. The hardware part of the complex was improved, new modifications of the missile defense system were adopted, which made it possible to increase the noise immunity and expand the affected area. In order to increase the effectiveness of firing at low-flying, maneuvering and high-speed small targets, the 5Ya23 missile was introduced into the S-75M2 (MZ) complexes, which became the most effective missile defense system for this family of air defense systems.
The affected areas of the S-75M, S-75M2, S-75M3 air defense systems when firing the V-755, 5Ya23 missiles
According to foreign estimates, in the Soviet Union in the first half of the 80s, about 4,500 launchers of S-75 type complexes were deployed. As of 1991, in the USSR, there were about 400 S-75 air defense systems of various modifications in combat units and in "storage". The production of missiles for these complexes continued until the mid-80s.
The question of introducing solid-fuel or ramjet engine missiles into the S-75 was repeatedly considered. Based on the experience of combat use, the military wanted to get a mobile multi-channel anti-aircraft complex with high fire performance and the ability to fire at a target from any direction, regardless of the position of the launcher. As a result, work on a cardinal improvement of the S-75 led to the creation in 1978 of the S-300PT mobile anti-aircraft missile system. SAM 5V55K (V-500K) of this complex with a radio command guidance system ensured the destruction of targets at a distance of up to 47 km. Although the launch range of the first S-300PT missiles was comparable to the latest versions of the S-75, the "three hundred" solid-propellant missiles did not require dangerous and complex refueling with liquid fuel and an oxidizer. All elements of the S-300PT were placed on a mobile chassis, the time of combat deployment and folding of the complex was significantly reduced, which ultimately had to affect the survival rate. The new complex, which replaced the S-75, has become multi-channel in terms of the target, its fire performance and noise immunity have significantly increased.
The operation of the S-75 air defense system of all modifications in Russia ended in 1996. Of course, by that time, these complexes did not meet modern requirements in many ways, and a significant part of them had exhausted their service life. But the C-75M2, C-75M3, and relatively fresh C-75M4, which had undergone refurbishment and modernization, equipped with a television-optical sight with an optical target tracking channel and "Doubler" equipment with external simulators of the SNR, could guard the sky for at least 10 years in secondary directions or complement more modern systems. Probably, the complexes on the southwestern tip of the Novaya Zemlya archipelago were on alert for the longest time, at least on satellite images ten years ago one can observe missile launchers at positions in this area. It is possible that the leadership of the RF Ministry of Defense considered that leaving the complexes in positions was less costly compared to their removal to the "mainland".
Since the second half of the 80s, the S-75 air defense systems began to be transferred to "storage" and "disposed of" in droves. After 1991, this process in Russia took a landslide character. Most of the complexes transferred "for storage" were dismantled, electronic components containing non-ferrous and precious metals were plundered in a barbaric manner, however, this applied not only to the S-75, but also to other military equipment left without proper care and protection. By the early 2000s, most of the S-75 complexes located at storage bases were rendered unusable for further use and cut into scrap metal. Some of the anti-aircraft missiles that served in the USSR Air Defense Forces had a happier fate, they were converted into target missiles: RM-75, "Korshun" and "Sinitsa-23". Converting combat missiles into targets imitating enemy cruise and ballistic missiles made it possible to reduce costs during training and control fires of air defense crews and increase the level of realism during exercises.
In the interests of potential foreign customers in the late 1990s - early 2000s, Russian developers proposed a number of modernization options that were supposed to increase the combat potential and increase the service life of the S-75 anti-aircraft systems that remained in service. The most advanced version of the modernization of the C-75-2 "Volga-2A" was based on the use of a unified digital hardware, made with the use of technical solutions implemented in the export S-300PMU1 air defense system. According to the developer of the S-75 Volga air defense missile system, NPO Almaz, this modernization is most expedient in terms of the cost-effectiveness criterion.
During the Soviet era, about 800 C-75 of various modifications were delivered abroad. In addition to the direct supply of anti-aircraft systems and missiles, at Soviet enterprises and on-site teams of specialists, medium and major repairs of equipment and modernization were carried out in order to extend the resource and increase the combat characteristics.
Launch of the Romanian SAM S-75M3 "Volkhov" missile at the Corby Black Sea training ground in 2007
The last deliveries of S-75M3 "Volga" in 1987 were carried out to Angola, Vietnam, South Yemen, Cuba and Syria. After 1987, only one S-75M3 Volkhov complex was supplied to Romania in 1988. Apparently, the complexes exported in 1987-1988 are overhauled air defense systems that were previously in service in the Soviet Union. The production of the S-75 in our country ended in 1985 after the fulfillment of the Syrian and Libyan export orders. Some of these complexes, produced in the 80s, are still in operation. So the Romanian S-75M3 "Volkhov" remained the only air defense systems of this type operating in Europe. Three anti-aircraft missile battalions (zrdn) are still deployed around Bucharest.
Satellite image of Google earth: the position of the C-75 air defense system in the vicinity of Bucharest
The S-75 complexes that were in the countries of Eastern Europe after their entry into NATO and in order to "integrate" into a single defense space were scrapped. Some of those who are more fortunate have taken pride of place in the exhibitions of museums.
SAM complex S-75 at the US National Air and Space Museum
The seventy-fives that survived to the 21st century were exploited in the Middle East and North Africa. Of the Asian countries, they remained in the DPRK and Vietnam (currently being replaced by the S-300P and Israeli air defense systems "Spider"). In Cuba, some of the combat elements of the complex, such as the SNR-75 and PU, were transferred to the chassis of the T-55 tanks. However, the possibility of long-term transportation over rough terrain of fueled missiles with significant vibration loads raises doubts. The tracked guidance station looks especially comical.
Cuban version of the modernization of the S-75 air defense system
The American aggression in Iraq and a series of internal armed conflicts in the Arab countries have significantly reduced the fleet of capable S-75 air defense systems. In 2003, during Operation Iraqi Freedom, in view of the poor technical condition of the main part of the Iraqi air defense systems, the destruction of surveillance radars and the destruction of the command and control system, the C-75 anti-aircraft systems at the disposal of Saddam Hussein's army did not launch on coalition aircraft. It was noted that several unguided rockets were launched towards the advancing American forces. Most of the Iraqi air defense systems were destroyed in the first days after the outbreak of hostilities in the course of preventive missile and bomb strikes by American and British aircraft.
In the period from 1974 to 1986, Iraq received 46 S-75M and S-75M3 air defense systems, as well as 1336 B-755 missiles and 680 B-759 missiles for them. According to American intelligence in 2003, 12 divisions were combat-ready, and as a result, due to the passivity of the Iraqi command, they all turned into scrap metal.
39 S-75M and S-75M3 air defense systems and 1374 B-755 and B-759 air defense systems were delivered to Libya for 10 years from 1975 to 1985 from the Soviet Union. Since the second half of the 90s, the Libyan leadership did not pay enough attention to the state of its own armed forces, and the entire air defense system, built according to Soviet patterns, began to decline. In 2010, in view of the poor technical condition, no more than 10 complexes were on alert. After the outbreak of the civil war in 2011 and the subsequent intervention of Western countries in it, the entire air defense system of Libya was first disorganized and then completely destroyed, unable to provide any noticeable resistance to the air attack of NATO countries.
Satellite image of Google earth: the position of the destroyed Libyan air defense system C-75 in the vicinity of Tripoli
Libyan anti-aircraft missile systems were either destroyed during air strikes and artillery and mortar attacks, or captured by the rebels. Some of the solid-propellant missiles S-125 and "Kvadrat" were converted for firing at ground targets, but rather bulky, requiring refueling with liquid fuel and an oxidizer, the S-75 missiles are mostly rendered unusable. It was reported that the powerful 190 kg warheads of the S-75M Volga anti-aircraft missiles, giving more than 3,500 fragments, were used by the Islamists as landmines.
Syria was another major Middle Eastern C-75 operator. The number of air defense systems delivered to this country from the USSR is unprecedented. The S-75M and S-75M3 air defense systems alone were transferred from 1974 to 1987, 52 units. Also, 1918 B-755 / B-759 missiles were delivered to these complexes.
The Syrian air defense systems, thanks to the presence of well-trained personnel in the country and the maintenance and repair base created with the help of the USSR, were maintained at a fairly high degree of combat readiness. The hardware part of the complexes regularly underwent refurbishment and "minor modernization", and the missiles were sent for maintenance to specially created arsenals. Before the start of the civil war, about 30 S-75M / M3 missiles were on alert there.
Satellite image of Google earth: the position of the Syrian air defense system C-75 in Tartus
Some of them still continue to serve in areas controlled by government forces. Most of the Syrian air defense systems were either evacuated to government-controlled bases and airfields, or destroyed during shelling. The Israeli Air Force continues to make its contribution to the destruction of the Syrian air defense system, regularly striking the positions of the air defense missile systems and radar stations in the border areas.
Before the termination of military-technical cooperation with the Soviet Union, Egypt was supplied with: 2 SAM SA-75M "Dvina", 32 SAM S-75 "Desna", 47 SAM S-75M "Dvina" and 8 SAM S-75M "Volga", as well as about 3000 missiles for them. For a long time, these complexes were used by the air defense forces of Egypt, most of them were deployed along the Suez Canal. To accommodate the elements of the complexes and combat crews, reinforced concrete defenses were erected in Egypt, capable of withstanding close explosions of large-caliber bombs.
Satellite image of Google earth: the position of the Egyptian C-75 air defense system on the banks of the Suez Canal
However, in view of the spoiled relations with the Soviet Union, in Egypt, as the resource of anti-aircraft systems was developed in the early 80s, the problem of their maintenance, repair and modernization was urgently needed, which prompted the Egyptians, with North Korean and Chinese technical support, to start independent work in this direction. The main purpose of the work was to extend the service life and modernize about 600 obsolete 13D missiles that had served their warranty periods. Specialists of the French company "Tomson-CSF" also joined this topic. The modernized version of the Egyptian S-75 was named in an oriental poetical way - "Tair Al - Sabah" ("Morning Bird"). Currently, in Egypt, about 25 modernized "seventy-fives" are deployed in positions. In exchange for samples of Soviet missile and aviation equipment supplied to the PRC, the Chinese helped to establish in Egypt the production of missiles for the existing S-75 air defense systems, which, along with the repair and modernization of the complexes, is the reason for their enviable longevity.
In the second half of January 2016, a video appeared on the network, which allegedly captured the process of the destruction of an American drone by the Yemeni S-75 air defense system. It is not clear where and when the low quality footage captured the combat work of the calculations of the air defense missile system and the P-18 radar, as well as the night launch of the rocket and the wreckage of unknown origin, passed off as a downed UAV.
From 1980 to 1987, South and North Yemen (now a single state) received 18 S-75M3 Volga air defense systems, as well as more than 600 missiles for them. Prior to that, 4 SA-75M "Dvina" air defense systems and 136 B-750 missiles were supplied to South Yemen, but at the moment these complexes and missiles are certainly inoperative. As of 2010, in Yemen, there were no more than 10 S-75 air defense systems in working order.
Since 2006, hostilities have unfolded in Yemen between armed militants from the Shiite insurgent movement Ansar Allah (aka “Houthis”) on the one hand and pro-government armed forces and Saudi Arabia on the other. In the course of armed clashes, the "Houthis" managed to seize a number of key regions of the country and large military bases and seriously squeeze the armed forces of the pro-American government. After the real prospect arose that the Shiites would establish control over the entire territory of the country under the leadership of Saudi Arabia, an Arab coalition was formed, which began air strikes on targets in Yemen on March 25, 2015. First of all, the airbase in Sana'a and air defense facilities controlled by the "Houthis" were bombed.
Satellite image of Google earth: destroyed in an air strike Yemeni air defense system C-75
Judging by the reports of news agencies and satellite images of 2015, as a result of air strikes in the combat zone, not only the stationary positions of the S-75 and S-125 air defense missile systems were destroyed, but also the Kvadrat mobile military complexes. In the conditions of desert terrain and full control of the airspace by Saudi aviation, the outdated anti-aircraft complex has practically no chance of survival. Combat assets of the S-75 air defense system require a long deployment with the installation of antenna posts and docking of cables. Refueling and loading missiles onto launchers is a complex and unsafe operation that requires sustained skills to be achieved through training. The characteristics of mobility, noise immunity and secrecy of the S-75 air defense system no longer correspond to modern realities. Today, the Saudi F-15SA fighter-bombers are the most advanced in the F-15 family, they are equipped with additional weapons and electronic warfare systems. In addition, the S-75 air defense systems cannot operate on their own. For their successful combat work, the means of reconnaissance of the air situation are needed. Naturally, there can be no long-term radar network on the territory of Yemen, which has been at war for 10 years. Surveillance radars P-18, delivered in the 80s along with Soviet anti-aircraft systems, are also outdated and have worn out. The means of electronic intelligence at the disposal of the United States and the aviation of the Arab coalition are able to easily determine the location of such stations with their subsequent destruction.
Sadly, the century of all modifications of the S-75 air defense system built in the USSR is coming to an end. The complexes produced more than 30 years ago are at the limit of their technical resource. Even the newest V-755 and 5Ya23 missiles have expired storage periods many times over. As you know, after more than 10 years of service, rockets, fueled with liquid fuel and an oxidizer, began to leak and pose a serious danger to starting calculations; to eliminate this problem, repair and maintenance are required at the factory or arsenals. It is extremely doubtful that the third world countries, which still have the S-75 air defense system, will find the means for the senseless modernization of the hopelessly outdated complexes, the resource of which has been exhausted. It seems much more expedient to spend money on modern mobile multichannel complexes, the maintenance of which will be much cheaper. It is no secret that the reason for the decommissioning of the S-75 and S-200 air defense missile systems with liquid-propellant missiles in many countries was the high cost of operation, the complexity and increased danger when handling toxic fuel and an aggressive oxidizer.
Special mention should be made of the Chinese versions of the C-75 - HQ-2 (more details here: Chinese anti-aircraft missile system HQ-2). The Chinese clone S-75 has long been the backbone of the PLA's air defense forces, and its mass production continued until the late 1980s. In terms of its characteristics, the Chinese complex as a whole corresponded to the Soviet models with a 10-15 year delay.
In the PRC, about 100 HQ-2 air defense systems of various modifications and 5000 missiles were built. More than 30 divisions have been exported to Albania, Iran and the DPRK, Pakistan and Sudan. The Chinese-made HQ-2 air defense systems took part in hostilities during the Sino-Vietnamese conflicts in 1979 and 1984, and were also actively used by Iran during the Iran-Iraq war. Albania was the only NATO country where, until 2014, Chinese anti-aircraft systems with Soviet roots were in service.
In China itself, the HQ-2 air defense system is gradually being replaced by more modern models. Complexes of this type mainly cover objects in the interior regions of the PRC and in secondary directions. The long service life of the Chinese HQ-2 is explained by the modernization measures carried out in the second half of the 90s, but in any case, this complex, like all modifications of the Soviet S-75, is outdated at the moment. The HQ-2 air defense system can be relatively effective in a local conflict against the aviation of countries that do not have modern RTR and electronic warfare systems. The Chinese HQ-2 air defense system is capable of complementing more modern anti-aircraft systems in a developed, centralized air defense system, which we actually observe in the PRC.
Google Earth snapshot: a passenger airliner flies over the position of the Chinese air defense system HQ-2 in the vicinity of Urumqi
On the basis of HQ-2 in Iran at the end of the 90s, its own complex was created, which received the designation "Sayyad-1". In the spring of 2001, he was presented at an exhibition in Abu Dhabi. The next version of the Sayyad-2 missile defense system, created in the 2000s, already had a combined radio command and infrared homing system. According to Iranian engineers and the military, this should increase the noise immunity and flexibility of the anti-aircraft complex.
Iranian anti-aircraft missile "Sayyad-1"
On the basis of the S-75 missile defense system, work was carried out in different countries to create operational-tactical missile systems. Most likely, the Chinese were the first to implement such a project. In the late 70s, the PLA entered service with the OTRK DF-7 (M-7). In the second half of the 80s, they began to replace it with more efficient complexes, and Chinese missiles were sold to Iran. The DF-7 rocket had an inertial control system, resistant to external influences, and a warhead weighing 190 kg. At the moment, Iran has up to 30 mobile launchers for launching missiles of this type. The Iranian version of the missile was named "Tondar", it has a firing range of up to 150 km and a warhead increased in comparison with the Chinese prototype.
The creation of similar systems was also carried out in the DPRK, but the North Koreans needed a complex capable of delivering a nuclear warhead at a distance of more than 300 km in the future, and they refused to create a ballistic missile based on the S-75 air defense missile system, focusing efforts on modernizing the missiles of the Soviet OTRK 9K72 " Elbrus "with the R-17 liquid-propellant rocket.
The Indians turned out to be more original, they used the V-750 missile propulsion system to create a missile of the Prithvi-1 mobile operational-tactical complex with a launch range of up to 150 km and a warhead weighing 1000 kg, radically reworking the rocket body, increasing the engine thrust and increasing the capacity fuel tanks. The next version of "Prithvi-2" with an even more forced engine and twice lightweight warhead has a launch range of up to 250 km. These ballistic missiles, created using the technical solutions of Soviet anti-aircraft missiles of the 50s, became the first Indian means of delivering nuclear weapons that are not vulnerable to the air defense systems at the disposal of Pakistan.
In conclusion, I would like to note that the Soviet air defense systems of the S-75 family, the first samples of which appeared almost 60 years ago, had a huge impact on the development of aviation and the course of hostilities in the 20th century. The characteristics and modernization potential laid down in the 50s by Soviet designers allowed the S-75 air defense system to remain in service with the air defense forces for many decades, as well as to be in demand on the world arms market. However, his time is running out, liquid-fueled missiles are everywhere replaced by solid-fuel ones, new anti-aircraft systems have high mobility, noise immunity and multichannel targeting. In this regard, after 10 years we will be able to see the honored veteran of the C-75 only in the museum.