Vietnamese Army keeps SA-13 Gopher/Strela-10 air defense missile in service


Vietnamese Army keeps SA-13 Gopher/Strela-10 air defense missile in service

December 07, 2023

By:Army Recognition

As reported on Vietnam Defence’s Facebook page, the Vietnamese army’s Battalion 172, Regiment 64, is responsible for protecting the Noi Bai airport area. A89 is actually Vietnam's designation for the 9K35 Strela-10 (SA-13 Gopher) self-propelled air defense missile system, one of the last gifts from the Soviet Union in 1989.

Each A-89 missile system is capable of carrying 8 Strela-10 missiles, of which 4 are mounted on racks and 4 are stored in containers at the back of the vehicle. The 3-man crew needs less than 10 minutes to install 4 missiles on the launcher.

The SA-13 "Gopher," known in the Soviet inventory as the 9K35 Strela-10, is a short-range, surface-to-air missile system developed by the Soviet Union, primarily designed for low-level air defense against helicopters, low-flying aircraft, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Its development in the early 1970s was aimed at overcoming the limitations of its predecessor, the SA-9 "Gaskin," especially its vulnerability to electronic countermeasures and limited engagement capabilities.

Mounted on a tracked vehicle, the SA-13 offers enhanced mobility, allowing it to accompany mechanized units efficiently. It utilizes a 9M37 missile with an infrared homing guidance system, a solid-propellant rocket motor, and a high-explosive warhead equipped with a proximity fuse. This combination enables the SA-13 to effectively engage targets within a 5 km range and at altitudes up to 3,500 meters. The system's quick reaction time and fire-and-forget capability make it particularly effective against fast-moving targets.

After entering service in the late 1970s, the SA-13 became a staple in the Soviet Army's arsenal during the Cold War. It demonstrated its effectiveness in various conflicts, including the Soviet-Afghan War, where its ability to target low-flying aircraft was particularly noted.

The SA-13 has also seen service in the Vietnamese Army, reflecting Vietnam's long-standing military relationship with the Soviet Union and later Russia. The Vietnamese armed forces have utilized the SA-13 as part of their layered air defense network, aimed at protecting against potential aerial threats. This deployment is consistent with Vietnam's strategy of integrating a mix of older Soviet-era and more modern Russian air defense systems. The SA-13's mobility and effectiveness in low-altitude defense complement Vietnam's overall air defense doctrine, which emphasizes flexibility and the ability to counter a variety of aerial threats, particularly in the context of Vietnam's geographical and strategic landscape.

Over the years, the SA-13 has been subject to various upgrades, enhancing its targeting systems, electronic counter-countermeasures, and mobility. It has been exported to numerous countries and has seen different variants developed for specific operational requirements. In terms of air defense tactics, the SA-13's introduction marked a significant shift, underscoring the importance of mobile, close-in air protection for ground forces. When compared with Western systems like the American Avenger, the SA-13 is often discussed in terms of its mobility, range, and overall effectiveness.