TOR M2E firing a 9M331 interceptor. The missile is capable of defeating aerodynamically maneuvering targets at ranges of seven to 10 km.
November 14, 2013 by Tamir Eshel - defense-update.com
Russia’s Almaz-Antey defense corporation has developed an advanced version of the Tor-M2 air defense system (NATO reporting name SA-15 Gauntlet), utilizing a new interceptor missile that has improved performance, doubled the ammunition capacity and enabled firing on the move capability. According to Sergei Druzin, head of research and development at Almaz-Antey, the enhanced version represents a “unique air defense system in its class with an astounding precision and range.”
The Tor system is a low- to medium-altitude, short-range surface-to-air missile system designed for intercepting aircraft, cruise missiles, precision-guided munitions, unmanned aerial vehicles and ballistic targets.
Tor-M1K and Tor-M2U variants, armed with 9M331 missiles, are currently in service with the Russian army. The new system, equipped with new 9M338 missiles, was successfully tested at the end of October 2013. “We carried out five launches targeting highly maneuverable drones. Three of the targets were hit head-on, while the other two were destroyed by shrapnel from exploding warheads. It is an excellent result, astounding precision,” Druzin said.
In addition, the smaller size of the 9M338 compared with its predecessor has allowed the carrying capacity of the launcher to be doubled, from eight to 16 missiles. The official said the improved Tor-M2 systems and 9M338 missiles have been approved by a state commission for mass production. “We can now start producing these missiles in quantities that would meet the demand of the Russian army,” Druzin said. The Tor M2E missile system has also been exported to Azerbaijan, Belarus, Ukraine, China, Venezuela and Iran. Earlier versions (M1) were also exported to Greece, Cyprus and Egypt.
According to Druzin, the next step in the improvement of the system would be for launching missiles at acquired targets while on the move. “The [mobile] launcher currently stops for two or three seconds to launch a missile, but it could be done on a move, without stopping,” Druzin said.
The export version known as TOR M2E is also armed with the 9M331 interceptor, is designed as a short range air defense system, capable of intercepting air breathing and maneuvering targets at ranges of 1-12 km and altitudes from ground level (10 meters) to 10 km. Cruise missiles and drones could be killed at ranges of 1.5 km to 7 km maximum with precision guided weapons intercepted at a minimum distance of 50 meters and maximum range of six kilometers. Maximum target speed is 700 m/sec (2,520 km/h). A Tor M2E can engage four targets simultaneously, having up to eight missiles airborne. (four actively guided).
The export variants are also expected to be offered with the new interceptor.
The improved TOR M2 is claimed to offer ‘firing on the move’, enabling the unit to launch its missiles instantly upon stopping. Existing TOR M2K systems require about three minute set-up time.