The 2K12 Kub (; lang-en cube) mobile surface-to-air missile (SAM) system is a Soviet low to medium-level air defence system designed to protect ground forces from air attack. "2К12" is the GRAU designation of the system. Its NATO reporting name is SA-6 Gainful.
Each battery consists of a number of similar tracked vehicles, one of which carries the 1S91 (NATO designation Straight Flush) 25 kW G/H band radar (range 75 km/47 miles) equipped with a continuous wave illuminator, in addition to an optical sight. The battery usually also includes 4 triple-missile transporter erector launchers (TELs) and 4 trucks each carrying 3 spare missiles and a crane.
HistoryThe original system went into production in 1967. It is sometimes claimed that the SA-N-3 naval SAM system is a version of the 3M9 but this is not the case, as the SA-N-3 is a separate system and, unusually for Russian SAMs, has no land-based version.
CombatThe SA-6 surprised the Israelis in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. They were used to having air superiority over the battlefield. The highly mobile SA-6 took a heavy toll on the slower A-4 Skyhawk and even the F-4 Phantom, forming a protective umbrella until they could be removed. The radar warning receivers on the Israeli aircraft did not alert the pilot to the fact that he was being illuminated by the radar. Once the RWRs were reprogrammed and tactics changed, the SA-6 was no longer such a grave threat. Pilots dubbed the SA-6 "Three Fingers of Death", in reference to the launcher's appearance.
Army of Republika Srpska forces, using modified SA-6s were successful in shooting down Scott O'Grady's F-16 Fighting Falcon in 1995.
The SA-6 system shares a lot of components with the SA-4 system. In many ways they are designed to complement each other; SA-4 is effective at long ranges and high altitudes, SA-6 at medium ranges and intermediate altitudes. The SA-7 and SA-8 systems complete this picture with the low-altitude and short range capabilities.
The system is able to acquire and begin tracking targets using the 1S91 "Straight Flush" radar at 75 km (47 miles) and begin illumination and guidance at 28 km (17 miles). IFF is also performed using this radar. It can only guide between one and two missiles to a single target at any time. The missile is initially command guided with terminal semi active radar homing (SARH), with target illumination provided by the "Straight Flush" radar. Detonation is via either the impact or proximity fuze. On the latest models, this vehicle is also fitted with an optical tracking system which allows engagement without the use of the radar (for active RF emissions stealth reasons, or due to heavy ECM jamming) in which case the effective altitude is limited to 14 km/46000 ft. The optical tracking method also allows engagements to altitudes below that where the radar is able to track targets. Maximum target speed is around Mach 2 for head-on engagements and Mach 1 for tail-chase engagements. Top speed of the missile is approximately Mach 2.8.
In contrast to the elaborate Patriot missile or even the simpler Hawk system fielded by US forces, most of the system rides on two tracked self-propelled vehicles, rather than towed or mounted on trucks, and either the launcher or control vehicle can be set to launch in only 15 minutes after changing location.
Missiles and versionsThe fairly large missiles have an effective range of 3-24 km (2-15 miles) and an effective altitude of 50-12000 m (164-39,370 ft). The missile weighs 599 kg (1321 lb) and the warhead weighs 56 kg (123 lb). Top missile speed is approx. Mach 2.8. Propulsion is via a solid fuel rocket motor which, when burned out, forms the combustion chamber for a ramjet in a pioneering design putting this missile far ahead of its contemporaries in terms of propulsion (not to mention other areas).
In 1977 a new version, the 3M9M1 (US DoD SA-6B) was created with three missiles fitted onto a different chassis (the same as that of the SA-11 "Gadfly", the SA-6's effective replacement) with an integrated "Fire Dome" missile guidance radar.
The 9K37 "Buk" (NATO reporting name SA-11 "Gadfly") is the evolution of the 3M9. For comparisons between the 3M9, 9K37 and 9K38, see the 9K37 entry.
An earlier incremental upgrade saw the 2K12 missiles replaced with the 2K12E versions and this system was known as "Квадрат" (square).
Additional radar systemsThe SA-6 can also be used at a regimental level. If used as such it is accompanied by a number of extra radar systems for air search at longer ranges and lower altitudes, in addition to the "Straight Flush". These systems include the:
- P-12/1Rl14 "Spoon Rest" 314 kW A-band early warning radar (also used by the SA-2, range 275 km/170 miles)
- P-40 "Long Track" E-band early warning radar (also used by the SA-4 and SA-8, range 175 km/108 miles)
- P-15 "Flat Face" 380 kW C-band early warning radar (also used by the SA-3, range 250 km/155 miles)
- "Thin Skin" or "Side Net" E-band height finding radar (also used by the SA-2, SA-4 and SA-5, range 240 km/148 miles)
- "Score Board" IFF radar
The "Spoon Rest" and "Thin Skin" are mounted on a truck, "Long Track" on a tracked vehicle (a modified AT-T) and "Flat Face" on a van. It is unknown what kind of mounting the "Score Board" has.
Without the P-40 "Long Track" mobile radar vehicle, the SA-6 is unable to track aircraft at high altitudes.
- - 80(being modernized)
"Flat Face" early warning radar. Photo by Nellis AFB. "Long Track" early warning radar. Photo by Nellis AFB.
- Federation of American Scientists page
- Aeronautics.ru radars
- Photos of Soviet radars
gainful in German: SA-6 Gainful
gainful in Italian: SA-6 Gainful
gainful in Hebrew: 2K12 קוב
gainful in Japanese: 2K12
gainful in Russian: Куб (ЗРК)
gainful in Chinese: SA-6
gainful in Polish: 2K12 Kub