Air Defense: Belarus Merges With Big Brother

October 14, 2008: Belarus and Russia have agreed to unite their air defense systems. This was announced as an effort to halt NATO aggression. Of all the former communist nations in Europe, Belarus is the only one still run by its Soviet era officials. Basically it's a police state, and very tight with Russia. While Russia would like Belarus to "rejoin" the "Russian Federation" (the official name for Russia), the Belarusians rather enjoy their independence (after many centuries of forcible incorporation into Russia). But in order to keep getting cut-rate oil and gas from Russia, Belarus goes along with these joint defense deals.

Two years ago, Belarus received 24 Russian S-300 missile systems. Roughly equivalent to the U.S. Patriot, S-300 was known as the SA-10 to NATO, when the system first appeared in the early 1980s. S-300 missiles weigh 1.8 tons each and are 26 feet long and about 20 inches in diameter. The missiles have a range of some 200 kilometers and can hit targets as high as 100,000 feet. The missile has a 320 pound warhead. Belarus and Russia have integrated their air defenses, mainly to give Russia more "depth" in case of an attack from the west.

Belarus has also received shorter range Tor M-1 system. Known to NATO as the SA-15 Gauntlet, the Tor-M1 has a maximum range of 12 kilometers. It is only effective up to 6,000 meters altitude. The system was designed as a successor to the SA-N-8 Gecko. Each launcher carries eight missiles, and it is claimed to be capable of engaging two targets simultaneously. The system was designed to be a tactical battlefield air-defense system, designed to take out close-air-support planes like the A-10 or tactical fighter-bombers like the F-4, F-16, and F-18.

 

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