2008: Russia announced that it still has seven export customers for its 1970s
era S-125 (SA-3 Goa) surface to air missile system. A Russian factory is currently
producing over 200 S-125 missiles for these customers. The largest one is
Egypt, with orders for 70 missiles. Other customers are Libya, Syria,
Venezuela, Myanmar, Vietnam and Turkmenistan. Some of these countries are
buying new launchers and radars as well.
stage S-125 missiles weigh nearly a ton, and carry a 130 pound warhead against
targets 35 kilometers away (and altitudes as high as 18,000 meters). There is
also a smaller missile, weighing closer to half a ton, with a range of 15
kilometers. Having two different size missiles for the same system is a common
practice with the Russians (and some other nations as well, like the U.S.
upgraded or modified their S-125 missiles and radars over the years. The most
notable example of this was in Serbia, in 1999, where a missile battery
commander used S-125s to shoot down a U.S. F-117 stealth aircraft. He did this
by using human observers a lot, and his radar rarely. Since the S-125 can be
controlled (flown by) a ground operator, once the F-117 was located, it was
launched and flown manually to the target. Simple and effective, and largely
immune to countermeasures.
gave S-125 sales a shot in the arm, and now the Russians have opened a new
factory to meet the demand (worth over $250 million). But nations don't buy the
inexpensive, and reliable, S-125 because one took down a stealth fighter. No,
the missile provides basic air defense against neighbors who don't have
high-end air forces. The S-125 provides basic air defense, and keeps aerial