Deployed in the Eastern Ghouta region near Damascus, the Russian modern 9K333 Verba man-portable air defense system (MANPADS) hit a drone used by Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham terrorist group to shell populated areas of the Syrian capital, including the Russian embassy. The attack occurred on August 3. The de-escalation zone was announced in Eastern Ghouta on August 2 but the terrorist group did not comply.
In service with the Russian Army since 2014, the 9K333 Verba is designed to detect and destroy unmanned aerial vehicles, cruise missiles and other low-flying air targets, such as unmanned aerial vehicles. Today it is used to protect positions of the Russian military personnel monitoring the de-escalation zone.
The 9M336 missile can hit targets at an altitude of 10-4,500 meters (32.8 – 14,763 feet). Operational range: 500 – 6,500 meters (1,640 – 21,325 feet). The 9M336 velocity in flight is 500 meters (1,640 feet) per second. It can hit approaching targets travelling at a speed of 400 meters (1,300 feet) per second. It can also hit targets flying at a speed of 320 meters (1,050 feet) per second when shooting in pursuit. A high-explosive (HE) fragmentation warhead, weighing 1.5 kg (3.30 lb) provides the missile with increased probability of kill. The missile is capable of engaging 8 maneuvering targets simultaneously. Reaction time: 8 seconds.
The system’s full ready-to-shoot weight (including launching unit, SAM and battery) is only 17.25 kg (38 pounds), making the Verba an unbelievably lightweight, user-friendly weapon tool for striking aerial targets. The 9K333 can be mounted on various ground, sea and air platforms. Joint employment of the 9M336 missiles of the Verba MANPADS, combat control set of equipment and launch modules makes it possible to build on their basis lightweight mobile close-in air defense missile systems, or to include these assets into existing air defence missile and artillery systems.
Deployed in both day and night, under different weather conditions, the missile is guided to the target using a three-channel optical seeker, which operates in the ultraviolet, near-infrared, and mid-infrared wavelengths. Cross-checking sensors against one another better discriminates between relevant targets and decoys, and decreases the chance of disruption from countermeasures, including lasers. This particular feature increases the weapon’s accuracy and speeds up the target acquisition. It also allows the missile to be used against targets with very small thermal footprints, such as the small electric drone just hit in Damascus.
Three infrared sensors that are constantly cross-checking against one another complicate the use of decoys by the enemy. The «seeker» allows projectiles to better distinguish between aircraft and heat pockets that might throw off a less advanced weapon’s targeting system. The system also includes a ground-based «friend-or-foe» interrogator to prevent friendly fire.
A 1.5kg Mowgli-2M infrared (IR) imaging sight is attached on the left side of the launch tube. With an angular field of view of 24°, it detects air targets during low light or night conditions. The fully digital MANPADS is capable of operating independently or as part of a battery receiving data from various sources.
The Andromeda-D automated control system (ACS) transmits target designations to launchers in real time. It allows the operators to detect single or multiple aerial targets, acquire target information in advance, determine flight parameters and coordinates, and distribute data among air defence system weapon operators.
Air and naval variants are at the development stage. Joint employment of the 9M336 missiles of the Verba MANPADS, combat control set of equipment and launch modules makes it possible to build on their basis lightweight mobile close-in air defense missile systems, or to include these assets into existing air defence missile and artillery systems.
India, Algeria and Egypt are on the list of potential buyers. The Verba is the best weapon system in its class among those offered today on the international arms market, offering unique characteristics and technical solutions. The unique capabilities make Russia the world leader in MANPADS’ technology. Many people wonder why Russia needs air defense systems in Syria at all as the terrorists have no air forces. The combat test the Verba went through on August 3 demonstrated that the timely deployment of such highly capable systems in Syria saved human lives, protecting innocent people from a perfidious attack.