Russian military analyst claims its Tor-M2 anti-aircraft missile system can neutralize hostile unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and other complex airborne targets while remaining mobile.
“The engineers who developed the Tor-M2 enabled it to detect complex aerial targets and shoot them down while on the move,” said Alexander Mikhailov, the Director of the Military-Political Analysis Bureau, a Russian think tank based in Moscow.
Mikhailov made these remarks during the IDEX 2023 international arms show in Abu Dhabi on February 23.
Russia’s leading defense manufacturers showcased nearly 200 full-scale weapons, military hardware, munitions, and tactical gear during the IDEX 2023, held between February 20 to 24.
“The point is that in a real combat environment, destroying a vehicle while on the march is quite difficult. However, if a surface-to-air missile system halts its movement, it is easier to destroy it, considering that there are more than enough weapons for doing that,” Mikhailov explained.
Mikhailov continued by saying how the Tor-M2’s radar can timely spot and strike all types of drones, particularly a swarm of small UAVs.
Tor-M2 Air Defense System
The Tor-M2 (NATO reporting name: SA-15 Gauntlet) is an upgraded version of the Tor-M1 short-range air defense missile system designed by the Russian Defense Company Almaz-Antey.
It is designed to counter fixed- and rotary-winged aircraft, drones, guided missiles, and other precision munitions at medium, low, and extremely low altitudes in contested air and jamming environments.
The system was presented for the first time to the public during the Moscow Air Show, MAKS, in 2007.
The Tor-M2 features enhanced fire control radar coverage, a new digital computer system, and an all-weather optical tracking system. It fires 9M331 and 9M332 interceptor missiles, which employ a simple tubular airframe design with a solid rocket engine.
It can simultaneously engage up to 48 processed targets and ten tracked targets. The ToR-M2 can engage a target range from 1,000 to 12,000 meters and up to an altitude between 10 to 10,000 meters. The missile system can be mounted on a wheeled or tracked chassis.
A Tor-M2 battery comprises four 9A331MK TELARs (transporter erector launcher and radars) combat vehicles, one 9S737MK Ranzhir-MK mobile command post, two 9T244 transloader vehicles, and one 9V887M2K engineering support vehicle.
The Russian military has employed the Tor-M2 air defense system in Ukraine. Russian defense journalists from the field have reported that Tor-M2s have been effectively covering the airspace in their area of responsibility.
For instance, in July 2022, Russian journalist Alexander Stepanov reported that Tor-M2, along with the S-300 and Buk-series air defense systems deployed in the Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR), has been playing an essential role in intercepting Ukrainian UAVs, including the famous Bayraktar drones.
Performance Of Tor-M2 System In Ukraine
Stepanov cited a Russian Tor-M2 Battery commander named Vladislav in the LPR, describing the system as “the best short-range system in the world,” highly appreciating its reliability, ease of operation, and combat effectiveness.
Until that time, the battery had shot down more than 100 air targets, which mainly included the Turkish-made Bayraktar combat drones, according to Vladislav.
Vladislav said that it is not difficult for the air defense crew to detect a Bayraktar drone because of its quite large size, so the main task for the team is to destroy the drone at the maximum possible distance before it can launch a long-range missile.
Vladislav explained that their Tor-M2 battery was intercepting hostile aerial targets and crews of other weapons, such as Buk-M2 and S-300 air defense systems.
“If it [the drone] does not enter our kill zone, then we transmit information about the Bayraktar to neighboring units working on it. Here, the air defense system works in conjunction. If we do not shoot down, more powerful complexes are working – Buk, S-300. Interaction has been fully established. There are times when they pass on their targets to us so as not to shoot down the same drone with a large missile,” Vladislav said.
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He further said that while initially, Bayraktar operators used to launch several drones at once, “believing that air defense systems did not properly cover our [Russian] troops,” but of late, they are trying to save their UAVs and not using them over long distances.
“They [Ukrainian forces] started to study what air defense systems our troops cover before launching Bayraktar,” the Russian battery commander noted.
While at the same time, Vladislav also noted some challenges faced while engaging Ukrainian combat helicopters, saying low-flying helicopters are the most difficult target for Tor systems.
“The enemy helicopters actively maneuver, try to follow the edges of the trees, take cover behind the hills, so they are practically invisible on the instruments. “There is only a limited amount of time to decide to destroy since the helicopter appears on the radar for literally a fraction of a second,” the Russian officer said.
Nevertheless, helicopters are still destroyed, said Vladislav, noting that his battery was the only one that had downed two Ukrainian helicopters until then.
Russian forces have also deployed Tor-M2DT-variant, intended to operate in Arctic settings in Ukraine. Ukrainian forces’ first documented destruction of the system in the Kherson region highlighted its presence in Ukraine.
The Tor-M2DT version is based on the DT-30PM articulated all-terrain amphibious vehicle, designed to operate in extremely low temperatures and challenging terrain. It carries 16 new and more capable 9M338 missiles, which have a range of 16 kilometers and can engage targets up to an altitude of 10 kilometers.
As per multiple media reports, the first Tor-M2DT air defense systems were deployed by Russia in Ukraine in early December.