Ukraine’s air defense got a new boost as the country received the archaic yet capable 2K12 Kub surface-to-air missile systems from the Czech Republic. This former Soviet Union state has been consistently supplying military aid to Kyiv.
On August 25, Dutch-based open intelligence site Oryx, which records visual evidence of equipment in the Ukraine war, announced that Ukraine had received the two 2K12 Kub surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems pledged by the Czech Republic. A photograph of the system accompanied the information.
The image that has since gone viral shows a Ukrainian soldier standing before and posing with the 2K12 Kub surface-to-air missile launcher. The face of the Ukrainian soldier is seen to be blurred in the image.
According to the information posted by OSINT and weapon tracking accounts, the system delivered to Ukraine was a modernized 2K12 Kub SAM.
According to some unnamed Ukrainian sources cited by these reports, the system has already managed to shoot up to 10 targets in skies above Ukraine. However, there was no communication by the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense (MoD) regarding the same, which means the information couldn’t be verified.
However, the photograph of the system in Ukraine and the unverified reports about its reported kills suggest that it may have been operational there since at least a few days or weeks ago. The system’s delivery comes when Ukraine has been looking to bolster its air defense to combat Russia’s sporadic missile and drone attacks.
Modernized Czech 2K12 “Kub-M” air defense system in Ukraine.
Ukrainian sources report that it has already managed to shoot down up to 10 targets in the sky of Ukraine. pic.twitter.com/75urKUTk9X
— Clash Report (@clashreport) August 25, 2023
Earlier, President of the Czech Republic Petr Pavel announced on May 10 that his country could transfer two 2K12 Kub air defense systems and their missiles to Kyiv. The President also noted that Ukraine’s defense forces could use them as soon as the shipment was received, with no additional training needed.
In addition to the Czech Republic, another former Soviet state, Slovakia, pledged the system for Ukraine in March 2023. Slovak Ministry of Defense (MoD) arm Ukraine with two launcher units of the 2K12 Kub and its missiles, spare parts, and related equipment.
The Soviet Union developed the mobile 2K12 Kub surface-to-air missile (SAM) system in the 1960s. It was designed to protect ground forces from enemy helicopters and aircraft.
The 2K12 Kub’s launcher unit is equipped with three missiles that can be rotated 360 degrees while being elevated on its launchers to a maximum of +85 degrees. To lower the vehicle’s overall height while in motion, the turntable is often traversed to the back, and the missiles are horizontal.
A two-stage solid-fuel rocket-powered missile, the 3M9ME with a high-explosive fragmentation warhead, is the main missile launched by the 2K12 Kub. The warhead is intended to explode close to the target and cause damage with shrapnel. It weighs roughly 56 kilograms.
The missile system usually operates with target acquisition and guidance radar, which help detect, track, and engage enemy aircraft. While the guidance radar directs the missile and enables it to zero in on the target, the target acquisition radar is responsible for locating and tracking possible targets.
While the system is archaic, it is a welcome addition, given that Russia’s missile attacks against Ukraine continue unabated.
Earlier this month, Moscow launched a country-wide missile strike against Ukraine. Even though it does have more advanced Western missile defense systems, they are more strategically placed to protect high-value targets. For instance, Patriot defends the capital Kyiv.
2K12 Kub Gave A Tough Time To Western Jets
The 2K12 Kub SAMs first proved their mettle in the Yom Kippur War 1973 against the Israeli Air Force composed of US fighter jets. The Israelis, used to enjoying air superiority over the battlefield during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, were surprised by the Egyptian and Syrian 2K12s. The highly mobile 2K12 severely damaged the faster A-4 Skyhawk and even the F-4 Phantom.
The Israeli plane’s radar warning receivers failed to intimate the pilot that the radar was shining a light on the fighter. According to a conversation between Henry Kissinger and Israeli General Peled, the 2K12 performed admirably and resulted in the highest Israeli losses caused by any Egyptian anti-aircraft missile.
Later, after Israel shot down Syrian helicopters near Zahlé in 1981, the Syrians sent the 2K12 Kub to Lebanon. The SAM batteries were positioned near the Beirut-Damascus highway in the Bekaa Valley. However, the war started with Israeli fighters conducting SEAD ops to eliminate all air defenses on the ground.
However, despite the losses, the system shot at least one Israeli F-4 Phantom fighter bomber down in the area on July 24, 1982.
During the border dispute with Chad, Libya deployed the system, which posed a threat to French aircraft in 1986. Although the French fighters were eventually able to power through and the occupation of Chad ended, some of these remained useful for the Libyan military and operational through the 2011 crisis.
The 2K12 also performed exceedingly well in another Middle Eastern hotspot that has possibly seen the most conflict. Ample military supplies from the Soviet Union were provided to Iraq before and during the Iran-Iraq War, including several 2K12 Kub batteries and other SAM systems and military hardware.
Since the war’s beginning in September 1980, the batteries have been active, claiming victories over Iranian F-4 Phantoms and Northrop F-5s that the United States supplied. The 1991 Gulf War saw the SA-6/ in use as well.
In fact, according to some accounts, a US B-52G bomber was hit by a missile on the opening night of Desert Storm on January 17, 1991. The American Air Force, in contrast, contends that the bomber was struck by friendly fire when an AGM-88 High-speed, Anti-Radiation Missile (HARM) homed in on the B-52 tail gun’s fire-control radar.
On January 19, 1991, a 2K12 Kub shot down a USAF F-16 (number 87-228) during the enormous (but unsuccessful) Package Q Strike against a fiercely defended Baghdad. In Operation Desert Storm, it was the twelfth coalition aircraft to be lost in action.
Decades later, even though several new air defense systems have been developed and fielded worldwide, the Kubs have retained their utility. As recently as 2018, the plan was used again in Syria.
According to reports, American, British, and French forces launched 103 air-to-surface and cruise missiles targeting sites in Syria. In return, twenty-one Kub missiles fired in retaliation, according to the Russian military, are said to have destroyed eleven approaching missiles.
The Kub have given a tough time to the US aircraft in yet another theatre of war in the Middle East- Yemen- which remains at war today. Houthi forces downed a USAF MQ-9 on June 6, 2019. The US Central Command officials attributed the shootdown to a 2K12 Kub system operated by the Houthis.
With their confirmed deployment in Ukraine, the SAMs are now set to challenge Russian fighter jets.