The Russian 9K37 ‘Buk’ Series of Self-Propelled SAM is used to engage cruise missiles, smart bombs, aircraft and since the 2008 South Ossetia War, drone aircraft. The Buk-1 was adopted into service in 1978 following completion of state trials while the complete Buk missile system was accepted into service in 1980 after state trials took place between 1977 and 1979.
A transporter erector launcher (TEL) is a vehicle with an integrated prime mover that can carry, elevate to firing position and launch one or more missiles. A transporter erector launcher and radar (TELAR) is the same as a TEL but also incorporates part or all of the radar system necessary for firing the missile(s). Such vehicles have the capability of being autonomous, greatly enhancing their effectiveness.
The vehicle is a TELAR so is able to engage multiple targets from multiple directions at the same time.
The first version of Buk adopted into service carried the GRAU designation 9K37 and was identified in the west with the NATO reporting name “Gadfly” as well as the US Department of Defence designation SA-11. Since its initial introduction into service the Buk missile system has been continually upgraded and refined with the latest incarnation carrying the designation 9K37M2 “Buk-M2”.
The turret houses the fire control radar at the front and a launcher with four ready to fire missiles on top, which is operated by a crew of 3 and mounted on a GM-569 chassis.
Battalion & Battery strengths
Finnish Army 9K37M1 “Buk-M1” TELAR
A standard Buk battalion consists of a command vehicle, target acquisition radar (TAR), six transporter erector launcher and radar (TELAR) and three transporter erector launcher reloads. These vehicles have been upgraded as the TELAR has too.
The 9A316 TEL
The TEL reload vehicle for the Buk battery resembles the TELAR but instead of a radar they have a crane for loading missiles. They are capable of launching missiles directly but require the cooperation of a Fire Dome-equipped TELAR for missile guidance. A reload vehicle can transfer its missiles to a TELAR in around 13 minutes and can reload itself from stores in around 15 minutes.
“Snow Drift” target acquisition radar (TAR)
The 9K37 utilises the 9S18 “Tube Arm” or 9S18M1 (which carries the NATO reporting name “Snow Drift”) (Russian: СОЦ 9C18 “Купол”; English: dome) target acquisition radar in combination with the 9S35 or 9S35M1 “Fire Dome” H/I band tracking and engagement radar which is mounted on each TELAR. The Snow Drift target acquisition radar has a maximum detection range of 85 km (53 miles) and can detect an aircraft flying at 100 m (330 ft) from 35 km (22 mi) away and even lower flying targets at ranges of around 10–20 km (6-12 mi).
Snow Drift is mounted on a chassis similar to that of the TELAR, as is the command vehicle. The control post which coordinates communications between the surveillance radar(s) and the launchers is able to communicate with up to six TEL at once.
A Buk missile battery consists of two TELAR and TEL vehicle.
Upgrades to the TELAR
9K37-1 ‘Buk-1’ – First Buk missile system variant accepted into service, incorporating a 9A38 TELAR within a 2K12M3 Kub-M3 battery.
9K37 ‘Buk’- The completed Buk missile system with all new system components, back-compatible with Kub.
9K37M1 ‘Buk-M1’ – An improved variant of the original 9K37 which entered into service with the then Soviet armed forces.
9K37M1-2 ‘Buk-M1-2’ – An improved variant of the 9K37M1 ‘Buk-M1’ which entered into service with the Russian armed forces.
The Russian 9K37 ‘Buk’ Series of Self-Propelled SAM Systems Operators
Belarus – 12 batteries
Egypt – Buk-M1-2 version
Finland – 3 batteries
Georgia – 1 battery
India – 50 batteries
Russia – 25