The Russian 9K33 Osa SAM aka SA-8 Gecko

The Russian 9K33 Osa SAM aka SA-8 Gecko in NATO, is a wheel based, short ranged Surface to Air Missile system best known as the 1st SAM system where the target acquisition and SAM launchers were all mounted on one vehicle, making the vehicle self sufficient.

The vehicle is operated by a three man crew who all sit up front in the vehicle with the driver in the middle. Strangely the only access is via a hatch in the roof. The missile control equipment and radars are located in a compartment behind the up front seating and operated by all three of the crew.

Models –

9K33 “OSA” (US DoD designation SA-8A “Gecko”) began development in 1960 and was introduced in 1971-1972 with four exposed 9M33 missiles per TELAR and a maximum range of 12 km.

9K33M2 “OSA-AK” (NATO designation SA-8B “Gecko Mod-0”) was introduced in 1975 with the new six-missile box launcher, each missile being a sealed round.

9K33M3 “OSA-AKM” (NATO designation SA-8B “Gecko Mod-1”) was introduced in 1980 with the maximum range extended to 15 km (9 miles) and maximum altitude to 12 km as explained above. Most OSA-AKM systems also feature an IFF antenna.

Saman and Saman-M (Russian Саман – adobe) is a development of the OSAOSA-M system into target drones, used for testing and training with air defense systems, including SAMs.

The Russian 9K33 Osa SAM aka SA-8 Gecko Specifications (OSA-AKM) –

Weight – 17.5 tonnes
Length – 9.14m
Width – 2.75m
Height – 4.20m (radar mast stowed)
Crew – 3
Primary armament – x6 9M33, 9M33M1, 9M33M2 or 9M33M3 missiles
Engine – D20K300 diesel
Ground clearance – 400mm
Operational range – 500 km
Speed – 80 km/h (8 km/h swimming)

The Russian 9K33 Osa SAM aka SA-8 Gecko Operators

Algeria – 24
Belarus –
350 SA-8
Bulgaria – 24 missile launch units
Greece –
Jordan –
50 upgrading to Saman-M1
Libya – 20 (During the The 2011 Libyan Civil War, the BBC shot footage of a number of 9K33’s which had been destoyed by French Jets)
Poland – 64
Romania – 16 launchers and 8 reloaders (one regiment in service since 1989)
Russia – 550
Syria – 60
Turkmenistan – 40

Former Operators

Czechoslovakia – one regiment which passed to the Czech Republic
Czech Republic – Phased out in 2006
East Germany – sold to Greece after the German reunification
Kuwait – Captured by the Iraqi forces in the Persian Gulf War
Soviet Union – Passed on to successor states
Yugoslavia – SA-N-4, passed on to successor states

Combat History

1982 Lebanon War
Angolan Civil War
Persian Gulf War
2011 Libyan uprising