Tor (SA-15 Gauntlet)


Systems:

The 9K330 Tor (NATO: SA-15 Gauntlet) is a Russian mobile surface-to-air missile system with an engagement range of 12 to 16 kilometers.

Tor at a Glance

Originated from: Russia
Possessed by: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, China, Cyprus, Egypt, Greece, Iran, Russia
Alternate Names: SA-15 Gauntlet, Thor, Thorus, Bublik [“Bagel”] (Russian unofficial)
Class: Short-range Air Defense (SHORAD)
Basing: Mobile, ground-based
Warhead: 15 kg high-explosive fragmentation (9M331)
Range: 12-16 km
Status: Operational
In service: 1986-Present

Development

A successor the 9K33 Osa (SA-8 Gecko), Tor was designed to defend point targets and armored divisions against aircraft, helicopters, and precision-guided munitions. Development of the Tor system began during the 1980s, reaching an initial operational capability in 1986. The first production-series Tor variant, the Tor-M, entered service in 1991.1

Description

The Tor air defense system incorporates a surveillance antenna, tracking radar, and 9M330/9M331 missiles on a tracked chassis.2 The vehicle’s maximum speed is 65 km/h and the system is capable of scanning for targets while moving; later variants possess a limited capacity to fire while moving.3

Tor uses two radars to detect and engage manned aircraft, helicopters, UAVs, missiles, and other precision-guided munitions. The first, a mechanically-scanned surveillance radar, can scan up to 48 targets and serves a secondary tracking function for up to ten targets. The surveillance radar’s detection range is reportedly 25 km or greater. The second, an electronically-steered tracking radar, can simultaneously engage up to two targets with radar cross sections (RCS) as small as 0.1m2. Cruise missiles typically possess RCSs of 0.5m2 or smaller. Operating in the K-band, the radar is highly resistant to adverse weather conditions and electronic countermeasures. The radar has a maximum range of over 25km; it is complemented by an electrooptical tracking system with a range of 20 km.4

A baseline Tor unit houses up to eight missiles in its vertical-launch system. Produced by the Fakel Design Bureau, Tor-M1’s 9M330 and 9M331 missiles have a launch weight of 165kg and can reach a maximum speed of over Mach 2. Armed with the 9M331 missile, the Tor-M1 has a maximum engagement altitude of 6 km and a maximum engagement range of 15 km.5

Variants

Tor-M1 Family

The Tor-M1 possesses a significantly different configuration to the original Tor design, with late-production models possessing an electronically-scanned surveillance radar. Since 2005, Russia has exhibited five updates of the Tor-M1: the M1A, M1B, M1V, M1G, and M1-2U. Each successive update incorporates the features in the previous version; the M1A includes a software update to improve range against certain flight patterns, the M1B adds a cooperative engagement capability, the M1V increases the engagement envelope, adds jamming resistance, and further integrates their radar systems, and the M1G replaces the Tor-M1’s electrooptical system with a new day/night camera. The M1-2U is the latest M1-family variant in Russian service, featuring an expanded engagement altitude of 10 km, reduced crew size of three, and ability to engage four targets simultaneously.6

Tor-M2 Family

First displayed in 2007, the Tor-M2 family can be armed with up to 8 9M331 or 16 9M338-series missiles, expanding its engagement range to 16 km and ceiling to 10 km against targets under Mach 3.7  In addition, the Tor-M2 features a reduced crew size of three, improved detection radars sensitive to low-RCS targets, shorter reaction time, new optical and thermal detection systems, enhanced signal processing, and other improvements.8 These upgrades allow the Tor-M2 family to detect targets at 32 km and engage up to four targets simultaneously. The Tor-M2E is the export designation of the Tor-M2, while the Tor-M2K is a version mounted on a wheeled chassis.9 The Tor-M2KM, meanwhile, is a self-contained modular variant of the Tor-M2 mountable on various platforms.10 Another enhanced variant, the Tor-M2U, features upgraded missiles capable of engaging agile targets maneuvering up to 10g.11 The Tor-M2 system entered Russian service in 2012.12

Tor-E2

In 2019, Russia’s Almaz-Antey Concern unveiled the Tor-E2, a “new generation” family of the Tor system capable of detecting targets at 32 km and engaging four simultaneously. Armed with 16 9M338KE missiles, the system features an expanded engagement range and altitude of 16 and 12 km.13

Naval and Arctic Variants

Russia operates a navalized version of the Tor, the 3K95 Kinzhal (NATO: SA-N-9 Gauntlet) on several surface ships.14 In addition, Russia introduced in 2018 the Tor-M2DT, a version of the Tor-M2 built a DT-30 articulated tracked chassis. Optimized for arctic and harsh terrains, the Tor-M2DT entered Russian service in 2019.15

Operators

The Tor system has been popular on the export market. Over 7 countries operate Tor-M1 variants, including Greece, China, Iran, Belarus, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Egypt, Ukraine and Cyprus.16 In 2000, Greece took delivery of 21 Tor-M1 units from Russia. China has also bought a large quantity of Tor-M1 units since 2000, which became the eventual basis of its reverse-engineered HQ-17 system. From 2005-2007, Russia sold 30 Tor-M1 systems to Iran for over $1 billion.17 In 2019, Russia took delivery of its sixth battalion of Tor-M2 systems and signed a $1.57 billion contract to deliver additional Tor-M2 and -M2DT systems from 2019 and 2027.18 Armenia received its latest batch of Tor-M2KM systems in December 2019.19

In January 2020, U.S. intelligence implicated an Iranian Tor-M1 for the January 8 downing of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 as it departed  Tehran’s Imam Khomeini Airport on January 8, 2020.