180323 MANPADSThe ever rising role of combat aircraft in contemporary military conflicts dictates the need for enhancing and improving defenses against air-to-ground attacks. Man-portable shoulder-launched surface-to-air missile (MANPAD) systems are used to defeat aircraft threats attacking from low and very low altitudes, and still remain the most efficient anti-aircraft weapon to date, and in certain scenarios they have no alternative as a means of countering hostile aircraft.


Currently deployed with more than 60 armed forces, Strela and Igla MANPADS have been well-proven in war conflicts throughout the globe. Ukraine has developed options to upgrade the Strela and Igla to more capable STRELA-2MM and IGLA-1M configurations.


Capability improvements in the two legacy MANPADS are achieved by means of replacing their original IR guidance units with more up-to-date designs developed by the ARSENAL Special Device Production State Enterprise (ARSENAL SDP SE). The key elements of the upgrade packs are the optical seekers OGS 36-45 for the STRELA-2MM and the OGS UA-424 seeker for the IGLA-1M, which both have already been showcased at international defense exhibitions.


The upgraded STRELA-2MM is a head-on attack missile that is effective against both fixed-wing and rotary-wing targets. The missile’s new optical seeker integrates technologies enabling it to defeat IR decoy flares and natural interference, and it is especially efficacious in severe clutter and ECM environments.


180323 MANPADS 1The optical seeker OGS UA-424 for the IGLA-1M provides enhanced capabilities against IR countermeasures. It boasts an improved single-launch kill probability and, most importantly, offers a far extended range as compared to the original missile while attacking its targets head-on.


The Arsenal’s 336-24 package for the Igla-M1 upgrade incorporates a newly-designed guidance unit replacing the 9E418 IR seeker used in the original IGLA missile. The new seeker would improve the missile’s performance capabilities to levels much higher than those found in the established MANPAD systems such as the STINGER, IGLA-1 or IGLA, and far more superior than the STRELA-2M’s. In particular, the Igla ‘336-24’ has a kill probability of 0.4-0.6 while operating in heavy ECM environments, as compared to 0.1 for the IGLA. The 336-24 upgrade offers a maximum effective range of 5,200 m.   


The 336-24 upgrade pack for the IGLA-1 MANPAD system provides a good example of highly fruitful cooperation between Ukrainian defense industries. In particular, the new 336-24 optical seeker could be manufactured by the R&D and Production Complex Progress company, and the Pavlohrad Chemical Plant, Ukraine’s top manufacturer of rocket propellants, has developed a new solid propellant for the 336-24 missile, enabling extended effective ranges and enhanced maneuverability performance.


The STRELA-2MM and IGLA-1M MANPADS can be integrated into packs of 4, 6 or 8 launchers deployed on armored vehicles. In this case, weight constraints are much less critical than in man-portable configurations, and so missile ranges can be extended by using a more powerful (hence heavier) propulsion system.


With these MANPAD technology upgrades in place Ukraine can fill in the gap in its short-range tactical air defense capabilities and help foreign militaries upgrade and update their Strela/Igla MANPADS inventories.


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