Air Defense: Verifying Russian Propaganda


July 11, 2015: In 2014 Russia announced that some troops had begun receiving the new Verba shoulder fired anti-aircraft missiles. This missile had been talked about for several years as a replacement for the Igla-S models. Also known as the SA-24, Igla-S was a post-Cold War upgrade of a design that was introduced the same time as the American Stinger (early 1980s). Igla-S entered service in 2004, weighs 19 kg (42 pounds) and fires an 11.7 kg (26 pound) missile for up to 6,000 meters. Until recently it was unclear how much of an upgrade Verba was. Now, after seeing some of these Verba missiles in action and capturing a few (apparently in Ukraine) Western analysts have concluded that the Russians were not exaggerating when they made their first public announcements about Verba in mid-2014.

No exact specifications on the Verba have been released yet but they are probably somewhere between Igla-S and the latest version of Stinger. Verba is said to have about 20 percent greater range, speed and altitude as well as a 20 percent heavier warhead than Igla-S. The heat sensor is more effective as is the ability to defeat countermeasures.

In contrast the 14.3 kg American Stinger fires its 10.1 kg missile out to 8,000 meters but both systems have similar resistance to countermeasures and a warhead of about the same size (2-3 kg/4.4-6.6 pounds). The Igla-S in the hands of terrorists could bring down helicopters and airliners taking off but was designed for battlefield use against helicopters and other low flying aircraft. Verba is more of the same and apparently works.




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