S-125 Neva (NATO: SA-3 Goa)
anti-aircraft rocket system
Changes in fighter-bomber tactics at the turn of the 1950s and the 1960s that led to incorporation of low-altitude combat missions to avoid being detected and destroyed, led to decision of designing a new anti-aircraft rocket system. It was designed at the same KB-1 Construction Bureau, where the earlier S-75 system was developed. The new system was introduced into service in 1961 under the name Petschora (export code: Neva). The system of rocket homing was carried out with the radio commands (similar to the S-75). The very big changes were introduced in the seeking and guiding systems, which had to be surface jamming resisted. The homing station enabled to strike the target with two rockets launched in the 5 second intervals. The system consisted of four, two rails launchers.
The S-125 featured good mobility. It was very important, as after the rocket launch, the system revealed its position and was vulnerable for the retaliation strike. The Neva system was successfully used in Egypt (the system was operated then by the Soviets) against the Israeli aircraft and in Vietnam against the USAF. In order to operate successfully, the system required a quick reacting and thoroughly trained crews.
As a result of the experience gained, a new system with greater combat capability, the S-125 M (export code: the Neva M) was developed. It entered service in 1964.
The new four-rail launcher was introduced, increasing the striking capability by 100%. The number of launchers (4 units) remained unchanged. Range and effectiveness of the rockets were increased. The rocket had a two stage construction. The take-off stage had 4 seconds working time, the second stage had 25-36 seconds working time. The both stages had a solid fuel powered engines. The 70 kg, splinter type warhead was equipped with the proximity fuse and the self-destroying device. The warhead could also be detonated from the ground firing control station. The rocket's horizontal range was 25 km, the maximum vertical range-18 km, the minimum – 55 metres. The speed was 700 m/s.
The improved S-125 and the S-125 M systems were later equipped with the long focus lens TV cameras, enemy's active and passive jamming-proof, forming an additional possibility of seeking the air targets. The system co-operated with the P-18 warning radar.
From the perspective of time, one can value the S-125 system as one of the most successful in the history of the anti aircraft systems. It was in service in 35 countries and was used in many conflicts. Even today, it keeps its combat capability as an effective defence system. In the 1990s, the Petshora M improved system was developed as an interesting proposal for many previous operators of the S-125 M.
In Poland, the first S-125's were introduced into service in the 1970s. Later, they were completed with still remaining in service, the Neva M. In the 1990s Poland introduced its own improvement program increasing mobility and effectiveness of the S-125 M system.