S-125 Neva/Pechora

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S-125 Neva
NATO reporting name: SA-3 Goa
SA-3 EP 2006.JPG
Peruvian Air Force Pechora
Typeshort-range SAM system
Place of origin Soviet Union
Service history
In service1961 [1] –present
Used bySee list of present and former operators
Wars Vietnam War, Yom Kippur War, Kosovo War, Iran–Iraq War, Gulf War, Angolan Civil War, Syrian Civil War, 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Tigray conflict
Production history
Designer Almaz Central Design Bureau
Manufacturer JSC Defense Systems (Pechora-M)
VariantsNeva, Pechora, Volna, Neva-M, Neva-M1, Volna-M, Volna-N, Volna-P, Pechora 2, Pechora 2M, Newa SC, Pechora-M

The S-125 Neva/Pechora (Russian : С-125 "Нева"/"Печора", NATO reporting name SA-3 Goa) Soviet surface-to-air missile system was designed by Aleksei Isaev to complement the S-25 and S-75. It has a shorter effective range and lower engagement altitude than either of its predecessors and also flies slower, but due to its two-stage design it is more effective against more maneuverable targets. It is also able to engage lower flying targets than the previous systems, and being more modern it is much more resistant to ECM than the S-75. The 5V24 (V-600) missiles reach around Mach 3 to 3.5 in flight, both stages powered by solid fuel rocket motors. The S-125, like the S-75, uses radio command guidance. The naval version of this system has the NATO reporting name SA-N-1 Goa and original designation M-1 Volna (Russian Волна – wave).


Operational history

Soviet Union

A pair of S-125 missiles in transit. Pair of S-125 missiles in transit on a truck.jpg
A pair of S-125 missiles in transit.
Abandoned Soviet S-125 missile near Saare, Saaremaa, Estonia. S-125 Neva Pechora Saaremaa.jpg
Abandoned Soviet S-125 missile near Saare, Saaremaa, Estonia.

The S-125 was first deployed between 1961 and 1964 around Moscow, augmenting the S-25 and S-75 sites already ringing the city, as well as in other parts of the USSR. In 1964, an upgraded version of the system, the S-125M "Neva-M" and later S-125M1 "Neva-M1" was developed. The original version was designated SA-3A by the US DoD and the new Neva-M named SA-3B and (naval) SA-N-1B. The Neva-M introduced a redesigned booster and an improved guidance system. The S-125 was not used against U.S. forces in Vietnam, because the Soviets feared that China (after the souring of Sino-Soviet relations in 1960), through which most, if not all of the equipment meant for North Vietnam had to travel, would try to copy the missile.[ citation needed ]


The FAPA-DAA acquired a significant number of S-125s, and these were encountered during the first strike flown by SAAF Mirage F.1s against targets in Angola ever - in June 1980. While the SAAF reported two aircraft were damaged by SAMs during this action, Angola claimed to have shot down four. [2]

On 7 June 1980, while attacking SWAPO's Tobias Haneko Training Camp during Operation Sceptic (Smokeshell), SAAF Major Frans Pretorius and Captain IC du Plessis, both flying Mirage F.1s, were hit by S-125s. Pretorius's aircraft was hit in a fuel line and he had to perform a deadstick landing at AFB Ondangwa. Du Plessis's aircraft sustained heavier damage and had to divert to Ruacana forward airstrip, where he landed with only the main undercarriage extended. Both aircraft were repaired and returned to service. [3]

Middle East

S-125 on ZIL-131 transporter vehicle (9T911), Batey Ha-Osef Museum Batey HaOsef IMG 0870.JPG
S-125 on ZIL-131 transporter vehicle (9T911), Batey Ha-Osef Museum

The Soviets supplied several S-125s to the Arab states in the late 1960s and 1970s, most notably Egypt and Syria. The S-125 saw extensive action during the War of Attrition and the Yom Kippur War. During the latter, the S-125, along with the S-75 Dvina and 2K12 Kub, formed the backbone of the Egyptian air defence network. In Egypt, March–July 1970 Soviet battalions of S-125 17 Shooting (35 missiles) shot down nine Israeli and one Egyptian planes. General Muhammed Ali Hafez (Air defense forces commander in the Egyptian Army) was the first man in the world to reuse the launched missiles in creating new ones . [4] [5] [6] Israel recognized the 5 F-4 Phantoms in 1970 (1 more was W/O [7] ) and in 1973 another 6 [6]


Remains of F-16C 87-257 as found by US ground forces in Iraq during Desert Storm. The canopy was recovered by US forces in the 2003 invasion. USAF F16C block 87-0257 remains.jpg
Remains of F-16C 87-257 as found by US ground forces in Iraq during Desert Storm. The canopy was recovered by US forces in the 2003 invasion.

A USAF F-16 (serial 87-257) was shot down on January 19, 1991, during Operation Desert Storm. The aircraft was struck by a S-125 just south of Baghdad. The pilot, Major Jeffrey Scott Tice, ejected safely but became a POW as the ejection took place over Iraq. [8] It was the 8th combat loss and the first daylight raid over Baghdad. [9]

Still photograph from a videotape of an Iraqi surface-to-air missile, believed to be a S-125, launched at a coalition aircraft in July 2001. Defense.gov News Photo 020927-D-0000M-007.jpg
Still photograph from a videotape of an Iraqi surface-to-air missile, believed to be a S-125, launched at a coalition aircraft in July 2001.

On the opening night of Desert Storm, on 17 January 1991, a B-52G was damaged by a missile. Different versions of this engagement are told. It could have been a S-125 or a 2K12 Kub while other versions report a MiG-29 allegedly fired a Vympel R-27R missile and damaged the B-52G. [10] However, the U.S. Air Force disputes these claims, stating the bomber was actually hit by friendly fire, an AGM-88 High-speed, Anti-Radiation Missile (HARM) that homed on the fire-control radar of the B-52's tail gun; the jet was subsequently renamed In HARM's Way. [11] Shortly following this incident, General George Lee Butler announced that the gunner position on B-52 crews would be eliminated, and the gun turrets permanently deactivated, commencing on 1 October 1991. [12]

FR Yugoslavia

A Yugoslav Army 250th Air Defense Missile Brigade 3rd battery equipped with S-125 system managed to shoot down an F-117 Nighthawk stealth attack aircraft on March 27, 1999 during the Kosovo War (the only recorded downing of a stealth aircraft) near village Budjanovci, about 45 km from Belgrade. The pilot LT.COL. Darrell Patrick Zelko managed to eject and was later found by US search & rescue forces. It was also used to shoot down a NATO F-16 fighter on May 2 (its pilot; Lt. Col David L. Goldfein, the commander of 555th Fighter Squadron, managed to eject and was later rescued by a combat search-and-rescue (CSAR) mission). [13] [14]

In 2020, American sources state that a second F-117A was targeted and damaged during the campaign, allegedly on 30 April 1999; [15] the aircraft returned to Spangdahlem base, but it supposedly never flew again.[ citation needed ]

During the war, different Yugoslav SAM sites and possibly the S-125 also shot down some NATO UAVs.[ citation needed ]

Syrian Civil War

On 17 March 2015, a US MQ-1 Predator drone was shot down by a Syrian Air Defense Force S-125 missile while on intelligence flight near the coastal town of Latakia. [16]

In December 2016, ISIS forces captured three S-125 launchers after they retook Palmyra from Syrian government troops. [17]

On April 14, 2018, American, British, and French forces launched a barrage of 103 air-to-surface and cruise missiles targeting eight sites in Syria. The Russian military claimed that thirteen S-125 missiles launched in response destroyed five incoming missiles. [18] However, the American Department of Defense stated no Allied missiles were shot down. [19]

2020 Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

During the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh conflict the S-125 system was listed in the active inventory of both sides in different versions. On 17 October 2020, the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense claimed the destruction of an Armenian S-125 system without providing further details. [20] On 22 October 2020, the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense released a video showing the destruction of an Armenian SNR-125 fire control radar for the S-125 system targeted by an Azerbaijani operated IAI Harop loitering munition. [21]


The S-125 is somewhat mobile, an improvement over the S-75 system. The missiles are typically deployed on fixed turrets containing two or four but can be carried ready-to-fire on ZIL trucks in pairs. Reloading the fixed launchers takes a few minutes.


S125 Neva 250 brPVO VS, september 01, 2012.jpg
V-600 missiles on the S-125 quadruple launcher.
Type Surface-to-air missile
Place of originSoviet Union
Production history
VariantsV-600, V-601
Specifications (V-601 [22] )
Mass953 kg
Length6.09 m
Diameter375 mm
Warhead weight60 kg
Proximity fuse [23]

Wingspan2.2 m
PropellantSolid propellant rocket motor
35 kilometres (22 mi)
Flight altitude18,000 metres (59,000 ft)

The S-125 system uses two different missile versions and variants.


The launchers are accompanied by a command building or truck and three primary radar systems:

"Flat Face"/"Squat Eye" is mounted on a van ("Squat Eye" on a taller mast for better performance against low-altitude targets also an IFF [Identifies Friend or Foe]), "Low Blow" on a trailer and "Side Net" on a box-bodied trailer.

Variants and upgrades

ZIF-101 launcher of Volna system on the Kashin class destroyer Strogiy. SA-N-1 launcher.jpg
ZIF-101 launcher of Volna system on the Kashin class destroyer Strogiy.

Work on a naval version M-1 Volna (SA-N-1) started in 1956, along with work on a land version. It was first mounted on a rebuilt Kotlin class destroyer (Project 56K) Bravyi and tested in 1962. In the same year, the system was accepted. The basic missile was a V-600 (or 4K90) (range: from 4 to 15 km, altitude: from 0.1 to 10 km). Fire control and guidance is carried out by 4R90 Yatagan radar, with five parabolic antennas on a common head. Only one target can be engaged at a time (or two, for ships fitted with two Volna systems). In case of emergency, Volna could be also used against naval targets, due to short response time.

The first launcher type was the two-missile ZIF-101, with a magazine for 16 missiles. In 1963 an improved two-missile launcher, ZIF-102, with a magazine for 32 missiles, was introduced to new ship classes. In 1967 Volna systems were upgraded to Volna-M (SA-N-1B) with V-601 (4K91) missiles (range: 4–22 km, altitude: 0.1–14 km).

In 1974 - 1976 some systems were modernized to Volna-P standard, with an additional TV target tracking channel and better resistance to jamming. Later, improved V-601M missiles were introduced, with lower minimal attack altitude against aerial targets (system Volna-N).

Some Indian frigates also carry the M-1 Volna system.

Modern upgrades

Two S-125 dual missile launcher trailers. Sa-3.jpg
Two S-125 dual missile launcher trailers.
Newa SC Anakonda 2006 Z3.jpg
Newa SC

Since Russia replaced all of its S-125 sites with SA-10 and SA-12 systems, they decided to upgrade the S-125 systems being removed from service to make them more attractive to export customers.

Early warning radar is replaced by anti-stealth [26] [27] radar Kasta 2E2, target distance at 2.5–32 km, target altitude - 0.02–20 km, missile launchers can be positioned at up to 10 kilometers away from the control center.[ citation needed ] Speed up to 1000 m/s (target), Used rocket 5V27DE, [28] by weight the warhead + 50% range of flight splinters + 350%.[ citation needed ] Probability of hitting the target 1st rocket: at a distance up to 25 km - 0,72-0,99, detection range with the radar cross section = 2 sq meters about 100 km, with RCS = 0.15 sq m - about 50 km, with no interference. When using active jamming - 40 km. [29] ADMS "Pechora-2M" has the ability to interfacing with higher level command post and radar remote using telecode channels. Is equally effective at any time during the day and at night (optical location, daytime and nighttime, and also thermal imager) was awarded a contract to overhaul Egypt's S-125 SAM system. These refurbished weapons have been reintroduced as the S-125 Pechora 2M. [30]

Serbian modifications include terminal/camera homing from radar base.

Cuba also developed a similar upgrade to the Polish one, which was displayed in La Habana in 2006. [31]

There is also a version of the S-125 available from Russia with the warhead replaced with telemetry instrumentation, for use as target drones.


Map of S-125 operators in blue with former operators in red S-125 newoperators.png
Map of S-125 operators in blue with former operators in red
Simulated Soviet surface to air missile site at Nellis AFB Sa-3 site.jpg
Simulated Soviet surface to air missile site at Nellis AFB

Current operators

Pechora-2M air defence systems of Myanmar Army at the 71st Armed Force Day Parade (2016) MA-SAM-2.jpg
Pechora-2M air defence systems of Myanmar Army at the 71st Armed Force Day Parade (2016)

Former operators

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