S-25 Berkut

Last updated

S-25 Berkut
(NATO reporting name: SA-1 Guild)
S-25 KYm.jpg
S-25 missile
TypeStrategic SAM system
Place of origin Soviet Union
Service history
In service1955–1982
Used by Soviet Union
Wars Cold War
Production history
Designer Lavochkin OKB
No. builtmore than 11 000 [1]
Width0.71 m (2.32 ft.)
Height12.00 m (39 ft.)

The S-25 Berkut (Russian : С-25 «Беркут»; "Berkut" means golden eagle in English) is a surface-to-air guided missile, the first operational SAM system in the Soviet Union. In the early 1950s it was tested at Kapustin Yar. It was deployed in several rings around Moscow starting in 1955 and became combat ready in June 1956. It was used only defensively at Moscow; the more mobile S-75 (SA-2 Guideline) would be used in almost all other locations. Several improvements were introduced over its long service lifetime, and the system was finally replaced by the S-300P in 1982.


Its NATO reporting name is SA-1 Guild. S-25 is short for Systema 25, referring to the entire system of missiles, radars, and launchers. Portions of the system include the V-300 missile, R-113 and B-200 radars, and A-11/A-12 antennas for the B-200.


Development of the S-25 was authorized on 9 August 1950 by a decision of USSR and was appended by Stalin: (We have to get the missile for air defense in a year). The system was assigned to design to SB-1 (Special Bureau No. 1).

The initial design included:

The implementation was assigned to the Third Main Agency, which was specially created, by the Soviet of Ministers of the USSR. SB-1 was converted to KB-1 (Design Bureau №1) headed by P.N. Kuksenko and S.L. Beria. Some captured German specialists were concentrated in department №38 of KB-1.

Test range trials of the first experimental system were conducted in January 1952. These tests led to the removal of the air based components of the Berkut system (G-400/G-300 and G-500).

The construction of ground infrastructure (designed by the Moscow division of Lengiprostroy, V.I. Rechkin) was done from 1953 through 1955 at 50 km and 90 km ranges from Moscow. There were about 2000 km of roads built by prisoners.

After the death of Stalin and arrest of L.P. Beria (the head of Soviet police and security, and the father of S.L. Beria) in June 1953, the KB-1 was reorganized and headed by Raspletin. The Third Main Agency was converted to Glavspetsmash and included into the Ministry of Medium Machine Building. The name Berkut was changed to Systema 25.

The first combat elements of S-25 were delivered to the military in 1954. In March 1954 most sites were being prepared for the installation of the missiles and launchers. The final tests were completed in the beginning of 1955. The first batteries entered service on 7 May 1955. The system entered combat duty in June 1956. The launchers were located at a distance of 75–85 km from Moscow, a dense ring (at a distance of 10–15 km from each other). The locations were masked by forests.

After the system have entered service some parts of Glavspetsmash (Glavspetsmontazh and Glavspetsmash) were disbanded, the KB-1 was transferred to the Ministry of Defense Industries.

In order to operate the S-25 system, the "Separate Army for Special Purposes" was established under the command of general-colonel K. Kazakov in the spring of 1955, being part of Soviet Air Defense Forces (PVO Strany).

A number of improvements was made to the initial S-25 design during the service. The latest modernized S-25M was retired and replaced with S-300P air defense complexes in 1982. Most sites of the original S-25 complex were dismantled in the 1990s and are now summer cottage developments for Moscow residents.

Surface-to-air Missile Complex S-25

The parts of the S-25 were designed in parallel. Some grounds were created at the Kapustin Yar test range to support the development of S-25:

The first tests of S-25 in full control mode were started 2 November 1952 (using radar-simulated target). The tests against parachute targets were done in the beginning of 1953. Tu-4 drones were used for moving target tests from 26 April to 18 May 1953. There were 81 launches during trials from 18 September 1952 to 18 May 1953. Additional tests were done in September–October 1953 against Il-28 and Tu-4 drones.

The decision of the government to build a full scale S-25 complex at the Kapustin Yar was made in January 1954. The complex was sampled for the state trials 25 June 1954. The trials were conducted from 1 October 1954 to 1 April 1955 and included 69 launches at Il-28 and Tu-4 drones (including simultaneous launch of 20 missiles at 20 targets). The complex was capable to fire at 20 targets with 1 or 2 missiles simultaneously having up to 60 missiles ready to launch. The startup time was 5 minutes (for 18 target channels).

There were 56 S-25 series-built complexes manufactured and deployed around the Moscow area, plus one series-built and one experimental deployed at the Kapustin Yar test range.

B-200 Missile Targeting Radar

Each site was equipped with a B-200 guidance system, including a track while scan radar (designated Yo-Yo by US intelligence). The system also incorporated fire-control system equipment which enabled each site to engage as many as 10 targets simultaneously, each with two missiles.

The B-200 radar prototype was tested in the middle of 1950.

Surface-to-air Missile V-300

The first V-300 missile was fired 25 July 1951 at the Kapustin Yar test range.

The missile, which went by a variety of names depending on the version, used a single liquid-propellant rocket motor. Although its maximum speed was on the order of Mach 2.5, it had a low initial velocity which limited its engagement capability against supersonic targets. Its maximum intercept range varied depending upon the approach and type of target; against a directly incoming, high-flying B-52 its range was on the order of 30 km. The missile carried a large warhead of 200–320 kg (440–710 lb), and its lethal radius was estimated to be 20–35 m (66–115 ft). It was believed to be capable of interceptions from a minimum altitude of 900 m (3,000 ft) up to 18,000 m (59,000 ft), with some additional capability up to about 24,000 m (79,000 ft), particularly if equipped with a nuclear warhead. [2]

By 1959, a total of about 32,000 V-300 missiles had been manufactured. [3]


Map with S-25 operators in blue and former operators in red S-25 operators.png
Map with S-25 operators in blue and former operators in red

Current operators

Former operators

Related Research Articles

Anti-ballistic missile Surface-to-air missile designed to counter ballistic missiles

An anti-ballistic missile (ABM) is a surface-to-air missile designed to counter ballistic missiles. Ballistic missiles are used to deliver nuclear, chemical, biological, or conventional warheads in a ballistic flight trajectory. The term "anti-ballistic missile" is a generic term conveying a system designed to intercept and destroy any type of ballistic threat; however, it is commonly used for systems specifically designed to counter intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).

Cruise missile Guided missile which remains in the atmosphere and flies with approximately constant speed

A cruise missile is a guided missile used against terrestrial targets, that remains in the atmosphere and flies the major portion of its flight path at approximately constant speed. Cruise missiles are designed to deliver a large warhead over long distances with high precision. Modern cruise missiles are capable of travelling at supersonic or high subsonic speeds, are self-navigating, and are able to fly on a non-ballistic, extremely low-altitude trajectory.

R-1 (missile) Tactical ballistic missile

The R-1 rocket was a tactical ballistic missile manufactured in the Soviet Union based on the German V-2 rocket. Even though it was a copy, it was manufactured using Soviet industrial plants and gave the Soviets valuable experience which later enabled the USSR to construct its own much more capable rockets. The R-1 missile system entered into service in the Soviet Army on 28 November 1950.

RT-2PM Topol Intercontinental ballistic missile

The RT-2PM Topol is a mobile intercontinental ballistic missile designed in the Soviet Union and in service with Russia's Strategic Missile Troops. By the early 2020s, all SS-25 ICBMs will be replaced by versions of Topol-M.

Kh-55 Family of air-launched cruise missiles

The Kh-55 is a Soviet/Russian subsonic air-launched cruise missile, designed by MKB Raduga. It has a range of up to 2,500 km (1,350 nmi) and can carry nuclear warheads. Kh-55 is launched exclusively from bomber aircraft and has spawned a number of conventionally armed variants mainly for tactical use, such as the Kh-65SE and Kh-SD, but only the Kh-101 and Kh-555 appear to have made it into service. Contrary to popular belief, the Kh-55 was not the basis of the submarine- and ground-launched S-10 Granat or RK-55 Relief designed by NPO Novator. The RK-55 is very similar to the air-launched Kh-55 but the Kh-55 has a drop-down turbofan engine and was designed by MKB Raduga. Both have formed the basis of post-Cold-War missiles, in particular the Sizzler which has a supersonic approach phase.

Kapustin Yar Rocket launch and development site

Kapustin Yar is a Russian rocket launch and development site in Astrakhan Oblast, about 100km east of Volgograd. It was established by the Soviet Union on 13 May 1946 and in the beginning used technology, material and scientific support from defeated Germany. Numerous launches of test rockets for the Russian military were carried out at the site, as well as satellite and sounding rocket launches. The town of Znamensk and Kapustin Yar were built nearby to serve the missile test range.

Sary Shagan Missile defence test site in Kazakhstan

Sary Shagan is an anti-ballistic missile testing range located in Kazakhstan.

R-12 Dvina Medium-range ballistic missile

The R-12 Dvina was a theatre ballistic missile developed and deployed by the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Its GRAU designation was 8K63, and it was given the NATO reporting name of SS-4 Sandal. The R-12 rocket provided the Soviet Union with the capability to attack targets at medium ranges with a megaton-class thermonuclear warhead and constituted the bulk of the Soviet offensive missile threat to Western Europe. Deployments of the R-12 missile in Cuba caused the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. A total of 2335 missiles were produced; all were destroyed in 1993 under the START II treaty.

S-75 Dvina Strategic SAM system

The S-75 is a Soviet-designed, high-altitude air defence system, built around a surface-to-air missile with command guidance. Following its first deployment in 1957 it became one of the most widely deployed air defence systems in history. It scored the first destruction of an enemy aircraft by a surface-to-air missile, with the shooting down of a Taiwanese Martin RB-57D Canberra over China on 7 October 1959 that was hit by a salvo of three V-750 (1D) missiles at an altitude of 20 km (65,600 ft). This success was credited to Chinese fighter aircraft at the time to keep the S-75 program secret.

Lavochkin La-250

The Lavochkin La-250 "Anakonda" was a high-altitude interceptor aircraft prototype developed in the Soviet Union by the Lavochkin design bureau in the 1950s. Its nickname "Anaconda" was invented during the flight test and referred to both the elongated body shape as well as the relatively critical flight characteristics of the machine.

A-35 anti-ballistic missile system Soviet missile defence system

The A-35 anti-ballistic missile system was a Soviet military anti-ballistic missile (ABM) system deployed around Moscow to intercept enemy ballistic missiles targeting the city or its surrounding areas. The A-35 was the only Soviet ABM system allowed under the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. In development since the 1960s and in operation from 1971 until the 1990s, it featured the nuclear-tipped A350 exoatmospheric interceptor missile. The A-35 was supported by the two Dunay radars and the Soviet early warning system. It was followed by the A-135 in the early 1990s.

The S-500 Prometey, also known as 55R6M "Triumfator-M", is a Russian surface-to-air missile/anti-ballistic missile system intended to replace the A-135 missile system currently in use, and supplement the S-400. The S-500 is under development by the Almaz-Antey Air Defence Concern. Initially planned to be in production by 2014, it is currently targeting 2021 for first delivery. With its characteristics, according to Pravda Report, it is unrivaled by any other similar system in the world, being the first in a new class of space-defense weapons. Also according to Pravda Report, it shares with the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system the trait that it will be integrated into a single network of aerospace defense assets.


The AN/FPS-17 was a ground-based fixed-beam radar system that was installed at three locations worldwide, including Pirinçlik Air Base in south-eastern Turkey, Laredo, Texas and Shemya Island, Alaska.

NPO Almaz

JSC NPO Almaz named after A.A. Raspletin is a Soviet/Russian military R&D enterprise founded in 1947. It is the core of the Almaz-Antey holding. Headquarters – Moscow, Leningradsky av., 80.

The track while scan (TWS) is a mode of radar operation in which the radar allocates part of its power to tracking the target or targets while part of its power is allocated to scanning, unlike the straight tracking mode, when the radar directs all its power to tracking the acquired targets. In the TWS mode the radar has a possibility to acquire additional targets as well as providing an overall view of the airspace and helping maintain better situational awareness.

RK-55 surface/sub-launched nuclear cruise missile

The Novator RK-55 Relief is a Russian land-based and submarine-launched cruise missile with a nuclear warhead developed in the Soviet Union. It was about to enter service in 1987, when such weapons were banned under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. A version launched from submarine torpedo tubes, the S-10 Granat, has apparently been converted to carry conventional warheads and continues in service to this day. The Russian Federation was reported to have deployed the derivative SS-CX-7/SS-CX-8 systems on February 14, 2017.

Victor Vasilievitch Tikhomirov was an outstanding Soviet engineer and scientist in the fields of radio electronics and automation. He was a corresponding member of the Soviet Academy of Sciences, three times a laureate of the Stalin Prize, and was awarded two Orders of Lenin and other orders and medals. He led development of the first full radar system in the USSR.

5N65 radar

The 5N65 radar was a Soviet military phased array radar initially designed for the S-225 anti-ballistic missile system which was never commissioned. The radar was later installed near the Kura Test Range in Kamchatka in the Russian Far East as a part of 5K17 tracking and measuring system and was demolished in 2006.

S-350E Vityaz 50R6 medium-range SAM system

The 50R6 Vityaz or S-350E is a Russian medium-range surface-to-air missile system developed by GSKB Almaz-Antey. Its purpose is to replace the S-300PS and S-300PT-1A. The system design traces its roots from the joint South Korean/Russian KM-SAM project and uses the same 9M96 missile as the S-400 missile system, which is differs from Korean variant.

The RS-26 Rubezh SS-X-31 or SS-X-29B, is a Russian solid-fueled intercontinental ballistic missile, equipped with a thermonuclear MIRV or MaRV payload. The missile is also intended to be capable of carrying the Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle. The RS-26 is based on RS-24 Yars, and constitutes a shorter version of the RS-24 with one fewer stages. The development process of the RS-26 has been largely comparable to that of the SS-20 Saber, a shortened derivative of the SS-16 Sinner. Deployment of the RS-26 is speculated to have a similar strategic impact as the SS-20.


  1. "Сверхзвуковые ракеты-мишени" . Retrieved 14 November 2014.
  2. S-25 SA-1 GUILD. Federation of American Scientists .
  3. "Defending the Kremlin: The First Generation of Soviet Strategic Air Defense Systems 1950-60 by Steven J. Zaloga".
  4. "Сверхзвуковые ракеты-мишени" . Retrieved 14 November 2014.
  5. "-25" . Retrieved 14 November 2014.
  6. "Воздушные мишени – вторая жизнь зенитных ракет". Archived from the original on 25 October 2011. Retrieved 14 November 2014.
  7. History of the KPAF (in Russian), airwar.ru
  8. "North Korea - Air Force". FAS.org. Retrieved 28 April 2014.