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Last Updated: Mon Jan 27 11:18:09 UTC 2014

S-200VE Vega / SA-5 Gammon Missile Site Design
Technical Report APA-TR-2009-0603-A

by Dr Carlo Kopp, AFAIAA, SMIEEE, PEng
July 2009
Updated April, 2012
Text, Line Art © 2009 - 2012 Carlo Kopp

The 5V21/5V28 SA-5A/B/C Gammon missile is deployed on the semimobile 5P72 series launcher. The weapon is typically deployed at static semi-hardened SAM sites (via Vestnik PVO).


The 160 nautical mile range class Almaz S-200 / SA-5 Gammon missile system was the largest and longest ranging Surface to Air Missile (SAM) developed and operationally deployed by the Warsaw Pact nations during the Cold War, and it remains the longest ranging SAM currently in operational use. The weapon remains deployed by a number of nations, including Iran and the DPRK.

The ongoing operational use of the S-200 / SA-5 Gammon makes it a worthwhile subject for study, especially given the availability of technology insertion upgrades for the system, and its exceptional range performance, subject to variant between 250 km and 300 km (135 NMI to 160 NMI).

The collapse of the Warsaw Pact and subsequently, the Soviet Union, has provided unprecedented access to technical material detailing this weapon system,  but also access to former operational  S-200 / SA-5 SAM sites.  As these sites have typically been  constructed to a Soviet supplied design,  they will provide a good example of the detail design and construction of sites used by current operators, including Iran and the DPRK.

Numerous S-200 / SA-5 SAM sites were constructed during the 1980s in a chain extending from East Germany, through the former Czechoslovakia, with the southern end of the SAM belt sited in Hungary. The intent behind this SAM belt was to deny NATO the use of its standoff ISR assets, specifically the E-3 AWACS, E-8 JSTARS, RC-135V/W Rivet Joint, TR-1/U-2, and its potent fleet of EF-111A Raven tactical jammers. In contemporary terms, the purpose of these installations would be described as producing an “ISR lockout”. The Soviets provisioned to deploy nuclear armed 5V28 rounds, equipped with 25 kilotonne fission warheads, from these sites.

The planned and constructed SAM belt sites, north to south, were:
  1. FRAG-431, 41. Flaraketenbrigade, NVA, Cammin-Prangendorf, DDR (54,030 N / 12,375 E);
  2. 41 SQN, 71 SQN, 78 PROP, Polish Army, Mrzezyno, Poland (54,110 N / 15,165 E);
  3. FRAG-411, 41. Flaraketenbrigade, NVA, Badingen-Osterne, DDR (52,968 N / 13,218 E);
  4. Soviet Occupation Forces, Red Army, Wendgräben, DDR (52,155 N / 12,029 E);
  5. FRAG-511, 51. Flaraketenbrigade, NVA, Eckolstädt, DDR (51,041 N / 11,625 E);
  6. 17., 18., 19. PRO, 71 PLRB (Praha), CSLA, Dobříš, CSSR (49°51'15.39"N, 14°9'58.07"E);
  7. 9., 10. PRO, 76 PLRB (Brno), CSLA, Rapotice, CSSR (49°12'34.178"N, 16°16'8.011"E);
  8. 104th Regiment, 4th Brigade, Hungarian Army, Mezőfalva, Hungary (46,969 N / 18,784 E)
  9. Soviet Forces, Red Army, Ialoveni, Moldavia ( 46°57'9.31"N, 28°41'22.90"E);
  10. Bulgarian AD Brigade, Dramsha, Bulgaria ( 42°54'25.37"N, 23°11'17.80"E).
Claims that Romania also operated the S-200VE / SA-5B remain difficult to support with evidence.

These sites were mostly decommissioned through the 1990s as most of the newly independent nations progressively severed connections with the Russians, and progressed to NATO membership.

S-200 Battery Deployment

Early configuration S-200 battery deployment illustration from Soviet technical manual. Note each launcher has a pair of 5Yu24 rail transloaders with ready 5V28 rounds (Almaz).

A typical early model S-200 battery comprised a single 5N62 Square Pair engagement radar, and six 5P72 launchers, each supported by a pair of 5Yu24 rail transloaders. This provided for six ready rounds on launch rails, and up to twelve reloads on rail transloaders being fuelled and prepared. Initially, revetted installations with earth berms were used, but the vulnerability of such revetted sites used with the S-75 / SA-2 observed in Vietnam and the Middle East led to more aggressive measures, with the transloaders located in bunkers, shelters or tunnels, and revetments clad with concrete.

The Warsaw Pact S-200VE / SA-5B SAM belt sites were mostly constructed in the latter fashion, using design plans provided by the Soviets. The sites employed hardened shelters for all of the radar vans and support equipment. Hardened shelters were also provided to protect the missile launch control centre vans and missile magazines.

The late model S-200VE / SA-5B included the towed 5Yu24M/5T83 transloader/transporter semi-trailer which could directly load the missile launchers, although most of the sites still retained the legacy 5Yu24 rail transloaders for ready rounds.

APA thanks Martin Korec, Matej Kopecky, and Pavel Kisling for the generous provision of photographic materials covering the Dobříš and Rapotice SA-5B sites.

Dobříš Site VÚ 5180, 17., 18., 19. PRO, 71 PLRB (Praha), CSLA

The Dobříš S-200VE / SA-5B site was constructed in secrecy between 1981 and 1985, by a workforce of 1,500 personnel. The site hosted three 5N62V Square Pair engagement radars, and three missile launch sites each with six launchers and one K-3 launch control centre van. A single P-14/5N84E Tall King C acquisition radar was employed, supported by a PRV-17 Odd Pair heightfinding radar. The Square Pair radars were deployed on large elevated concrete platforms. The K-2 operator van for the 5N62V/K-1V radar head was sited inside a hardened shelter at the base of elevated platform.

The area of the Dobříš site was divided into three sections:
  1. Section A: loading and storage facilities, mess, infirmary, cinema, staff office block, mains grid transformer site, coal fired boilers for base heating, guard dog kennels and an agricultural section with a pig farm.
  2. Section B: vehicle park and fire station.
  3. Section C: missile launch sites for three missile batteries, engineering section, vehicle park for missile battery tractors and trailers, base electronic facilities, storage and pumping equipment for missile liquid propellants, and a storage bunker for the missile solid rocket boosters.
The site was hardened not only against air attack, but also against special forces raids on the ground. The site perimeter was protected by a 10 ft high reinforced concrete wall. Entry gates were protected by concrete pillboxes intended for light machine guns crews.

The site was operated by a complement of 160 officers and NCOs, and 360 enlisted personnel.

Radar and C3I Installations

The Dobříš site was equipped with the standard complement of radar equipment for an S-200VE battery. Acquisition was performed by a single long range P-14/5N84AE Oborona / Tall King C VHF-Band radar, supported by a PRV-17 Odd Pair heightfinder and a 1L22 Parol Secondary Surveillance Radar (Soviet IFF).

5N62V Square Pair B K-1V radar head van located behind a protective screen on an elevated platform (image Matej Kopecky).

5N62V Square Pair B K-1V radar head van on an elevated platform (image Matej Kopecky).

View of two of the three elevated platforms for the 5N62V Square Pair radars (image Pavel Kisling).

The K-2 radar control van and K-22 converter van are sited in a hardened shelter at the base of the platform. The cable runs to the K-1V van are routed through the hollow support columns.

1L22 Parol IFF interrogator on one of the platforms.

The K-3 launch control centre van is used to control the 5P72 launchers. Each K-3 and its supporting generator are located in hardened shelters.

Hardened Command Post for the site.

PRV-17 Odd Pair heightfinder.

5V28VE Missile Assembly and Deployment

To sustain a viable rate of fire the Dobříš site employed a defacto assembly line for preparing stored missile rounds for use. Missile kits would be removed from the magazine, assembled in a hangar, and then transferred to a checkout hangar where the missile avionics and systems would be tested. The missiles were then fuelled and transfered to transloaders, or to launchers for use.

Building 21, the hardened missile magazine, above and below. Missile kits were held in storage here. The design is clearly capable of withstanding dumb bomb attacks but is not sufficiently hardened to withstand the BLU-109/B or BLU-116/B.

Missile assembly hangar, above and below. An overhead gantry crane is used to move the missiles to the transloader/transporter semi-trailers.

Buildings 22, 23, and 24 form the drive through missile checkout hangar, where assembled 5V28VE rounds would be hooked up to a KIPS 5K43E diagnostic station, comprising an AM-43 test system on a URAL-375A chassis. Assembled and tested missiles could be returned to storage, or fuelled for use.

Missile fuelling and defuelling shelter. Up to two rounds could be refuelled concurrently with the two component AK-27I/TG-02 hypergolic fuel. A single ZAK-21 3,000 litre tanker was used. The toxic, carcinogenic, corrosive and  inflammable propellants required  special handling and decontamination equipment. Fuelling and defuelling a missile reduced its shelf life from 20 years to 5 years. The missiles are carried on a 5T82M1E/5Yu24M transporter/transloader (images Pavel Kisling).

5Yu24M transporter/transloader (image Pavel Kisling).

5P72VE launcher (image Pavel Kisling).

5V28VE Vega / SA-5B Gammon being transfered from the 5Yu24 to the 5P72VE launcher (image Matej Kopecky).

5V28VE Vega / SA-5B Gammon fully elevated on the 5P72 launcher (image Matej Kopecky).

APA highly recommends the Czech language site detailing the
Dobříš installation: http://www.fortifikace.net/pov_pvos_skupina_vega.html

Rapotice Site VÚ 7300, 9., 10. PRO, 76 PLRB (Brno), CSLA

The Rapotice S-200VE / SA-5B site was like its sibling constructed in secrecy between 1981 and 1985. The site hosted two 5N62V Square Pair engagement radars, and two missile launch sites, each with six launchers and one K-3 control van. A single P-14/5N84E Tall King C acquisition radar was employed, supported by a PRV-17 Odd Pair heightfinding radar. The site largely follows the detail design of the Dobříš site with similar or identical buildings and shelters.

APA highly recommends the Czech language site detailing the Rapotice installation: http://www.fortifikace.net/pov_pvos_skupina_vega_rapotice.html


  1. Marek Lomnitz, S-200 / SA-5 Gammon, URL (Archive): http://web.archive.org/web/20071113101050/www.s-200.de/
  2. Said Aminov, Vestnik PVO, URL: http://pvo.guns.ru
  3. Peter's ADA - Theorie und Grundlagen  der Fla, URL: http://peters-ada.de/
  4. Matthias Richter, Flaraketenkomplex S-200 Wega, URL: http://www.s200-wega.de/
  5. Petr Janda, Martin Korec, Petr Kunc, 9., 10. protiletadlový raketový oddíl Rapotice, součást Protiletadlové raketové skupiny VEGA Rapotice, URL: http://www.fortifikace.net/pov_pvos_skupina_vega_rapotice.html
  6. Petr Janda, Martin Korec, Petr Kunc, 17., 18., 19. protiletadlový raketový oddíl Dobříš, součást Protiletadlové raketové skupiny VEGA Dobříš (VÚ 5180), URL: http://www.fortifikace.net/pov_pvos_skupina_vega.html

Technical Report APA-TR-2009-0603-A

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