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Ukrainian Forces Destroy two Russian Buk-M3 Most Modern Air Defense Systems

On September 17, 2023, a video released on Telegram unveiled a groundbreaking event in the ongoing conflict near Svitlodarsk, Donetsk. The Ukrainian armed forces have reportedly destroyed two of the latest generation Buk-M3 air defense missile systems using artillery rocket launcher systems.
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Ukrainian forces destroyed for the first time two Russian Buk-M3 air defense missile systems.  (Picture source Video footage Telegram)

The Buk-M3 is the most advanced variant of the Buk missile system lineage, which was developed by the Soviet Union and later by the Russian Federation. This system is designed to counter a myriad of aerial threats, including cruise missiles, smart bombs, fixed and rotary-wing aircraft, and unmanned aerial vehicles.

The Buk-M3 system has undergone significant enhancements over its predecessors. One of the primary features of the Buk-M3 is its advanced electronic components. The system's TELAR (Transporter Erector Launcher and Radar) has been upgraded to feature a tracked chassis with seven rollers, and it can accommodate six missiles in launch tubes. This design allows the Buk-M3 to simultaneously track and engage multiple targets, providing a robust defense against coordinated aerial attacks.

Furthermore, the Buk-M3's radar systems have been refined for improved target acquisition and tracking. The system employs the 9S18 "Tube Arm" or 9S18M1 (NATO reporting name "Snow Drift") target acquisition radar, which has a maximum detection range of 85 km. This radar can detect an aircraft flying at 100 m from 35 km away and can even identify lower flying targets at ranges of around 10–20 km. For missile guidance and tracking, the Buk-M3 uses the 9S35 or 9S35M1 "Fire Dome" radar, which is mounted on each TELAR.

Additionally, the Buk-M3 system has provisions for rapid reloading. The TEL reload vehicle for the Buk battery is similar to the TELAR but features a crane for missile loading. These vehicles can launch missiles directly but require the assistance of a Fire Dome-equipped TELAR for missile guidance. A reload vehicle can transfer its missiles to a TELAR in approximately 13 minutes and can reload itself from stores in about 15 minutes.

In essence, the Buk-M3 is a formidable air defense system, combining advanced radar technology, rapid reload capabilities, and the ability to engage multiple threats simultaneously.

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Russian army Buk-M3 air defense missile system. (Picture source Vitaly Kuzmin)

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