Russia celebrates Tor air defense system, offers it to Africa

The Russian media is celebrating the 35th anniversary of the induction into the Armed Forces of the Tor short-range surface-to-air missile system, produced by Almaz-Antey’s IEMZ Kupol and listed among the most popular Russian weapon systems in Africa.

The system provides round-the-clock protection against both fixed-/rotary-wing aircraft and air-launched weapons, as well as against UAVs. The system has undergone several upgrades and is said to be equally effective for shielding the military installations and the civil infrastructure.

Tor air defense system during the recent Army 2021 exhibition

Oleg Salyukov, the Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Ground Forces, last year has called Tor the most effective solution against the drone threat and informed that the new small and cheap missiles were being developed to intercept the small-sized drones. The Tor was also tested against the ballistic missiles.

The Tor system for inducted in 1986 since then has gone through three major upgrades – Tor-M1 (1991), Tor-M2U (2009) and Tor-M2 (2016). Russia is currently offering at the global arms market the Tor-M2E, the modular Tor-M2KM and the Tor-E2 modifications.

The modular version was demonstrated to the African leaders at the 2019 Russia-Africa Economic Forum and was called one of the most popular Russian military systems on the African continent. It can be accommodated into various types of chassis, used as a stationary or shipborne SAM system.

It can be transported by either fixed-wing aircraft or heavy helicopters. The module integrates a target detection system, a guidance system, a round-the-clock backup optical-electronic subsystem and communications assets. The module has up to 8 ready-for-use missiles in 2 canisters. The manufacturer claims that it protects a 700 km2 area against aerodynamic targets and a 150 km2 area — against high-precision weapons.

The latest mobile Tor-E2 SAM can be integrated into any existing air defense system, including those developed according to NATO standards. The ammunition load of one combat vehicle is 16 missiles, which is 2 times more than that of the previous modification.

Tor air defense missile system being tested aboard a Russian navy vessel.

“The list of main features of the new Tor-family systems include high capabilities to counter tactical high-precision weapons and UAVs. It can accurately shoot down aircraft and helicopters, but most important is that the weapon is unrivalled in the interception of guided aerial weapons, including anti-radiation missiles, already launched and approaching the guarded objects. In this respect it exceeds the capabilities of other similar SHORAD systems of the type. Also the Tor is unique in its capability to fire on the move. Finally, the latest Tor-family systems are fully autonomous – to disable the battery you need to destroy all combat vehicles. With most analogue systems it is enough to disable a command post or battery radar”, said the military source.

The Tor has been used by Russia in its operation in Syria. In 2020 the MoD officially disclosed, that these systems had shot down there more than 45 improvised drones.

During the 2020 conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, according to the media reports, Tor SAMs also succeeded in downing unmanned aerial vehicles. Al Jazeera specified in one of its report that, the system was surely capable of “finding and shooting down” the Turkish-produced Bayraktar TB2 drones.

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