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Eastern Europe and Central Asia , Aircraft and Anti-Aircraft

Russia's New BUK-M3 'Viking' Air Defence System; Capabilities and Export Destinations

April 16th - 2018

Image Credit : arms-expo.ru

Russia's Rostec Arms Corporation has begun to promote one of its latest air defence systems for foreign sales - the export variant of the BuK-M3 surface to air missile system designated 'Viking.' Rosoboronexport Deputy CEO Sergei Ladygin stated regarding the capabilities of the new missile system and its potential for export: "It is good news for our foreign partners. The Viking keeps the best qualities of the famous family of antiaircraft missile complexes BuK and is a new development in medium-range air defense weapons. Producers equipped it with unique characteristics corresponding to modern requirements in troops and infrastructure protection from strikes by modern and prospective air attack means in conditions of electronic and fire counteraction. Viking is unrivalled on the global arms market at present."

While it lacks the range of systems such as the S-400, the BuK-M3 is near impossible to evade and can be relied on to destroy all manner of enemy aircraft including stealth platforms with a single missile. The platform retains a range of 65 km and can attack six targets simultaneously, while retaining 18 ready for launch guided missiles at a fire position of two combat units. A battery of BuK-M3 missiles can track and engage 36 targets simultaneously. The platform's advanced 9R31M missile is able to reliably target all existing missiles and aircraft within its range including highly maneuverable platforms such as the F-22 Raptor and F-15 Eagle - with highly sophisticated countermeasures to prevent electronic jamming. The BuK-M3 can engage low flying targets, as well as land based naval surface targets, the latter two due due to its vertical launch capability. 

The BuK is a highly mobile system, and is able to rapidly redeploy to enhance its survivability against air and missile attacks. The M3 variant is notably distinguishable from its predecessor the M2 by its missile canisters, similar to those used by the S-300 system. Sergei Ladygin stated regarding the precision of the weapons system: "BuK-M3 operational in the Russian army and its Viking export option performed highly efficiently in operations and exercises. Viking enjoys high hit probability of aircraft, attacking elements of precision weapons, tactical ballistic and cruise missiles, as well as sea and ground targets."

One notable strength of the Viking system is its ability to engage many types of target and integrate additional components to enhance its capabilities. To provide long range surface to air attack capabilities for example, the weapons system can integrate Antey-2500 missile systems which will extend the weapon's range to 130 km - though such missiles lack the precision of the BuK's shorter ranged missiles. For states lacking longer ranged missile platforms such as the S-300, the ability to integrate longer ranged anti aircraft capabilities on a relatively low cost platform remain invaluable. Another considerable asset of the Viking system which makes it highly suitable for export is the ability of its combat command post to integrate with other radars and air defence systems - including those of foreign origin. Pakistan or North Korea for example could potentially use the BuK in a complementary role to coordinate with the capabilities of their respective HQ-9 and KN-06 long range missile systems - platforms of Chinese and Korean origin.

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