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The new type of missile used by the launcher is more compact than the ordnance used by its predecessors, allowing Buk-M3 to carry a payload of six instead of four missiles. At the same time, the new missile outclasses previous models in terms of its technical characteristics: it can destroy any type of airborne target in existence, can be used against naval and ground targets, and is extremely resistant to electronic countermeasures.
The Buk-M3 carries its payload in launch containers instead of positioning missiles on external rails. This new feature significantly reduces the time between shots as the launcher no longer has to rotate and elevate the missiles in the direction of a new target: the rockets are launched vertically and adjust their trajectory midair.
The new radar employed by the Buk-M3 allows it to detect airborne flying at extremely low altitudes (5 meters and higher), and increases the maximum destruction range of the weapon to 70 kilometers. The tele-thermal imaging target designator used by the launcher allows it to detect and track targets regardless of the time of day and weather conditions.
According to Zvezda TV channel, a division of Buk-M3 can simultaneously track and engage up to 36 targets, with the probability of hitting a target with one missile reaching a 0.9999 percent certainty. The weapon system can also intercept and destroy airborne targets flying at a speed of 3 kilometers per second (for example, the speed of a missile fired by a US-made MGM-140 ATACMS surface-to-air missile launcher doesn’t exceed 1.5 kilometers per hour).
The first Buk-M3 divisions are expected to enter service this year as part of the ongoing general rearmament program, and will provide a considerable boost to Russia’s already formidable anti-air capabilities.
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