“Needle” (GRAU index - 9K38, codename for NATO or US Defense S-18 Grouse (translated as “Scottish grouse”) - Soviet and Russian portable air defense missile systems designed to hit low-flying enemy air targets on follow-on and counter courses under influence false thermal interference. The complex entered service in 1983 year.


The Needle entered service with the troops of the Russian Federation, the CIS countries and from 1994, it began to be exported to more than 30 countries, including Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Serbia, Vietnam, Croatia, Slovenia, Montenegro, Poland, Finland, Germany, Iraq , India, Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea, Syria, Mexico and Brazil.

MANPADS "Igla" photo

The creation of a fundamentally new model of the complex began in 1971 in Kolomna. The main developer is the KBM of the USSR Ministry of Defense Industry (the chief designer was responsible for the project - SP Invincible). At the same time, the thermal GOS was developed by LOMO (chief designer - OA Artamonov). The main tasks were to create a rocket with high resistance to countermeasures and high combat effectiveness (more perfect than the previous generation of the Strela type).




In general, the “Needle” had a typical device for MANPADS. The main components of the complex:

  • Power supply 9B238 (ground).
  • 9М39 rocket in the launch tube 9П39;
  • The 9P516-1 trigger mechanism with a ground-based radar interrogator of the “own – alien” type 1Л14-1.


The 1Л15-1 portable electronic tablet is used as a targeting tool.


Modification "Needle-1"


“Needle-1” (according to the NATO classification - SA-16 Gimlet (translated by Gimlet), GRAU index - 9K310) is a simplified version of the P3РК. Entered service in 1981 year.


Advantages of Ingla-1 over Strela-3:

  • In order to improve the guidance dynamics of an anti-aircraft guided missile at the pre-meeting point, an additional scheme was introduced into the thermal seeker that forms a command to rotate the rocket at the beginning of the flight and an electronic switch of the two “in” / “towards” modes.

  • To reduce the aerodynamic drag, a small conical fairing was placed in front of the thermal seeker, which was fixed on the 3 inclined rods. It forms a kind of "tripod". To improve the dynamic characteristics of the rocket, a destabilizer was installed in a plane that was perpendicular to the aerodynamic rudders. The use of blade stabilizers, in the transport position adjacent to the lateral surface of the tail part of the rocket body, made it possible to rationally use the volume of the launch rocket, which was previously occupied by folded pen stabilizers.

  • In order to ensure the post-launch reversal in the steering compartment of the rocket, compact pulsed solid-fuel engines were installed. In warheads (warheads) missiles used explosives, characterized by increased high-explosive effect. Fuse Zour had a vortex generator (induction sensor), providing undermining the warhead during the passage of the rocket next to the metal plating of the target. With a direct hit, the warhead blast is produced by a backup contact fuse. A tube with an explosive is introduced into the fuse in order to transfer detonation from the charge of the warhead to the charge of the first explosive generator installed on the anti-aircraft missile to undermine the remaining fuel of the cruise engine.

  • The launching unit of the "friend-foe" 1Л14, which was responsible for the automatic blocking of the launch of an anti-aircraft guided missile against a friendly target, was built into the trigger. With an azimuth resolution of 20-30 degrees 1Л14, it recognized the targets with an accuracy of at least 0,9, which practically excluded the likelihood of launching a rocket along its objects. But, due to the large width of the antenna pattern (up to 70 degrees in elevation and up to 30 degrees in azimuth), and also due to the presence of the rear lobes of such a diagram, 1Л14 could work from flying in the vicinity of its plane and block the rocket launch to the enemy. In such cases, the shooter may disable the start lock.

  • As for the external differences, here it is worth highlighting the blunted conical front cover of the launch tube and the location of the power supply and power supply at an angle to the longitudinal axis of the launch tube.

  • The Needle-1 supplemented the PEN (portable electronic tablet) 1Л15-1 by the commander of the anti-aircraft gunnery unit and the first with proposed scientific research institutes MO and intended to notify the commander of the compartment of the surrounding air situation in the square 25-X25 kilometers. The presence in this square of the target, to which the offices of anti-aircraft gunners and the points of the structure of information sources were attached in the rectangular coordinate system, as well as the position of the air target, was displayed on the tablet by igniting the corresponding target position of the light indicator component. As a source of information for the tablet, air defense points in the “division-regiment” link (PPRU-1, PPRU-1М, PU-12, PU-12М), “Dome” or P-19 radar, used on the PU chief of the air defense of the division equipped with telecode equipment for the removal and transmission of information ASPD-U. A prototype tablet could provide a steady target acquisition from PU-12М at distances of at least 10 kilometers. The tablet was tied to the terrain by the commander of the anti-aircraft gunners unit using a compass on the reference point specified with the PU-12M, which ensured the reception of coordinates of air targets with an accuracy not worse than 1000 meters in the range of 5-25 degrees in azimuth. Errors of target designation without a tablet (issued via a radiotelephone from the PU-12 control panel to indicating directions to the enemy’s cardinal on the cardinal points relative to the PU-12М standing point) were up to 5 kilometers in distance and up to 40 degrees in azimuth. The tablet reflected up to 4 targets with marks of their nationality, as well as the course of the object’s flight relative to the position of the anti-aircraft gunners.

MANPADS "Igla" characteristics

The advantages of the Igla portable anti-aircraft missile system over the Igla-1

  • Increased range of destruction of air targets on a collision course due to increased prelaunch sensitivity of the missile homing head. The possibility of destruction of winged targets.

  • The possibility of fighting on the catch-up and oncoming courses with promising and modern air targets in the conditions of their use of artificial thermal interference, creating a crucial device.

  • A single trigger mechanism that provides launch and guidance on the target of the missiles of both the Igla complex and Igla-1.

  • Guidance is not directly in a durable engine, and in the rest of the body, and the use of unspent fuel to explode.

  • Electronic tablet for pre-selection of air targets by arrows and commander, which eliminates the likelihood of a sudden appearance of targets. Due to the earlier start of the battle provides a greater range of fire.

  • A contactless fuse significantly exceeds foreign options, since it operates on a metal target, which eliminates any types of false targets that are ejected in large quantities and quickly, creating a dense physical cloud (it requires re-capture the target) that goes with high speed, especially the curtain arises directly between the target and the rocket (bundles of foil for blinding a radar station, as well as physically carrying out other frequency bands, but the effect from them will be short-lived, since the target is capable of evrirovat with high overload, constantly interfering IR-traps, additional reflectors, optical interference from various sources). In the case of firing at non-metallic targets, it is important to get rid of assault aircraft, which hits direct fire with high-power and low-value ammunition, and not shoot down plastic low-speed UAVs with almost similar efficiency.


The use of modern thermal seeker with cooling made it possible to use to reduce aerodynamic drag a graceful needle-like structure, rather than a “tripod”, which is used on the Ingla-1 rocket. Such a technical solution was invented by KBM experts before information about the use of the aerodynamic “needle” on the American-made Trident-1 rocket appeared in free access.

MANPADS "Igla" modifications

The complex provided for the destruction of air targets on catch-up and head-on courses, shooting at time intervals from 0,3 s and more thermal interference with the total radiation power exceeding the target radiation power up to 6 times. When shooting targets with thermal noise on catch-up and oncoming courses with volleys or singly (up to 6 pieces in a salvo), the average probability of hitting an air target by one 9М39 SAM over an overflight zone - 0,24 when firing toward and 0,31 when shooting towards you. In such conditions, the “Needle-1” is practically inoperable.


The main external difference of the Igla portable anti-aircraft missile system is the expanding conical front part of the launch tube.


Modification "Needle-S"


Igla-S (according to the classification of NATO and the United States of Defense - S4-24 Grinch, GRAU index - 9K338) is the successful combination of the Igla-D and Igla-N with many technical improvements. The engineers had increased the mass of the warhead, the possibility of firing air targets such as low-flying CU and UAVs. The probability of hitting the target - 0,8 - 0,9. In 2001, the complex passed state tests. He entered service in 2002 year.


Optional equipment


Support-launcher (OPU) "Dzhigit"


The main advantage of the "Dzhigit" pilot-launch unit consists in the possibility of a salvo launch of missiles with one shot. The control center is equipped with 2-s “Igla” launchers, means of its own maintenance and diagnostics, an external preliminary indication of “friend-foe”, and training facilities.

MANPADS "Igla" 4343

With a salvo launch of missiles, the probability of hitting a target on average increases one and a half times.


Set "Sagittarius"


It is used to provide automated remote sequential, single launch of “Igla” missiles from various air, sea and land-based carriers.


When placed on 2 and more modules, salvo launches of 2 missiles on one air target are possible.


Other modifications:

  • Needle-D is an option for the Airborne Forces with a collapsible launch tube.

  • Needle-In - for arming ground equipment and helicopters. Added block that provides the possibility of joint operation of two missiles.

  • Needle-N - a new missile defense system is used, with a more powerful warhead, which seriously increases the probability of destroying enemy targets.

  • Needle-1M, "336-24" - modifications of the Ukrainian production of Igla, Igla-1 MANPADS with a modified missile seeker (increased noise immunity and range). Manufacturer - "Ukroboronservis."


Combat application


A radar interrogator in the form of a "C" -shaped superstructure used by the Slovak Air Force, which are equipped with Igla MANPADS.


During the civil war in El Salvador, partisans of FNFM shot down one AC-47 fire support aircraft and an A-37 attack aircraft using Igla air defense systems. The air force of El Salvador, fearing MANPADS, flew at low altitude, where the aircraft came under another threat - destruction with the help of small arms.

MANPADS "Igla" photo

During the civil war, fighters from the Sandinista People's Army in Nicaragua fired from a Igla MANPADS on a DC-6 cargo plane that dropped weapons to Contra militants.


During Operation Desert Storm (1991 year), four Harrier aircraft were shot down. In addition, one F-16C was destroyed.


During the Bosnian war, the Serbs shot down a Mirage-2000RN fighter from the Igla MANPADS.


In the autumn of 1995, Indian troops struck from the Igla MANPADS against the Pakistani SA.316 Lama helicopter. As a result, several high-ranking military personnel were killed.


During the Karabakh war, 2 Azeri MiG-21 fighters were shot down by XGUM "Igla".


In Chechnya, 4 (according to other 6 sources) Russian helicopters, including the Mi-8 with a commission of the General Staff (among the victims are 13 people, of whom 2 is general), and another Mi-8, carrying high-ranking officials (among of the dead was the Deputy Minister of the Interior of the Russian Federation M. Rudchenko, the deputy commander of the internal troops N. Goridov) and, probably, the Mi-26 carrying the military (116 of the dead).


In Georgia, the Wahhabis bought the entire 8 MANPADS "Igla". In 2003, 3 of Igla MANPADS, militants, were seized, several organizers of attacks on helicopters were arrested and killed. In 2005, the last “Needle” was seized from them.


The Igla MANPADS has been used by Iraq since 2003 for the purpose of opposing coalition forces. It is known that in the fall of 2003, the UH-60 Black Hawk, owned by the Americans, was shot down from it.


In winter, 2014 of the MANPADS shot down an Egyptian military helicopter in the Sinai region. Responsibility for the attack lies on the grouping "Jamaat Ansar Beit al-Magdis."


During the civil war in Syria, at least two aircraft were shot down (Mi-17 helicopter and Su-24 bomber).


Armed conflict in the east of Ukraine. It was used by the rebels of the LC and the DPR against the Ukrainian Armed Forces.


In the autumn of 2014, with its help, the Azerbaijani military shot down an Armenian Mi-24 helicopter in the region of the line of contact of the troops (this was a training flight).

MANPADS "Igla" 43434

In the spring of 2016, the Amian military shot down an Azerbaijani Mi-24 helicopter (in combat flight) in the area of ​​the line of contact of troops.


In the middle of the spring of 2016, the armed formations of the Kurdish PKK received a strike from a MANPADS on a Turkish AH-1W helicopter Super Cobra.


MANPADS "Igla" in movies and computer games:

  • Battlefield 2 (named "Needle").

  • Battlefield 3 (called SA-18 "Needle").

  • Battlefield 4 (named exactly as in the previous part).

  • Ka-52 Team Alligator.

  • Xenus: Boiling Point (called Igla MANPADS)

  • Arma 2 (Igla MANPADS).

  • Warface (SA-16).


In addition, “The Needle” is mentioned in one of the series of the Russian TV series “Truckers”, where the main characters carry boxes with these weapons disguised as profiles for PVC windows.


Performance characteristics


Let us compare the main indicators of the main version of the “Needle”, as well as its simplified version and the famous American Stinger MANPADS, which also appeared in service in the 1980s.


9K310 Needle-1

9K38 "Needle"

FIM-92C “Stinger”

Gross vehicle weight, kg




Warhead weight, kg




Maximum range, km




Maximum rocket speed, km / h





If you believe these indicators, at the time of the appearance, the Stinger are distinguished by high power and are a faster rocket. But it is worth noting that fire control by means of an electronic tablet was not foreseen by American engineers. Stinger's homing head was also equipped with a system to counter heat traps, but, in general, it was achieved with complex information processing systems.


In military terms, MANPADS can be considered equivalent - although no one has yet succeeded in igniting a civil war or turning the tide of a military campaign with the help of one Stinger.


It is noteworthy that the ease of operation and assimilation of both American and domestic MANPADS resulted from the fact that they were initially considered as a means of conducting special operations and guerrilla warfare.


The British Bloupile MANPADS demonstrated the opposite approach. He surpassed all analogs in noise immunity and was all-weather. But he had a more complex and long-lasting training program for rocket engineers, who must have an appropriate level of qualification and constantly maintain it at the proper level.


The portable Igla air defense system became an important achievement of the domestic industry and rightly enjoyed high popularity (most countries which did not buy Stinger chose igloo).

But now, this development is becoming obsolete.


Since 2014, the new “Verba” MANPADS has entered service. According to experts, this system is a continuation of the development of the decisions that were laid in the “Needle”, so this is another confirmation that the right qualities had been incorporated into the complex in the 80s. Yes, and "igloo-S" do not plan to withdraw from production.

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