Algerian Gargoyles

Algeria has reportedly commenced the replacement of its erstwhile S-125 Neva (NATO reporting name ‘SA-3 Goa’) medium-altitude Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) systems, with Russian S-300PMU-2 (NATO reporting name ‘SA-20 Gargoyle’) SAM batteries.

Algeria acquired four S-300PMU-2 batteries from Russiain 2010. According to ImageSat International, which owns and operates the Israeli Earth Resources Observation (EROS) high-resolution imagery satellite constellation, a former SA-3 site in Ouled Fayat on the Algerian coast has been upgraded to accommodate an S-300PMU-2 battery. The site at Ouled Fayat shows what appear to be new concrete constructions and underground bunkers, with the collocated SA-3 site undergoing a similar modification. This would seem to indicate that Algeria expects to retain some SA-3 equipment in service alongside the new S-300PMU-2 systems.

Meanwhile, a site at Reghaia, towards the east of the capital Algiers has undergone similar treatment. The imagery taken of the site at Reghaia depicts new concrete aprons and shelters. However, unlike the site at Ouled Fayat, the previous concrete emplacements for the SA-3 equipment have been covered by the new construction. A unit for S-300PMU-2 training at Boudouaou, to the east of Algiers, is also believed to have been activated.

Algeria is thought to have deployed around 30 SA-3 launchers with its army, and 20 SA-3 systems with the country’s air force. It is believed that the new S-300PMU-2 batteries are deployed with the air force.

Alongside the S-300PMU-2, Algeria is modernising its battlefield air defence with the delivery of 22 Pantsir-S1E (NATO reporting name ‘SA-22 Greyhound’) short-range air defence systems. While these are designed to provide mobile battlefield air defence, they may be deployed in tandem with the S-300PMU-2 batteries with the Pantsir-S1E platforms tasked to provide tactical air defence against any attempt to attack the S-300PMU-2 sites with helicopter gunships, or stand-off precision-guided weaponry.

Alongside the S-125 and S-300PMU-2 systems, Algeria’s combined air defences are thought to include up to 180 9K32 Strela-2 (NATO reporting name ‘SA-7 Grail’) Man-Portable Surface-to-Air Missile systems; 40 mobile 2K12 Kub (NATO reporting name ‘SA-6 Gainful’) short-to-medium altitude SAM tracked vehicles; 24 wheeled 9K33 Osa (NATO reporting name ‘SA-8 Gecko’) and 46 9K31 Strela-1 (NATO reporting name ‘SA-9 Gaskin’) wheeled SHORAD systems; 32 tracked 9K35 Strela-10 (NATO reporting name ‘SA-13 Gopher’) SHORAD platforms; and 24 tracked 2K22 Tunguska (NATO reporting name ‘SA-19 Grison’) combined AAA and SAM battlefield air defence systems.

The air force air defence inventory includes 28 S-75 Dvina (NATO reporting name ‘SA-2 Guideline’) high-altitude air defence systems, and an unknown number of SA-6 vehicles, alongside the SA-3s mentioned above.

Published by Thomas Withington

Thomas Withington is a writer and analyst specialising in electronic warfare, radar and military communications.

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