9K32 Strela-2 Man-portable Air-defense Systems
9K32 Strela-2 Man-portable Air-defense Systems

Germany to Send 2700 9K32 Strela-2 Man-portable Air-defense Systems to Ukraine

The Reuters news agency reported that Germany Government has approved a shipment of 2,700 9K32 Strela-2 portable shoulder-fired air defense missile systems (MANPADS) to Ukraine. The weapons would come out of the depots once overseen by Soviet-controlled East Germany (the German Democratic Republic, Deutsche Demokratische Republik), which reunited with West Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. 9K32 Strela-2 is a type of weapons that many people in the Ukrainian military would have been familiar with over the years. The German government did not immediately confirm the news.

The 9K32 Strela-2 (NATO reporting name SA-7 Grail) is a lightweight, shoulder-fired, surface-to-air missile (or MANPADS) system. It is designed to target aircraft at low altitudes with passive infrared homing guidance and destroy them with a high explosive warhead. The Strela-2 was a staple of the Cold War and was produced in huge numbers for the Soviet Union and their allies, as well as revolutionary movements. Though since surpassed by more modern systems, the Strela and its variants remain in service in many countries and have seen widespread use in nearly every regional conflict since 1972.

KBM Kolomna 9K32M Strela-2M (SA-7b) missile and canister
KBM Kolomna 9K32M Strela-2M (SA-7b) missile and canister. (Photo by U.S. Navy/NAVSEA)

Germany had refused to send weapons to Ukraine before the Russian government launched its offensive last Thursday. “Russia’s military assault on Ukraine has been “a turning point” for Europe, threatening the international order established after World War II,” according to Chancellor Olaf Scholz. As Russia’s biggest gas customer, Germany had tried to keep Nord Stream 2 out of global politics. Until Russia’s military attack on Ukraine, Berlin ruled out supplying arms to Kyiv, and also turned down requests from allies to send their German-made weapons to the country.

Over the weekend, the German government decided to supply Ukraine with 500 US-made surface-to-air Stinger missiles and 1,000 anti-tank weapons. The FIM-92 Stinger is a man-portable air-defense system (MANPADS) that operates as an infrared homing surface-to-air missile (SAM). It is principally manufactured by Raytheon Missile Systems and is produced under license by European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS) in Germany. The Panzerfaust 3 is a modern semi-disposable recoilless anti-tank weapon, which was developed between 1978 and 1985 and first entered service with the German Army in 1987.

9K32 Strela-2 Man-portable Air-defense Systems
German Land Forces of the National People’s Army 9K32 Strela-2 (Fliegerfaust Strela) Man-portable Air-defense System (Photo by Bundeswehr)

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