9K38 Igla

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9K338 Igla-S (SA-24) missile and launch tube.
TypeMan-portable air-defense systems (MANPADS)
Place of originSoviet Union
Service history
In service1981–present
Used bySee Operators
WarsGulf War
Cenepa War
Yugoslav Wars
Bosnian War
Iraq War
Second Chechen War
Somali Civil War
First Libyan Civil War
Syrian Civil War,[1]
Ukrainian Crisis (War in Donbass)
Insurgency in Egypt (2013–present) (Sinai insurgency)
Kurdish-Turkish conflict (2015-present)
Production history
ManufacturerKB Mashinostroyeniya – developer of the system
WeightMissile weight: 10.8 kg (24 lb), Full system: 17.9 kg (39 lb)
Length1.574 m (5.16 ft)
Diameter72 mm
Warhead1.17 kg (2.6 lb) with 390 g (14 oz) explosive
contact and grazing fuzes

Enginesolid fuel rocket motor
5.2 km (3.2 mi)
Flight ceiling3.5 km (11,000 ft)
Speed570m/s[2] (peak), about Mach 1.9
dual waveband infra-red (S-version)[3]

The 9K38 Igla (Russian: Игла́, "needle", NATO reporting name SA-18 Grouse) is a Russian/Soviet man-portable infrared homing surface-to-air missile (SAM). A simplified, earlier version is known as the 9K310 Igla-1, or SA-16 Gimlet, and the latest variant is the 9K338 Igla-S (SA-24 Grinch).

The Igla-1 entered service in 1981, the Igla in 1983, and the Igla-S in 2004.[4] The Igla is being supplemented by the 9K333 Verba since 2014.[5]


Russian soldiers demonstrate use of Igla MANPADS.

The development of the Igla short-range man-portable air defense system (MANPADS) began in the Kolomna OKB in 1972. Contrary to what is commonly reported, the Igla is not an improved version of the earlier Strela family (Strela-2 and Strela-3), but an all-new project.[citation needed] The main goals were to create a missile with better resistance to countermeasures and wider engagement envelope than the earlier Strela series MANPADS systems.

Technical difficulties in the development quickly made it obvious that the development would take far longer than anticipated, however, and in 1978 the program split in two: while the development of the full-capability Igla would continue, a simplified version (Igla-1) with a simpler IR seeker based on that of the earlier Strela-3 would be developed to enter service earlier than the full-capability version could be finished.


The 9K310 Igla-1 system and its 9M313 missile were accepted into service in the Soviet army on 11 March 1981. The main differences from the Strela-3 included an optional Identification Friend or Foe system to prevent firing on friendly aircraft, an automatic lead and super elevation to simplify shooting and reduce minimum firing range, a slightly larger rocket, reduced drag and better guidance system extend maximum range and improve performance against fast and maneuverable targets, an improved lethality on target achieved by a combination of delayed impact fuzing, terminal maneuver to hit the fuselage rather than jet nozzle, an additional charge to set off the remaining rocket fuel (if any) on impact, an improved resistance to infrared countermeasures (both decoy flares and ALQ-144 series jamming emitters), and slightly improved seeker sensitivity.

9K38 Igla (SA-18) missile and launcher top and 9K310 Igla-1 (SA-16) missile and launcher below.

The seeker has two detectors – a cooled MWIR InSb detector for detection of the target and uncooled PbS SWIR detector for detection of IR decoys (flares). The built-in logic determines whether the detected object is a target or a decoy. The latest version (Igla-S) is reported to have additional detectors around the main seeker to provide further resistance against pulsed IRCM devices commonly used on helicopters.

The 9M313 missile features an aerospike mounted on a tripod (Igla's 9M39 missile has aerospike attached directly to the seeker dome), which reduces a shock wave, thus providing less dome heating and greater range. The name Igla is derived from these devices.

Like many other MANPADS, Igla-1 and Igla feature so-called rolling airframe missiles. These missiles roll in flight (900 – 1200 rpm) so steering the missile requires just a single pair of control surfaces, unlike roll-stabilized missiles, which require separate control surfaces for pitch and yaw. Both 9M313 and 9M39 missiles contain a gas generator, which drives a small gas turbine to provide electrical power, and the pistons, which move the canards used to steer the missile in a bang-bang mode. In addition to that, two exhaust tubes of the gas generator are placed perpendicular to the steering canards to provide maneuverability immediately after launch when the missile airspeed is too low for canards to be effective. Later versions of Igla are reported to use proportional control to drive the canards, which enables greater precision and less oscillation of the flight path.

According to the manufacturer, South African tests have shown the Igla's superiority over the contemporary (1982 service entry) but smaller and lighter American FIM-92A Stinger missile. According to Kolomna OKB, the Igla-1 has a Pk (probability of kill) of 0.30 to 0.48 against unprotected targets which is reduced to 0.24 in the presence of decoy flares and jamming.[6] In another report, the manufacturer claimed a Pk of 0.59 against an approaching and 0.44 against receding F-4 Phantom II fighter not employing infrared countermeasures or evasive maneuvers.[7]


The full-capability 9K38 Igla with its 9M39 missile was finally accepted into service in the Soviet Army in 1983. The main improvements over the Igla-1 included much improved resistance against flares and jamming, a more sensitive seeker, expanding forward-hemisphere engagement capability to include straight-approaching fighters (all-aspect capability) under favourable circumstances, a slightly longer range, a higher-impulse, shorter-burning rocket with higher peak velocity (but approximately same time of flight to maximum range).

Brazilian soldier with 9K38 Igla (SA-18).

The naval variant of 9K38 Igla has the NATO reporting name SA-N-10 Grouse.

The Igla–1M missile consists of a Ground Power Supply Source (GPSS), Launching Tube, Launching Mechanism & Missile (9M 313–1).

There is also a two-barrel 9K38 missile launcher called Djigit.[8]

9K388 Igla-S (SA-24 Grinch)[edit]

The newest variant, which is a substantially improved variant with longer range, more sensitive seeker, improved resistance to latest countermeasures, and a heavier warhead. Manufacturer reports hit probability of 0.8–0.9.[9] State tests were completed in December 2001 and the system entered service in 2002. Series produced by the Degtryaev plant since 1 December 2004.[3][10]


Since 2014 the Igla is being replaced in Russian service by the new 9K333 Verba (Willow) MANPADS.[5] The Verba's primary feature is its multispectral optical seeker, using three sensors as opposed to the Igla-S' two. Cross-checking sensors against one another better discriminates between relevant targets and decoys, and decreases the chance of disruption from countermeasures, including lasers that attempt to blind missiles.[11]

Operational history[edit]

Tail section of a USAF A-10A Thunderbolt II aircraft showing damage sustained from an Iraqi SA-16 missile during Operation Desert Storm, 15 February 1991.
Alternate view.


Operation Trishul Shakti (1992)[edit]

28 July – 3 August 1992: Indian Army launched Operation Trishul Shakti to protect the Bahadur post in Chulung when it was attacked by a large Pakistani assault team. On 1 August 1992, Pakistani helicopters were attacked by an Indian Igla missile and Brig. Masood Navid Anwari (PA 10117) then Force Commander Northern Areas and other accompanying troops were killed. This led to a loss of momentum on the Pakistani side and the assault stalled.[12]


Desert Storm (1991)[edit]

The first combat use of the Igla-1E was during the Gulf War. On 17 January 1991, a Panavia Tornado bomber of the British Royal Air Force was shot down by an Iraqi MANPADS that may have been an Igla-1E (or Strela-3) after an unsuccessful bombing mission. The crew, Flt Lts J G Peters and A J Nichol, were both captured and held as prisoners of war (POWs) until the cessation of hostilities.[13][14]

In addition, an Igla-1E shot down an American F-16 on 27 February 1991. The pilot was captured.[15][16]

It is uncertain if an AC-130H lost was hit by a 'Strela' missile or a more recent Igla since Iraq had SA-7, SA-14 and SA-16 missiles at the time, according to the SIPRI database.

From 2003[edit]

During the Iraq War, American and coalition forces suffered a relevant number of helicopter losses. Around a third of them, around 40 aircraft were due to hostile fire, including losses to small arms fire, Anti Aircraft guns, Rocket-propelled grenades and MANPADS; any kind of combat helicopter was shot down from small observation helicopters to armoured Apache gunships. Among the losses to MANPADS, some were reported as losses to older Strela-2 (SA-7) or Strela-3 (SA-14) while others were due to more modern Igla-1E (SA-16) missiles.


Igla-1E missiles were used in the 1994 shoot down of a Rwandan government flight, killing the presidents of Rwanda and Burundi and sparking the Rwandan genocide.[17]

Cenepa War[edit]

During the Cenepa War between Ecuador and Peru, both the Ecuadorian Army and the Peruvian Army (which had 90 functioning firing units) utilized Igla-1E missiles against aircraft and helicopters.

A Peruvian Air Force Mi-25 attack helicopter was shot down on 7 February 1995 around Base del Sur, killing the 3 crewmen, while an Ecuadorian Air Force A-37 Dragonfly was hit but managed to land on 11 February. Hits on additional Ecuadorian aircraft were claimed but could not be confirmed.[18]


During Operation Deliberate Force, on 30 August 1995; a French Mirage 2000D was shot down over Pale by an Igla fired by air defence units of the Army of Republika Srpska.[19] The pilots, Lt. Jose-Manuel Souvignet (pilot) and Capt. Frederic Chiffot (back-seater), were captured and freed in December 1995.[20]


The 2002 Khankala Mi-26 crash occurred on 19 August 2002 when a team of Chechen separatists brought down a Russian Mil Mi-26 helicopter in a minefield with an Igla; this resulted in the death of 127 Russian soldiers in the greatest loss of life in the history of helicopter aviation. It was also the most deadly aviation disaster ever suffered by the Russian armed forces,[21] as well as their worst loss of life in a single day since 1999.[22]


On 26 January 2014, the militant group Ansar Bait al-Maqdis shot down an Egyptian Mi-17 over the northern Sinai peninsula using a suspected Igla-1E or Igla. How the group came to obtain the weapon is currently unknown.[23][24]


During the 2011 military intervention in Libya, Libyan loyalist forces engaged coalition aircraft with a certain number of Igla-S. Three Igla-S were fired against British Apache attack helicopters of the 656 Squadron Army Air Corps operating from the amphibious assault ship HMS Ocean. According to the squadron commander at the time, they were all dodged by insistent use of decoy flares by the gunships who in exchange successfully engaged the shooters.[25][26]

On 23 March 2015, a Libya Dawn-operated MiG-23UB was shot down with an Igla-S (reportedly a truck-mounted Strelets variant) while bombing Al Watiya airbase (near Zintan), controlled by forces from the internationally recognized Council of Deputies. Both pilots were killed.[27][28]

Plot against Air Force One[edit]

On 12 August 2003, as a result of a sting operation arranged as a result of cooperation between the American, British and Russian intelligence agencies, Hemant Lakhani, a British national, was intercepted attempting to bring what he had thought was an older-generation Igla into the United States. He is said to have intended the missile to be used in an attack on Air Force One, the American presidential plane, or on a commercial US airliner, and is understood to have planned to buy 50 more of these weapons.

After the Federalnaya Sluzhba Bezopasnosti (FSB) detected the dealer in Russia, he was approached by US undercover agents posing as terrorists wanting to shoot down a commercial plane. He was then provided with an inert Igla by undercover Russian agents, and arrested in Newark, New Jersey, when making the delivery to the undercover US agent. An Indian citizen residing in Malaysia, Moinuddeen Ahmed Hameed and an American Yehuda Abraham who allegedly provided money to buy the missile were also arrested.[29] Yehuda Abraham is President and CEO of Ambuy Gem Corp.[30][31][32] Lakhani was convicted by jury in April 2005, and was sentenced to 47 years in prison.[33]


Video has surfaced showing rebels using an Igla-1E on a Syrian government helicopter. Such weapons were believed to have been looted from a Syrian army base in Aleppo in February 2013. In 2014, a member of the rebel group Harakat Hazm was filmed aiming an Igla-1E into the air on the same day that the group was filmed operating BGM-71 TOW missiles.[34] Whether these weapons were raided from regime stockpiles or supplied via overseas is unknown.[35] However, Russia reportly denied Syrian demand for Iglas in 2005 and 2007, fearing these weapons to be used by Hezbollah.[36]


On 14 June 2014, rebel forces near Luhansk International Airport in Eastern Ukraine shot down an IL-76 of the Ukrainian Airforce probably using an Igla MANPADS, killing all 49 Ukrainian service personnel on board.[37]

Nagorno Karabakh[edit]

On 12 November 2014, Azerbaijani forces shot down an Armenian Army Mi-24 of a formation of two which were flying near the Azerbaijani border. All three on board died when the helicopter crashed while flying at low altitude and was hit by an Igla-S MANPADS fired by Azerbaijani soldiers.[38][39][40]


On 13 May 2016, PKK militants shot down a Turkish Army Bell AH-1W SuperCobra attack helicopter using 9K38 Igla (SA-18 Grouse) version of this missile system. The missile severed the tail section from the rest of the helicopter, causing it to fragment in midair and crash, killing the two pilots on board. The Turkish government first claimed that it fell due to technical failure before it became clear that it was shot down. The PKK later released video footage of the rocket being fired and striking the helicopter.[41]


An Igla-S missile with its launch tube.

Several variants of the Igla were developed for specific applications:

Export version.
Improved version of 9K38 Igla. Entered service in Soviet Military during the late 1980s.
A version for paratroopers and special forces.
Air-launched version, mainly for combat helicopters.
A version with heavier warhead at the cost of a slight reduction in range and speed.
Export version?
Igla-S (SA-24 Grinch) 
Newest variant with improved range, seeker, resistance to countermeasures, and warhead.[3][10]
Strelets Igla-S / Igla
The Strelets is designed for remote automated firing of the Igla and Igla-S surface-to-air missile by single shot, ripple or in salvo. In service with Syria.[42]
3M47 system (maquette)
3M-47 Gibka
A turret for ships that is equipped with Igla missiles.[43]
Another turret for ships that is equipped with Igla missiles.[44]

Comparison chart to other MANPADS[edit]

9K34 Strela-3 /SA-14 9K38 Igla /SA-18 9K310 Igla-1 /SA-16 9K338 Igla-S /SA-24 FIM-92C Stinger Grom
Service entry 1974 1983 1981 2004 1987 1995 1997
full system,
ready to shoot
kg (lb)
16.0 (35.3) 17.9 (39) 17.9 (39) 19 (42) 14.3 (32) 16.5 (36) 20.00 (44.09)
Weight, missile
kg (lb)
10.3 (23) 10.8 (24) 10.8 (24) 11.7 (26) 10.1 (22) 10.5 (23) 14.00 (30.86)[46]
Weight, warhead
kg (lb)
g (oz)
1.17 (2.6),
390 (14) HMX
1.17 (2.6),
390 (14) HMX
1.17 (2.6),
390 (14) HMX
2.5 (5.5),
585 (20.6) HMX
3 (6.6) HE 1.27 (2.8) 3x 0.90 (2.0) tungsten alloy darts,
3x 450 (16) PBX-98
Warhead type Directed-energy
blast fragmentation
blast fragmentation
blast fragmentation
blast fragmentation
Annular blast fragmentation Directed-energy Directed-energy
Fuze type Impact and grazing fuze. Delayed impact,
magnetic and grazing.
Delayed impact,
magnetic and grazing.
Delayed impact,
magnetic and grazing.
Delayed impact. Impact. Delayed impact, armour-piercing.
Flight speed, average / peak
m/s (mph)
470 (1,100)
600 (1,300)
/ 800 (1,800)
570 (1,300)

(in + temperature)
? 700 (1,600)
/ 750 (1,700)
580 (1,300)
/ 650 (1,500)
1,190 (2,700)
/ 1,360 (3,000)[48]
Maximum range
m (ft)
4,100 (13,500) 5,200 (17,100) 5,000 (16,000) 6,000 (20,000) 4,500 (14,800) 5,500 (18,000) 7,000 (23,000)+
Maximum target speed, receding
m/s (mph)
260 (580) 360 (810) 360 (810) 400 (890) ? 320 (720) ?
Maximum target speed, approaching
m/s (mph)
310 (690) 320 (720) 320 (720) 320 (720) ? 360 (810) ?
Seeker head type Nitrogen-cooled,
lead sulfide (PbS)
Indium antimonide (InSb)
uncooled lead sulfide (PbS)
Indium antimonide (InSb)
? Argon-cooled,
Indium antimonide (InSb)
Seeker scanning FM-modulated FM-modulated FM-modulated FM-modulated FM-modulated FM-modulated Low intensity modulated-laser-homing darts
Seeker notes Aerospike to reduce
supersonic wave drag
Tripod-mounted nosecone
to reduce supersonic wave drag
Low laser beam energy levels ensuring no warning to target


In Slovenian service showing storage crates.

Igla and Igla-1 SAMs have been exported from the former Soviet Union to over 30 countries, including Angola, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria (former producer), Croatia, Cuba, East Germany, Egypt, Ecuador, Eritrea, Finland, Hungary, India, Iran, Iraq, the Republic of Macedonia, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, North Korea, Peru, Poland, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Vietnam and Zimbabwe. Several guerrilla and terrorist organizations are also known to have Iglas. Alleged Operatives of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam a rebel organization fighting for a homeland for Tamils in the island of Sri Lanka were arrested in August 2006 by undercover agents of the FBI posing as arms dealers, while trying to purchase the Igla. In 2003 the unit cost was approximately US$60,000–80,000.

Large numbers have been sold to the government of Venezuela, raising United States concerns that they may end up in the hands of Colombian guerillas.[49] Photo evidence of the truck mounted twin version in service with the Libyan Army emerged in March 2011. 482 Igla-S missiles were imported from Russia in 2004. Some were unaccounted at the end of the civiil war and they could have ended up in Iranian inventory.[50][51][52] Israeli officials say Igla-S systems were looted from Libyan warehouses in 2011 and transported by Iranians through Sudan and turned over to militants in Gaza and Lebanon.[53]

Igla-1E (SA-16)[edit]

Map with SA-16 operators in blue and former operators in red

Current operators[edit]

Former operators[edit]

Evaluation-only operators[edit]

Igla (SA-18)[edit]

Map with SA-18 operators in blue and former operators in red

Current operators[edit]

Former operators[edit]

Igla-S (SA-24)[edit]

Map with SA-24 operators in blue

Current operators[edit]

Failed bids[edit]

  •  Finland: Newer models were offered to the Finnish Army to replace older models in service, but American FIM-92 Stinger was selected instead.[76]

Other uses[edit]

See also[edit]


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