A video published on 31 December confirms that Poland has secretly transferred at least one Osa short-range anti-aircraft system. Since the launcher is covered, it is impossible to confirm whether it is the version modernized in the early 2000s or an earlier version. This is not the first discreet Polish delivery in this field, as a video published at the beginning of December confirmed the transfer of at least one Polish S-125 anti-aircraft system.
A new Polish surprise in Ukraine
On December 5, an image posted on social networks confirmed that Poland had transferred at least one S-125 Newa SC short-range anti-aircraft system (article on the subject) in great secrecy. However, Poland did not stop at this system: since December 31, a video present on Twitter allows to confirm that Poland has also delivered at least one short-range anti-aircraft system 9K33 Osa (SA-8 Gecko).
A variant modernized to NATO standards?
The launcher is tarpaulinized and therefore does not allow to know the exact version of the system. Indeed, in the early 2000s, Poland wanted to upgrade its Soviet launchers, adapt them to NATO standards but also see its supply chain become independent of foreign countries: some spare parts were only available in the Soviet Union, yet Poland no longer wanted to depend on the USSR/Russia.
So, in 2001, the Polish company Wojskowe Zakłady Uzbrojenia S.A. (WZU) introduced an Osa-AKM-P1 Żądło (sometimes referred to as Osa-P). It would be four years before the first modernized Polish mass-produced Osa-P left the factory.
According to WZU, this modernization includes:
- adding a new IFF antenna (located above the acquisition radar)
- adding an electro-optical detection system combined with a laser range finder, enabling passive mode firing (located above the target tracking radar)
- internal : air conditioning, LCD displays, GPS system, modernized electronic systems, etc
- in general, better resistance to passive and active jamming
In 2021, 64 Osa (all versions) were in service with the Wojska Lądowe (Polish Army). It should be noted that this system is not foreign to the Ukrainian military, as the Land Forces Reserve Corps was in 2021, also equipped with an unknown number of 9K33M3 Osa-AKM (modernized version in the 1980s of the 9K33 Osa AK).
The maximum range varies depending on the version of the Osa. The first version has a maximum range of 12 kilometers and 15 kilometers for the later versions. The electro-optical system on the modernized Polish version allows for a passive watch over a maximum range of 20-30 kilometers (depending on weather conditions). It also increases the efficiency of detection of UAVs, many of which are difficult to hook to radar due to the materials used, including resins and plastics.
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