Soviet Union Table of Contents
The Ground Forces relinquished control of air defense for their field formations in 1948 when the National Air Defense Forces-- later renamed the Air Defense Forces--became an independent armed service. In 1958, however, Soviet air defense was decentralized again, and the Ground Forces acquired antiaircraft guns and formed tactical air defense units. In the 1960s, air defense became an integral combat arm of the Ground Forces. Since then, Air Defense of Ground Forces has been independent from the Air Defense Forces, although coordination of their respective operations remains necessary.
Air Defense of Ground Forces was equipped with a potent mix of antiaircraft artillery as well as surface-to-air missiles to defend Ground Forces units against attacking enemy aircraft. During the 1970s, the Soviet military introduced five new self-propelled air defense and radar systems into its force structure. In 1989 Air Defense of Ground Forces operated 5,000 surface-to-air missiles and 12,000 antiaircraft guns organized into brigades, regiments, and batteries. As of 1989, combined arms and tank armies had air defense brigades equipped with high-altitude SA-4 surface-to-air missiles. Motorized rifle and tank divisions had air defense regiments with the mobile SA-6 or SA-8 for medium- to low-level protection. Ground Forces regiments had SA-9, SA-13, and ZSU-23-4 antiaircraft gun batteries. Motorized rifle and tank battalions had surface-to-air missile platoons equipped with new low-altitude, shoulder-fired SA-16 and older SA-7 missiles.
Data as of May 1989