TOR intercepts, but the UAV operator with quick reflexes escapes

The Russian Tor-M2 mobile air defense system detects the Ukrainian drone, which is already at a low altitude relative to the air defense. The Tor-M2 operator activated his weapon and fired a missile at the Ukrainian drone.

At the same time, however, the Ukrainian drone operator exhibits a lightning reflex. Seeing the rocket, the Ukrainian man gently rubs the horizontal tear of the drone he controls, and with a slight movement to the right, changes the drone’s position in the air by centimeters. The missile fired by the Tor-M2 whizzes past the drone to the left and misses.

Remarkable video. The fact is that since the beginning of the war, we have seen all sorts of videos and evidence of the capabilities of the two warring powers in Ukraine. But it’s very rare to see footage like this, showing just how focused a drone operator must be. And what reflexes must he have to complete the task at hand.

TOR intercepts, but the UAV operator with quick reflexes escapes
Video screenshot

Ukraine says

The Security Service of Ukraine, which posted the video on its official Facebook account, claimed that it was this Tor-M2 system of the Russian Armed Forces that was destroyed. “A TOR tried to shoot down our kamikaze drone. But the pilot saved the drone – in manual mode, he moved away from the missile, and then “captured” the target and caught up with the enemy’s air defense system, which wanted to escape,” said says a post to the video.

What model the drone was – the Ukrainian representation does not say. There are different assumptions. For example, one of them is that it was a kamikaze drone. Another suggestion is that it was a Shark reconnaissance drone. To argue the second is based on the fact that Shark has a crosshair, which can be seen in the clip. But if Ukraine’s claims are true that the drone “caught up with the Tor-M2” and destroyed it, it was likely a kamikaze drone.

Not good at all

As they write about the case in the US, such a video would hardly sell Tor-M2 to a new customer. Especially after claims from Moscow that this system would handle drones. Another minus of the Tor-M2 from the specific situation is the inability to hit the drone from a short distance. But, let’s remember – the drone was in manual mode navigated by an operator, so the human factor cannot be excluded. I.e. any system can fall into such an unpleasant situation if it is not the system that controls the situation, but there is another factor.

Russia sent 15 Tor-M2 SAMs and engineering equipment to Belarus
Photo credit:

Russia did not comment on the incident, but an interview from the past brings us back to it. At the beginning of the year, Alexander Mihailov, who heads the Bureau of Military-Political Analysis, expressed his concerns that the Tor-M2 is vulnerable when it stops moving. Just like in the video. Mikhailov then emphasized to the Russian media that when the system is at rest, it is easier to destroy.

In fact, Mikhailov’s logic is correct. A moving target is much more difficult to destroy than a stationary one. However, Tor-M2 demonstrates a possibility – the system’s radar has clearly detected the drone in the air, even at such a low altitude, and has taken action to eliminate it. Why and how this does not happen, we have already explained.

Tor-M2 radar

Speaking of the radar, let’s explain exactly what it is in the Tor-M2 system. This is a PESA-type radar – passive electronically scanned array. This is also logical to assume since Russia only recently began to acquire technical knowledge in the development of the other type of radar – AESA – active electronically scanned array.

TOR intercepts, but the UAV operator with quick reflexes escapes
Video screenshot

The Tor-M2 radar is a G/H range pulsed Doppler radar. It has only 570 phase switches. It should be noted that this particular radar uses linear polarization. If the video shared was the basic version of Tor, it means that the radar can also pick up the drone, but only it. I.e. the old Thor radar only hunted one target, and if there was a drone attack from a swarm the system would be destroyed much faster.

However, in the video it is Tor-M2. I.e. according to the new characteristics of Russian engineers, the new radar has additional fire control channels, as well as improved fire control computers. Thus, Tor-M2 can hit up to four targets. The pre-M2 version, ie. However, the M1 can hit up to two targets.


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