Slovakia has recently announced that it will provide Ukraine with two launcher units of the 2K12 Kub (NATO reporting name: SA-6 Gainful) air defence missile systems, along with spare parts and associated equipment. This decision is part of Slovakia’s ongoing support for Ukraine’s defense and security amid Russia’s invasion.
The 2K12 Kub is a mobile, low to medium altitude, surface-to-air missile (SAM) system developed by the Soviet Union in the 1960s. It was designed to provide air defense for ground forces against enemy aircraft and helicopters. The system has been widely used by various countries and has seen combat in several conflicts.
The launcher unit of the 2K12 Kub is armed with three missiles carried on a turntable that can be traversed through a full 360º with the missile elevated on their launchers to a maximum of +85º. When traveling, the turntable is normally traversed to the rear and the missiles are horizontal to reduce the overall height of the vehicle.
The primary missile launched by the 2K12 Kub is the 3M9ME, a two-stage, solid-fuel rocket-powered projectile fitted with a high-explosive fragmentation warhead. The warhead weighs about 56 kg (123 lbs) and is designed to detonate in proximity to the target, causing damage with shrapnel. The missile system typically operates in conjunction with target acquisition radar and guidance radar, which help detect, track, and engage enemy aircraft.
The target acquisition radar is responsible for detecting and tracking potential targets, while the guidance radar provides guidance to the missile, allowing it to home in on the target. The 2K12 Kub system typically features four 3M9ME missiles mounted on a tracked vehicle, allowing for mobility and flexibility in deployment. The system can engage targets at altitudes ranging from 50 to 14,000 meters and has a range of approximately 20 to 25 km.
Slovakia’s donation of these systems is part of its broader commitment to support Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in face of Russian aggression. According to a statement published by the Slovak Ministry of Defense on March 17, 2023, Slovakia has donated €167.8 million in aid to Ukraine since the beginning of Russia’s invasion.
Slovakia’s military aid to Ukraine has included several items, such as:
- The S-300 PMU air defense system, which can intercept ballistic missiles and high-altitude aircraft
- Božena mine-clearing unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs), which can remotely clear explosive devices
- Thirty tracked BVP-1 infantry fighting vehicles, which are based on Soviet-made BMP-1 IFVs
- Five helicopters, which can provide transport and medical evacuation
- Small arms, munitions, and fuel, which are essential for combat operations
In addition, Slovakia has also joined Poland in agreeing to transfer MiG-29 Fulcrum fighter jets to Ukraine’s Air Force. These jets are Soviet-era aircraft that were retired from service by Slovakia last summer. They will help bolster Ukraine’s air capabilities against Russian threats.
Slovakia’s Prime Minister Eduard Heger said that “the process of handing over these fighter jets is closely coordinated with the Polish side, with Ukraine and, of course, with other allies”. He also confirmed that his government had unanimously approved an international agreement on donating MiG-29s via Twitter.
Slovakia’s donation of these systems will likely have positive implications for Ukraine’s defense posture and regional stability. The systems will enhance Ukraine’s ability to defend its airspace against Russian attacks and deter further escalation. They will also demonstrate Slovakia’s solidarity with Ukraine and its commitment to uphold international law.
Moreover, Slovakia’s donation will also contribute to strengthening NATO’s collective security and transatlantic cooperation. Slovakia is a member of NATO since March 2004 and has been actively participating in NATO missions and exercises around Europe. By providing military assistance to Ukraine — a partner country that aspires for NATO membership — Slovakia will help reinforce NATO’s credibility as an alliance that defends its values and interests.