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Home > Fact Sheets > SA-2 Guide Line Surface-to-Air Missile


Posted 10/23/2009 Printable Fact Sheet

The most imposing and effective radar-controlled threat in North Vietnam was the SA-2 Surface-to-Air Missile. The missile associated with this system is called the Guide Line. Four to six Guide Line missile launchers are normally placed in a 400-foot circle surrounding several missile support vans.

The SPOON REST A is the acquisition radar most commonly associated with the SA-2 site. It is normally located just outside the ring of missile launchers. The SPOON REST A is a very elementary radar. The antenna looks very much like a large rotating television antenna and is mounted on a truck or trailer. Its maximum range is about 70 miles on a target at 15,000 feet.

An S-Band FAN SONG radar is installed in one of the centrally located vans and provides target position data to a computer. It also has the added task of providing individual target position data on as many as three missiles. It must do this at the same time as it is providing target information to a system computer. The requirement for a single radar to track and lock on to as many as four targets simultaneously necessitates that the radar continually look at several points in space. This requirement implies that the FAN SONG searches, or scans, at the same time that it locks on to, or tracks, several targets. This was in fact the case. The FAN SONG technique of locking on while searching is called Track-While-Scan.

The target tracking data that the FAN SONG radar must provide to the missile computer is azimuth, elevation and range. To provide this information, the FAN SONG has two transmitters operating at different frequencies, each feeding an antenna. One antenna produces a sectoring azimuth beam and the other a sectoring elevation beam. The dimensions of each of the beams are 2 degrees by 10 degrees. The 2-degree wide, 10-degree high azimuth beam is scanned right to left for 20 degrees. The 2-by-10-degree elevation beam is scanned up and down 20 degrees. The two sweeping beams intersect to cover a 10-by-10-degree sector.

Source: 388th TFW official history - tactics manual written in part by 469th TFS pilots Maj. John M. Rowan and Maj. Ralph L. Kuster Jr.
Photos: Rolling Thunder Digest (CINCPAC), Edition 6

Click here to return to the 469th TFS index.

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