The combat department "Epoch" in the KBP workshop, 2013. Shot from the t / p "Serving Russia", t / c "Star", issue. December 15, 2013
In mid-2013, for the first time, information about a promising remotely controlled combat module (DBM) / combat compartment (BO) with the code "Age" first appeared in the public domain. Subsequently, the industry published new data and showed the finished sample. To date, two versions of DBM / BO have been created; patents have been obtained for both projects.
In October of the same 2013, shortly after the publication of the first data, the authors of the Epoch applied for a patent. Document RU 2542681 C1 “Combat compartment of an armored object” was published on February 20, 2015. The authors of the invention appear N.I. Khokhlov, L.M. Shvets, S.V. Timofeev, K.V. Artyushkin, Yu.K. Zernov and A.G. Artyukh. Patent holder - OJSC “KBP named after Academician Shipunov. "
The patent describes the design of BO, made on the basis of a low-profile tower with the most dense arrangement of units. All the main components and devices, including ammunition boxes, are located inside the cap and do not require allocation of space inside the body of the carrier armored vehicle. In this case, all the necessary systems and weapons were used.
Side view of the module from patent RU 2542681 C1
BO from the patent is equipped with a movable unit with an automatic gun and coaxial machine gun. On the sides of the hood are two twin launchers of anti-tank systems. In the frontal part of the tower and on its roof are placed the optoelectronic blocks of the sights of the gunner and commander. It also provides for the installation of smoke curtains, laser radiation sensors, meteorological measurement systems, etc.
A new type of DBM / BO is controlled from the operator’s gunner’s workstation located inside the armored vehicle’s body. The fire control system should provide for the observation and search of targets, their automatic tracking and calculation of data for firing.
The patent notes that the proposed design of the fighting compartment has significant advantages over existing ones, including serial. The special architecture and equipment provide enhanced combat and operational characteristics, as well as increase the level of crew protection. To install such a BO does not require large volumes inside the carrier, and its small dimensions help reduce external projections and reduce vulnerability in battle.
View from above. Visible basic layout solutions and placement of units
The real "Epoch" combat module, built in accordance with the patented project, is equipped with an automatic 2A42 gun, a PKT machine gun and the Kornet anti-tank system. Like that weapon, repeatedly tested in other projects, supplemented by modern electronic means.
At the Army-2017 forum, the Tula KBP showed several models of promising equipment, including new version of BO "Epoch". It differed from the already well-known composition of equipment and weapons. Measures were taken to increase the combat and operational characteristics.
An application for this version of the “Combat compartment of an armored object” was submitted to the Patent Office in November 2018. Patent RU 2703695 C1 was published on October 21, 2019. This time, the patent holder is Russia represented by the Ministry of Defense. The inventors - N.I. Khokhlov, L.M. Shvets, O.A. Borovykh, S.V. Timofeev, Yu.K. Zernov, B.V. Burlakov, K.V. Artyushkin, S.V. Tokarev and A.V. Evsin.
The second version of BO, enshrined in patent RU 2703695 C1. Significant changes are noticeable - first of all, a new machine gun cover (18), the presence of a hatch for the second ATGM (10) and an air intake grille (19)
Some of the main features of the architecture of the BO remained unchanged. Saved compact cap; all units are located outside the carrier machine. There are also machine gun-cannon and missile weapons, as well as various means for controlling it. At the same time, the design of the tower was finalized, including to complement the weapons complex with new means.
In the central part of the hood, a swinging installation for automatic guns is maintained. The machine gun is carried outside the tower and placed at its port side in a separate casing. ATGM launchers are stored on board the BO. The roof of the product is still given for the installation of sighting and other devices.
The main innovation is an additional missile system. In the aft niche of the tower, on the port side, a shaft with a double hatch is provided. It houses a retractable launcher for guided missiles of smaller caliber. In the stowed position, it is located inside the protected volume; before starting - it moves out.
The new BO is able to improve the running characteristics of the equipment. On the right on the roof of the tower there is an air intake window. Through the internal volumes of the fighting compartment and the overhead space, atmospheric air should be supplied to the power plant. Due to this, the ford depth increases, overcome without the risk of flooding the air intake device.
Like the previous version, the new version of the BO from KBP should ensure the growth of the combat and operational characteristics of existing and promising light armored vehicles. It retains part of the advantages of the first modification, and also gets new features.
The second version of the "Epoch" was shown at exhibitions in the form of a layout; its main features were also revealed. It is proposed to use the LShO-57 57-mm automatic low-ballistic gun as the “main caliber”. The machine gun and the main anti-tank systems remain the same. Aft retractable launcher is designed for the promising Bulat complex with a small-sized guided missile.
From patent to product
The first materials on the “Epoch” were published in 2013. Later new messages appeared, and in 2017 the first information about future production and deliveries arrived. The first contract for the supply of new combat modules / combat units was signed at the Army 2017 forum.
Layout BMP-3 with the module "Age" of the second version. Photo Bastion-Karpenko.ru
In accordance with the new contract, the KBP should modernize the BMP-3 infantry fighting vehicles with the installation of the Epoch BO. The quantity, cost and delivery time of new products were not specified. Also, the complete set of modules was not revealed. The first batch of upgraded BMP-3 was intended for experimental military operation.
At the beginning of 2019, the leadership of the Ministry of Defense reported that an experimental batch of BMP-3 with the "Age" to enter the army before the end of the year. It was also planned to conclude a new contract for the supply of over 150-160 BMP-3. Whether they will receive a promising fighting compartment has not been specified.
At the very end of last year, the Ministry of Defense held an exhibition of promising samples. At this event, for the first time openly showed a new version of the "Age" with a 57-mm cannon and two missile systems. Near the module itself, its ammunition was demonstrated.
Interesting news arrived in early January 2020. The press service of the Ministry of Defense announced that this year the ground forces will receive a number of new models of equipment. Among them there is a batch of upgraded BMP-3s with the Epoch combat module. It is reported that a modification with a 57 mm gun and machine gun was used. Probably, it was a batch of equipment that was expected last year, but was delayed for one reason or another.
New products at the exhibition in December 2019. In the foreground - Bulat and Kornet missiles. Shot from the report of the t / c "Russia 1"
Thus, after several years of waiting, the army still receives the required modernized armored vehicles with the desired combat and operational capabilities. The batch of updated BMP-3 will allow to conduct tests and draw conclusions. With a favorable development of events, all this will lead to the adoption of the "Epoch" into service.
Results of the upgrade
A lot of time has passed since the first information about the Epoch project appeared. For a number of reasons, the new development has not yet reached full operation in the army, and it only has to enter military trials. However, the available information shows that time was not wasted, and industry used it to obtain the most interesting results.
The first version of the BO / DUBM “Epoch”, materials on which appeared since 2013, proposed new solutions of a layout and other nature, but the increase in combat qualities could be insufficient. As a result of this, a second project appeared with a more powerful gun and two ATGMs. This time it was possible to combine the benefits of a layout nature and seriously improve fire performance.
According to the latest news, in the current modernization of the BMP-3, the second version of the "Epoch" with a modern 57-mm cannon, as well as the Cornet and Bulat missiles, is used for experimental military operation. Apparently, it is precisely this option of the combat compartment that is considered by the military as a promising model for rearmament. It has serious advantages over the previous version of "Epoch" and is of much greater interest. And this fully justifies the existing time delay.