Layout BMP-3 with a new version of the "Age". Photo by Vitalykuzmin.net
Promising guns with a caliber of 57 mm are increasingly being used in domestic projects of armored combat vehicles. Not so long ago it became known about the installation of such weapons to the infantry fighting vehicle "Kurganets-25", then there were photos of such a complex, and now it is being prepared for display on Red Square. This version of infantry fighting vehicles can be of great interest both for our army and for foreign customers.
Early versions of armored vehicles on the Kurganets-25 platform were first shown five years ago. On May 9, 2015, vehicles in the configuration of infantry fighting vehicles and armored personnel carriers with combat modules of two types passed along Red Square. The BMPs were carried by the Epoch / Boomerang-BM remotely controlled combat modules (DBM) with an automatic gun of 30 mm caliber. In the future, the possibility of equipping the Kurgan-25 with other combat modules with other weapons was repeatedly mentioned.
In 2017, for the first time, models of armored vehicles BMP-2 and BMP-3 were shown with a new version of the "Age". It was distinguished from the existing DBM by another gun and an additional missile launcher. Already then the composition of the weapons was announced and the main advantages were named.
In November last year, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said that on May 9, 2020, the Kurganets-25 machine with a new version of the Age Epoch will take part in the Victory Parade. Just a month later, within the framework of the board of the Ministry of Defense, an exhibition was held at which a similar product was present. The "era" with a new cannon and missile weapons of various types was demonstrated separately from the carrier.
Demonstration model of the combat module, December 2019. Shot from the VGTRK report
In March 2020, photos from the first rehearsals of the future parade were freely available. Among other types of equipment, BMP "Kurganets-25" with a new version of the "Age" were present on them. Previously, such armored objects did not fall into the lens of photographers. The first public show was supposed to take place on May 9, but it was postponed to June 24.
The new version of the Epoch DBM for the 57-mm cannon is similar to the previously created product, however, there are significant external and internal changes. They are associated both with the replacement of the gun, and with the introduction of fundamentally new systems. All these measures allowed to increase combat characteristics and expand capabilities in comparison with the base product.
The main and most noticeable novelty is the LShO-57 automatic cannon ("Light assault gun, 57 mm"), created at the Central Research Institute "Petrel". It differs from the well-known 2A91 used in the Baikal DBMS family by a shorter barrel length (about 40 kb) and the absence of a muzzle brake. This design leads to an increase in the height of the trajectory of the projectile, which required the development of new ammunition. Several products of this kind were first shown last year along with the DBM and its gun.
With a “short” 57 mm gun, several types of unitary shots are used, characterized by a shortened sleeve. High-explosive fragmentation and armor-piercing ammunition are proposed. The dimensions of the projectile in the long run allow you to create a programmable fuse.
BMP "Kurganets-25" with new weapons at the rehearsal of the parade, March 2020. Photo by Vk.com/4kantima
The coaxial machine gun in the swing unit is reused. On the sides of the DBM are kept the launchers of guided missiles "Cornet" and smoke grenade launchers. A niche is provided in the aft part of the tower for the advanced launcher of the Bulat light missile system. The combat module, shown last year, carried an installation with 8 transport and launch containers - two rows, 5 and 3 units.
Despite the replacement of weapons, the fire control system as a whole remained the same. DBM has two sights, for the gunner and commander. Unified control panels with instrument units, monitors and control handles are mounted at crew workstations. Probably, the replacement of the gun did not require a major update of the LMS - it only needed new software that takes into account different ballistics.
Wide range of tasks
The basic version of the “Age” DBM, equipped with several weapons of different classes, could hit a wide range of targets at different ranges. An updated version of the module is characterized by broader capabilities of this kind - this is ensured by replacing the main gun and installing additional missiles.
For the destruction of manpower and unprotected equipment or structures within a radius of hundreds of meters, a normal-caliber PKTM machine gun is still used. Most protected targets, such as Tanks or fortifications, at maximum ranges up to 8-10 km, they are hit by Kornet anti-tank missiles with different military equipment.
Front formation. In the foreground - "Kurgan", rear - BMP-2 with a combat module "Berezhok". Photo Vk.com/4kantima
The new LShO-57 cannon compares favorably with the usual 2A42 caliber 30 mm in terms of basic characteristics. Despite the decrease in ballistics in comparison with an alternative sample of its caliber, it surpasses small-caliber systems in firing range and the power of ammunition. There is also the possibility of hitting targets protected by 30 mm systems with an armor-piercing projectile. Along with this, an effective defeat of manpower and other "soft" targets at increased ranges and with an increased radius of destruction of a high-explosive fragmentation shell is provided.
The Bulat missile system is proposed as an addition to the Cornet and LShO-57 and should occupy an intermediate niche between these systems. A small-sized missile has advantages over a 57-mm projectile in the form of the possibility of guidance, a greater range and size of the warhead. Moreover, it is cheaper, more compact and simpler than a full-size rocket of the Kornet complex. Thus, the advantages of a technical, military and economic nature are achieved.
Not only Kurganets
The first show of the updated Epoch on Red Square will take place with the help of the Kurganets-25 BMP. Moreover, such a caterpillar platform is not the only potential carrier of the new DBMS. So, exhibition layouts arr. 2017-18 showed the fundamental possibility of installing the "Age" on the infantry fighting vehicles of old models. This allows you to seriously improve their combat characteristics and provide a certain superiority over a potential enemy.
Rehearsal for the Victory Parade, June 2020. Photo by the RF Ministry of Defense
However, the focus is on new models. Kurganets-25 with the Epoch is already ready for the show. In the recent past, industry mentioned the possibility of installing such a DBM on a Boomerang wheeled platform. However, samples of this kind have not yet been shown to the public. Perhaps they have not even been made yet.
It should be recalled that the "Epoch" with LShO-57 is already the second DBM with an increased caliber gun. Before him, the family of AU-220M Baikal systems with a long-barrel 57-mm gun appeared. Such modules were installed on a variety of platforms. For example, in the current parade two variants of vehicles with Baikal take part - TBMP T-15 and self-propelled anti-aircraft gun "Derivation-Air Defense".
Waiting for the future
To date, the first versions of armored vehicles on the platform "Kurganets-25" have reached state tests. The necessary checks will be completed in the near future, after which the start of mass production and development in the troops is expected. Apparently, the first to enter service are armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles with artillery systems of the old types.
The current state of affairs in the new Epoch project remains unknown - as well as the deadlines for completing the work. The situation is similar with other developments of the promising direction of 57-mm guns. There are a number of armored vehicles with such weapons, but not one of them has yet reached the combat units. However, the equipment is already being demonstrated on Red Square, which can indicate serious success and progress.
The introduction of Baikal and Epoch into mass operation will lead to the most interesting results in the context of combat capabilities. The same applies to technology on new platforms. The newest Kurganets-25 and T-15 infantry fighting vehicles with the new version of the Epoch DBMS find themselves at the intersection of two important areas - and soon the army will be able to use all their advantages. In the meantime, the public is invited to familiarize themselves with the new technology in the parade.