Military Review

Automation of towed artillery: a proposal from VNII "Signal"


Guns 2A65 "Msta-B" and their crews from the 150th motorized rifle division of the Southern Military District, May 2019

The artillery of the Russian ground forces is based on a variety of self-propelled systems. At the same time, thousands of towed guns, howitzers and mortars of various calibers remain in the troops. Towed guns have some features that limit their combat potential and scope. To improve the key characteristics and capabilities, it is proposed to develop and implement a unified set of communication and control facilities.

Latest news

RIA reported on new proposals for the development of artillery on March 31 News with reference to the press service of the VNII Signal (part of the High-Precision Complexes holding). The company has studied the needs of the army and the capabilities of technology, and now comes up with a proposal to create new communication and control systems.

It is noted that towed artillery systems have significant problems at the level of preparation for firing. The calculation and data entry for firing and guidance has to be done manually, which complicates the integration of guns into general control systems. At the same time, the nature of the use of modern artillery provides for the acceleration of all processes, incl. due to the high degree of automation and the associated benefits.

The gunner prepares the 2A65 howitzer to fire

Specialists of VNII "Signal" studied the possibility of increasing the efficiency of towed systems by introducing automation tools of the type used on ACS. Studies have confirmed the fundamental possibility of creating such systems and obtaining the desired results. In the coming years, the enterprise plans to carry out development work and create a set of unified equipment for installation on existing tools.

The nature of the project remains unknown. VNII "Signal" does not call it initiative, but does not mention the order from the Ministry of Defense. The military department has not yet commented on the new messages. Perhaps all the topical issues will be clarified in the future.

Technical Proposal

The project from VNII "Signal" provides for the full inclusion of towed artillery in the Unified Tactical Control System (ESU TZ) of the ground forces. Integration into these circuits should be carried out using the Automated Targeting and Fire Control System (ASUNO). For this purpose, the automated control systems "Machine-M", "Falsett-M" and "Kapustnik-B" developed by VNII "Signal" or other existing and promising models can be used.

Manual work at the command post

Obviously, the new control system should include means to monitor the battery and battalion operation. Also, communication and data processing devices are needed to be mounted on tools. Details of this kind have not yet been reported, although some of the ways to automate combat work are being clarified.

It is proposed to equip towed guns with manual guidance with electric drives for automatic guidance according to incoming commands. These devices were tested when creating new models of self-propelled artillery and confirmed their qualities. Such drives added to the implement do not interfere with the use of handwheels and do not place additional stress on the flywheels.

The new devices are planned to be made as a unified set. Devices from its composition can be installed on weapons of different types, which will make it possible to do without the production of specific components for each of them.

Actual situation

Despite the active development of self-propelled artillery, towed systems retain a noticeable presence in the Russian army. According to The Military Balance 2021, over 500 MT-12 cannons are currently in use in various branches of the armed forces, approx. 200 howitzers 2A65 "Msta-B", more than 120 guns 2B16 "Nona-K", about 50 items 2A36 "Hyacinth-B", as well as at least 800 mortars of various calibers in towed and transportable versions. In addition, more than 14 thousand guns of all classes are in storage.

In the control loops of artillery fire, "manual labor" is still preserved. It is used to process incoming data and generate guidance data. Preparation for a shot, from loading to aiming, is also carried out manually. All these processes take time and reduce the overall performance of the department, as well as lead to unnecessary risks for the entire department.

For comparison, the total number of self-propelled guns reaches 2 thousand units. Despite the smaller number, they have more capabilities. Advantages over towed systems are provided both by the ability to move independently and by the availability of modern communication and control facilities.

In the course of planned repairs and modernization, the available ACS of the current models receive equipment for inclusion in the ESU TK. Artillery units are equipped with modern command posts with all the necessary automation equipment.

Desired benefits

The creation and implementation of a unified set of controls will significantly increase the potential of towed artillery. For a number of key indicators, the gun will be able to get as close as possible to the SPG. The only exceptions are mobility and rate of fire, which do not depend on control principles.

Modern artillery uses all available reconnaissance means, including UAVs

The full inclusion of a self-propelled gun / battery / division in the ESU TZ will expand the capabilities of artillery and increase the speed. It will be possible to collect data from all possible sources and the fastest possible delivery of target designation, incl. to the level of a specific battery or weapon. Automatic positioning, calculation of guidance data and direct aiming will help to avoid problems associated with the human factor.

An increase in the accuracy and accuracy of fire is to be expected. Automated controls will be able to more accurately perform the necessary calculations. In addition, the automation will have to quickly determine the displacement of the gun after the shot, carry out an additional calculation and more accurately restore the aiming.

The proposal of VNII "Signal" will ensure that all the desired results are obtained only by re-equipping existing weapons and without producing new ones. It is important that we are talking about unified instruments and devices for the entire range of artillery systems. All this will allow a hypothetical modernization to be carried out within a reasonable timeframe and at an affordable price.

Artillery control complexes 1V126 "Kapustnik-B" from VNII "Signal", made on different chassis

However, the need for such an upgrade of towed artillery can be a topic of controversy. The proposed measures make it possible to significantly improve the combat qualities of howitzers and mortars, making them a more successful addition to the self-propelled guns. On the other hand, the number of potential carriers for new equipment is limited, which may make modernization impractical.

By now, VNII "Signal" has completed some work, but further development of the unified set will take some time. By the time all the remaining measures are completed and the kit is adopted for service, the number of towed guns may decrease - and again raise questions of expediency.

An ambiguous perspective

VNII "Signal" comes up with an interesting and promising proposal, but its prospects are still unknown. The Ministry of Defense did not comment on the proposed concept in any way, did not support or reject it. Perhaps such messages will appear in the near future - official or from unnamed press sources.

It should be noted that any decision of the Ministry of Defense will not lead to disastrous consequences and will be in one way or another useful for the army. If a potential customer shows interest in Signal's developments, then in the middle prospect the towed artillery will become more effective and will be able to more fully complement the self-propelled artillery. The negative decision of the military will not allow modernizing the available howitzers and mortars. However, in this case, the development of artillery will not stop - but will continue through the direction of self-propelled guns.
Photos used:
VNII "Signal", Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation
21 comment
Dear reader, to leave comments on the publication, you must sign in.
  1. rocket757
    rocket757 April 2 2021 06: 11
    It is noted that towed artillery systems have significant problems at the level of preparation for firing. Calculation and data entry for firing and guidance has to be done manually, which complicates the integration of guns into general control systems.
    There was a topic recently ...
    It is clear what needs to be done, to supply the troops and apply !!! What else can we say ??? Remind that everything should be simple, effective, high quality ... everything.
  2. silberwolf88
    silberwolf88 April 2 2021 07: 52
    A very, very necessary topic ... BUT one thing surprises ... and why the initiator of the industry ??? ... where is the contribution of the Research Institute of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation responsible for strategic development ... based on an analysis of trends in the conduct of hostilities ...
    1. Tavrik
      Tavrik April 2 2021 16: 44
      They will either not object and agree, or they will say that the troops do not need this.
      There is no reason to expect any revelations and strategic directions from them.
  3. strannik1985
    strannik1985 April 2 2021 08: 18
    Similar proposals, only without drives, are already 20 years old, but things are still there. And most of all, the situation with the mortar batteries of the SMB is embarrassing - the main tool for supporting the infantry, it is fully used in low-intensity conflicts and there is no movement from the Ministry of Defense negative
    1. cat Rusich
      cat Rusich April 3 2021 21: 56
      Quote: strannik1985
      the situation with the mortar batteries of the SMB - the main tool for supporting the infantry, is fully used in low-intensity conflicts and no movement from the Ministry of Defense negative
      Mortar batteries "work" in the interests of a company or battalion (my vision for the role of mortars) because of their short range.
      For mortars, a network of gunners in a battalion company is needed that has modern means of communication and observation (for example, UAVs), and a clear understanding of who will request battery fire (for example, a platoon commander from a company collides with a firing point or an enemy group, and independently without a company commander requests fire from a mortar battery at provided coordinates ...)
      A separate topic is the Tulip mortar (M-240) - this is already a "siege weapon" and it is better to use them during a siege, when the enemy will not move anywhere and is deeply buried.
  4. Hagen
    Hagen April 2 2021 08: 41
    It is proposed to equip towed guns with manual guidance with electric drives for automatic guidance according to incoming commands. These devices were tested when creating new models of self-propelled artillery and confirmed their qualities.

    A few days ago, the topic was discussed. I think that the current clarification of the principles of modernization of towed guns will dispel the doubts of some commentators about the optimality and usefulness of the planned measures. The army is more and more moving towards the automation of combat processes and the use of network-centric control technologies, even on weapons of previous generations. It is gratifying.
  5. Mikhail m
    Mikhail m April 2 2021 09: 04
    Automatic positioning, calculation of guidance data and direct aiming will help to avoid problems associated with the human factor.
    Automation, of course, is a good thing, but it tends to fail when exposed to the enemy. The question arises, will the human factor, accustomed to automation, be able to work effectively in its absence? An example is civil aviation pilots losing manual control skills.
    1. strannik1985
      strannik1985 April 2 2021 10: 58
      The question arises

      Not relevant, now towed artillery without automation is very vulnerable to counter-battery combat.
  6. Denimax
    Denimax April 2 2021 10: 20
    It would be nice to adapt the towed weapons for firing without uncoupling from the towing vehicle.
    1. Sergey Aleksandrovich
      Sergey Aleksandrovich April 2 2021 11: 59
      This is if the chassis are 4-wheeled, roughly like anti-aircraft guns. It would be nice to install some mortars like "Vasilka", AGS-57 or "Nona-K" on such chassis, equip them with armored shields and an electric drive. With an electric drive, they will be useful both at stationary posts and at outposts. The four-wheeled chassis will allow you to immediately open fire in the event of an enemy attack on the march. Anything is better than clumsy "gantrucks" to fence.
      At stationary posts and firing positions, the assessment will be convenient, the gunner can be in cover or even remotely.
  7. Stalnov I.P.
    Stalnov I.P. April 2 2021 11: 06
    I think this is a good decision to use this artillery, we do not fully know how modern warfare will develop and Syria is a model for this. Artillery is massively used there, but this is a small war, and where there is a big war, small wars are possible. All forces will be thrown into a big war, and then artillery will be needed in a small war. By the way, this will also apply to aviation, missile troops and other means that have old systems in storehouses. It is not for nothing that WE put them in stock.
  8. Sergey Aleksandrovich
    Sergey Aleksandrovich April 2 2021 12: 14
    It is very tempting to install the MT-12 "Rapier" for direct fire and control it remotely by means of an electric drive, unless the loader will take risks, and even then not every time.
  9. czes
    czes April 2 2021 12: 31
    It is high time to bring all the artillery up to modern requirements.
  10. Dmt
    Dmt April 2 2021 12: 48
    Often, such upgrades are much more expensive than building from scratch. Plus, it will most likely provide for the impossibility of manual data entry / guidance, which the Ministry of Defense will never do.
  11. Abrosimov Sergey Olegovich
    Abrosimov Sergey Olegovich April 2 2021 15: 55
    However, electric actuators will require a power source. So these will be batteries, but then how will they be periodically recharged in field conditions? From tugs? Or will you have to carry special generators? Or how?
    1. Tavrik
      Tavrik April 2 2021 16: 56
      We cling to the cannon some kind of pribluda with motors for guidance. Then the second one with a computer, data transmission equipment and a radio station for receiving data from the command post and with a navigator. We connect the first with the second. Then we put the third next to it to power the first two. And all this must be deployed / rolled up and transported on something. Well, the loader, essno, has not been canceled.
      In short, an automated warehouse: I pressed a button, you clap a bag on your back from the rack. and you ran with him. winked
  12. Reserve buildbat
    Reserve buildbat April 2 2021 17: 16
    Everything seems to be fine, but for some reason it resembles an "unmanned abrams". He aims and shoots himself, and the negro charges. Only here the "negros" not only load, but bring them in, put them in a firing position, then transfer them to the marching position and take them away. Somehow it is not very clear to me. I'm not an artilleryman though.
    1. Sergey Aleksandrovich
      Sergey Aleksandrovich April 5 2021 12: 03
      There are several times when the use of towed artillery is preferable. For example, if you need to transfer an artillery battery by air, then several guns will fit into a transport plane at once, a tug can be found on the spot, and an ACS may not fit at all. In the Airborne Forces there are no airborne self-propelled howitzer guns, but there is a towed howitzer and a NONA-K mortar gun. At stationary posts, especially in the mountains, there may not be a place for an ACS, but a mortar or a small cannon will fit, and automatic aiming at targeted points will also be possible there.
  13. Lara Croft
    Lara Croft April 4 2021 00: 09
    Most likely, they are going to form new connections - MSD and ABR., For all of them the SG may not be enough, so they decided to somehow modernize the BG.
    The example of the APU after losses in "boilers" is similar ....
    The USA and Great Britain have no BG in heavy compounds ...
    And we have here the newly-made 150th MSD (see photo) of the 8th OA and not all of them are provided with the SG. Looks like the BHAV choice is small, and the industry does not have time ... (IMHO) ...

    I support the idea itself, the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation and the National Guard will not lose anything, the whole point is in the formula expediency + price ...
  14. Andrei Nikolaevich
    Andrei Nikolaevich 10 May 2021 10: 23
    I read it. That I looked at the doors.) Here you can't do without a military university. Although, in general terms, something is clear.
  15. storm
    storm 10 May 2021 10: 54
    The topic of modernizing artillery is very relevant, especially in light of the massive use of electronic reconnaissance and counter-battery warfare.
    The coordinates of the artillery battery are calculated in 7-10 minutes after the first shot, therefore, in addition to automating the guidance means, it is required to install the guns on the mobile platform.

    The most budgetary option is a 6 * 6 or 8 * 8 car chassis.
    At the same time, in addition to automated guidance devices, the weapon should have an automated loading mechanism with an ammunition capacity of 12-20 shells.
    This is the salvo that the self-propelled guns will manage to fire even before the first shell hits the target.
    After this volley, the self-propelled guns should quickly change position and there, replenishing the ammunition of the loading mechanism, prepare for a new fire strike.