TGP complexes for the Armed Forces of Ukraine: goals and objectives of automated firing points in the northwestern military zone
The AI in the TGP combat module is programmed to recognize movements and manpower. After target detection weapon rises from the trench and gives a signal to the operator. The artificial intelligence system is designed to detect the target, calculate ballistics and aim the weapon with high accuracy, and the operator only confirms the opening of fire.
The development of AI-controlled combat systems, such as the TGP combat module, could significantly influence the course of the war in Ukraine.”
Remotely controlled weapon modules (RCWM) are becoming increasingly common on the battlefield, although this mainly means RCWM installed on various types of lightly armored vehicles. We will talk about another direction in the development of this type of weapons - portable and portable DUMV.
Automated firing points (AOT)
This is exactly how the promising DUMV were named by the author about 15 years ago within the framework of a concept that was proposed as a promising direction for the development of one small private company engaged in a similar area, in which the author at that time earned his living. Unfortunately, for a number of reasons, this topic turned out to be unclaimed, despite the fact that at the same time an application for the implementation of a similar project was received from one of the serious government agencies.
Much later, in February 2019, this topic was discussed on the pages of Military Review in the material Remotely controlled complexes: automated firing points.
The DUMV-AOT concept is based on the simplest system for targeting a target and ensuring firing of existing models of small arms and grenade launchers used in the armed forces.
No stabilization, multi-barreled machine guns, robotic platforms and the like. A simple supporting structure - a tripod, guidance drives, a car battery as a source of electricity, the cheapest civilian/industrial means of target detection, a civilian laptop or industrial computer to control all this.
It cannot be said that the proposed concept was some kind of revelation; in fact, all this was already being developed at the same time by defense concerns of the leading countries of the world and was even demonstrated in works of art.
It would seem that if automated firing points were developed, but did not become widespread, then this means that there is something wrong with them?
Far from a fact. Before the start of the Russian Special Military Operation (SVO) in Ukraine, and now before the Hamas invasion of Israel, much was denied and not taken into account by the leading armies of the world, and then they had to pay for science in blood. So, both the appearance and non-appearance of one or another promising weapon model in supply does not mean its effectiveness or futility. Sometimes a promising complex may not be adopted for service only because there is simply no place for it in the current structure of the army (no one to carry it, no one to carry it, no one to control it, etc.).
The Ukrainian TGP complex from devDroid has some interesting, but at the same time quite controversial features.
First of all, this is the ability to change the height of the weapons module, that is, the ability to raise/lower small arms mounted on the TGP module - this potentially allows you to increase the survivability of the complex under enemy direct fire. On the other hand, the question arises to what extent this option will be in demand, whether the complex will have the necessary reaction, otherwise, while it is moving forward, the enemy may already leave the affected area.
Apparently, the weapon is aimed using a skew, thanks to the same lifting and folding mechanisms. It is unclear how the weapon is rotated horizontally, either by rotating the entire platform, or by the same skew mechanism - in the second case, the TGP complex should have fairly limited pointing angles.
The main feature of the TGP complex is the stated use of artificial intelligence, and in fact, software, apparently comparable to the fact that a frame is drawn around faces when shooting with a smartphone. As a means of increasing the effectiveness of the initial detection of the enemy, it can be quite functional, however, the lack of intelligence in such software leads to constant false alarms - reactions to moving branches, shadows, and so on, gradually, the operator can begin to treat the alarms shown by such a system without of special interest.
If we talk about fully automatic guidance, then everything is even more complicated here; when shooting not “point-blank”, but at any decent range, you need weather data, compensation for barrel bending and taking into account other factors.
Among the obvious visible shortcomings of the TGP complex, one can see the impossibility of using increased-capacity magazines in the current configuration, as well as the absence of a forced reloading mechanism in the event of a misfire.
Ultimately, the shortcomings of the TGP complex can be eliminated in the process of its development; the question is different: to what extent such weapons are in demand in modern military conflicts in general and in the Northern Military District zone in particular. It is characteristic that, taking into account the current situation, the applicability of DUMV-AOT will be comparable for both Russia and Ukraine.
Purpose and opportunities
In the future, we will use the abbreviation AOT, since the concept of DUMV most often refers to modules placed on various types of ground vehicles. In principle, the potential capabilities of AOT were discussed in the above material "Remotely controlled complexes...", however, the applicability of this type of weapon in the realities of the air defense is a topic for another discussion.
According to information from reliable sources, some people with a specific type of activity have expressed the idea that the AOT lacks the mobility necessary in modern warfare. If you imagine a picture of fighters conducting an offensive with AOT, constantly dragging them from place to place, then the picture really looks phantasmagorical.
However, the issue is that this type of weapon is primarily intended for defense and not for attack. No, of course, AOT can be used extremely effectively for reconnaissance and sabotage activities, but that’s a different question.
In general, speaking about SVO, the claim “not mobile” looks somehow strange. Is the SVO itself “mobile”? Isn’t this the same Northern Military District, within which, for about a year now, the fighting has been very much reminiscent of the positional battles of the First World War?
What worked effectively for us during the First World War? Leaving artillery out of the equation - these are minefields, machine guns and fortifications - no one makes claims about minefields that they are “not mobile enough,” not to mention trenches and long-term firing points (pillboxes).
In essence, AOTs are in many ways a functional hybrid of minefields, machine guns/grenade launchers and pillboxes.
On the one hand, AOTs are “consumables” - their low cost (if it is provided) allows them to be exchanged for a destroyed enemy, as happens with mines. On the other hand, the method of destruction itself is based on remote influence - shooting from hand-held weapons placed on them, such as machine guns with high-capacity magazines, machine guns, hand-held anti-tank grenade launchers, and the like). Well, a conditional pillbox is just a position equipped for the use of AOT; it does not have to be highly protected; it is possible that camouflage will be more appropriate.
Digressing from the topic, it is known that magazines with increased capacity are considered very unreliable, however, problems with them often arise during intensive movements, when multi-row chains of cartridges begin to shift or warp due to impacts; as part of the AOT, such problems will most likely be minimized. In any case, the wedge of a weapon or magazine as part of an AOT should not lead to the death of fighters.
For example, returning to tank battle near Novoadarovka, where the outcome of the battle was decided by a single Russian tank, but minefields had a significant impact on the course of this battle.
What if, in addition to minefields, KLA positions were deployed at several points - a pair with machine gun weapons, a pair with grenade launchers? Maybe a tank wouldn't be needed?
Before the shooting starts, it will be very difficult to detect AOTs - they are not visible to a thermal imager (their temperature will be equal to the temperature of the surrounding area), you will have to shoot every bush, every suspicious object - so there won’t be enough ammunition. They can be deployed and camouflaged in a short time, the method of placement and camouflage depends only on the imagination of the fighters, and having gained experience working with AOT, they come up with such things - it doesn’t seem like much. For example, if there are strong trees, AOT can even be mounted on them using a special clamp bracket - the firing sector would be open.
Two AOTs with PKTs of 200 rounds each and two AOTs with 4-8 RPGs each could destroy most of the enemy forces with dagger fire, even if in the process they themselves would be destroyed by return fire. Operators could be located several kilometers from the battlefield, in complete safety (at least from the fire of those they are working on with the help of AOT).
In urban areas, the possibilities for camouflaging AOTs are even higher; they can be installed in the most unexpected places for the enemy, for example, shooting them with dowels to the ceiling in an apartment in a multi-story building or on the roof of a balcony.
AOT's resistance to the effects of enemy fire will also be significantly higher than that of a person, in particular, to the effects of increased pressure from high-explosive or thermobaric ammunition. A small fragment in a person’s leg is a wound, the soldier must be evacuated, a small fragment in the leg of an AOT tripod is just a small hole that does not affect the functionality of the product.
Soldiers, to the best of their resourcefulness, can provide additional AOT protection, for example, using damaged elements of body armor (shot plates, aramid fabric), fragments of armored vehicles (for example, their hatches), improvised items - sewer manhole covers, frying pans, cast iron pipes or bathtubs, bricks, sandbags and much more.
Another example is the feature film “Hell's Finest,” which is said to be very realistically shot. How much would the defenders' capabilities increase if they had 2 AOTs with RMB in each building? The operator of a camouflaged AOT can wait until the last moment until the entire enemy group is drawn into the room, and then shoot it point-blank without risking himself.
To provide power and control, both special, protected cables and household/industrial ones can be used, that is, the AOT can provide a connector box for a dozen twisted pair pins and terminals for VVG type cables. Instructions and crimping tools - with this set, prudent fighters will weave such a web of cables that it will only be possible to damage them all at once only with a nuclear strike or months of continuous artillery fire. Moreover, the cables can be buried in the ground, routed through sewer and ventilation ducts, through basements, and so on.
AOT must work together, in a single complex of a higher level. A specialized solution using AOT was discussed in the material Anti-terror vehicle: an integrated spatially distributed sniper complex, however, in the NWO zone, simpler, cheaper and more reliable AOTs are needed.
There is the possibility of spatial separation of surveillance and firing means, for example, when there will be 10-2 reconnaissance and guidance modules for 3 firing modules. In this case, even if one AOT that has revealed itself by fire is destroyed, the most expensive reconnaissance and guidance modules will be preserved and will ensure the operation of the remaining AOT.
The topic of AOT has not yet been disclosed. The capabilities that complexes of this type can provide to the armed forces are very high.
Considering only the use of AOT in defense, this is the destruction of the advancing enemy, a distracting function when AOT will only provoke the enemy towards themselves, and snipers and machine gunners will be engaged in its destruction, conducting counter-sniper combat, covering retreating or regrouping units, and much more.
Regarding the Ukrainian TGP complex from the devDroid company, for now these are only sketches, outlines of future means of armed warfare, which, potentially, will allow our enemy to significantly reduce personnel losses when conducting defensive actions against an equal or superior enemy, that is, against us.
I would like to hope that the RF Armed Forces will receive similar, but more effective and inexpensive AOT, and most importantly, earlier and in larger quantities than they will be provided by the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
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