Once we were the first
A few decades ago in the west of our country in its then borders in the settlement of Martsiene Madonsky district of the Latvian SSR among forests, lakes and marshes on the stretch of reinforced concrete slabs, covered with unnecessary eyes, was constructed with a platform of size 100х100 meters. It was intended for a secret product of the Soviet defense industry - long-range unmanned reconnaissance aircraft DBR-1.
Equipped with the same engine as the MiG-25, the drone was larger than a fighter. Taking off from the stocks, he gained a height of about 17 thousand meters and went on reconnaissance according to a predetermined program. For example, he could fly to the UK, take photographs during her flyby with photographic equipment then available and return to the Soviet Union. All this happened in an automatic mode and without obstacles from the air defense of the British.
Upon returning, only the head end, in which the intelligence equipment was located, landed. No one in the world, except for our country, at that time had such a device. In the unmanned theme, as in the field of ballet, the USSR ascended to an unattainable height.
When the Americans and Israelis did not even have unmanned aerial vehicles at all, in our country they were already allowed into the series and even sold abroad to their friends, for example, to Syria. They say that the Syrians, these unmanned complexes are still in working condition. Yes, and we have a complex "Flight" development 1960-s, which in 1970-s went into service, flies so far. Very reliable turned out technique.
In the zone of turbulence
In Soviet times, in motorized rifle and tank divisions had separate squadrons of unmanned reconnaissance aircraft (BSR) in the army - a regiment of unmanned aerial vehicles. When troubled times began in the country, and in our army there was a series of reductions, unmanned aviation was subordinate to army aviation and to the question "who should be reduced - a helicopter pilot or a drone?" The answer was always known in advance. Then the unmanned units were transferred to the Air Force, but this did not solve the problem, since they also tried to save the pilots in the Air Force during organizational measures of the pilots, and in the unmanned units the officers and warrant officers had to look for new places of service or go to the reserve.
Fortunately, domestic unmanned aircraft still managed to save. Relocated at the time from Latvia to the Moscow Region The Interspecific Center of unmanned aerial vehicles underwent another redeployment, was part of one of the training centers of the Ground Forces, but was retained. He exists now. The personnel of the center, headed by their commander, Colonel Valery Frolov, took an active part in showing unmanned vehicles to Russian Defense Minister General of the Army Sergey Shoigu. The development of unmanned aircraft and its use in the interests of the troops today are under special control from the leadership of the military department. It is not by chance that the above-mentioned center is now closed directly to the General Staff. It is necessary to return the positions lost by Russia in the pilotless subject, because while the Russian troika (if you use the image of Nikolai Vasilyevich Gogol) almost got stuck in the impassable 1990-s mud, competitors managed to beat it.
Today, the United States and Israel are in the first positions in the creation and use of UAV complexes. For a long time, we only had the medium-range Reis and Reis-D complexes created in Soviet times, which several years ago were added by the Stroy-P and Stroy-PD complexes (the latter, by the way , very effectively used in the operation to force Georgia to peace in August (2008).
More recently, domestic combat-made unmanned aircraft did not have a clearly defined vector of development. The ground forces needed drones for short and medium range. Even if we take the launch range, for example, “U point”, it still turns out the distance that aviation is of little interest. Aviation requires a different range of intelligence, for 300 km, and do not need UAV-baby, launched from the hand. And Ground Forces do not need long-range UAVs. Because of this difference, for a long time in the military department there was still uncertainty about who should lead the unmanned topic and be responsible for it. And at seven nannies, as is known, a child without an eye. As a result, various paradoxes arose. “Red Star” a few years ago already wrote about this, so for illustration we give only one example.
The Tipchak complex appeared on the order of the gunners, but they could not exploit it, because for this they did not have trained personnel and the organization that could prepare it. After all, it is not enough just to learn how to launch a drone - it is necessary to strictly use the airspace according to the rules, which requires a navigational qualification. And there are no navigators in the artillery.
In general, the uncertainty that existed for a long time led to the situation when the Ministry of Defense reproached the industry for not producing UAVs that meet the requirements of the times. And the “defense workers”, in response, said that the last tactical and technical task from the military department on this topic was received several five years ago.
Nevertheless, taking into account the increased popularity of UAVs in recent years, their design in Russia has not ceased. In 2000's, almost circles of skillful hands created something, called it unmanned complexes, touted them and tried to sell them, that is, get into the state order. For example, in the 2009 year, when on the basis of the center an examination of all the UAVs produced in Russia was carried out, about 20 firms brought their vehicles (then the topic of unmanned aircrafts in Russia was about 30 firms).
Flights were organized to verify the resolution of aerial reconnaissance assets. They exposed the target situation - for example, a moving UAZ, KamAz, a group of soldiers moving on foot, etc. None of the company representatives knew the number and coordinates of these targets — the operators of the UAVs simply “chopped up” the search area, the route, as it is given in combat order. They also checked the accuracy of access to the object of intelligence, other issues. Examination lasted three days, each performed flights on a free schedule. Then only the Tipchak and Stroy-PD complexes flew efficiently. The rest rose into the air and ... fell, because there was no radio communication, or went out of the way. Many vehicles turned out to be useless for accuracy of output to objects of intelligence and accuracy of determination of coordinates. For example, one of these drones gave an error in 300 meters. What would be the use of using high precision with it weapon?
As a result, at a certain stage, the former leadership of the Ministry of Defense decided to purchase Israeli drones. It was impossible to create conditions under which domestic design bureaus would design drones that are not inferior to the best foreign analogues and meet the clearly formulated requirements of the Ministry of Defense.
However, enthusiasts who support the cause, fans of unmanned aircraft continued to work, stuffing cones and gaining experience. And gradually, in Russia, a competitive environment in the field of UAVs (especially short-range and short-range complexes) was formed, which began to interest customers from among the power structures of the country - the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Emergency Situations, the FSB and the Ministry of Defense. So the head of the Russian military department, General of the Army Sergey Shoigu 28 June, was in the training complex of the Taman Division in Alabino something to see.
There is still a lot of work ahead
When, being above the venue of the show at the height of 3.000 m, the medium-range drone "Outpost" led aerial television reconnaissance, the participants of the event on the monitor saw everything that happens on the site - to every person.
The same complex, which took off from the Kubinka airfield, was then also used at a practical demonstration of the use of UAV complexes during the raffle of a special operation to destroy illegal armed groups, which was monitored by the Minister of Defense. In the course of the special operation, UAVs of short-range, short and medium range, made at different enterprises, were lifted into the air. And only one of them was assembled from imported components according to foreign patterns. All the rest - the fruit of domestic design ideas.
With the help of the Forpost, Orlan, Pomegranate, Tachyon, Eleron, Kurs-MM, and Leer unmanned aerial vehicles, engineering reconnaissance of the area and its filming followed by the production of orthophotomaps, intelligence relay, optical-electronic reconnaissance of the area, sources of radio signals were recorded, their location was determined, and their suppression was carried out. The UAVs supplied information to the advanced aircraft manufacturer, on the basis of which Su-24M bombers and Mi-8 helicopters were aimed at, automatically giving out coordinates for artillery targets (self-propelled howitzers and mortars) and corrected its fire.
In addition, representatives of enterprises told, the complexes presented at the show, depending on the payload, can conduct infrared reconnaissance of the area and mine its sections, conduct RCB-reconnaissance. The operator can control them in the manual mode, but even in case of loss of control, the UAVs return to a predetermined point, where they land (most of them with a parachute).
Defense Minister, General of the Army Sergei Shoigu, accompanied by his deputies, commanders of the Armed Forces and commanders of combat arms, heads of the Main Directorate of the Russian Defense Ministry, carefully examined the open and closed parts of the static exposition, not paying the slightest attention to the storm that began during the inspection. Were presented complexes that are on military trials, created on an initiative basis, and also planned for procurement in accordance with the State Armaments Program, designed for the period up to 2020 of the year.
35 complexes with unmanned aerial vehicles and variants of their payload were presented to the head of the military department by the heads (representatives) of 15 domestic enterprises of the military-industrial complex, officers of the Center for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles of the Ministry of Defense, the Research Institute of the Military Department. For example, the head of the Research and Testing Center for Research and Development Prospects for the Development of Engineering Weapons of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation Colonel Yuri Trots reported on the target loads of the UAV complexes in the interests of the engineering support of military operations.
Naturally, the developers talked about the benefits of their products.
“Neither the Americans nor the Israelis have yet a combined day-night payload in electromagnetic suspension with a digital data transmission channel and the possibility of an hour and a half of work,” said Alexander Zakharov, chief designer of the Zala Aero group of companies, about the uniqueness of their products. - And we already have. In complexes weighing up to 10 kg, we can successfully compete with products from the USA and Israel both in price and in tactical and technical characteristics.
“During the inspection, some wishes were expressed to representatives of manufacturing enterprises,” Colonel-General Alexander Postnikov, Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Russia, told Red Star. - Clarified the requirements for payload and for the functionality of UAV complexes.
“We must have a wide range of UAV complexes: for reconnaissance, including electronic and radio engineering, for adjusting aviation and artillery fire, for electronic suppression — in a word, for all tasks assigned to the Armed Forces,” the Deputy Chief of the General Staff noted. . - And of course, the payload that is developed, including in a proactive manner, is very important for us.
In this regard, it should be noted that some of the payload options were presented to the leadership of the Ministry of Defense for the first time.
During the inspection, the problem of the timing of the implementation of the demands made by the Ministry of Defense was touched upon.
“If the reduction of terms does not affect the quality of the products, it means that we have found a common language,” stated Colonel General Postnikov.
It was also important that the manufacturers of the UAV complexes could familiarize themselves with the products of their colleagues, compare them with their own and understand who is at what level. In general, this level, according to the Minister of Defense, is quite high, but there is no limit to perfection, so everyone still needs to work a lot. And the military, planning the use of complexes with UAVs and laying requirements for them, and the developers for their implementation.
The dialogue between the developers and the leadership of the Ministry of Defense was held in a very benevolent atmosphere. The creators of the drones saw the desire of General of the Army Sergei Shoigu and the leaders of the central military authorities to cooperate constructively and at the same time their interest in ensuring that the quality of the products that go to the troops (forces) today and in the future meet the requirements of the customer.
“We want those complexes that will be supplied in the future for the supply of our Armed Forces to be in no way inferior to their foreign counterparts, and surpass them in basic parameters,” emphasized Colonel-General Alexander Postnikov.
I would like to be sure that this goal is also being put at the forefront in defense industry enterprises, striving to create for our army the best reconnaissance-strike unmanned equipment in the world.