Military Review

Modern modernization options ZSU-23-4 "Shilka"

In connection with the adoption of the anti-aircraft cannon-missile complex 2K22 "Tunguska" in 1982, the serial construction of anti-aircraft self-propelled units ZSU-23-4 "Shilka" was stopped. By this time, the troops had a similar technique of several modifications, the newest of which was ZSU-23-4М3. According to reports, over time, most of the remaining "Shilok" troops went through modernization to the state of "М3" and in this form continued to serve until the cancellation.

The project of modernization ZSU-23-4М3 was created in the late seventies, which accordingly affected the achieved performance. The appearance of the new complex "Tunguska", in turn, led to a complete halt in the development of the Shilka project. However, after some time, new options for upgrading old anti-aircraft self-propelled guns appeared. Since the late nineties, work began on the modernization of this technology through the use of new equipment. Two new projects can significantly increase the combat potential of outdated equipment and extend its service life.


In the second half of the nineties, the Ulyanovsk Mechanical Plant proposed an original concept for the development of outdated systems of the Shilka family. Due to some improvements in the design and installation of new equipment, it was planned to significantly improve the performance of combat vehicles, making it possible to use them in modern armed conflicts. In addition, the upgrade of self-propelled on-board equipment made it possible to increase their maintainability through the use of modern elemental base.

Modern modernization options ZSU-23-4 "Shilka"

The new anti-aircraft self-propelled modernization project received the designation corresponding to the previously used nomenclature - ZSU-23-4М4 or “Shilka-М4”. The main part of the work to create this project was undertaken by the Ulyanovsk Mechanical Plant. He had to develop an updated complex of radio-electronic means, as well as master its release. In addition, the project attracted the Belarusian company "Minotor-Service", which was supposed to upgrade the base chassis and its units.

As part of the modernization project ZSU-23-4М4, the existing equipment loses most of the existing equipment, instead of which it is proposed to install a new one. In particular, instead of an analog computing device, it is proposed to use a digital computing system. In addition, a new fire control system is used. Also in the project there were some other improvements. The use of new equipment allowed to significantly improve the performance of the combat vehicle, as well as reduce the volume required for its placement. So, the radar-instrument complex of the old “Shilok” was located in seven cabinets. In the “M4” project, only five cabinets are allocated for this equipment.

During the modernization of self-propelled gun "Shilka-M4" retains the basic principles of combat work. Like the previous machines of the family, the new ZSU-23-4М4 must monitor the situation and make an attack of the targets with the help of a radar fire control system. Antenna radar target detection is still located in the aft of the tower.

It is proposed to include equipment for receiving external target designation and data output via the telecode channel as part of the on-board electronics. This equipment provides for joint operation with the battery assembly command post, which expands the combat capabilities of both the individual combat vehicle and the entire formation. For example, it is possible to simultaneously fire at one target with five self-propelled guns.

Another important innovation of the ZSU-23-4М4 project is the training device of the radar operators, with which personnel can be trained without the use of third-party tools.

All used improvements are designed to increase the combat effectiveness of individual machines and batteries. The ability to communicate with the battery command post and obtain third-party target designation allows integrating anti-aircraft self-propelled guns into the general structure of the military air defense and, as a result, expanding the information field of the air situation. The updated digital equipment of the combat vehicle has a higher performance in comparison with the electronics of previous models, which reduces operating time and also allows for faster processing of data and carrying out an attack.

Unlike its predecessors, Shilka-М4 can work in a difficult jamming environment, as well as effectively detect targets at low altitudes. Also, the automation of the complex independently takes into account the meteorological conditions, the wear of the gun barrels and other factors affecting the trajectory of the projectiles.

The upgraded combat vehicle has several new modes of operation. First of all, it is necessary to note the possibility of automated operation of an anti-aircraft gun under the control of a higher command post. In the training mode of the radar operators, automatics can imitate work in difficult conditions. In this case, the screens display information about several (no more than five) targets. Simulation of passive and active interference is also possible.

In order to significantly improve the combat performance of the updated self-propelled gun ZSU-23-4М4 gets guided missile weapons. In the aft part of the tower, it is proposed to mount two “Strelets” launchers with mounts for four transport-launch containers of “Igla” missiles. Launchers have their own vertical guidance drives. Azimuth guidance is performed by turning the entire tower. The initial elements of the ground equipment of the Igla complex are not used. Their functions related to target search and fire control are performed by existing anti-aircraft self-propelled electronic equipment.

The Shilka-M23 ZSU-4-4М4 project only implies the modernization of existing equipment, since the Shilka family combat vehicles have long been discontinued. At the same time, however, the project provides for some measures aimed at extending the service life of equipment. So, during the manufacture of a promising anti-aircraft self-propelled unit it is supposed to overhaul all components and assemblies that cannot be replaced with new ones. In addition, outdated hardware units, etc. dismantled and installed in their place new. All this allows to significantly extend the life of the machine, ensuring its further operation.

During the upgrade to the state of "М4", no major alterations of the basic design are made, thanks to which the updated self-propelled gun keeps dimensions and weight at the level of the basic model. In addition, the previous characteristics of mobility remain.

The new radio-electronic equipment allows the Shilka-М4 to detect the target and take it to tracking at distances up to 10 km. When the combat vehicle is integrated into the system of military air defense, this parameter increases significantly. When working together with the battery command post and third-party detection tools, the range at which the target is detected increases to 34 km.

During the modernization of the ZSU-23-4М4 retains the old artillery armament in the form of a quad 2A7М assault rifle 23 mm. These guns can be guided in any azimuth direction with an elevation angle from -4 ° to + 85 °. With an initial velocity of the projectile at 950-970 m / s, effective shooting is possible at a distance of up to 2-2,5 km. Reach height - 1,5 km. Ammunition - 2000 shells on all four guns. With the available characteristics, automata can be used to attack air targets moving at speeds up to 500 m / s.

When using 9М39 “Igla” guided missiles, the maximum target destruction range is increased to 5-5,2 km, height - to 3-3,5 km. The maximum speed of the target, depending on the angle, reaches 360-400 m / s. The target is hit with a high-explosive fragmentation warhead. On the two launchers of the tower are placed four containers with 9М39 missiles. According to some reports, four more missiles can be transported inside the car and mounted on the launchers after the ammunition set is ready for use.


Simultaneously with the Shilka-M4 project, a modernization option was proposed under the designation ZSU-23-4М5. Like the previous project, it was created in the framework of cooperation between enterprises of the two states. At the same time, in view of the different composition of special equipment, Minsk NPO Peleng was attracted to the development of the M5 self-propelled guns. It was to develop and supply some new equipment intended for use as part of a fire control system.

The ZSU-23-4М5 modernization project is based on the same ideas as the ZSU-23-4М4, but receives a number of new equipment. Both combat vehicles have the same fire control systems, weapons, etc. The only difference between Shilka-М5 is the presence of an optical-location channel as part of the fire control system. Due to this, a certain expansion of the combat capabilities of the self-propelled guns is ensured, since the optical-location system is capable of ensuring combat operations even under conditions of strong interference that impede the radar station.

In the project "Shilka-М5" it is proposed to equip the self-propelled gun with an additional television viewfinder and laser rangefinder. This equipment is integrated with other onboard systems, due to which the crew has at its disposal a set of optical and radar facilities that complement each other.

The proposed optical-location systems allow you to monitor the situation, to find targets and take them to support at any time of the day without serious restrictions on meteorological conditions and other factors. In addition, the characteristics and overall performance of the television reticle are enhanced by the parallel use of radar. As a result, a TV viewfinder with a range finder and a radar station, duplicating each other, increase the likelihood of tracking a target with further shelling using cannon or rocket weapons.

Self-propelled anti-aircraft installations ZSU-23-4М4 and ЗСУ-23-4М5 have the same dimensions and mobility characteristics. There are also no differences in the characteristics of the range and height of the targets hit, their speed, etc. Thus, the only major difference between the two combat vehicles is the composition of fire control systems. In the case of the “M5” project, a universal complex with a radar and optical channel is proposed, which in some situations can provide greater efficiency of combat work in comparison with the equipment of the “M4” machine.


The general public first learned about new Shuilka ZSU-23-4 retrofit projects in 1999. At the MAKS exhibition in Zhukovsky, a prototype of the Shilka-M4 was shown, which at that time was being tested. In the future, this car was repeatedly demonstrated at other exhibitions. In addition, over time, a prototype of the Shilki-M4 joined the prototype of the M5 project machine.

Two new projects are of great interest to potential customers, since they allow updating the equipment available to the troops with minimal costs, significantly increasing its characteristics. At the same time, a very interesting appearance of a combat vehicle consists of several main components. First of all, it is the maximum possible use of original components with minimal changes. During the modernization of the new projects "Shilka" in the basic configuration should undergo repairs, as well as preserve the main structural elements, including weapons.

Increased performance is achieved through the complete processing of onboard radio-electronic systems with the replacement of outdated analog equipment with modern digital equipment. As a result, new modes of operation appear, including the possibility of effective use of weapons in a difficult jamming environment. Finally, the projects imply the introduction of some completely new equipment into the equipment of the combat vehicle. These are launchers for guided missiles in both new projects, as well as an optical-location system in the ZSU-23-4М5 project.

The proposed projects for the modernization of the Shilka self-propelled self-propelled guns are of particular interest to many countries, which are still armed with such equipment. Not all of these countries have the opportunity to write off existing ZSU-23-4 and replace them with newer equipment. The proposals of the Ulyanovsk Mechanical Plant, Minotor-Service, and NPO Peleng, in turn, make it possible to seriously upgrade the fleet of equipment without the major costs associated with buying completely new cars.

Nevertheless, as far as is known, the ZSU-23-4M4 and ZSU-23-4M5 projects have not gone beyond demonstrations of prototypes at exhibitions. Despite all the efforts of the developers, so far no one has expressed a desire to upgrade their equipment to the Shilka-M4 or Shilka-M5 modifications. This technique so far exists only in the form of several prototypes. When there will be contracts for a similar modernization of anti-aircraft self-propelled guns - until the end it is not clear. Perhaps the active development of combat aviation and aviation weapons observed in recent years, will be an incentive for some states. However, it cannot be ruled out that two interesting projects will not become the subject of contracts for the modernization of technology.

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  1. Parsec
    Parsec 29 September 2015 06: 15
    A TOV with a discriminator in conjunction with an OLS would solve many problems and improve the installation capabilities qualitatively.
    1. Civil
      Civil 30 September 2015 19: 29
      And how did Shilka show themselves in Chechnya? Especially in urban battles and mountain? Maybe something like this is now urgently needed in SYRIA?
  2. Volga Cossack
    Volga Cossack 29 September 2015 06: 42
    the modernized one will still serve - all in the case.
  3. 31rus
    31rus 29 September 2015 06: 54
    To this modernization add "Sanguine", a separate complex, or try to assemble it on one chassis, that would be a modernization, another question is why there are 2 missiles, there are 4 missiles, it would be 8, a new ammunition is needed for "Shilka" this is my opinion of the "couch strategist"
    1. The comment was deleted.
    2. Good me
      Good me 29 September 2015 07: 26
      Quote: 31rus
      To this modernization add "Sanguine", a separate complex, or try to assemble it on one chassis, that would be a modernization, another question is why there are 2 missiles, there are 4 missiles, it would be 8, a new ammunition is needed for "Shilka" this is my opinion of the "couch strategist"

      And "Willow", instead of "Arrow", would be quite in its place ...

      And given that both MANPADS are "almost the same", then the interchangeability of launchers can be envisaged ...
      1. Castor
        Castor 29 September 2015 19: 36
        Quote: Good Me
        And "Willow" instead of "Arrow"

        Yes, perhaps this would greatly expand the possibilities of combat use.
  4. da Vinci
    da Vinci 29 September 2015 09: 27
    On the ZSU-23-4M5 modification (pictured), there are no MANPADS installations.
  5. KBR109
    KBR109 29 September 2015 09: 38
    In case of extreme need to saturate the battle formations, this will do too (especially with "VERBOY"). But most likely it will be an attempt to sell outdated equipment to poor third world countries. Which is also reasonable.
  6. Kalmar
    Kalmar 29 September 2015 09: 41
    It was always interesting: isn't it dangerous to carry the Needles outside like this? In a real battle, they can quickly deteriorate from shrapnel and small arms fire. If only they made a protective box around them.
    1. GRAY
      GRAY 29 September 2015 11: 37
      Quote: Kalmar
      If only a protective box made around them.

      It makes no sense. It's early there radar antenna - you can’t close it.
      1. Kalmar
        Kalmar 29 September 2015 14: 40
        It makes no sense. It's early there radar antenna - you can’t close it.

        Isn't there an optical detection / guidance channel? Moreover, the "Needles" are still not guided by the radar (or am I not aware of something?).
        1. GRAY
          GRAY 29 September 2015 15: 52
          Quote: Kalmar
          Isn't there an optical detection / guidance channel? Moreover, the "Needles" are still not guided by the radar (or am I not aware of something?).

          The optical channel plays the radar in all respects except stealth.
          At a minimum, you need to deploy the launcher towards the target. If the target is fast, low-flying, then in the absence of a radar a serious bummer can come out.
          Even the ground installations of the latest versions have a special tablet that receives information about the location of air targets, which includes recognition of one's own or another's. You can of course without it, but it will be less effective.
          1. Castor
            Castor 29 September 2015 19: 23
            Quote: GRAY
            in all respects except stealth.

            And noise immunity. The article says this.
            It would be very good to add not just optical, but thermal imaging, as in Yugoslavia they shot down F-117s. Then you can work day and night.
            1. GRAY
              GRAY 30 September 2015 00: 34
              Quote: Castor
              And noise immunity. The article says this.

              Weather can also be a hindrance to optics.
          2. Kalmar
            Kalmar 29 September 2015 23: 21
            The optical channel plays the radar in all respects except stealth.

            I do not argue. This, of course, is about using it as a backup, i.e. the failure of the radar does not make the machine completely unworkable (although its capabilities are significantly limited). But the failure of missiles is a completely different matter, without them the whole idea loses its meaning.
  7. Geser
    Geser 29 September 2015 12: 05
    I am very glad that "Shilki" remain in service! In the modernized version, "Shilka" becomes even more dangerous both for aviation and for the enemy ground forces. "Shilki" is in service with many armies, which means that our gunsmiths can receive orders for modernization. It would also be good to test the modernized Shilka in Syria, you can both supply the new Shilka to the Syrians and upgrade the Shilka that the Syrian army has. But first of all, our troops need the new Shilka.
  8. Roman 1977
    Roman 1977 29 September 2015 12: 05
    Well, here you can recall the Ukrainian version of the Shilka-ZRAK Donets modernization, which is a combination of the modernized turret from the ZSU-23-4 and the chassis of the T-80UD diesel tank. Outside the tower, on its sides, there are two paired transport and launch containers with missiles from the Strela-10M air defense missile system. The missiles, which have an autonomous passive homing system, are capable of striking aerial virgin lands with a range of up to 4500 m and an altitude of 3500 m. The Shilka artillery unit, consisting of four 23-mm anti-aircraft guns, has been left unchanged, but the ammunition load has been increased from 2000 to 4000 rounds. The old radio sight has been preserved, supplemented by a new digital fire control system. An external target designation system and a navigation system are installed.

    The North Koreans acted more radically, they followed the path rejected by the Soviet designers - they installed 30mm submachine guns and a modified radar on the Shilka (the radar's "plate" became larger and slightly changed its shape). True, for reasons of mass, ammunition transport and the internal layout of a slightly altered turret, it was not possible to put four barrels, it was necessary to limit ourselves to only two machine guns.
    Naturally, the range of destruction of air targets immediately and dramatically increased, from 2 to 4 kilometers (covered area, respectively, - in 4 times), but the density of fire significantly subsided. Compared to Tunguska, two 2А38 (M) automatic machines which are able to release up to 5000 rounds per minute - the North Korean machine is three times more modest, around 1600 rounds per minute on two automatic machines, which raises serious doubts about the ability of the installation to reliably hit targets at extreme ranges.

    Cubans did not disappear from the beaten track of modernization of the Shilka SPAAG by screwing MANPADS to them. The temptation to increase the firing range of the system is too great (especially if the "capture after launch" algorithm is implemented), and given the independence of most MANPADS in terms of missile guidance after launch, it turns out, in practice, a multi-channel combat operation.

    The Iranians did the same, installing MANPADS on Shilka and calling it Soheli
    1. Roman 1977
      Roman 1977 29 September 2015 12: 23
      At the Aero India 2015 exhibition, the Indian-Israeli version of the modernization of the ZSU-23-4 Shilka was presented. The modernized Shilki are equipped with a new radar with a phased array, computers, an electro-optical fire control system and a new power plant. As part of the modernization, overhaul and installation of new equipment is being carried out, including air conditioning systems, RHBZ and communications. It is assumed that the modernization will extend the service life of the Indian Shiloks by 15 years.

      Having mastered their own production of the Thunder MANPADS based on the components and technologies of the Soviet Igla MANPADS, Polish enterprises pair this MANPADS with the ZSU-23-4, under the name ZSU-23-4MP "Biala"

  9. Denis DV
    Denis DV 29 September 2015 16: 20
    And in Syria, "Shilki" on the ISIS infantry standards work bully
    1. Castor
      Castor 29 September 2015 19: 32
      Since the Second World War, self-propelled rapid-fire anti-aircraft guns have been a threat to the infantry. Mobility, high density of fire, great damage done are their "trump cards".
  10. Maxwrx
    Maxwrx 29 September 2015 23: 17
    23mm is not enough. in addition to a smaller firing range, there is not enough firepower. even 30mm is already being questioned. I read that new enemy aircraft in terms of tk should withstand the hit of 1-2 30mm shells.
    1. Igor K
      Igor K 30 September 2015 04: 17
      Fire support helicopters are possible and can withstand a one-time hit of 20 mm and then it all depends on the place of impact but the planes what here you comrades are clearly confusing something.
  11. Stilet
    Stilet 30 September 2015 22: 06
    And then why did you do "Tunguska"? So the Ukrainians came up with their answer to our Terminator. Shilka is, in principle, a good machine, but apparently its time has passed. The armor is rather weak. Used as support for the infantry, but forcedly. If you leave it, then you need to redo too much: hinged blocks kdz, a tower, taking into account ground use, suo - it will be a little expensive, apparently, and the weight will increase. Just do not cut it on needles, but put it on conservation, you never know!
  12. Alex1977RUS
    Alex1977RUS 22 November 2015 17: 45
    Quote: Geser
    I am very glad that "Shilki" remain in service! But first of all, our troops need the new Shilka.

    Our troops have not needed Shilka for a long time. Learn materiel, sir.
    Our troops instead of Shilka Shell use.
    Which is now changing to Shell C2.
    And the Shell (C1) was replaced by Tunguska.
    Second generation. Which Tunguska M1.
    Which actually replaced Tunguska and Tunguska M.
    Which replaced Shilka.
    You would have proposed modified quadruple Maxims to the troops.
    And anti-aerostatic guns.
    Our troops really need them ... And a bunch of pluses at once, from the same experts ...
  13. MaksoMelan
    MaksoMelan 2 October 2016 13: 25
    Or maybe try to make half TUNGUSKI? Rocks there are quick-firing. Make something like a landing option. For the airborne. CASES FOR CARTRIDGES TO TRY TO MAKE PLASTIC. so that the weight is less and more fit. Gsh gun which. Well, something missile but also anti-aircraft and anti-tank. Maybe 2 in one.