Modern military operations have shown that one of the most vulnerable elements of infantry fighting vehicles (BMP) and armored personnel carriers (APCs) is the tower in which the weapons are located.
In order to reduce the losses of personnel and, probably, further reduce the number of crews, remote-controlled tower modules (DBMS) were developed. Virtually all modern armored personnel carriers and, to a lesser extent, infantry fighting vehicles are equipped with an anti-aircraft defense vehicle with a machine gun-grenade launcher (less commonly cannon) armament. A number of domestic enterprises are also developing SDMs that are in line with global trends. And in spite of the fact that in Russia DBMS are less common than in the West, domestic designers have proposed a number of technological solutions that can be called innovative.
For shooting and reconnaissance
The need to increase the level of security and capabilities for reconnaissance currently determines the development trends of light tower modules with remote control for reconnaissance, patrol and combat armored vehicles (BBM). According to the Western weapons nomenclature, these modules are designated as RWS (Remote Weapon Station) or RCWS (Remotely Controlled Weapon Station). The combat module, equipped with various optoelectronic sighting systems, plays an important role in ensuring the crew’s awareness of the combat environment, allows for the collection of reconnaissance data and, in case of synchronization with the recorder, ensures their transmission in a distributed network. An important task is to provide a different angle of lift for the sighting devices of the combat module and the main armament. In a situation, for example, patrolling an urban area, a machine gun that is aimed at local residents can provoke a negative reaction. At the same time, it is necessary to use optoelectronic systems for collecting environmental data.
Recent armed conflicts have once again confirmed the critical importance of reconnaissance and location of targets. Uninhabited combat modules are often installed specifically for reconnaissance and intelligence gathering, and not for defeating the enemy. In some cases, a concept is adopted in which a light DBM is mounted on a man-made turret with medium or large caliber weapons. The use of modern materials and technology for damping recoil allows you to set a full 105 and 120 mm tank guns in the towers of military vehicles, the mass of which is 25 tons or more. While the range of wheeled chassis for such vehicles is quite limited, there are a large number of tracked counterparts that can withstand the mass and recoil of tank guns, which can lead to resuscitation of a class of light tanks.
Modern armored vehicles allow the installation of not only traditional manned, but also uninhabited towers, equipped, as a rule, with automatic guns of 20 – 50 caliber of millimeters. The main advantage of the towers is the complete protection of weapons from both climatic precipitations and from enemy fire. At the same time, the manned turret should be equipped with a reservation equal to the level of the base machine, which allows you to reliably protect the operator-gunner of the main armament. This significantly increases the overall mass of the BBM.
The placement of the commander and gunner operator in the tower gradually loses expediency, especially in the conditions of the modern battlefield. As a result, it becomes possible to reduce the booking level (most modules of the RWS / RCWS class are armored according to the 2 level of the NATO standard STANAG 4569, which means protection against 7,62x39 mm and 7,62x51 mm cartridges), which in turn reduces the overall weight of the combat vehicle.
The overwhelming majority of Western OCRs are equipped with machine-gun and grenade launchers. The most popular model on the market are the M151 / M153 Protector modules (Protector) manufactured by the Norwegian company Kongsberg. The United States adopted this model under the CROWS II program to equip armored vehicles, which is in service with the national army. The modules of this class were developed by the Belgian company FN Herstal (FN Herstal), the German Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (Krauss-Maffei Wegmann) and Dynamite Nobel Defense, Israeli Raphael and Israel. military industries ”(Israel Military Industries). The major manufacturers of UAB with machine-gun and grenade launcher are the British BAE Systems (BAE Systems), the South African Reutech (Reutech), and the Italian Oto Melara (Oto Melara).
The aforementioned companies are developing the development of a double-arm construction with a heavier weapon, as a rule, with automatic guns of 20 – 25 caliber of millimeters. Despite the fact that many manufacturers declare their readiness to integrate tank guns of 105 and 120 calibers of millimeters, at the present time there are practically no serial models with such weapons. The only machine with a large-caliber DUBM equipped with large-caliber weapons that comes into service in large quantities is the American self-propelled anti-tank gun (SPTP) M1128 MGS (Mobile Gun System) based on the Stryker M1126 BTR. It is equipped with a tank gun M68A2 as the main armament. Installing a cannon in an ECDM lowered the vehicle’s ammunition - it makes up 18 shells. At the same time, as the developer claims, M68A2 is not intended to defeat the main battle tanks. Its task is to disable the armored personnel carrier, infantry fighting vehicles, enemy’s engineering structures and the destruction of manpower. The use of the DBMS also complicates the installation of air conditioning systems and, in general, significantly complicates the work of the crew.
Proudly builds the "Petrel"
Domestic developers of remote-controlled combat modules do not lag behind their Western competitors, offering solutions that are not inferior to foreign products. At the same time, innovative developments are proposed, which have no direct analogues in Europe and the USA.
The Russian TsNII "Burevestnik" continues to modernize the DubNS 6C21, the supplies of which to the Armed Forces have recently increased significantly. The module is offered to the customer in three versions, which differ in the main armament, the amount of ammunition, weight, and a number of other characteristics.
The 6C21 includes an armament unit, an aiming complex, a platform with guidance drives, an ammunition system. The operator’s workplace inside the combat vehicle is equipped with a gunner panel with an integrated ballistic computer, a control panel, and auxiliary equipment. The 6C21 DBMS can be used as a station for intelligence gathering. Service information and video are transmitted via CAN 2.0, RS485, HD-DSI, Ethernet (Ethernet) channels. Thus, the domestic module is multifunctional and not inferior to foreign analogues, which are often installed specifically for the purpose of conducting reconnaissance and data transmission (in this case, they are not equipped with weapons).
Depending on the modification, the standard XHUMX6 anti-aircraft gun is equipped with two types of weapons: the 21-mm 12,7P6 “Kord” machine gun (49 version) or the Kalashnikov 01-mm machine gun (tank version 7,62 and 02). The maximum amount of ammunition ammunition is respectively 03, 200 and 500 cartridges.
At the military-technical forum "Army-2015" and the international exhibition of armaments RAE 2015, another modification of the DBNM 6-21 was presented, which is not available in the official data provided by the Burevestnik Central Research Institute. As the main armament, the module is equipped with an Vladimirov 14,5-mm large-caliber machine gun (KPVT), the exact data on its ammunition was not presented. A set of optoelectronic equipment, drives, and ammunition are placed inside a closed armored casing, which significantly increases the survival rate of the SDM on the battlefield.
The manufacturer did not indicate the level of body armor, however, based on the characteristics of similar foreign modules, it can be assumed that it corresponds to the 1 – 2 level of the NATO standard STANAG 4569 (protection from 5,56 – 7,62 mm caliber bullets, including armor-piercing-incendiary). It is also not known whether the principle of loading a machine gun from the armored space is implemented in this modification.
The mass of the MFDM in the three main versions is no more than 230, 200 and 185 kilograms, respectively. The corners of the main armament are sufficient to use the module in peacekeeping operations: they range from -5 (optional to -15) to + 75 degrees at a pickup angle of 360 degrees horizontally. In the basic version, the EAR is not equipped with a weapon stabilizer, however it can be installed at the request of the customer. Repeated remote arming of the firing mechanism of a weapon is allowed. The anti-theurist system in the 03 version can be equipped with a hydropneumatic system for cleaning protective glasses of optoelectronic equipment. The 01 6C21 is equipped as a standard sight with a television rangefinder module (MTD), while the 02 and 03 versions are equipped with a sight with a tele-thermal rangefinder module (MTTD). At the request of the customer, all versions of the DUBM can be equipped with both MTD and MTTD.
The 6С21 module can be used on the widest range of military equipment, including MRAP (Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected) class TAPM "Tayfun-U" and "Tayfun-K", Tiger multi-purpose armored vehicle, armored personnel carrier BTR-80. A modification of the 6-21 DUBM for equipping warships is currently under development. The 6C21 module is installed on the promising Russian armored vehicles, including the BTR on the Kuragnets-25 and Boomerang platforms. In this case, apply a new modification of the module, enclosed in an armored box. As the main armament, it is equipped with a machine gun caliber 12,7 millimeter.
Thus, on the basis of the 6C21 module, a whole line of combat modules is created to equip light and medium armored vehicles of all classes, as well as ships. It is possible that this particular model will become the main SDM in the Russian Armed Forces. Its characteristics are at least not inferior to Western counterparts. The only drawback is the lack of automatic grenade launchers (AH) and 902 “Tucha” smoke grenade launchers as standard weapons. However, the specialists of the Petrel Research Institute are probably already working on solving these problems on the integration of AH and Tuchi, which will greatly enhance the combat characteristics of the module. At the same time, the integration of 14,5-mm KPVT 6C21 provides fire superiority over Western counterparts in the class, which are most often armed with 12,7-mm machine guns M2 or M3, whose characteristics are not enough to effectively defeat light and medium armored vehicles on modern battlefield.
The Russian company "Weapons workshops "together with the Kovrov Electromechanical Plant (KEMZ, part of the holding" High-precision complexes ") has developed its own version of the promising DBM, which has received the designation" Crossbow-DM ". At the moment, his tests are being completed, and in the near future it can be taken into service.
On the RAE 2015, the module was demonstrated on three platforms: the Tigr-M armored car, the MTLB multi-purpose light armored tractor, and the ANT-1000Р robotic loader. "Arbalet-DM" can be installed on other land and marine equipment.
The mass of the DBMS does not exceed 250 kilograms. As standard weapons used 12,7-mm heavy machine gun 6P49 "Kord". The module is equipped with an electromechanical stabilizer that improves the accuracy of shooting. The maximum target range during the daytime is 2000 meters, and at night - 1500. The module can destroy low-flying subsonic aircraft. The machine gun of the module is reloaded manually; reloading from the reserved space is not provided. Horizontal lifting angles range from -20 to + 70 degrees. The standard ammunition 6P49 "Kord" has 450 ammunition, of which 150 is already installed in the cartridge box of the module. The UAB is also equipped with four 902В “Cloud” grenade launchers.
"Arbalet-DM" is equipped with a surveillance and sighting television (TV) cameras, as well as sighting thermal imaging (TPV) camera. Sighting TV camera allows you to recognize the target at a distance of 2500 meters, and TPV - 1500 meters. The integrated laser range finder provides distance measurement within 100 – 3000 meters. The data of the sighting system of the module are displayed on an 17-inch monitor with a resolution of 1280x1024 pixels.
The new DUBM has also developed the Kalashnikov concern. He received the designation MBDU. For the first time, the model of the module was shown at the Army-2015 military-technical forum, and the firing of the weapons installed on it took place on the RAE 2015. The MBDU is equipped with a two-axis gyrostabilization system, automatic tracking of the selected moving target and memorization of fixed targets to 10. Booking a module provides protection against B-32 B-7,62 mm caliber armor-piercing bullets (complying with the NATO standard STANAG 3 4569 level).
Four types of weapons can be installed on the module: machine guns of 12,7 and 7,62 calibers of a millimeter, an adapted version of the 30-mm AGS-17 automatic grenade launcher, and a new 40-mm automatic grenade launcher.
The horizontal angle of rotation of the rotary platform of the module is 360 degrees, and the angular velocity of rotation is 60 degrees / s. The unit is equipped with a wide and narrow field of view video cameras, a laser range finder, and image enhancement filters under nonnormable observation conditions. The maximum measured distance to the target is 2,5 thousands of meters.
Plus a gun
Russian developers are paying attention and direction, which in the West is practically not worked out. In particular, the development of jointly launched double armored vehicles with combined cannon armament are being created. A prototype of such a module, mounted on a perspective modification of the Dragoon BMP-3, was demonstrated at the RAE 2015. As the main armament of the UAB is the gun-launcher 2А70. 30-mm automatic gun 2А72 is paired with it. OAKM is associated with the Vityaz fire control system (FCS). The control system of the module is installed in the housing of the combat vehicle.
The developer of "Draguna" - concern "Tractor Plants" continues to work towards the creation and enhancement of the characteristics of a promising module. In the event that it will be developed, successfully tested, adopted and put into mass production, the firepower of the BMP-3 will increase significantly. It is noteworthy that, unlike the M1128 MGS, the working conditions of the crew do not deteriorate. Despite the fact that the prototype occupies a significant place in the reserve space, the redevelopment of the BMP-3 "Dragoon", on which it is installed, allows the crew to stay comfortably in the car and quickly leave the battlefield.
Probably, the new SDS will receive a mechanized loading system, which will contain more shots than the M1128 and is easier to equip. The module retains the 902 smoke cloud grenade launchers. As a result, the upcoming deployed motorized rifle units can be covered with a smoke screen. With the exception of M1128, the new Russian DBMS has no direct analogues.
Thus, the latest developments of Russian designers allow us to state that at the technological level, domestic developments are at least not inferior to foreign analogues. It is important that remote-controlled combat modules firmly take up their position in the range of weapons of modern Russian technology and begin to be actively used in the troops. Their integration will simultaneously increase the market competitiveness of Russian weapons. In the event that this happens, it is possible with good reason to believe that after a not too long period of time, domestic SDMs will be worthy of competition to Western models.