The theory of contactless wars currently being developed and the concept of a fast global strike do not override the principles of traditional armed conflict. Western specialists have created a typical model of the regular war of the active (aggressive) model, which has been repeatedly implemented and continuously improved. That is why today, more than ever, the study of the forms and methods of conducting traditional combat operations, the development of practical measures to cover the units, units and formations of the leading edge in the conditions of combat contact with the enemy from air attack weapons (EAS) are relevant.
The development of network-centric methods of command and control of troops required the development and introduction of new means of technical intelligence. First of all, UAVs of mini- and microclasses intended for intelligence of the leading edge (PC) and being essentially the main source of information should be attributed to them. Paralyzing the actions of a mini-BLA actually destroys the network-centric control system, this is its Achilles heel. Thus, now not only helicopter fire support (GP), precision-guided weapon (WTO), army and tactical aviation, but also mini-UAVs have become priority objectives for air defense of the PC, and the victory of the confrontation and their defeat are required.
When it is useless to upgrade the old
The problem of air defense of the PK was acutely manifested back in the 50-60s, when army aviation began to develop at an accelerated pace and the saturation of the troops of a potential enemy with combat helicopters significantly increased. To cover subunits and units of the Ground Forces over the PK as part of motorized rifle and tank regiments of the Soviet army formed the corresponding missile and artillery air defense divisions, which began to receive self-propelled anti-aircraft guns ZSU-23-4 "Shilka" and anti-aircraft missile systems (SAM) "Strela-1M", as well as portable air defense systems (MANPADS) of the first generation " Strela-2M ". These short-range air defense systems and cover as a whole were able to withstand air attacks that used free-fall bombs and unguided rockets (NURS), as well as short-range anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs), which began to be placed on combat helicopters.
But during the Vietnam War, combat helicopters of the new class with sufficiently long-range ATGM appeared in the USA, designed primarily to fight armored objects on the battlefield and were called "fire support helicopters." One of the first - "Hugh Cobra" with ATGM "Tou". GPs acted primarily from ambushes, using topographic features (terrain folds). Having received intelligence information about armored vehicles in the zone of ATGM reach, they carried out a "bounce", launching a missile at a target and went into shelter. The firing cycle took only 40 – 50 seconds. The use of “Shilok” and “Strela-2М” MANPADS in such conditions turned out to be impossible, and the “Strela-1М” air defense missile system was problematic. Assessing the threat level of a SPM of armored vehicles on the battlefield, one of the major military leaders, Hero of the Soviet Union, Army Commander-in-Chief Army General Ivan Pavlovsky, summing up the major exercises, said: “It’s better to have 10 tanks reliably covered from the air than 100 without cover”. The participant of the Great Patriotic War knew what he was saying. His prophetic words were subsequently not once confirmed during the times of not only the Vietnam War, but also the Arab-Israeli conflicts. In Sinai, for example, during a single sortie, a Hugh-Cobra-type SPM destroyed up to 6 – 8 unarmored armored objects (tanks, armored personnel carriers, infantry fighting vehicles).
Assessing the role of GPs and seeking to consolidate the success of the military-technical breakthrough, the United States at an accelerated pace created and put into service a specialized (basic) GPA AN-64 Apache. He began to be equipped with the Hellfire ATGM of a new generation and was able to hit targets from long ranges (6 – 8 km), that is, without entering the affected areas of the air defense systems. To combat such a class of SPMs and to improve the air defense of the PC, on the whole, new combat weapons were required, since the modernization of the previously used ones was unpromising for several reasons.
Wanted "long arms"
The development of such weapons was entrusted to the Tula Instrument Design Bureau. At the suggestion of KBP, the task should have been solved with the help of the Tungusk self-propelled anti-aircraft cannon-missile system (ZPRK). According to the plan, he could hit GPA “Apache” at ranges prior to their use of onboard weapons, allowing them to reduce the type of air defense weapons of the regimental level, as well as guarantee the cover of armored objects in mobile forms of combat and on the march.
It was assumed that the combat vehicle (BM) of the Tungusk anti-missile defense missile system would have maximum autonomy, while ensuring controllability from the battery commander’s station (BKP) in an automated mode, having a short reaction time (from the moment the enemy was detected before the launch of the rocket or the opening of ) and fully automated process of combat work. For this purpose, the BM equipped the on-board radar for detecting airborne objects operating in motion, the auto-tracking radar of the target fired at the cannon canal, optical sighting devices for firing a missile channel (RK), a digital computing system, navigation and toporavidka, and radio communications (in "Tunguske-M "- and telecode communication with the BKP), high-speed high-precision complexes of drives of the tower installation in azimuth and elevation, other equipment. All this, including power supply and other auxiliary equipment, was placed on a tracked chassis (GM-352), unified with that used in the Tor system and Buk air defense system, which reduced the type of basic tracked chassis. True, unlike other standardized chassis, the GM-352 has variable ground clearance. This allowed the "Tunguska" to rise almost half a meter when shooting from a trench.
In general, the creation of "Tunguska" was a breakthrough in the niche of short-range air defense. This ZPRK managed to create a highly efficient cannon canal on the basis of the GSH guns (“Gryazev-Shipunov”). Suffice it to say that in the caliber of 30 millimeters, their rate of fire (two double-barreled guns) is more than 4500 shots per minute, which ensures the probability of a hit at the level of 0,35 – 0,42. This is several times higher than, for example, the battery (6 guns) of the Bofors anti-aircraft artillery complex (mm caliber 40) and the American-Canadian Adats installation. Such characteristics were achieved through the use of a digital calculating device in the RRMS that implements complex motion hypotheses when calculating the lead angle, measuring and taking into account the actual initial velocity of the projectile, automatically setting the queue length depending on the distance to the goal and other innovations.
However, the range of damage to the cannon canal in the "Tunguska" was four kilometers, which did not allow the new generation of SPMs to hit at the maximum launch range of the ATGM. This required such a RK as a “long arm” that could hit SPM at a distance of 10 kilometers.
By that time, the Apache-class SPM already had an armored cockpit, explosion-proof fuel tanks, was equipped with injectors, reducing its thermal visibility, as well as an effective aiming and targeting system for ATGM. In order to reliably defeat GPs at maximum ranges, it was necessary to use special measures in the Tunguska Republic of Kazakhstan.
In order to exclude the dependence of the maximum range of the defeat of GPs from its thermal conspicuity, they recognized the right to abandon the use of the thermal homing device in the missile defense system and to implement the radio command method. To reduce the magnitude of miss when shooting at the maximum range, the KBP implemented an optical method of sighting and tracking the target, since the radar (with the radar operating in the cm-band and used in the gun channel) at such distances resulted in significant errors, and acceptable optical-electronic noise-proof devices then did not exist.
The rocket for the Tungusk missile defense system was offered a two-stage bikaliber (starting stage - active, caliber 152 mm, marching - passive, 76 mm), equipped with warhead frag-rod type of increased power with a contact and non-contact target sensor (laser, in subsequent modifications - with radar ). Such a scheme for constructing missiles had positive and negative sides. First of all, it allowed for a relatively small starting mass (42 kg) to have a nine-kilogram warhead - almost twice as much as with single-stage circuits. In addition, the combat vehicle was able to place the increased ammunition - 8 missiles, and for their preliminary targeting to use the same drives as for the gun channel. Also, the bikaliber scheme provided a relatively high average flight speed at maximum ranges (up to 600 m / s).
Photo: Alexey Matveyev
However, the two-stage construction of missiles led to a significant increase in the “dead” funnel of the missile defense missile system (the near border of the RK damage zone was 2,5 km), as well as the need to reset the spent “starter” at a distance of 2,5 – 3 km. The presence of such a large “dead” funnel (25% of the maximum range of destruction) practically left the PC and the nearest tactical depth without missile cover of the Tunguska missile defense missile system. But the main drawback was that the Republic of Kazakhstan turned out to be non-daily and not all-weather, when shooting conditions were not created for automatic tracking of the target, which is why the defeat of maneuvering EAS in a given zone was practically not ensured. The defeat of even a frozen helicopter required extremely high professional skills of the operator. This was due to the low capabilities of the airborne radar to detect GPs in the entire range in a timely manner, as well as the low probability of the destruction of the WTO by the fragmentation-rod warhead of the anti-aircraft missile system and the low power supply of the passive missile of the missile when firing at the maneuvering target.
Cons installation appeared immediately. Thus, at the special defense-92 exercises, the combat effectiveness of units armed with Tunguska and Tunguska-M was only 0,42, while units and air defense units armed with other types of complexes were no less than 0,9 – 0,93.
When accepting the weapons system, many of the identified shortcomings were reflected in the relevant documents, a plan was adopted to eliminate them before the start and as the mass production was deployed. However, KBP from these works withdrew itself by focusing on other areas, including the development of the Pantsir-С1 air defense system, which was practically created on the basis of Tunguska technical solutions and inherited many of its shortcomings. The excitement unleashed by stakeholders and organizations around the Pantsir-С1 air defense system, overshadowed the elimination of the shortcomings inherent in both complexes.
By this time, the all-daily and all-weather GP “Apache-Rengbow” with the new version of the ATGM “Hellfire” had already entered service in the USA and NATO. Unfortunately, the "Tunguska" of all modifications without a complete rework of the RK cannot withstand it in due measure, and nobody is engaged in the modernization of the missile armament of this ZPRK.
Vigorous attempts are being made to impose an anti-aircraft defense system instead of the Tunguska Pantsir-С1, even on the tracked chassis. However, for the air defense forces of the Army, it is more important not to “Shell” and conversations around it, but to bring to mind the RK “Tunguska”, and not only in mass-produced means, but, most importantly, in the complexes in service (according to the principle of “platform” approach to modernization). Now it is the primary task for the practical implementation of effective PC air defense.
How to technically implement this and what needs to be done today is known and feasible in a reasonable time frame using the existing macroplants and with minimal financial costs, including the introduction of the same “pancyrevsky” technologies, if necessary. Only appropriate solutions and mutual understanding are needed. But even here a problem arises: the developer of Tunguska - KBP became part of the “High-precision complexes” belonging to the state corporation Rostec, and the manufacturer of this ZPRK is UMP (Ulyanovsk) located at JSC Concern PVO Almaz-Antey. So who and how will deal with the issue of upgrading the missile channel ZPRK? The answer to this question, in our opinion, should be the leaders of Rostec, the Almaz-Antey Air Defense Concern and, first of all, the Ministry of Defense as the most interested party.
The use of the optical homing in the missile defense system had its pros and cons. First of all, this made it possible to implement a “shot-and-forget” combat mode of operation, which is extremely important for front-line air defense systems. At the same time, the target acquisition range of the GOS in the infrared channel depended on the thermal radiation of the target, which reduced the possibilities when firing at modern low-emitting (“cold”) objects, including mini-UAVs. FC could be used only during the day in clear weather.
The warhead was initially high-explosive, and then - frag-rod, providing a reliable defeat even armored air targets. The rocket was equipped with an optical, later - a laser non-contact target sensor (NDC), triggered in the latest versions and on small-sized objects (8-beam NDC).
Conscript can not cope
However, the most significant disadvantage of the Arrow-10 remained the requirement of visual detection and targeting of the launch device with missiles in the mode of visual contact with the aim of capturing the homing device on the launch device before the start. The introduction of the telecode equipment for reception and implementation of target designation (AOC and ARC) into the composition of the combat vehicle of the air defense system automated the process of detecting an object for destruction, but did not make it automatic, did not exclude the need for visual contact with it and manual tracking before launching the SAM. In addition, the target acquisition range of the GOS in the main IR channel depends on the thermal radiation of the object, that is, dictated by the enemy. All attempts to increase the range of defeat "Arrow-10" more than five kilometers were not crowned with success, in connection with which she could not fully confront GPs "Apache", and even more so "Apache-Rengbou" before they use onboard weapons. Nevertheless, this air defense system was considered a reasonable addition to the “Tunguska” and underwent more than four upgrades during serial production. A significant amount of the Strela-10 air defense system remains in service in the Russian Armed Forces and abroad, although at present its release, like the missiles for it, has ceased.
Together with the short-range complexes, the tactical constructions of the front-line air defense also include portable Igr-type air defense systems, which are a logical continuation of the first-generation Strela-2M MANPADS. Today, “Igla”, “Igla-S” with the means of receiving target designation and ensuring shooting at night and MANPADS of the new generation “Verba”, first demonstrated at the Army-2015 forum, generally meet modern requirements.
But the availability of new air defense weapons and the ability to use them effectively are different things. It is almost impossible to teach a soldier to skillfully use MANPADS with a service life in the army of one year, even if there are excellent simulators. After all, in fact, the anti-aircraft gunner performs the functions of both executive reconnaissance and a calculating device, which determines the moment of launch, as well as the actual function of the launcher. To acquire these skills, it takes time, which the conscript soldier does not have today. In addition, the shooter with the help of MANPADS can practically guarantee only a cover of subunits and units in the near zone, since it also requires visual contact with the target before launching the rocket.
Highly automated and daily
To some extent, the Kolomenskoye KBM attempted to rectify the existing situation with the equipping of the air defense forces of the SV with fire weapons of short-range action and to improve their effectiveness, having developed on their own initiative a modern, synthesized “Luchnik” air defense system. When it was created, they sought to solve at least two problems. Firstly, it was necessary to find an alternative to the outdated and discontinued Strele-10, the maintenance of which in combat readiness in the troops became problematic, and its further direct modernization turned out to be costly. Secondly, it was necessary to raise the effectiveness of the combat use of MANPADS over the front edge and in the nearest tactical depth, compensating for the lack of training and combat skills of the anti-aircraft gunners.
The authors of the “Archer” placed it on the chassis of the Strela-10-type anti-aircraft system (after reconditioning the chassis, replacing the turret and launching device), and used Igla-S anti-aircraft missiles located in the standardized “Strelets” launch modules ( 8 - on the launcher and 8 - in the combat vehicle combat pack). The combined use of the elements "Arrows-10" and "Needles-C" allows you to classify the short-range "Archer" air defense missile systems as synthesized. It is also envisaged, if necessary, to arm two anti-aircraft gunners with MANPADS from a combat vehicle’s ammunition and equip them with the AOC, which expands the options for combat use of the complex.
But the main distinguishing feature of the Archer is the presence in it of an optical-electronic detection system and automatic tracking of airborne objects with video processing equipment. It provides an opportunity, independently or according to target designation, to detect and automatically accompany modern air targets at any time of the day and in adverse weather conditions.
The 24-hour optical-electronic station (SOEK) includes television and thermal imaging information channels and a solid-state laser range finder. They provide detection and recognition of objects displayed on a video monitor by the BM operator, their manual or automatic capture and automatic tracking of up to four targets simultaneously, as well as the calculation of their coordinates and the determination of the launch range. The SOEK information channels have a field of view of 20х15 degrees in azimuth and elevation, respectively, the detection range is at least 10 kilometers, and the measuring distance to the accompanying targets with a laser range finder is from 400 meters to 10 kilometers. The complex is really capable, day and night, in complex noise and weather conditions, to hit modern tactical aircraft, helicopters of fire support and cruise missiles, as well as some types of UAVs.
"The Archer" was demonstrated at MAKS-2015 and at the international military-technical forum "Army-2015", its performance characteristics and combat capabilities are known, it does not make sense to repeat them. I would like to dwell only on some points. In this air defense missile system with more than four times less rocket mass in comparison with the “Arrow-10M”, the probability of hitting the target was almost doubled (from 0,3 – 0,6 to 0,6 – 0,73) in both cases). At the same time, noise immunity has significantly increased due to the implementation of spectral selection in place of the rocket in the GOS instead of the kinematic one. The near border of the affected area has also been reduced from 4 – 8 meters (RC “Tunguski”, “Arrows-2500М”, respectively) to 1200, which is extremely important when organizing the front-line air defense.
Truncated Archer and Outdated Arrows
But the "Archer" is not without certain disadvantages. Thus, in connection with the use (as in the Strela-10M) of infrared seers, it was not possible to increase the distant border of the affected area, it remained at the level of 5000 – 6000 meters. Therefore, for effective combat with modern GPs before they use airborne weapons, as well as for increasing the capabilities of air defense weapons over the front edge and in the near tactical zone, the “Archer” air defense missile system should be considered and used only in conjunction with the Tungusk missile defense system.
In addition, in the current configuration “Archer” does not guarantee the destruction of low-emitting heat (“cold”) mini-UAVs and because of this cannot fully replace the “Arrow-10М”, which implements the photocontrast channel of missile defense. However, out of this situation can be seen. As already mentioned, MANPADS of the new generation “Verba” is equipped with a rocket with a three-channel GOS. One of the channels, ultraviolet (UFK), is insensitive to the thermal radiation of the target and, in principle, provides guidance and affection for mini-UAVs, which is currently extremely important. Thus, when placing a certain number of “Verba” MANPADS (say, 4 “Verba” MANPADS instead of “Igla-S” MANPADS), it’s economically unprofitable to replace the whole ammunition and to fully replace “ Arrow-10M.
In fact, this is a modern, highly automated, all-day short-range air defense system, which has rather high combat characteristics and also allows reducing the range of missiles at the most mass tactical (brigade-regimental) link. The necessary technical documentation has been created, an export passport has been agreed and delivery abroad is allowed. Foreign military experts at MAKS-2015 and the Army-2015 forum showed some interest in this air defense system.
But the command of the air defense forces of the Ground Forces and the leadership of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation are not in a hurry to discuss the issue of its adoption. Nor do they have an acceptable concept regarding the refusal of the morally and physically obsolete SAMs of the Strela-10 type of all modifications. Moreover, it became known that, instead of “Archer” and “Arrow-10”, the command of the air defense forces of the Soviet Army plans to order the Kolomna KBM to develop a “truncated” version of “Archer” with four MANPADS on PU, located on the wheeled chassis (Tiger). Of course, no data on the development is not given. And who will conduct it, if the modern accidentally surviving military science, still dealing with the air defense system of the Ground Forces, has become basically living according to the principle “what do you wish?” And not “what is needed?”. Is memory really so short? After all, quite recently in this link, as already mentioned, the Strela-1М DB on the wheeled chassis (with a floating basis), but due to its flaws, especially manifesting on the front edge, of the Strela-10 type placed on a crawler.
Exit - in advance
The front-line air defense (PC defense) has its own specific features. The main one is that it is the prerogative of the air defense forces of the SV. The anti-aircraft missile systems of the VKS and the fighter aircraft allocated by them in the interests of covering the units and formations of the Ground Forces cannot ensure a noticeable increase in the effectiveness of the air defense system.
At the same time, the flaws in the construction and organization of the air defense system of a PC significantly affect the survival rate of parts and subunits of the leading edge from air attacks. For miscalculations and errors in the organization of air defense, the PC ultimately has to be paid not only with disabled armaments, military equipment, destroyed infrastructure elements, but to a large extent with blood and human lives. That is why the PC air defense system should be maximally worked out and balanced in peacetime, in the process of its construction and creation. It should also be taken into account that it is the most massive and each percentage of increasing its effectiveness brings significant quantitative results, significantly affecting the reduction of prevented damage to its advanced troops.
Unfortunately, it is necessary to state that, in general, the current state of the air defense weapons of the SV, designed to provide air defense of the PK, is a matter of deep concern. With all-day-old VON, especially the new generation of the Apache-Rengbow type, there is nothing to fight at the ranges of their use of onboard weapons today. As is known, the armored vehicles of a new generation are being developed at an accelerated pace on the basis of the unified Armata platform (T-14, heavy BMP T-15, etc.). To protect it on the battlefield, a BMPT-72 tank support vehicle “Terminator-2” is being created, to which the Russian Defense Ministry and foreign specialists are showing increasing interest. And how will this new generation armored technology be protected from modern EHVs? The lack of an integrated approach to solving these problems is unacceptable, in fact, it is a waste of manpower and resources.
There is no proper assessment in the construction of modern PC air defense systems. Previously, only the status and existing problems with active (fire) air defense capacities of the PC were considered. But they include the means of automated control, intelligence of airborne communication, communication, and data exchange, which should create a single highly efficient and interconnected system. The newest air defense system of the PC in essence should be a mobile automated reconnaissance-fire group. However, its constituent components are developed, as a rule, independently, without proper integrated coordination, and they are delivered to the troops all over the place, without prior docking. Often, the funds created by industry are unclaimed.
Most likely, this state of affairs is connected with the lack of responsibility of officials for the final result. Wishes and suggestions about what and how to do, have been expressed several times, but who would have listened and the main thing - heard. It seems that we live according to the proverb "The dog barks and the caravan moves on." It is unpleasant to feel like a barking dog, but it is even worse to remain a deaf caravan and its "leaders."
The air defense forces of the NE are costly for the country, as is the entire PC air defense system. But the tasks that it solves are worth it, because we are talking about the most expensive - the lives of soldiers, the preservation of the combat capability of subunits, units and formations of the Ground Forces. In this regard, it is necessary to concentrate efforts as much as possible to find a way out of this situation. There is no time to catch up with the advanced armies of the world; it is necessary to find ways of inadequate advance of them.