“The most difficult thing in the development of a robot is not a separate part or mechanism. The most difficult thing is to complex the robot, make everything work as a single organism. But we are used to being with sophisticated high-precision systems, ”says Vladimir Lebedev, General Director of Military-Industrial Courier.
Kovrovsky Electromechanical in the information environment, which is part of the High-Precision Complex holding, may be somewhat lost against the background of such well-known enterprises as Tula Instrument Engineering Design Bureau, Shcheglovsky Val, Kolomenskoye KBM.
However, KEMZ is a manufacturer of unique high-precision products, without which modern weapon systems, in particular stabilizers, on-board information control systems, etc., are unthinkable.
Currently, the products of the Kovrov plant are part of fire control systems (LMS) tanks T-72, T-90, BMP-2, BMP-3 infantry fighting vehicles, BMD-4M airborne combat vehicles, BTR-82 armored personnel carriers. But the special pride of the plant is the equipment for the latest multifunctional Armata platform, as well as BMP and armored personnel carriers of the Kurganets family.
“In addition to stabilizers, we do all the hydraulics for the“ Armata ”. One of our know-how is hydrovolume mechanical transmission. Creating it and bringing it up to serial production is an extremely difficult task. After all, the power flows that pass there reach 500 – 600 kilowatts, and the weight of the entire transmission - no more than 100 kilograms. Can you imagine what kind of energy there is, what kind of efficiency?! ”Nikolai Kokoshkin, director for innovation policy and marketing, suggests.
For the newest Russian armored vehicles, stabilizers of a new generation have been developed here, differing not only in fairly small weight and size characteristics, but also in increased accuracy and, most importantly, response time. “They are already digital, with software control, capable of solving tasks that we have not previously set ourselves. In these products, we moved to a new element base, as well as gyroscopy, ”explains Nikolai Kokoshkin.
The latest stabilizers will also be installed on the upgraded T-72 and T-90. They will also be included in the so-called modernization options, which Uralvagonzavod is ready to offer to foreign buyers who have ordered an upgrade of their tank fleet.
“Still, our main specialization is hydraulic equipment. Hydraulic pumps, hydraulic motors, hydraulic boosters, hydraulic drives, etc. But now we are producing a wide range of civil products. This includes front loaders, hydraulic platforms, and much more, ”Kokoshkin specifies.
For several years, the production of high-precision machine tools was mastered at the Kovrov plant. And if earlier this production, according to the head of the machine-tool production - the chief mechanic Alexander Grishin, went only for the needs of the native enterprise, now the milling machining centers produced by KEMZ are actively being purchased by various Russian enterprises.
At the same time, the Kovrov Electromechanical Plant is a developer and manufacturer of a unique line of robots currently being supplied to various power departments. And recently, an assortment of enterprises has been added to the remote-controlled combat modules installed on armored cars, light armored vehicles, etc.
“Every year we have a new product line on 30 percent. If we do not do this, we will hand over our positions to competitors, ”says Sergey Tsybulnik, Director of International Cooperation at KEMZ, to Military Industrial Courier.
Ultra-precise fire in any weather.
At the RAE 2015 exhibition held this year in Nizhny Tagil, visitors to this site, significant for the global arms market, were able to see not only the static exposition, but also at the demonstration performances of the Tiger and Typhoon armored vehicles with the Arbalet remote-controlled modules developed and produced jointly by the Kovrov Electromechanical Plant and the companyWeapons workshops ".
The newest “Crossbow”, capable of striking the enemy day and night and currently undergoing state tests, already has orders from law enforcement agencies, in particular, the Ministry of Defense and the Interior Troops of the Ministry of the Interior of Russia.
At first glance, a remote-controlled module is a fairly simple product. A machine gun or an automatic grenade launcher with a control system, as well as optoelectronic devices, is mounted on the roof of the armored vehicle. The gunner-operator himself, who is in the vehicle's hull and protected from the enemy's fire by armor, not only remotely observes the battlefield, but also hits his targets without threat to his life.
The first remote modules were developed at the end of the 80s in Israel, but mass production for the needs, units, and units of the US armed forces that were involved in 2003 after the occupation of Iraq in high-urbanized battles was established only in 2006 – 2008. It is noteworthy that for the Pentagon not only American industrial associations, but also military-industrial companies from Europe and Israel supplied their products.
At present, there are quite a large number of remote-controlled modules on the international market for weapons and military equipment, produced by dozens of firms from different countries. But until recently, Russian gunsmiths couldn’t provide customers with DUM ready for mass production.
“Crossbow” is our joint development with “Gunsmiths”, which we started in 2013 year. We carefully studied the world experience, got acquainted with Italian and Israeli products, and only then started to work, ”recalls Nikolai Kokoshkin.
If you look at modern foreign products, it is striking that their effective firing range rarely exceeds 600 – 700 meters. And the machine guns and automatic grenade launchers installed on the DUM are capable of hitting targets at a much longer range, often over one and a half kilometers, but fire control systems on these modules do not provide firing accuracy at such distances.
“It is believed that for a remote-controlled module, the main thing is optical-electronic systems. This is not true. The main thing for the module is the stabilization of its armament, ”continues Kokoshkin.
Soviet and now Russian stabilizers were developed under strict conditions: to have minimum weight and dimensions, to be well protected, and at the same time to provide high precision guidance.
Domestic tanks, infantry fighting vehicles and armored personnel carriers have always been distinguished by their small size and weight, and where foreign developers could afford large-size units and assemblies, our engineers and designers minimized products without losing their characteristics. The stabilization system installed on the Kovrov module is not only very accurate, but also, and most importantly, it takes up much less space than foreign analogues.
In addition to the unique weapons stabilization system, the meteorological sensor, ballistic computer and laser range finder integrated into the fire control system are installed on the newest “Crossbow”. The optical-electronic channel of the module includes not only a video camera, but also a night-vision device, as well as a thermal imager, which allows hitting targets day and night in any weather at a distance of up to two kilometers.
Due to the presence of an escort machine, the operator, after detecting the target, is enough to take it to the escort, and then the “Crossbow” control system will calculate all the corrections itself and accompany the object until it is completely destroyed or the command to reset.
According to the requirements of the Russian Ministry of Defense, the Pecheneg, Kord machine guns and AGS-30 automatic grenade launchers are installed on the newest module. Moreover, it is quite easy to replace them even in field conditions. The crew removes, for example, a machine gun, and in its place after installing special adapters, an automatic grenade launcher is mounted.
“We can supply any machine guns, automatic grenade launchers at the request of customers, including foreign products. It is only necessary to prepare adapters and carry out firing in order to enter the necessary data into the fire control system, ”explains Nikolai Kokoshkin.
It should be noted that all elements of the "Crossbow", taken out of the hull, are covered with armor that can withstand not only small arms fire, but also fragments of artillery shells, mortar mines, improvised explosive devices.
At present, a large percentage of the proposed remote-controlled modules on the international armament market are simple products without ballistic calculators and meteorological sensors, and sometimes even without stabilization of armaments — machine guns with remote control and a video camera. More sophisticated products are produced only by such serious players as the French “Thales”, the Italian “Otto Mellar”, the Israeli “Elbit”. By the way, considered to be one of the most advanced in the world module M151 "Protector", massively purchased by the Pentagon for armored vehicles and armored personnel carriers, including the Strikers, although produced in the USA, was developed jointly by the Norwegian firm Kensberg Defense and Aerospace and the French Thales.
So the Crossbow of the Kovrov Electromechanical Plant is a player of the highest league, capable not only to compete, but also to conquer its niche in the international arms market.
Minesweeper, lifeguard and even loader
This year, the Russian Ministry of Defense and the Nicaraguan military department opened a joint center for training specialists to disarm various mines, unexploded ordnance, as well as IEDs in countries where military operations had previously taken place. In addition to modern mine detectors and other means of detection and neutralization, there is also a unique KEMZ product in the center - the remote-controlled ANT-1000 robot that can cope without any particular problems with the whole minefield.
“We began work on creating lightweight robotic systems at the end of 1990 - the beginning of 2000's. Then came the "Varan", developed by order of the Federal Security Service for the disposal of explosive devices. Later, light and ultra-light complexes “All-terrain vehicle TM-3”, “All-terrain vehicle TM-5”, “Metalist”, as well as other products actively purchased by various departments, were designed and manufactured. In total, we made light robots of more than 200 units, ”says Sergey Tsybulnik.
And now, in the product line of the Kovrov Electromechanical Plant, even heavier robots have appeared - created on the basis of the ANT-750 and ANT-1000 front loaders.
“After the fighting in the territory of Yugoslavia for the disposal of minefields in remote areas, in particular in narrow passages and in the mountains, the Czech company Lakusta created a robot on the basis of a mini-loader capable of solving such tasks. We looked at these works and thought: why not? This is how our robots ANT-750 and ANT-1000 appeared, ”says Nikolay Kokoshkin.
Manufacturing technology robots ANT is quite simple. The cab is removed from the loader, in its place is installed the control system associated with the transmission. A special block is used for demining, which rotates the metal chains attached to it at high speed.
But development engineers of the Kovrov Electromechanical Plant are guided by the principle: robots are not highly specialized machines, but multifunctional platforms where any necessary equipment can be installed at the request of the customer. Therefore, now ANT-750 and ANT-1000 are not only sappers, rescue robots, firefighters and even movers are created on their base.
“Together with the Ivanovo Fire Institute of the Ministry of Emergency Situations, we developed a robot based on ANT-1000, on which our know-how is established: a device that extinguishes a fire not by a directed jet, but by creating a water mist,” explains Kokoshkin.
There are great prospects for Kovrov's ANT in the civil sphere. In particular, relatively recently, a well-known firm - manufacturer of auxiliary equipment "Bobket" demonstrated at the exhibition robotic rollers, asphalt pavers. Three robots are controlled by one operator, which not only reduces the number of jobs, but also greatly increases labor productivity. Kovrov masters took this promising idea to note.
Now in the interests of the Ministry of Defense of Russia KEMZ is actively working to create combat robots. One of the options offered to the military department, besides robot engineers for engineering troops, is ANT-1000 with the “Crossbow” combat module installed on it.
Kovrovsky developers can brag and much more serious products. In particular, the military robotic complex, which consists of several mobile robots weighing about a ton each, armed, depending on the task, with large-caliber machine guns or automatic grenade launchers, as well as a control center, is already represented. As explained in the CEM, it is possible that in the near future, combat robots will be equipped with Kornet anti-tank complexes.
The latest combat robots are equipped not only with the most advanced optoelectronics, which includes a night vision device and a thermal imager, but also a communication and information exchange system with an encrypted noise-resistant channel. This allows the operator not only to control the actions of “subordinates” at a distance of up to two kilometers, but also to obtain a stable picture from their means of observation, even if the tasks are performed on complex technical objects such as factories or power plants.
It should be noted that if earlier, to control the robotic complex, bulky and limited mobility consoles were required, now an ordinary tablet or laptop with special software is used.
“The operator must control five, six, seven robots. And they solve complex tasks. ”
“We believe that such an option as a robot, followed by an operator with a remote control, is not a robotic complex. The operator must control five, six, seven robots. And they solve complex problems. For example, several robots are launched for reconnaissance at a fire in a shopping center and they conduct a full inspection of the premises, ”reflects Nikolay Kokoshkin.
At first glance, to create and start mass production of robots is a fairly simple task that even small productions can handle. Far from it. After all, in addition to a high-quality mechanical platform, a control system is needed, not just transmitting commands, but, depending on the conditions, can independently make decisions and perform certain tasks.
“Creating a robotic complex, many theoretical and even ideological problems need to be solved, in particular, on optimization, on artificial intelligence, on mechanical vision, etc. There are also purely technical aspects - the platform must be stable, able to overcome various obstacles. The next task is building up intellectual abilities. Now we have quite a lot of experience in the manufacture of robotic systems. On average, it takes from one year to one and a half years from the start of development to the manufacture of first samples, ”continues Nikolay Kokoshkin.
There are difficulties in the manufacture of components and mechanisms of the robot, requiring high-precision machining.
“The mechanism of the robot is primarily drives, and our plant specializes in them. But we also make such complex products as high-precision gears and they exist in almost all the mechanisms of the robot, ”explains KEMP's director for innovation policy and marketing.
Kovrov Electromechanical Plant is a unique enterprise that produces a wide range of competitive high-tech products, not only for military but also for civilian use. And most importantly - the development of this enterprise, which is part of the High-Precision Complexes holding, does not stand still - they are constantly updated.