Military Parade 2000. 1: Exclusives
What Federal Troops Are Lacking in Chechnya
· Nikolai Novichkov · Editing Director of the ITAR-TASS Department of Scientific and Technical Information, for Military Parade
The new local armed conflict in Russia, referred to by politicians as "a counter-terrorist operation," and actions of Chechen militants have called for the alteration of those plans. Chechen militants, well-armed with small arms, mortars and antitank weapons and excellently trained in the use of these weapons, can, nevertheless, be countered effectively by the federal forces provided they employ the newest armaments. During actions in Daghestan it became clear that the potential of the Russian defense complex has not been fully utilized.
Battles fought by the federal forces in Daghestan and Chechnya since August 1999 have shown clearly the flaws of our policy of renunciation of up-to-date armaments procurement. This policy was formulated a few years ago and defined as a state program for the development of armaments until 2005. It stems from the fact that Russia's lacking funds at the present time makes it create only prototype "weapons of the future," and increased funding alone could enable it to embark on a vast rearmament program.
However, the new local armed conflict in Russia, referred to by politicians as "a counter-terrorist operation," and actions of Chechen militants have called for the alteration of those plans. Chechen militants, well-armed with small arms, mortars and antitank weapons and excellently trained in the use of these weapons, can, nevertheless, be countered effectively by the federal forces provided they employ the newest armaments. During actions in Daghestan it became clear that the potential of the Russian defense complex has not been fully utilized. In particular, armaments for effective combat in mountains, such as concrete-piercing aerial bombs have not been used to destroy fortifications, cluster bombs have not been used to destroy manpower, fuel-air explosive munitions have not been used either, although all of them are produced in Russia.
Unique anti-terrorist technologies available in Russia could help the federal forces avoid numerous casualties inflicted by snipers but these technologies have not been called up. Take, for example, the Mirazh system developed by the Transkript Research and Technical Center. This system is capable of detecting optical instruments day and night regardless of their operation principle and location: under camouflage cover, in the back of dark interiors, or anywhere else, and active optical systems (binoculars, target designators, target illumination laser devices, etc.) at a distance of up to 2 km. Suffice to say that first in Daghestan and then in Chechnya only four of the Su-25 fighter aircraft (Su-25T) employed precision-guided weapons. At the initial stage of the antiterrorist operation the army aviation had no helicopters capable of operating at night.
Fig. 1. Reis-D unmanned aerial reconnaissance vehicle
It should be noted that the Russian military fairly soon learnt a lesson from the initial stage of the operation. Their reorientation to equipping the federal forces with the newest available types of armaments has gained support from Russia's administration and parliament. In 2000, a two-fold increase in defense spending is secured by the federal budget, compared to 1999. According to Vice Premier Ilya Klebanov, this is the least what must be allocated for new weapon production in Russia in 2000.
The federal troops in Chechnya were supported by tactical air reconnaissance assets. In late September 1999, the Stroy-II unmanned aerial reconnaissance (UAR) complex was delivered to the federal forces. The complex comprises two ground-based mobile remote-control stations, launchers and 10 Pchela-1T recoverable remotely piloted vehicles (RPVs).
The Stroy-II complex was employed in Chechnya in 1995. Two years later it was adopted for service with the Russian Army. Due to financial restraints, the Defense Ministry has not yet purchased a single new Stroy-II complex and currently has only three earlier produced sets, one of which was tested in Chechnya. Russia's Defense Ministry is expected to spur adoption for service of the Pchela-1T RPV with night vision equipment. The Pchela-1T RPVs currently employed in Chechnya are equipped with only day surveillance TV cameras. However, the Pchela version, fitted out with infra-red night-vision devices, was developed a long time ago, but its tests have not yet been completed due to lack of funds.
If the night-capable RPVs were available to the federal forces, they would allow them to carry out round-the-clock reconnaissance and identification of targets and provide them with targeting data to attack terrorists with missiles and shell them day and night.
The pressing need for the use of RPVs in Chechnya made the Defense Ministry purchase a new batch of the Pchela-1T vehicles.
Fig. 2. Pchela remotely piloted vehicle
Another important issue for the Russian Army is radical modernization of the Stroy-II complex and the Pchela RPV developed in the 1980s and already obsolete. Once the funds necessary for modernizing the Stroy-II are allocated, its performance characteristics will be increased by a factor of 2 and its flight time extended from 2 to 4.5 hours.
The Russian Army's need for a radically modernized Stroy-II complex is in line with the demand for it among potential customers negotiating its purchase with the Rosvoorouzhenie Corporation. Foreign customers' wish to buy a 21st century complex is quite natural, especially that Russia is ready for its production. The only problem is funding. The events in Chechnya are likely to contribute to its prompt solution.
The Reis-D unmanned tactical aerial reconnaissance vehicle can also be employed in Chechnya. It has been delivered to the North-Caucasian Military District but remains in reserve. The federal forces could use Reis-D in Chechnya for air reconnaissance, target reconnaissance and assessment of results of shelling and bombing attacks to a depth of up to 150 km from the forward edge of the battle area. The Reis-D complex can use up to 12 parachute-recoverable RPVs. While each vehicle can make 5 guaranteed parachute landings, technically each vehicle can be used 10 to 15 times.
Depending on the mission, the RPV can be equipped with high-resolution photographic, TV and IR equipment. According to a Defense Ministry spokesman, this equipment can sight terrorists even through forest foliage. Air defense weapons employed by the Chechen terrorists are not able to counter the vehicle. Reis-D follows a programmed path at a low altitude (up to 150 meters) at a speed of 800 km/h.
Most likely, in the nearest future the latest Fara-1 portable radar developed by the Strela Research Institute will enter service with the federal forces. It has already been successfully tested in Chechnya. The radar is designed for reconnaissance of ground-based objects and warning the federal forces of enemy approach. Its large-scale application by the federal troops could radically change the nature of anti-terrorist operations at night and under low visibility conditions.
Tests of the Fara-1 radar in realistic combat conditions in Chechnya showed its capability for detecting militants at a distance of up to two kilometers and their equipment at a distance of up to four kilometers. High detection accuracy allows it to be used as a radar sight for large caliber machine guns or heavy grenade launchers.
More powerful radars, Monitor-M and Kredo-1E, equipped with fundamentally new displays, can detect a man at a distance of 8.5 km and 15 km, respectively, and military hardware at a distance of 20 km and 40 km, respectively. Moreover, they are able to track targets and, most importantly, to adjust artillery fire by projectile bursts. Presently, the Fara-1 and Monitor-M prototypes undergo tests in the Northern Caucasus. Strela's new development is the Kredo-1S radar. Adoption of this radar for service is likely to revolutionize anti-terrorist tactics. While the radar's mast-mounted antenna increases the target detection range, a thermal imager integrated with the radar channel enables the operator to identify targets and cue firing weapons onto them more accurately.
The army aviation will be reinforced with six Mi-24 attack helicopters and four Mi-8 military transport helicopters equipped for night operations. The first two upgraded Mi-8s have already been brought to Chechnya. The night-vision equipment carried by these helicopters has been developed by the Geofizika-NV Research and Production Association and the Urals Optomechanical Plant.
Two Ka-30 Black Shark helicopters are also in Chechnya. Their operation as part of the so-called combat experimental group has been tested at proving ranges. Now it is time to try the helicopters in combat. The events in Chechnya have confirmed that a negligent attitude to the country's Armed Forces and national defense can make it vulnerable even to a small local conflict.
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