Russian Defense Innovations

BRICS Business Magazine offers an overview of the latest models of Russian weapons presented at the Army-2016 Expo.

Multipurpose helicopter Mi-38

Russian Helicopters

At the Army-2016 show, Russian Helicopters Holding introduced its newest transport helicopter, Mi-38. The work on this military vehicle started back in 1981. It was created to replace the common but outdated Mi-8 model. The new Mi-38 can be used to transport cargo and passengers, as a craft for offshore missions, a flying hospital, or a search-and-rescue helicopter. The exhibition also introduced the Arctic modification of the helicopter – the Mi-8AMTSh-VA.

The Mi-38 has now been certified by the Federal Air Transport Agency, and the helicopter will be mass produced at the Kazan Helicopter Plant. By 2018, Russian Helicopters will create a military version of Mi-38. The modified helicopter, designed for the Russian Defense Ministry, will be equipped exclusively with modules and components manufactured in Russia.

The new helicopter is made of not only traditional but also modern composite materials, for example, the main rotor and the anti-torque tail rotor. The advantage of high-tech material is that it is less prone to wear, so unlike the metal blades of the Mi-8, the composite blades do not require replacement throughout the entire service life of the helicopter. The cockpit is made entirely of glass, with dozens of its mechanical units replaced by electronic ones. The helicopter can go as high as 3,000 meters in only six minutes.

Russian Helicopters originally planned to equip the new helicopters with Canadian-made Pratt & Whitney engines. But, they have been successfully replaced by the engines made by JSC Klimov in St. Petersburg (part of Rostec United Engine Corporation).

Tiltrotor plane

VR-Technologies design office

VR-Technologies design office is part of Russian Helicopters Holding. VR-Technologies was at the Army-2016 Expo to present its revolutionary craft – the tiltrotor. This vehicle’s official name is ‘RHV-35 Type Unmanned Aircraft System’.

The tiltrotor is a kind of compact hybrid of an airplane and a helicopter equipped with rotating engine pods. The device is capable of vertical takeoffs and landings on restricted landing pads while transporting passengers or cargo and with greater speed and over longer distances than traditional helicopters. It is intended for monitoring environmental conditions and environmental protection, conducting aerial photography, and delivering small payloads (e.g. medicine) to remote areas. Work on this craft began in 2015, now the tiltrotor is undergoing testing.

The tiltrotor’s takeoff weight is 35 kilograms; it is capable of rising to a height of 2,000 meters and carrying a payload of up to six kilograms. The UAV’s range in automatic mode is about 450 kilometers, and it is set in motion by a hybrid propulsion system, allowing it to accelerate to 500 kilometers per hour.

‘Soratnik’ unmanned ground vehicle (UGV)

Kalashnikov Concern

The Kalashnikov Concern’s ‘Soratnik’ UGV is perhaps one of the most innovative designs of the Russian military-industrial complex. It is an unmanned tracked armored vehicle that can can be used for combat reconnaissance, fire support, protection, and patrolling of important facilities, as well as mine clearance and obstacle clearing. ‘Soratnik’ was created in accordance with the terms of reference issued by the Russian Ministry of Defense.

The armored vehicle is equipped with a computer control system, concealed radio communications equipment, as well as detection and surveillance systems. The UGV can be mounted with a combat module, and it can work in conjunction with other automated combat units, including unmanned aerial vehicles.

Light remote-controlled platform with a turret

Kalashnikov Concern

On request from the Ministry of Defense, Kalashnikov has also developed another remote-controlled combat vehicle – a light turret platform, which aims to eliminate enemy personnel with small arms. The platform is designed to provide lines of defense and security perimeters. It can be equipped with an AK series assault rifle or the SVDM sniper rifle.

The platform consists of a remote-controlled turret with mechanisms for guidance and firing, surveillance and aiming, as well as a remote control device. The remote is equipped with a color display, which shows the image received from the turret’s observation sensors, as well as control mechanisms responsible for targeting and firing.

Robots and unmanned aerial vehicles also fall within the scope of interest of United Instrument Manufacturing Corporation. At the Army-2016 Expo, it presented its system of control and data transmission to guests and participants of the forum. The new system can operate up to 10 combat units, both reconnaissance drones and ground robots.

The system not only manages combat units, but also transmits data, such as video, over a distance of up to several kilometers, while remaining invisible to enemy electronic intelligence. The signal remains within the noise spectrum, so it is effectively lost and cannot be detected by the enemy.

‘Palantin’ mutipurpose radioelectronic warfare complex

United Instrument Manufacturing Corporation

United Instrument Manufacturing Corporation demonstrated another novelty only completed this year: the ‘Palantin’ multifunctional complex electronic warfare system. This highly complex new-generation system will allow communications surveillance and jamming enemy communications systems, including radio communication systems based on SDR technology.

The system itself is able to build an optimal algorithm to carry out tasks, plus autonomously allocate resources and the functional load of each of the machines. It brings together the work of various radioelectronic warfare systems into a single network, improving the efficiency of the systems.

UIM plans to launch ‘Palantin’ into service in 2017.

Individual portable electronic intelligence unit

United Instrument Manufacturing Corporation

Another UIM design is a personal compact electronic intelligence unit. This compact device (that fits into a normal bag) detects and measures the basic parameters of the enemy’s electronic communications signals with pulsed and continuous radiation.

With the help of such a station, a soldier can carry out communications reconnaissance on the battlefield, suppress frequencies used by explosive devices, and see the enemy’s electronic communication systems on the screen.

This passive radiation from the device is not harmful to the health of the operator.

As stated in the company’s press release, depending on the terrain, this equipment is capable of monitoring communications at a distance of several dozen kilometers. Continuous operation time is not less than 12 hours, and deployment takes less than a minute.

It can be used by special operations teams and intelligence units, as well as security specialists, guarding the perimeter of critical facilities.

‘Tigr’ remote-controlled armored vehicle

Military-Industrial Company (VPK)

Robots and unmanned devices is a trend in new military hardware. The Military-Industrial Company (VPK) has launched a remote-controlled modification of the ‘Tigr’ armored vehicle. The machine can move and fire from 30-millimeter guns without a human in the cockpit. This is the first time in the world that such a large-caliber weapon has been mounted on a vehicle of this class.

The operator located at a certain distance from the machine, can control the weapon station using the helmet-mounted system. The ‘Tigr’ is able to move and shoot at the operator’s commands, as well as find and track targets on its own. The biaxial armored car will weigh less than nine tons and could travel on virtually any roads. Right now, the unmanned ‘Tigr’ is undergoing road tests and firing trials.

RPK-16 light machine gun, NE-338 and SVK sniper rifles

Kalashnikov Concern

The small arms portion of the Army-2016 Expo also had a few novelties. Kalashnikov Concern introduced the RPK-16, a new lightweight 5.45-milimeter machine gun with interchangeable barrel as well as two new rifles.

The machine gun design allows swapping the longer barrel with a short one so it can be used as an assault rifle. The lightweight, compact, and versatile RPK-16 machine gun has already triggered an order from the Ministry of Defense.

The other innovations from Kalashnikov were prototypes of two sniper rifles: the modular high-precision VSV-338 and the semi-automatic SVK. According to the Kalashnikov press release, “The compact semi-automatic SVK sniper rifle was developed based on feedback from special operations forces, and has been designed to be chambered in two ammunition versions: the 7.62x54R Russian cartridge (the sniper version) and the most common rifle cartridge in the world – the 7.62x51 NATO. Currently, the prototype rifles are in the process of being factory tested.”

Both rifles have yet to undergo thorough factory testing, but are virtually ready for action.

Uran-9 Combat Robot

Rostec Corporation

The ‘Tigr’ combat unit has a unified design and control system with a 30-milimeter cannon from the Uran-9 heavy combat robot. Russia’s first ever heavy combat robot was presented at the expo by Rostec Corporation. Recently, the robot passed all government-mandated tests and came into service with the Russian armed forces.

Uran is a whole family of robots, but, so far, Rostec has only introduced one modification in public. The robot is equipped with a 30-milimeter automatic gun, a twin-barreled 7.62-milimeter machine-gun, ‘Ataka’, anti-tank guided missiles, as well as target acquisition, recognition, and tracking systems.

Uran-9 can move without human interaction, so its use will significantly reduce losses among military personnel. The robot is able to avoid obstacles and go on reconnaissance missions, but it only opens fire after an operator command. The robot unit can operate at a distance of three kilometers from its operator. A source in the military-industrial complex told Tass Russian News Agency that the Russian army will receive 20 Uran-9 combat robots by the end of the year. “By this year’s end, the Army will have received delivery of five lots of the Uran-9 multipurpose combat robotic systems. Each lot includes four combat vehicles: a reconnaissance robot or a fire support robot, a mobile command post, and two power tugs,” a spokesman said.

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