SAM “Strela-10MN” one of the units of the Airborne Forces. Photo of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation
Several years ago, it became known about the development of a promising anti-aircraft missile system with the code “Birdies”, designed specifically for the airborne troops. Now it is reported about plans to create a modification for the ground forces. In both cases, the new air defense system should have a positive effect on the organization of military air defense.
Old and new complex
The first news about a short-range airborne airborne missile system for the Airborne Forces appeared several years ago. Subsequently, certain details of the work were reported, as well as the timing of the appearance of such equipment in the army. According to the latest reports of this kind, “Birdies” will enter service with the Airborne Forces by 2022 and will replace the outdated complexes of the Strela-10 family.
According to known data, the Ptitselov air defense system will be built on the redesigned chassis of the BMD-4M airborne combat vehicle, which is in serial production. The launcher, fire control devices and anti-aircraft missile are borrowed from the Sosna land-based complex, presented several years ago.
At the end of August, Izvestia, citing its sources, announced the start of the development of a new version of the Ptitselov, now for the ground forces. As in the case of the Airborne Forces, it is intended to replace the old Strel-10. The main difference between the army complex will be a different chassis – it will be built on the basis of the BMP-3. It is also planned to develop an upgraded missile with an increased firing range.
Development work on the new “Birdcatcher” will continue until 2022. After passing all the tests, the complex will be put into service and will go into series. At the same time, as follows from different reports, two versions of the air defense system for different types of troops will be refined, produced and operated in parallel.
According to numerous reports of the recent past, the basic version of the air defense system “Birds” will receive a combat module and weapons from “Sosna”. The latter carries a tower-type launcher with a circular horizontal guidance and swinging blocks for the installation of transport and launch containers. Optoelectronic equipment is placed on the tower. The complex controls are located in the chassis.
To search and track the target, the Sosna / Ptitselov air defense missile system uses optoelectronic means. The equipment includes a television and thermal imaging channel, as well as a separate “direction finding” channel and a laser rangefinder. Such devices allow you to search for targets at distances exceeding the firing range, but at the same time they do not unmask themselves with radiation. A tele-oriented missile guidance system using a laser beam is used. The maximum of processes is automated and does not require operator intervention. There is a mode of centralized control of several air defense systems from one command post.
ZRK “Sosna” based on MT-LB. Photo by KB Točmaš
The launcher carries two blocks of six TPK missiles each. The containers hold 9M340 missiles. This is a bicaliber product weighing approx. 40 kg with a maximum speed of 900 m / s. The firing range is 10 km, the altitude is 5 km. In flight, the missile is capable of maneuvering with an overload of up to 40. The missile is designed to destroy air targets of different classes; it is also possible to attack ground targets.
The first samples of the Sosna air defense system were built on the MT-LB chassis. On the roof, with a shift to the stern, a tower installation was placed, and the control equipment was inside the hull. In 2019, a new version of the complex was shown for the first time at the Army forum, now on the BMP-3 chassis. It was mentioned that this is the serial appearance of the “Pine”, intended for delivery to the troops.
The “Poultry” complex for the Airborne Forces represents the “Sosny” units on the BMD-4M chassis. This SAM architecture has several advantages. First of all, it provides unification with the new standard airborne armored vehicle. Together with this, the ability to work in the same battle formations with linear airborne vehicles is achieved, as well as the possibility of landing and parachute landing.
The ground forces have different requirements for their equipment, and therefore they make a “Bird catcher” based on the BMP-3. This will give all the advantages in terms of unification and joint combat use. At the same time, we are talking about unification not only with an infantry fighting vehicle. Several other machines for various purposes were developed on a similar chassis, incl. anti-aircraft weapons.
Thus, the main approaches and principles proposed in the two Ptitselov projects allow two branches of the armed forces to obtain promising air defense systems with the highest characteristics, best adapted to the conditions of their work.
Complex instead of complex
However, the available data on the development and implementation of the Ptitselov air defense system leave some questions. So, on the basis of the land “Sosna” by transferring components, they created a landing complex. Now its combat module is proposed to be rearranged on the chassis of an infantry fighting vehicle – in the interests of the ground forces.
However, such an air defense system exists, and it has already been demonstrated to the public, moreover, as a modification of the “Pine” and without any connection with the “Birds” project. Why the latest news is about a new modification of the “Birdman”, and not about the already known version of “Pine” – is unclear. However, one can try to find explanations for this.
“Pine” on the BMP-3 chassis. Photo of t / k “Zvezda”
Apparently, this is not a confusion, and for the ground forces they are indeed making their own modification of the Ptitselov air defense system. Probably, the combat equipment of this complex is not a simple copy of the Pines module, but its improved version. For the Airborne Forces, greater resistance to specific loads and other design features are required, which may be of interest to the army. In addition, the “Birdman” is a newer development and should have advantages over the basic air defense system.
Thus, the expected “Birds” for the ground forces externally and in architecture should be similar to the “Pine” of the serial appearance arr. 2019, but at the same time differ in the composition of equipment, characteristics, etc. In particular, it is already known about the development of a new missile with improved combat qualities.
What the future holds for Sosna in connection with the launch of a new project is unknown. In the recent past, the domestic media mentioned its imminent adoption into service. Now this project may lose prospects.
The bulk of the data on the “Birdcatcher” project in both of its versions is still closed, and only the most general information is known. The project is going to be completed by 2022, and then all the most interesting details may appear.
At the same time, it is already obvious that an anti-aircraft complex of the “Pine” or “Ptitselov” type is necessary for both ground and airborne troops. Such an air defense system will provide rearmament with the decommissioning of the outdated Strel-10, and due to its higher tactical and technical characteristics and combat qualities, it will increase the combat effectiveness of the military air defense. In addition, he will determine its prospects for the coming years or even decades. In connection with the development of manned and unmanned aircraft, as well as means of attack, this area is acquiring particular importance, and the corresponding responsibility is assigned to new projects.
It should be noted that now, in the interests of military air defense, several promising anti-aircraft systems are being created at once. First of all, these are missile systems of several types; there is also a return to the idea of an artillery system. As a result of all these projects, including the proposed “Birdcatcher”, the Russian army, represented by several types of troops, will receive a number of promising models capable of repelling any possible air threats, relevant and promising.