Currently, the Russian army is implementing the Unified Tactical Control System (ESU TZ). General control loops are being created, uniting all branches of the armed forces, including artillery. Such modernization should significantly expand the combat capabilities of the army, and the positive consequences of such processes have already been confirmed in practice.
From concept to implementation
The development of ESU TK started in 2001 and was entrusted to the Sozvezdie concern (Voronezh). In 2007, the army began testing a basic set of the new system. In the course of these activities, an extensive list of necessary improvements was formed, and later the identified shortcomings were corrected. In the tenths, the ESU TK passed new stages of trial operation, incl. using in large army exercises.
In December 2018, the Ministry of Defense issued the Sozvezdie concern an order for the supply of all the main products from the ESU TK for subsequent implementation in the armed forces. The contract is designed for a period until 2027. The production of the ordered components was planned to begin in 2019, and by the beginning of 2020, the first serial devices and complexes were to enter the army.
The plans of the Ministry of Defense provide for the use of ESU TK in all major branches of the armed forces. So, the re-equipment of the missile forces and artillery has already begun. The available equipment can be connected to the new control system both through new devices and by updating command vehicles. Perspective projects initially provide for their application, which is reflected in the terms of reference.
The purpose of the ESU TK project is to create a fundamentally new command and control complex based on the network-centric principle. All subunits and units, forces and means of troops must work in a single information and control network and constantly conduct an active exchange of data on the situation and targets.
ESU TK in the proposed form is an automated control system built on the basis of a variety of components. The system as a whole includes 11 subsystems for different purposes. There are communication subsystems that unite all complexes of this purpose, as well as subsystems for controlling tanks, artillery, air defense, etc.
At the moment, the main way of integrating artillery units into the ESU TZ is the use of modern or modernized command and staff vehicles. They retain the communication and control equipment of the old standards, and also receive devices for interaction with the ESU TK. Thus, the command post is able to receive data from any sources and, on their basis, form combat missions for the subordinate battery / battalion.
Prospective artillery systems will be able to interact with ESU TK without intermediate links. Recently NPK Uralvagonzavod announced the development of new devices for solving this problem. In the Central Research Institute “Burevestnik” (part of the “UVZ”) created the so-called. a unified digital set of onboard equipment (OBE), which allows artillery systems to be incorporated directly into new control loops.
OBE can be manufactured in different versions that meet the requirements of specific samples of self-propelled artillery. This achieves the maximum degree of unification. In fact, in the context of communication and control facilities, all ACS are transferred to a single hardware base. The self-propelled gun with the new OBE retains all the previous capabilities for combat work using target designation and control from the command post, and also gets the ability to directly connect to the ESU TZ.
Command posts and OBE can be used with all modern models of Russian artillery. With their help, the ESU TZ includes self-propelled guns “Msta-S” and their newer modifications, multiple launch rocket systems “Tornado-G”, etc. In the promising project “Coalition-SV”, such funds are provided initially, in accordance with the customer’s specifications.
Verification in practice
In mid-January, the first exercises were held in the Western Military District with the full use of the ESU TK and the complexes included in it. Reportedly, artillerymen on self-propelled guns “Msta-SM2” with a set of modern equipment, reconnaissance aircraft with UAVs and other means, as well as promising communication and control systems were involved in the implementation of training tasks.
During the exercise, using standard reconnaissance means, training targets were identified, and data about them were transmitted in real time to the artillerymen. With a minimal delay, the self-propelled guns struck at the targets, and the drone crews ensured the adjustment of the fire.
To date, the industry has mastered the serial production of all the main components of the ESU TK and supplies them to the troops. This means that exercises with new components and new capabilities will be more and more frequent. It should also be expected that in the foreseeable future, a full-scale test of the network-centric capabilities of the army will take place at large exercises.
Benefits for artillery
The inclusion of artillery units in the contours of the ESU TK allows you to obtain a number of important advantages of various kinds. Together, they have a positive effect on the overall combat effectiveness, the availability of various capabilities and flexibility in the use of guns or rockets.
The network-centric principle provides for the connection of all forces and means to the common information and control space. This simplifies and speeds up the transfer of data and commands, for example, from reconnaissance systems to fire weapons. Accordingly, the time required to organize and carry out an attack is reduced, and the processes of adjusting fire are simplified.
At the same time, target designation and adjustment can be performed not only by standard artillery reconnaissance means. In fact, any member of the information and control network can search and indicate the target. This approach further accelerates the preparation and execution of a combat mission.
It should be noted that along with the new command and control facilities, promising and modernized weapons will be sent to the troops. So, it is expected that the 2S35 “Coalition-SV” self-propelled guns will be adopted and delivered, and the 2S19 “Msta-S” line will continue to be updated. Thus, the overall efficiency will grow both due to new control loops and by improving the tactical and technical characteristics.
In the early stages
Unfortunately, at the moment, the artillery of the Russian army cannot fully use all the advantages of the new control systems. The supply of ESU TZ components began recently, and the army has not yet had time to receive a large number of such systems. In addition, the overwhelming majority of available self-propelled guns and MLRS do not have modern equipment and need the assistance of modernized command posts.
But in the future, the situation will change. Rocket forces and artillery will receive the required number of modern and updated command posts, other components of the Unified Control System, new types of weapons and equipment, etc. Thanks to all these measures, artillery will not only retain its status as a key component of the army, but will also expand and increase its capabilities – along with other branches of the armed forces.