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“Birdman” with a laser: Ground Forces will receive a new air defense system


The laser “Birdman” will protect “Armata” and “Kurganets” from drones, bombs and missiles. This is the name given to the new anti-aircraft missile system, which will soon be received by the Ground Forces. Earlier it was reported that the air defense system will go only into service with the Airborne Forces. But at the present time, a fundamental decision has been made to modify the “Birds” for the needs of the “landowners”. The air defense system should be tested in two years. In the troops, the novelty, installed on the BMP-3 chassis, will replace the outdated Soviet-era complexes and will protect equipment and personnel on the battlefield and on the march from modern drones and high-precision weapons.

Ground “Birds”

The fundamental decision to develop a land-based version of the Ptitselov has already been made, and work on it is already underway, sources in the military department told Izvestia. The new air defense system will be installed on the chassis of the BMP-3 tracked infantry fighting vehicle. Therefore, the “Birdman” will be able to accompany tanks and other equipment of the Ground Forces on any terrain. In the ground version, the new air defense system can receive more long-range missiles than in the airborne version, the sources added.

Earlier, the commander of the Airborne Forces, Colonel-General Andrei Serdyukov, said that the modern airborne anti-aircraft missile system “Ptitselov” will receive his arm of troops by 2022.

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BMP-3 infantry fighting vehicle

Photo: Izvestia / Vitaly Bezrukikh

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According to the schedule of test stages (available to Izvestia), it is also planned to complete the experimental design work on the development of the land-based Ptitselov and test it by the end of 2022. The development of two different chassis for it is being carried out in parallel.

It is already known that the complex will be equipped with a round-the-clock all-weather optical-location station with a circular view. With it, the “Birdman” will be able to detect targets without giving away its position by radar radiation. The same detection method is used by the Strela-10 air defense missile system, which a new complex is intended to replace. The key difference will be the guidance of more advanced and powerful missiles using a laser control channel.

“The Strela-10 complex has only one guidance channel – an optical one,” military expert Viktor Murakhovsky told Izvestia. – It works reliably in simple weather conditions, but in others it is no longer so effective. It has a limited range. The missile on the complex uses an outdated one, it does not even require modernization, but replacement with another.

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Anti-aircraft missile system (SAM) “Strela-10”

Photo: Izvestia / Alexey Maishev

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The Strela-10 complexes are used in anti-aircraft battalions of motorized rifle and tank regiments. They cover the troops in the immediate tactical zone. Typical means of air attack in it are long-range precision weapons, tactical aircraft helicopters and, in recent years, drones with a combat payload. It is necessary to cover the troops from all this, the expert noted.

– As a matter of fact, the zone in which such complexes operate is the last line of defense and cover of troops. It is necessary to have modern facilities there. Moreover, you need to have a bunch of air defense artillery and missile systems. The artillery component in it can be a new “Derivation-Air Defense” with a 57-millimeter cannon, – added Viktor Murakhovsky.

Defense of the battlefield

Air defense systems of the Ground Forces use complexes of different ranges to create multi-layer and multi-level protection against air threats for units and formations in battle, on the march and in areas of concentration. This is their difference from the air defense systems of the Aerospace Forces, whose tasks include covering the country’s air borders, infrastructure facilities and cities. All military air defense equipment is now being actively updated in order to achieve the planned indicator of 70% of new and modernized models.

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Anti-aircraft missile systems (SAM) S-300V and SAM “Buk”

Photo: Izvestia / Dmitry Korotaev

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To intercept targets at the long range and repel the strikes of cruise and ballistic missiles, the Ground Forces receive S-300V4 complexes, on average – “Pantsiri” and “Buki”. In December 2016, the Ministry of Defense signed a contract with KBP JSC for the creation of Pantsir-SM-SV to provide air defense of formations and military facilities of the ground forces. The upgraded Buk-M3 is already being delivered to the troops.

Short-range complexes are much more diverse. In the Ground Forces you can find cannon “Shilki”, missile-cannon “Tunguska”, missile “Osu”, “Strela-10”, “Tor”. In the future, many of them can be replaced with a new single complex “Poultry”.

– The Strela-10 complex was put into service many decades ago. The goals for which he worked, the nature of the hostilities – everything has changed a lot, – military expert Vladislav Shurygin explained to Izvestia. – If there is an opportunity to replace him, the military, of course, will be delighted. In the past fifteen years, the troops have been actively replacing the line of air defense equipment. Within the framework of this rearmament, it is possible to replace the regimental echelon systems, to which the Strela-10 belongs. The only question is whether there is enough money for it.



SAM “Tor”

Photo: Izvestia / Alexey Maishev

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For direct self-defense on the battlefield, Igla and Strela portable anti-aircraft missile systems (MANPADS) with a range not exceeding 5 km are used. Now they are being massively replaced with the newest “Verba” MANPADS with an increased range and an improved homing head.

Landing roots

The airborne version of the Ptitselov is being developed on the chassis of the BMD-4M airborne assault vehicle, which will allow it to be dropped by parachute.

Now the most powerful air defense system at the disposal of the Airborne Forces is the Strela-10M3 tracked air defense missile system with advanced missiles. But even with them, its range is limited to 5 km, and its height is 3.5 km. The reaction time no longer allows the complex to fight high-precision weapons. In addition to the landing, a large number of such vehicles are used in the Ground Forces.

The timing of the creation of “Birdcatcher” for the Airborne Forces has been postponed several times. Various candidates were also named for the role of a combat module and missiles for it.

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Anti-aircraft missile-gun system (ZRPK) “Pantsir-S1” and SAM “Strela-10”

Photo: Izvestia / Alexey Maishev

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Initially, it was reported that the “Ptitselova” will be created on the basis of a landing landing gear and a lightweight and simplified turret from the Pantsir anti-aircraft missile and cannon complex. Then the main candidate for this role was the Sosna air defense missile system being developed, a feature of which is a laser missile guidance system. According to the manufacturer, they have a range of up to 10 km and an altitude reach of 5 km, which is almost twice as high as that of Strela. She also has more ammunition ready to fire – twelve to four.

The Ground Forces already have experience in adapting new air defense systems that came from other branches and branches of the armed forces. Last year, the state tests of the Gibka-S complex, intended for self-defense of troops and for covering columns on the march, were successfully completed. It combines the chassis of an armored four-wheeled “Tiger” and a remote-controlled turret with “Verba” or “Igla-S” missiles, which was developed to equip boats and small ships of the Navy.


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