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Mine intentions: “Agriculture” is tested and goes into service

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The Russian military has completed tests of the new system “Agriculture”, which has already received the name of the “rocket minefield” in the army. It is expected that from next year it will begin to enter service with brigades and regiments of engineering troops. The novelty is capable of creating minefields of the desired configuration at a distance of up to 15 km in minutes – it fires rockets that scatter mines in a given place. Such vehicles are especially effective in mobile combat operations in the absence of a clear front line, experts say.

Test passed

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The tests of the remote mining engineering system (ISDM) – this is how the novelty is officially designated – have been successfully completed as part of the Caucasus-2020 exercise, sources in the defense department told Izvestia. “Agriculture” was involved in the drawing of the final episode at the Kapustin Yar training ground on September 25 in the presence of President Vladimir Putin and senior military leaders. A minefield installed by combat vehicles delayed the advance of the mock enemy’s reserves and limited their maneuverability.

The fact that, in addition to conventional missiles with mines, high-precision ammunition has been developed for Agriculture, was announced in July this year by the general director of the Rostec state corporation, Sergei Chemezov. For their production, a special workshop was built at the Tula NPO “Splav”.

Corrected missiles allow ISDM to expose a minefield impenetrable to the enemy in a matter of minutes. The system fires rockets that scatter mines at a given location. At the same time, due to the unique aiming equipment, “Agriculture” can create a minefield of any complexity, including with ready-made passages in it for its troops.

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Machines of the ISDM remote mining complex during a rehearsal of the parade dedicated to the 75th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War

Machines of the remote mining complex ISDM “Agriculture” during the rehearsal of the parade dedicated to the 75th anniversary of the victory in the Great Patriotic War

Photo: TASS / Valery Sharifulin

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In the 1970s, after testing, the military refused to adopt a similar system based on the Grad and Uragan multiple rocket launchers. The problem was the low accuracy of the systems of that time at long distances and the inability to control the configuration of the delivered barrage. Such a minefield could become a threat not only to the enemy, but also to its troops.

“Unlike traditional systems, the new system allows laying minefields at a higher speed and configuration according to the chosen program,” military expert Viktor Murakhovsky told Izvestia. – In addition, the safety for the mine layer itself is sharply increased if it is forced to work on the routes of the advancement of enemy troops. This increases the effectiveness of these activities. There is also an opportunity to plant mines with a self-liquidator – so that later their troops can overcome the fields without having to clear them. Remote mining systems are especially relevant in conditions of mobile combat operations in the absence of a solid front line.

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The Splav company specializes in the production of multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS). “Agriculture” vaguely resembles the usual “Grad” or “Tornado-G” and has the same caliber of 122 mm. On each eight-wheeled armored chassis of “KamAZ” are mounted two packages of 25 missiles, loaded with mines. The range of their flight is from 5 to 15 km.

In addition to the combat vehicle, the system also includes a transport-loader and containers with missiles. Recharging the launcher with their help is faster than on a conventional MLRS of the same caliber, due to the possibility of replacing the entire guide block.

The “filling” of each container may vary. Some are armed with missiles only with antipersonnel or anti-tank mines. Others have a mixed set of several types to install combined barriers. They are selected for use based on the situation on the battlefield.

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Military equipment travels to the center of Moscow for a night rehearsal of the parade in honor of the 75th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War. Right: remote mining engineering system ISDM

Military equipment travels to the center of Moscow for a night rehearsal of the parade in honor of the 75th anniversary of victory in the Great Patriotic War. Right: Engineering system of remote mining “Agriculture”

Photo: RIA Novosti / Mikhail Voskresensky

All calculations for preparation for firing are carried out automatically, as on the latest MLRS. For this, the combat vehicle is equipped not only with a satellite navigation system and a computer, but also with a weather station. This allows you to make adjustments and take into account the effect of weather on the flight of missiles.

Information about the launch of ammunition with mines and the coordinates of their fall is recorded by the system itself, and is also transmitted to the higher headquarters. On the electronic map of the terrain, the command immediately displays the location and size of the minefield. This way it will not come as a surprise to its own troops and it will be easier to make sure of its safety after the end of hostilities.

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Much attention was paid to improving the ammunition of the new vehicle. In accordance with the second protocol of the Geneva Convention, each mine is equipped with programmable self-destructors. They guarantee that the minefield will not be eternal, but deactivated after a certain time, even without human intervention.

Competitors are inferior

Now in service with the engineering troops there are other systems capable of high-speed mining. But their capabilities, and most importantly, the range of application are inferior to the novelty.

The new tracked minelayer GMZ-3, when setting a minefield, fixes not only the configuration, but also the exact position of each installed mine. But he is laying only a narrow strip of obstacles less than 3 km long.

The older universal mine layer (UMP), based on the chassis of the ZIL-131 truck, is designed to install solid minefields at short distances. Its spread radius is about 100 m.

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Universal mine layer UMP

Universal mine layer

Photo: commons.wikimedia.org

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An unusual option is the VSM-1 helicopter mining system, which is mounted on the Mi-8. It scatters mines from overhead containers when flying at low altitude. But unlike missiles, manned aircraft cannot always be used over the battlefield or behind enemy lines.

For all modern remote mining systems, new “smart” antipersonnel and anti-tank mines can be used. Among them is POM-3, which distinguishes a person from an animal and can distinguish human steps even against the background of vibrations from armored vehicles passing nearby.

Anti-tank PTM-4 has a non-contact magnetic target sensor. Therefore, it works even if the tank did not run over it with a caterpillar. The explosion takes place under the vulnerable bottom of the combat vehicle. Like POM-3, it can self-destruct after a set period of time.

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