Today techs Obituary! Has The Reign Of Chilly Conflict-Period Tanks, Weapons & Howitzers Ended As Evident By Current Eurasian Wars?

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Evaluation By Lt Gen (Dr) V Okay Saxena

From the smoldering particles of the destroyed battle machines on the battlefields of Nagorno-Karabakh rose the early voices writing obituaries of a number of standard war-waging items of kit.

These voices have solely gained in decibels and are decrying a extra intensive vary of standard arsenal within the ongoing Russo-Ukraine battle. This work analyses the above development and presents a viewpoint on the validity of such claims.

THE EVENTS

EVENT 1: THE AZERBAIJAN – ARMENIA CONFLICT

A quick seize of occasions

– Method again in Sep 2020, the 2 Transcaucasia Republics of Armenia and Azerbaijan engaged in a bloody battle over rival claims on the as soon as autonomous area of Nagorno-Karabakh (army historical past of battle not lined).

– On this battle, Azerbaijan, apart from its standard arsenal, employed drone energy in a serious means. It pressed into service a big number of small drones and Medium Altitude Lengthy Endurance (MALE) Unmanned Aerial Techniques (UAS).

A few of these machines included the Turkish Bayraktar TB2 drone, Israeli Harop drone, different small drones like Orbiter IK, Orbiter3, Skystriker as loitering munitions, and Hermes and Heron collection of MALE UAS. To look at the premise, the aptitude of two small drones, specifically, Bayractar TB2 and Harop, are captured as reference merely to provide an thought of their damaging potential

– TB2 is a lethal machine. A few of its fight virtues are as underneath:-

  • By class, it’s a MALE drone with an altitude ceiling of 27000 ft and endurance of 27 hrs.
  • Its eyes and ears embody the Energetic Digital Scan Array (AESA) Radar able to detecting very small targets, i.e., targets which, on account of their dimension, have a low detectability to traditional radars. Such detectability is measured by way of their Radar Cross Part or RCS, which of their case is relatively very low. In addition to AESA, it has different technique of goal acquisition based mostly on electro-optical ( EO) or Infrared (IR) based mostly sensors.
  • It has an expansive warhead payload that features L-UMTAS radio-controlled, solid-fuelled anti-tank guided missiles (vary 500m to eight km), laser-guided precision munitions (MAM-C, MAM-L, vary 8-14 km), and Cirit laser-guided missile in anti-armor and anti-personal position (vary 1.5-8 km).
  • Configured as above, the TB2 is an efficient machine for shut fight within the TBA. It may well decide up targets like tanks, armored automobiles, artillery items, air protection weapons, missiles, sensors, and direct precision weapons.

– Harop, as said, is a loitering munition with” eyes, ears, and tooth” Some salient factors:

  • It may well purchase targets utilizing its twin technique of surveillance and monitoring, together with Radio Frequency (RF) and EO sensors.
  • As soon as the goal from its surveillance feed is chosen by its floor controller, he can direct the Harop for a catastrophic collision kill within the Kamikaze mode utilizing its 23 Kg single warhead.
  • The machine has spectacular efficiency figures (vary of 1000km, pace 417km/h, and endurance 6 hrs.
  • As a result of its small RCS (<0.5m2, F16-C 1.2m2), Harop largely stays undetected by standard sensors.

Drone And Missile Energy In Motion

In a battle that lasted from September 27 to October 27, 2020, whereas each side suffered casualties in males and materials, any variety of dwell streaming movies confirmed the next about drone energy:-

– TB2 and Harop triggered disproportionate casualties by taking pot photographs on tanks and armored automobiles convoys.

– There have been many ghastly sights of the “little monsters” killing artillery items, air protection weapons, and sensors (a working example was a sensor kill on the mighty S 300 long-range air protection and anti-missile system).

– In addition to the drones, each side used Anti-Tank Guided Missiles (ATGMs). Azerbaijan used the Spike long-range 2 (LR2) and Spike extended-range 2 (ER2) Israeli ATGMs, Russian Konkurs, and Kornet E ATGMs beside the Russian Khrizantema tank destroyer ATGM. It additionally employed the RPG 7 rocket launchers and SPG9 recoilless anti-tank weapons.

Slicing To Armenian Losses

Whereas each side suffered losses, those on the Armenian aspect (which misplaced this battle) are quoted to drive dwelling the purport of this work.

In line with open sources, the Armenian losses within the interval from September 27 to October 17, 2020, amounted as much as 100-137 tanks (T72, T80) and armored automobiles, as much as 100 artillery weapons/howitzers/mortars, as much as 60 air protection weapons, missiles and sensors, 11 Battle Administration Command and Management Centres ( BMC2) facilities and one S-300 air protection and anti-missile system (some open sources have claimed multiple) apart from big destruction of infrastructure and army and civilian casualties.

today techs tb2-drone-bayraktar
File Picture: Bayraktar Drone By way of Twitter

Whereas many of the tanks, and armored automobiles, succumbed to ATGM strikes, artillery weapons and air protection methods took many casualties on account of close-range fires by quite a lot of arsenal on board the Bayractar and the Harop drones, apart from strikes by fight plane and assault helicopters.

EVENT 2: THE ONGOING RUSSO-UKRAINIAN CONFLICT

The story of huge gear destruction on the battlefields of Nagorno-Karabakh is repeating itself within the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian battle, now in its sixth month, leaving a mammoth path of dying and destruction in its wake and a catastrophic human calamity. Some details related to this work are captured.

– Whereas in Nagorno-Karabakh, the Harop and different loitering munitions have been giving firm to the Bayractar TB2, right here in Ukraine, there are US Switchblade kamikaze drones and a number of other different drones from western nations together with TB 2.

– As per an open supply report dated August 07, 2022 (quoting western sources), the tally of Russian tanks and different armored automobiles killed stands at a staggering determine of 1805. Even when this determine is majorly corrected for exaggeration and misinformation, the residual quantity will nonetheless be important by any customary.

today techs justify;”>– One other tank killer within the Ukraine battle has been the preponderance of lethal ATGMs unfold far and vast on the battlefield. The US reportedly equipped greater than 2000 Javelins ATGMs (and counting) and 6000 AT4 man-portable anti-tank weapons. UK/Sweden has equipped 3000+ short-range New Technology Gentle Anti-tank weapons (NLAWs). In addition to, there are Panzerfaust-3s ATGMs from Germany.

today techs T-90Russia
File Picture: A devastated Russian Tank

– Any variety of streaming movies have proven Russian tanks and armored automobiles grounded to halt by the lethal fires of ATGMs and aerial strikes by drones.

– Whereas on one aspect, the Russian massed artillery fireplace is inflicting super destruction, pulverizing targets earlier than the contact battle, equally seen are the fires rising from the smoldering stays of weapons and howitzers struck by the Ukrainian counter rocket and mortar fireplace.

– One other seen phenomenon within the tactical battle space is the skewed variety of kills on plane and assault helicopters scored by the Man-Moveable SAMs (briefly known as the MANPADS).

– Not solely the MANPADS from Ukraine’s arsenal (Igla, Igla 1M, Igla 1S, Strela 2M, and so on.) are inflicting havoc, but in addition those from a bunch of different nations (US – Stinger, UK- Star Streak, different MANPADS from the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Lithuania and. ) are scoring kills. The lack of Russian assault helicopters by the above-stated MANPADS is telling.

THE OBITUARY TREND

Within the context of the occasions lined above, the next voices are being heard within the open supply:-

– The traditional tank as a strong battle machine within the tactical battleground has demised within the face of recent vulnerabilities from small drones and ATGMS.

– The erstwhile standard Floor Based mostly Air Protection Weapons Techniques (GBADWS) are not any match for the evolving small drone menace.
– Lengthy Vary heavy weapons and howitzers are getting dated as these can not survive fast and intense counter-battery fireplace.

– Strike plane and assault helicopters are a NOGO in a tactical battle space infested with MANPADS.

ANALYSIS AND REFLECTIONS

Saying the tank’s demise post-war or two will likely be short-sighted and a sort of knee-jerk response. Delving deeper will reveal a unique reality.

Speaking about Nagorno-Karabakh, many tank kills have been attributed to the lethal strikes by drone energy. Did Armenia have the cash wanted to cope with today techs the today techs little monsters? Some particulars are lined:

– The Armenian Floor-based air protection (GBAD) was completely based mostly on Russian-origin weapons and missiles.

  • The weapons included the 23 mm twin-barrel towed weapons (vary 2500m fee of fireside 1600-2000 rounds per minute or rpm) and ZSU 234B Schilka self-propelled (SP) weapons ( vary 2500m rate-3400 rpm).
  • The missiles included a complete vary of Russian SAMs. Strela 10M (Vary 5km, altitude ceiling 11,500 km), Upgraded OSA-AK SAMs (vary of 10 km, altitude ceiling of 15000 ft.), SAM 6 (2K12Kub) Kvadrat weapon system (vary 24 km and altitude ceiling of 20,000 ft.), Buk M2 Medium Vary SAM (MRSAM) system (vary of 30 Km and an altitude ceiling of 46000 ft), Upgraded Pechora SAMs (vary 35 km, altitude ceiling 59000 ft), SA-4 Ganef MRSAM system (vary of 55 Km, altitude ceiling 80,000+ ft.) and S-300 PM lengthy vary (40-350 Km) SAM and anti-ballistic missile protection system.

– Apart from S-300, BUK 2M, and OSA AK (upgraded) remainder of the GBADWS have been of 1960-70 expertise. Extra importantly, these are standard weapons NOT SUITABLE TO COUNTER THE SMALL DRONE THREAT. Why so?

  • Small drones pose a today techs twin problem of detection and killing.
  • As a result of their small dimension, they’ve a really low detectability (implying low RCS) in comparison with standard previous classic radars. Specialist radars are required to detect such small RCS targets. These are both the Energetic Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radars or particular radars within the frequency band C, X, Ku, Okay (6-15 GHz) or frequency modulated steady wave (FMCW) radars, and so on.
  • The best small drone detectors are Electro-optical (EO) and Infrared sensors which produce a 3D dynamic picture of the drone in flight and could be acknowledged in opposition to a threshold background muddle/noise.
  • For the kill, the traditional weapons and missiles, particularly the latter, are unsuitable to tackle small drones. The comparative prices are skewed in favor of the attacker, and all of the small drones additionally can’t be taken out on a UAS-infested battlefield.
  • The efficient drone killers are small arms and excessive fee of fireside air protection weapons spewing 3000-8000 rpm saturating the kill zone or the mushy kill methods based mostly on radio frequency (RF) jamming, laser kill, or Digital warfare-based kills ( crippling the electronics associated to communication, navigation or command, and management on board the small drones).

– Armenian GBAD arsenal lacked the detection and kill methods said above. This allowed the UAS to play havoc on tanks and armored automobiles. It was certainly a dreadful sight to see a kamikaze drone taking a catastrophic collision kill on an S-300 sensor or many tanks getting shot up by the ATGMs.

today techs Greek S-300
File Picture: S-300

Now a phrase concerning the battle drills and coaching. Some factors are said:

– As a substitute of the tanks and armored automobiles working tactically on the battlefield adhering to the fire-and-move ways, hordes of those lethal automobiles have been seen bumming alongside one behind the opposite in lengthy unwinding convoys on the battlefields of Nagorno-Karabakh in addition to Ukraine. The sight of scores of km of convoys of Russian tanks and armored automobiles being dropped at a grinding halt upon drone/ATGM strikes was not unusual, particularly within the early weeks of the battle.

– It was additionally naïve to see the Armenian GBADWS not following the standard deployment procedures of leap-frogging by continually preserving the ahead battle components of their efficient vary. As a substitute, these have been seen huddled as convoys and shifting on.

– Even the GBADWS within the Russian Military weren’t seen to be spewing their lethal arsenal on the aerial assault automobiles taking a toll on their tanks and BMPs.

– The 2 occasions streaming movies didn’t present an built-in play of air protection weapons on the bottom and air being managed by the all-essential Air Protection Management and Reporting System (ADCRS). The air protection fires gave the impression to be sporadic, advert hoc, and un-coordinated,

ATGMs are lethal weapons. Particularly those that use thermo-baric warhead ( the one which makes use of atmospheric oxygen on the goal finish to trigger a high-temperature explosion with enhanced deadly impact). These ATGMs took (and are taking) their kills in Nagorno-Karabakh and Ukraine.

So, the place all of the above take us within the context of the premise – is the tank as a battle machine demised? The creator’s viewpoint is introduced:

– Removed from it.

– On the outset, the bloated figures of tank kills ( 1805) have to be massively corrected for misinformation campaigns and knowledge warfare (digital tricking, repeated movies, enhancing jugglery – sic.

– Tanks will stay a strong battle machine in battles of at present and tomorrow.

– The everlasting duel between the ATGMs and the tanks will proceed very like the air assault and air protection means.

– In that, whereas the expertise will proceed to sharpen the sting within the ATGMs by equipping them with an increasing number of options (functionality to defeat reactive and spaced armor, high assault functionality, tandem warhead, salvo-fire functionality, IIR seekers, and HD digital camera on board to maintain the goal locked, anti-Armour Safety Techniques, and so on.). The identical expertise will proceed to strengthen the tank as effectively (explosive reactive armors, spaced armors, instant counter fireplace on a guided ATGM operator, jammers in Energetic Safety methods, IR fog to confuse/break missile lock….the record will go on )

– Hearth and transfer ways to keep away from detection, taking evasive manoeuvers, or exhibiting your strongest face to the enemy will stay frequent denominators. The place these get thrown to the winds, issues will go fallacious.

Within the context of small drones following comes out clearly:

– An anti-drone-specific arsenal for detection and kill is important if the drone menace is to be stored at bay.

– In entrance of EO/IR surveillance gadgets and a mix of laborious (kinetic) and mushy (RF, Laser, EW) kill means, drones are a simple goal. When confronted with an air protection ecosystem, these dare not take mighty air protection methods, tanks, or armored automobiles as sitting geese.

As to the touch upon the obituary on the heavy weapons and howitzers, the next is said:

– The important significance of heavy weapons and howitzers on the battlefield is nowhere close to obsolescence. Writing their obituary is way from justified.

– Quite the opposite, Russia, confronted with heavy males and materials casualties within the upfront contact battle, modified gear someday in Apr/Could this 12 months by resorting to its 200-year doctrine of Artillery First, re-visiting Stalin’s dictum – “Artillery is the God of Conflict.”

– As said, Russia has been resorting to massed artillery fires in pulverizing the targets to ruins earlier than the contact battle occurs. Confronted with this onslaught, the defenders have even deserted some targets earlier than precise fight ( working example -city of Lysychansk in Jap Ukraine).

– For the above, it has pressed into service the triple hammer of heavy weapons and howitzers (2S19 Msta 152mm SP Howitzer, 2S35 Koalitsiya – SV SP Howitzer, Giatsint towed and SP Howitzer, the heavy 2S7M Malka 203mm SP Howitzer, and so on.), Multi Barrel Rocket Launchers (BM30 Smerch, BM 21 GRAD P, 9A 52-4 Twister, and so on.) and a bunch of missiles (OTR 21 Tochka, 9k720 Iskander, Kalibr, Kinzhal aero-ballistic hypersonic missile, and so on.).

– It’s a undeniable fact that artillery items spewing fireplace will appeal to counter-battery fireplace. There are measures to cope with the identical. That is no motive to consign these artillery gems to the bin of obsolescence.

– On the flip aspect, open sources have been reporting extreme shortcomings within the Russian artillery fireplace management communication and connectivity between the gun finish and the fireplace controller finish. Reportedly, open un-encrypted mobile mobile-based communications have been resorted to conducting fireplace assaults. That many Russian artillery items took casualties on account of counter-battery fireplace is no surprise.

– Once more, it’s basic to state that today techs weapons and howitzers on SP chassis (tracks/wheels) will likely be much less weak to counter-battery fireplace on account of their functionality to shoot-n-scoot” It’s a moot level once more that Russian artillery in Ukraine combines towed and SP, with the previous way more in quantity than the latter. Seeing this as a double whammy with insecure fireplace management communications additionally explains the casualties of those weapons.

– All this and extra is definitely no motive even to suppose that the weapons and howitzers are “all carried out.” These are related and can stay a potent pressure, particularly the SP chassis working in a safe communication setting.

Lastly, A Phrase On MANPADS

– Very similar to the ATGMs, these lethal tubes caught un-obtrusively within the nook-and-corner of the TBA will proceed to rake havoc on fight plane and assault helicopters (particularly the latter) extra so if these occur to catch their victims within the shock mode which has been the case in most kills on the battlefields in Ukraine.

– The attacker has no selection however to put money into time-tested countermeasures. A few of these are talked about:

  • On board and exterior sensors for full-fledged situational consciousness.
  • An energetic and passive countermeasure go well with contains chaffs, widows, and a robust EW go well with.
  • Crippling of steerage (IR homing, Command-to-line-of-sight, laser beam rider, and so on.) and navigation hyperlinks of radar-controlled missiles ( simpler mentioned than carried out for a fire-and-forget kind of MANPAD usually offers its sufferer within the TBA no more than a minute).
  • That MANPADS and fight plane/AHs will stay in an everlasting duel is to state the plain.

That, briefly, is the standard viewpoint of the creator on the slew of obituaries doing the rounds.

Lt Gen (Dr) V Okay Saxena is the previous Director Normal of the Corps of Military Air Protection. He has been embellished 3 times by the President of India. He’s a Distinguished Fellow at VIF and a Visiting Fellow at CLAWS. He’s a prolific author who has authored 5 books and is usually printed by the Protection media of the nation. He’s additionally an everyday on TV reveals contributing to many protection today techs points.

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