Army-2017 as Russia`s Pivotal Defense Show

by Dr. Nikolai Novichkov & Dmitry Fedushko

Over 1200 enterprises presented their products at the Army-2017 International Military Technical Forum, Russian Defense Minister, General of the Army Sergei Shoigu said.
“Every year our forum is becoming more and more large-scale. Today, already over 1,200 large domestic and foreign organizations submit their products to approval of experts and experts. Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, China, Pakistan, Slovenia and South Africa will showcase their national displays at our forum,” said Shoigu.

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Russian Defense Minister, General of the Army Sergei Shoigu in the middle. ©Nikolaï Novichkov

According to him, Army-2017 was a unique open platform, where practically all advanced developments of Russian arms manufacturers are demonstrated. “Here, it will be possible not only to get acquainted with weapon models and their characteristics but also to see all this in action, including in night conditions. Along with the developments from famous design bureaus and major domestic manufacturers, the achievements of our young scientists, postgraduates, students and servicemen of research companies,” the minister added.
An important place at the forum was devoted to discussing the issues of cooperation in combating international terrorism, developing effective measures to counter extremism and radical Islamism. “I have no doubt that an exhibition of captured weapons seized from militants of international terrorist groups in Syria will be of great interest,” Shoigu said.

“I am convinced that the combination of experience and fresh ideas will contribute to the growth of the potential of the Russian defence-industrial complex, the development of advanced weapons and military equipment,” concluded the minister.

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BTR-87 armored personnel carrier (APC). ©Nikolaï Novichkov

Armoured vehicles

Russia`s defence industry showcased its latest armour developments at the Army-2017 forum.

The Military Industrial Company (VPK) unveiled the BTR-87 armored personnel carrier (APC) at the Army-2017. The exhibited vehicle features a frontally mounted powerpack with the troop compartment located in the rear part. The APC is based on the chassis of the BTR-82A carrier also developed by VPK. The BTR-87 is designed to transport motor riflemen on the battlefield and support them. The vehicle’s armament suite can engage soft-skin targets, armoured vehicles, small surface combatants and manpower. Its ballistic armour protects the combat crew against small arms and shell splinters. The APC is also kitted out with a nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) protection system. According to VPK, the BTR-87 is a four-axle amphibious 8×8 vehicle that has a combat weight of 16 t, a two-strong crew and a passenger capacity of 8 dismounts. It is powered by a YaMZ-53602 engine with a power output of 312 h.p. that provides a power-to-weight ratio of 19.26 h.p./t, a maximum road speed of 90 km/h and a maximum swimming speed of 10 km/h. The powerplant is coupled to a mechanical gearbox that can be replaced by an automatic transmission. The BTR-87 can be fitted with manned turrets or remote controlled weapon stations (RCWS). The demonstrator of the vehicle exhibited at Army-2017 forum features a combat module armed with an automatic cannon, a coaxial machinegun and four ready-to-launch anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM).

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The BMD-4M AIFV is armed with the new Sinitsa combat.  ©Nikolaï Novichkov

The Tractor Plants concern has modernized the BMD-4M airborne infantry fighting vehicle and the BMP-3 infantry fighting vehicle (IFV). The updated platforms were also demonstrated at the Army-2017. The updated BMD-4M AIFV is armed with the new Sinitsa combat compartment. The Sinitsa is essentially a modernized combat module of the BMP-3 infantry fighting vehicle modified to fit the BMD-4M. It has retained the powerful armament suite of the basic model that comprises a 100 mm 2A70 gun-launcher with an ammunition load of 40 high explosive fragmentation rounds (including 22 stored in autoloader) and 4 anti-tank guided missiles (including 3 stores in autoloader), a 30 mm 2A72 automatic cannon with an ammunition load of 500 rounds and a 7.62 PKTM medium machinegun with an ammunition load of 2,000 cartridges. The modernized BMD-4M is designed to transport airborne troops and to conduct fire support. The vehicle is kitted out with an automated digital round-the-clock jamming-resistant fire control system with an automatic target tracking device. The BMD-4M`s chassis has received a digital management device. The modernized AIFV has a combat weight of no more than 14.3 t, a three-strong crew, a passenger capacity of 4 dismounts, a maximum road speed of 70 km/h and a maximum swimming speed of 10 km/h.

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The BMP-3 IFV that features boosted anti-tank capabilities. ©Nikolaï Novichkov

The Tractor Plants concern also showcased a modification of the BMP-3 IFV that features boosted anti-tank capabilities. The modernized IFV has received a roof-mounted launcher for two Ataka ATGMs. The upgraded BMP-3 has a combat weight of 18.9 t, a three-strong crew, a passenger capacity of eight dismounts, a maximum road speed of 70 km/h and a maximum swimming speed of 10 km/h. It has retained the armament suite of the basic vehicle that comprises a 100 mm 2A70 gun-launcher, a 30 mm 2A72 automatic cannon and three 7.62 mm PKTM medium machine guns reinforced with Ataka missiles. The gunner`s seat is fitted with the Sodema thermal imagining sight.

Small arms

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Chukavin SVCh family of semi-automatic sniper rifles. ©Nikolaï Novichkov


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Kalashnikov’s electrical motor bike for special forces. ©Nikolaï Novichkov

The Kalashnikov Group, a subsidiary of the Rostec state corporation, demonstrated a large portfolio of new designs including sniper rifle, fast attack boats and even electric motorcycles. At the Army-2017, the company exhibited the Chukavin SVCh family of semi-automatic sniper rifles. It comprises three rifles chambered for 7.62x54R mm, 7.62×51 mm and 8.6×69 mm (.338 Lapua Magnum) cartridges. The SVCh is designed to engage individual targets at a distance of up to 1,500 m (depending on the cartridge). It is based on the gas-operated short-stroke piston with rotating bolt. The rifle`s design is based on a reversed U-type steel receiver that incorporates a slung bolt assembly. An adjustable trigger assembly unit with integrated magazine receiver and trigger guard is attached to the upper receiver kitted out with a Picatinny rail for sighting systems. The SVCh is fitted with a manual gas regulator, ambidextrous firing controls (safety and magazine release button) and a folding buttstock. The rifle can be complemented by a folding bipod and a tactical sound suppressor. The SVCh has an accuracy of no more than 1 MOA at a distance of 100 m. According to the Kalashnikov Group, the variant of the rifle chambered for .338 Lapua Magnum cartridges has a weight of 6.3 kg (with empty magazine), an overall length of 1,140 mm, a barrel length of 560 mm and a magazine capacity of 10 cartridges.
The SVCh rifle chambered for 7.62x54R mm cartridges is fed from a Dragunov SVD 10-round box magazine. It has an overall length of 1,000 mm, a barrel length of 410 mm, a weight of 4.3 kg (with empty magazine) and an accuracy of no more than 1 MOA. The organic barrel can be replaced with a 460 mm or a 565 mm one. The SVCh modification for the 7.62×51 mm has the same specifications and is fed from a 20-round box magazine.


The Rex-1 man-portable electronic rifle to counter unmanned aerial vehicles. ©Nikolaï Novichkov

At the Army-2017 forum, the ZALA Aero company, a subsidiary of the Rostec`s Kalashnikov Group, has demonstrated the Rex-1 man-portable electronic rifle to counter unmanned aerial vehicles (C-UAV). It comprises interchangeable jamming units, a sight, a tactical foregrip, a bipod and a mount for additional equipment (a stroboscopic light, a visual beam laser or means of objective control). The electronic rifle jams satellite navigation systems (GPS, GLONASS, Galileo and BeiDou), radio-frequency communications (900 MHz, 2.4 GHz and 5.2-5.8 GHz) and mobile networks (GSM, 3G and LTE). The power source is installed in the rifle`s buttstock. The demonstrator of the Rex-1 was fitted with an Eotech XPS2-type holographic sight mounted on a Picatinny rail.
According to the official catalogue of the ZALA Aero, the electronic counter-UAV rifle has a continuous work time of 3 hours, a jamming distance of 1,000 m (5,000 m against GPS navigation), an angular coverage of 15° (180° against GPS navigation) and a weight of 4.2 kg.

At the forum, the Roselektronika holding, a subsidiary of Rostec unveiled its modernized reconnaissance and control module from the package of integrated troop control system used in the Barnaul-T tactical unit. “Combining various anti-aircraft systems, the product effectively counters a massive enemy air raid. Unlike the previous versions, the module is fitted with a new chassis, which provides a better travel performance and increases the product survivability,” a source at the holding said. In addition, the product employs an alternative navigation system, which reduces by half the system’s instrument and mechanism inspection and adjustment time. The use of an improved power source has increased several-fold the remotely located workstation’s operating time.

Missiles & Bombs

The guided missiles developed by the Tactical Missiles Corporation (TMC) will be integrated into the combat helicopters, including those offered for export. A corresponding memorandum was signed between TMC and the Russian Helicopters holding company (part of the Rostec State Corporation) at the Army-2017.
The duration of the agreement is 10 years. Among the goals of the Memorandum is the joint conduct of science and technology and marketing activities to promote military products on the international market, as well as the joint preparation of proposals and coordination of technical assignments with potential customers.
The agreement also provides for that a common groundwork will be laid for airborne weapons of combat helicopters, their external targeting and information support systems. In addition, the parties agreed to provide after-sales services for military equipment and weapons supplied for export.
The signed memorandum presupposes such cooperation forms as the exchange of scientific and technical information and documentation, bilateral meetings and symposiums, as well as communication between scientists, developers and other specialists.
To monitor the implementation and development of cooperation within the framework of the memorandum, the parties will set up a joint coordinating committee. “This Memorandum opens new opportunities for our holding in foreign markets and makes us optimistic for the prospects of exporting military products. This agreement is designed to increase demand for our combat helicopters by making them far more competitive in comparison with their foreign counterparts. In particular, we will be able to offer foreign customers not only a ready-made combat helicopter equipped with the latest missiles, but also a comprehensive after-sales service system,” said Russian Helicopters CEO Andrey Boginsky after signing the document.
As it became known, the Kh-38ME guided missiles and Kh-35U longer-range anti-ship missiles will be among the first missiles integrated into the Ka-52K helicopter.

Smart munitions exhibited by the Tekhmash Concern, a subsidiary of Rostec, at the Army-2017, namely the PBK-500U SPBEh-K gliding bomb cassette, were highly evaluated by specialists, the press department of Tekhmash said. According to the Concern`s First Deputy Director General Vladimir Tikhonov, “the new cassette munition is high-technological and incorporates submunitions based on the principles of a high-precision weapon. They are programmed to engage certain types of targets, [for instance] armoured vehicles, rocket and artillery systems and cannot target at civil objects”.
Tikhonov pointed out that a cassette can stop a firing battery or an armoured column of an enemy. An aircraft can drop it without entering enemy`s air defense area, as the munition can glide at several dozen kilometers (depending on the dropping altitude), owing to its aerodynamic performance. “The unique combination of new millimeter radar and infrared ranges in the target search and identification system have increased the precision specifications,” he said.
Moreover, the munition features nearly 100% reliability. It is based on only Russian-made electronic components. The non-mining requirements have been also considered. “The elements of the cassette have been programmed for self-destruction within a time interval to avoid striking of civilians after ending of actions. If an element does not engage the assigned target, it self-destructs and becomes absolutely safe,” Tikhonov pointed out.-0-fdi


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The BK-16 fast attack boat intended for offshore operations. ©Nikolaï Novichkov

The Kalashnikov Group is also concentrating on the development of boats and motorcycles. At the Army-2017, the company showcased the BK-16 fast attack boat intended for offshore operations, troops transporting, fire support, counter-piracy and counter-terror missions and search-and-rescue operations. According to the company, the boat has a full displacement of 19.5 t, a length of 16.45 m, a width of 4.0 m, a draught of 0.87 m, a height over waterline of 4.33 m. It has a crew of two members and can transport up to 19 servicemen. The craft features a cruising range of 400 nautical miles and an endurance of one day. The BK-16 is powered by two engines with a power output of 780 hp each. The boat demonstrated at the Army-2017 international military-technical forum received a remote control weapon station with a heavy machinegun and several medium machineguns.

At the forum, Kalashnikov exhibited its newest electrical motorcycle designed for search-and-reconnaissance missions in a rugged terrain. It is nearly silent, as a traditional combustion engine has been replaced by an electric drive. The motorbike is fitted with a folding cargo platform, a stowage for an assault rifle and MOLLE-compatible outer covers that are fitted with pouches for ammunition, individual equipment, food and water, etc. Its frontal part is fitted with a headlight that can be replaced by an infrared lamp and a Velcro panel for patches. According to the manufacturer, the motorcycle has a maximum speed of 80 km/h, a cruising range of 100 km and a crew of one soldier.

Air Defense

The Tikhomirov Research Institute of Instrument Design (NIIP) has unveiled a concept of the Ermak robotic medium- and short-range air defense missile system (ADMS) at a round table held within the framework of the 2017 Army Forum, the forum’s press center reported.
The Ermak ADMS is designed for the layered defense of mobile ground forces and ground installations from massive enemy air attacks. The in-depth defense is achieved through interaction with the control points of the S-300 ADMS, Tor-type SAM launch vehicles, and Tunguska-type ADMG vehicles, the press center reported.
NIIP offered to re-equip the air defense units with the Ermak ADMS by 2030. According to the developers, the ADMS will include robotic launchers, a target detection system, and short-range modules.
“With automation, it becomes possible to remotely control the system from combat control points. The points, in turn, also operate in fully automatic mode, while the operator adds only minor adjustments to their operation,” the press center added.
The developers suggest that the Ermak will be able to detect aerodynamic targets at a range of up to 250 km. The engagement range envelope is 0.2-120 km and the engagement altitude envelope is 0.015-28 km. The system is capable of firing simultaneously at 48 targets. 

Russia`s Ministry of Defense (MoD) signed 23 state contracts and three agreements worth over RUB170 billion (USD2.8 billion) with 17 enterprises of the ingenious defense industry at the Army-2017 international military-technical forum held outside Moscow, according to Deputy Defense Minister Yuri Borisov. “Twenty-three state contracts and three additional agreements worth RUB170 billion have been signed with 17 enterprises of Russia`s defense industry,” he said.

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The BMPT and the newest variant of the T-90 tank – T-90M,” an announcer said at the official ceremony. ©Nikolaï Novichkov

In particular, the MoD and the Uralvagonzavod (UVZ, a subsidiary of the Rostec state corporation) signed the contracts worth over RUB24 billion (USD0.4 billion) for the delivery of new T-90M main battle tanks (MBT) and BMPT Terminator fire support vehicles and the overhaul of the T-72B, T-80BV and T-90 tanks. “This is the first time, when the fire support vehicle [BMPT] developed by the Ural Design Bureau for Transport Machine-Building [a subsidiary of UVZ] is acquired for the Land Forces,” Borisov said. “Russia`s Armed Forces bring into service a new armoured vehicle, namely, the BMPT and the newest variant of the T-90 tank – T-90M,” an announcer said at the official ceremony.
The BMPT Terminatior-2 fire support vehicle was unveiled in 2013 at a defense show in Nizhny Tagil. It features high firepower, protection, controllability and can effectively accomplish missions to support tanks and soldiers in all types of actions by day and night in all climatic areas. The Terminator-2 features better fire control and navigation systems compared with the basic model. The vehicle has a combat weight of 44 t. It is fitted with a powerful armament suite that comprises two 30 mm 2A42 automatic cannons with an ammunition load of 850 rounds and a 7.62 mm PKTM coaxial machinegun with an ammunition load of 2,100 cartridges. These weapons can effectively engage light armoured targets and manpower. The Terminator-2 also carries two twin missile launchers to engage heavily protected targets. The armament suite is located in an unmanned superstructure. The vehicle is fitted with an automated round-the-clock fire control system that incorporates a multichannel sight that can effectively detect, recognize and engage targets.
The T-90M main battle tank (MBT) is believed to be a modernized variant of the T-90MS MBT intended for Russia`s Armed Forces. The export-oriented T-90MS can operate round-the-clock under all weather conditions. The vehicle is armed with a 125 mm 2A46M-5 gun that can fire anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM) and 7.62 mm PKTM machineguns. The tank has received a modern fire control system that can recognize a tank-type target at a distance of up to 5,000 m. The T-90MS is fitted with an enhanced dual-axis weapon stabilizer and an automatic target tracking device that can work in ‘hunter-killer’ mode, modular explosive reactive armour (ERA) and bar-slat armour in the rear. The tank has a maximum road speed of 60 km/h and a three-strong crew. It can cross water obstacles with a depth of 5 m using a deep water fording kit.
Russia`s MoD signed the contracts worth RUB4 billion with the High-Precision Weapons holding and the Instrument Design Bureau (KBP, a subsidiary of the high-Precision Weapons) for the delivery of the first batch of the BMP-3 infantry fighting vehicles (IFV) fitted with the Epokha combat module and spare parts for the Pantsir-S1 self-propelled anti-air gun-missile (SPAAGM) system.
“For the first time the Land Forces will receive modernized IFVs fitted with a RCWS that comprises modern gun-missile weaponry for operational test and evaluation,” the announcer said.
The MoD and the Machine-Building Design Bureau (KBM, a subsidiary of High-Precision Weapons) signed an additional contract for the delivery of two brigade sets of the Iskander-M missiles systems. “The additional acquisition of two Iskander-M brigade sets worth over RUB20 billion is intended to increase the Land Forces` firepower,” the announcer said.

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Iskander-M. ©Nikolaï Novichkov

The MoD also signed an agreement with the Novator Design Bureau for the delivery of cruise missiles for the Iskander-M system. “Cruise missiles are modern high-precision weapons that boost the strike capabilities of the Iskander-M system. They are designed to engage critical objects protected by air defense and anti-missile assets,” the announcer said.
The MoD and the KAMAZ company signed a contract for the delivery of Kamaz-5350 arctic trucks. “Russia`s Armed Forces bring into service a new variant of the Kamaz-5350 automobile adapted for extreme cold climate,” the announcer pointed out.
The MoD also bought a Lotos-M satellite at the Army-2017 forum. The Lotos-M space vehicles will provide Russia`s Space Forces with new capabilities. “This vehicle will reinforce the orbital group that works in the interests of the Armed Forces. It will provide information support to the Navy,” Borisov said answering the questions asked by journalists.
The MoD and the Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant (a subsidiary of the Russian Helicopters holding) signed a contract to conduct the Skorost (Speed) research work that envisions the development of a high-speed helicopter. “The implementation of this work will result in the creating of scientific-technological advance for the development of a new-type aerial vehicle,” the announcer said.
The MoD also signed additional contracts with the shipbuilders for Project 22800 Karakurt-class corvettes armed with guided weapons. “The delivery of the Karakurt-class surface combatants will boost the strike capabilities of all the fleets` task forces in blue waters,” the announcer said at the signing ceremony.
Almost all the items of hardware contracted by the Russian MoD at the Army-2017 international military-technical forum were tested in Syria, according to Borisov. “Almost all the new items have been passed through the Syrian conflict to see their real combat experience. Over 600 samples of hardware have been tested in Syria,” he said. The official added that Russia`s Armed Forces would get over 600 new and 200 modernized samples of equipment under the aforementioned agreements.

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General Director of Rosoboronexport Alexandr Mikheev. ©Nikolaï Novichkov

The Army-2017 has also spurred world`s interest in Russian military hardware. The Rosoboronexport arms trader of Rostec State Corporation successfully carried out the business program at the forum, the press service of the company said.

“The business program of Rosoboronexport was very extensive. In three business days at Army-2017 we held close to 70 meetings with foreign delegations from some 50 countries in practically all regions of the world. Over 20 defense ministers visited us. Heads of delegations also included leaders of other law enforcement agencies, chiefs-of-staff and commanders-in-chief of the armed forces of the partner countries. At the forum we signed over 10 contracts and agreements, including with representatives of Kazakhstan and Burkina-Faso. They positively influenced the portfolio of orders of the company,” Rosoboronexport Deputy Director General Sergei Goreslavsky said.
Foreign representatives paid specific attention to T-90S/MS tanks, operational and tactical Iskander-E missile complex, armored personnel carriers BTR-80A/BTR-82A, automobiles and armored vehicles, modern small and specialized firearms, close combat arms and logistical provision means. Increased interest of visitors was triggered by air and naval hardware, air defense weapons and radio-electronic systems. Besides, we signed two cooperation agreements to promote IT-products in the sphere of information security, he added.