171221 ShilkaOne of conceptual priorities of the Ukrainian Armed Force’s program on the air defense, missile and artillery weapons development in the current context focuses on comprehensive modernization using the latest technologies and achievements in science and technology. Guided by this approach, the Arsenal Factory company, Kyiv, has developed a comprehensively upgraded version of the ZSU-23-4 "Shilka" anti-aircraft gun system, incorporating some major changes to its design and significantly improving the capabilities of the Soviet-era technology.

 

 


Shilka was designed as a self-propelled anti-aircraft (AA) weapon system intended for AA defense of ground forces and military facilities, and for shooting down air and land (surface) targets, while on short stops or on the move. In Soviet times, Land Forces’ regiment Shilka batteries were fielded in an anti-aircraft role. Shilka’s ability to effectively engage targets with its four 23mm autocannons while moving along with tactical formations, combined with its high operational reliability and usability made it a particularly valuable asset on the battlefield. For more than half a century of employment in conflict-affected settings in 39 countries around the globe the Shilka has successfully proved its worth and, despite its being old legacy system, still remains operational in combat by many militaries, including Ukraine’s.

171221 Shilka
But with all its merits the ZSU-23-4 Shilka, however, has become obsolescent by now as it is rendered inadequate to meet present-day challenges and threats. Its radio equipment and most components and subassemblies need to be upgraded to the modern-day requirements or replaced with more current-generation counterparts. The Shilka technology is too good to be retired as it has yet to reach its full development potential. Arsenal Factory company has developed an upgrade package for the Shilka, giving it whole new capabilities.


Arsenals’ Shilka upgrade, known under designator ZSU-23-4M-A, includes a multirole digital phased array radar Rokach-AS replacing the 1RL33M radar in the original version; a new optical location system; the addition of a missile channel; a new fully digital computing system in place of the old analog computing device; integration of advanced weapon control algorithms; and replacement of other components with more up-to-date counterparts. Future improvements will include replacement of the currently used gas turbine power unit with a more economical electric power supply source.


Arsenals’ Rokach-AS radar is undoubtedly the key element in the upgrade. It offers three-mode operation for 360-degree surveillance, air search and autotracking in an integrated package.


The radar Rokach-AS has the capability to pick up and track low-observability UAV targets with RCS as low as 0.01 square meter up to 7 kilometers away. It far exceeds its predecessor in almost every area. Compared to the original radar, which could scan a 15-degree sector and track targets within its 1-degree FOV beam, the Rokach-AS has coverage angles of 18 degrees, both in azimuth and elevation, and it can search and detect targets much quicker than its predecessor.

171221 Shilka3
The new digital phased array radar is swift enough in detecting targets using its own capabilities or inputs from external sensor sources. Moreover, it can simultaneously track multiple targets within its field of view.


Finally, whereas 1RL33M radar occupied the entire perimeter of the turret inside the "Shilka" vehicle, the Rokach-AS is a compact device accommodated in a container on top of the vehicle, with the resulting benefit of a considerable amount of internal vehicle space released to improve the comfort for the crew and passengers, and enabling the installation of additional equipment such as a HVAC system.

171221 Shilka4
Initial tests of the Rokach-AS radar technology carried out by Arsenal Factory at a test and training facility outside Chernihiv showed very high capabilities, especially in tracking targets, including inter alia low observability/low Radar Cross Section targets.


As well as the Rokach-AS radar, the ZSU-23-4M-A upgrade additionally includes the installation of an optical location system integrating television and thermal imaging cameras and a laser rangefinder. The system has the capabilities for the detection and autotracking of targets and for automatic/semi-automatic generation of target location coordinates for the digital computing system. The system would support air surveillance and target engagement control missions. It is able to lock-on and automatically track targets at ranges up to 10 km, and detect targets up to 12 km away.


To ensure increased operational versatility of the ZSU-23-4M-A, a missile channel has been added to support control of four man-portable Igla surface-to air missile launchers, which are operated remotely from within the vehicle.


The upgraded ZSU-23-4M-A Shilka would be able to defeat targets at ranges up to 5 km, which is twice the range of the previous-generation system.
Ukraine’s Armed Forces are in dire need of having their legacy inventory of ZSU-23-4 Shilka AA gun vehicles (fielded since the 1960’s/70’s) upgraded and updated to present-day requirements.

171221 Shilka 2
Modernization of Ukraine’s air defense capacity has been rendered highly relevant in the present-day context, and especially so in the light of Russia’s continuing military aggression in eastern Ukraine. Time and the outcome of the State Trials process (that is scheduled to take place in the spring of 2018) will tell whether the Shilka upgrade by Arsenal Factory will be to the liking of potential military users in Ukraine. And the Ukrainian upgrade could well suit the requirements of international users of legacy Shilka gun systems around the world, too.

 

Anton MIKHNENKO

! При використанні вмісту сайту обов’язковим є активне гіперпосилання на defence-ua.com, що не закрите від індексації пошуковими системами

Translation

ukarzh-TWenfrdeitptrues