New Russian anti-aircraft gun can hit targets at greater distances

The Derivatsiya system.

The Derivatsiya system.

Russia is developing a promising anti-aircraft system with a new caliber. The new system, which will feature increased firepower, is set to replace the Shilka and Tunguska systems that now form the basis of the Russian military air defense.

The development of replacements for the global bestsellers – the Shilka and Tunguska anti-aircraft systems – was announced by the commander of Russia's ground forces air defense, Lieutenant General Alexander Leonov, on the Rossiya 24 TV channel in late December 2015.

The new anti-aircraft system is designed for the use of a 57-millimeter anti-aircraft cannon and is being developed as part of a fundamental upgrade to weapons and equipment for the Russian Army.

In September 2015, the Russian defense industry showcased the latest Derivatsiya system with the AU-220M cannon mounted on the BMP-3 amphibious armored vehicle at the international military exhibition RAE-2015 in the city of Nizhny Tagil in the Ural Mountains.

Apart from the Russian armed forces, the Soviet Shilka and Tunguska self-propelled anti-aircraft vehicles are currently in service in India, Iran, Cuba, Peru, Serbia, Syria, Egypt and other countries.

The system aroused great interest among visitors, as it could drastically affect the further development of armored vehicles and their weapons. The main feature of Derivatsiya is the caliber of its gun – 57 millimeter.

Artillery systems of this caliber were actively used in the past, but did not become widespread in the armed forces. However, Derivatsiya’s designers decided to return to the neglected caliber, as under the new conditions it has a number of advantages over existing cannons.

The Shilka and Tunguska artillery systems, which now form the basis of the Russia's ground forces air defense have 23-millimeter and 30-millimeter cannons, respectively.

New caliber for solid armor

The need for adopting a new anti-aircraft artillery system is attributed to the increased power of military helicopters equipped with anti-tank guided missiles that now can strike targets at a distance of 5-6 miles (8-10 kilometers), and up to 9.3 miles (15 kilometers) in the future.

Additionally, 23-millimeter and 30-millimeter shells can still penetrate the enhanced armor of new attack helicopters, but they are not able to create the required density of fire, which guarantees the destruction of cruise, guided and anti-radar missiles, as well as guided air bombs and drones. Therefore, the use of new weapons with a 57-millimeter caliber will be able to strike targets at an extended distance and height.

The increased caliber of the anti-aircraft cannon will reduce the ammunition carrying capacity, but the effectiveness of the system will remain high, as the amount of ammunition needed to destroy one target will decline. The system's larger caliber will enable users to fire not only at air targets, but also at ground objectives if employing anti-aircraft, high-explosive and fragmentation, as well as sub-caliber, shells.

The performance characteristics of the new system are strictly classified, but it is known from open sources that it is also supposed to use guided missiles fired through the gun barrel, which serves as a launcher in this case.

The new unit should be equipped with a telethermal optoelectronic system that ensures the efficient use of the antiaircraft system's standard weapons. The system should guarantee the destruction of enemy aircraft at a distance of 4-5 miles (6-8 kilometers) and drones at a distance of 2-3 miles (3-5 kilometers).

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