New air defence system for Russian paratroopers

A Russian Army BMD 4M armoured vehicle during a military exercise at Dubrovichi military range.

A Russian Army BMD 4M armoured vehicle during a military exercise at Dubrovichi military range.

Alexander Ryumin / TASS
The short-range Ptitselov missile defence system will be able to protect servicemen by destroying missiles and enemy aviation within a radius of six miles, military experts said.

A new short-range air defence missile system, code named ‘Ptitselov’, is being developed by Russian weapons manufacturers to provide a shield for paratroopers. The system will parachute in front of paratroopers and cover them from enemy aviation and missiles.

Dmitry Safonov, a military observer from the Izvestiya newspaper, said the Ptitselov will be based on the existing land Sosna short-range air defence missile system. Additionally, the new machine will have a launcher, an electronic-optical control system and auxiliary radio-electronic equipment.

"In order for the system to be parachuted successfully, its weapons and electronics will be similar to the new BMD-4M combat landing system (a tracked chassis, a new body, engine and moving joints)," said Safonov.

Safonov believes that the first Ptitselov prototype may be demonstrated in 2017. He also said many technical limits and requirements, in terms of the joints and safety of the electronics exist in airborne technology.

"When throwing down a multi-ton machine from a height of 1 kilometre, it is impossible to completely repel a strike as it is landing. It is necessary to create a ‘light’ air defence missile system weighing less than 18 tons with stable electronics and mechanics that will not be damaged as it is landing," said Safonov.

Viktor Murakhovsky, editor-in-chief of the Arsenal Otechestva (Arsenal of the Fatherland) magazine, said, despite a series of technical limits in airborne technology, the combat capacities of the paratroopers' air defence system will not be reduced. He believes that the system's striking area will range from 1.3 to 10 kilometres (0.8-6.2 miles) in distance and between 20 metres and 5 kilometres (0.1-3 miles) in height.

The "classic" Sosna system is equipped with 12 missiles with two types of warheads: a high explosive rod for moving targets; and armour piercing to strike objects directly. The combat module is located on a gyro-stabilized platform, which helps it avoid external influences.

"The Sosna is capable of carrying out several objectives simultaneously. It is not sensitive to influence of enemy radar systems that suppress electronics. Its armour can withstand 12.7-calibre shells. Its crew consists of just two people: the driver and the operator," said Safonov.

Paratrooper divisions already have artillery and SAU 2S25 Sprut-SD anti-tank self-propelled guns. Creation of a new short-range air defence missile system will fully guarantee the safety of personnel and technology during operations in the enemy's rear.

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