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2S6M Tunguska Anti-Aircraft Artillery

The 2S6 Tunguska is a integrated air defense system armwed with 30-mm cannons and SA-19 surface to air missiles. In overall layout, the 2S6M is very similar to the German Gepard twin 35-mm self-propelled anti-aircraft gun system, with the cannon mounted externally of the turret. According to former Soviet sources, the 2S6 can engage targets flying at a maximum speed of 500 m/s with the complete system having a reaction time of eight seconds. Effective range of the complete system is from 0.2 to 8 km according to former Soviet sources.

"Tunguska" is designed for Anti-Aircraft Defence of motorized infantry and tank troops. It has an overall zone of striking (without a "dead" zone, that characterizes other Anti-Aircraft complexes), that is achieved by successive shooting at the aim at first by missiles and then by cannons. 2A38 machine-guns fire can be held from a stationed position, as well as on the move, and missile launching - only in stationed position, in extermal situation - during short stops.

In addition to the 8 mounted ready missiles two additional missiles can be carried inside. Range out to 10 km for hovering aircraft and low flying targets. There is a 2S6M1 variant/upgrade, which has improved missile control, range and altitude capabilities of 1.5-10 km, and 0.015-6 km respectively.

An artist`s concept of the Soviet ZSU-X anti-aircraft system was released by the US Department of Defense in January 1987. The 2S6 was first seen in public at the Moscow Air Show in August 1992. However, as of November 1997 the 2S6M1 was not known to be fielded.

The 2S6 is the replacement system for the ZSU-23-4 self-propelled anti-aircraft gun that was fielded in the 1960s. The 2S6M is based on the chassis of the GM-352M which is also used as the platform for the SA-11 Buk-1M (NATO reporting name `Gadfly') and SA-15 `Tor' self-propelled surface-to-air missile (SAM) system. The 2S6 has a four-man crew and is equipped with tracking and surveillance radar. Having four 30-mm rapid-fire cannons and eight SA-19 SAMs make it the most heavily armed vehicle of its kind in the world. At a price of $8 to $10 million, the 2S6 gives buyers an advanced air defense system that is unparalleled by any system produced in the West. Recently India has been a primary buyer of the 2S6 to replace its aging ZSU23-4.

The hull and turret are of all-welded steel armor construction that provides protection from small arms fire and shell splinters. The turret has seats for three of the four crew members. The layout of the vehicle is conventional, with the driver seated at front left, the turret in the center and the engine and transmission at the rear. The driver has a single-piece hatch cover over his position and immediately in front of this are three periscopes. The turret has vertical sides with the commander's cupola being well forward on the right side.

The chassis of tile 2S6 is a relative of the GM-539 (MT-T) family. The chassis is fully tracked, which allows the 2S6 to move rapidly with other modern combat vehicles like the BMP-2 and T-80. This chassis is also used with the SA-11 and SA-15 air defense systems that allows for similar parts to be used in each vehicle. The 2S6 is a thin-skinned armored vehicle and is not amphibious. The armored body is most likely constructed of welded armor plates that should provide protection from shrapnel and small arms fire.

The suspension of the 2S6 is built with stability as its highest priority. The system on the 2S6 is similar in design to that of the BMD and 2S9. Suspension is of the hydro-pneumatic type with six equally spaced road wheels, drive sprocket at the rear, idler at the front and three track return rollers. The driver of the 2S6 can adjust the height of the vehicle from the inside. An auxiliary power unit allows this to happen by giving hydraulic pressure to each of the running gears hydraulic cylinders. When traveling, the suspension is lowered to provide maximum possible ground clearance, but when in the firing position it is raised and locked out to provide a more stable firing platform. The front or back or each side can be raised from 100 to 400 mm. While moving, the suspension can provide stability for the 30-mm guns on rough terrain, and for firing the SA-19s, the vehicle can be lowered to the ground to provide stability. The benefits that this suspension system gives to the stability of the vehicle are: greater crew comfort, less shock to the electronics systems, and the fire control computer and stabilizer do less work during firing solutions.

Information on the engine and transmission of the 2S6 was initially scarce. As of 1990 the 2S6 was believed to be powered by a derivative of the V-59 diesel engine used on the 2S3/2P24/GMZ chassis, although in this application the engine is supplemented by a 50 kW turbine system to allow it to operate with the main engine switched off. Other later sources suggested as of 1997 that the system is most likely equipped with a V-12 high-speed diesel engine taken from the T-72. This engine would allow the 2S6 to achieve a 20 horsepower per ton power to weight ratio, achieve a road speed of 60km/h and travel up to 500 km without refueling. The transmission on the 2S6 is probably automatic. The system also has a 50 to 60 kilowatt auxiliary power unit for use when the engine is off which allows the system to diminish its audio and thermal signature when the machine is in the defense.

The 2S6 is unmatched in the area of long-range target engagements. This is the result of the missile and gun combination. The weapons can be used when the vehicle is moving but greater accuracy would be obtained if stationary and the hydro-pneumatic suspension is locked out.

While on the move, the 2S6 can engage targets out to 4,000 meters with the two, twin-barreled 30-mm cannons (2A38M) which is the same caliber as on the BMP-2, BMP-3, and Mi-24/HIND E. Mounted either side of the power-operated turret are twin 30 mm (2A38M) cannon which have an effective range of up to 3,000 m in altitude and 4,000 m in slant range. The cannon used in the 2S6 are much longer than those of the BMP-2 and are mounted in pairs with the right cannon having the appearance of being slightly to the rear of the left cannon and is provided with a muzzle velocity measuring system. The cannon have a total cyclic rate of fire of 4,000 to 5,000 rds/min with the empty cartridge cases and links being ejected externally of the turret. However, only 2,000 rounds are available onboard in eight ammunition containers stored in the turret. A resupply truck that carries another 4,000 rounds in quick-load containers. The 30 mm (2A38M) cannon are water-cooled, gas-operated, electrically fired weapons and each barrel has an automatic muzzle velocity measuring device that feeds data to the fire-control computer.

The long range punch of the 2S6 is made up of eight SA-19/GRENDEL`Grison' (9M311) SAMs in two four- missile canisters. Mounted to the outside of and below the 30-mm cannon, the canisters can elevate vertically in sections of two, independent of each other. The slant range of the missile is eight kilometers. Protection is provided for the rear, sides and top of the missile canisters, this may be armored or more probably be made of sheet steel to avoid damage by trees and bushes. To the immediate rear of the launcher is a blast deflector.

The SA-19s are assessed to be two-stage with Semi-Automatic Command to Line of Sight (SACLOS) or Automatic Command to Line of Sight (ACLOS) guidance and a proximity fuse in the HE Frag warhead. Dual command guidance capability would be ideal for these missiles. Good weather allows the missile to be guided to the target using a gunners optical sight (for SACLOS), while in the ACLOS mode, a fire direction radar is used. Typically, two missiles would be fired at each target for increased kill probability. Just before launch, the turret is turned slightly off axis so that the smoke of the missiles being launched does not obstruct the gunner's sight. Once the missiles have been launched, the launcher is lowered into the -6 position and locked. Theoretically the SA-19 should provide a true fire and forget capability when using the ACLOS method of guidance, allowing the 2S6 to find a target, shoot, and then find another. The resupply vehicle carries another 16 SA-19 missiles for reloading.

The electronics package that is on the 256 is what really makes it a better product than the ZSU23-4. The 2S6 has individual tracking and surveillance radars in a system called the Hot Shot by NATO. The HOT SHOT radar system is made up of two components. On the back of the turret is a Target Acquisition Radar (TAR), allowing the 2S6 to engage targets out to eighteen kilometers. The surveillance and target acquisition radar being mounted on the turret roof at the rear, this folds down 90 to the turret rear when not required so reducing the overall height of the system and reducing possible damage from trees and other terrain obstacles. On the front of the turret is a Target Trackinig Radar (TTR) which provides tracking information and command guidance to the missiles and guns out to 10 km. A routine engagement sequence would have the TAR find an incoming aircraft, then give the data to the TTR for engagement as the target comes into range. The TAR could then look for other targets. The 2S6 is also assumed to be able to receive digital target tracking information from other early warniing systems such as the PPRU (DOG EAR) of divisional and higher air defense command and control systems. In theory, the 2S6 could even receive data from other 2S6s, which would allow the 2S6 to keep the TAR on board shutdown to avoid detection, and engage targets using remote radar.

On the left side of the turret roof are the optical sights which may have both day and night capability as well as being used in a heavy ECCM environment. There are at least two types of roof-mounted optical sights, the earlier system being somewhat similar to that of the older ZSU-23-4 system. The second arrangement was believed to be a new [as of 1990] design and incorporates a day/night capability. One of the roof sights is probably used with the SA-19 SAMs. A laser rangefinder is probably incorporated as well, as the system presumably includes an IFF interrogator which interacts with the usual Khrom-Nikel (Odd Rods) IFF system found on Soviet combat aircraft.

Within the OPFOR the 2S6 can be found in its own battery in the regimental air defense battalion. The 2S6 battery is composed of a battery headquarters, transportation section, and three air defense missile and artillery platoons. Each platoon has two 30-mm 2S6s, totaling six.

As a regimental air defense weapon, the 2S6 often is required to fulfill a variety of missions within the OPFOR such as protecting march columns and attack formations, or special missions, such as air defense ambushes and roving units. In the defense of units making tactical marches, pairs of 2S6s are located 1,000 to 2.000 meters from each other to ensure mutual support. Individual guns maintain at least fifty meters between themselves and other vehicles to ensure an unobstructed field of fire to engage how-flying aircraft.

Air defense ambushes usually consist of one or more 2S6s or SA-16/18 SAMs. The 2S6, with its high rate of fire and mobility, is especially suited for both ambushes and roving units. Air defense ambushes engage only these targets that approach on the designated route or in self-defense. The units reposition themselves immediately after engagement or on discovery by the enemy.

Roving air defense elements function much like the ambushes. However there is one difference: an ambushing uniit lies in wait for approaching enemy aircraft, while a roving unit moves to the most likely areas of enemy air attack. The rovinig unit occupies positions according to a prearranged schedule or on order of the air defense commander.

A pair of 2S6s may support a motorized rifle battalion attacking in the first echelon. In the combat order, the regimental commander tasks a pair of 2S6s to support a particular battalion for a particular period. This period can precede the attack and begin before a battalion moves into an assembly area. The 2S6 pair may join the maneuver battalion after it is already in the assembly area, though the OPFOR prefers to have both subunits arrive at the assembly area at the same time. In either case, the air defenise section or platoon leader reports to the maneuver battalion commander and establishes direct communications.

In the defense, the 2S6 can deploy in pairs or individually. The pairs of guns are again 1,000 to 2,000 meters apart. Positions for the 2S6s are usually well within the a battalion's defensive area. This protects them from enemy observation and direct ground fire and allows better protection for the entire battalion. Air observation posts are in the battalion rear area and at the battalion command observation post (COP). The 2S6 platoon command post is usually near the battalion COP.

The most evident trend in former Soviet and Russian tactical air defense development was the increase in the size of the engagement envelope and weapons lethality. The air defense forces continually receive new weapons systems and modify previously fielded systems. The recently fielded weapons systems have redundant missile guidance features that provide an enhanced ability to conduct successful engagements in a sophisticated countermeasures environment.

The 2S6 was a small part of the attempt to make its air defense systems second to none. This weapon is a serious concern to Western air forces, and is for sale worldwide. The specific purpose of the 2S6 is to counter the AH-64 Apache, A-10 Warthog and other western combat aircraft. The AH-64 and A-10 armor were designed to defeat only 23-mm or smaller ammunition. By incorporating advanced electronic features into its systems, the 2S6 provides the regimental commander with an effective, long-range weapon system to counter the air threat.

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Page last modified: 11-07-2011 15:45:58 ZULU