This objective is achievable with sound ranging, weapon locating radar capabilities that are produced in Ukraine among other countries and have already proved their combat worth.
A counter-artillery system is meant to determine the coordinates of a hostile battery using data derived from the sound of its guns (or mortar or rockets) firing. It can also be used to intercept the enemy projectiles in midair or to destroy hostile artillery with counter-battery fire.
Read more: Closing air coverage gaps
In Ukraine, two counter-artillery systems have been produced, known as the Automated Acoustic Weapon Locating System (WLS) “Polozhennya-2” and Counter-Artillery Radar System Il220U “Zoopark-2”.
Molniya R&D Company, Odessa, designed Polozhennya-2 as a follow-on evolution to its Soviet-era AZK-7 “Mezotron” acoustic counter battery technology.
The Polozhennya-2, like its international counterparts, is intended to pinpoint hostile mortars, artillery and MLRS launchers, and it may also be operated in a friendly fire mode to correct and improve the accuracy of counter battery return fire by a single battery or an artillery battalion. It measures an acoustic pressure wave from artillery (mortar) firing, then uses the resulting data to locate the point of origin.
The WLS Polozhennya-2 is especially efficacious against artillery cannons, mortars and Grad MLR launchers.
Being modular in layout, it can be mounted on any suitable chassis (a motor car, MTLB light tracked transport etc). Everything needed for combat use is present on the carrying chassis. To ensure autonomy of operation while in combat, an autonomous power plant is used (complemented by a backup rechargeable battery pack). A combined GPS/GLONASS receiver is used for precise point positioning. Cables and microphones are carried within the hull of the vehicle while in transit.
Operator workstation consists of a computer, intercom modem, automated data processing device, and a weather station, while the crew leader’s station is comprised of a computer and a printer used for printing position coordinates measured.
The Polozhennya-2 consists of three acoustic arrays separated by 3 to 8 kilometers to give omnidirectional coverage. Each array has 3 highly sensitive microphone sensors separated from one another by well-defined distances in range and azimuth. The System will be deployed at 2-3 kilometers from its operational perimeter. Each acoustic array has a portable GPS/GLONASS receiver used for determining its acoustic center. The System’s weather station is located in close vicinity to the control station. The acoustics arrays connect to the control station using a field wire network or a radio network as needed.
The Polozhennya-2 is available in five different configurations that are selectable depending on mission-specific requirements. It can detect even extremely low-noise shots at ranges up to 35 km and provide corrections to friendly artillery at ranges up to 15 km. It takes no more than 5 seconds to compute the location of a hostile firing position, with up to 50 shots and explosions detected and up to 100 trajectories processed every minute.
A prototype of the Polozhennya-2 system has entered service with Ukraine’s Armed Forces following completion of the full cycle of official qualification trials.
A production line for the Polozhennya-2 WLS has been launched at State-owned Ukroboronprom defense industries group’s Lorta Factory, Lviv.
The R&D and Production Complex Iskra, Zaporizhzhia, has developed the Counter-Artillery Radar System 1L220-U (otherwise known as Zoopark-2). It is intended to detect and locate hostile artillery guns, mortars, multiple rocket launchers and tactical missile launchers, as well as to provide corrections to friendly artillery. The radar detects an incoming projectile in mid-flight and calculates its trajectory. Once the projectile’s trajectory is measured, the System’s computer backtracks to the point of origin in a fraction of a second, while simultaneously identifying the type of the weapon that had fired the projectile.
The Zoopark-2 is able to determine – with high accuracy and in very near real-time – coordinates of targets located within the full range achievable with modern battery systems – in all weathers and at all times of the day, in the presence of dust and smoke and in severe ECM scenarios.
In a local conflict, the Il220-U would come in to quickly detect, locate and neutralize widely scattered hostile weapons positions. It can function effectively in ECM-heavy environments that are characteristic to wide-ranging operations involving large concentrations of forces and heavy armaments. The Zoopark-2 is a must-have capability for peace support operations where there is a requirement for ceasefire monitoring on geographically expanded areas.
The Zoopark-2 WLS has detection ranges as follows: ≥30 km for 152-mm artillery guns and 82-mm/120-mm mortars; 30-40 km for BM-21-type MLRS; 50-55 km for short-range rocket launchers. It is capable of friendly fire adjustment ranges as follows: 20-25 km for 152-mm artillery guns, 25-30 km for 82-mm/120-mm mortars; 21-40 km for BM-21-type MLRS; 80 km for rockets.
Range measurement error does not exceed 0.35 percent of the range being measured, meaning a 70-m error per 20-km range. Up to 50 trajectories can be processed every minute.
To achieve weight and size savings, Iskra has developed a Zoopark-2 configuration based on a wheeled off-road semi-trailer. This ensures a significant weight reduction without any loss of mobility or ride quality in rugged-terrain environments.
The Zoopark-2 can shift from travel to deployed mode in 5 minutes and back from deployed to travel mode in less than 3 minutes. It is able to communicate targeting data to friendly artillery while being on the move.
The Polozhennya-2 and Zoopark-2 weapon locating systems are both built with the use of modern microelectronics hardware and have had their capabilities tested in real-world combat scenarios.
Read more: HARZA: see it all