The production of cutting-edge flak jackets and composite helmets is one of knowledge-intensive sectors in Russian industry, which involves many experts from chemists, supplied with high-molecular polymers and producing heavy-duty aramid fibres, to integrators and engineers, manufacturing equipment, outfit and protection devices themselves.
Each Russian BAG item is subject to prolonged firing, performance, range and service trials for exposure of various adverse factors and compatibility with other components of combat gear (CG). Sometimes the adjustment of CG components
takes several years. The Americans were the pioneers in development of new generation BAGs. The assessment of U.S.
Army causality has shown that 70-75% injuries were shrapnel wounds; the most of them being body ones.
During the Korean War GIs were provided with flak jackets of sandwich nylon. With these flak jackets the USA entered the Vietnam War while these BAG models did not protect against small arms bullets but only against small fragments. The birth of Kevlar, extra strong synthetic material developed in 1995 by DuPont (USA), and special ceramics let the USA to launch production of flak jackets capable to protect their soldiers against bullets more or less.
The USSR adoption of flak jackets was late a little, but the Afghanistan War became a drive for further development. The first development was Zh-81 military flak jacket introduced in 1981, which was made of 30 layers of SVM fabric (SVM is a Soviet counterpart of Kevlar) and sewed in armour plates of 1.25 mm thick. Unfortunately, it provided protection against fragments only; a rifle bullet could penetrate it from 400-600 meters even. That was why in 1985 it was substituted by Zh-85T and Zh- 85K flak jackets, in which thicker armour plates of titanium and boron carbide were implemented.
The unified flak jacket was included into supply inventory in 1986 and designated as 6B5 (Zh-86). The new flak jacket is a jacket which accommodated soft ballistic shields of TSVM-DZh fabric and so-called mounting pads, pouches of which accommodated armour plates. The protection design could utilise armour plates of ceramics, titanium and steel. Depending on type of protection design and, accordingly, protection class provided, the flak jacket had nine modifications.
Theoretically, a flak jacket can be reinforced by an armour plate even capable to withstand a bullet of heavy machine gun. But by no means can it safe a soldier's life. The armour, steel, Kevlar or composite, merely stops a bullet or fragment:
only a part of bullet/fragment kinetic energy is transformed into heat during plastic deformations of flak jacket and bullet itself. However, the impact is still present. And on impact into flak jacket the bullet causes a heavy strike, which often breaks ribs and hurts soldier's vitals. To absorb that impact, shock pads of sponge elastic materials are used. But they have limited energy consumption. That is why improving a bullet resistance of flak jacket is reasonable only for particular limits.
Generally the development of Russian BAGs may be divided by the protective elements used in them: armoclad designs; laminar designs; monoblock armour plates for vitals. The evolution process of Russian BAGs shows a gradual shift of armature quality criteria - from strictly protective function to complexity of characteristics, amidst which ergonomic parameters become playing a key role. At the present time the up-todate flak jacket is 6B43 military assault flak jacket for Army, VDV, Marines and Spec Ops. In extended version the FJ provides body perimeter protection against fragments, cutting weapons and small arms bullets (including SVD B-32 and .338 Lapua Magnum) during any kind of mission including close combat.
To carry out a specific mission more efficiently, there is a possibility for adaptive configuration of fragment and bullet protection. The FJ is of modular design. Except conventional thoracic and dorsal sections it is equipped with the following
■ bullet-proof, side
■ ballistic-proof, inguinal with additional bullet-proof armour plate
■ ballistic-proof, shoulder
■ ventilated and shock-absorbing The ceramic-composite reinforced armour plates provide a perimeter protection at short ranges against SVD B-32 bullet from 10 m, against .338 Lapua Magnum bullet from 300 m. The 6B43 FJ is manufactured in three sizes. The adjusting system provides an easy fitting. The weight of FJ with extended configuration does not exceed 15 kg. For quick (no more than 3 seconds) removal in case of emergency the FJ is equipped with quick release device. On external surface there is a unified mounting system allowing arranging removable pouches of UMTBS gear (6Sh122 multi-purpose load-carrying jacket) or of any other personal combat gear kit equipped with modular mounting system of removable pouches, compatible with UMTBS design or its foreign counterparts MOLLE or PALS.
According to requirements of new flak jacket research engineering, the unified military flak jacket shall ensure personal protection (thoracic, dorsal) of class 5 as per Government Standard GOST R 50744-95. The flak jacket shall provide capability for insertion of armour plates ensuring protection (thoracic, dorsal) of class 6 (GOST R 50744-95) in the same projections
as of class 5 with using auxiliary equipage. Besides, quick-detachable armour plates ensuring protection class 6 shall be placed in the same inserts. The weight of unified flak jacket of protection class 5 of any size shall not exceed 7.6 kg and
of protection class 6 with full configuration shall not exceed 12 kg. Currently, Barmitsa PCGK utilizes helmets of 6B26 (lightweight), 6B27 (reinforced), 6B28 (airborne) and 6B7-1M (reinforced) designs. The modernization of helmets is on the go in the direction of enhancement of protective features, ergonomic parameters, integration with management and survival systems.
The C4I system combines automated process-control system; command, control, communications, computers and intelligence means. In 2007 Strelets KRUS C4I system was introduced, designed to carry out the main scope of data-information activities (tactical control, communications and data transfer, individual and group navigation, detection,
coordinate measuring and target acquisition, target designa tion, data output for engagement of small arms and close combat means). The interface of the system with unmanned aerial vehicle has been achieved. The integration of this system into the unified C4I sys tem of tactical group is also envisaged.
Personal multi-purpose data system includes improved personal radio set with video data feed features, central computer, audible and optic means for information presentation, components of personal and group means for target designation, friendorfoe system, situational awareness and navigation.
Communication range inside the group (unit) is 1.5 km; VHFbased communication range to command is up to 10 km, satellitebased - 5,000 km. Data transfer rate is up to 11 Mbit/sec. Continuous run time of management and communication means is not less than 7 hours. Positioning error with use of satellite global positioning systems (GLONASS, GPS) is not more
than 20 metres.
Different devices and equipment can be interfaced with Strelets system including: angle-distance measuring device, laser range finder, laser designator pod, ground reconnaissance radars, tactical UAVs, directional antennas, satellite communication sets, NBC gauges, IR and TV scanners, sights, friend-or-foe components, mine detector.
The advanced multi-purpose management system including communication, designation, positioning, navigation and data exchange means (integrated into integrated C4I Sozvezdie-M at the Tactical Level) in combination with reconnaissance
and engagement systems provides as follows:
■ Robust encrypted voice communication and data transactions (target designation and management commands, data on tactical situation, etc.)
■ Positioning with respect to location and orientation of personnel with display indication
■ Personnel natural perception of real-time environment in audio-frequency range and automatic protection of acoustic apparatus against high power blast wave impact caused by firing and explosions
■ Automatic secure fake-resistant friend-or-foe identification
■ Survey of environment within predetermined sector, reconnaissance of enemy personnel and materiel, IFF, target type designation
■ Control of firing from various small arms against personnel, ground and air assets including mobile individual, group and area targets
■ Display of survey information, aiming marks, alerts and other data received via communication and data links with ensuring eye protection against laser systems and the like
■ Conversion and processing of data received from alert warning and health monitoring systems, its preparation and transfer via communication links and generation of executive signals
The survival system includes personal combat gear, engineering aids, clothing, rations, drugs and personal functional state monitoring aids. One of key components of personal combat gear is so-called tactical vest, a system ensuring a suitable wearing of weapons, ammunitions and equipment. The shoulder straps and belt, which were supplied for Soviet Army soldiers, were hard to be regarded as suitable for daily usage in combat. The operations of Armed Forces within Afghanistan War did not impel our industry to develop a suitable infantry tactical vest, thus soldiers began crafting, sewing designs in one's own way. Such bandoleer was slang denoted as military bra.
The most advanced designs at that date were craftworks sewed from two pouches of RD-54 airborne packs, thankfully that RD-54 packs were supplied to airborne assault brigades, GRU and KGB special forces in great numbers. That bra could accommodate 4 AKM magazines and 4 grenades. More rowdy, purely infantry design was achieved by sewing two regular pouches for AKM and AK74, to which rucksack straps or canvas rifle belts were sewed.
Only in 1988 well-known POYAS-A, first industrial tactical vest, was introduced to service. The designers tried to incorporate all remarks of soldiers: pouches for assault rifle magazines to store two magazines in each (including bundle of magazines pair), grenade pouches to be arranged by one above other, which would facilitate access to them and grenade removal under combat conditions, sewed semi-rings for rockets were added. The POYAS-B tactical vest could be additionally attached
to this vest by using two canvas straps and stow 10 VOG-25 grenades for GP-25 under-barrel grenade launcher.
The multi-purpose modular loadcarrying assault equipment (UMTBS) was developed under Barmitsa RE. It was designed for mounting and carrying personal combat and march load of any service person of the Russian Armed Forces.
Due to its modular design the UMTBS (designated as 6Sh112) provides a rational arrangement of gear components into removable attached pouches in accordance with individual needs and mission objectives. It is a Russian alternative
for STRIKE and MOLLE gears, de facto standard foreign equipment.
■ Vest support - 1 pc.;
■ Pouches for 2 AK74 magazines and flares (left, right) - 2 pcs;
■ Pouch for 2 AK74 magazines - 2 pcs;
■ Pouch for RGO, RGN, RGD-5 and F-1 hand grenades - 4 pcs;
■ Pouch, multi-purpose - 2 pcs;
■ Pouch for radio set - 1 pc.;
■ Pouch for small infantry shovel (fold entrenching shovel) - 1 pc.;
■ Holster, multi-purpose - 1 pc.;
■ Pouch for 2/4 pistol magazines -2 pcs;
■ Holster extension - 1 pc.;
■ Pack-pouch, combat (ratio bag) - 1 pc.;
The equipment can be additionally extended by assault pack or patrol pack, or backpack; all pouches are compatible with M.O.L.L.E. components. The 6Sh112 UMTBS weights 2.6 kg.
The survival system is being continuously improved in terms of new materials development for BDU, underwear, boots and personnel property with its ergonomic characteristics being enhanced. It is planned to improve the system by implementing
gear components corresponding to different roles of personnel, electronic medical records and health monitoring features (including group health recording and processing means), personnel remote search systems in case of injury or KIA (custodial system). The separate components incorporated into medical means group are being improved almost annually (disposal injectors for automatic injection of fluid drugs and antidotes, personal first aid dressing); new technologies for production of modern hemostatic agents and dressing, rations have been developed and adopted. There is a development of advanced individual meals ready to eat and survival rations based on new approaches towards their composition in accordance with findings of integrated experimental studies on impact of their composition to personnel health. Kit and personal property development (advanced kit and personal property meeting requirements to advanced system) keeps running. The survival system of advanced infantry combat gear will be generally integrated into combat gear kit and provide an automatic internal environment control, health monitoring of personal physical and mental state under mission conditions.
In general the realisation of Special-Purpose Program allows ensuring infantry mission completion duringboth peacetime and war.
American Rifleman has a long history of showcasing the latest developments in military arms and ammunition. What follows is a close look at cutting-edge work that is well underway toward the goal of sharply reducing the infantry soldier’s combat load. It could be the future of U.S. infantry weapons.
By Robert Bruce
The Lightweight Small Arms Technologies program (LSAT) has been on our radar screen since its inception in 2003. Plastic-cased cartridges are already performing well, and caseless ammunition—a concept dating back to the dawn of firearms—is said to offer the greatest potential. Today, these high-tech cartridges and the innovative lightweight small arms that fire them are showing great promise. What emerges from these experiments is likely to yield benefits not only to the military, but also to law enforcement and to the shooting sports.
It’s real and right now: a dramatically different squad automatic weapon (SAW) that fires radically new ammunition. And this combination is half the combat weight of the M249, the current SAW. We asked the Army’s program manager how soon it could be in the hands of Americas warfighters? That is a tough question, so lets go back a few years.
The Army-led Joint Services Small Arms Program (JSSAP) challenged the defense industry to develop and present innovative ideas for dramatically reducing the combined gun and ammunition weight in a family of small arms. These new arms are intended to bridge the gap between what is in use now and the directed energy “ray guns” or other radical armament that might be available to the American soldier of 2025.
In March 2005 it was publicly announced that the concept from well-respected defense contractor AAI—heading up a team of eight specialized companies—had been judged superior to that of rival General Dynamics, and was “downselected” by JSSAP for further development. At the time, AAI’s proposed Squad Automatic Weapon and its radical ammunition existed only in “virtual reality”—animated 3-D models generated by astonishingly complex computer programs. With JSSAP’s approval and selection of these digital designs came sufficient funding to begin fabrication of actual cartridges and the guns to send rounds downrange.
Live Fire Demonstration
By May 2007, things were moving along so well with the Cased Telescoped (CT) ammunition and prototype SAW that Kori Spiegel, JSSAP’s LSAT project manager, took the calculated risk of authorizing the first public LSAT live-fire demonstration held in conjunction with the National Defense Industrial Association’s annual Small Arms Symposium.
Tim Livelsberger pumped out nearly 50 rounds of CT in flawless semi- and full-automatic operation from the serial number 1 (SN1) light machine gun. This clearly showed that its theoretical potential had been turned into something very real. It seemed that the uncannily light gun and its distinctive plastic “lipstick tube” ammunition were on the fast track to fielding.
Invitation To AAI
Further inquiries were rewarded with an invitation for the author to visit AAI’s Hunt Valley, Md., headquarters for an exclusive LSAT status briefing in December 2007. This also included the opportunity to formally interview Spiegel and the program’s other top official, AAI’s Paul Shipley, who heads the corporation’s team of industry partners.
I was brought up to date on the series of successful demonstrations for senior officers and others in the military community that followed LSAT’s public debut seven months earlier. All have included the opportunity to handle and shoot the CT serial number 1 prototype with “Spiral 2” (second generation) cased telescoped ammunition on military ranges with pop-up targets positioned from 100 to 800 meters.
These demonstrations allow decision makers to assess the system’s combat potential. “Results have been very positive,” Spiegel said, “particularly in favorable comments on the design’s light weight, mild recoil and accuracy—all measurably superior to the current squad automatic weapon.” Live fire video clips of this arm in action are available for viewing at www.americanrifleman.org.
Shipley told us that the test and demonstration prototype CT SN1 has received a pretty good workout along the way. “We’ve fired about 5,000 rounds in that weapon,” he said, “in temperature conditions from very cold to very hot.”
So, what’s next? LSAT fact sheets predict the gun and ammunition being transitioned to Program Manager Soldier Weapons (PMSW) in 2010. Why two more years? Spiegel replied this date was a guideline and there are compelling reasons to keep it in “Technology Base” for a bit longer. “It’s more about the best solution,” she explained. “Cased Telescoped [ammunition] is out in front, time-wise—probably between six months to a year ahead of where we are with caseless. We could transition that package tomorrow and PMSW could continue to develop it and then field it in a few years. But we think there’s more potential there and we should work more on the caseless, or in developing other types of weapons, and really find the right fit for our user before … transition.”
Indeed, as I saw a bit later that day in a visit to AAI’s subterranean small-arms test range, engineers from ARES, the weapon design partner, were working with counterparts from AAI in conducting live-fire experiments with the updated CT SN2 weapon. I received a close look at ATK’s latest caseless ammunition, but the test fixture that fires it—said to be significantly different in mechanical function from that of CT—was literally under wraps for security purposes.
I asked about “thermal management,” the vexing problem of keeping the LSAT from prematurely overheating. Shipley corrected the misconception that this is particularly challenging in both CT and CL because there is no brass case that ejects along with most of the heat generated on firing. Brass transfers a lot of heat to the chamber, he said, but the CT’s polymer case is an insulator.
The CT’s “combination of a separate chamber and polymer case results in considerable heat isolation,” Shipley explained. “You can fire to the point where the barrel is too hot to touch yet the chamber is only slightly warm.” And Spiegel said that the high-temperature steel used in the barrel was nothing unusual.
“There’s no ‘unobtanium’ [miraculous metal] in the weapon itself,” she said. “The only thing we haven’t made a determination on yet is the chamber for the caseless weapon,” she offered. “We are looking at everything including ceramics, approaching it from all angles. We want to find the optimum combination and that will probably be some kind of ‘sandwich,’ but we don’t know yet.”
Proponents of various alternative calibers should take heart. Both Spiegel and Shipley were careful to point out that the conventional G.I. 5.56x45 mm ball and tracer bullets used in the program’s experimental CT ammo serve primarily as a baseline standard since everyone can relate to their performance.
“There is some other work in the Army for what they’re calling a ‘green bullet’ program which is not only lead-free, but probably has other improvements in it,” Spiegel said. “We’d like to see if we could integrate that with our ammunition as well as look at calibers other than 5.56 millimeter. We would like an optimum caliber, we just don’t know yet what that is.”
Virtual Guns And Ammunition
LSAT information papers indicate that a lot of the most challenging obstacles in ammunition and firing mechanisms had been cleared ahead of time in super-smart computer models. Both Spiegel and Shipley were quick to credit partner firms for their expertise in this cutting-edge computer science. “They’re bringing gun design into the 21st Century,” Spiegel said. “We did some of it with the Objective Crew Served Weapon (circa 1995) but really the tools weren’t there to do it back then.”
Once a decision is made on CT vs. CL with a well-developed prototype weapon, the team would like to move the system into limited production stage before handing it off to PMSW. “Our plan is to bring a weapon producer on before that so we can get a little bit of the manufacturing experience,” Spiegel said. “We have a lot of R&D experience on this team, we don’t have a lot of weapon manufacturing experience. We’d like to get a little bit of feedback as far as designing parts, making parts, materials, that kind of thing.”
JSSAP’s winning LSAT team is uniquely structured to make the best use of the program’s many and very different scientific, technical and soldier-interface disciplines. The lead contractor is defense giant Textron’s AAI subsidiary, with more than a half-century of experience in armament and ammunition development. Its five main partners include ARES for weapon engineering, ATK and General Dynamics’ St. Marks Powder for ammunition, Battelle for material investigation and Omega Training for human factors.
Cased Telescoped LMG Weapon Prototype serial number 2 is nearing finalization, making best use of important lessons learned along the way and optimized for the latest CT cartridges. A prototype Caseless Telescoped weapon is coming soon.
At this point, I’ve seen enough evidence on LSAT to convince me that the program is making meaningful progress. This leads to intriguing possibilities for some likely spin-offs and their benefits to military, law enforcement and shooting sports. Consider the deceptively modest phrase “family of weapons” in LSAT fact sheets. Might this family include pistols, rifles and machine guns?
I learned that AAI is already at work on a lightweight assault rifle to fire the same CT and CL ammunition for the LSAT SAW. This initiative is particularly timely given growing dissatisfaction with the U.S. military’s currently issued M16 rifle and M4 carbine.
If caseless ammunition advances to the point where it is comparable to traditional, brass-cased cartridges in price, performance and durability, a number of practical reasons would invite change.
The Crystal Ball
A final try for an answer to the “when” question was once again met by Spiegel with the kind of cautious wisdom that comes from many years of experience. “We just don’t know because both cartridge types hold so much promise and there’s more work to be done,” she advised. “My assumption for LSAT’s transition to Program Manager Soldier Weapons is that it would not happen before 2010.”
I didn’t ask Spiegel to speculate on how long it will take after her team’s finalized “best solution” gun and ammunition have been passed on to PMSW before the M249 is replaced. By this time I realized that it was just not a fair question. So I didn’t ask about ray guns, either.
AAI’s website has a downloadable LSAT brochure and more at www.aaicorp.com. Click Advanced Programs then Lightweight Small Arms Technologies. A formal briefing on LSAT was presented at National Defense Industrial Association’s Small Arms Symposium.
MONAX is a powerful, new communications system that combines the convenience of smartphone technology with the power and flexibility of a secure, highly portable infrastructure. MONAX gives our nation's warfighters the convenient and immediate communication capability they need to achieve mission success.
The 3G wireless system, consists of a unique portable MONAX Lynx sleeve that connects touch-screen Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) smartphones to the MONAX XG Base Station infrastructure on the ground or in airborne platforms, offering uninterrupted service to warfighters in the field.
This COTS based, smartphone enabling interface operates anywhere in theater. MONAX uses a secure RF Link, protected through strong exportable encryption enabling the transfer of pertinent and sensitive information with speed and ease. With improved, flexible range and penetration delivering superior link performance in voice, video and data transmission, MONAX ensures that the information soldiers need at "the first tactical mile" is only one click away.
Projectile guidance technology has already been used since 1994 in 120 mm mortars, with the IR homing Bofors/Saab Strix. This weapon can engage targets at a range of 7 km, operates in an autonomous heat-seeking mode which can intelligibly recognize targets and discriminate targets among decoys and burning targets. Strix has been in service with the Swedish Army since 1994 and also has been ordered by the Swiss Army. It is optimized as an anti-armor weapon, defeating targets with top-attack.
MONAX is a powerful, new communications system that combines the convenience of smartphone technology with the power and flexibility of a secure, highly portable infrastructure. MONAX gives our nation’s warfighters the convenient and immediate communication capability they need to achieve mission success.
The 4G wireless system, consists of a unique portable MONAX Lynx sleeve that connects touch-screen COTS smartphones to the MONAX XG Base Station infrastructure on the ground or in airborne platforms, offering uninterrupted service to warfighters in the field.
This COTS based, smartphone enabling interface operates anywhere in theater. MONAX uses a secure RF Link, protected through strong exportable encryption enabling the transfer of pertinent and sensitive information with speed and ease. With improved, flexible range and penetration delivering superior link performance in voice, video and data transmission, MONAX ensures that the information soldiers need at “the first tactical mile” is only one click away.
MONAX offers a rich set of applications and governance, leveraging commercial smartphone application development and application store model. Applications can be easily written or re-hosted on a smartphone, reviewed/approved for mission effectiveness, hosted in a 24x7 app store and made available to the warfighter.
Fireball is a laser homing 120/121mm mortar bomb, (the system also fits into a 81mm mortar bomb diameter). It is designed for first-shot, first hit capability and can be used with rifled or smooth bore tubes.
Firing the Fireball requires no ranging, as the weapon uses a unique guidance method that provides course adjustment by gliding, extending range capability. The bomb to detects the target as it glides to the laser detection "basket", by GPS navigation, where it acquires the target and diving for the kill. The target's GPS location is fed to the bomb before launch and provides for improved hit accuracy over standard mortar bombs, when laser designation is not available. With laser designation, the bomb can reach an accuracy of 1 meter CEP or less, attacking stationary or moving targets. Fireball uses various warhead fusing options - fragmentation, against soft targets, percussion against armor and penetration type for defeating bunkers and targets inside buildings. The weapon is designed to score a single-shot target kill in urban environment, utilizing a steep trajectory minimizing collateral damage. Due to the unique aerodynamic design, Fireball has almost twice the range of conventional mortar bombs, (up to 15 km).
The system is currently in development stage. All its critical components have already been tested under high G loading and actual mortar firing. further system tests are planned soon. A variant of the Fireball is also considered for tube artillery (152, 155mm).
Strixs in Mor is a very old name existing for last 30 years with good technologies but not much in business. The problem is who will blow up their purse in firing 122m or 81 mm when the same can be done cheaper by mainstay field arty pieces.
Field Arty or Mortar rounds are not guided, hitting tanks with precision with regular rounds in indirect fire have very less probability which is close to zero in most cases, this is where Strixs and Bonus rounds are effective..
Infantry stays every where if not arty and Mortars are part of Infantry, A 120mm / 81mm Anti tank round hitting enemy tanks or Support Vehicles silently is a very powerful capability and a horror for enemy, Mortar deployment can be anywhere and its lot portable just like infantry..