- Oct 3, 2009
Khrizantema-S anti-tank missile system. Source: Konstantin Semyonov / TV Channel "Zvezda"
Russia's new state-of-the-art Khrizantema-S anti-tank missile system is equipped to engage heavily armoured targets day or night in zero visibility and under any weather conditions. The system is currently undergoing trials at the firing ground of KB Mashinostroyenia (Machine Building Design Bureau) in the Moscow region's city of Kolomna, where engineering experts are testing the missiles on all kinds of targets, before handling them over to the military.
The Khrizantema-S is the most powerful anti-tank missile system the world has ever known. There is nothing else like it.
The letter S in the name stands for 'self-propelled', which means that the mobile Khrizantema launcher mounted on Russia's new BMP-3 infantry fighting vehicle is equally at ease driving off road at speeds of up to 70 kilometres (about 43 miles) per hour and forcing rivers and other water obstacles. Two water-jet engines are installed at the rear of the vehicle, which can cover up to 600 kilometres (373 miles).
But it is not these characteristics that makes the Khrizantema (which translates as 'Chrysanthemum' in English) the ultimate weapon against all types of armoured vehicle and helicopter.
Valery Kashin, chief designer at the KB Mashinostroyenia, argues that the system's biggest advantage lies in its ability to detect and engage targets in zero optical visibility. Such conditions may occur due to bad weather, such as snow, rain and fog, or when the enemy uses smoke screening or aerosol clouds to camouflage its equipment. Most modern anti-tank missiles have optical or laser guidance heads, which means they can be 'blinded' – the Khrizantema cannot.
The Russian fighting vehicle has two targeting channels: an optical channel with laser guidance and an electronic channel. The latter represents the biggest innovation introduced into the system: as the radar operates in the millimetre range (100–150 GHz), it does not miss targets. The relevant data is processed and transmitted to the system control panel, so that the operator only has to lock the detected targets by marking them on the LCD display and press the launch button – the electronics will do the rest.
The system is equipped with 15 ultrasonic 152-millimetre missiles held in sabots. It is noteworthy that these missiles can cover a distance of 4.5 kilometres (2.8 miles) in just 10 seconds. The missiles are positioned in the rear part of the vehicle and have a maximum range of 8 kilometres (5 miles). In Kashin's view, this is more than enough, given that no tank can be seen in the optical range from a large distance in rugged terrain, and it can only use its weapons from within 3 kilometres (1.9 miles) or less.
Each missile is fitted with a devastatingly powerful tandem HEAT warhead. As Kashin explains, the first charge is designed to destroy reactive armour and the second burns the targeted tank down. During tests, the designer says, the system showed no difficulty blasting 120-millimetre-thick armour, that is, it is capable of demolishing any modern tank carrying reactive armour.
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During the trial, a Khrisantema missile blew up a tank that had as many as 60 dynamic protection elements installed. This is a record among all guided anti-tank systems both in Russia and the rest of the world. To make the picture complete, it should be mentioned that the Khrizantema's 152-millimatre tandem warheads were designed by specialists from the Federal Nuclear Centre in Sarov.
Thanks to its two targeting channels, the Khrizantema can detect and shell two targets at once with a four-second interval between shots. Moreover, the system is capable of launching missiles while moving across land or water. Leonid Sizov, head of the design department at the Kolomna bureau, says that an artillery battery of three Khrizantema-S fighting vehicles has enough combat power to repel an attack of a 14-strong tank squadron. And if the system used missiles with blast or thermobaric warheads, it could also be effective against infantry.
The Khrizantema was put into service in 2006, but mass supplies to the Russian military started only last year. Even so, the design bureau is already hard at work on new modifications to the system. For example, it has been proposed to adapt the Khrizantema for any platform with a load capacity of 3 tonnes or more. Some examples include a conventional lorry, a helicopter and even a motorboat.
New Russian missile system successfully test-fired | Russia Beyond The Headlines ASIA