Deadly “Pine”: New “Sweeper” of the Russian Sky

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Translated by Ollie Richardson for Fort Russ

16th January, 2016


More than half of Ukrainian planes and helicopters in the conflict for the independence of LPR and DPR in Donbass were found and shot down by anti-aircraft missile complexes, a modification of the famous “Strela-10M” “the Viper”. Now the Design Bureau of precision engineering named A. E. Nudelman in cooperation with the Saratov aggregate plant brought to the state new short-range SAM “Pine” for tests, which surpass its predecessors on all counts. And if this complex were to enter service with the militia, the loss of the Ukrainian aviation could be substantially higher.

In the second half of 2016 SAM “Pine” will go into the Russian army and will become a worthy decoration of army air defense: its ability to allow the guaranteed “sweep up” near the boundaries of defence against air attack.

“Overall SAM “Pine” has fairly high prospects in the army, in the middle of the summer of the current year its state tests will end and the new complex will start to arrive as an armament,” said the chief of armies of air defence of Land forces Lieutenant-General Alexander Leonov. “It is an anti-aircraft rocket complex of a new generation, which could significantly improve the ability of the troops against the means of air attack of the enemy”.

The complex has guarantees at aircraft, helicopters, cruise missiles and UAVs at the height from 20 centimeters up to five kilometers and at a distance of ten kilometers, and even while driving – like a cowboy, from the hip. The “Pine” has many other advantages. When this new SAM system was created, the developers tried to give it a number of characteristic features that provide more in military capability in comparison with the existing systems, and will increase the survivability of the machines on the battlefield.

Existing anti-aircraft missile systems of small range have some serious drawbacks. This includes the high cost of a combat vehicle due to the large number of modern equipment, and the use of active systems of target detection. The last factor makes SAM vulnerable to anti-radar weapons of the enemy.

In the development of “Pine”, it was decided to abandon the use of sophisticated radar detection systems and to use instead an instrument acting on a different principle, masking emitted signals. In addition to passive means of detection and high survival capabilities, other requirements of SAM were required. Its hypersonic missile (“Pine-R”) hits targets at ranges of up to ten kilometers and is capable of destroying not only planes, helicopters and cruise missiles, but unmanned aerial vehicles, precision weapons and other small objects. The ammunition on the launcher has been increased to 12 missiles.

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Regarding the rocket, it is a two-stage, combined control system. Immediately after starting, control is performed by the radio command system, which displays the ammunition on the line of sight – the missile “sees” the target and catches up with it by itself. After it is launched, the engine is started and the laser guidance system is turned on, which is protected from interference. “Pine-R” is equipped with an original combat part, consisting of two compartments with a non-contact fuse with a circular chart. This allows for the compensation of errors in its guidance. 

One of the practical advantages is that the missile does not require additional inspections or testing throughout its life cycle, which allows it to be used almost immediately after delivery from the warehouses. By the way, “Pine” is unified with the ship’s missile and artillery complex “Palma” (“Broadsword”).

“We standardized our anti-aircraft missile system, which was developed for Ground troops, and ships,” said the representative of FSUE “Design Bureau of precision engineering. A. E. Nudelman” Vladimir Kopylov. “The complex is unified by the basic structural elements – the rocket “Pine-R” and the optical-electronic system”.

In the land embodiment, the complex can be manufactured in a combined missile-gun variant, in a cannon or rocket. The Defense Ministry stalled on anti-aircraft missile version, most likely due to the presence of well-proven missile-gun complexes “Tunguska” and “South”.

The basis for “Pine” was chosen as a multifunctional light armored truck – MTLB. However, all the elements of SAM can be installed on any chassis, wheeled or tracked, as long as its capacity is not less than four tons. “Pine” can be set and fixed – to cover airfields, naval bases and other facilities.

On the turrent of the SAM combat vehicle is a gyro-stabilized platform with a collection of necessary equipment. Included are a television and thermal imaging optical system, a laser rangefinder with the possibility of the deflection of the beam, the instrument control of the rocket by the beam of laser, infrared finder missiles and sensors in climate control. All other elements of anti-aircraft complex electronics are located inside of the special unit. This is a digital computing machine, remote, automatic capture and tracking, missile control systems, etc. In this case, the SAM crew consists of only two people – the driver and the operator who is inside the armoured hull and does not rotate inside the tower, unlike the SAM of the previous generation.

New SAM “Pine” has the feature of automatic search and attack of targets. The complex can operate in two modes. All automatic processes occur without human intervention. In semi-automatic mode, the operator controls the operation of the systems, but most processes are carried out automatically. Semi-automatic mode to combat operations in a complex jamming environment without human intervention is indispensable.

The Missiles and anti-aircraft complex are themselves protected from interference by several methods, integrated into the design. Thus, the location of the laser receiver in the rear part of the rocket does not allow the distortion or muting of the control signal. The noise-immunity part of the complex is provided by the narrow field of view of the television and thermal imaging channels (6,7 × 9 degrees), and the use of special computational algorithms to identify the target by its characteristic features.

In the basic version, without the radar, SAM “Pine” has high survivability on the battlefield. In the time spent searching the target the complex emits nothing that significantly hinders its ability to detect. During the first two seconds after the missile is launched, the antenna control system of the rocket works, after which it switches off and the control is done only by the laser beam. If needed, the basic machine can be equipped with additional means of reducing visual or thermal signature. Therefore, to lock-on to the SAM, for example, in a convoy of armoured vehicles or in combat positions, it would, as a result, be impossible for the enemy to destroy it.

By the way, the “Pine” could be serious competition to the Belarusian-Ukrainian development of the SAM T-38 “Stiletto” (deep modernization of the Soviet SAM system “OSA-AKM”) with new rocket T-382. But it looks like there is no victory in the arms market now for the winners of Maidan.

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