On 5 October 2018, at the 174th Air Force and Air Defence training ground at Domanovo, Alexander Lukashenko, the President of the Republic of Belarus acquainted himself with the capabilities of modern and advanced weapon systems and military and special equipment (WMSE) designed and produced by organisations of Goscomvoyenprom and of the defence sector of economy.
The achievements of the military-industrial complex became possible thanks to constant care from the President of the Republic of Belarus. Over the years, crucial decisions in the defence and industrial areas made at his initiative, determined the perspective for developing and improving weapons and military equipment both for domestic use and for export.
The head of state has set a task of creating the full closed production cycle of prospective WMSE: from vehicles to weaponry. Moreover, military equipment supplied to the army must provide units of the armed forces with security, high mobility and controllability, the ability to conduct reconnaissance and deliver precise long-range blows.
Today, the industrial-technological capacities of defence enterprises gradually merge into an effective innovative resource for creating modern weapons in the interests of strengthening the defence of our country, for taking full advantage available under competition and for preserving the positions in the world market.
The task of making armaments, primarily, for the internal market, is solved today within the framework of implementing complex system projects along the lines of developing weapon systems, stipulated by the Programme for the development of Goscomvoyenprom and of the defence sector of the economy up to the year 2020.
Among the priority projects, one can mention fire weapon systems; systems for countering high-precision weapons; combat LAVs of various classes and assignments based on a common chassis, and integrated with individual and group combat military systems; robotic and unmanned aerial systems integrated into a network of combat and support platforms and others.
First and foremost, WMSE samples are addressed which can be used in conditions of today’s military conflicts.
“We are interested in the products of the State Military Industrial Committee, we are actively studying them, and we buy everything that we need and that fits in with our conditions, with our structure of the Armed Forces, with our locality, with our fundamentals and methods of warfare,” Defence Minister Lt. Gen. Andrei Ravkov stressed.
Today, it is necessary to acquire high-precision weapons, and Belarus works in this field developing its own weaponry.
The first domestic high-precision weapon made for the Belarusian army is the Polonez multiple launch rocket system.
“We have never had any fire weapon systems before. Historically, our country did not have them. We did not do this in the Soviet Union. But the President set us the task – the task was accomplished, and it will be carried out in the future,” Roman Golovchenko, Chairman of Goscomvoyenprom, said.
“We need unmanned aerial vehicles, high-precision weapons (we have developed our own rocket). The rocket is of high accuracy with a circular error probable of about 3-10 metres. This is a high-precision weapon with the range of 250-300 kilometres. Anyone wishing to attack us must think twice. We should properly equip our special operations forces to cover Belarusian territory. In addition, if somebody dares to, our subversive groups could retaliate in the aggressor territory,” the President declared.
Another important direction of developing Belarusian military-industrial complex is the in-depth modernisation of the available Soviet-made armaments, their adjustment to modern conditions of warfare.
“The task was set to start developing new types of weapons, necessary for the defence of Belarus. Since the creation of the new is very expensive, we had to update the old weapons and make them up-to-date,” the President stressed. “Most important for Belarus are special forces, not tanks or airplanes,” he added.
The most important task of Goscomvoyenprom is pursuing the state policy in the field of development and maintenance of weaponry, of military and special equipment. The efficiency of its cooperation with the military is determined by the extent of implementation of the State Defence Order, based on the State Armament Programme.
The main efforts in this field focus on delivering new, modern types and on the modernisation of the existing weapons. Priority is given to the development of command facilities, air defence, reconnaissance, electronic warfare, special operations forces.
The efforts of domestic defence enterprises in recent years has resulted in supplying the armed forces with almost 2.5 thousand units of the newest, upgraded and renovated WMSE – firearms, means of communication and electronic warfare, of radar surveillance, vehicles, UAS, means of technical maintenance, of information support for the armed forces activity, and others.
Annually, the Armed Forces receive more than 10 new types of weapons and military equipment, developed by Belarusian defence industry.
The head of state stressed that independent Belarus had repeatedly modernised and readjusted its armed forces to modern conditions over the past years. The experience of wars and local conflicts in the world, the progress of technology were taken into consideration.
He also explained the reason for setting the task of domestic production of armaments. “We are not sure that help will come if something happens. Examples abound. That is why we should have our own firearms, and automotive equipment that we can create – for mobile forces. And we should modernise the equipment that we have to modern level,” the head of state said.
The head of state stressed that his orders concerning the development of new weapons are obeyed; some months ago a decision was taken to get acquainted with modern domestic types of armaments and military equipment, after the activities related to the economy of the country, to the completion of agricultural work.
The head of state has been informed of the combat capabilities and basic performance characteristics of the equipment exhibited. On display, there were ground-based robotic systems, fixed-wing vertical take-off and landing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) (quad-, multicopters) for combat and for reconnaissance, light armoured wheeled vehicles with mounted anti-tank systems, remotely-controlled fighting modules, and means of electronic warfare, including against unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), a small arms range (guns, automatic weapons and sniper rifles) as well as options for deep modernisation of T-72 and Su-25.
Examining the displayed machinery, the head of state gave particular attention to the modernised tank T-72 BME. This machine is indicative of the changes in Belarusian military industry during the years of independence – from the Soviet legacy to modern days. The latest advances in fire control systems, in surveillance equipment and protection against modern means of destruction were used when modernising the tank. It is furnished with a new thermal imager sighting system and various sensors, reinforced armour and fitted with a more powerful engine. In addition, the T-72 BME, unlike its older versions, can launch guided missiles on the go.
“Of course, we could buy T-90, but it’s expensive – $11 million. And it may survive less then three minutes in a battle,” Alexander Lukashenko stressed while examining the military hardware. “Therefore, we should take a good, reliable old tank that we know and upgrade it to the standard of the imported T-90,” he added.
According to the head of state, one thing is to create a tank, it is equally important to learn to use it and to hit targets.
The leader of Belarus could see the Cayman mobile armoured vehicle, which is already in service with the Belarusian army. Thirty such vehicles will be handed over to the army by July 2019. It is noteworthy that, just like the modernised T-72 BME, the Cayman is also sand-coloured. According to the developers, a foreign customer required this particular colour.
Alexander Lukashenko paid much attention to the unique Belarusian product Groza-S electronic warfare system designed to counter UAVs, and to its reduced versions designed to counteract multicopters and small UAVs by suppressing radio channel management, and jamming satellite navigation systems – Groza-R и Groza-R2 antidrone guns. That was demonstrated by the developers: the antidrone gun easily overtook the control of a flying nearby quadrocopter and forced it to land.
“This is a good weapon, and this is the direction we must develop. To protect us from aircraft; it is a superweapon!” the President commented.
According to Defence Minister Lt. Gen. Andrei Ravkov, the main problem today is countermeasures against small unmanned aircraft systems, which are very difficult to hit, but they have weak spots that can be affected.
“Therefore, the weapon systems and military and special equipment that were shown here are ‘firstborns’, which after all tests will be introduced into service,” Andrei Ravkov stated.
One of the main trends in military weaponry today is creating various robotic systems. In addition, the Republic of Belarus, at least among the post-Soviet states, occupies one of leading positions in the air and the ground segments.
Therefore, it is no coincidence that most of exhibits are UAVs. Their creation involves now more than a dozen organisations of different forms of ownership and departmental subordination.
The progress made in developing tactical fixed- and rotary-wing unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) became possible thanks to the leadership of Goscomvoyenprom and due to the concerted effort of organisations, developers and manufacturers involved into implementing the state scientific-technical programme Multifunctional unmanned aircraft systems and the technology for their production, for 2011-2015.
“Much has been done, there is much to do. Therefore, as a military man in the past, I see that in these two years (even less time, when I set them to the task of doing it), they have done quite a lot in the MIC,” Alexander Lukashenko summarised. “So let us see, with modernisation and with my task, we need to create not only reconnaissance UAVs, but we must create combat UAVs.”
“We do not make separate reconnaissance UAVs, separately for monitoring, one for foresters, and another one for the Ministry of Emergency Situations. We follow the universal way: intelligence combat multipurpose unmanned aircraft systems,” Roman Golovchenko, Goscomvoyenprom Chairman, stated.
Alexander Lukashenko acquainted himself with a line of Belarusian UAS of various sizes and purposes. In particular, UAV Grif-100, which can be equipped with different payloads for conducting optical, optronic, radiation reconnaissance, for control, for creating various kinds of interference and is able to substitute a platoon of scouts sending real time detailed information.
Among the exhibited novelties were UAVs Kvadro 1600 and Loitering Tube. They are designed as quad/multicopters and designated for stealth reconnaissance, hitting pinpoint light armoured targets. They can carry from one to six RPG-26 or two RSHG-2 rocket assault grenades attached to a gyrostabilised suspension point. Meanwhile, the operator controlling the UAV can be miles from the area of engagement. UAVs of the Busel family can not only conduct reconnaissance but also serve as a kamikaze or a bomber.
“We agreed that we will have not many centres developing UAVs. We consider today what we need for the army. Therefore, it is necessary to combine efforts and create the combat UAV that we need. We possess good reconnaissance UAVs, and we have the experience to use them. Therefore, having such unmanned aerial vehicles and developing more powerful ones, capable of carrying a tonne and more – a bomb, or several bombs, missiles and so on – is our foregone conclusion. Moreover, there is a demand for them. Therefore, we will produce them for domestic consumption, for our army and for export,” the head of state emphasised.
The Berserk ground robotic system was demonstrated separately. It is mounted on the Bogomol chassis, equipped with two GShG 7,62 mm four-barrel aircraft machine guns and is capable of destroying UAVs and enemy manpower. Controlling the system is possible at a distance up to five kilometres; in addition, the robot can operate in stand-alone mode following a specified plan. In perspective, the developers intend to provide the system with the possibility of acoustic target recognition.
The President also examined sniper rifles, shotguns, assault rifles and pistols developed at Belarusian enterprises. Their production is still to be developed in Belarus.
“It is excellent that you make them. When you start their manufacture, test them, and the military would say they are not worse than AK assault rifle, I would be grateful,” the Belarusian leader stressed.
After reviewing the operational characteristics of the new weapons and equipment, the head of state also saw the practical demonstration of their combat capabilities. There were 4 episodes with combat application of UAVs, aircraft, fire weapon systems, armoured vehicles and anti-tank missile systems.
At a briefing before journalists, the President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko once again stressed the importance of producing up-to-date Belarusian weapon systems and developing the existing equipment on our own. “Independence in production and upgrading is first-priority problem for any country,” he said.
According to the head of state, Belarus needs the weapons we will use solely for our defence, solely in our territory for causing unacceptable damage to those who want to fight us.