South Front put out a magnificient report/video, "Electronic Ears Over Aleppo," explaining the Russian military concept of the reconnaissance-strike complex. The report focuses on the Tupolev TU-214R electronic surveillance aircraft and notes its recent deployment around Aleppo. It may have been used to stop in its tracks an offensive by Ahrar Al-Sham and Jaish Al-Nasr in south Aleppo on 9 September. The assault was met by murderous SAA artillery fire and was called off the same day. They don’t call artillery the king of battle for nothing.
The reconnaissance-strike complex is also being used effectively in the Donbas with a system far less grand than the TU-214R. South Front translated some material from a briefing or report given at the Mikhailovskaya Artillery Military Academy in Saint Petersburg about the employment of Orlan-10 UAVs with a battalion of self-propelled 2S1 Gvozdika 122mm howitzers. The Orlan-10 is nothing like our Predator drones. It’s a tactical level drone more like a radio controlled model airplane. Used in the right situation, it seems to be quite effective.
The Special Technology Center of the Mikhailovo Artillery Military Academy made public materials concerning the experimental reconnaissance-strike complex consisting of Orlan-10 UAVs and a battalion of self-propelled 2S1 Gvozdika 122mm howitzers, and the effects of its use on the Donbass.
The materials refer to events which Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council Secretary Turchinov referred to, during June 2, 2016 visit to a National Guard training facility, in the following manner: “May was for us a “black month”, because during that month we suffered the heaviest losses in an entire year. We lost very many heroes, many others were wounded.”
Turchinov also issued the standard accusations, to wit: “Russian-terrorist forces are using weapons prohibited by the Minsk Agreements in order to accurately strike our positions. It’s not just a matter of an increased number of bombardments. These are very accurate strikes, which rely on modern target acquisition and fire correction systems. ” We should note, however, that the Orlan-2S1 combo destroyed similar “weapons prohibited by Minsk agreements,” which was also about to be used “using modern target acquisition and fire correction systems,” provided [to] Ukraine by the US.
According to the report, 4 US AN/TPQ-48 counter-battery radars were destroyed. Two additional such radars were lost in sector S during the destruction of the Debaltsevo cauldron, according to uncovered Ukrainian military staff documents.
The Orlan-2S1 reconnaissance-strike complex also suppressed 3 company positions, eliminating at least 30% of personnel and equipment located at these sites, destroyed 3 Tochka-U short-range ballistic missile launchers, at least 17 tracked and 20 wheeled vehicles, two 2A36 152mm cannon, at least 3 82mm mortars, and an artillery ammunition storage. Ukrainian forces lost at least 90 killed and 220 wounded, numbers which were confirmed by the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission. (South Front)
Taking out four counter-battery radars in May. No wonder we had to sent more to Kiev in June. I wonder how long these new ones last. I remember seeing photos of the two captured AN/TPQ-48 systems after the Debaltsevo pocket was reduced in early 2015. That was a serious loss to both the Ukies and the U.S. I bet it made the targeting of these systems in May much easier.
In an oblique way, this reconnaissance-strike complex reminds me of the artillery raids we practiced in the 25th Infantry Division back in the “hollow Army” days. Not only did the Division’s 105 and 155 batteries do this, but we did them in the Infantry battalions with our 81mm mortar sections. A target was selected and we did as much planning and calculating before the mission as we could. An infantry platoon would accompany the mortar section to provide security and carry mortar rounds. We would fly in on the Slicks, set into position, make final calculations, lay the tubes and fire the equivalent of an FPF on the target. Then we would haul ass. Good times.