Monday, October 5, 2009

Russia deploys second-generation tactical PGMs

Russian Air Force aircraft used a new generation of precision guided munitions (PGMs) during the joint Russian/Belarusian Zapad-09 military exercises, which concluded on 29 September.

Russian sources note that, for the first time, Tupolev Tu-22M3 'Backfire-C' bombers and Sukhoi Su-24M2 'Fencer-D' attack aircraft delivered weapons using the SVP-24 targeting system.

This indicates that Russia's air force is finally introducing 'JDAM-type' satellite-guided bombs, some 15 years after the first Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMs) were trialled by the US.

The SVP-24 (Spetsializirovannaya Vychislitelnaya Podsystema, specialised precision targeting subsystem) is part of a weapons system upgrade developed by the Russian firm Gefest IT. Based at Zhukhovsky, Gefest IT has emerged over the last 10 years as the upgrade centre for Russia's own combat aircraft.

The SVP-24 was originally developed for the Su-24 but the core system has since been applied to a number of other aircraft, including the SVP-24-22 upgrade for the Tu-22M3. The SVP-24 is specifically designed to integrate satellite-guided weapons and the manufacturer notes it can be used with either the Russian GLONASS or US GPS satellite systems.

The types of weapons delivered during Zapad-09 have not been identified, but there is only a handful of candidates. Russia has been very slow to deploy any satellite guided-munitions, mainly because its air force had few modernised aircraft that could carry them. The original SVP-24 flight test programme for upgraded Russian Air Force Su-24s dates back to the late 1990s but only now are the first operational aircraft being cleared for service.

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