On Jan. 2. 2018, it was announced that the Russian Army units stationed in the Arctic are to be equipped with specially designed air-defense (AD) systems tailor-made for protecting troops in extreme winter conditions. The military brass hats are true to their word. This program is one element of a wider buildup of Russian forces in the region.
The nation’s defense industry has racked up yet another success. The Tor-M2DT short range AD system will be undergoing tests until May, but it is scheduled to become operational by the end of this year. The Army units deployed in the Arctic and northern regions, which are forbiddingly cold environments, will be the first to be equipped with the new weapon. The AD system’s primary mission will be to protect troops and assets from anti-radar and cruise missiles, drones, and fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft. The Tor-M2DT was unveiled for the first time during the rehearsal for the May 2017 Victory Day Parade in Moscow.
This month the AD system is being tested in the Kapustin Yar missile test range near the city of Astrakhan. It has already demonstrated its ability to fire simultaneously at four targets coming from different directions. Computers provide the operator with information as to which target is the most dangerous and fastest-moving. The missile estimates the time of detonation in order to make sure that the fragments hit the target. Two modules contain four new 9M338 SAMs in each of four packs.
The system carries 16 vertically launched interceptors. A charge ejects the round from the pack. The minimal range is 1 km and maximum is 2 km. The altitude: from a few meters up to 10 km. It is effective against targets flying at a speed of 700 m per second. The reaction time: eight seconds, although that might be longer (up to ten seconds) if the vehicle is in motion. It requires a crew of three. The radars can simultaneously detect 48 air targets, flying at medium, low, and extremely low altitudes.. The cutting-edge computer system and the passive electronically scanned array radar ensure speed and high precision. They make this AD system very effective against small, fast-moving targets. The interceptors are equipped with protection against spoofing.
The Tor-M2DT can be operated either manually or automatically. The probability of kill (PK) is roughly 0.80 – 0.96 against planes, helicopters, and drones. The system scores 0.60-0.90 against precision-guided munitions and cruise missiles with an operational range of three miles.
During the recent tests, the Tor-M2DT intercepted two dummy targets mimicking cruise missiles, under conditions simulating electronic-warfare countermeasures. The accuracy is very impressive when the missiles are launched in salvo. Special materials are used that allow the weapon to remain operational in such extreme temperatures as -50 Celsius, after a long voyage onboard a cargo aircraft.
The tests are being conducted with the AD system installed on DT-30PM two-unit snowcat-style caterpillar-tracked amphibious vehicles specifically designed to operate in severe Arctic weather conditions. With a weight of 31,500 kg, it carries a payload of 30 tons. It has a speed of up to 30 miles per hour along improved roads. It can operate at temperatures as low as negative 14 degrees Celsius (58 degrees Fahrenheit), at altitudes as high as 4,000 feet. The vehicle has an auxiliary power unit, which keeps it combat ready for much longer periods when operating in stationary mode.
This is the only all-terrain transporter capable of carrying heavy loads in the most difficult off-road conditions imaginable, able to cross ice hummocks, gullies, swamps, sand, and heavy snows. The Tor-M2DT can even maneuver in the water of the Arctic Ocean – a capability it demonstrated just a few days ago.
It can kill targets not identified by the “friend or foe” system. The system can operate for 46 hours before it needs to be refueled.
Once the S-300V4, a version of the S-300VM range AD complex with a range of 400 km, and the Tor-M2DT are operational this year, Russia’s system of mutilayer AD tailored for Arctic applications will be almost complete. The Russian defense industry is working hard to develop an advanced, anti-aircraft artillery complex for use under conditions of extreme cold. The year-round Arctic ice is melting due to climate change, opening up this region, so rich in resources, to drilling. Arctic NATO states are deploying more forces there. For instance, the US has stationed F-22 and F-35 stealth fighters in Alaska. Canada is to deploy an Arctic naval flotilla.
The military protection of the Arctic is a challenge, because even the best weapons become useless under certain weather conditions. Specialized expertise and technology are needed in order to pull it off. The Russian defense industry has proven to be up the task.