Russia enters heavy remotely operated weapon systems market

The Russian defense industry has entered the global market for remotely operated weapon systems (ROWS), according to the representatives of the country’s defense companies.

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BRM-3K reconnaissance vehicle with 57mm AU-220M Baikal turret system displayed at Army--2019 near Kubinka (Picture source: Vitaly Kuzmin)

At the recent DefExpo 2020 defense exhibition held in Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh, India), Russia’s arms exporting company Rosoboronexport (a subsidiary of state corporation Rostec) unveiled the AU-220M heavy ROWS, which had been produced by Rostec’s concern Uralvagonzavod (UVZ). The station was showcased in its ready-use configuration with full armament suite. According to the ROWS’s designer, the design institute Burevestnik (a subsidiary of the UVZ), the variant of the AU-220M for ground vehicles weighs 3,650 kg with an installation kit and can be mounted over a 1,740 mm-wide turret ring. The ROWS’s baseline armament suite incorporates a 57 mm automatic gun and a Kalashnikov PKTM 7.62 mm co-axial general-purpose machinegun and an ammunition load of 80 ready-use high-explosive, armor-piercing, and guided 57 mm rounds and 500 7.62 mm rounds. The main gun produces a rate of fire of 80 rounds per minute and a firing range of 14.5 km. It has an elevation angle between -5° and +60° and a 360° traverse angle. The 57 mm gun can also be used as an anti-aircraft weapon.

Compared to most commercial off-the-shelf light/medium ROWS solutions, the ready-use AU-220M features relatively heavy protection: the frontal arc protects against 30 mm armor-piercing rounds (approximately Level 5 STANAG 4569), while the sides and the rear protect against 7.62 mm armor-piercing bullets (approximately Level 3 STANAG 4569).

The station’s sensor suite meets global requirements, comprising a TV camera, thermal imager, laser rangefinders, and two-axis independent field-of-view stabilization. The AU-220M can fire on the move and when swimming.

Burevestnik does not detail the carriers of the AU-220M, saying only that the station "is intended for advanced and upgraded combat vehicles". However, the institute’s Director-General Georgy Zakamennykh told TASS at the DefExpo 2020 that the ROWS had already been installed on the chassis of the Armata heavy infantry fighting vehicle (HIFV). UVZ has also issued footage that depicts a BRM-3K Rys (Lynx) tracked armored reconnaissance vehicle armed with a modification of the AU-220M.

The AU-220M, which was displayed at the DefExpo 2020, was additionally armed with two 9M120 Ataka (NATO reporting name: AT-9 Spiral 2) ready-use anti-tank guided missiles in a right side-mounted protected bank.

During the show, the Burevestnik showcased a model of a marinized AU-220M, which was reportedly named A-220M. It features almost the same performance, except for the ammunition load - the naval station’s gun mount stows 148 57 mm rounds. When a small combat ship cruises the sea, the A-220M is covered by a stealthy shell; once a surface target is detected and recognized, the shell folds, readying the gun for firing. One could also notice the absence of a muzzle brake and a more sophisticated cooling system. The A-220M is believed to replace the ageing AK-725 57mm naval gun.

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