How the Ministry of Defense implements a network-centric model of operations – RT in Russian

The command of the Western Military District of the Russian Armed Forces announced the holding of the first network-centric exercises with the participation of Msta-S-M2 self-propelled artillery installations. During the maneuvers, the military used a unified tactical control system (ESU TK), which allows all participants in the operation to operate in a unified information network. The system coordinates and coordinates reconnaissance, navigation and communications data, allowing three times faster decision-making and troop actions in combat. ESU TK is being implemented within the network-centric military concept, according to which the army should act as a single integrated system. According to experts, the successful application of this approach will significantly increase the effectiveness of the armed forces.

For the first time, the Russian military conducted a network-centric exercise with the participation of the Msta self-propelled artillery units (ACS). This was reported by the command of the Western Military District.

“For the first time, the gunners worked out the use of the self-propelled division of the Msta-S-M2 self-propelled guns in a unified fire control system in the Bryansk region,” the agency quotes the command message.

About 500 servicemen of the Yelninsk motorized rifle division of the combined arms army took part in the maneuvers, 25 weapons were used.

It is clarified that during the exercise, a unified tactical control system (ESU TZ) was used, which allows you to exchange data and adjust fire in real time using UAVs and reconnaissance means. Within the framework of the network-centric military concept, all combatants operate in one information network, through which the control of combat units is coordinated.

Bringing to automatism

The ESU TZ equipment was developed by the Voronezh concern Sozvezdiye (part of the Ruselectronics holding of the Rostec state corporation).

The state contract for the supply of ESU equipment to the TZ of the Russian army was signed in December 2018. As the Deputy Minister of Defense of Russia Alexei Krivoruchko noted then, the department had not previously signed contracts for the purchase of such systems.

Work on the ESU TK was started in the late 1990s as part of a comprehensive program. The concept of a unified management system was approved by the President of Russia in 2000.

Now ESU TK includes subsystems that control the systems of electronic warfare (EW), air defense, engineering and logistical support, and also combine various types of communication into an information network.

As noted on the manufacturer’s website, the ACCU TK system (part of the ESU TK. — RT) allows ensuring the consistency of the use of combat arms, systems and means of combat control, reconnaissance, navigation and communications in a changing operational-tactical situation. In addition, the use of a unified command and control system makes it possible to reduce the command and control cycle by three times. The control cycle is the time required for the command to make a decision on a specific combat mission and prepare troops for its implementation.

According to the manufacturer, thanks to the introduction of the system, the weapon control cycle is also reduced by three times, and the collection of situation data and its mapping is carried out in just ten minutes.

As military expert Yuri Knutov explained in a commentary on RT, the system unites all participants in the battle.

“For example, a UAV, satellite or early warning aircraft finds a target and uploads its coordinates to the tactical network, after which this information goes to the weapons of destruction – and they themselves are set to the desired coordinates in automatic mode. And after that, the system asks for the commander’s permission to hit the target, ”the expert explained.

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According to the military expert, retired colonel Viktor Litovkin, all the information collected by intelligence goes into the network-centric network, after which a decision is made on the basis of many data.

“This is a very complex system, it is like many computers that calculate all data and capabilities right on the battlefield. The system has been created for a long time, it has been refined and corrected more than once. It cannot be said that this is a revolution in military affairs, but this is a movement towards it, “the expert explained in an interview with RT.

As the Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Ground Forces for Communications, Major General Alexander Galgash, noted earlier, now the ESU TZ combines the functions of command, intelligence, communications, electronic warfare, navigation and identification and allows you to effectively control tactical military formations. Such systems implement in practice the network-centric concept of warfare.

Earlier, in 2015, the latest Russian armored vehicles were equipped with similar equipment, including a tank on the Armata platform, armored personnel carriers based on Kurganets-25, an armored personnel carrier “Boomerang” and an armored vehicle “Typhoon”.

Network centrism in the spotlight

The development of army automatic control systems (ACS) was started by the leading world powers in the last century. For example, the Soviet army used the “Maneuver” system, which helped to control the tactical echelon troops (regiment – division). The United States went further and put forward a concept that involved the creation of a new type of army.

The Pentagon subsequently even launched the Future Combat Systems program. It was about the creation of a whole complex of systems, united at the global level. All FCS components were supposed to be connected by a single network, each node of which would receive all the necessary information in real time. But the program was not crowned with success, despite the colossal budgetary injections, and was closed in 2009. This project was one of the attempts to put into practice the concept of a network-centric army.

The term “network centrism” itself first appeared in the US IT industry and was transferred to the military soil at the suggestion of US Vice Admiral Arthur Cebrowski and US Department of Defense expert John Garstka in the 1990s.

At the same time, Marshal of the USSR Nikolai Ogarkov expressed the very idea of ​​combining the efforts of reconnaissance means, automation of control and fire destruction back in the mid-1980s.

The modern concept of network-centric warfare implies not only vertical, but also horizontal integration of all participants in the operation. In this case, we are talking about a change in tactics and an increase in the role of information exchange between combat units.

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Accelerating the exchange of information within the army has become especially relevant in connection with the proliferation of precision weapons such as cruise missiles and the increasing role of space assets. It is assumed that at the first stages of modern wars, the key importance will be not the advance of ground forces, but the delivery of lightning-fast high-precision strikes against the enemy. Under these conditions, speed and synchronization of control will play a special role in the success of the operation.

“The use of a network-centric model of warfare will quickly suppress a huge number of enemy targets. However, in practice, it has not yet been applied – only during exercises, ”said Viktor Litovkin.

Yuri Knutov adheres to a similar point of view. According to the expert, the network-centric model implies a faster and more accurate defeat of targets than the traditional approach.

As the scientific director of the Russian concern “Sozvezdie” Vasily Borisov noted earlier, success within the network-centric approach is achieved due to superiority in information capabilities and the unification of dispersed military formations into a single communication network.

Links of one chain

According to experts, today there is a clear tendency for many operations taking place in combat conditions to be delegated from a person to a computer and, possibly, artificial intelligence. Viktor Litovkin is of the same opinion.

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“Of course, the final decision is still made by a person, the machine only offers options for action. Now the Russian leadership is seeking to introduce a network-centric model into the Russian army. For this, it is important that all links in the tactical chain, weapons and equipment are at the highest level, ”the expert explained.

According to Yuri Knutov, for the implementation of the network-centric approach, it is important that the development of computer technologies is at the highest level.

“Russia has a long-standing school of automated control systems, but not on digital, but on analogue media. The first analog control system “Vozdukh-1” was created back in 1961 and existed in the air defense forces, and by 1965 the telecode communication equipment “Lazur” had already been created, which allowed the aircraft to aim at the target in automatic mode. In the 1980s, a new tactical link of the ACCS of the front “Maneuver” was put into service with the army. But time does not stand still, so today these traditions are successfully continued in the form of new management systems, ”the expert summed up.

Source: RT на русском by

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