Procurement: Russian Tech Is A Hard Sell

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April 7, 2016: Russia still has problems selling its high-tech gear. For example Russia developed the Shtora countermeasure (against ATGMs) systems for tanks in the early 1980s and has been unsuccessful in finding export sales from it ever since. The T-90 tanks Russia sent to Syria in late 2015 and trained Syrian crews to use had Shtora. It was hoped that some successful combat experience would generate more export sales. Shtora is standard equipment on Russian T-90s. That has not happened yet for Shtora in Syria. Meanwhile the biggest export customer for the T-90, India, did not take Shtora but instead selected the Swedish LEDS-150 which, like Shtora, has not been tested in combat. In Syria T-90s often came under attack by ATGMs (Anti-Tank Guided Missiles) but the ceramic and reactive armor proved adequate. There was one documented ATGM attack (by a TOW) on a T-90 and the video appeared to show that Shtora, which is mounted under the main gun, was not even turned on. Russia has not been talking about Shtora in Syria, which indicates it has no verifiable instances of Shtora working in combat. India selected LEDS-150 because Sweden has a much better reputation for designing and building tech that works when it is supposed to.

The Shtora systems uses a laser detector to sense an ATGM has been fired at it. Shtora infrared and laser light as well smoke grenades (whose smoke contains elements that interferes with infrared signals) to deceive the guidance systems of most ATGMs. This has been shown to work in tests. Many new ATGM designs are built to resist Shtora countermeasures. Older systems like TOW are theoretically vulnerable to Shtora, which was designed with TOW in mind as in the 1980s TOW was seen as the greatest ATGM threat to Russian tanks. The 350 kg (770 pound) Shtora entered service in 1988 and costs less than $100,000 per system.

 


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