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Ukraine enhances anti-tank capabilities with upgraded Shturm-SM ATGM fitted on MT-LB chassis

On January 6, 2024, the Ukrainian government proudly announced the formal induction of the Shturm-SM ATGM tank destroyer into its armed forces. This model is a significant Ukrainian modernization of the Soviet-era 9K114 Shturm, with both the original and the upgraded Shturm-SM based on the MT-LB chassis. The Shturm-SM features substantial enhancements, including the OPSN-I optical sighting station and the RK-2P Barrier-P anti-tank missile. This project represents a concerted effort by UkrInMash Corporation, DKKB Luch, and the Izyum Instrument Factory to adapt to the evolving needs of the Ukrainian armed forces, particularly in the context of diminishing military support from the United States.
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Upgraded Ukrainian Barrier-S Version showcased at the 2021 International Specialized Exhibition "Arms and Security" (Picture source: Wikimedia)

In the first week of 2024, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense codified and approved the use of a dozen new models of domestically produced weapons and military equipment for troop deployment. These include robotic systems, drones, engineering equipment, and modernized ATGMs equipped with new missiles.

Despite its prowess, the original Shturm-S ATGM system had significant shortcomings. Primarily, its 9M114 Kokon missile lacked the power to defeat modern tanks with its single-warhead design. Additionally, the vehicle, equipped only with a daytime sighting system, was largely ineffective for night operations.

The upgraded model, the Sturm-SM, addresses these deficiencies. It is essentially a complete overhaul, except for the chassis, incorporating major advancements such as a new missile, command and control system, and targeting/sighting apparatus.

In this enhanced version, the 9M114 Kokon missile has been replaced with the RK-2P from DKKB Luch, derived from the Barrier ATGM technology used in the Donbas conflict. The RK-2P, with an extended range of 7 km, stands out for its increased reliability and resistance to enemy jamming efforts. According to developers, this missile can penetrate the armor of any currently operational battle tank.

To accommodate the larger RK-2P, the vehicle's missile loading system had to be completely redesigned, now featuring a 12-cell magazine.

Initially, the Armed Forces required a range of six kilometers, but DKKB Luch exceeded this specification, anticipating future needs.

The OPSN-I optronic sighting system, developed by the Izyum Instrument Factory and unveiled in 2019, is another major enhancement of the Shturm-SM. Integrating television technology, thermal imaging, and laser sensors, supported by 20X superior optics, it can detect targets over 11 kilometers away and engage them with its laser up to 7 kilometers.

The OPSN-1 is also notable for its use of a two-axis gyro-stabilized platform developed by DKKB Luch. Utilizing direct-drive torque motors, this technology ensures smooth, jerk-free movements, enabling precise and easy targeting.

The modernization of the Shturm-SM anti-tank missile system appears to align with the Ukrainian government's intent to autonomously address the challenges of supplying its armed forces, while also encouraging the establishment of European defense industry subsidiaries on its own soil. This initiative comes amid a significant reduction in Western military aid and uncertainty about its timely renewal at the necessary scale. Over the past year, Ukrainian military and political leaders have repeatedly emphasized the need to revitalize their national defense industry. They even contemplate completely replacing imported munitions with domestic production, aiming to increase their defense independence and foster industrial collaboration with Europe.


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