06/27/14

ZSU-23-4 “Shilka”

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The Shilka ZSU-23-4 [ZSU = Zenitnaya Samokhodnaya Ustanovka – Anti-aircraft Self-Propelled Gun] is a Self-Propelled Anti-Aircraft Gun (SPAAG) featuring a prominent radar dish that can be folded down mounted on a modified PT-76 chassis. ZSU 23-4 Shilka, is capable of acquiring, tracking and engaging low-flying aircraft (as well as mobile ground targets while either in place or on the move). Employed in pairs 200 meters apart, 400 meters behind battalion leading elements, it is commonly used to suppress ATGM launch sites, such as TOW vehicles. The armament consists of four 23mm cannon with a maximum slant range of 3,000 meters. Ammunition is normally loaded with a ratio of three HE rounds to one AP round. Resupply vehicles carry an estimated additional 3,000 rounds for each of the four ZSUs in a typical battery. Recent (October 1997) information details ZSU-23-4 updates/modernization being offered by the Ukrainians that include: a new radar system replacing the GUN DISH radar, plus a sensor pod believed to include day/night camera, and a laser rangefinder; and mounted above radar/sensor pod is a layer of six fire-and-forget SAMs, believed to be Russian SA-18/GROUSE.

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06/23/14

M113 APC Part I

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The Military Channel’s “Top Ten” series named the M113 the most significant infantry vehicle in history. The U.S. Army planned to retire the M113 family of vehicles by 2018, seeking replacement with the GCV Infantry Fighting Vehicle program, but now replacement of the M113 has fallen to the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV) program.

When mentioning the M113 series of APCs it is difficult to avoid superlatives, for the type has become the most widely-produced and utilised APC of the Western World, Since production by FMC (now United Defense) commenced in 1960 well over 32,000 M113 s and its derivatives have been received by the US Army alone and the overall production total in 1992 had reached nearly 75,000 of all types; production seems set to continue both in the USA and with several licence-producers elsewhere.

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06/20/14

T-90 Tank

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The T-90 is considered a modern unit, with only the elite Kantemirovskaya and Tamanskaya tank divisions equipped by 2010. Derived from the T-72, the GPO Uralvagonzavod T-90 main battle tank is the most modern tank in the army arsenal. The successor to T-72BM, the T-90 uses the gun and 1G46 gunner sights from T-80U, a new engine, and thermal sights. Protective measures include Kontakt-5 ERA, laser warning receivers, and the SHTORA infrared ATGM jamming system.

The price of a T-90 main battle tank (MBT), manufactured by Russia’s Uralvagonzavod plant is $4-7 million, while the price of a T-72 model is $1-2 million. A Russian tank battalion comprises 31 tanks. In 2008 Uralvagonzavod produced a total of 165 T-90 tanks. Over half of the vehicles were exported, and the remaining tanks replaced some of the T-72s in the Russian Armed Forces.

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06/19/14

Forming the Panzers I

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France’s horsed cavalry divisions were not very different from the German models. Contemporary Polish mobilization plans projected mobile or “mixed divisions.” In the course of the decade, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Romania, and Bulgaria would collect their respective tank and motorized elements into ad hoc “fast divisions,” though these reflect available forces rather than any real doctrine. But the German stress on mobility, deep penetration, envelopment, and initiative was original. It reflected growing institutionalization of the concept that future campaigns would be decided at neither tactical nor strategic levels, but in the previously vaguely defined intermediate sphere of operations.

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06/19/14

Forming the Panzers II

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Originally the Panzer I had been viewed as a temporary measure, a training vehicle and nothing more. But when the better-armed and armored versions expected to replace it encountered developmental troubles, the little hybrid became an operational vehicle. Between October 1937 and September 1939 its numbers remained stable at around 1,450. The definitive Panzer I weighed a little under six tons, had a two-man crew, and armor protection good only against small arms. It also had two less-visible qualities that were to impact the panzer arm for half its combat existence. Each vehicle carried a radio and mounted a powerful, reliable engine, giving it a top road speed of 25 miles per hour. “Train as you fight” was a long-standing mantra in the German army. It might be said as well that a new weapons system is like a first lover: the experiences, good and bad, remain vivid. The peacetime tankers who began as corporals and lieutenants were formed in their concepts of armored war not only by doctrine and training, but by the cracker boxes in which they learned the hands-on aspects of survival: communications and mobility to set up and get out of “shoot-and-scoot,” and “hit ’em where they ain’t” tactical situations.

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