Vladimir Tkach grants an interview about IEDD, NLJD and another antiterrorism equipment
Viktor Murakhovskiy: How has your improvised explosive device detectors (IEDD) proven itself in practice, including combat missions?
Vladimir Tkach: Since 2001, our detectors have been used in practice including combat missions. We have received a letter of appreciation from the Command of Interior Ministry Troops, which proves that the detector is an effective one. This official document encloses a vast practical application of our devices. We also received extracts of operational reports from spots where the device was used during counterterrorist operations. Military men reported on circumstances when IEDs were detected with our equipment, and there were many such operational reports.
The first report stick in memory. While checking a convoy route, a mine picker equipped with our nonlinear junction detector (NLJD) detected one IED composed of two 152 mm projectiles that were hidden behind a concrete wall at a distance of five meters. Later, the same IED, laid next to a brick wall at a range of eight meters, was detected as well. According to specialists, taking into account a bursting effect of shrapnel, splinters of concrete and bricks an explosion of this IED would have inflicted all infantry men mounted on an APC as well as APC itself would have been severely damaged.
Later we have occasion to take part during an inauguration ceremony of a counterterrorism memorial of martyred military engineers. The lists of fallen servicemen have been decreased drastically after 2001. I am far from asserting that our equipment are instrumental but I hope that the equipment, inter alia facilitated lifesaving of military men.
VM: As you mentioned about nonlinear junction detectors in combat operations there is a reasonable question what about combating more sophisticated IEDs? A foe, I mean terrorists and rebels, continuously upgrade its tactics and design of IEDs. In particular, they managed to produce explosively formed penetrator-based IEDs, that allow to inflict damage upon military hardware at a long distance. How far your Company’s manufactured equipment are able to facilitate the combating of new type IEDs?
VT: The first reports on implementation of explosively formed penetrator based IEDs, as the Americans called them, were submitted by American colleagues. They requested us regarding the possibility to detect such IEDs. We scrutinized the issue together with specialists and came to the conclusion that the planting of explosively formed penetrator based IEDs is possible at a distance from 4-5 up to 15 meters. Beyond this range, the use of such IEDs is not affective. Therefore, the task was to increase the distance of IEDs detecting by a detector from 7-9 to 14-15 meters. To solve the issue quickly we implemented “brute-force” i.e. increased the antenna power gain, made it bigger. Today we have solved the issue by more clever methods. A new version of “Korshun” (Milvus) detects IEDs, including explosively formed penetrator-based ones, from 25-30 meters. So, we have completed the task by a long shot.
VM: Is it possible to mount your NLJD on vehicles? Do you see a perspective on this track?
VT: Sure, it is a very promising trend. Several years ago, we experimented with mounting of a nonlinear junction detector on to a ground robotic platform. Two years ago, we embarked on a R&D project under a government contract and created a developmental prototype of a NLJD set mounted on a robotic platform. Such a system ensures the search, reconnaissance and analysis of IED of different types in sensitive areas. We also started working on a developmental prototype mounted on a vehicle. First and foremost, an APC for Interior Ministry Troops “Medved” (Bear) is assessed as a vehicle for mounting, now the APC is undergoing official tests. Soon, we are supposed to get access to the vehicle in order to make up a set of NLJD for a particular sample.
VM: What are the perspectives of a joint work with the Ministry of Defense, first of all with Corps of Engineers? It is common knowledge that engineer facilities often morally dated, and most of them are over aged or expired.
VT: Historically, we have been in close cooperation with Interior Ministry Troops, which burdened counter-terrorism operations. However, not such long time ago we established links with the Ministry of Defense. Last year we found a way of solving three tasks in the interest of MoD. The first, to update the “Korshun” detector in accordance with Technical Assignment endorsed by Commander-in-Chief of Corps of Engineers. The second, to fulfill an R&D project under the assignment of Corps of Engineers i.e. to set up a developmental prototype of portable inductive mine detector. The third task, in accordance with agreed terms of reference to provide independent research for explosive devices detonating cable links detector – portable cable links detector.
We fulfilled the three tasks within very limited time and this year we have to field the first equipment in the framework of State Defense Procurement and Acquisition Order. We have something to offer to MoD for the long term. The next cherished dream is a combination of ground penetrating radar and mine detector i.e. a multipurpose dual-link detector that significantly improves efficiency of combat engineer reconnaissance. The approach has been verified experimentally and justified the declared capabilities.
VM: Today mines and IEDs are becoming threat number one, also for military units. Having lack an ability to combat regular troops in conventional warfare, the foe resorts to guerilla tactics, that often shape into rebel and terrorist actions. What innovative technical solutions you foresee to combat such a threat? Are there something similar abroad?
VT: Unfortunately, taking into account cost and performance effectiveness ratios different types of IEDs are considered by terrorists and rebels as the most “suitable” means for combat. Therefore, the actual task is to beef up troops with combat engineer reconnaissance means. At that beefing up not only with combat engineer vehicles but also with main battle tanks, IMF and APCs. Without clearly observed formations of a foe and front line, it is not unusual that unarmored vehicles become an easy target for IEDs. In such a situation, the most effective means are “package” solutions, which are able to counter multiple threats. For instance, one device can integrate a channel for combat engineer reconnaissance (geolocation, mine detector) and a channel for rejection of radio controlled explosive devices. Such integrated devices can be supplied either for special combat engineer vehicles or for explosive ordnance disposal means, temporarily mounted on armored hardware or transportation vehicles.
Foreign facilities, if we talk about some areas, to a certain extent, are head-to-head with us regarding technical characteristics; in several aspects, we excel them. All in all our devices are highly competitive concerning both price or characteristics and factors of technical support. As distinguished from foreign suppliers, we are ready to provide full Life Cycle Support of equipment and training for personnel. We also account on reduction of process costs, as a contingency reserve provision, in case of sufficient amount of state order. In this case, the unit price for a customer will be also decreased.
Mr. Tkach, thank you for conversation! I hope that your responsible approach for equipment manufacture and innovative solutions, implemented in your devices, will continue to generate value in favor of defense and security of Russia, co-operate to the success of your Company.