The Russian armed forces receive various precision weapons. They are supplied to artillery units of ground and airborne forces. The Krasnopol guided projectile performed well in combat, writes the Army Standard, quoted by TASS.
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Krasnopol guided shells (Image source: Vitaly Kuzmin)
The Tula Design Bureau has been dealing with guided artillery shells since the 1970s. The Krasnopol projectile has a jet engine and a semi-active homing warhead. The 2K25 Krasnopol is a 152/155mm gun-launched, fin-stabilized, base-bleed assisted, semi-automatic laser-guided artillery shell. It automatically positions itself on a point illuminated by a laser indicator, generally operated by an artillery observer on the ground. Krasnopol projectiles are fired primarily from self-propelled howitzers such as the 2S3 Akatsiya and 2S19 Msta-S, and intended to engage small ground targets such as tanks, other direct fire weapons, strongpoints, or other large point targets visible to the observer. It can be used against stationary and moving targets (provided they remain within the observer’s field of vision).
The weapon system was developed at the Tula-based KBP Instrument Design Bureau under the supervision of AG Shipunov. Work on the project was launched in the 1970s. In February 1986, the Krasnopol system was adopted by the Soviet army under the designation 30F39 and began mass production at the Izhmash and Izhmeh factories. Since 2002, it has been supplemented by the 120 and 122 mm Kitolov-2 laser-guided system. A 155mm variant of the project was also developed to access commercial markets, which can be fired from howitzers such as the G6 and M109A6. Besides Russia, the Krasnopol is also manufactured by the Chinese defense industry conglomerate Norinco.
It was tested during the Afghan war and improved in the 1990s based on experience. The upgraded projectile was tested during the counter-terrorist operation in the North Caucasus. In January 2018, she was engaged in the Syrian operation. The guided high-explosive fragmentation projectile has a ranger laser. The pointer guides Krasnopol with a laser beam. The signal arrives at the projectile at the end of the flight, and the homing warhead adjusts the trajectory to hit the target. It takes almost a minute for the projectile to travel 20 kilometers.
The drones now replace Malakhit’s bulky portable fire control complex, which weighs 42 kg with the thermal imager and requires three operators. The ground complex can illuminate a tank at a distance of 5-7 km during the day and four kilometers at night. The distance to the largest targets is 15 km. Now guidance is provided on the maximum firing range.
Krasnopol destroys stationary objects (firing positions, command posts, warehouses) and moving armored targets (tanks, IFVs, APCs, anti-tank missiles). The projectile hits rolling armor at a speed of 36 km/h. It is more difficult to destroy a moving object, however, the hit accuracy is not less than 0.7.
The projectile weighs 51 kg including 6.5 kg of explosive substance. The Krasnopol-M2 guided projectile was designed, since many armies use 155 mm caliber artillery guns. It can be fired from foreign-made artillery systems.
Designers used Krasnopol’s capabilities to create smaller caliber shells for regimental artillery. The Tula office presented the Kitolov-2 shell for 120 mm guns, mainly for the Nona self-propelled gun. Kitolov-2 is likely to join the Arctic Magnolia gun ammunition series which is undergoing acceptance trials.
A more powerful Kitolov-2M high-explosive fragmentation projectile was designed for 122 mm guns. Its maximum firing distance is 13.5 km. The warhead weighs 12.25 kg. The probability of success is not less than 0.8.
Guided artillery shells increase mission effectiveness. They decrease the number of engaged guns by two to three times and the consumption of shells by at least 50 times. Destroying a platoon stronghold requires 800 ordinary shells, while only 10-12 Krasnopol projectiles are enough for the mission. The cost of a combat mission decreases by 5-10 times.
The upgrade of guided artillery projectiles will continue. Accurate guidance equipment is being developed, such as autonomous homing warheads, satellite navigation and efficient drones.
The original Krasnopol model was designed for use with older Soviet bloc 152 mm (6.0 in) artillery systems, such as D-20, 2S3 Akatsiya, 2A65 (Msta-B). Krasnopol carries a 20.5 kg (45 lb) high explosive fragmentation warhead. The entire missile weighs 50 kilograms (110 lb). However, its length made it incompatible with the autoloader of the 2S19 152 mm self-propelled gun.
The Krasnopol-M was a miniaturized version of the projectile, developed in the mid-1990s by Shipunov’s team at the KBP Design Bureau taking advantage of new electronic technology acquired in the design of the 120 mm Kitolov-2 guided projectile (similar in construction and purpose; it is essentially a smaller model of the Krasnopol for use with the 2S9 NONA 120 mm mortar and designated 30F69 and an associated projectile for 122 mm howitzers designated Kitolov-2M 30F69M) was made with a shorter length to allow it to be used with self-propelled guns fitted with an autoloader without having to be disassembled into two parts. It is also available in an alternate caliber of 155 mm (6.1 in) to allow it to be used with NATO standard 155 mm howitzers. Besides the reduced overall length, the Krasnopol-M also has a different protective cap for the optical finder.
The Krasnopol-M2, a further development based on the Krasnopol-M, is a 155mm artillery projectile designed to engage armored targets. It uses a semi-active laser guidance system (SAL) in the terminal phase of its trajectory. Kpasnopol-М2 GAP (Guided Artillery Projectiles) was developed for use with artillery systems such as M109A1-6, G5/G6, FH77, TRF1 among others.
GP1: Chinese version of Krasnopol.
GP6: Chinese version of Krasnopol.