Perhaps, the main event for Belarusian military industry in 2011 was the presentation of public self-propelled anti-tank missile system (ATGM) «Caracal» developed by «Belteh Holding.» The system got high marks in professional exhibitions «IDEX-2011» and «MILEX-2011″.
However, it should be noted that «Caracal» is not only anti-tank system. In fact, the Belarusian arms makers managed to create a whole system of mechanized combat on the battlefield. Strictly speaking, only a mobile anti-tank system was presented to the audience, while the other components of this system were «behind the scenes».
The Caracal is a weapon complex consisting of a number of systems. Surveillance and control system includes a tactical control vehicle and surveillance and UAV control vehicle.
The tactical control vehicle is intended to control fire units and separate self-propelled launchers (SPL) when preparing for combat and conducting it. The vehicle is equipped with workstations for the unit’s command point officers, systems of digital communication and data transmission, as well as a power supply and life-support system.
The surveillance and UAV control vehicle with a set of UAVs is assigned for integrated surveillance (both radar and television). It transmits surveillance information about combat ground environment to the tactical control vehicle and controls its own surveillance devices consisting of: an integrated surveillance radar, which allows detecting armoured and other moving ground targets at a distance of 15–20 km; light short-range (up to 30 km) surveillance UAVs.
The weapon system includes self-propelled launchers and retractable launchers with the RK-2S ATGMs. A self-propelled launcher is designed to counter armoured surface and low-speed air objects, as well as protected stationary ground targets in the day-time and at night.
The SPL’s hull is made of composite materials based on polymeric armour and is mounted on a special 4×4 cross-country truck chassis. The SPL’s transportation launch unit allows bringing four ATGMs to the ready-to-launch position and guiding them to the target within the azimuth angle range of ±170° and elevation angle range of ±15°. The unit launches missiles, automatically discards empty transporter-launcher containers and reloads four ATGMs from stowage.
The SPL’s control equipment allows conducting target search (independently or with the help of the data transmitted from the tactical control vehicle) and acquisition within a 7-km range and rating the distance to it with 5-m accuracy. The launcher’s guidance, fire and spotting observation are conducted from an integrated workstation of the SPL’s commander or a remote control panel. The latter strongly increases the chance to save the crew’s lives under heavy enemy fire. The workstation conducts objective and automatic control over the readiness of the equipment and missiles to fire, the number of missiles in the ready-to-launch position, the number of missiles in stowage, as well as over the training process and the crew’s fighting performance.
Each SPL has a retractable launcher, which allows fire from detached masked positions if necessary. Fire control of the SPL and its retractable launcher can be conducted via wire communication channel with a remote control panel, located under shelter 50 m away.
The complex’s maintenance system includes a maintenance vehicle designed to store, transport and deliver materiel to units, as well as to conduct SPL’s current maintenance. One maintenance vehicle is intended to support three SPLs. Each maintenance vehicle provides: storage, transportation and delivery to firing units: twelve RK-2S ATGMs in transporter-launcher containers; fuel enough for one fill of 3 SPLs; 100 litres of drinking water; 3-day food ration. Maintenance and repair of the complex’s wheeled chassis, electronic and electro-hydraulic equipment with spare parts, tools and accessories from the repair kit and checkout equipment.
All mobile elements are standard, made of composite materials (3rd protection class) and are mounted on a standard 4×4 all-wheel drive cross-country chassis. All the vehicles of the complex are equipped with integrated navigation equipment, both inertial and GPS, with systems of digital communication and data transmission that enable the crews to conduct warfare in an integrated information field. The Caracal’s control equipment provides the commander and the crews with the latest information about the enemy; location, state and actions of their own and nearby anti-tank assets. This information allows making right decisions and improves anti-tank defence and helps to choose best ways of firing from ATGMs (for instance, creating fire pockets) allowing crews to conduct flank fire and hit least protected parts of the target.
In fact, the local specialists for the first time have created a comprehensive anti-tank system, provided with the Group means of surveillance and control. Moreover, the elements of control and surveillance of ATGM «Caracal» can become a basis for the formation of a unified system of fire damage, including not only anti-tank systems, but also tube artillery and multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS). Action range of «Caracal» allows adjusting fire of artillery and of basic MLRS of National Army — BM-21 «Grad».
It should be noted that at the moment the main means of combating tanks in Belarusian army are anti-tank systems «Fagot» and artillery pieces “Foil”.
These systems, despite their reliability are obsolescent and, even worse, unable to combat modern tanks effectively. Thus, anti-tank system «Fagot» can break the armour of 460 mm (for the 9K111 missile), antitank weapons complex “Knuckles” and anti-tank guns MT-12 “Foil” — 600 mm. These weapons can’t break the frontal protection zones (700 mm) of the tank M1A2 “Abrams”. By the way, the firepower of tanks T-72, that is the most wide-spread in the Belarusian Army, also fails to combat the modern Western tanks effectively: armour-piercing projectiles 3BM42 «Mango», 3BM32 «Vant» and 3BM48 «Lead» can break the armour of 420 mm, 500 mm , 600 mm, respectively.
ATGM «Skif», which can break 850 mm armour, is able to combat all the modern armoured vehicles of the NATO countries. In addition to armour-piercing tandem warhead anti-tank system “Skif” can be equipped with high-explosive fragmentation warhead and even with a thermobaric one.
ATGM units «Caracal» can also destroy helicopters and engineering structures successfully.
Belarusian defence industry never before has made the whole weapon systems, doing only the works on modernization of production and their individual components. ATGM «Caracal» is the first ready-made model of the armaments of national production. The surveillance and sabotage vehicle 2T «Stalker» is not taken into account as a «crude» model of the system with almost zero chance to be brought to the serial production due to the complexity and expensiveness.
ATGM units «Caracal» can adequately fulfill the tasks of anti-tank defence of ground forces and can be used as a mobile fire teams for attacks, including the group ones.
We hope that this product of Belarusian defence industry will be supplied to the troops in the near future, but not “sometime later”.