New high-tech developments for Ukrainian armed forces

Ukraine Independence Parade 2014

Ukraine Independence Parade 2014 


Article by: Vitalii Usenko and Dmytro Usenko

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko addressed a joint session of Congress, met with Secretary of State John Kerry and later with President Barack Obama in the Oval Office on September 18, 2014. He requested help in arming his troops to battle Russian-backed separatists and Russian servicemen in eastern Ukraine.  Poroshenko used a speech to members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives to appeal for lethal aid. A major US non-Nato ally status for Ukraine was also discussed. President Barack Obama for now turned down his appeals.

Perhaps it is high time to look closely at Ukraine’s own defense industry? The way out for Ukraine, instead of begging for armaments from the West, is to use economic assistance from the West (a sort-of Marshall Plan) and the country’s own resources to develop Ukraine’s own defense industry (military-industrial complex). Development of the defense industry will allow knock-on development in many adjacent sectors of the economy, and enable the creation of a huge number of jobs. Thus the West, which is not willing to completely break relations with Russia, has the excellent excuse that “Ukraine is arming itself on its own, we have nothing to do with this”. It can only work if efficient anti-corruption measures are introduced in Ukraine.

XI International Trade Fair ‘Arms and Security 2014’, September 24 – 27, 2014

XI International Trade Fair ‘Arms and Security 2014’, September 24 – 27, 2014

Samples of new arms and military equipment were demonstrated by UkrOboronProm (Ukrainian Defence Industry enterprises joint promotion entity) at the XI International Trade Fair “Arms and Security 2014” and the International Exhibition for Aviation and Space Industry “AviaWorld” held in Kyiv, Ukraine on September 24-27, 2014.

UkrOboronProm enterprises exhibited Ukrainian defence industry products. The enterprises are active in the area of development, manufacturing, sales, repair, upgrading and recycling of weaponry; military and special purpose equipment, ammunitions; and also participation in military and technical cooperation with foreign countries.

ATO (Anti-Terrorist Operation) servicemen, who saw the achievements of the Ukrainian defence industry during the Armaments and Defence 2014 exhibition, looked rather shocked and asked a simple question: “why are all these armaments and weapons produced in Ukraine not supplied in significant quantity to the Ukrainian army and battalions which fight in the ATO in Eastern Ukraine?”

Many required new sorts of armaments were exhibited, such as drones and missiles produced in Ukraine. There are many developments in the Ukrainian defense industry, too large a number to be covered in a blog article. That is why attention was directed to some examples of missiles, high-precision weapons, anti-tank systems and drones so often needed by the Ukrainian army engaged in the ATO.

Some interesting developments which could really be a strong deterrent factor for Russia, such as the Grom-2 (Thunder-2, a tactical missile complex, and Ukraine’s Korshun-2 Mobile Ballistic Missile System, were also demonstrated.

KB Pivdenne [“Yuzhoye”] (Design Bureau South) together with the Pivdenmash [Yuzhmash], manufacturing enterprise in Dnipropetrovsk have developed a new tactical missile complex Grom-2 (Thunder-2). Development of system-missile weapons for the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense remains a key priority and a valuable activity for KB Pivdenne.

Grom-2 (Thunder-2), a new tactical missile system

Grom-2 (Thunder-2), a new tactical missile system

Grom-2 (Thunder-2) is a new tactical missile system developed for the Ukrainian armed forces. It uses a cruise missile developed on the basis of Korshun (Kite) to destroy ground targets. This system forms the basis for other operational missiles with a longer range. In fact, the complex is far better and advanced than its Russian counterpart, the Iskander (Nato designation SS-26 Stone). Despite little funding in 2009-2013, Pivdenne has developed fundamental solutions to improve the technical characteristics of Grom-2 (Thunder-2) targeting the export market and military-technical cooperation. Further development of the ground forces missile system will allow a unified chain of command to operate independently on the tactical level, but incorporated into a network sharing information from existing ressources as well as newly introduced sources, like unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV, drones) and observation satellite data, thus authorizing strikes at various ranges from a single launcher.

The Ministry of Defense announced on June 26, 2013 that the development of the Sapsan tactical missile system by Pivdenne had been abandoned and completing the development of the  Grom-2 (Thunder-2) by Pivdenne was the priority.

Ukraine Mobile Ballistic Missile System Korshun-2 [Kite-2]

Ukraine Mobile Ballistic Missile System Korshun-2 [Kite-2]

The new Ukraine Mobile Ballistic Missile System Korshun-2 [Kite-2] was presented to the public in Kyiv at the XI International Arms & Security Trade Fair in 2014.


The maximum range of the Korshun-2 is 280 km for the export version and 350 km for the Ukraine army version. The minimum range is 50 km. The complex will use a cruise missile developed on the basis of Korshun to destroy ground targets.
What is very important is the point that the Korshun-2 complies with the limits imposed by the Missile Technology Control Agreement (no missiles with a range greater than 300 km can be sold on export markets and the missile payload may not exceed 500 kg).

KB Pivdenne also participated in the 65th International Astronautical Congress which was held in Toronto, Canada between September 29 and October 4, 2014. It was organized by the Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute (CASI) and the International Astronautical Association (IAA).

The anti-tank weapon Skif was demonstrated. Skif is a man-portable antitank missile system  designed to destroy infantry positions, stationary and moving modern armoured targets of any type, be it monolithic armour or explosive reactive armour (ERA), as well as targets of interest such as weapon emplacements, tanks in trenches, light-armoured objects and helicopters.

Skif, a man-portable antitank missile system

Skif, a man-portable antitank missile system

The system’s most intersting feature lies in the possibility it offers to fire missiles from  emplacements and shelters (bunkers, buildings) that improve the protection of the operator by diminishing exposure to enemy fire . The system includes 130mm and 152mm missiles in transport/launching containers with tandem hollow-charge warheads (RK-2S, RK-2M-K) able to defeat reactive armours and high-explosive fragmentation warhead (RK-2OF, RK-2М-OF) to engage infantry troops.

The Skif system was developed and manufactured by the Luch State Kyiv Design Bureau (SKDB “Luch”). SKDB Luch was founded in 1965 in the USSR as the main developer of control and fault diagnostic automated systems for special-purpose aircraft equipment.

During its history, the enterprise has developed and put into production more than 40 types of sophisticated scientific products, including automated and automatic control and diagnostics systems of air weapons, electric control actuator units, other systems and high-precision weapons and also systems of testing and management of technological processes in the industry, sophisticated medical equipment and consumer goods.

Products developed by SKDB Luch are successfully exported and sold on the domestic market.

Other products made by SKDB Luch are Corsar, Bar’er (Barrier) and Falarick 105.

Corsar – a vehicle-carried antitank missile system

Corsar – a vehicle-carried antitank missile system

Corsar is a vehicle-carried antitank missile system, a light portable anti-tank missile system intended to destroy stationary and moving targets.

The Bar’er vehicle-carried antitank missile system is mounted on a turret on an infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) or armoured personal carrier (APC) and is designed to destroy stationary and moving targets.

Bar’er vehicle-carried antitank missile system

Bar’er vehicle-carried antitank missile system

Falarick 105 is an antitank laser beam guided missile fired from the CT-CVTM (anti-tank turret) weapon system against stationary and moving targets, a missile that is fired from a traditional cannon.

Antitank laser beam guided missiles

Antitank laser beam guided missiles

High-precision weapon maintenance is also represented by SKDB Luch: INGUL-A (system is intended for mainteance control of the “air-to-air” or  “air-to-surface” missiles and guided  bombs), “GURT-M” system (missiles combat readiness control) and many other systems.

Alta missile

Alta missile

During the exhibition first Ukrainian-made missile system Alta was demonstrated. According to SKDB Luch,  Alta missile system is designed to destroy stationary and moving modern armoured targets, boats, small ships and low speed air targets such as helicopters.

Drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and systems are represented in UkrOboronProm too: medium-range system Strepet-L and mini UAV system Strepet-LK. The manufacturer is the state enterprise Chuguev Aircraft Repair Plant, Kharkiv Oblast, Ukraine.

Strepet-L and Strepet-LK can be used in the military sphere for close observation and reconnaissance, special operations, low-intensity conflicts, operations in urban areas, escort of convoys, force protection, and battlefield observation. For civilian purposes it can be used for border patrol, law enforcement, emergency situations, protection of strategic targets.

Medium-range system Strepet-L

Medium-range system Strepet-L

These drones are available and ready to be used by the Ukrainian army.

UkrOboronProm has not announced anything about its plans for delivering new weapons to the Ukrainian armed forces.

Russia has had plans on Ukraine. In December 2013 Russian Vice Prime Minister Rogozin visited Ukraine. As Russia envisaged the share of Ukraine defense enterprises could have increased to 40% by 2020 in Russian army re-armament $700 billion program 2010 – 2020.

Ukraine was needed to successfully complete this rearmament on schedule. If US and EU sanctions subside, no sort of Marshall plan is made available for Ukraine, economic problems growth in Ukraine and after parliamentary elections and local elections in Eastern Ukraine it could be highly probable that supply of armament from Ukraine to Russia would be resumed.

For Ukraine, US and EU, it would be a good option that these Ukrainian facilities be used for the Ukrainian army, thus killing several birds with one stone: not depending on Western arms supply, creating additional jobs, and boosting the Ukrainian economy as sectors adjacent to defense would also benefit. This is also important for the West: a good asymmetric response of the West to Russia, replying to the “polite green men” strategy of Russia with the strategy of arming Ukraine by Ukraine itself, while formally not being responsible for such a process. Better for the Ukrainian defense industry to be focused on its own army and joint projects with the US, EU and Nato and not rearming Russia. Again the key condition is strict anti-corruption measures in Ukraine.

It seems that Ukraine is going in this direction. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said on September 23, 2014 during his first major press conference that Ukraine would increase military spending from 1.02% to 5% of GDP by 2020.

But only Ukrainian efforts will not be sufficient. The issue has been covered by Alexandra McLees, Eugene Rumer Carnegie Endowment in the article “Saving Ukraine’s Defense Industry”. “When the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991, Ukraine was left with about 30 percent of the Soviet defense industry on its territory, including about 750 factories and 140 scientific and technical institutions. At the time of the breakup of the Soviet Union, these institutions employed over 1 million people. In the early 1990s, a number of efforts were made to convert Ukrainian defense industries to civilian production, but they were soon abandoned. Companies that managed to survive became increasingly dependent on contracts from Russia.” Euromaidan Press and Gorshenin Institute mentioned in earlier discussions that this dependence is mutua,l and that Russians are robbing and removing Ukrainian enterprises located in territory controlled by Russian-backed terrorists supported by Russian troops, as well as taking Ukrainian specialists with them.

“Presently, 300 enterprises, institutions, and organizations employing over 250,000 people are licensed to produce arms and military equipment in Ukraine. Of those outfits, 75 are registered as manufacturers of defense products and services subject to state secrecy, including rocket and missile technology. The state holding company Ukroboronprom, established in 2010, oversees 134 Ukrainian state-owned defense industry enterprises that employ 120,000 workers.”

“The huge industrial complexes in eastern and southern Ukraine are in urgent need of restructuring and modernization. These factories still provide hundreds of thousands of jobs. The possibility of their collapse is fraught with dangerous consequences for Ukraine as well as for U.S. security interests. The damage would likely be felt well beyond the borders of Ukraine, due to the proliferation risks should Ukrainian defense factories lose Russia as a customer. Ukraine needs help. The United States and Europe should spearhead the process toward developing a solution [for saving Ukraine’s defense industry]. Otherwise, the international community may face an even more dire situation in years to come as concluded in this article.”

Written by Dr. Vitalii Usenko, MD, MBA, expert of the Center of Military-Political Studies in the sphere of psychology of communications and by Dmytro Usenko, student at Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto

Expert advice by Edmond Huet,  Euromaidan Press armament and military questions specialist, consultant to French TV and radio

Edited by Michael Garrood

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  1. Avatar Jacob Schønberg says:

    Ukraine can sell industrial work to EU USA and many other countries – But the factories must make an export office that can sell! The culturel differences and language barrier make this difficult but NOT impossible. Ukraine government can only buy with the money they have, and i am sure they do that. USA company resently bought the Sweedish weapons factory Bofors. Some Ukrinian companies could benefit from foreign owners , becaus they provide capital , but more important is that they have customers and very good people with connections.

    1. Avatar Vitalii Usenko says:

      Excellent points Jacob. Thank you. You are right that more export offices shall be opened outside Ukraine, more information available for the potential customers outside Ukraine.
      From current sources where updates about the Ukrainian defense industry I have found Ukrainian defense review in English – good source of new updated
      information about the Ukrainian high-tech advances for English speaking
      audience: Electronic journal (for free reading):
      Ukrainian defense review FB page (in English):

      1. Avatar Jacob Schønberg says:

        Is it possible that you can help to create communication between relevant businesses in your area and those inside Ukraine ? I try to do that with companies in Denmark

  2. Avatar C_Low says:

    My most important and most changing immediate advantage would be gained from training training training. The volunteer battalions need to be dissolved and reintegrated into the regular units. Ukraine really needs to form and send some specialized units like counter battery, anti SAM, FAC, long range targeting (SOF or drone) to the west to train.

    1. Counter battery radar linked to some MLRS type systems. Emplaced troops should be able to respond to artillery within minutes with accurate counter battery.

    2. Drones not large expensive ones but small cheep ones in quantity for tactical intelligence and targeting of rear artillery, cruise missiles, etc….

    3. Ukraine needs to purchase HARM anti radar missiles then designate a few dozen aircraft as wild weasel hunter groups and send them to the US for training.

    4. EW weapons both defensive and offensive for aircraft and ground troops.

    5. JDAM kits so once the weasels clear the field the airforce can be leveraged at altitude safe from AA guns, and MANPADS.

    -For contingency against direct war with Russian and to deter such-

    6. Anti ship missiles based on mobile launchers leveraging small drones as targeting to hold a sea buffer.

    7. Cruise missiles as mentioned above to strike at deep rear marshaling areas or even IRBM’s a tech that Russia cannot have because of treaty obligations but Ukraine can. This would leave deep swaths of Russian territory open to Ukrainian attack that would be near indefensible because of Russia’s has very limited BMD and/or drain Russian resources hunting the launchers.

    My opinion this is what is needed hardware wise, in that order filled as monies are available. 1-5 would be game changers especially the first 2 which should be well in the Ukrainian capabilities. On top of this Ukraine should lean hard for training, forget trying to get the west to send expensive weapons during their recessions, request training training training advisers. That training will show you what equipment you really need from the west, I suspect its more electronics to enhance your current equipment than tanks or aircraft. Things like counter battery and specialized SAM hunters are small number units not that expensive to field, but IF trained properly can have huge effects on the battle. Switching to the NATO equipment and standards is a longterm expensive goal that is best to start with small parts like certain key weapon systems electronics mainly and lots of training.

    Also like Jacob mentioned Ukraine should work hard and push their industries hard to work with western companies to build cross relationships that with the cross training will build the relationship foundations to ease western EU NATO full entry. Privates that train together today will be the Generals advising the politicks tomorrow, business relations and economic ties bind and draw together.

    1. Avatar Vitalii Usenko says:

      Thank you very much for your comprehensive and very useful comments and advice.

    2. Avatar Murf says:

      An excellent summation of several points I have been making also.
      Ukraine needs to prove to the world they can win. not begging for weapons.
      What I find strange is why the Ukrainian manufactures were not handing out the products for free. As any salesmen will tell you “never underestimate the power of the demonstration.” Volunteers blowing away mercenary schmucks would create a lot of markets.
      The other thing is what took the government so long start acquiring there weapons? Imagen Ilovansk with the volunteer Battalions trashing Russian tanks?

  3. Avatar caap02 says:

    This may be petty to comment on given the weighty matters being written about, but I thinks it’s symptomatic of why Ukraine finds itself in its current disastrous situations; WHY IS THE “THUNDER 2” WEAPON BEING CALLED “GROM 2”???? Until the Usenkos of this world start thinking HRIM 2 rather than GROM 2, “Novorossiya” remains a possibility right on the site of “Yuzhmash”, regardless of how many new and fearsome weapsons they produce.

    1. Avatar Vitalii Usenko says:

      Beside linguistics any proposals how to defend Ukraine when US, Nato and EU is refused to supply Ukraine with weapons? Just for the information, many Ukrainian fighters which fight with Russians and Russian backed terrorists are Russian speaking Ukrainians. Besides, because of “linguists” the situation in Ukraine could only be much deteriorated. Such comments are in line with Putin propaganda that there is language discrimination in Ukraine. Better not to be intolerant to language, this divides Ukraine and helps Putin to crush it.

  4. Avatar Murf says:

    I would also like to suggest Ukraine begin developing a GPS guided artillery round. Raytheon has the Excalibre. It has an accuracy of +/- 6 meters at 18 kilometers. the range can be extended to 30 kilcks with rocket assist. With this you can it a cannon firing in a school yard with out severely injuring the kiddies inside. That would have been handy this past summer.
    The damn things are expensive (50k per round) but they turn every artillery tube in the theater into an Anti tank gun.
    Combined with a counter battery radar, which back tracks incoming artillery shells, and you have a supreme artillery suppression system.
    This will be an expensive project but of major utility on the front lines. if it can be developed it would also be an extremely valuable product for export.

    1. Avatar Vitalii Usenko says:

      Thank you very much for you proposals and advice

      1. Avatar Murf says:

        Thank you and glory to Ukraine.
        Hopefully someone in charge will may listen.
        The best advice can come from the most unlikely places. Even a has been soldier like me.