Russian Coastal artillery brigades to be armed with Pion

Coastal artillery brigades will be armed with self-propelled Pion 2S7 guns. They can hit targets in a radius of 50 km and were upgraded to destroy small objects. The brigades will also receive Zoopark radars for counterbattery fire and target search. Experts believe the combination of the hardware can disrupt any seaborne assault, the Izvestia daily writes.

Costal artillery brigades to be armed with Pion 925 001 Russian Baltic Fleet on exercises at Kaliningrad (Picture source: Scanpix)

The 11th army corps of the coastal forces of the Baltic fleet deployed in the Kaliningrad region will be the first to receive Pion. The guns have to be delivered in late 2019 and early 2020, Navy sources said.

The 11th corps comprises motorized rifle, missile, artillery and air defence regiments and brigades. The 152nd missile brigade with Iskander-M is mostly known, as its deployment on the Baltic coast triggered much ado in NATO. The corps also has the 244th artillery brigade which is likely to be armed with the new super powerful weapons, expert Dmitry Boltenkov believes.

"The long-range Pion will reinforce the group in Kaliningrad. The guns can fire at ground and sea targets. Together with coastal Bal and Bastion missiles and the 220mm Uragan MLRS, they pose a major threat," he said.

The hit of a single 203mm shell can make a corvette, frigate or cruiser inoperative. Modern warships do not have armour. They can protect the crew from fragmentation, the expert said.

The leading expert of the Center of Naval Analysis Mikhail Kofman said the smart projectiles of Pion should be better used against important stationary facilities. It is unclear whether their range is sufficient to destroy landing and other warships.

"Pion is effective in the fight against amphibious assault boats and support vessels. The weapon is a cheap and effective solution of the problem at a time when coastal antiship missiles exhaust their munitions. During a landing operation, the adversary will try to win air supremacy. It would be difficult to engage drones to provide guidance for Pion. In this case, Zoopark can help. It will detect targets and adjust fire," he said.

A large-scale upgrade of 203mm Pion began several years ago to provide a capability to destroy adversary objects in the tactical rear. They include control posts and communication hubs, artillery and missile positions, helipads, ammunition and fuel dumps.

The main Pion mission has been a strike with special nuclear munitions which do not need precision. The emergence of precision projectiles provides a possibility to fight small targets also at sea.

An upgraded fire control system is an important element. The possibility to integrate Pion batteries into the automatic system of troops control will provide a real-time possibility for artillery to obtain information on potential targets from scouts of the ground, aerospace, airborne forces and the navy.

The batteries of super powerful artillery guns can be armed with reconnaissance drones in future. They will guide the long-range weapons and adjust fire.

Zoopark is a reconnaissance and fire control radar mounted on MT-LB undercarriage. It was supplied to the Russian army in 2007 and some radars were engaged in Syria. The complex detects flying projectiles and calculates the trajectory. It determines the place of fire and the area of the fall of the shell. Zoopark properly operates in a massive artillery strike and detects several firing points at a time.

Such capabilities allow adjusting the fire of artillery systems. The radar provides real-time guidance to artillery units to destroy adversary artillery positions. Information from Zoopark can be transmitted to other arms of forces.

Zoopark can receive information from drones and transmit it, monitor the airspace and track various aerial craft in the zone of responsibility. Zoopark properly sees surface targets, including small ones, the Izvestia said.

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