Uber-style tech helped wipe out almost entire Russian battalion

Artillery aiming technology that works like the Uber app helped Ukrainians to destroy almost an entire Russian battalion in a single attack this week.

GIS Arta, an advanced situational awareness system developed by Ukrainian programmers in collaboration with British digital-mapping companies, has cut the military’s targeting time from 20 minutes to one.

Similar to Uber’s ride-hailing technology, which locates a passenger and assigns the nearest driver, the system identifies a Russian target and rapidly selects artillery, mortar, missile or combat drone units that are within range.

Real-time data from reconnaissance drones, rangefinders, smartphones, GPS and Nato-donated radars is fed into the system to pinpoint enemy positions. This is then processed by “shooting calculator” software that determines which weapons in the area are most suitable to carry out the strike.

The developers said yesterday that the system was used this week to distribute targets to units that unleashed one of the heaviest bombardments on the Russians since the war began.

More than 70 tanks, armoured fighting vehicles and personnel carriers were obliterated in two days of co-ordinated shelling and airstrikes as they tried to bridge the Siverskyi Donets River in eastern Ukraine. Military analysts described the attack as a serious setback for Russian forces.

GIS Arta was developed by Ukrainian programmers who shared knowledge of digital mapping with British companies years ago. The system was integrated into the Ukrainian army in May 2014 after Russia invaded Crimea.

A commander has access to an encrypted electronic map that displays the live data from the battlefield. After a target is confirmed, HQ chooses which unit to send co-ordinates to and it is under fire in seconds.

Aiming systems used by other militaries can take 20 minutes or more to fire after receiving a report of an enemy position but GIS Arta reduces “call to trigger” time to one to two minutes.

The system operates contrary to the traditional Russian method of firing, which involves positioning artillery batteries in a single location. Instead, Ukrainian units can be scattered across the battlefield, threatening strikes from any direction. The system calculates when missiles and shells will hit the target, allowing simultaneous strikes originating from different positions, confusing Russian counterbattery efforts.

The sections of the Ukrainian military that use GIS Arta cannot be disclosed, nor can information about the total number of targets it has identified.

However, Volodymyr, one of the developers of the system, said: “I can tell you that the amount is a lot. Some of them you can see in the news. Russians can’t hide on the battlefield because we find them everywhere, even in Russia.”

Victor, another developer, said: “If we are working with radars, we know not only the point where our enemy is, but also if it shoots, the radar can forecast the point the missile will target. While the rocket is in the air, we can warn our forces to leave.”

Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite system is being used to allow the artillery aiming system to continue operating securely. The GIS Arta team said they “appreciate Musk’s urgent assistance in solving communication problems in Ukraine” in the first days of the war.

The Times

11:42 AM

 

Shot-Down Over Ukraine, Russian Su-34 Fighter Jet ‘Shockingly’ Found With ‘GPS Taped To Its Dashboard’

By  Tanmay Kadam

British Defence Minister Ben Wallace has claimed that Russian fighter pilots flying SU-34 fighters in Ukraine are using basic GPS receiver devices taped to the dashboards because of the poor quality of their inbuilt navigation systems.

Speaking at the National Army Museum in London on May 9, Wallace commemorated those who died in World War II and called Russia’s invasion of Ukraine “senseless and self-defeating.”

He pointed out that the Russian military is under-equipped for its ongoing war.

“GPS receivers have been found taped to the dashboards of downed Russian SU-34s, so the pilots knew where they were due to the poor quality of their systems,” said Wallace.

Past Problems With Su-34’s Navigation   

The Su-34 was first manufactured by Soviet Russia in the early 1990s but is still one of Russia’s leading fighter jets. There have been reports in the past citing the use of rudimentary GPS receivers on the Su-34 jets during the war in Syria.

Last year, a Russian Nationalist Politician and Soviet Air Force veteran, Viktor Alksnis drew attention to the images of the Su-34’s cockpit during combat operations in Syria, writing on Facebook that military pilots were using commercial GPS receivers during their combat operations.

 

Photo of Su-34 Cockpit Showing Commercial Garmin GPS Equipment (Defence Blog)

“Something about this photo made me nervous. I took a closer look and saw in the upper part of the photo a device that cannot be attributed to aircraft equipment. Moreover, it is attached to the dashboard with a red clamp. So, after all, this is an ordinary tourist satellite navigator sold in any electronics store,” said Alksnis.

The images were allegedly taken in 2016, a few seconds before the KAB-500KR strike on the bridge across the Euphrates river in Syrian Raqqa.

“This is a popular travel navigator Garmin eTrex Venture HC worth about 10,000 rubles,” Alksnis added.

Experts later confirmed that the photos show a US-manufactured GPS receiver developed by the Garmin company.

This navigation system is a civilian navigation machine used by aviation enthusiasts. In addition to positioning navigation, it also provides weather and terrain warning service; because there is a European database, it is suitable for use in Europe and the nearby regions.

Garmin says that with its high-sensitivity, WAAS-enabled GPS receiver, eTrex Legend locates position quickly and precisely and maintains its GPS location even in heavy cover and deep canyons.

While the Su-34 does have an inbuilt navigation system, reports suggest that it consists of GPS and GLONASS dual-signal satellite navigation receiver so that even if Russian GLONASS is not strong, there is no need to worry.

 

A downed Russian Sukhoi Su-34 aircraft was seen in Chernihiv, Ukraine, in April. (Reuters)

However, pilots of the Generation 4+ strike fighter need to have a civilian GPS portable terminal installed on their planes, which indicates that the inbuilt navigation system doesn’t meet the requirements of the Russian military, probably due to problems with the hardware or the imperfections in the data information of the electronic map.

Inaccuracy Of Russian GLONAAS

There have been documented concerns about the Russian GLONASS system’s accuracy compared to the US’s GPS navigation system.

Reports suggest that the GLONASS satellite constellation has been underfunded for years and could not ensure sufficient accuracy, because of which, during its operations in Syria, Russia had to build differential correction stations across Syria to enhance GLONASS’s accuracy by 30 to 40%

There have also been suggestions from Ukraine that Russia must be cut off from the US GPS to make strike missions by Russian forces more difficult.

Experts interviewed by Ukraine’s premier defense magazine, Defense Express, have suggested that the US could disable GPS systems in certain areas for a certain time in coordination with the Ukrainian side and the actions of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

This is supposed to make it more difficult for the Russian fighter pilots to conduct strike missions as they will not be able to navigate their precision-guided munitions toward Ukrainian military targets accurately.

A Russian Sukhoi Su-34 fighter-bomber fires missiles during the Aviadarts competition, as part of the International Army Games 2021, at the Dubrovichi range outside Ryazan, Russia August 27, 2021. (Reuters)

According to these experts, the Russian GLONASS system cannot compete with GPS in terms of positional accuracy, and disabling the GPS for use by Russian fighters will worsen the positional accuracy of Russian missiles by 700 to 1,200 meters.

Pitfalls Of The Russian Military Equipment

In addition to the rudimentary GPS equipment used by Russian fighter pilots, Ben Wallace revealed the presence of 1980s paper maps of Ukraine in Russian military vehicles in his speech.

“Almost none of their vehicles contain situational awareness and digital battle management. Vehicles are frequently found with 1980s paper maps of Ukraine in them,” said Wallace.

The ongoing Ukraine conflict has showcased a lot of pitfalls of the Russian military equipment bringing a huge embarrassment to the Russian Armed Forces.

Last month, Ukrainian troops paraded a Russian drone that had been covered in duct tape and fitted with a generic plastic bottle top for a fuel cap. In late March, Ukrainian troops found Russian army bandages dating back to 1978 discarded on a battlefield.

 

The aircraft, dubbed the MC-55A Peregrine by the RAAF

The first known photo has surfaced of Australia’s newest intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and electronic warfare aircraft, a highly modified version of the Gulfstream G550 business jet, as is seen at the top of this story.

The aircraft, dubbed the MC-55A Peregrine by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), was spotted flying from Gulfstream’s plant in Savannah, Georgia. Photographer Aaron Perlupo, who can be found on Instagram at @aarons_airplanes, was kind enough to share his image of the aircraft with The War Zone.

The airframe, configured with what have been described as “airborne intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and electronic warfare” (AISREW) mission systems, bristles with antennas and has a recognizable belly “canoe” that contains additional sensors. A distinct green colour on the aircraft fuselage shows that it is not complete or, at the very least, it is not yet painted in its final colour.

A rendering of the MC-55A Peregrine. L3Harris

The RAAF has plans to buy as many as five of the aircraft, although reports state that four aircraft are now planned. There is no indication of when the Australians will take delivery of the new jet, although this year was originally the plan. As with most military aircraft, renderings of the finished jet show it in a flat grey livery.

The aircraft tail number N540GA shows it belongs to the U.S. Air Force with an address at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, which is likely because the aircraft are procured through a foreign military sales (FMS) program administered by the Air Force. The 645th Aeronautical Systems Group, nicknamed the Big Safari, based at Wright Patterson, regularly manages special missions FMS programs like the MC-55A.

Notable features of Australia’s unique configuration seen in the photo include a dorsally mounted satellite communications antenna farm and a large satcom antenna fairing on the top of the vertical stabilizer. Australia’s MC-55A does not sport the cheek fairings housing active electronically scanned array radars that are a staple on the conformal early warning (CAEW) versions of the G550 that Italy, Singapore, and Israel fly. Those included on the U.S. Navy’s NC-37B range tracking jet and the Air Force’s upcoming EC-37B Compass Call aircraft, both of which are also based on the G550.

Australia’s jet features a bulbous tail cone housing very similar to what is seen on the CAEW, and what looks like an integrated electro-optical infrared (EO/IR) turret below the tail, although that could also be another dome with some sort of emitter inside. On the bottom of the jet, we see a tell-tale antenna farm that is used for electronic and communications intelligence-gathering and communications relay work.

A rendering of the MC-55A Peregrine. L3Harris

It is not known for certain what capabilities Australia’s MC-55A will have, but based on the name and equipment seen on the aircraft, it is likely to perform some combination of electronic warfare (EW), signals intelligence (SIGINT), and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) missions. We can also expect it to be capable of working as a networking relay and data-fusion platform that will tie other RAAF aircraft and ships together digitally.

That mission profile meshes with Australia’s broad efforts to boost its EW and ISR capabilities through a comprehensive modernization plan you can read more about in this past War Zone feature. Simply put, the RAAF is becoming one of the most capable air arms when it comes to dominating the RF realm.

The electronic attack portion of the MC-55A’s mission is most intriguing. It would be fair to postulate that the type borrowed the rear AESA array from the CAEW and added a powerful AESA type in the canoe, offering the ability to execute electronic attacks at standoff ranges, as well as gather intelligence. It isn’t clear at this time what the Peregrine’s ground mapping and ground-moving target indication (GMTI) functions are, or if it is capable of gathering this intelligence at all. If indeed it features AESA arrays in its canoe and tail, it would make sense that it would have at least a latent capability in this regard.

It is also possible that this aircraft is a passive intelligence collection component of a larger electronic warfare ecosystem and does not have AESAs or other active electronic warfare emitters. Still, the inclusion of the CAEW tail and the large ventral canoe makes this possibility a bit less than probable.

There is nothing in the U.S. fleet that encompasses so many roles as the MC-55A. Instead, these functions are broken up among a variety of platforms. Miniaturization of components and the advent of powerful AESA arrays, as well as the ability to push data off the collecting platform via high-bandwidth satellite datalink in near real-time for dissemination, have clearly allowed an aircraft like the MC-55A to become a reality. It will be interesting to see if other allied nations pursue a similar configuration.

The Air Force’s upcoming EC-37B is probably the closest analog to the MC-55A that will be in U.S. service. Compass Call equipment installed on USAF EC-130H aircraft already performs both electronic intelligence gathering and electronic warfare missions. Those aircraft are being replaced with the modified CAEW version of the Gulfstream G550, the aforementioned EC-37B. But this aircraft has a far more focused mission than the MC-55A.

The USAF EC-37B Compass Call Aircraft. BAE Systems

Still, there is a direct connection of sorts between the U.S. Air Force and RAAF versions of the G550. L3Harris Technologies is responsible for the integration of EW technologies and other systems in both airframes at its facility in Greenville, Texas. BAE Systems also is responsible for some electronics and mission equipment on the EC-37B.

A capable aircraft in its own right, the G550 can stay aloft for 15 hours and cruise at about 600 miles per hour with a service ceiling of 51,000 feet. That should allow its sensors to perform communications and signals intelligence interception, as well as any potential electronic attacks and radar tracking, at a range of about 400 kilometers.

The U.S. State Department gave its approval to Australia in 2017 to purchase up to five of the modified jets, their specialized systems, and lifetime end-to-end support, including training, ground control interfaces, and other infrastructure and services. The whole deal is said to cost $1.3 billion.

“The Peregrine is a new airborne electronic warfare capability that will be integrated into Defence’s joint warfighting networks, providing a critical link between platforms, including the F-35A Joint Strike FighterE-7A WedgetailEA-18G Growler, Navy’s surface combatants, and amphibious assault ships and ground assets to support the warfighter,” then-Australian Defence Minister Christopher Pyne said in a 2019 statement announcing the deal for four MC-55As.

Plans are to base the Peregrin aircraft at RAAF Base Edinburgh on the coast of South Australia, where the country is headquartering much of its maritime surveillance capabilities, including the P-8A PoseidonMQ-4C Triton high-altitude long-endurance drones, and its MQ-9 Reaper fleet.

“This capability and the people who operate it will bring Air Force closer to becoming a fully networked fifth-generation force and further exploit the joint combat multiplier effects on exercises and operations,” Pyne said.

Pyne and then Minister for Defence Industry Senator Linda Reynolds announced the acquisition of the aircraft in a March 18 joint statement which confirmed the plane would be based at RAAF Edinburgh near Adelaide, the home base of RAAF Surveillance & Response Group (SRG).

Short of conflict, Australia, the U.S. and allies are investing heavily in technologies that can keep a persistent eye on Chinese activity in the Pacific. Some of those capabilities, like Australia’s P-8s and the U.S. RC-135V/W Rivet Joint spy planes, have been flying up against Chinese forces in the region for years. They are also being employed to surveil Chinese military expansion and activities in the Pacific and elsewhere. These platforms and others are highly important as they can build up a picture of China’s electronic order of battle at any given time.

Aside from the MC-55 aircraft, the RAAF has also fielded the EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft. When you add these two airframes to Australia’s fleet of F/A-18 Super Hornets, F-35As — which are capable of electronic attack and electronic intelligence collection platforms in their own right — as well as P-8 Poseidons, MQ-4C Tritons, and future loyal wingman drones that can carry their own electronic warfare packages, the RAAF is clearly positioning itself as one of the most electronically aware and combat-capable air arms on the planet.

UPDATE: 8:20 PM EST—

After we published this story, it was brought to our attention that N540GA had been previously photographed in March and in April by a different photographer, with the handle @kmge_spotter on Instagram.

That’s Tired

This image came from the Imperial War Museum. Image file number IWM Q 7014.

The unforgettable photograph is of stretcher-bearers of the 6th Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders asleep, near Roeux, on the 29th of August 1918.

Stretcher-bearers risked their lives to rescue their comrades, working hard for days without sleep to bring the wounded to safety.

One of the most decorated people of WW1, was Lance Corporal William Harold Coltman, VC, DCM & Bar, MM & Bar (17 November 1891 – 29 June 1974), who was a British stretcher-bearer.

Lest We Forget.

Australian Defence Force Retirees Association Inc – Federal Court

For those of you that could not watch the court proceedings, I offer the following short summary.
Clinton McKenzie presented a very sound case, He displayed a thorough knowledge of the Act and raised some issues that drew very positive questions from Justice Perry. The ADFRA research team wish to congratulate Clinton on his representation of the case.
The respondent CSC was represented by a Barrister and two backup solicitors. Our view of the counter arguments put forward indicated CSC expected a walkover and their case did not flow in a logical sequence. The Barrister made a statement that the Life Expectancy table was not Life Expectancy (even though that is what they are called in the Act) What he was getting at was that they were really a “divisor” as was put forward by the Ombudsman in his infamous review, thus not reflecting in any way the expectation of life.
The Act is the Act and that is the document on which Justice Perry will develop her findings.
It could be several weeks before the court is re-convened and then Justice Perry will inform us of her decision. These proceedings will also be available to watch online. Should the verdict go in our favour there is a possibility CSC will appeal the decision and then we could end up before the full court.
Regards
Jim Hislop
Thank you for your support over the years and we have not finished yet.

THE RELUCTANT COMMANDO

By Jim Husband BEM OAM

OK, you would like to know the reasons that I was awarded the Order of Australia Medal in the Australia Day Honours?

Frankly, I know only what I’ve read in the papers, and until the investiture, I’m no wiser than you. So rather than bore you with stories of my very ordinary achievements, I’ll take the opportunity to reminisce on my introduction to 2 Commando Company.

I had just finished a rather messy operation at Qhe Son up near Danang in South Vietnam and was looking forward to a spell of sin when my R and C were shattered by the news that on completion of my tour of duty with the Team I was to be posted to 2 Commando Company in Melbourne. Bloody CMF! What have I done to deserve this? Why me? Bloody weekend warriors and cut lunch commandos at that! I whinged, whined and pleaded to no avail.

“That’s it, Husband you are posted to the CMF whether you consider your undoubted talents wasted or not, now piss off and let’s get on with the war”

Home, and the news that the government were to send an Infantry Battalion to Vietnam. I saw this as a way out, so I’m on the blower in a flash offering my services, the reply?

“That’s it, Husband, you are posted to the CMF whether you like it or not, now piss off and get on with it”

I finally headed down to Melbourne and struck the first problem… I can’t find the unit. Eventually, I discover it in a sort of laneway bounded by a tennis court over the street, a boy’s school on the other side and the house of a very irate lady (I learnt this later) on one end. I can’t remember what was on the other end as it was very difficult to get past the OR’s Boozer. I met the OC, Major Geoff Cohen and learnt that I can stay on the premises instead of travelling every day to Watsonia, what a relief. The staff quarters were shared with other blokes. Dick Kluczniak was one of them. Then in to see the Q bloke, Peter Elkins, to be issued with the coveted parajacket (didn’t matter that I wasn’t qualified) and a green beret. A green beret! No way am I going to part with my Herbert Johnson for a CMF wanker green beret. It turns out that my refusal to wear the beret stood me in good stead with the troops as it was noted on some occasions that ARA staff wore the beret as a result of their posting.

Later, when I had successfully completed all the tests (with no fudging) I was very proud to wear the beret.

What characters there were at McWhae Avenue – Ted Malone, who wanted to fight me the first parade night; Barry Rust and his dinky toy red car that nearly cost him his life; Eddie and Tom Nicholas; the Hughes brothers; Yogi Bear; Don Bergman; Kevin Mitchell, ( who collided with the milk cart on a couple of occasions, which so frightened the milko that it was said he used to gallop his horse past the depot on delivery nights); Dave Waterston, Karl Kalitz, Barry Smith, Peter Tobin. ( Pete used to look at you with tape measure eyes … I often used to wonder what he carried under the tray cover of his grey ute). Then there was Fat Fingers Hinde ( I’ll never lend him a car again ); Ian Storey, Paul Butler ( a policeman who got sprung for moonlighting when it was a no-no) and of course many, many others of whom I have fond and not so fond memories.

Remember the first “Jungle Warfare” exercise I attended at Greenwood (sic) State Forest. It was snowing and sleeting as is typical in that part of the deep jungle of Victoria. I, a gung ho, highly trained jungle fighter was set to show them a thing or two. I had all my Vietnam gear with me – fuel stove, poncho liner, patrol boots, the lot. While “they” were stuffing around with their hexamine tablets making a brew, I casually lit up the latest thing in stoves, which promptly blew up and burnt down my effing hutchie and destroyed most of my gear. I can still remember ” their ” silent mirth. Anyway I evened up things a little when we pinched the enemy’s barbed wire encircling their position. All in all, I experienced a great start to a fairly long association with the Company, which benefited me in a great number of ways, and when, at the last Annual Dinner, I carked in a chair in front of the heater in the Snake Pit, I knew I was home. Except that in my day, we would never have run out of beer. oOo
==========
DZ NAMED IN HONOUR OF FORMER RSM

Members of the PTS took to the skies recently to celebrate the opening of the unit’s first exclusive training drop zone. Following static-line and free-fall descents onto the virgin soil CO PTS, Lt-Col Steve Hull, declared Husband DZ open. The DZ was named in honour of former PTS RSM WOI Jim Husband OAM. “Jim was informed of the naming recently in Darwin after watching a Red Beret display,” Lt- Col Hull said. Jim, a member of 2 Commando Association, was a highly regarded ARA Warrant Officer staff member at 2 Cdo in the 1960s.

Courtesy Army newspaper and Bob Osborne.


Kind Regards Keith Gavan