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.