September 28, 2022

Saab: the MSHORAD is online!

By Paolo Valpolini

August 30e Saab held a demonstration of its recently unveiled Medium Short Range Air Defense (MSHORAD) system at the Karlskoga firing range. Fifteen delegations from all continents participated in the event, which saw live firing of five RBS 70 NG missiles against different targets and in various tactical situations.

This event had been anticipated by EDR On-Line in a previous article written after the 2022 ground combat demonstration that took place in early May, in which the MSHORAD system was abundantly represented. At this event the Mobile Firing Unit (MFU) was on display and EDR On-Line was fully briefed on this vehicle mounted system. We will therefore mainly focus in this article on the additional information provided on the Mobile Radar Unit (MRU) and on the tests.

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In addition to the MFU, the MRU is based on the same mobility platform from the Czech Republic: manufactured by SVOS, the MARS 4×4 S-330 is a 12.5-14 ton GVW vehicle equipped with adjustable suspensions and suspensions. a STANAG Level 2 armor, available with full length cab, which is used for the MFU, and in the pickup variant, used for the MRU. The Giraffe 1X X-band 3D radar is integrated in the so-called compact radar module which is installed on the bed of the vehicle, the assembly including the AESA antenna, the power distribution unit and the data processing unit. signal data. A battery is installed which ensures an autonomy of 8 hours in silent standby; these are recharged when the engine is running, while Saab plans an increase in quiet standby time given developments in battery technology.

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The standard crew is three people, a driver and two operators, each occupying a console, but according to the company, only one operator can do the job. The operators are installed on the rear seats, which they access through the two rear side doors; a hardened laptop computer is installed in front of each operator, a light and easily integrated solution. When deployed, the radar is lowered, while in operation a telescopic mast allows it to be hoisted above vehicle roof level. According to Saab, the mast is stable enough to allow the radar to be operated while in motion, at reduced speed. With a refresh rate of 1 second, 3 to 6 seconds are enough to transform a plot into a track, which can be evaluated and prioritized thanks to the decision support algorithms of the C2 system. A beam straddling missile, the RBS 70 does not require locking before launch and has the advantage of being tamper proof, as no bullet or flare can deviate from its path attracting its seeker, hence a missile ensures a very high probability of destruction, maximizing the destructive capacity of a single MFU; a beam weapon not being a firearm and forgettable, its drawback is that the operator must remain static to guide it to the designated target, increasing its potential vulnerability.

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If the radar can work on the move, so can the MFU, which can track the assigned target while moving, with the missile fired as soon as the vehicle stops to allow the operator to retain the laser beam , generated by the Common Sight Module (CSM), on the target with the highest accuracy. As in the MRU, also in the MFU, the two operators, the commander and the gunner, are installed in the rear seats, the commander being equipped with a laptop-based workstation similar to that used in the MRU while that the shooter manages the remote-controlled weapon station. and the aiming system. A moving fire solution can be developed, Saab says, but so far no potential customers have shown interest in investing in this option.

Designed to deal with fixed and rotary wing aircraft as well as cruise missiles, thanks to the multirole capability of the Giraffe 1X radar, Saab’s MSHORAD can also be used against UAS, with the sensor capable of detecting and classifying small unmanned aerial systems, RAM targets (Rocket, Artillery, Mortar) also being visible to radar. The CSM electro-optical sighting system installed on the MFU provides positive identification and accurate tracking, as well as guidance of the missile. It also allows missiles to be used against surface targets, such as small boats or armored personnel carriers, when needed.

Test scenarios

As reported at the demonstration held at the Bofors Rifle Range in Karlskoga, five RBS 70 NGs were fired and all destroyed the assigned target. The mission assigned to the notional 2nd Air Defense Platoon MSHORAD, which fielded 4 MFUs and 1 MRU (in reality only one MFU was deployed), was to protect and preserve friendly activity, limit enemy freedom of movement, to hinder the activities of adversaries and prevent the enemy from carrying out activities. The platoon was part of 14e
Mechanized Brigade moving from Karlskoga to Stockholm.

The first scenario saw two different target types, the first a small UAV and the second a hovering armed helicopter. The platoon was defending a mechanized battalion against aerial threats and its sensors identified a DJI Matrice 300 RTK quadcopter commercial drone whose 2.7 kg payload makes it suitable for carrying a deadly package. Small drone, 670x430x810 mm, the quadcopter was recovered by the Giraffe 1X before being handed over to the optronic system which followed it until a missile was launched against the target which was moving 15 m/ s (54 km/h), destroying it from 2,000 meters away. The combat helicopter, represented by an AS365 N3 fuselage installed on a mast 10 meters above the ground to simulate a hovering aircraft, appeared moments after the destruction of the drone; there too the MFU was able to fire a second RBS 70 NG in a very short time, indeed the security measures of range imposed a longer interval compared to reality. From the gunners’ position, the target dimensions were 1.9 × 2.35 meters, with the helicopter blown 1,908 meters away.

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The following two engagements were carried out not from the MFU but from a MANPADS, to demonstrate the flexibility of the MSHORAD; a tripod carried in the MFU can be deployed and equipped with the CSM and a missile, but during the demonstration a MANPADS was already deployed, camouflaged under a Saab Barracuda Camosphere. These shots were made against the typical air defense target, an 8 meter long, 950 mm diameter towed sleeve which was towed at 90 m/s (324 km/h), and simulated an aircraft performing a CAS (Close Air Support). The first target was neutralized at 3,506 meters away, while the second was hit at 3,841 meters. When used in the MANPADS configuration, which allows for example to deploy the system on a roof in an urban context, the link to the C2 can be done in two ways; the tripod launcher is connected by cable to the MFU by exploiting its communication system, as was the case during the tests, or to equip it with a comms suite, which allows it to obtain the data directly from the MRU via the Fight Net Radio.

The firings described above were all carried out during daylight hours. The last one, carried out from the UPM, was carried out at night. In fact, the thermal imager included in the optronic sight was also used during daytime firings, but at night it was essential to accurately track the sleeve whose temperature differed enough from that of the background to ensure a full visibility from the cooled thermal camera. The target was the same for shots #3 and #4, with the round intercepted 3,481 yards away.

A flexible system that looks further

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While the MARS 4×4 S-330 was selected as the development platform, the MSHORAD is platform independent, with a payload capacity of 500 kg being required for the MFU while 400 kg is sufficient for the MRU. With drones becoming more of a problem on the battlefield, Saab is considering expanding the MSHORAD effectors, for example adding high-energy weapons, such as lasers or high-powered microwave systems, which would complement missiles, avoiding the use of expensive cartridges that could often be overkill. compared to the actual target. However, energy storage could prove problematic at the moment. EDR On-Line understood that Saab does not work directly on such systems, but is studying their application and would work with partners to meet future requirements. Other effectors being considered are in the field of electronic warfare, here being definitely a major player in this field. In the future, a new evolution of the RBS 70, the most recent being the NG, may surface, no comment being made on this except that it will be backwards compatible like all evolutions of the Saab missile.

Photos courtesy of Saab