The Reconnaissance-Strike Complex – TTG


South Front put out a magnificient report/video, "Electronic Ears Over Aleppo," explaining the Russian military concept of the reconnaissance-strike complex. The report focuses on the Tupolev TU-214R electronic surveillance aircraft and notes its recent deployment around Aleppo. It may have been used to stop in its tracks an offensive by Ahrar Al-Sham and Jaish Al-Nasr in south Aleppo on 9 September. The assault was met by murderous SAA artillery fire and was called off the same day. They don’t call artillery the king of battle for nothing.


The reconnaissance-strike complex is also being used effectively in the Donbas with a system far less grand than the TU-214R. South Front translated some material from a briefing or report given at the Mikhailovskaya Artillery Military Academy in Saint Petersburg about the employment of Orlan-10 UAVs with a battalion of self-propelled 2S1 Gvozdika 122mm howitzers. The Orlan-10 is nothing like our Predator drones. It’s a tactical level drone more like a radio controlled model airplane. Used in the right situation, it seems to be quite effective.


The Special Technology Center of the Mikhailovo Artillery Military Academy made public materials concerning the experimental reconnaissance-strike complex consisting of Orlan-10 UAVs and a battalion of self-propelled 2S1 Gvozdika 122mm howitzers, and the effects of its use on the Donbass.

The materials refer to events which Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council Secretary Turchinov referred to, during June 2, 2016 visit to a National Guard training facility, in the following manner: “May was for us a “black month”, because during that month we suffered the heaviest losses in an entire year. We lost very many heroes, many others were wounded.”

Turchinov also issued the standard accusations, to wit: “Russian-terrorist forces are using weapons prohibited by the Minsk Agreements in order to accurately strike our positions. It’s not just a matter of an increased number of bombardments. These are very accurate strikes, which rely on modern target acquisition and fire correction systems. ” We should note, however, that the Orlan-2S1 combo destroyed similar “weapons prohibited by Minsk agreements,” which was also about to be used “using modern target acquisition and fire correction systems,” provided [to] Ukraine by the US.

According to the report, 4 US AN/TPQ-48 counter-battery radars were destroyed. Two additional such radars were lost in sector S during the destruction of the Debaltsevo cauldron, according to uncovered Ukrainian military staff documents.

The Orlan-2S1 reconnaissance-strike complex also suppressed 3 company positions, eliminating at least 30% of personnel and equipment located at these sites, destroyed 3 Tochka-U short-range ballistic missile launchers, at least 17 tracked and 20 wheeled vehicles, two 2A36 152mm cannon, at least 3 82mm mortars, and an artillery ammunition storage. Ukrainian forces lost at least 90 killed and 220 wounded, numbers which were confirmed by the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission. (South Front)


Taking out four counter-battery radars in May. No wonder we had to sent more to Kiev in June. I wonder how long these new ones last. I remember seeing photos of the two captured AN/TPQ-48 systems after the Debaltsevo pocket was reduced in early 2015. That was a serious loss to both the Ukies and the U.S. I bet it made the targeting of these systems in May much easier.

In an oblique way, this reconnaissance-strike complex reminds me of the artillery raids we practiced in the 25th Infantry Division back in the “hollow Army” days. Not only did the Division’s 105 and 155 batteries do this, but we did them in the Infantry battalions with our 81mm mortar sections. A target was selected and we did as much planning and calculating before the mission as we could. An infantry platoon would accompany the mortar section to provide security and carry mortar rounds. We would fly in on the Slicks, set into position, make final calculations, lay the tubes and fire the equivalent of an FPF on the target. Then we would haul ass. Good times.



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14 Responses to The Reconnaissance-Strike Complex – TTG

  1. Fred says:

    “It’s a tactical level drone more like a radio controlled model airplane.”
    I hate to think what we’ll have to contend with from ISIS with these.

  2. Degringolade says:

    Just curious, does anyone have any idea how these counter battery radars fare against ARM missiles?

  3. Tyler says:

    We did that in Mosul with 60mms – running around, dropping rounds, and then running off again to drop more rounds.
    Captain Head (not his real name, but his most dominant feature) had us doing this on foot, even though we were a Stryker unit. We were also dropping illum rounds, so that any insurgents in the area could be sacked up by rifle squads waiting around. We had to talk him out of making us carry sandbags vs. finding a patch of dirt so that the base plate didn’t skip.
    In retrospect, I think we were being used as bait to try and draw out any enemy who was hiding, but whattaya gonna do?

  4. LeaNder says:

    The third cited paragraph of the SF link. I am a bit puzzled here. Turchinov explicitly mentions the Orlan-10 UAV is forbidden according to Minsk, but admits it destroyed equally forbidden tools?
    What exactly were those? Does this only serve as some type of precaution just in case remnants are found by e.g. OSCE? Experts will find them in the released images anyway?

  5. mike says:

    “Shoot, move, and communicate!” was what our mortar sections and artillery batteries preached, and practiced.
    Apparently Ukrainian artillery has not gotten the message.

  6. Tyler,
    We often used a pickax to dig slanted holes for the baseplates, even in a lot of the lava rock on the Big Island. Our problem was sometimes ground too soft needing a base of dirt filled ammo crates. I’ve dug enough holes to last me a lifetime. I damn near had flashbacks digging post holes for my deck.

  7. Degringolade,
    Interesting question. I have no idea.

  8. Tyler says:

    My recurring nightmare is one where we were ambushed on the AfPak border in a massive wash, with the enemy dug in to the hillside in reverse defilade. Fine sand sucking at our boots while we run, fire the 60mm off in handheld mode, and run again while the enemy tries to nail us with an RPG. The tribals respected mortars, I will say that. Can’t hide behind the trucks cause we’ll just draw fire to the rifle squads, no where else to hide. Gotta move and groove for your life.
    Speaking of arty, I remember the battery top bitching about doing anything but illum missions from the firebase. The SMG heard the bitching and talked to the BC, and half the battery was assigned to the border station, guns and all out there. Top was so excited he had them building gun emplacements the first night. Good thing he did cause the second night they were blowing claymores and tossing grenades back at the tribals who were trying to spike or capture the guns, which were in direct fire mode blowing up the hillside across the way in Pakistan.

  9. Allen THomson says:

    Ah, yes, the reconnaissance-strike complex that Marshal Ogarkov wrote about some three decades ago. And he was absolutely right. What the US military has such success with these days is a manifestation of that: see something and kill it. It works on many scales.

  10. Degringolade says:

    Dangit…I was just getting interested in this thread and then Hillary has to go and take all the air out of it.

  11. LeaNder says:

    thanks, James

  12. Ante says:

    Militia in the Donbas coordinating with Russia used Artillery perfectly. It deserves more than a paper, deserves to be stamped with a hot brand onto a calf skin scroll or something similarly long lived.

  13. Aza says:

    “The Special Technology Center of the Mikhailovo Artillery Military Academy made public materials…..” ——- Sorry, may be i didn’t undestand… You actually DO bielieve this piece of misinformation from russian war-propaganda?

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