By 2017, the Russian military is expected to receive individual “friend or foe” sensors. The exchange of special signals will enable soldiers to distinguish their comrades on the battlefield regardless of uniform, masking equipment, or other challenges. Experts note that the proliferation of such systems on the tactical level can help reduce casualties.
The development of the personnel identification system is part of a project to create a scientific and industrial cluster in Kazan under the auspices of the Concern Radio-Electronic Technologies (KRET). The project, approved by Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin and Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov, involves the cooperation of six companies, two of which are in the Tatarstan capital, where the identification equipment will be manufactured. Other cities will be tasked with design.
By 2017, the concern will spend RUB 10.6 billion outfitting the six companies as part of their cooperation initiative. Besides sensors for infantry and the new generation “friend or foe” system for the Air Force and Navy, the cluster will also produce electronic warfare systems and short-range navigation systems for airplanes and helicopters.
Andrei Tiulin, the KRET Deputy CEO for strategic planning and implementation of state defense orders, discussed the plans to introduce these new systems to the Russian armed forces. According to Tiulin, the “friend or foe” system for soldiers will utilize applications, or sensors, placed on the clothes of soldiers. These sensors can be programmed depending on the task. The Defense Ministry has already expressed interest in the project’s development.
The previous “friend or foe” system was created for Warsaw Pact countries to identify tanks, planes, and ships, but not people. “Today, conflicts often have a local character, with weapons used by different parties developed in the same country. In this situation, a typical identification system will not work. The military came to the conclusion that their operational use needed to be further developed. We are moving from the defense of objects to the defense of people,” said Andrei Tiulin.
The new sensors may be included in Ratnik (Warrior) or Barmitsa (Aventail) equipment systems.
A soldier can distinguish friends from foes in the same uniform by looking at the screen of a special device similar to a mobile phone, which displays the current location of a soldier on an electronic map as well as the location of other friendly forces.
Russian experts have no information about the availability of such a system among NATO armed forces. Military experts believe the number of cases of “friendly fire” during peacekeeping operations suggests its absence.
Two Kazan enterprises, namely the Radio-electronic Scientific Production Association named for V. I. Shimko and the Radiopribor Factory will be combined as part of the cluster. Additionally, the cooperation initiative will bring together four other KRET enterprises: Kaluga Radio Engineering Research Institute, the Samara Ekran Factory, the Zhigulyovsk Radio Factory, and the Ufa Instrument and Production Association. The cluster is being created for dual-purposes, military and civil production.
“By 2020, the cluster is expected to produce USD 18 billion in revenue, a fifth of which will be the result of the new identification system. Such systems provide the necessary know-how for civil production, such as identification systems for transport and energy markets. Currently, six enterprises are engaged in the project, but we hope to open private businesses that will work on the equipment in three shifts, thus reducing production costs,” said Andrei Tiulin.
According to Vladimir Gutenev, first deputy chairman of the State Duma committee on industry, it is necessary to ensure strict control against any information leaks at enterprises where secretive military and civilian high-tech is produced.