Written by Yuriy Avdeev; Originally appeared at redstar.ru; Translated by Roman Popov; Edited by Mark Ehrman
Future Combat Infantry System (FCIS) field testing results evaluated by developers and potential customers.
The “Krasnaya Zvezda’s” (“Red Star”) editorial staff is continuing the course of publications dedicated to the “Ratnik” Future Combat Infantry System (FCIS) that had been discussed on the “Military combat suit and further ways of its development” round table held during the International Military Technical Forum “Army-2017”. Today some of the FCIS field testing results will be overviewed.
The primary elements that the comparison is based on are the components of the combat suit operated by the Russian Armed Forces prior to the introduction of the 2nd generation FCIS (Future Combat Infantry System) into service, including the AK-74M assault rifle, 6B23 bulletproof vest, helmet, and gas mask.
Control groups were nearly fully equipped with all components of the ‘Ratnik’ FCIS, with all groups receiving the 6B47 unified all-service helmet, 6Sh122 individual camouflage suit, 6B51 knee and elbow pads, patrol pack, and gas mask with pouch.
The new FCIS was utilized in the tactical, firearms, engineering, and physical drills as well as in the radiological, chemical, and biological defense training tests. It was also utilized in the driving drills, and in the drills related to the use of combat vehicles, particularly involving mounting and dismounting, and firing readiness from both Armored Fighting Vehicles (AFVs) and Airborne Assault Vehicles (AAVs).
Each of the control groups had identical initial performance levels. All groups were trained under the same procedures, and shared similar tactical conditions as well as the action plans needed to complete any given task. At certain stages the servicemen were tested on their knowledge, skills, and abilities – the results of which became the basis of comparison between their performance with standard and new equipment. This eventually led to the accumulation of a large dataset that enabled analysis of the changes in combat efficiency with the use of certain components of the ‘Ratnik’ FCIS.
The control group trials lasted for 500 instruction hours. The statistics obtained from these trial performances were used as the basis for further analysis and for certain conclusions.
As an example, in the area of targeting the accuracy of fire increased by half (from 12 cm to 8 cm), the piercing capability of the bullets through 10 mm thick metal plate doubled (from 50 meters to 100 meters). In addition, there was also a similar 50% gain in range (from 350 meters to 500 meters), and an increase in range in low visibility conditions (such as smoke, fog, and rain) up to 1200 meters.
This trial performance was carried out simultaneously with comparative trials of the 5.45 mm caliber AK-12 and 6P67 assault rifles, and the 7.62 mm caliber AK-15 and 6P68 assault rifles. These trials were designed to examine the efficiency of the prototypes of all calibers, both compared to each other and to those that are currently in service, in order to pass the best prototypes into service. This testing was performed by three control groups: airborne, marine infantry, and motorized rifle groups.
Results of these trials showed that in the 300 meters distance range the firing efficiency of the 6P67 assault rifle is 1.1 times greater than that of the AK-12. In longer distances it was seen that the AK-12 efficiency is 1.1 times higher than that of the 6P67 assault rifle. Preliminary estimates have shown that in comparison with the AK-74M currently in service, the firing efficiency of both the AK-12 and the AK-15 is twice as great, while the 6P67 is greater yet at 2.3 times that of the AK-74M.
Additionally, a trial performance of the AK-74M’s ‘Obves’ modification was conducted, with the results showing an increased combat effectiveness in comparison to the custom model. This modified AK-74M displayed a firing accuracy 1.3 times that of the unmodified version.
However, in spite of the performance improvements revealed during these trials, this new modernized version has significant drawbacks which were revealed during the course of the testing, most particularly in the area of training objective No. 13, ‘Field Stripping’. It was found that the average time to complete this objective for the custom model was 12.1 seconds, while that for the AK-74M ‘Obves’ modification was 47.5 seconds. For the training objective No. 14 ‘Weapons Assembly after Field Stripping’ the average completion time for the custom model was 18.6 seconds, while that for the prototype AK-74M modification was 1 minute, 24 seconds – some 4.4 times longer.
General results of fire scoring show firing efficiency increased by a half (from 12 to 8 cm.) and the piercing capability of the bullets through 10 mm thick metal plate doubled, from 50 meters to 100 meters.
It is important to note that this information regarding drawbacks with any aspect of the ‘Ratnik’ FCIS, as well as the MoD’s proposals for corrections, were immediately made available to both developers and producers. Some of this information was presented by Colonel Alexey Pluzhnikov in his address ‘Military Combat Suit and Further Ways of Development’, a presentation in which he noted that the reaction of the AK-74M ‘Obves’ producers was efficient and prompt. At the beginning of the year (2017) an improved version of the assault rifle was introduced by the producer.
The report covered in some detail the targeting and surveillance tools used in the weapons trials and the phased development methodology for targeting and sighting that was begun for servicemen in full-time postings.
The first stage of this methodology consisted of obtaining the required weaponry and supplies and allocating these armaments to the storage facilities used by the personnel involved. Following this, the next stage involved the inspection of the tools and targeting instruments, combat characteristics and design in order to ensure its operability prior to being commissioned. The third and final stage of this process consisted of training personnel in the use of all equipment in both daylight and night conditions.
This final stage also included trials to determine to optimal distribution of targeting and sighting equipment among the units, in accordance with staff structure. This distribution of equipment formed the basis of each unit’s action plan for completing the tactical trials.
In addition to the actual physical trials of equipment and the datasets obtained from these trials, the 3rd Central Scientific and Research Institute of the MoD developed a mathematical simulation of the increases in combat efficiency. Of particular interest, these simulations showed that the FCIS’s utilization by these reinforced battalions contributed significantly to the defensive results, with 12% less casualties among friendly personnel, up to 5% increase in ammunition consumption, and a 50 to 200 meter decrease in the penetration depth of enemy forces into the main line of resistance – with the enemy advance actually failing in some cases.
Colonel Pluzhnikov concluded his report with a summary of the MoD plans for FCIS development prior to the end of 2017. The primary aim is the completion of training and testing of the new targeting and surveillance technology and the optimal distribution of this equipment among the divisions. Improved efficiency in tasks relating to combat vehicles is an important issue, as the new equipment hinders movement and increases the mounting/dismounting time by 2.3 times over that of the current equipment. Grenade throwing range has also been impacted, with a decrease in the 3 to 7 meter distances observed when using the new FCIS.
Secondarily is the completion of the evaluation trials of the modernized 7.62 mm SVDM (Dragunov modernized semi-automatic rifle), the 9 mm VSSM (Special purpose modernized sniper rifle), and the 12.7 mm ASVKM (Large caliber army rifle). These results will then be provided to the test steering committee when the trials are completed.
Finally, the development of proposals clarifying the Rules of Combat for the FCIS will be completed.