Russia Exhibits ZAK-23E 8 × 8 Mobile Air Defense System

Russia Exhibits ZAK-23E 8 × 8 Mobile Air Defense System

Even though it was not held as lively as the previous year, the Army 2023 defense exhibition at Patriot Park, Moscow, still attracted the attention of global armament observers. One of the highlights of Army 2023, is that for the first time the ZAK-23E 8×8 Mobile Air Defense System was shown, which is none other than a “crossbreeding product” between the BTR-82 8×8 gun and the ZU-23 23mm anti-aircraft gun.

ZAK-23E 8×8 enters the self-propelled anti-aircraft gun (SPAAG) segment with short-range air defense system (SHORAD) capabilities. Weapons on the ZAK-23E 8×8 include two ZU-23 23 mm automatic cannons mounted on the BTR-82A amphibious APC gunship. Ranpur SHORAD was developed collaboratively by JSC Tulamashzavod and JSC Elins Research and Development Center.

The ZAK-23E 8x8 is prepared to protect static military units and moving convoys. With a rate of fire of 3,500 projectiles per minute, the ZAK-23E is capable of engaging targets at ranges of up to 2,500 meters and at altitudes of up to 2,000 meters. The gun turret appears to be equipped with a sophisticated optoelectronic detector capable of independently eliminating targets such as drones, helicopters and cruise missiles.

BTR-82A as a platform for ZAK-23E, is a development of the BTR-80A 8×8 – which was once operated by the Marine Corps. The BTR-82A, developed by the Military Industrial Company (MIC), is a combat vehicle that emphasizes increased firepower, mobility and protection. Its integrated battle module accommodates the gun and machine gun in a stabilized turret, ensuring accurate fire while the vehicle is in motion.

For the weapons used, ZU-23-2 is definitely not a new name in the canon of air defense. The ZU-23-2 lineage dates back to the late 1950s. This canon uses armor-piercing-incendiary-tracer (API-T) and high-explosive incendiary-tracer (HEI-T) rounds to engage air and ground targets.

With a manual aiming mechanism assisted by the ZAP-23 optical-mechanical sight, the haul system is capable of aiming within an altitude range of +90° to -10° and complete 360° turret turn capability. The ZU-23-2 gun is designed to engage air targets at ranges of up to 3,000 meters and altitudes of up to 2,000 meters.

The ZU-23-2 has been widely used in more than 20 armies globally and continues to serve as a reliable anti-aircraft solution.

The BTR-82A as a ZAK-23E platform incorporates armor features such as reinforced floors, energy-absorbing seats, and ballistic materials, underscoring its commitment to crew safety during anti-aircraft combat. The inherent mobility of the 8x8 platform ensures that the vehicle can quickly respond to emerging threats in a variety of operational settings.

Similar to other SPAAG systems, the ZAK-23E's engagement range is limited compared to dedicated long-range air defense systems. These limitations may affect their effectiveness against targets at high altitudes or long distances.

Despite using the BTR-82A as a platform, the ZAK-23E remains vulnerable to a variety of threats, including ground attacks and artillery fire. This vulnerability requires strategic deployment and support units to ensure a comprehensive defense. 

The relatively tight space on the 8×8 ranpur can limit the ammunition capacity. This factor underscores the importance of efficient logistics to maintain an extended engagement without interruption.

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