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07 December 2022, 15:17

Lukashenko promises harsh response to aggression. Overview of what weapons are made in Belarus

The situation along Belarusian borders is not getting any calmer. This is why the Belarus president regularly confers with the military. Aleksandr Lukashenko stated, it is necessary to constantly track, see, and not overlook the signs that will indicate actual preparations for an aggression against the country. Belarusians warn that they are ready to respond to threats swiftly and decisively. In this episode of BelTA's YouTube project After the Fact: Lukashenko's Decisions we will talk about the key R&D products of the defense industry that stand on guard of Belarusian security.

When did Belarus start developing its own weapons?

Military R&D projects began in Belarus back in the middle of the 20th century. Plant No.864 (now known as Agat – Electromechanical Plant) was established in 1952 and started making radio technology products for the Air Force. In 1954 Minsk Automobile Plant set up a special design office for heavy wheeled artillery tractor trucks. The division later evolved into Minsk Wheel Tractor Plant. Two years later Minsk Mechanical Plant set up a chief designer department, which busied itself with making optoelectronic instruments. The department evolved into the independent enterprise Peleng in the 1970s. And these are only but a couple of examples.

All these enterprises, which had to act as pioneers back in the day, are now leaders on the world market. They went through hard times after the collapse of the Soviet Union just like other industrial enterprises had to. But the government's decision to preserve all the enterprises and keep them under the state wing saved the Belarusian defense industry.

Nikolai Buzin, Doctor of Military Sciences, professor said: “Weaponry is quite an expensive sector from the economic point of view. It is a heavy burden for the state but the state cannot do without it. For example, events in Ukraine led to the severing of all supply chains that had taken decades to evolve. Deliveries of not only weapons but even components and raw materials stopped. Everything stopped. Respectively focus on making our own products is a reasonable step that our state has taken.”

How did Belarus develop the Polonez MLRS?

Belarus is one of the world's top 20 weaponry exporters. In 2004-2018 defense export rose by seven times – from $143.8 million to over $1 billion. Modern Belarus-made defense products are used in more than 70 countries. Let's take a look at the most powerful ones.

On the eve of Independence Day Aleksandr Lukashenko made a resolute statement and cautioned the West: leave us alone and we will leave you alone.

The president said: “I'd like to warn ‘hawks' and tell them sincerely that slightly less than a month ago I ordered army units to set sights on (as it is fashionable to say now) decision-making centers in your capital cities. If only you dare strike (as they plan to) at Gomel in the south, at Mozyr Oil Refinery, at the airport, the airfield in Luninets or at Brest, the response will be instantaneous. Simply Instantaneous! In one second! We have something to respond with. I've been preparing for it for a long time. Do you remember me telling you about Polonez MLRS, missile production, and the rest? You are totally in the effective range of these missiles. And I'm not going to look at who's sitting there in offices or palaces. We will respond harshly and decisively!"

A new missile weapon system – the multiple-launch rocket system Polonez – was successfully tested in Belarus in 2016. Belarus spent two years developing this powerful high-precision weapon. Chinese partners helped Belarusians create the missile itself. The first few models could strike targets up to 50-200km away. Once upgraded, they could hit targets up to 300km away. Missiles able to hit targets up to 500km away are being developed in Belarus now.

Polonez missiles are similar to Soviet Smerch ones but have two important differences. First, they have an inertial guidance system and a satellite-based one. Second, the missile has two stages and the warhead with the guidance system gets separated after fuel is depleted. The launch vehicle and other vehicles of the complex are based on an all-terrain chassis made by Minsk Wheel Tractor Plant (MZKT). The chassis is also used for a number of Russian missile systems: Iskander, Bal, Bastion, and S-400.

An amusing coincidence. Polonaise is a solemn dance-procession of Polish origin. The most famous polonaise was written by Michal Oginski. It was initially titled as Farewell to My Homeland. It is believed that the composer wrote it when he was leaving the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth after Russian troops suppressed Kosciuszko Uprising, in which Oginski had taken part.

What will Belarus use to protect peaceful sky?

Aleksandr Lukashenko described the medium-range air defense missile system Buk-MB as a genuine looker. According to the president, the system shows very good reliability and effectiveness. The head of state instructed to modernize Soviet Buk systems back in 2004. Belarusian specialists managed to create an entire complex of combat ability and ground support solutions as a result.

Buk missiles are designed to destroy unmanned aerial vehicles, aerodynamic targets, helicopters, guided missiles, tactical ballistic targets while dealing with the enemy's intensive radioelectronic countermeasures. The complex provides reliable air defense of important administrative and industrial installations and army units in any conditions.

Lukashenko: Belarus has bought Iskander and S-400 missile systems from RussiaLukashenko: Belarus has bought Iskander and S-400 missile systems from Russia
Aleksandr Lukashenko said: “We've come to terms with Putin. We've bought as many of these Iskander and S-400 missile systems as we need from you and have equipped our army with them. It is a totally different army now thanks to such weapons. At least it can deliver colossal unacceptable damage.”

If someone thinks that Polonez and Buk are not serious enough, don't worry, Belarus has something better than that. Belarus has bought the necessary amount of Iskander missile systems and S-400 air defense missile systems from Russia. As he met with the governor of Russia's Nizhny Novgorod Oblast in May, Aleksandr Lukashenko said: “We've come to terms with Putin. We've bought as many of these Iskander and S-400 missile systems as we need from you and have equipped our army with them. It is a totally different army now thanks to such weapons. At least this weapon can deliver colossal unacceptable damage.”

Are drones the future?

A broad range of unmanned aerial vehicles is also made in Belarus. Those are reconnaissance drones and strike drones. Combat capabilities of these weapons were demonstrated to the president in the combined-arms military training area Obuz-Lesnovsky in Brest Oblast in October.

Chairman of the State Authority for Military Industry of Belarus Dmitry Pantus told reporters after the event: “All the tasks have been accomplished as far as unmanned aerial vehicles are concerned. But the work will continue. At present we understand perfectly well that we cannot stop. We have to develop and, most importantly, batch-produce these products. All the agreements have been reached with the Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus in this regard.”

But we would like to talk about the unmanned complex Hunter made by the design bureau Unmanned Helicopters (UAVHELI). The reconnaissance and strike drone Hunter is unmatched in the world. In their words, only the USA has similar systems but their effectiveness is much lower. It is worth noting that Americans do not share this R&D product with their partners.

The company's Chief Designer Vladimir Chudakov said: “The unmanned helicopter Hunter is fitted with a 360-degree video system with day/night capabilities, an optic-electronic reconnaissance system, and a weather radar. As for the combat payload, the helicopter is fitted with a machine gun. The helicopter is also fitted with unguided missiles and 16 antitank bombs. It is quite a serious vehicle. I am proud of what we've made.”

Belarus knows how to make not only drones but weapons to neutralize drones. Those include the radio warfare station Groza-S, the strategic installations defense complex Groza-3, and the radioelectronic rifle Groza-R.

“Defense is the second topic. Of course, we are the world leaders in this regard and it is as important as having drones capable of delivering strikes against certain targets. A dozen of such green vehicles can fully protect the southern border of our country with Ukraine from drones and other aerial targets,” Aleksandr Lukashenko told reporters as he visited the military training area.

According to the military researcher Nikolai Buzin, the development and production of one's own unmanned systems are the right decisions. In his words, it helps master modern technologies, develops scientific schools of thought, equips the army with cutting-edge weapons, and lays the groundwork for export.

“Many countries are ready to buy the relevant solutions. If we are ready to sell the appropriate products that have been tested by our Armed Forces, then they will be in demand,” he believes.

Are combat tanks a thing of the past?

In addition to following the latest fashion trends Belarus can learn lessons from ongoing conflicts. This is why the army has decided to focus on mobile units. They were given powerful armored vehicles Volat, Kaiman, and Zashchitnik.

But some things remain eternal. For instance, the T-72 combat tank. Belarusians have modernized the tank and now have a modern combat vehicle T-72BM2 as a result. The tank boasts new inbuilt active armor of the turret, the frontal part of the hull and the sides. The explosive-reactive armor can save it not only from anti-armor guided missiles and reactive ammunition of hand-held and mounted grenade launchers but also from sub-caliber rounds of tank cannons. The tail of the tank is covered by counter-HEAT grating. The tank did not get new chain tracks. At the same time the gunner received a modern sight Sosna-U while the old sight was left as a backup.

Mass modernization of these vehicles will begin in Belarus' Armed Forces soon. Some believe that combat tanks are a thing of the past already. But it is not that simple.

“So do we need tanks after all?” Aleksandr Lukashenko wondered as he examined hardware in the military training area Obuz-Lesnovsky.

Lukashenko in favor of modernization of Belarusian tanksLukashenko in favor of modernization of Belarusian tanks
At the same time the president wondered whether combat tanks should be used on a modern battlefield. “Drones and anti-drone warfare, radio warfare stations look more impressive to me than tanks,” he remarked. “Only tanks can provide an active defense,” the defense minister stressed.

Belarusian Defense Minister Viktor Khrenin explained that tanks can secure an active defense, this is why they are indispensable.

“We have to modernize, enhance, calculate. If he says it is a good tank, we will bear it in mind as a reference model. But I can see it from daily reports that Russians abandon upgraded tanks in combat. Officers and soldiers say: ‘Give us T-72 tanks and we will accomplish any mission!' This is why let's get these tanks up to snuff. If tanks are needed in modern combat, in modern army, then we have to work faster,” the president demanded.

Lessons must be learned. To learn from the ongoing events is the most important task for Belarusian military, Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed. And judging by the defense industry, Belarusians learn the right lessons. Missile systems, unmanned aerial vehicles and drone neutralization solutions, mobile army units, and heavy weapon systems indicate that the army is developing harmoniously. Additional attention is paid to individual areas if need be.

Lukashenko vows very hard response in case Belarus, Russia come under attackLukashenko vows very hard response in case Belarus, Russia come under attack
In case anyone decides to attack Belarus and Russia, the response will be very hard, Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko said as he answered questions from Russian journalists.

Do you remember that the effective range of Polonez MLRS missiles will soon get close to 500km? Well, one hopes that the range will not come into effect. But if anything happens, Belarusians are a hardworking people.

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