Vietnam People's Army Upgrades ZSU-23-4M Shilka Self-propelled Anti-aircraft Guns
Vietnam People's Army Upgrades ZSU-23-4M Shilka Self-propelled Anti-aircraft Guns

Vietnam People’s Army Upgrades ZSU-23-4M Shilka Self-propelled Anti-aircraft Guns

The People’s Army of Vietnam (PAV) has upgraded selected units of its ZSU-23-4M self-propelled anti-aircraft guns (SPAAGs) with a locally developed electro-optical system and Russia-supplied Igla surface-to-air missiles. The ZSU-23-4M has been in service with the PAV since the late 1970s. Open-source intelligence company Janes reported that that an example of the upgraded system was displayed by the service at the Vietnam International Defence Exhibition (VIDEX) 2022, which is taking place in Hanoi from 8 to 10 December. A PAV representative who spoke to Janes at the exhibition disclosed that an upgrade programme for the SPAAGs began in 2014 and it was conducted over the span of approximately four years.

The ZSU-23-4 “Shilka” is a lightly armored Soviet self-propelled, radar-guided anti-aircraft weapon system (SPAAG). The acronym “ZSU” stands for Zenitnaya Samokhodnaya Ustanovka, meaning “anti-aircraft self-propelled system”; the “23” signifies the bore diameter in millimeters; the “4” signifies the number of gun barrels. It is named after the Shilka River in Russia. The appearance of the “Shilka” caused significant changes in NATO tactics in aircraft use at low altitude over the battlefield. Despite its present obsolescence as a modern short-range anti-aircraft weapon, the ZSU-23-4 is still deadly for enemy light armoured vehicles, infantry and firing points as an infantry-support vehicle.

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ZSU-23-4M4 is a modernized variants, armed with two additional paired “Igla” man-portable air-defense systems on each side of the turret and equipped with 81mm smoke grenade launchers, laser emission sensors, electro-optical vision devices (including television system for driver) and improved weapon radar system. The mechanical transmission was replaced with hydrostatic transmission, and hydraulic boosters were installed. Mobility increased to the level of main battle tanks. This upgrade was first shown during the MAKS-99 exhibition in Zhukovsky and was carried out by the Minotor Service Enterprise and Peleng Joint Stock Company from the Republic of Belarus, and the Ulyanovsk Mechanical Plant of Russia.

As part of the upgrade, eachself-propelled anti-aircraft gun unit has been incorporated with four 9K38 Igla man-portable infrared homing surface-to-air missile (SAM) launchers. This extends the unit’s effective engagement range from 2,500 to 5,500 m and target kill altitude from 1,500 to 3,000 m. Additionally, the self-propelled anti-aircraft’s target acquisition radar has been replaced with an electro-optical system that has been developed locally. The system incorporates a daylight camera, a thermal camera, and a laser rangefinder. These components are controlled via an automatic target acquisition and tracking system that has been supplied by the Viettel Military Industry and Telecoms Group. Both are state-owned enterprise and operated by the Vietnam Ministry of National Defence.

Vietnam People's Army Upgrades ZSU-23-4M Shilka Self-propelled Anti-aircraft Guns
A People’s Army of Vietnam ZSU-23-4M unit that has been upgraded with Igla missiles and a locally developed electro-optical system. (Photo by JSC Rosoboronexport )

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