In the end of the 1970s – beginning of the 1980s all the world community was under the impact of Hollywood “Star Wars”. At the same time under the iron curtain and high secrecy the Soviet “Evil Empire” was transforming the Hollywood dreams into reality. Soviet cosmonauts flew into space armed with laser guns “blasters”, new battle stations and space fighters were being designed and Soviet “laser tanks” were slowly crawling along the Earth…
One of the organizations that designed combat laser stations was R&D “Astrophysics”. In 1982 they put into service the first self-moving laser station 1K11 “Stilet”.
The task of the station was to oppose optoelectronic surveillance systems and weapons control in a battlefield in severe climate and operational conditions.
Its combat qualities were outstanding for that time, nowadays they still meet the requirements of defence and tactic operations conducting.
“Stilet” was accepted for service but was not produced in lots. Two pre-production vehicles remained unique. Nevertheless their existence in the time of crazy total Soviet secrecy was noticed by Americans.
Here’s how the Soviet laser station was imagined abroad. The picture is from «Soviet Military Power» magazine.
SLK 1К11 «Stilet» – the picture from “ATM” magazine #5 2010, Czech Republic.
Remains of the “Stilet”
Formally the station is still into service though not much has been known about it for a long time. After the tests it turned out the stations were not of much need. The USSR collapse scattered them about the post-Soviet territory and turned them into scrap metal. One vehicle, for example, was found near St. Petersburg in the end of 1990s-beginning of the 2000s. Another one was noticed in Kharkiv by amateur historians.In both cases the laser systems had been dismantled long ago. The Kharkiv finding was in a better condition. They say that the St. Petersburg station has been finally utilized…
But there is another unique vehicle of joint production of “Astrophysics” and “Uraltransmash”. Developing the ideas of “Stilet” project they built a new laser station 1K17 “Szhatie” (“Pressing”). It was the complex of the new generation with blind search system and targeting at glaring beam object of a multi-channel laser (solid laser on aluminum oxide Al2O3) on a ruby crystal. Specially for the “Szhatie” there was grown an artificial 30 kg ruby – “laser gun” that was quite expensive. The new station demanded large amount of energy so they used powerful generators.
For the heavier station they applied the chassis of the newest for that time self-propelled weapon 2S19 “Msta-S” that was lengthened for “Szhatie”. For self-defence it had a 12,7 mm air-defence machine gun mount.
In the conditions of the ruined economics many defence programs were revised. “Szhatie” was not an exception. Despite its newest technologies and good result the Ministry of Defence had some doubts about its efficiency because the complex was pretty much expensive. Super secret “laser gun” turned out to be non-demanded. The only vehicle had been hiding behind some fences till was miraculously found in the exposition of “Military Technical Museum” in Ivanovskoye village in 2010. This unique machine is an example of leading Soviet science and a witness of forgotten Soviet victories…