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How Russian Military Equipment Gets Names

Date: June 5, 2023 Time: 03:17:24

Self-propelled mortar “Tulip”. Perhaps the flame on the shot reminded one of the designers of a flower. Photo: Sergey BULAVIN/GLOBAL LOOK PRESS

Akatsiya self-propelled artillery crews set up positions daily to destroy…” “Gyacinth-B howitzers deliver crushing blows…” APU toppled an entire bouquet of flowers. In the artillery greenhouse there is also a howitzer “Violet”, a self-propelled gun “Pion” and a mortar “Astra” – the more beautiful the flower, the more destructive its “aroma”.

The names that designers give to formidable weapons sometimes seem like a mockery to the enemy. The enemy thinks less of flowers when he plunges into a trench with the whistle of arrival. Why were the formidable weapons named after flowers? In the case of artillery, someone is looking for the logic of the photo: if you managed to capture the moment when the shell leaves the barrel, then the cocoon is obtained from fire and smoke. Although designers are unlikely to give names for artistic reasons.

This year, there is a new addition to the bouquet: the Geranium-2 drone is destroying the Ukrainian infrastructure. It can also be said that this is artillery, because geranium is loitering ammunition. How it looks like a flower, go to understand. But its Iranian prototype is called “Shahed” (precisely because of “e”). That is, “witness”, “observer”. This is because the first versions of it were not shock, but recognition.

But flowers are not everything. There are also a number of rivers. In artillery, these are the Msta and Khosta self-propelled guns and the Kama multiple launch rocket system (MLRS). And the air defense systems have Shilka, Tunguska, Dvina, Neva, Pechora, Angara. Look for the connection of storm currents with the repulsion of a sky attack for a year; you won’t find it. But in the names of natural disasters the intention can be traced. “Grad”, “Smerch”, “Hurricane”, “Tornado” – all these are multiple launch rocket systems. After them and the truth as after the tsunami. However, it is often very difficult to find logic in the name of military equipment.

Without rules

Interesting: if the name “Naughty” was given not to a military vehicle, but to a civilian one, how would the traffic cops react to this? Photo: © UAZ

To close the topic of flowers: do you know what “Bouquet” is? These are escort wives for 5 people at a time. And ordinary handcuffs, that is, for two hands, are called “Tenderness”. Also clever. In general, you flip through the list of names and wonder. There are more than 4 thousand of them, sometimes quite charming.

What is, for example, “Hello”? Turns out it’s a 23mm rubber bullet. He’s on duty with the police. The expression “greet” immediately acquires a special meaning. “Azart” is an infantry shovel, and “Naughty” is a UAZ-3150 car.

Shell makers, apparently, were especially creative in nature. They called the 240-mm MS-24 rocket “Laska”, the thermobaric warhead for the Smerch MLRS ammunition – “Emotion”, and the shell for the “Grads” – “Decoration”. There is also a 220mm propaganda shell for the Uragan MLRS, it is called the Paragraph. They put a roll of brochures on it – it came, read it and be glad that it is not a whole paragraph.

Against this background, the Ballerina 30mm aircraft gun, the Zoo target detection system, the Traumatism airborne medical vehicle or the Natasha Soviet tactical atomic bomb no longer seem so curious.

Where does all this come from? It turns out that there are no strict rules for naming weapons, here the designers have carte blanche. But I must say that most of the names are unlikely to surprise anyone. Some came from abbreviations. Here is the self-propelled gun “Nona” – a new ground artillery gun. “Tosochka” is TOS, a heavy flamethrower system. And Yars is a nuclear deterrent missile. Other names are given in honor of the creators: the T-90 Vladimir tank or the Antey-2500 air defense system. And the third – by association, such as the portable anti-aircraft missile systems “Strela” and “Igla”.

no one will guess

And yet, how do funny names appear and those that are in no way, even figuratively, related to the product? Many names, including the artillery “bouquet”, came to us from the 70s of the XX century. Then the names were chosen, as in the movie “Operation Y …”, so that no one would guess.

“Usually a weapon is given a name during development,” explains military historian Yuri Knutov. – Earlier, in Soviet times, names were given mainly for reasons of secrecy. In such a way that even if information is leaked, even if someone blurts out somewhere or what document has been lost… In general, so that no one can still understand what kind of weapons system is being developed. The names weren’t supposed to remotely indicate the actual purpose. Air defense systems received the names of the rivers: Volkhov, Volga, Neva, etc. The artillery are flowers. Even the caliber was not associated with the name. Such a disguise system was justified. Later, already in the 90s, designers began to come up with funny names. They also had to confuse the enemy, but some parallels could still be drawn. For example, Pinocchio. This is a heavy flamethrower system (TOS) – the hero of the children’s book is made of wood, wood burns. Or CBT “Solntsepek”, here everything is immediately clear. And now there are names that directly or indirectly indicate the purpose of the weapon. For example, the new “Sarmat” missile (the so-called ancient mighty warriors), the “Dagger” hypersonic missile – these names reflect power, speed and fire capabilities.

Heavy flamethrower system “Pinocchio” – if it’s a fairy tale, then it’s terrible.

Photo: Andrey MIREYKO

bully and sell

In NATO, and particularly in the United States, there has always been an attempt to give weapons intimidating names. Stinger (stinger), Avenger (avenger), Stratofortress (air fortress).

– So, they are trying to psychologically influence a potential enemy, – says Yuri Knutov, – to show that this is a powerful and terrible weapon. By the way, some of us have been following this path lately. For example, the T-90 “Breakthrough” tank. Or the new “Terminator” tank support combat vehicle. It turns out that here we take both the style and the word itself. This is largely due to the fact that the team goes abroad, marketing solutions are needed to attract buyers. Including – because of the name.


The number of syllables matters

NATO encrypts Russian weapons

The names of Russian military equipment are also given in NATO countries. But if Western countries call their weapons in such a way that others are afraid, then our team is given names as if special officers of the KGB are behind them. Once I had a chance to serve on a communication ship, which was called that – CNE with a number. And the first officer showed us the NATO reference book, where our ship was called “Cherry” (and not Cherry, but Vishnya). What did our vaporizer have to do with this berry?

This, however, is not the strangest option. The newest Russian fighter of the fifth generation Su-57 in the United States was called “Criminal” (Felon), and the Ka-25 anti-submarine helicopter – “Hormone” (Hormone). Passenger plane

The Tu-124, which was once used by the Soviet military transport aviation, was the “Cooking Pot” in the West. The S-400 Triumph air defense missile system is the Growler, and the Bal coastal missile system is the Week (Sennight).

Delirium? And here it is not. All the names make sense: each type of equipment begins with a certain letter. Fighter “nicknames” start with F (fighter), bombers with B (bomber), transporters with C (cargo), and helicopters with H (helicopter). That is why our light fighter MiG-29 became the “Fulcrum” (Fulcrum), and the strategic missile carrier-bomber Tu-160 “White Swan” was repainted into the “Black Jack” (Blackjack).

Same with other weapons. Strategic missiles are called S: “Vanguard” – “Stiletto” (Stiletto), “Topol-M” – “Sickle” (Sickle) and “Voevoda” – “Satan” (Stan). Coastal defense complexes are also called in the same S: “Bastion” – “Puppet” (Stooge) and “Frontier” – “Styx” (Styx, the river that separates the world of the living and the kingdom of the dead in Greek mythology).

By the way, even the number of syllables in a word is important in Western encoding. For example, for aviation, one syllable means a piston engine and two or more means a jet. Perhaps this is the strange choice of “nicknames”: according to one version, the words that meet the conditions are chosen by the computer.


“Poseidon” is a popular name

The name of the Poseidon underwater drone (the first set of these super torpedoes was produced recently) was chosen by the people. This happened in March 2018 during a special vote on the Russian Defense Ministry website. In addition to the underwater drone, site visitors were asked to choose names for the laser complex and the nuclear-powered cruise missile.

The survey aroused great interest. Opinion leaders included Nezhdanchik, Wasteland and Arctic Fox for a cruise missile, Kraken, Whisperer and Vodyanoy for an underwater drone. For the laser complex, Ophthalmologist, Viy and Gorynych were offered.

As a result, the storm of the seas was called “Poseidon”, the laser weapon became “Peresvet”, and the nuclear-powered cruise missile – “Petrel”.

Puck Henry
Puck Henry
Puck Henry is an editor for ePrimefeed covering all types of news.

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