1K17 "Compression": description, principle of operation, characteristics, photos


Most people, having heard of the laser tank, will immediately recall a lot of fantastic action movies telling about wars on other planets. And only a few experts will remember the 1Q17 “Compression”. But he really existed. While in the USA people watched films about Star Wars with delight, discussed the possibility of using blasters and explosions in a vacuum, Soviet engineers created real laser tanks that were supposed to protect a great power. Alas, the state has collapsed, and innovative developments that are ahead of their time have been forgotten as unnecessary.

What it is?

Despite the fact that most people find it difficult to believe in the very existence of laser tanks, they really existed. Although it would be more correct to call it a self-propelled laser complex.


1K17 "Compression" was not an ordinary tank in the usual sense of the word. However, no one disputes the fact of its existence - there is not only a multitude of documents from which the “Top Secret” vulture has only recently been removed, but also a technique that survived the terrible 90s.

History of creation

The Soviet Union, many people called the country of romantics. And indeed, to whom, if not the romantic designer, would it occur to create a real laser tank? At that time, while some design bureaus struggled with the task of creating more powerful armor, long-range cannons and guidance systems for tanks, others were developing fundamentally new weapons.

The creation of innovative weapons was entrusted to the NGO Astrophysics. Nikolai Ustinov, the son of the Soviet Marshal Dmitry Ustinov, became the project manager. Resources for such a promising development did not spare. And as a result of several years of work, the desired results were obtained.


First, the laser tank 1K11 Stiletto was created - in 1982 two copies were produced. However, quite quickly, experts came to the conclusion that it can be significantly improved. The designers immediately set to work, and by the end of the 80s a laser tank, known in narrow circles, was created. It was 1Q17 “Compression.


The dimensions of the new car were impressive - with a length of 6 meters it had a width of 3.5 meters. However, for the tank, these dimensions are not so great. The mass also met the standards - 41 tons.

As protection, homogeneous steel was used, which demonstrated quite good indicators for its time during the tests.

A clearance of 435 millimeters increased the permeability - which is understandable, this technique should have been used not only during parades, but also during military operations on a variety of landscapes.


In developing the 1K17 “Compression” complex, the experts took the proven Msta-S self-propelled howitzer as a base. Of course, it has undergone some refinement to meet the new requirements.

For example, its tower was significantly increased - it was necessary to place a large number of high-power optoelectronic equipment ensuring the operability of the main instrument.

In order for the equipment to receive enough energy, the rear part of the tower was allocated for an auxiliary autonomous power plant that supplies powerful generators.


The howitzer cannon in the front of the tower was removed - an optical block consisting of 15 lenses took its place. To reduce the risk of damage, during the marches the lenses were closed with special armored covers.

The very same chassis remained unchanged - she had all the necessary qualities. Power of 840 horsepower provided not only high permeability, but also a good speed - up to 60 kilometers when driving on the highway. Moreover, the fuel reserve was enough for the Soviet laser tank 1K17 "Compression" to travel without refueling up to 500 kilometers.

Of course, thanks to a powerful and successful undercarriage, the tank easily overcame rises up to 30 degrees and walls up to 85 centimeters. Ditches up to 280 centimeters and fords with a depth of 120 centimeters also did not provide problems for the technician.

Main purpose

Of course, the most obvious use for such equipment is to burn enemy equipment. However, neither in the 80s, nor now, there are not enough powerful mobile sources of energy to create such a laser.

In fact, his appointment was quite different. Already in the eighties in tanks not ordinary periscopes, as in the years of the Great Patriotic War, but more advanced optical-electronic devices were actively used. With their help, guidance has become much more effective, and the human factor began to play a much less important role. However, such equipment was used not only on tanks, but also on self-propelled artillery installations, helicopters and even some sights for sniper rifles.


They became the target for SLC 1K17 "Compression". Using a powerful laser as the main weapon, he effectively detected the lenses of optoelectronic devices at high distances. After automatic targeting, the laser hit exactly this technique, reliably disabling it. And if at that moment the observer used a weapon, a ray of terrible power could easily burn his retina.

That is, the function of the tank "Compression" did not include precisely the destruction of enemy techniques. Instead, he was entrusted with the task of support. Blinding enemy tanks and helicopters, he made them defenseless in front of other tanks, accompanied by which he had to move. Accordingly, a detachment of 5 vehicles could easily destroy an enemy group of 10-15 tanks, without even being particularly at risk. Therefore, it can be said that although the development turned out to be very narrowly specialized, but with the right approach it was very effective.

Combat performance

The power of the main weapon was quite high. At a distance of up to 8 kilometers, the laser simply burned the sights of the enemy, making it virtually defenseless. If the distance to the target was large - up to 10 kilometers - the sights were disabled temporarily, for about 10 minutes. However, in a fast-paced modern battle this is more than enough to destroy the enemy.

An important advantage was the possibility of not taking corrections when shooting at moving targets, even at such a long distance. After all, the laser beam hit at the speed of light, and strictly in a straight line, and not on a complex trajectory. This was an important advantage, greatly simplifying the process of targeting.


On the other hand, it was also a minus. After all, it is quite difficult to find an open space for battle, around which, within a radius of 8-10 kilometers, there were no landscape details (hills, trees, bushes) or buildings that would not impair the view.

In addition, unnecessary problems could be caused by such atmospheric phenomena as rain, fog, snow, or even ordinary dust raised by a gust of wind - they scattered a laser beam, drastically reducing its effectiveness.

Additional weapons

Any tank sometimes has to fight not against enemy armored vehicles, but against conventional vehicles or even infantry.

Of course, to use for this a laser having a huge power, but at the same time slowly rechargeable, would be completely ineffective. That is why the “Compression” 1K17 laser complex was additionally equipped with a large-caliber machine gun. Preference was given to a 12.7-mm NSWT, also known as a tank "cliff". This machine gun, terrible in combat power, at a distance of up to 2 kilometers, pierced any equipment, including lightly armored ones, and when it hit the human body it simply tore it apart.

Operating principle

But on the principle of action of the laser tank is still being fierce debate. Some experts say that he worked thanks to a huge ruby. A crystal weighing about 30 kilograms was artificially grown specifically for innovative development. He was given the appropriate shape, the ends were closed with silver mirrors, and then saturated with energy with the help of pulsed gas-discharge flash lamps. When a sufficient charge accumulated, the ruby ​​would emit a powerful stream of light, which was the laser.

However, there are many opponents of such a theory. In their opinion, ruby ​​lasers became outdated shortly after their appearance - as early as the sixties of the last century. At the moment, they are used except for tattoo removal. They claim that instead of ruby, another artificial mineral was used - an aluminum-yttrium garnet, flavored with a small amount of neodymium. The results created a much more powerful YAG laser.


He worked with waves with a length of 1064 nm. The infrared range turned out to be more efficient than the visible one, which allowed the laser facility to operate under difficult weather conditions - the dispersion coefficient was significantly lower.

In addition, a YAG laser using a nonlinear crystal radiated harmonics - pulses with waves of different lengths. They could be 2-4 times shorter than the length of the original wave. Such multiband radiation is considered to be more efficient - if special light filters that can protect electronic sights help, then they would be useless.

The fate of the laser tank

After conducting field tests, the laser tank "Compression" was recognized as effective and was recommended for use. Alas, struck in 1991, the great empire with a powerful army collapsed. The new authorities have drastically reduced the budget of the army and army research, so they have successfully forgotten about the "compression".


Fortunately, the only developed sample was not passed for scrap and was not taken abroad, like many other advanced developments. Today it can be seen in the village of Ivanovsky, Moscow region, where the Military Technical Museum is located.


On this, our article comes to an end. Now you know more about the Soviet and Russian self-propelled 1K17 “Compression” laser complex. And in any dispute you can convincingly tell about a real laser tank.

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