The ZSU-23-4 "Shilka" is a Russian, lightly armored, self-propelled, radar guided anti-aircraft weapon system.
About this creation
The acronym "ZSU" stands for Zenitnaya Samokhodnaya Ustanovka (Russian: Зенитная Самоходная Установка), meaning "anti-aircraft self-propelled mount"; the "23" signifies the bore diameter in millimeters; the "4" signifies the number of gun barrels.
Main photo by Bernard Zee
The previous Soviet self-propelled anti-aircraft gun the ZSU-57-2, was armed with two 57 mm autocannons; it was aimed optically using a basic tracking and lead calculating system. The ZSU-57-2 was not particularly successful despite its very powerful autocannons; it could only carry a relatively small amount of ammunition, was inaccurate as it lacked radar and could not fire while on the move.
ZSU-23-4 units saw active service in the Yom Kippur War (1973) and other Arab-Israeli conflicts, the Iran–Iraq War (1980–1988), and the First Gulf War (1990). During the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the system was particularly effective against the Israeli Air Force. Israeli pilots attempting to fly low in order to avoid SA-6 missiles were often shot down by ZSU-23-4s as in Operation Doogman 5.
During the Soviet-Afghan War ZSU-23-4 units were used widely and to great effect against mujahideen positions in the mountains, the ZSU-23-4's guns being able to elevate much higher than the weapons on BMPs, BTRs, T-55s, or T-62s. They were also used to suppress defensive positions around the presidential palace during the initial coup in Kabul at the start of the Soviet-Afghan war. The Russian Army used the ZSU-23-4 for mountain combat in Chechnya.
The radar-guided ZSU-23-4 "Shilka" SPAAG, with its four 23 mm autocannons, was a revolutionary SPAAG, proving to be an extremely effective weapon against enemy attack aircraft and helicopters under every weather and light condition. The ZSU-23-4 has a very high density, rate and accuracy of fire, as well as the capability for each of the four autocannons to fire its own type of projectile from separate belts. The appearance of the "Shilka" caused significant changes in NATO tactics in aircraft use at low altitude over the battlefield.
Below is the ZSU-23-4 from the museum I work at.
Upon reception, all components including the radar and guns were functional.