If a ballistic missile is fired from a cannon, it will still remain a missile
On the eve of serious geopolitical upheavals, the world's leading countries are seeking to acquire breakthrough weapons systems that should provide them with military and technical superiority on the fields and seas of future battles. The leading countries of the world are trying to create their own "wunderwaffe". In this race, Russia, the United States and partly China, as they say, are "ahead of the whole planet". However, information received from the United States about the creation of a literally phenomenal weapon-a gun capable of firing at a distance of more than a thousand nautical miles or 1,850 kilometers, puzzled leading military experts.
Its name in Russian is a strategic long-range weapon. Sources use the abbreviation for the first letters of the full name in English – SLRC. One might assume that this is a fake, but the information came from various and very authoritative sources, which gives reason to take it quite seriously. Confirmation of its reliability can also serve as data that such a tool is being developed, which appeared on the Internet about a year ago. In other words, you can't just dismiss the reports about the creation of a certain super-weapon as fake. Moreover, it is known from the statements of American officials that this new development is supposed to be installed on US Navy ships, in particular on the newly revived battleships.
Not enough data
So, first of all, it is necessary to systematize all the data that is available about these weapons in the open media. And there is very little information about it, except for the firing range, which is quite understandable – the new weapon must be classified. It is known that the calculation of this gun should be only five people – very little for such a gun. The weight is also very small, probably about several tens of tons, that is, within the weight of the Abrams MBT and the main American m109a7 paladin self-propelled gun. The purpose of the weapon is very extensive. If we summarize the available information, it should include striking ground targets in the interests of fire support for the actions of the ground forces and Marines, by hitting and destroying critical objects in the operational and strategic depth of the enemy's defense, suppressing the air defense and missile DEFENSE system in the theater, as well as ensuring a breakthrough of the enemy's deep-echeloned defense. In the latter case, we are probably talking about the suppression of enemy troops in the tactical defense zone, which implies a significant expenditure of ammunition. Placement of the gun is planned on a standard heavy tractor, as well as on battleships of the "Montana" type, which are to be built beforehand. All that is known about ammunition for this gun is that they must have their own engine to accelerate the projectile to the required speed after leaving the barrel.
There is very little information, but based on it, you can develop an idea of the possible appearance of these weapons, assess the likelihood of their creation and adoption, and the nature of military-technical threats they form.
Range is weight
The appearance of any artillery piece is determined to a decisive extent by its shot-a projectile and a propellant charge. For a gun with a range of almost two thousand kilometers, the projectile must have a large weight, which is dictated by two main factors. The first is that the higher the weight of the projectile at the same muzzle velocity,the greater the range. The second is in the inevitable greater dispersion when shooting at such distances. Even under ideal conditions of projectile release from the barrel in terms of minimizing dispersion, its flight over a distance of almost two thousand kilometers with access to the stratosphere will inevitably lead to significant dispersion. In this regard, it is necessary to have a large destructive force of the projectile, so that even one or a small number of hits can provide a solution to the fire problem. However, it is obvious that this is not enough. It is necessary to place on the projectile means that reduce dispersion to the maximum permissible level, and in a good way, and the homing system in the final section. Moreover, the latter should be able to independently aim the projectile at the target without any lights – in the operational and strategic depth of defense, this will be very problematic. However, the declared parameters of the installation will not allow using very heavy projectiles from it. Therefore, you can make a compromise decision about the likely weight of the projectile in the part that will reach the target corresponding to the weight of the long-range warhead-from 250 to 400 kilograms. Projectiles of smaller weight at such a distance shooting is simply meaningless-the scale of the destruction caused by them will be much less than the cost of the shot.
It should be noted that this weight is almost an order of magnitude greater than the weight of the main 155-mm self-propelled gun of the US army "paladin". And at the same time, the weight of the SLRC itself is declared almost equal to this ACS. This alone suggests that such a gun, in principle, can not be a classic artillery gun, because to give a projectile weighing 250-400 kilograms a speed of several hundred meters per second, it must have powerful recoil devices and a large mass – about several tens of tons. But this speed ensures the flight of the projectile only within 20-30 kilometers, no more. The high initial velocity of the projectile will require the creation of an artillery system weighing several hundred tons.
Another reason for concluding that the SLRC is not an artillery piece in its current sense is the axiom that powder charges, no matter how perfect they are, cannot accelerate a projectile to a speed of more than 2-2. 5 kilometers per second, regardless of the length of the gun barrel. At such initial speeds, the projectile will not fly further than 200-250 kilometers. In order for it to cover 1,850 kilometers, it must accelerate to a speed of about five to six kilometers per second, that is, to the flight speed of a typical medium-range rocket. This means that the projectile has a jet engine, which in its acceleration to the required speed should play a major role. Immediately we must dismiss the assumption that the SLRC can be an electromagnetic gun. To do this, it must include an entire nuclear power plant – accelerating a projectile weighing 250-400 kilograms in such a gun to a speed of five to six kilometers per second will require a monstrous consumption of electricity.
Thus, what we have is a projectile fired from a gun at a relatively low speed, and then the jet engine in the active section accelerates it to fly at full range. That is, it turns out an ordinary medium-range rocket that starts with a tubular launcher under the action of a powder Bouncing charge. In addition, based on the conditions of the shot and the need to have complex systems on the projectile (homing and minimizing dispersion), the barrel must be smooth, without rifling, which finally equates the SLRC to a conventional medium-range missile PU.
New " Pershing»
In other words, under the guise of SLRC, the United States is developing a PU for a brsd similar to the Pershing-2, but, of course, with much smaller weight and size indicators of both the PU and the rocket itself. At the same time, this weapon is supposed to be used both from a ground installation and from a ship. The latter suggests that in the interests of unification, the new edition of Pershing-2 should be able to be launched from the MK-41 PU, in which the cells have a caliber of 533 mm. Accordingly, there is an assumption that the slrc caliber should be the same. But then we must admit that the SLRC is a common single-barrel PU for brsd. This assumption explains the small calculation of this gun, and its relatively small weight, which in addition to the installation itself should include control equipment and preparation of the brsd for launch.
One of the experimental guns of the HARP project. Photo: US Army
One of the experimental guns of the HARP project. Photo: US Amoudara how to be with reference to the operational mission of this weapon? In particular, giving the opportunity to destroy targets in the tactical zone of defense for its suppression for operations of the land forces and also the suppression of the air and missile defense through the glut of large flow purposes. This determines the low cost of the shot, since significant amounts of ammunition consumption are assumed. In my opinion, this suggests that the brsd of this weapon should have cluster warheads, the blocks of which can be projectiles weighing 10-50 kilograms, which, without aiming devices, cover a certain area, reaching a sufficiently high level of target damage. Shooting brsd with such warheads at area targets of the defending enemy troops, as well as at air defense and missile DEFENSE facilities, may be quite economically justified. Naturally, the slrc can also use monoblock-high-explosive, penetrating and other combat units, including nuclear ones. This is probably what Donald trump had in mind when he talked about creating unique hypersonic missiles in the United States, which Russia and especially China do not have. Well, we can agree with the American President on this: to reach a range of two thousand kilometers, the brsd warhead must fly at hypersonic speed. But this is nothing fundamentally new. The question is whether this warhead will maneuver on a trajectory and have a GPS system that allows it to be used not only for stationary objects, the coordinates of which are well known, but also for mobile ones, in particular for sea ones, the location of which is determined with very large errors. Russia has such weapons, and this is the breakthrough of our defense industry, but the United States has not yet.
In this understanding, the SLRC becomes not only an important component of the firepower of the us armed forces for conducting combat operations in continental theater areas, but also the basis of a counter-force nuclear potential near our borders, designed to deliver a "decapitating" attack on our strategic nuclear forces.
control points of the Russian nuclear forces) and "disarming" (for the actual PU of the strategic missile forces, submarines with SLBMs and strategic aviation airfields). And, what is very important – it is a mobile component that can also solve problems during combat operations with conventional weapons from distances beyond the reach of existing means of destruction of the enemy's ground forces.
The revival of the battleships
Against this background, the statements of American officials that the SLRC can be installed on battleships of the "Montana"type became very interesting. Ships of this type in the United States were supposed to be built in response to the appearance of the Japanese battleships Yamato and Musashi. The displacement of the American giants had to match the Japanese "monsters" - more than 70 thousand tons. Unlike the "Japanese", who had nine 457-mm guns of the main caliber, the Americans decided to stay in the 406-mm caliber, but increase the number of barrels to 12. At the same time, the Montana's broadside would reach 14,300 kilograms and thus slightly surpass the Yamato-13,700 kilograms. Four ships of this type in the United States were laid down between 1940 and 1941. However, the war made adjustments – aircraft carriers came to the fore and the construction of such battleships, each of which exceeded two heavy aircraft carriers in labor costs, became irrelevant – in 1942, orders for all four battleships of the Montana type were canceled.
And now, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, history repeats itself. As in the 20s of the last century, the issue of building battleships is on the agenda-of course, on a different basis than before. In the open press, the American military community is discussing the feasibility of building large ships with unprecedented powerful strike weapons and an equally strong defense system, which should be based on promising long-range air defense systems for solving air defense and missile DEFENSE tasks, as well as highly effective self-defense systems that include, in addition to traditional multi-channel SAMS, weapons systems based on new physical principles, in particular, based on lasers and millimeter-range emitters. It is possible to place electromagnetic weapons on these ships. The power plant is nuclear. The structural protection must also be sufficiently powerful, including as an essential component the booking of the ship's hull using multi-layer armor, similar to that used in tank construction. The main weapon of such a supership should be 200-300 PU for attack missiles for various purposes. At the same time, the authors of the published materials compare their proposals with the Russian ships of project 1144, which are undergoing modernization, as a result of which their strike armament should increase, according to foreign estimates, to 80 units. According to American experts, future ships should allow the US Navy to enter the "forbidden zones" created by Russia and China near their coasts.
I can't help but note that the feasibility of creating and building such a ship was justified on the pages of the military-industrial complex back in January 2019 and with approximately the same quantitative indicators.
It is obvious THAT the slrc can become one of the most important strike components of this battleship of the future. Using them, the battleships of the new era will be able to strike almost the entire depth of most KTVD, radically reducing the possible losses of carrier-based aircraft in a war with a high-tech enemy. With 120-180 such missiles (out of a total ammunition supply of 200-300), the battleship of the XXI century will be able to suppress the air defense and missile DEFENSE systems of the army corps or army for a long time to the full depth of their operational construction, while thoroughly weakening the groups of artillery and aviation. At the same time, it will be extremely difficult to destroy or even disable such a ship with existing conventional strike weapons systems, simply because this will require a large number of striking hits – significantly more than for disabling an aircraft carrier.
The supership is not omnipotent
And if the feasibility of using a battleship with an slrc brsd against stationary ground objects is quite obvious, then the effectiveness of its actions against mobile land and sea targets is questionable. To ensure an accurate hit on such a target, the GOS brsd must have a long range, which allows the survey zone to cover the area of uncertainty in knowing the target location by the time the missile approaches it at the GOS capture distance. And the zone of uncertainty is large, it consists of errors in the location of the target determination by the target designation source and the departure of the target from the detection point during the preparation and flight of the missile. AT a range of 1500-1800 kilometers, the slrc will fly for about 6-8 minutes, and at least 5-10 minutes are needed to prepare it for launch. Total 11-18 minutes. During this time, a ship traveling at a speed of 18-24 knots will travel a distance of 5.5-13 kilometers. If you add targeting errors here, you will get a large area that will require a GOS survey band of at least 30-40 kilometers. At the same time, the high speed of the warhead's flight along a ballistic trajectory will also require time to maneuver with an acceptable overload to reach the target accurately, which makes it necessary to have a range of at least 100-120 kilometers. When flying at hypersonic speed, the warhead is in an ion lens, which does not allow the use of conventional rgsn. In Russia, this problem was solved. In the US, as far as I know, not yet. This means THAT on the approach to the target, the slrc should reduce the speed to high supersonic. But then it becomes a common target for Russian air defense systems. Of course, you can find a palliative solution to this problem. For example, to provide the ability to adjust the flight of the brsd on the trajectory. Then, by continuously monitoring the target with RLD aircraft or other intelligence tools that can accurately determine the location of the target and transmit data to the ship, you can bring the missile to the target with an accuracy sufficient to hit with an acceptable probability. But first-this is a rather complex technical task in itself, and secondly – how to ensure the combat stability of the RLD aircraft at a distance of 400-450 kilometers from the enemy's order, which will try to destroy it at any cost. In addition, today the Russian armed forces have missiles for land and sea SAMS with a firing range of 400 kilometers, which will not allow the enemy's RLD aircraft to get closer. And together with the use of electronic warfare, this will allow even existing weapons to disrupt the issuance of target designation for the use of slrc brsd on ships of our fleet. Thus, we must admit that the American super-gun is unlikely to be effective against a naval enemy.
In conclusion, we can state that there is nothing fundamentally new in the American strategic long-range weapon. This is a single-barreled PU for the brsd, in which the speed of the rocket's ejection by a powder charge can only be significantly increased, which made it possible to reduce the mass of the brsd itself. Interesting can be considered a small-sized brsd, which, judging by the information, should become multi-purpose and be used both during combat operations with the use of conventional weapons, and in the nuclear phase of war. Of course, the idea of reviving large missile ships with powerful structural protection and highly developed means of defense, primarily air defense and missile DEFENSE, can be considered new and promising, allowing them to operate in conditions of strong enemy fire without significantly reducing their combat capability – a kind of battleships of the XXI century, using the terminology of the past.
Konstantin Sivkov, Deputy President of the Russian Academy of Sciences for information policy, doctor of military Sciences
Military-industrial courier newspaper, published in issue # 44 (857) for November 17, 2020