The emergence of Russia's ability to instantly disarm the United States is a fundamentally new stage in the development of combat drones and the victory of communication systems in the battle with electronic warfare systems. All this is only part of the key events in the military that took place in 2020. What are the most important innovations before our eyes that show the picture of how the wars of the future will unfold?
In full accordance with the laws of dialectics, quantitative changes pass into qualitative ones. The year 2020 has shown enough changes to say for sure that a military revolution is just around the corner.
Mass use of drones and cheap high-precision weapons
In the same way as with a laser weapon previously, Turkey became a pioneer in the air war. And this innovation is much cooler than with lasers, because it covers not only technology and even not only tactics, but also the military economy.
Turkish Bayraktar UAVs, first used en masse in Syria, then in Libya and Karabakh, gathered a very bloody harvest. At the same time, the cost of losing one such device in all wars turned out to be incomparable with the losses that it caused. In exchange for units of downed Bayraktars, the Turks destroyed dozens of pieces of equipment and dozens of enemy soldiers and officers, sometimes hundreds. The last days of the Armenian resistance in Karabakh were simply a massacre, there is no other way to call it. Ilham Aliyev claimed that the drones of" brotherly Turkey " destroyed as much Armenian military equipment as all other heavy weapons of Azerbaijan. At the same time, the downed Bayraktar is just a lost "iron", but its goals are killed people.
Of course, the Armenian troops had huge problems with air defense, as previously both the Syrian and the army of Khalifa Haftar in Libya. If there were a well-equipped and trained army in the place of Turkey's enemies, the losses in drones would be higher, and their victims would be much less. But the fact is that, first, they would have caused significant losses in this case, and secondly, they would have caused them cheaply.
And here we come to that revolutionary moment in Turkish technical schemes, which few people remember. Small-sized Bayraktar ammunition costs much less than traditional "smart" bombs and missiles, and can be used en masse even by a poor enemy. This is the second trend that should not be underestimated – high-precision weapons (OBE) are becoming cheap enough to use them without restrictions, even for the destruction of several soldiers.
This is a milestone moment. Previously, the WTO was a tool for solving problems of special importance or complexity, and for mass tasks, unguided weapons were massively used. Now it is much cheaper to launch a pair of MAM-L, which will destroy exactly the right targets, than to fire unguided artillery shells at them until they are completely destroyed. Targeted precise destruction is much cheaper than the use of traditional ammunition. This opens up opportunities for previously weak countries that they would never have received by relying on traditional means of warfare. And it promises such losses to their opponents that they could not have imagined before.
But that's not all. Along with the massive use of " big " drones and their cheap, but accurate missiles, barrage ammunition – Israeli Harop, Sky Striker and a number of others, Turkish Kargu-powerfully declared themselves. Disposable killer drones are nothing new in theory-Israel used them back in 1982 and successfully. What is new is the combination of their massive use and low price. From this point of view, the debut of such practices can be considered the same Karabakh war.
This ammunition is an ideologically new tool. Unlike any other weapon, they are first launched, and then look for a target and immediately hit it. So far, their disadvantage is the need for a live operator who will direct the ammunition at the target. But even so, these not very expensive machines have proven to be extremely effective-primarily because of their ability to work as scouts and first find an object to attack. The use of barraging suicide drones at its cost turns out to be cheaper than a bunch of "expensive drone-gunner and artillery gun with guided projectiles", and most importantly-there is no proven method of fighting against them. "Bayraktary" and the like can stray well-prepared air defense, but against the barraging "small things" means in the ranks of modern armies yet, although work on their creation is underway. In the meantime, this is a " one-goal game"
In general, unmanned air warfare has already begun to change the face of modern armies, and this is just the beginning.
On the way is a much more terrible innovation-swarm groups of UAVs operating under the control of artificial intelligence. Americans have been working on such weapons systems for many years, they have already achieved not only autonomous, without human control, maneuvering, but also self-training robots right in flight. More recently, Boeing conducted successful autonomous flights of its drones, during which such things were worked out. The absence of the need for a live operator will allow the use of cheap robots in huge quantities – and how to deal with this is still unknown. But the fact that a one-time strike by thousands of such devices is comparable to nuclear weapons in terms of consequences is already obvious. The appearance of all this over the battlefield is a matter of literally the next few years.
Hypersonic missiles, or Faster than Death Itself
Tests of the RCC " Zircon "by the Russian Navy have traditionally been accompanied in the West by silence, to which epithets such as" coffin "or"grave" are applicable. And it's not just that. About how "Zircon" complicates the air defense of ship formations, it has already been said more than once. But this missile has another quality, which, of course, can not hide from our enemies – it can also be used for strikes on ground targets, too. This was perfectly shown by the tests conducted not so long ago.
Now in the West in an acute form there is exactly one question: will the Russians guess how to quickly increase the number of carriers of this missile, or not? After all, it would be a complete knockout for the West. The range of the missile, it seems, can reach up to a thousand kilometers or even more. In the not yet existing, but technically possible version for hitting ground targets, it will be even larger. In it, but with a nuclear warhead-even more.
The appearance of such a missile raises a number of very unpleasant questions for the same Americans. For example, what to do if Russian ships are in more or less significant numbers at a distance of about 800-900 kilometers from American radar stations warning of a missile attack, from the White House, fleet bases, an airfield with aircraft that provide communication with nuclear submarines.
After all, this will mean the possibility of a decapitating strike on the United States, which the Americans simply cannot fend off – the flight time of the missiles is too short, even the alarm is not announced. The president doesn't even have time to reach the elevator to the bunker under the White House. If the Kremlin makes an appropriate political decision, the Americans will instantly lose all their command, ground components of the missile warning system, most of the communication systems, and part of the nuclear arsenal. This will happen faster than it will be possible to declare an alarm on the US armed forces. And this opens the way to an unpunished missile strike against the United States by the Strategic Missile Forces. This strike, of course, will not be guaranteed to go unpunished, but the chances of its success for the attacking side appear.
And then what to do? But everything was so good, the Americans are almost openly preparing for an offensive nuclear war, and here it is... They have no answers yet, and there is no understanding of what to do if an aviation missile appears on the basis of the Zircon. There is also no understanding of what to do if this technology gives rise to ground-based missiles to strike ground targets. Of course, Russia is not even close to planning a nuclear attack on the United States. But not to react to such risks, the Americans can not even in this case.
Previously, the launch of missile weapons could be detected in advance by certain types of intelligence. It was possible to announce the alarm in advance, to try to introduce some forces and means into the battle, there was a hope that some people would have time to hide... Hypersound eliminates all this. Now detection of the launch will not give anything, except for the opportunity to see your death online. Now there is no hope. A hypersonic missile strike means the unconditional destruction of those ground objects on which it is applied, and its speed is such that it will not be possible to counteract it in any way, to hide and minimize losses somehow-too.
Worse, it will now be much harder for politicians to stop conflicts. The war is becoming so fast that it will be much more difficult to "keep up with the course of hostilities" in any peace negotiations. And a trick like what the Americans did in the strike on the Syrian airbase Shayrat, when we were warned about its application, will be either meaningless, or even impossible – the missiles will reach their targets too quickly.
We shouldn't be too happy. Relatively soon, by historical standards, such weapons systems will appear in other countries, and China, the United States, and India are working on their hypersonic programs. We're just still the leaders in this race. But the genie is out of the bottle and soon the possibility of irreversible rapid strikes will appear not only in Russia. And you'll have to live with that somehow. Will it work? Would not the destruction of the rival country "just in case" be the only chance to survive ourselves?
Electronic warfare and Communications
2020 is a turning point in the fight against electronic warfare (EW) and communications. Turning point because at the beginning of the year it was possible to say that the EW will put any connection, or almost any. And just recently, in December, clear evidence has already been received that no, it will not. The link won. For now, at least.
This was most evident in Karabakh, when the appearance of Russian-made electronic warfare stations among Armenians reduced the intensity of the use of drones by the Turks for a few days, but then they began to fly again. On the Turkish news channels there were shots of the destruction of our electronic warfare systems by the very drones that they were supposed to"land".
What gave the Turks such an opportunity? Broadband when "raise channel" with the desired performance over a very wide frequency range, and this range in very wide limits to change, going to frequencies for which EW to suppress enemy can't, and not to lose the quality of information transfer.
Such things are not news, the same Americans have already shown them to us, when radio intelligence does not record the work of the radio network, and then the agent brings details that it actually worked and actively. But for the time being, these were one-off cases, and in the same Syria, we were the masters of the electromagnetic spectrum. Now it's over, and we'll have to adapt to the new reality. It will not be easy – the same Turks have shown that their communication systems are very difficult to invulnerable. For now, at least.
A new word in the struggle for air supremacy
Recent news that the Americans have begun test flights of a new generation of combat aircraft, created under the NGAD program (Next Generation Air Dominance – "air dominance of the next generation"), revealed the fact of work in the US Air Force on a conceptually new approach to air warfare. Now an unobtrusive "killer scout" is sent to the enemy's airspace, which is difficult to invulnerable to the enemy due to its low visibility. This machine is able to detect air targets and ensure the use of missiles on them by fighters of old types both at the maximum range, and without turning on their radar stations, that is, covertly for the enemy. At the same time, this aircraft itself is more than capable of conducting air combat and shooting down those enemy fighters that still found it.
This is an innovation that did not exist before. And this seems to be the main direction of development of combat aviation. After all, such work is carried out not only by Americans. We're leading it, too. More recently, the Hunter UAV was tested with air – to-air missiles, which again raised a lot of questions from the public about how it will be used.
But the Defense Ministry has long explained how – just as accurately as the Americans their new plane. For this, the "Hunter" needs a "fighter" engine, for this you need missiles for air combat, and stealth is also for this. We with Americans beat in one point, simply their "scout-killer" piloted, and our unmanned, that's all the difference. The tactics of application, purpose and concept we have with them are the same.
And this gives an understanding of what a war in the air will look like in the near future. Of course, the ability of an unmanned vehicle to withstand human intelligence on an equal footing is still questionable. But we are also working on artificial intelligence. And then there is the Australian branch of Boeing, where they invented and tested a robot slave-an unmanned fighter that leads the battle in tandem with a manned one. However, there is reason to suspect that our "Hunter" will try to use in this capacity. Only with our economy and industrial base would we be able to make it...
One way or another, but in the new era of air warfare, we are still walking side by side with the West and a similar road. Let's see who comes first.
A new era is just around the corner
There is reason to believe that these innovations, which have become so public this year, can dramatically change the nature of military operations. Naturally, they will have to "put down roots" in the troops of developed countries in order to be used massively and jointly somewhere. And as in past military revolutions, these innovations and the resulting changes in the troops as a whole, in their tactics and methods of warfare, will provide a decisive advantage to the side that applied these innovations.
This was the case during the Second World War with the German blitzkrieg. This was the case in the late 80's, when the West relied on high-tech systems for controlling forces and means and high-precision weapons – so it will be now. And those countries that are unprepared for these innovations will have to pay for their unpreparedness with heavy losses and catastrophic defeats. Russia must not fall victim to this military revolution. We must prepare for it today and take advantage of its results.