NASAMS – modern "hammer of Thor" for aviation


What anti-aircraft missile systems has Ukraine receivedAgainst the background of strikes by the Russian Aerospace Forces on important objects of the military and industrial infrastructure of Ukraine, the Kiev military-political leadership and the Western coalition supporting Kiev, led by the United States, are strengthening the air defense group by supplying various anti-aircraft missile systems (SAMs).

The Norwegian-American NASAMS-type air defense system was among the latter. The Pentagon's report on military assistance to Ukraine dated October 4, 2022 referred to the delivery of eight SAMs of this type. Kiev had high hopes for him. To understand how justified they are, let's look at this complex in more detail.

EMPHASIS ON NETWORK CENTRICITYNASAMS is a medium–range mobile air defense system designed to protect army units or stationary objects from attacks by unmanned and manned enemy aircraft, as well as from attacks by its cruise missiles (KR).

NASAMS is an abbreviation of the name Norwegian Advanced Surface–to-Air Missile System ("Norwegian Advanced air-to–surface Missile System").

The head developer of NASAMS is Norwegian Kongsberg Defense & Aerospace (hereinafter – Kongsberg). Serial production of the system has been established in cooperation with the American Raytheon Missiles and Defense and a number of other companies.

According to the developer, the SAM is capable of hitting targets at low and medium altitudes at any time of the day, in a wide range of weather and climatic conditions.

Moreover, Kongsberg calls its brainchild very pretentiously: "the world's first operating network-centric land-based air defense system of short-medium range."

Work on the complex was started in the late 1980s - early 1990s by Norwegian specialists in cooperation with colleagues from Hughes Electronics (owned by General Motors, but in 1997 it was sold to Raytheon and became part of Raytheon Missiles and Defense). The complex was created by order of the Royal Norwegian Air Force to replace towed MIM-23B "Improved Hawk" (Hawk in English "hawk") with anti-aircraft guided missiles (SAM) with a semi-active radar homing head (GOS).

Even after modernization and refinement under the requirements of the Norwegian Ministry of Defense under the NOAH program, the Advanced Hawk air defense system was capable of firing one launcher (PU) at only one target at any given time. This did not suit the Norwegian military, who needed a reliable air defense system capable of effectively neutralizing the threat of the enemy's multiple launch missile system. That is why the customer prescribed in the tactical and technical task for a promising air defense system the need to provide the latter with the status of a network-centrically oriented air defense system, including several distributed radars and PU.

DEVELOPMENT BEGINSNorwegian specialists, with the help of their American colleagues, began work on this topic in 1989, and in 1993 the program for the development of a new air defense system was completed.

After a series of field tests started in June 1993, the NASAMS complex was adopted by the Norwegian Air Force and began to enter the army in 1994.

Since then, the Royal Norwegian Air Force has been using this SAM as a means of providing air defense and – limited – missile defense of its main air bases. Later, the SAMs also entered service with the Norwegian Ground Forces. According to Norwegian sources, all of them are included in the Unified Integrated Air Defense System of the country (Integrated Air and Missile Defense – IAMD). Apparently, the deployment of this complex in foreign countries was not carried out by the Norwegian military.

The developer actively used the developments obtained during the implementation of other programs for the creation of anti-aircraft missile weapons. Steps were also taken to unify the elements of the SAM with the air defense systems already in service with the Norwegian Armed Forces. This approach affected the choice of combat and fire detection and control equipment for the new SAM.

The AIM–120A AMRAAM (Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile, "an advanced guided missile of the medium-range air–to-air class"), which has proven itself well in the fight against high-speed and unobtrusive aerial targets, was developed by Hughes, produced today by Raytheon and is in service with about 40 countries around the world. One of the main advantages of this SD was the use of an active radar GPS on it and the presence of an inertial guidance system at the initial stage of the flight, which allowed the missile to follow the target under attack in complete silence. And it also made it possible to increase stealth due to the absence of the need to constantly highlight the target or guide the missile from the control point.

As a means of detecting aerial targets, it was decided to use a modified version of the three-coordinate radar, created on the basis of the AN/TPQ–36A type counter-battery radar and featuring a new configuration - in the AN/MPQ-64 Sentinel variant (Sentinel, Sentinel or sentinel), used as a means of detection and guidance in systems Short-range air defense (SHORAD), using modified specialized software.

Finally, the combat control and fire control system of the new air defense system was built using the developments obtained when creating an Improved Hawk type air defense system modified to meet the requirements of the Norwegian military, which received the designation NOAH (from Norwegian Adapted Hawk). It was built on the basis of a digital computer (CVM) of the KS500F model and an automated operator's workplace of the KMC9000 model, and actually integrated into a single contour of the AN/MPQ-46 target illumination radar (full name – AN/MPQ-46 High Power Illuminator Doppler Radar (HPIR), "high-energy target illumination radar of the AN type/MPQ-46") and the above-mentioned radar type AN/MPQ-64.

Later, an improved modification was developed – the NASAMS 2 type air defense system, which entered service with the air defense units of the Norwegian Ground Forces (SV) in 2006.

The NASAMS complex turned out to be a successful replacement for the Advanced Hawk air defense system. And in the 2010s, a modified and improved version of NASAMS 3 was created with an additional combat vehicle - the AIM–9X "Sidewinder" short-range UR launcher.

It was adopted by the Norwegian Armed Forces in 2019.

The NASAMS complex is in service with the air defense of the ground forces and air forces of 12 countries of the world. Including Norway, the USA (the first export customer – the US National Guard received them in 2004), Spain (the second customer – since 2005), Australia (Air Force), Hungary (Air Force), Indonesia, Qatar (Air Force), Lithuania, the Netherlands (CB), Oman (Air Force), Finland (SV) and possibly Chile.

In addition, elements of the command and fire control system developed for NASAMS have entered service with the law enforcement agencies of three more countries (Greece, Poland and Turkey), which use them in relation to other samples of air defense systems.

COMBAT CONTROL POINTThe NASAMS–type air defense system includes the following main subsystems: a combat use control point; an active target detection station - a multifunctional AN/MPQ–64F1 Sentinel radar; a passive detection station - a combined optical-

electronic and thermal imaging system NTAS (Norwegian Tracking Adjunct System, "Norwegian Auxiliary Tracking System"); AN/MPQ-46 combat control and fire control system; container–type PU; AIM-120 AMRAAM type missile defense system, as well as means of ensuring combat duty (mobile power generators, repair tools, etc.).

The control point for the combat use of the complex, designated as the Fire Distribution Center (FDC, "Center for the distribution of shooting tasks"), is located on the wheeled chassis of an army all-terrain vehicle (SUV, truck). This is the BMC4I modular center (battle management command, control, communications, computers and intelligence – "combat control, command, control, communications, computers and intelligence), used as part of existing and prospective air defense systems and surface–to-surface missile systems.

The FDC can have a different configuration and the type of chassis used. Today Kongsberg has developed and produced the following types of control points:

– BOC (Battalion Operation Center) – Battalion (Division) combat control point Air defense or battalion (division) with other weapons systems (primarily with missile systems);

– GBADOC (Ground Based Air Defense Operation Center) – a higher-level control center for the combat use of air defense forces and means;

– BFDC (HAWK) – control point for the Hawk family SAM (one control point for two anti-aircraft missile platoons);

– NASAMS FDC (AMRAAM) is a control point for the NASAMS family of air defense systems, providing combat use for manned and unmanned aerial vehicles of aircraft and helicopter types, various types of RC based, etc.;

– FDC-S (SHORAD/VSHORAD) – a control point optimized for the combat use of short-range air defense (SHORAD/VSHORAD);

– FDC – Coastal Defense – control point of coastal defense anti-ship missile systems using the Naval Strike Missile (NSM) type;

– FDC – Precision Fires is a command post for army air, missile and anti–space defense, which, according to the developer, is optimized for a wide range of combat tasks during multi–domain combat operations, primarily the use of high-precision weapons.

In total, more than 200 such control points have been delivered to date, which are integrated into the NASAMS family of air defense systems, coastal defense anti-ship missile systems with NSM (Naval Strike Missile; developed by Kongsberg), and are also included in the Hawk family of air defense systems or the headquarters of the anti-aircraft missile battalion (division).

The materials of the developer company emphasize: The FDC is a "full-fledged component of a multi-domain command and control system" and, depending on the specific configuration, is capable of solving a wide range of tasks in providing ground-based air defense/missile defense, conducting counter-battery warfare, defending its coast, as well as reconnaissance of airspace and air traffic control.

One of the features of the FDC is its construction based on the use of hardware and software design standards, which allows you to quickly introduce the latest developments and technologies into its equipment. The equipment, depending on the purpose of the weapon system in which it is included, allows the combat crew to form a single integrated picture of the air situation (Single Integrated Air Picture – SIAP) or a single integrated picture of the ground (surface) situation (Single Integrated Surface Picture – SISP), analyze the data received and share information with external points management. Moreover, it is possible to exchange data on all major types of tactical communication systems used in the armies of NATO and EU member states.

The main disadvantages of the NASAMS air defense system are considered insufficient for modern combat aircraft range and height of defeat. Photos from the website www.forsvaret.no SHARP-EYED NASAMS

The complex's detection and targeting facilities, as already noted, include an active target detection station – the multifunctional AN/MPQ-64F1 Sentinel radar, as well as a passive detection station – the combined optical-electronic and thermal imaging system NTAS.

The AN/MPQ-64 Sentinel three-coordinate multifunctional detection and guidance radar was developed by Raytheon on the basis of a standard KBB radar of the AN/TPQ-36A type in order to ensure the combat use of short-range (SHORAD) and, if necessary, ultra-short-range (VSHORAD) air defense systems.

All radar equipment is placed on a trailer that can tow an army all-terrain vehicle or a standard truck. Subsequently, an improved radar AN/MPQ-64F1 "Improved Sentinel" (Improved Sentinel) was created for NASAMS 2.

The AN/MPQ-64 Sentinel family radars are three-coordinate pulse-Doppler radars with headlights and the Mk XII state recognition system integrated into the latter by the interrogator. The radars operate in the frequency range of 8-10 GHz and are capable of searching, detecting, identifying and tracking up to 60 aerial targets simultaneously at a range of up to 75 km, as well as aiming missiles at three of them. The scanning of the airspace is carried out: by azimuth – due to the mechanical rotation of the antenna, by the angle of the seat – due to the electronic beam scanning. The transfer of the radar from the marching position to the working position – in 10 minutes.

The technology of building these radars, as the developer points out, provides them with the ability to interface with control and communication systems of various types and levels, which makes it possible to effectively use the radar as part of a number of weapons systems.

To date, according to Raytheon, more than 360 stations of the AN/MPQ-64 Sentinel family have been delivered to the United States and America's allies, and its production continues.

In October 2021, representatives of Raytheon announced that as part of the new modernization, the NASAMS 3 complex will receive a new medium–range detection radar GhostEye MR ("Ghost Eye", letters MR - from medium range, "medium range"). It includes an antenna with an S-band AFAR, developed using technology developed for the MIM-140 Patriot type air defense systems.

Combined OE is used as an auxiliary means of detection and targeting/The NTAS IR system. It provides a solution to a wide range of tasks, including passive surveillance, reconnaissance of air and ground targets, assessment of the use of missiles and damage inflicted on the enemy, checking the probable location of the source of interference, etc.

The system is based on the MSP500 kit developed by the German Rheinmetall, and allows the combat crew of the SAM to receive streaming video and information collected using surveillance equipment with optical and infrared channels. There is also a laser rangefinder. All NTAS equipment is mounted on a light army SUV and can be used not only on the spot, but also on the move. Moreover, NTAS management is possible remotely – from the FDC control point.

ROCKETS FOR EVERY TASTEThe main combat vehicle of the complex is the AIM–120 AMRAAM family of SD missiles.

The rocket is designed according to a normal aerodynamic scheme with a cruciform wing of a small area and small cruciform rudders in the tail. This design makes it possible to confidently carry out maneuvers with overloads up to 40 g, and effective maneuvering is also provided at low flight speeds.

The main material of the rocket body is steel. The propulsion system is a dual–mode solid-fuel engine running on mixed fuel (in the version of the rocket for NASAMS, a modified engine is used – with solid fuel with reduced sensitivity to explosion). The warhead is a high–explosive directed action, weighing 23 kg. Fuses – active radar and contact.

The missile is aimed at the target using a combined system that includes a command-inertial unit (at the initial and marching sections; the command line receiver is located on the rocket nozzle unit) and an active radar GPS with a range of about 20 km (at the final section). The NASAMS calculation Complex turned out to be a successful replacement for the outdated Advanced Hawk air defense system. the trajectory of the rocket flight, obtained on the basis of data on the parameters of the target movement, is stored in the memory of its onboard digital computer immediately before launch and can be adjusted in flight with the help of operator commands.

As part of the upgrades of the NASAMS complex, which were mentioned above, the composition of its combat assets was expanded to include the following missiles.

Firstly, the air–to–air missile of the extended range AMRAAM ER (ER - Extended Range, "extended range"), developed by Raytheon as part of the SLAMRAAM (Surface-Launched AMRAAM) program and actually representing the RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM), equipped with a head from AIM-120 AMRAAM with a combined guidance system.

In 2011, the SLAMRAAM program was closed by the Americans, but the idea was embodied in the NASAMS modernization program. Work began in 2014, in 2015, Raytheon announced plans to begin mass production of such missiles, and in August 2016, the first firing with the use of a new missile defense system took place. It is claimed that the new missile defense system, compared with the basic AMRAAM, has a 50% longer range and 70% higher altitude of hitting air targets.

Secondly, a short–range air-to-air missile of the AIM-9X Sidewinder family with an infrared GPS in the final section, which makes it possible to increase the effectiveness of hitting low-flying small-sized targets at the near boundary and reduce the consumption of more expensive AMRAAMs. "Sidewinders" are placed on a separate PU with rail guides, made on the chassis of an army SUV.

Missiles are stored, transported and used from transport and launch containers (TPC). In the marching position, they are positioned horizontally on the PU, and before performing rocket firing, they rise to an angle of about 300.

LAUNCHERThe NASAMS PU complex, designated as a Multi-Missile Launcher, is designed for storage, transportation and combat use of missiles and is built on the chassis of a towed trailer.

The missiles are placed on the PU in individual TPCs. Each PU is designed for six ready-to-launch missiles, which can be used with a high rate of fire at one or more targets simultaneously.

The main firing unit of the NASAMS complex is an anti–aircraft missile platoon (SAM), consisting of three AMRAAM PU, one PU with Sidewinders, AN/MPQ-64F1 Sentinel radar and a combat operations control center. The main tactical unit is an anti–aircraft missile battery (in Western terminology, a battalion), which includes three or four air defense systems, as a result of which there can be up to 12 AMRAAM and up to 72 ready–to-use missiles in the battery, as well as up to four Sidewinder missiles and up to 16 ready-to-use missiles. the application of the ZUR. As part of the battery, all its elements are combined into a single tactical information network in such a way that any of the AN/MPQ-64F1 Sentinel stations available in each air defense system can replace all the others that can be disabled or comply with the camouflage mode.

PU features: the ability to transmit target designation data to the rocket immediately before launch or after launch; reliable design that works effectively in various climatic and geographical conditions; simple maintenance and the possibility of repair in the field; low operating cost; the possibility of transportation by road, rail, sea and air transport.

Currently, according to Kongsberg, the NASAMS family of SAM launchers allow the use of medium-range AIM-120 AMRAAM B/C5/C7 modifications and improved extended-range AMRAAM ER missiles in the land-based missile system version. The use of the AIM-9X "Sidewinder" UR family is carried out from a separate self-propelled PU on the wheeled chassis of an army SUV. With the latter, AMRAAM missiles can also be used: in the standard version, a package of four rail guides is placed on the machine, and in the reinforced version – of six guides, of which four can be used for AMRAAM, and two for AIM–9X Sidewinder.

In order to reduce the response time to commands and improve the efficiency of the air defense batteries spaced over a large area – at a distance of up to 20 km from the combat control point of the complex – all PU are usually interconnected and KP through a communication system operating in hard-real-time (hard-real-time communication network).

PROS, CONS AND PROSPECTSThe NASAMS complex turned out to be a successful replacement for the outdated Advanced Hawk air defense system.

The new air defense system became more mobile and required significantly less time to transfer to a combat position from a marching position and, conversely, had a shorter reaction time and had a longer range and height of defeat, was able to effectively hit the most important of them, experts consider the range and height of defeat insufficient for modern combat aircraft, both high-speed and low-speed and inconspicuous air targets, and could also accompany and fire at a larger number of them. A significant difference was a significant four–fold reduction in the number of combat crew, as well as the possibility of transportation by all modes of transport.

An important achievement was the introduction of the principle of modularity, the open architecture of the "radio-electronic board" of the complex and the possibility of operational interface of the latter with various types of systems and facilities. According to the developer, NASAMS complexes of various modifications have been successfully tested for effectiveness in joint actions with other, longer–range air defense and missile defense systems, such as the Patriot family of SAMs.

Thanks to the combat capabilities of the new SAM and its distinctive features – first of all, high mobility and long range – the Norwegians managed to significantly increase the effectiveness of the protection of military units and important state, military and industrial facilities of their country. The combat operation of these SAMs can be even more effective when using external target designation sources, such as long-range radar detection and control aircraft (AWACS), etc.

According to Kongsberg, during the conducted training and combat firing on various types of targets, a total of 228 missile defense launches were carried out, of which more than 91% were recognized as successful. The cumulative time of continuous operation of individual complexes of this family while on combat duty or at various exercises exceeded the milestone of 140 thousand hours.

However, like any other type of weapon, the Norwegian-American SAM is not without drawbacks. Experts consider the range and height of destruction insufficient for modern combat aircraft to be the most important of them, as well as restrictions on the mobility of the complex due to the placement of the PU on the chassis of a towed trailer. There are complaints about individual samples of electronic equipment used in NASAMS complexes.

On the other hand, it is possible that in the future the developer will carry out work on the modernization of the SAM in order to eliminate shortcomings and increase its combat potential. So, in March 2022, Raytheon Intelligence & Space specialists demonstrated the possibility of using a high-energy combat laser HELWS (High Energy Laser Weapon System – "A weapon system based on a high-energy laser") in the NASAMS-type air defense system circuit to repel a swarm of enemy drones. During the firing, the combat crew of the HELWS system received target designation data from the FDC control center of the NASAMS complex, after which it took the targets for escort and then destroyed them at a "tactically significant distance". According to the Americans, during the training battle, a laser cannon destroyed nine drones of the "group 1" and "group 2".

Vladimir Shcherbakov

Deputy Executive Editor of HBOVladimir Leonidovich Shcherbakov is a military expert, historian, and writer.

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The material is placed by the copyright holder in the public domain
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Comments [3]
03.02.2023 12:30
С С-300 не комплексируется, надеюсь))
04.02.2023 01:45
Наши один ,,молот" уже сломали...
09.02.2023 13:22
Ну да, главное обнаружить и быстро ответить с дистанции.
Интересно, конечно, узнать про эффективность наших комплексов РЭБ.
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