And, sadly aware of this, with the introduction of the LRASM into service, the American fleet not only finally fixes its absolute dominance on the maritime expanses, but also threatens the combat sustainability of the naval component of the strategic nuclear forces of the Russian Federation. But first things first.
So what is LRASM? This is the latest anti-ship weapon created on the basis of high-precision cruise missiles of the JASSM family already in service with the US Air Force. It makes sense to consider in more detail what they are.
In 1995, the US armed forces wanted to get a cruise missile for striking at stationary ground targets, and their flight range should be sufficient to launch such missiles outside the air defense zone of potential adversaries. This requirement was primarily due to the fact that it was originally intended to equip strategic B-52 bombers, by definition incapable of operating in a zone of strong enemy air defense. Subsequently, it was envisaged to "train" the missile to "work" with tactical aviation, including F-15E, F-16, F / A-18, F-35. Initially, it was assumed that the missile would be in demand by both the Air Force and the Navy (it was assumed that 5 JASSMs would be purchased, including 350 for the Air Force and 4 for the Navy).
The above requirements have defined the shape of a future rocket. It was supposed to be light enough for tactical aircraft to carry it, and the need to independently overcome powerful air defense required the use of stealth technology.
In 2003, the US Air Force received the AGM-158 JASSM, the characteristics of which at that time looked quite satisfactory. A subsonic rocket weighing 1020 kg was able to deliver an 454-kg warhead to a range of 360 kilometers. Unfortunately, the JASSM EPR parameters are not exactly known, but they are clearly less than the old Tomahawks: some sources indicated an EPR in the size of 0,08-0,1 sq. M. The control system was, in general, classical for cruise missiles — inertial, with corrected by GPS and terrain (TERCOM). At the end, precise guidance was performed by the infrared homing system. The deviation, according to some sources, did not exceed 3 m. Flight altitude - to 20 meters.
In general, the Americans turned out quite successful rocket, capable of hitting including protected targets. One of the variants of its warhead contained the main part, whose shell consisted of a tungsten alloy and contained 109 kg of explosives and accelerating the blast container, which gave the main warhead additional acceleration, thanks to which it could pierce up to 2 meters of concrete.
Despite the fact that the Navy eventually came out of the JASSM program and preferred a missile based on the Garpun anti-ship missile system SLAM-ER, the AGM-158 JASSM was favorably received by the US Air Force. In 2004 g, the development of its modification started, which was designated JASSM-ER. The new rocket, while maintaining speed, the EPR and the warhead of the AGM-158 JASSM received a range increased to 980 km (according to some data - to 1300 km), and its dimensions, if increased, are insignificant. Such an increase was achieved by using a more economical engine and increasing the capacity of the fuel tanks.
And besides, JASSM-ER has become more “smart” than the missiles of the previous types. For example, it implemented such a function as “time to goal”. The rocket itself could change the speed limit and route in such a way as to launch an attack at the appointed time. In other words, several successively launched rockets from one ship, a pair of missiles from a B-1B bomber and one more, with the F-15E, despite the difference during launch and flight range, can attack one (or several targets) with the same time.
Now let's see what happened in the US Navy. In 2000, anti-ship modifications of the Tomahawk missile were decommissioned and the US Navy lost its only long-range anti-ship missile. From this, the Americans are not too upset, because TASM (Tomahawk Anti-Ship Missile) was much like a stupid weapon system. Its undoubted advantage was the ability to fly 450 km (according to other data - 550 km), and to do it at an ultra-low height of the order of 5 meters, which made the rocket extremely difficult to detect. But its subsonic speed led to the fact that during the half hour of the flight from the moment of launch, the target could be greatly displaced in space from the initial position (the ship going on 30 nodes overcomes almost 28 kilometers in half an hour), that is, it turned out to be out of the “field of vision” of low-flying rockets. And, not least, the carrier-based aviation of the Americans could strike far far distances, which made the joint actions of TASM and the Hornets with Intruders practically impossible.
For about a decade, the US Navy was satisfied with the "Harpoons", but nevertheless it should be recognized - despite all the modifications, this very successful rocket for its time was pretty outdated. The range of the latest modifications did not exceed 280 km, and the rocket did not fit in the standard for the American fleet the Mk 41 universal launcher, requiring a specialized deck launcher, which, in general, negatively affected the cost and radar visibility of the ship.
In addition, reductions in the armed forces led to a reduction in the number of aircraft carriers in the US Navy, the number of promising air groups also underwent a reduction, and “on the horizon” Chinese aircraft carrier ambitions loomed. All this made the command of the US Navy think about the "long arm" for their ship groups. And it is not surprising that JASSM-ER was chosen as the prototype for this purpose. There is already a well-developed platform, and "stealth", and relatively small dimensions, allowing to make a new rocket universal, that is, applicable with deck and tactical aircraft, strategic bombers and any carriers.
In 2009, the Americans began to develop a subsonic anti-ship missile LRASM. The development was quite fast, to date, the rocket tests have entered the final stage and it is expected that in 2018 g rocket will be adopted for service.
What kind of rocket will the US Navy get?
In principle, this is all the same JASSM-ER, but ... with a number of the most interesting “additives”. Strictly speaking, there is a feeling that the Americans most carefully studied everything they could find from Soviet anti-ship missiles, and then tried to realize the best of what they had found.
LRASM test results in 2013 g. Target hit.
1) The rocket also uses an inertial guidance system, is capable of skirting the terrain, and can build complex routes. That is, for example, it, being launched from the ocean and many hundreds of kilometers from the earth, may well reach the coast, make a circle above it, and attack a target ship moving along the coast from the coastline. It is clear that a rocket that suddenly jumps out from behind the hills, attacking against the background of the underlying surface will be a very difficult target for the ship's anti-aircraft gunners.
2) Active-passive seeker. Actually, in the USSR something else was used on the “Granites”. The idea is as follows - the active homing head is, in fact, a mini-radar, which determines the parameters of the target and enables the rocket computer to adjust the direction of flight. But any radar can be suppressed by interference, and the noise generators on the ship can be installed very powerful. In this case, "Granite" ... just led to the source of interference. As far as the author knows, such active-passive seeker has been installed on all USSR / RF missiles since the 80s of the last century. This was an advantage of our missiles, but now the United States also has LRASM using multi-mode active-passive radar.
3) The ability to determine a priority target and attack it, without being distracted by the others. This can and Soviet / Russian missiles. In principle, the old "Tomahawk" also knew how to aim at the largest goal, but did not have an identification of "friend or foe", therefore the areas of its use should be chosen very carefully.
4) Opto-electronic guidance system. According to some data, LRASM has not only radar, but also an optical homing system, which allows to visually identify targets. If this information is reliable, then we will have to state that today LRASM has the most sophisticated and noise-proof guidance system among all the anti-ship missiles in the world. As far as the author knows, the Russian anti-ship missiles are not equipped with anything like this.
5) EW block. Heavy anti-ship missiles of the USSR were equipped with special EW units designed to make it difficult for the enemy to destroy our missiles and thus make it easier for them to break through to target ships. Whether there are similar blocks on modern anti-ship versions of Onyxes and Calibrov — the author doesn’t know, but there are some on LRASM.
6) "Grace". At one time, the USSR was able to realize the exchange of data between heavy anti-ship missiles, but the United States did not have anything like it. However, now the principle “sees one — they see everything” is also true for American missiles — by exchanging information, they dramatically increase the noise immunity of the group and make it possible to distribute targets between individual missiles. By the way, it is not known whether such data exchange has been implemented on our Onyxes and Gauges. I would like to believe that it is implemented, but because of secrecy they keep mum ... The only thing that is more or less reliably known is that the "Caliber", in the absence of a target in the area where it was supposed to be, can climb 400 m in order to carry it out Search.
7) Range - according to various data from 930 to 980 km. In principle, the USSR had Vulkan missiles, according to some data, flying on 1000 km (most sources still give 700 km), but still today the Vulkan is outdated. Unfortunately, it is completely unknown how far the anti-ship versions “Caliber” and “Onyx” fly - there is reason to assume that their range can be not km 350-375 km, but 500-800 km, but these are only guesses. In general, it can be assumed that the LRASM in terms of range exceeds all the RCCs available to the Russian Navy.
8) Rocket flight altitude. Supersonic Soviet anti-ship missiles and the Russian Onyx have some decent range only when combined flight trajectory (when the flight takes place at high altitude and only before the attack the missiles go to low altitudes). The “caliber” flies on the 20 m, falling before the attack, and the altitude of the 20 m is announced for LRASM.
9) Warhead weight. From this point of view, LRASM occupies an intermediate position between the heavy anti-ship missiles of the USSR, which (according to various data) had warheads from 500 to 750 kg and modern Caliber and Onyx missiles that have a 200-300 kg combat unit.
10) Versatility. Here, LRASM has an obvious advantage over the ASR of the Soviet Union, since their enormous mass and dimensions required the creation of specialized carriers, both surface and underwater, and these missiles could not be stationed completely on airplanes. At the same time, the LRASM can be used by any ship that has the United States UkP Mk 41, as well as tactical and strategic aircraft and, of course, deck aircraft. The only drawback of LRASM is that it was not “taught” to work from a submarine, but Lockheed Martin, the developer, is threatening to correct this shortcoming, would have been an order from the US Navy. Accordingly, it is possible to speak about an approximate parity of universality with “Caliber” - but not “Onyx”. The thing is that domestic missiles of these types are significantly heavier than LRASM, and although it seems that work is currently under way to “tie” them to airplanes, this will be more difficult. In addition, ceteris paribus, a heavier rocket will either reduce the aircraft’s ammunition load or reduce its flight range. LRASM hardly weighs more than 1100-1200 kg (it is likely that its weight remained at the level of JASSM-ER, ie, 1020-1050 kg), while the anti-ship versions of the Caliber - 1800 - 2300 kg, and " Onyx "and at all 3000 kg. On the other hand, Russian missiles without problems “were registered” on domestic submarines, including atomic ones, while the LRASM still has a hitch with it.
11) Stealth. The only domestic rocket that can have some similar EPR indicators with the American LRASM is the “Caliber”, but ... not the fact that it has.
12) Speed - everything is simple here. The American rocket is subsonic, while the Soviet heavy anti-ship missiles and the Russian Onyx are supersonic, and only the Caliber is a subsonic Russian missile.
It is known that when developing a new anti-ship missile, the Americans considered the development of not only a subsonic rocket (LRASM-A), but also a supersonic rocket (LRASM-B), but later abandoned the supersonic version, focusing on the subsonic one. What is the reason for this decision?
The first is that lately the Americans have been trying to minimize the costs of R & D (as strange as it may sound), and they would have to develop a supersonic anti-ship missile from scratch: they simply have no such experience. Not that Americans are not able to make supersonic rockets, they can, of course. But on the whole, the volume and cost of work on such a rocket were substantially higher than those of the subsonic RCC project. At the same time, there remained a considerable risk of doing “as in Russia, only worse,” because we have been engaged in supersonic rockets for a decade now and it is very difficult to catch up with the Russian Federation on this issue.
The second - in fact, oddly enough it sounds for some, but the supersonic RCC does not today have any fundamental advantages over subsonic. And a lot here depends on the concept of the use of anti-ship missiles.
Supersonic RCC overcomes the distance much faster than subsonic, and this gives it a lot of advantages. The same "Volcano", with its cruising speed in 2,5, the mach overcomes 500 km in a little more than 10 minutes - during this time even a high-speed ship, following 30 nodes, will not have time to go 10 kilometers. Thus, a supersonic rocket that has received a “fresh” target designation, in general, does not need to look for a target ship upon arrival at the site.
In addition, it is very difficult to intercept a supersonic rocket by means of a ship’s air defense — the Soviet heavy anti-ship missiles, finding the target, left at low altitudes, hiding behind a radio horizon, and then arising from it at 1,5 M speed (almost twice as fast ” Harpoon "). As a result, the American ship had literally 3-4 minutes to knock down the Soviet "monster" before it had gone to low altitude, and during that time it was necessary to do everything - to detect the target, issue the control center, take it to the accompaniment of the backlight radar ( in the last century, the US Navy did not have missiles with active seeker) to launch missiles in such a way that it had enough time to fly to the Soviet RCC. Taking into account the real (and not tabular) reaction time, which is far from the worst British air defense systems in the Falkland Islands (“Sea Dart”, “Su Wolfe”), it’s not that hopeless, but very unpromising. The same “Xie Wolfe” at the maneuvers managed to shoot down 114-mm artillery shells in flight, but in battle sometimes did not have time to fire a subsonic attack aircraft flying over the ship. And if we also recall the presence of EW units on Soviet missiles. ... Well, after the multi-toned anti-ship missile system emerged from beyond the horizon and until it hit the ship’s side it was barely a minute, by and large, only EW could be protected from it.
But for every advantage you have to pay. The problem is that a low-altitude flight is much more energy-intensive than a long one, therefore, domestic RCCs, having a range along the combined trajectory at the level of 550-700 km, at a low altitude could barely overcome 145-200 km. Accordingly, rockets had to travel most of the way at altitudes above 10 km (data for different types of rockets differ, reaching in some sources up to 18-19 km). In addition, supersonic rocket units require a lot of air, respectively, there is a need for large air intakes, which greatly increase the EPR of the rocket. Large ESR and altitude do not allow the supersonic rocket to be made as unobtrusive as it is. During a flight at high altitude, such a rocket is quite vulnerable to the effects of enemy aircraft and can be hit by air-to-air missiles.
In other words, the supersonic RCC relies on a short reaction time. Yes, it can be seen well and from afar, but it leaves the enemy a little time to counter.
In contrast, the subsonic rocket is able to sneak at low altitude; many stealth elements can be implemented on it. Because of the low altitude of the flight, such a missile cannot be seen by the ship’s radar until the rocket comes out of the radio horizon (25-30 km) and only then will it be possible to shoot at it and use EW equipment. In this case, until a rocket hits at a speed of 800 km / h, approximately 2,5 minutes remain, that is, the reaction time of the ship's missile defense is also extremely limited. But the same 500 km such a rocket will overcome for almost 38 minutes, giving the enemy, who have air reconnaissance equipment, much more opportunities to detect these missiles, after which they can be destroyed, including with the use of fighters. In addition, during the approach time of the subsonic RCC, target ships can be greatly displaced in space, and then you need to look for them. This is not a problem if the attacking side can control the movement of the enemy order and, accordingly, correct the flight of the missiles, but if this is not possible, then you will have to rely solely on the “intelligence” of the missiles themselves, and this is better not to do.
Why did the USSR develop supersonic rockets in the first place? Because our Navy was preparing to act in the conditions of the information domination of the US Navy, "under the hood" of their reconnaissance aircraft. Accordingly, it would be difficult to count on the fact that subsonic RCCs will remain undetected at the cruising site and will not be attacked by the US carrier-based aviation, and in addition, pre-warned ships could drastically change the course and speed in order to avoid contact. It was more effective to attack with supersonic missiles, relying on the short reaction time that such missiles leave to enemy weapons. In addition, the rapid exit of the missiles to the target did not give the American ship order a chance to evade the maneuver.
Launch PKR "Granit" from "Peter the Great"
But the Americans have completely different reasons. A typical operation to destroy an enemy shipboard attack group (KUG) would look like this - using the satellite or long-range DRLO-patrol, it detects an enemy's KUG, an air patrol is sent to it - the DRLO aircraft under the cover of the EW plane and the fighters control the movement of the KUG from a safe distance (300 km and more) Next is the launch of cruise missiles. Well, yes, they will arrive at a goal that finds itself at a distance of, say, 800-900 km from the American squadron in almost an hour, but the Americans have this hour - it is guaranteed by the dominance of the US carrier-based aviation in the air. During the flight, the RCC route is adjusted for the movement of the CUG and the chosen attack pattern. RCC, hiding from shipborne radars behind the radio horizon, occupy lines for attack, and then, at the appointed time, begins a massive raid of RCC from different sides.
That is, for Americans who are able to provide and control the movements of target ships and protect their missiles from detection and attack in the air, the speed of the anti-ship missiles is no longer a critical factor and, accordingly, they are fully capable of effectively using subsonic anti-ship missiles.
But LRASM can be applied quite effectively outside the dominance of US aviation. The fact is that due to its small EPR, even such Monsters as an A-50U can detect a missile of this type at a distance of 80-100 km, which is not so much. We also have to keep in mind that the radiating DRLO aircraft unmasks itself, and the route of the missiles can be rebuilt in such a way as to go around the detection zone of the Russian DRLO patrol.
In a possible confrontation between the American and Chinese fleets, the emergence of LRASM puts "check and check" to the Chinese. Not only that their aircraft carriers do not have reconnaissance aircraft somewhat comparable to the American carrier deck, and moreover, American ejection floating atomic aerodromes are capable of sending far more aircraft than the springboard Chinese, so now, by using "long hands ”in the form of LRASM, Americans can reduce the number of strike aircraft, respectively, increasing the number of aircraft to gain air superiority, thereby creating an overwhelming quantitative superiority.
How dangerous are new US anti-ship missiles for our strategic nuclear forces?
The fact is that in a threatening period, our fleets will need to ensure the deployment of strategic missile submarines, and for this it is necessary to cover the water areas in which this deployment will take place. Given the multiple superiority in the number of multi-purpose submarines (against one of our submarines, Americans have at least three of their own), this task can be solved only by the extreme tension of all submarine, surface and air forces at our disposal. A big role here could be played by corvettes and frigates deployed in a “fishing net” in the protected area, including by virtue of their ability to receive and maintain anti-submarine helicopters.
However, with the adoption of LRASM, the Americans are able to destroy such a “trapping network” deployed, for example, in the Barents Sea, within an hour, in full force and only one. To do this, they will need only 2-3 destroyer "Arly Burke", a pair of DRLO aircraft to open the surface situation and air patrol fighters for air cover. All this can be provided both from the coast of Norway and the deck of an aircraft carrier on these shores. Reveal the location of Russian ships, launch rockets, "ordering" them to attack targets at exactly 00.00 and ... everything.
However good the air defenses of an Admiral Gorshkov type frigate might be, they will not be able to repel a simultaneous strike of ten LRASMs (just like Arly Burk will not repel a strike of ten Calibres). Price issue? According to some data, the cost of one LRASM CRP is 3 million. The cost of one Admiral Gorshkov frigate was estimated to be higher than 400 million. (According to other data, 550 million.) justified.
In general, we can state the following. The LRASM anti-ship missile is a very formidable sea battle weapon, at least equal, but rather, still superior to what the Russian Navy has at its disposal, including even such “advanced” weapons as Onyx and Caliber. In 2018 g, when Americans adopt the LRASM, for the first time in all history confrontation our fleet will lose its superiority in long-range anti-ship missiles, which he possessed for many decades.
In essence, it can be said that the Soviet Navy was developing a "rocket" evolution, choosing anti-ship long-range missiles as its main weapon. In contrast to this, the US Navy went "aircraft carrier" by laying the task of destroying enemy surface forces on carrier-based aircraft. Each of these paths had its own advantages and disadvantages.
We were the first to realize the fallacy of such a separation, starting the construction of aircraft carriers in addition to powerful submarines and surface-launched missile carriers, as well as naval rocket-carrying aircraft, but the collapse of the USSR destroyed these undertakings. But in practice, the Americans will be the first to combine the advantages of the "rocket" and "aircraft carrier" approach. With the entry into service of the LRASM, they receive a "long rocket arm" capable of operating at approximately the same distance as their own carrier-based aircraft, and this will make their fleet much stronger.
The appearance of the hypersonic "Zircon" may return us to the superiority in anti-ship missile weapons, but it may not return - everything will depend on the actual characteristics of the newest missile. But you need to understand that even if the Zircon in all respects surpasses LRASM - henceforth our fleet will be confronted by a much more formidable opponent than before. Regardless of whether we get “Zircon” or not, the US Navy gets a powerful “long arm” and it will be much more difficult to fight them.
Thank you for attention!