In January 2018, the President of the Russian Federation, speaking at the Kazan Aviation Plant, announced the start of a program to resume the release of the upgraded Tu-160m2 bomber. He said that by the year 2027 it is planned to release 10 units. However, the President did not mention that the Ministry of Defense plans to continue production up to 2035 and to produce 50 Tu-160m2. Justification of the need for such a program was not cited.
Next, consider whether the costs of this program will be justified.
1. The history of the creation and comparative characteristics of the aircraft Tu-160
In 1961, the United States began research on a program to create a new strategic bomber with a maximum speed of 2200 km / h. A competition was announced at 1969, and Rockwell won it at 1970. The first flight of a B1974-a bomber took place at 1. After manufacturing prototypes in the United States decided that the use of supersonic speed is unprofitable, since it is better to overcome air defense at extremely low altitudes and subsonic speeds. In addition, the rejection of supersonic speeds can increase the combat load through the use of external suspensions. Thus, the value of the efficiency / cost criterion increases for the subsonic variant. As a result, it was decided to save financing and move on to the production of the B-1b variant, the maximum speed of which is 1300 km / h. The result was a plane with a maximum take-off weight of 216 tons and a length of 45 meters. In 1988, the aircraft construction program was completed.
In 1967, the USSR decided to respond, and an order was issued to create its own strategic bomber, and a competition was announced for its creation. The proposals of Myasishchev and Sukhoi were presented, but the competition was won by OKB im. Tupolev. Design began in 1975. The first option was created according to the “tailless” scheme, then switched to the normal scheme with four engines under the fuselage, and only after that switched to the scheme similar to B-1a. The customer did not dare to reduce the maximum speed and save money, so “bargaining is not appropriate here”, and kept the requirements to ensure the maximum speed of the Tu-160 equal to 2200 km / h. As a result, the mass of the Tu-160 increased to 275 tons, and the length increased by 10 meters. The thrust of the engines of such a heavier aircraft had to be increased by a factor of 2–3 compared with the B-1b. At the same time, the maximum combat load of the Tu-160 was slightly less than that of the B-1b. The first flight of the Tu-160 took place in 1981. By the time of the collapse of the USSR in the 184th aviation The regiment was delivered 21 aircraft.
The radar visibility of the aircraft is determined by the size of its effective dispersion surface (EPR).
Data on the values of EPR combat aircraft in the open literature are not given. Therefore, we will continue to focus on the averaged estimates of various experts. The list contains a rough estimate of the EPR values of US strategic aviation aircraft and, for comparison, the ESR of a typical US F-15 fighter: B-52 - 100 sq.m .; B-1b - less than 10 square meters; B-2 - 0.01 square meters; F-15 - 3-4 sq. M.
In the development of B-1b, great importance was attached to measures to reduce its ESR. On most airplanes, the brightest reflective elements are air intakes. In the air intakes of B-1b, special grilles and radio-absorbing coatings were used that prevent the penetration of radio waves inside. The development of the Tu-160 began in the 70-ies for obsolete requirements, that is, the main attention was paid to ensuring long-range flight, and not to reduce its visibility. To ensure supersonic flight speed, the Tu-160 air intakes were increased compared to the B-1b. If we take into account the increased dimensions of the aircraft, we find that the ESR value of the Tu-160 is between the EPR values of B-1b and B-52, that is, several times (denoted by n times) exceeds the ESR of B-1b. During the operation of the aircraft several attempts have been made to reduce the EPR air intakes by applying radio-absorbing coatings, but it is not known what the outcome was.
When flying at subsonic speeds, the increased power of the Tu-160 engines leads to an increase in the visibility of radiation in the infrared (IR) range. However, a sharp increase in IR visibility occurs when switching to supersonic speeds, when increased fuel consumption leads to such an increase in IR radiation that enemy fighters can be induced by the Tu-160, even without including its own on-board radar (BRLS) 160 may not know about the fact of the start of the attack fighter.
Any aircraft of strategic aviation (SA) the vast majority of the route flies at subsonic speeds, at altitudes of the order of 10 km. Flying at maximum speed at the Tu-160 can be used only at a distance of a few percent of the total route length. Consequently, the maximum speed mode can only be used for one-time separation from enemy pursuing fighters.
To suppress the air defense radar, the B-1b is equipped with an ALQ-161 high-power electronic countermeasure complex (EW). Only the power consumption of this complex comes to 120 kW. Since the Tu-160 EPR is n times higher, the power of its EW complex must also be n times greater. The development of such an EW complex will cause great technical difficulties and increase the cost of the aircraft. The increase in the radiated power of interference significantly complicates the work of all other aircraft radio systems, in particular, the radio intelligence system. In addition, the increase in power consumption of the EW complex will increase the load on the power supply and cooling system, which will significantly increase the weight of the equipment.
At present, there has been an improvement in the enemy’s air defense combat capabilities, due to the advent of radars using active phased antenna arrays (AFAR). Such antennas allow the reception of several rays at once in space, which makes it possible to track all targets and jammers separately more effectively than previous generations of radars. Consequently, even in the presence of EW complexes, it will not be possible to hide such a highly visible target as the Tu-160 in the future.
The only CA aircraft made using Stealth technology and capable of penetrating air defense systems is the US B-2 aircraft. In addition to a small EPR, it also has a low IR visibility, since it uses a wide engine nozzle that allows cooling the exhaust gas stream.
It is known that the target detection range of any radar is proportional to the root of the fourth degree of the EPR goal. Therefore, the detection range of B-2 will be, according to the list, ten times less than the detection range of B-52. As a result, B-2 can find "holes" in the enemy's air defense, where the distance to the nearest air defense radar is at least 50-70 km, and penetrate deep into the territory. If there are no such “holes”, then B-2 can penetrate through the air defense zone at extremely low altitudes, hiding behind the terrain. However, the extreme high cost of such an aircraft (around 2bn. $) Makes it problematic to build its analogue aircraft - PAK DA in Russia.
2. The main tasks solved SA
Since SA airplanes are extremely expensive and consume tens to hundreds of tons of fuel per flight, they can only be used to destroy the most important targets, for example, command posts in the territory of the most powerful enemy or carrier-based multi-purpose groups. A single tank or boat in the nomenclature of the main objectives is not included. In Russia, the need to manufacture SA aircraft is justified by the need to preserve the nuclear triad. In this triad, the SA plays the role of delivering a second nuclear retaliatory strike. At the same time, it is believed that after the enemy inflicts a first strike on the territory of the Russian Federation, SA aircraft will be able to survive it due to the fact that they will rise into the air. At the same time, the first retaliatory strike is delivered using intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). After evaluating the results of the first strike, the second strike is delivered by SA aircraft at the moment when they fly up to the enemy’s territory. These aircraft are armed with strategic cruise missiles (TFR), whose range can reach 4000-5000 km. TFR fly at subsonic speeds, and their survival is ensured by flying at extremely low altitudes. TFRs are manufactured using Stealth technology, and their ESR is hundredths of m X NUMX. Since the TFRs are “trying” to fly in the lowlands of the area, they can only be detected by the radar when they are passing close to this radar (2-20 km), or are forced to climb up to overcome the obstacle. Therefore, to detect the TFR, the enemy will use AWACS long-range radar detection (AWACS) airplanes, which can detect typical TFRs from above at ranges up to 40 km.
2.1 Tactics of striking targets in North America
Strikes on the United States can only be carried out during flights over the North Pole, since the route across the Atlantic Ocean is blocked by the means of observing NATO air defense. In addition, the US coastline is protected by aerostatic radar. When flying over the Arctic Ocean, the probability of finding a Tu-160 is small. In the northern part of Canada (along 70 ° N) the Dew radar line is located. As part of this line are powerful radar, providing long-range detection of high-altitude targets. Between these radars there are several pieces of small radars that must detect only low-altitude targets. Therefore, to overcome this line imperceptible - for the Tu-160 is unrealistic either at high or at low altitude.
If an attempt is made to destroy several Dew radars and break through into the resulting gap, this attempt will be stopped in the shortest possible time by raising fighters from internal airfields in Canada. Guidance of these fighters will be carried out using AWACS AWACS aircraft. A similar result will be obtained if an attempt is made to suppress the Dew line radar with the help of EW complexes.
Consequently, the Tu-160 should, for 100-400 km to the Dew line, launch the TFR and return unnoticed.
2.2. Stage flight TFR
We assume that using the terrain, most of the TFR will go through the Dew line unnoticed. However, it is enough for one or two TFRs to be detected, how the AWACS aircraft, which are capable of detecting TFRs at distances up to 100 km, will be lifted into the air. When AWACS detects a group of TFRs, it begins to fly after them and constantly adjusts the guidance of the fighters until the destruction of the entire detected group. Further, over the territory of Canada, the TFR will have to overcome the middle and southern line of the radar warning. Given that the distance from the Dew line to targets in the United States (for example, Washington), the distance is about 4000 km, the flight time of the TFR will be more than 5 hours. During this time, the TFR can be detected by any radar, including civilian radar air traffic control and casual observers. When approaching the territory of the United States, additional AWACS will be raised, and some of the TFRs that break the northern line of defense will be intercepted in front of the northern border of the United States. As a result, only an insignificant part of the launched TFR can reach the goal.
Thus, we conclude that the application of nuclear strikes using the TFR is clearly unprofitable due to the large losses of the TFR on the track and the corresponding loss of nuclear weapons. That is, it is more profitable to use an ICBM. ICBMs reach the targets they are hit with a probability close to one, since the US missile defense system with a massive ICBM raid can hit no more than 3-5 units.
The use of TFR with conventional warheads is also problematic, since the mass of the warhead does not exceed 300-500kg. Therefore, such a TFR will not be able to cause great damage.
2.3. Attack of the carrier multipurpose group (AMG)
Typical AMG consists of an aircraft carrier and escort ships - up to 10 pcs. Ships can be located at distances up to 5-10 km from the aircraft carrier. The protection of an aircraft carrier is usually provided by 2 destroyers of the Orly Burke type, equipped with the Aegis air defense system. The task of these destroyers is to cause "fire on themselves", that is, with the help of interference would hide the position of the remaining ships AMG. Under the conditions of interference, anti-ship missiles (ASM) fired from airplanes of SA will be guided to the sources of this interference, that is, the destroyers themselves. The Aegis air defense system has enough potential to destroy any modern anti-ship missiles.
AMG has a layered defense. Information support for the frontier line of defense is made through the use of deck aircraft DRLO E-2C "Hokkai". The duty zone of these aircraft is taken out from the aircraft carrier at a distance of about 300 km. Thus, the detection range of enemy aircraft in the direction of the danger reaches 800 km from the aircraft carrier.
To attack an aircraft carrier, attacking CA aircraft must detect it with a radar. To do this, the Tu-160 must reach the line of sight, that is, go to the AMG at a distance less than the range of the radio horizon, which, depending on the height of the flight, is 400-450 km. Such a maneuver is extremely dangerous, as the aircraft carrier has a pair of duty fighters delivered at 300-500 km in the period of the threat of war. After the discovery of the “Hakkay” attacks of the Tu-160, these fighters will have time to intercept the Tu-160 until it leaves the horizon. If there are still no fighters and the Tu-160 approaches the range of the radio horizon, the destroyers will turn on the EW complexes, and on the radar indicators instead of target markers will appear the sector illuminated by interference. Launching the anti-ship missiles in such conditions is ineffective, since the radar homing heads of the anti-ship missiles can detect a ship at short distances and bring them to the ship with small errors. When the interference does not work, the radar should not only determine the current coordinates of the aircraft carrier, but also calculate its course. The need for this is due to the fact that the flight of the anti-ship missiles lasts about 20 minutes, and the ships, during this time, can shift to 10-15 km.
Typical anti-ship missiles can be detected by Hokkai aircraft at a distance of more than 100 km from it, and fighters can be aimed at anti-ship missiles by targeting Hokkaya.
As a result, we come to the conclusion that it is extremely difficult to organize an effective aircraft carrier attack in the ocean, since it threatens with great losses both for bombers and anti-ship missiles.
3. Problems solved in non-core theaters of war
The entrance to the central European air defense zone for the Tu-160 is excluded completely. The density of the radar and NATO fighter jets is so high that the Tu-160 can penetrate the air defense zone only under the cover of a large number of its own fighters. At the same time, penetration is possible only in those areas where there is no long-range air defense system.
In this situation, the meaning of the use of SA is unclear, since strikes are much easier to inflict with front-line bombers, whose survival is many times greater. The Tu-160 is unable to undertake intensive maneuvers to avoid enemy attacks and even anti-aircraft guns.
The experience of 08.08.2008 events in Georgia showed that the presence of a small number of even the most ineffective Buk air defense systems at the enemy is extremely dangerous for heavy bombers, namely the Tu-22m2 was shot down on the very first departure. Therefore, the only area of application of the SA remains areas where the enemy has almost no air defense, for example, in Syria. However, even in this situation, the use of Su-27, Su-34 aircraft is much more efficient and safer, since the probability of hitting small-sized aircraft with enemy anti-aircraft installations is much less than that of Tu-160.
Example: in 1986, the United States Air Force delivered a massive attack on Tripoli, but they did not use the SA, but used the X-NUMX F-20 front-line bombers (similar to Su-111), based in Scotland. To ensure a long flight, these bombers several times to refuel in the air. The result was a powerful blow, and, despite the presence of many Soviet-made air defense systems, not a single F-24 was shot down.
4. About the passenger version
In his speech, the President mentioned that it is possible to consider the option of building a supersonic passenger aircraft based on the Tu-160. Such a statement can only testify to the quality of the decisions prepared by various lobbyists for the Presidential Administration. The construction of this option is completely excluded for the following reasons:
• Tu-160 can reach speeds of 2200 km / h only when using an afterburner engine, which leads to multiple fuel consumption and is completely unacceptable for a passenger plane.
• A passenger plane flies most of the distance at a constant height and speed, that is, it does not need to use the variable geometry of the wing.
• The bomber fuselage is always much narrower than that of a passenger aircraft of similar design.
• Commercial aircraft are justified only when they are used extensively. There are hardly any corresponding airlines in Russia, the use on foreign lines is hardly possible.
Thus, the passenger version of the Tu-160 needs a complete redesign of the structure and is likely to coincide with the Tu-144. In this case, it will probably be expected the same fate as the Tu-144.
It follows from the above that the Tu-160 is technically outdated after the 2000 year. The need to avoid any contact with the enemy's air defense system leads to the fact that supersonic flight speed is not necessary for the Tu-160. And for subsonic flight it is not necessary to have turning wings, that is, complex, expensive, and a heavy turning mechanism is superfluous.
With an estimated value of Tu-160 equal to 15 billion rubles. The cost of a series of 10 aircraft will exceed 160 billion rubles. Given that it is necessary to fully restore the stocks and resume production of engines, the cost may still increase. It will be very expensive to develop a new radar and a new EW complex. In addition, the training flights of pilots on such a heavy machine are extremely expensive. According to American estimates, the life cycle cost of an aircraft is 3-5 times its initial price. Thus, the total cost of the life cycle of this program may be more than 800 billion rubles. If 50 planes are produced, the costs will increase to 3 trillion. rub. Since SA aircraft cannot be exported to third countries, these costs will fully fall on the state budget of the Russian Federation. Outdated aircraft will not be able to solve serious military tasks, and the cost of the program is unacceptably high. In local conflicts, it can only be used against countries where there is no air defense. In the face of a serious military conflict, he can fly out of the border of Russia only in the Arctic Ocean.
The cost of one copy of the Tu-160 roughly corresponds to the price of one corvette. We are acutely lacking these corvettes, since 2011-2020 provided for the construction of 35 corvettes, and in fact less than half will be built. In peacetime, corvettes carry a real service for the protection of the near-sea zone, and Tu-160 make only training flights.
Modernization of the onboard equipment (for example: indicators of pilots, navigation system, etc.) will increase only the convenience of the crew, but not increase the survival of the aircraft, as it does not change the design of the airframe and engines.
As a result, it turns out that the Tu-160m2 will not be effective either as a component of the nuclear triad or for use in ordinary conflicts. Therefore, Russia can use the experience of China, which currently uses a nuclear dyad, and in the future it intends to develop an aircraft analogue of the B-2. In addition, the presence of mobile launchers of ICBMs of the “Topol” type allows one to perform the function of delivering a second nuclear strike and, thus, to completely abandon the SA. To sometimes show America "fucking mother", the existing 16 aircraft are enough.