8 months have passed since the time when Russian President Vladimir Putin presented the latest developments of the military-industrial complex to the general public. However, one of these developments has caused a stir and heated controversy both in the press and in numerous online forums. The name of this development - cruise missile with a nuclear power plant "Petrel".
Of course, the creation of a cruise missile on nuclear warhead, while in reasonable dimensions, is itself a sensation. What led to a hot discussion of new items not only within Russia, but also abroad.
The discussion basically comes down to the following: is it possible to create a nuclear power plant in such dimensions and does it create enough cravings to keep the entire structure in the air? Or maybe it's just a bluff?
But in this article we will not discuss these issues. Suppose that a rocket exists, and it will be put into service in nearby years. Consider the appointment of a rocket.
What is it for, in principle?
Obviously such weapon will not be used in local conflicts, like the Caliber missile in Syria. This is the “Doomsday” weapon that will be used in global thermonuclear conflict. But what advantages does it have over conventional ICBMs and SLBMs? And here are three arguments in favor of the Stormy Petrel.
The first argument: launchers with the Petrel missile can be deployed not only on strategic bombers, but also on automobile tractors and trains, which will ensure mobility and disguise of launchers. At the same time, the “Petrel” can be launched even before the start of the conflict, in this case the rockets can patrol for a long time over the vast uninhabited expanses of the Arctic in anticipation of a command. We can consider the "Petrel" as a weapon of retaliation. But here I want to argue: after all, this function is performed by the submarine fleet and parts of the Strategic Missile Forces, which are armed with the Topol and Yars ground complexes. Their missiles more effectively perform the task. Would it not be wiser to devote resources to the completion of the construction of the Borey-series submarines and the re-equipment of the strategic missile forces units with new Yars soil complexes? After all, today, every penny counts.
The second argument: the “Petrel” rocket levels the enemy's missile defense. Thanks to its unlimited range, the rocket is able to bypass all enemy lines and strike from an unexpected direction. So, the “Petrel” rocket is the answer to the deployment of a missile defense system. But even here I have objections.
First, the new ballistic missiles have the best measures to overcome the enemy missile defense, and the Sarmat missile itself was created as a means of overcoming and leveling the missile defense system. Secondly, ballistic missiles remain a very difficult goal, and there are still no really effective ways to defend against them, but defending against cruise missiles is much easier. Third, the Petrel itself has no advantages over conventional cruise missiles, except for its unlimited range. Just the opposite: in the matter of breaking through the enemy air defense, the Petrel is weak. And he is weak because of his small number. The fact is that valuable targets will be covered by a strong air defense. Ordinary (non-nuclear) cruise missiles take a number, dozens of cruise missiles can be sent to an important and well-guarded target, but in the case of Burevestnik this is not done. The Petrel itself will be few because of its high price and the limited limit of nuclear warheads established under the START III Treaty. Therefore, a small number of “Petrels” will be sent even to an important goal, which calls into question the possibility of completing the task.
The third argument: the Petrel missile has unlimited range and is capable of hitting enemy targets even in the Southern Hemisphere. But here I want to say right away: what is the new global ballistic missile "Sarmat" not suitable for? To defeat such distant targets, you can use submarines, and strategic Aviation.
So why do you really need the Petrel? First, we must answer this question: what is a cruise missile better than a ballistic missile in general? The answer is obvious: it is much more accurate. A cruise missile can have a QUO of the entire 1-2 meter, which is very important for hitting highly protected targets, such as the command bunkers in which the country's top military and political leadership is located.
I present scenarios for the use of “Petrel” missiles like this. In the case of a return by the country's top leadership of an order for a nuclear strike on an enemy country, all means are launched to launch a nuclear strike. The Petrel itself will take many hours to reach enemy territory. By this time, ballistic missiles, which require only forty minutes to hit their targets, will withdraw all air defense weapons. By the time the Petrel reaches the enemy shores, the territory of the enemy will already be ruined. Important military infrastructure (airfields, air defense points, radar stations) will be destroyed, and the path to the target will be cleared for Burevestnik. It turns out that a cruise missile with a nuclear power plant is a weapon in order to finish off the enemy.
However, with the advent of a cruise missile with an unlimited range, there is doubt about the advisability of having strategic aircraft. What is the value of expensive strategic bomber-rocket carriers, when there is a rocket with an unlimited range that does not need such a carrier? This is especially important now, when the Defense Ministry plans to order fifty new Tu-160M. Why are they needed in the presence of such a rocket?
One thing is certain: The Petrel will, by its very appearance, make it necessary to revise plans for waging war.
What is the "Petrel" for?
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