Old and new data
In May this year, at the conference of the US Army Association, the recently created Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office (RCCTO) revealed some information about the promising HWS project. The Hypersonic Weapon Systems program proposes the creation of a missile system with a hypersonic warhead. Some information about the project was announced and interesting slides were shown.
A few days ago, at the next event, RCCTO management again spoke about hypersonic work. Statements sounded again and slides were shown. In this case, it was a complex called LRHW (Long Range Hypersonic Weapon - “Hypersonic weapon long range ").
At two events, images of promising weapons and auxiliary components of the HWS and LRHW complexes were demonstrated. A certain similarity suggests that we are talking about the same program.
The LRHW missile system is being developed by several scientific and industrial organizations in the interests of the US Army. Moreover, for some components, the LRHW system should be unified with similar weapons for other military branches. Thus, the promising complex is part of a large interdepartmental program.
The LRHW complex is proposed to be made mobile; In total, his funds will be mounted on self-propelled chassis of production models. It is proposed to include one command post and four self-propelled launchers in the battery of such a complex. Probably the presence of a number of security tools.
LRHW fire control will be the standard command post of the US Army AFATDS version 7.0. The item is made on a car chassis and has a set of communication and control missile or artillery fire. Such systems are already used in the ground forces, which will simplify the operation of hypersonic weapons.
Launchers are developed on the basis of the corresponding products of the Patriot anti-aircraft complex. The modified M870 semi-trailer will receive fastenings for two transport and launch containers with missiles. Transportation of the trailer is assigned to the standard M983A4 tractor. In terms of mobility, the LRHW missile system should not differ from similar weapons of other classes.
In TPK on the launcher should be placed missiles with hypersonic military equipment. The use of a promising solid-fuel medium-range ballistic missile AUR (All-Up-Round) is proposed. In its head part there will be a planning hypersonic warhead of the type Common Hypersonic Glide Body (C-HGB).
The missile and warhead are being developed as part of the collaboration of several organizations led by the Sandia National Laboratories of the Department of Energy. The AUR product is created in the interests of the ground forces and the naval forces. The combat unit C-HGB will have to go into service with the army, navy and air force. In the latter case, he will need a new carrier instead of an AUR rocket.
Thus, one battery of the LRHW complex will have eight missiles ready for launch. The performance characteristics of the complex and its main components are unknown. According to various estimates, the C-HGB combat unit will be able to reach speeds of 8-10 times the speed of sound. The flight range should exceed 4-5 thousand km.
According to RCCTO reports in May, the next two years will be spent on completing the design of all LRHW elements and preparing for further tests. This stage will end at the beginning of the 2021 financial year, after which they will begin new work.
The first AUR test run with C-HGB is scheduled for Q1 2021 fg. - The last months of the 2020 calendar year. New firing will be carried out at intervals of several months. Obviously, between launches it is planned to conduct data analysis and refinement of structures. Tests should be completed at the end of the first quarter of fnx 2023
By the time the tests are completed, the Pentagon intends to deploy the first LRHW battery. She will have to carry out pilot combat duty. Then new similar units will appear. LRHW batteries will form part of Strategic Fires Battalion type compounds designed to complement existing strategic nuclear and non-nuclear forces.
Assumptions and Forecasts
The most interesting and important data on the LRHW project are not yet available. In this area, one has to rely on estimates and assumptions, which makes forecasting difficult. Nevertheless, it is necessary to pay attention to existing versions and try to predict the results of the appearance of a promising missile system.
First of all, the firing range of the C-HGB combat unit is unknown. There is a version according to which this product was created on the basis of the experimental aircraft AHW (Advanced Hypersonic Weapon), tested several years ago. This product developed a speed of the order of M = 8 and showed a range of up to 6800 km.
It follows that the C-HGB will be able to deliver a warhead to a range of at least 5 thousand km and will fly to the target at high speeds. Even taking into account the energy loss during the flight, the velocity in the final section of the trajectory will remain hypersonic. In addition, the unit will be able to maneuver throughout the flight.
How much these estimates correspond to the Pentagon’s real plans and the actual capabilities of the AUR and C-HGB products is a big question. However, even without this, it is obvious that the LRHW project offers a sufficiently sophisticated and dangerous weapon for striking at remote targets.
The LRHW complex can be attributed to systems of medium or intercontinental range. At the same time, it should show a small flying time and hit the target with high accuracy. Mobile chassis provides high flexibility.
It should be noted that the LRHW army complex is unified with systems for other military branches. This will allow creating and adopting new percussion weapons on different platforms with similar characteristics in less time and at lower cost.
Proposed Mode of Action LRHW
Thus, at the general concept level, the LRHW missile system is of great interest to any army, and in addition, is a serious threat to its probable enemy. Weapons with such characteristics can be used to solve a wide range of operational and strategic tasks within the framework of a massive first or retaliatory strike, and also, within the framework of the new proposed concepts, to engage single remote targets in a conflict of lower intensity.
The main conclusion from the last News simple enough. The United States continues to work in the field of hypersonic technologies, and now we are talking about creating real weapons - first for the army, and then for the Navy and Air Force. After 2023, new missile systems can have a significant impact on the military-political situation in the world.
You can see that the development of the LRHW system with a range of about 5 thousand km started before the United States withdrew from the INF Treaty - albeit during the disputes surrounding it. This fact, if correctly interpreted, can be the basis for accusations of breach of contract. However, after recent events, the mismatch of new weapons of the INF Treaty is not a significant factor.
One of the tasks of the Strategic Fires Battalion compounds will be to participate in the strategic deterrence of potential US adversaries, among which Russia is present. As a result, our country must take into account the potential threat in the form of LRHW and other similar systems and take the necessary military-technical measures.
Our country already has hypersonic weapons, which in the near future will enter service. Accordingly, there should be developments to counteract similar systems of a potential adversary. With an optimistic development of events, Russian defenses will be on duty, at least not later than American means of attack.
In general, a very interesting situation is observed in the field of the LRHW project and other promising programs of the operational-strategic level. A new weapon with special capabilities has not even reached the stage of testing, but can already be regarded as a threat. Further work requires some time, and third countries should not waste it. The United States intends to adopt new hypersonic missile systems, and other countries need to pay attention to defenses against them.