Military Review

Fifth Wheel


The active use in modern conflicts of low-flying subtle air attack means supports a steady interest in the optimal means of dealing with them - short-range anti-aircraft missile systems. (Medium and long-range systems and systems are not optimal for the cost of a shot, melee air defense systems and MANPADS, not to mention ZAK - for the available capabilities.)

The experience of combat use in Syria confirms the high efficiency of the Russian short-range air defense systems of the Tor family in the fight against modern air-launched missiles. Nevertheless, periodically (and not only on the Internet, but also “from high stands”) the question arises of equipping them with anti-aircraft guided missiles with homing heads as an alternative to the radio command guidance method used in these complexes.

It should be noted right away that in the short-range zone the capabilities of both methods make it possible to more or less successfully solve the problems facing the air defense systems of the MD and their simultaneous application is not necessary (as, for example, in the air defense systems of airborne systems and air defense systems, where, due to the increased distance and This strong scattering of the radar from the guidance radar can not do without RK-guidance, or without GOS or guidance "through the rocket"), and, therefore, is unnecessary, because it is economically unjustified (GOS increases the cost of multiple missiles, radar guidance is also worth many - to spend money on something else and just can not afford to even the richest countries). The question, therefore, includes the wording "either - or" and should be considered in the light of the advantages and disadvantages of each of the guidance methods, which are easily noticeable even from a superficial comparison of the Tor-M2 air defense systems and modern Western short-range air defense systems VL MICA, SPYDER-SR, IRIS-T SLS (in the same row you can also put the newly developed SAM Kampluftvern with SAM IRIS-T).

These complexes are "classmates", according to the passport data of their performance characteristics are largely close to each other. SAM speed and targets, the affected area are very similar. Of the tabular characteristics, only the deployment time indicators differ sharply: in western systems - 10-15 minutes, the Tor-M2 air defense system moves from the stowed position to the combat position in 3 minutes, and besides, it can conduct combat work on the go, which is not available to its counterparts. At the same time, all western MD complexes are equipped with modified for ground launch aviation SD with GOS: Piton-5 (SAM SPYDER-SR) and IRIS-T (SAM IRIS-T SLS and Kampluftvern) - thermal imaging (infrared), MICA-IR - thermal imaging and MICA-EM - active radar (SAM VL MICA). What does it give and what deprives?

The most important indicator of the effectiveness of air defense systems is the accuracy of guidance. An inertial guidance system is used at the starting section of the Torovskaya 9M338 missile launcher (0-1 km) and at the starting and marching sections of the western missile systems (before the GOS target is captured), the data into which are entered immediately before the launch. Then “precision aiming systems” are connected.

On SAM SAM, IRIS-T, Piton-5 infrared seekers are used. Manufacturers do not indicate the values ​​of the IR signature of targets in open sources, limiting themselves to statements such as:

"A fighter with afterburner powerplant can be detected at a distance of 18 to 22 km."

Which particular fighter? What is its IR signature, even in afterburner mode? This is incomprehensible. But another thing is clear: if the “fighter on the afterburner” is visible from 20 km, then a target with a low infrared signature (even an attack UAV) can be captured by the GOS at a distance of no more than 2-3 km. The detection range of a heat-contrast target against the background of the earth is about 2,5 times less than against the background of free space (Piton-5, for example, cannot intercept targets flying below 20 meters at all). So, in order to intercept an unobtrusive low-flying target, the inertial system must bring the SAM in a kilometer from the target. At the same time, as the IR signature decreases, the speed of the target and the distance to it increase, the price of the slightest error in the calculation increases when calculating the missile defense trajectory and the target, and the maneuver of the latter can completely prevent its capture by the GOS. This is especially true for intercepting targets at the far border of the affected area. Recognizing this drawback, the developers introduced a radio correction system at all of the indicated western complexes, which allows “correcting” the flight path of SAM missiles. Acceptable accuracy of work on inconspicuous and especially maneuvering targets can only be achieved with its use.

Most importantly, missiles with IKGSN are, in principle, not all-weather: dense fog and dense clouds trap infrared waves. This is not critical if an air defense missile system with missiles equipped with an IKGSN is used in the battle formations of the attacking side, which, of course, itself chooses the time of the attack and can adjust it depending on weather conditions. But such air defense systems can leave defenseless defenseless. Therefore, the Israelis, who periodically have to act as a defending side, assign their SPYDER-SR a secondary role, and the main stake is placed on the much more expensive SAM Kippat barzel (with an active seeker). Therefore, the French offer customers the option of missiles VL MICA with ARGSN. The reason for the use of "thermal imagers" is purely economic in nature. Yes, IKGSN significantly increases the cost of missiles. But still not as much as the ARGSN: if the cost of MICA-IR (in 2009 prices) is $ 145 thousand, then MICA-EM is already $ 473 thousand.

However, it is unlikely that the insanely expensive MICA-EM has tactical advantages over missiles with RC guidance. Due to the overall dimensions, the airborne radar and the SAM system are many times inferior in their capabilities to the radar and the air defense system of the air defense system and do not allow for target capture over a long distance. Already at a distance of ten kilometers, the effective target scattering surface for guaranteed capture of its low-power ARGSN SAM missiles should be at least 3-5 square meters. m. Moreover, this result can be achieved only due to the extreme narrowing of the beam of the airborne radar. The narrow homing sector limits the scope for use against maneuvering targets. The result is the same историяas with IKGSN, except that the clouds do not represent a barrier.

9M338 missile, guided by the Tor-M2 air defense missile system, is guaranteed to intercept a target with an EPR characteristic of a fighter (1 sq. M) at a distance of at least 15 km (at a transonic speed of the target and with a probability of destruction close to 100%). At a distance of 7-8 km, targets flying at a speed of Mach 2 are hit, and the minimum target size in the radio range (EPR) is 0,1 square meters. m. Low-flying targets the complex knocks down 10 (according to unofficial data - 5) meters above the ground. RC guidance allows you to build different flight paths of missiles, for example, hit a low-flying target with a dive (missiles with GOS always fly along the shortest route to the target). With the simultaneous guidance of several missiles, each of them gets its own target (several missiles with GOS can simultaneously be aimed at one target - the most noticeable or close). The accuracy of the guidance does not depend on weather conditions. Maneuvering a target does not prevent it from being held in sight.

The guidance method has a certain effect on the fire performance of air defense systems. Among the advantages of a missile launcher with a seeker is often indicated the possibility of using the principle of "shot - forgot" (the rocket does not require continuous tracking from the guidance station). In theory, this should significantly increase the "rate of fire". Indeed, Western air defense systems can release their entire air defense system with an interval of 2-3 seconds, while the Tor-M2 air defense system after launching (with the same interval) 4 air defense systems must take a break until they find their targets (at maximum range - about 20 seconds). However, modern Western air defense systems do not always have the ability to use the principle of "fired - forgot." As already mentioned above, ensuring acceptable accuracy of use against modern IOS requires the use of radio correction and fire performance is reduced to the number of radio channels. VL MICA, for example, judging by the appearance (there are two side antenna posts) and the published schemes for using the MICA SD from fighters (the simultaneous use of 2 missiles is traced), it has only 2 channels. Thus, the fire performance of the VL MICA is not in theory, but in practice can be half as low as that of the Thor.

A separate issue is noise immunity. In this context, it is indecent to mention missiles with ICGPS: as already mentioned, they are not free even from natural interference. As for artificial radio interference, drowning out a weak ARGSN transmitter with an active noise signal is simpler than guiding radar, and fooling it with passive guiding noise onboard an SAM system is easier than an air defense missile defense computer system. In any case, the NATO electronic warfare systems do not suppress the operation of the Tor-M2 air defense system (as confirmed by tests conducted in Greece), as well as the Russian ones.

Another “problem” associated with the “necessity” of equipping the 9M338 missile launcher with a homing head is the presence of a kind of “dead funnel”, from where the IOS can suddenly fly. Indeed, the “Tor” family air defense guidance radar has a viewing sector in elevation of -5 - + 85 ° and, accordingly, there is a non-shot area in the sector +85 - + 95 °. And, yes, missiles with GOS have no such "dead zone" (there are others). However, there is no fundamental connection between it and the guidance method. If desired, it would be possible to install on a radar complex with an expanded viewing angle sector up to 90 °. And since the military did not require this, and the developer did not offer, it means that none of the specialists competent in this matter sees this as necessary. Why? Obviously, for a number of reasons. Firstly, the standard combat unit during the combat work of the Tor-M2 air defense system is a battery (the minimum is the “link”) and when working together, the combat vehicles mutually cover each other the non-firing zones not only in elevation, but also in range (0- 1 km). Secondly, the Torov batteries operate in a layered defense system, where the air defense systems and air defense systems of higher links cover them from high-altitude airplanes (just like the Torahs cover the air defense systems of airborne systems and air defense systems from air defense systems that have broken through the first lines defense). Finally, thirdly, it is very problematic to find an IOL with the confirmed possibility of diving from a height of over 12 km at an angle of more than 85 ° (except for ballistic missiles, for which anti-aircraft missiles are not designed, but not because of the flight path of the BR, but due to their high speed - hypersonic). And so, there is no need to change the effective guidance system because of the dubious “threat”.

From the foregoing, it is clear that GOS have no advantages over the RK-guidance method. The choice of Western developers is not due to tactical, but completely different considerations. Among them, one can mention the complexity and cost of developing specialized air defense systems in comparison with the use of modified aviation missile defense systems in ground complexes. The basic military strategy of the NATO countries plays an important role. The practice of military interventions of the Western powers shows that they are carried out only against obviously and many times the weakest countries. Weakened by the civil war, Yugoslavia, Libya, Syria - these are ideal targets. Even a slightly stronger Iraq was conquered in two steps. Weak countries, of course, do not have enough modern means of air attack. As a result, western air defense systems are quite sufficient to combat the scattered raids of low-tech anti-aircraft missiles, and the cost of expensive missiles does not exceed the costs of developing guidance radars and equipping it with a complex.

In contrast to the counterparts of the air defense system of the Tor family, these are air defense systems designed to counter a large-scale attack by a powerful enemy. Their advantages are most fully manifested in the fight against serious threats, as part of the layered air defense system. With the predicted nature of the conflict and the competent use of these SAMs are unparalleled in the world. This testifies, among other things, to the fact that at present the radio command method is the best way to target short-range SAM systems.
Photos used:
From open sources