DARPA's HTV-2 Artistic Image
On May 15, US President Donald Trump made a curious statement about promising weapons. He said that the United States has a kind of “super-duper-missile”, flying 17 times faster than currently in service. He also remembered Chinese and Russian weaponwhose speed is only 5-6 times higher. Was the USA really able to break away from its competitors in a hypersonic race? Consider modern and promising developments of three countries - industry leaders.
Super rockets and hyper speeds
According to well-known data, the USA and the USSR / Russia began the study of hypersonic aerodynamic flight several decades ago. At the same time, the first experiments using experimental aircraft began, including with an eye on practical application. China joined such work later, only in the two thousandth years. However, this did not prevent him from quickly reducing the gap and entering a narrow circle of world leaders.
To date, three countries have completed basic research and moved on to the stage of developing full-fledged weapons suitable for use in the army. In the coming years, a full-scale deployment of hypersonic systems of various classes in all branches of the armed forces is expected.
New missiles and warheads will go into service with the ground forces, strategic missile forces, as well as the air force and naval forces. However, the specific plans of the countries for development and deployment are markedly different, everyone relies on different directions.
Current US projects generally go back to the early 2s and the DARPA agency's FALCON program. Its main result was the experimental hypersonic planning warheads HTV-2010, which made two test flights. Launches took place in 2011 and XNUMX and ended with mixed results. Both prototypes developed the required speed, but could not complete the entire planned route.
Infographics for the American project LRHW. Photo Bmpd.livejournal.com
According to the test plan, the HTV-2 was supposed to cover a trajectory of approx. 7700 km with a maximum speed of 20M. Such tasks were performed only partially - both devices developed the desired speed and remained on the trajectory for several minutes. However, long before the end point of the route, the first self-destructed, and the second fell into the ocean. However, in this case, the HTV-2 set a speed record among the experimental developments of the United States.
Further work was carried out on the AHW project. Prototypes of this type developed speeds up to 8M. The LRHW interspecific missile system with the C-HGB planning combat unit is currently being created. Two test launches have already been carried out with a speed exceeding 5M (more accurate values are not reported). The complex is positioned as a medium-range system, which may indicate the possibility of launching at a distance of up to 5500 km. In the near future, the LRHW will go into service with the ground forces, as well as the surface and submarine forces of the Navy.
Of great interest is the project of the air-based missile AGM-183A ARRW, preparing for flight tests. The performance characteristics of this product have not yet been called, which contributes to the appearance of the most daring versions. Individual estimates reach a maximum speed of 20M - but it is not yet clear how much they correspond to reality.
Thus, the United States has the technology to create hypersonic systems with speeds up to 20M and a range of approx. 7-8 thousand km, although not all such opportunities have been confirmed by practice. Successfully tested products with lower characteristics are also sufficient to solve combat missions.
Consideration of the Russian hypersonic program should begin with a complex that has passed all the tests and put on combat duty. In December 2019, the Strategic Missile Forces began operating the Avangard product, which was the result of many years of research and testing. According to known data, the complex includes the UR-100N UTTH missile and a special warhead equipped with the Avangard block.
Presumably, the combat unit of the Avangard complex. Photo by the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation
According to officials, the speed of the "Vanguard" on the trajectory exceeds 20M. The flight range is intercontinental. There is the possibility of maneuvering in speed and course. An effective control system is provided, providing quick preparation for the launch and successful solution of the task.
The Dagger complex with an air-based ballistic missile has been brought to the stage of experimental military operation. Using the MiG-31K or Tu-22M3 carrier aircraft, it is delivered to the launch line, after which it flies along a ballistic trajectory with a height of at least 20-22 km. Maximum speed - more than 10M, range without taking into account carrier parameters - 2000 km.
An anti-ship missile system Zircon with a 3M22 missile is being created for the Navy. To date, he began testing on offshore platforms, and in the near future is expected to be adopted. During the test launches, Zircon developed a speed of 8M. The range, according to various sources, reaches 400-800 km. A missile with a container is placed in the cell of the 3C14 universal launcher used on many ships. It provides reliable destruction of large surface ships.
In the past, several large development projects were carried out in our country, the results of which are now used in real projects. There are technologies that allow you to accelerate equipment to speeds of about 20M and send to intercontinental range. More importantly, all these developments are brought, at least, to the tests.
China is in no hurry to reveal its secrets in the field of advanced technologies, but others do it for it. Thanks to foreign intelligence and the media, it became known that there was a project with the designation WU-14 or DF-ZF, which provides for the construction of a missile system with a hypersonic warhead.
MiG-31 with a dagger. Photo by the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation
WU-14 flight tests began in 2014. To date, up to 10 launches with various results have been carried out. The Ministry of Defense of China confirmed the information about the first launches, but claimed that they were purely scientific in nature. According to foreign estimates, the DF-ZF block on a trajectory develops a speed of no more than 10M. It was previously claimed that ballistic missiles DF-21 or DF-31, capable of providing a maximum range of up to 3 or up to 12 thousand km, can be used as a carrier. Last year, the DF-17 rocket was first shown, with the help of which a range of up to 2500 km is provided.
According to well-known data, the DF-ZF unit and the DF-17 missile entered service with the Strategic Missile Forces of China and are now on duty. Perhaps other hypersonic weapons are being developed, but no information is yet available about them.
Technologies for creating hypersonic aircraft, incl. The three leading powers have warheads for missile systems, and they continue to develop this direction. There is a clear leader, followed by other countries. By the totality of technical characteristics and the successes achieved, they should recognize Russia.
It was our country that not only created and tested, but was also the first to put several models of promising weapons on duty at once. Even US officials admit lagging behind Russia. In second place can be put the PRC, whose army has so far received only one hypersonic complex. However, given the dates of adoption, China is the first.
The front line of the Chinese complexes DF-17. Photo by Nevskii-bastion.ru
The Russian hypersonic program has already produced three types of weapons for solving various tasks, from operational-tactical to strategic. In addition, large ranges of speeds and flight ranges are covered, which is ensured by a more complete use of available technologies. China cannot yet boast of such successes, although in the near future we can expect the appearance of its new projects.
To the displeasure of D. Trump, the United States so far is in the position of catching up. They have several promising models, but not one of them has yet reached combat duty. In terms of speeds and ranges, the situation is no better. Samples intended for adoption have not yet bypassed competitors. As for “superpuperraces 17 times faster than others”, it is expected in the arsenals only by the middle of the decade at best.
However, the American president can be pleased. The hypersonic race of the leading powers does not end. It seems that she is only approaching her most active phase. Thus, competing countries have the opportunity to continue work, get the desired results and set new records, ensuring strategic national security. And at the same time to get an occasion for pride in their science and technology.