Military Review

"Avangard" in American style. Hypersonic gliding unit for GBSD

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"Avangard" in American style. Hypersonic gliding unit for GBSD
The alleged appearance of the GBSD rocket. Northrop Grumman Graphics


The Pentagon is actively engaged in the topic of hypersonic weapons in the interests of different types of armed forces, incl. Air Force. Recently it became known that the Air Force in the future may receive another missile system with hypersonic combat equipment: it will be carried out on the basis of the GBSD intercontinental ballistic missile, which is still in the early stages of development.

For administrative use


In December last year, Northrop Grumman was announced the winner of the tender for the development of a promising Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) ICBM. By that time, some of the customer's requirements in the person of the Air Force were known, and soon new details appeared. In particular, they talked about the need to create a rocket complex with a modular architecture, which should simplify operation and expand the range of tasks to be solved.

On August 12, the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center (AFNWC) posted a technology information request for the GBSD program on the public procurement website. It is curious that the document had the U / FOUO stamp - "unclassified, only for official use" and was not subject to publication on open resources. The request did not go unnoticed by the specialized press.

However, on August 17, after increased media interest, the classified document was removed from the public domain. Why it turned out to be available not only to a narrow circle of individuals and organizations was not specified.

Seven points


The document stipulates the desire of AFNWC to work out several directions for the development of the modular architecture of the future ICBM. One of them is "a thermal protection system capable of providing hypersonic flight over an intercontinental range." Obvious conclusions follow from this definition: in the context of GBSD, they are going to work out the issues of creating and implementing hypersonic gliding warheads.


AGM-183A missiles in testing, August 8, 2020 Photo by the USAF

Earlier in the messages about the GBSD program, only "traditional" combat equipment in the form of individual guidance units was mentioned. Now it turns out that the rocket can have a modular payload - and carry a hypersonic glider.

The desired characteristics of a missile system with such combat equipment, apparently, have not yet been fully determined - only the intercontinental range was indicated in the request. In this regard, the wishes of AFNWC regarding accuracy, type of warhead, etc. remain unknown.

Nuclear problem


According to open data, the GBSD ICBM will receive a multiple warhead with individual guidance units. Thermonuclear warheads W87 Mod 1 will be used - the latest modification of a fairly old product used on several types of American ICBMs. In this configuration, the GBSD will be a typical modern ICBM capable of solving strategic deterrence tasks.

The same tasks are assigned to an ICBM with a hypersonic unit, and therefore it also needs a nuclear charge. However, this architecture of the missile system has not yet been confirmed. In addition, it does not correspond to the stated goals and objectives of the American hypersonic program in their current form.

In the recent past, Pentagon officials in charge of promising areas have repeatedly said that hypersonic complexes will not be equipped with nuclear warheads. Such systems, regardless of range and architecture, will carry only conventional ammunition, and this is the principled position of the military department.


ARRW product design. Lockheed Martin Graphics

As follows from recent messages and publications, the Pentagon has not changed its views on equipping hypersonic units. Apparently, this version of the GBSD ICBM may indeed be non-nuclear - if it manages to go beyond the preliminary research stage.

Second remedy


Currently, in the interests of the US armed forces, several hypersonic missile systems are being developed with different capabilities and tasks. For the Air Force, only one such sample is being created, and it has already been brought to the first tests. In the future, the GBSD intercontinental missile with a glider on board may become the second in this row.

In the middle of last year, the Air Force began aerodynamic tests of the advanced hypersonic aeroballistic missile AGM-183A Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) developed by Lockheed Martin. The mock-up of the product was taken out under the wing of a carrier bomber to determine some characteristics. The last flight of this kind took place a few weeks ago. This concludes the export tests and full launches are expected.

Flight tests are expected to take place in 2021-22. with the arrival of the rocket into service in 2023. Four items ordered in full configuration. Half is used for tests, and the rest will then be handed over to the customer. Full-scale serial production and implementation in the Air Force will begin only by the middle of the decade.

The AGM-183A is a single-stage solid-propellant rocket equipped with a Tactical Boost Glide (TBG) jettisonable hypersonic glider. The latter, according to various sources, can develop a speed of M = 20. There are speculations according to which TBG will receive nuclear weapons, but this is not confirmed by official sources - and contradicts the stated position of the Pentagon.

Plans and opportunities


No earlier than 2023, the US Air Force will receive the latest airborne hypersonic missile system ARRW. It is intended for use on strategic aircraft aviation - B-52H, B-2A and B-21. Then, in 2027, the deployment of the GBSD intercontinental complex will begin, which may also receive hypersonic equipment.


Combat unit "Vanguard" in flight. Russian Defense Ministry graphics

If the situation develops in this way, then by the end of the twenties the Air Force will have at once two hypersonic missile systems of fundamentally different classes, but suitable for use in the strategic deterrence system. At the same time, it is quite possible that the existing views of the Pentagon will remain in force, and both of these means will relate to non-nuclear weapons.

Depending on the mission, the Air Force will be able to send bombers with aeroballistic missiles or ICBMs with special equipment to the target. In both cases, such a strike will be extremely dangerous for a potential enemy due to the special characteristics and capabilities of hypersonic warheads. Consequently, the strike potential of strategic aviation and missile formations will grow significantly.

However, not everything is so simple. The development of the ARRW and TBG projects gives some reason for optimism, although finished products will appear in the troops only in a few years. The future of the basic GBSD project is also being considered in a positive way, but the hypersonic modification of this rocket is still in question.

The deployment and use of GBSDs in non-nuclear combat equipment are facing serious difficulties. Any launch of ICBMs attracts the attention of third countries, and combat use against a real target will provoke a response. In some cases, this can lead to a rapid escalation of the conflict, up to full-fledged nuclear strikes. All this sharply reduces the potential of the complex and actually deprives it of its advantages over nuclear-equipped ICBMs.

"Avangard" in American style


It should be noted that at the level of the basic concept, the promising modification of the GBSD product is similar to the Russian project "Avangard". It provides for equipping ICBMs with a hypersonic gliding unit. The type of charge on the block is still unknown. At the same time, it is obvious that the Avangard with a nuclear weapon on board is becoming an extremely dangerous weapon. Whether the American development will be able to repeat these successes is unknown. It is noteworthy that the Russian complex has already entered service, ahead of the hypothetical American development by many years.

In the near future, the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center, scientific organizations and contractor companies will have to work out a variant of equipping ICBMs with a hypersonic warhead with certain characteristics, and determine its need for the Air Force. It is possible that such a project will be considered necessary, but another outcome cannot be ruled out. Whether the US Air Force will receive its analogue of the Avangard will become clear in a few years.
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  1. NEXUS
    NEXUS 25 August 2020 18: 12 New
    0
    Something seems to me that after five years of development and pumping dough into this program, Northrop will declare - I DID NOT SHOOT.
    1. Postum
      Postum 25 August 2020 19: 09 New
      -1
      Yeah, so they laughed at the Turks when they developed a bla, then at the Ukrainians with their Neptune. And then bam and reality is different
      1. KCA
        KCA 26 August 2020 05: 59 New
        +1
        Did the Ukrainians develop Neptune? Where does this information come from? In fact, before the Maidan and the coup, they put engines on Russian X-35 missiles, and after the Maidan, a number of Kh-35s stuck in / on, probably the missiles were not fully assembled, for example, without warheads and GOS, but equip the missile with the missing parts , having drawings in hand is not a development, besides, the GOS could have been supplied or developed by Belarus
        1. Avior
          Avior 26 August 2020 06: 25 New
          +4
          The GOS on Neptune is developed by the Kiev Radionix, and Neptune is different in size from the X-35, although undoubtedly, like Uranus, it originates from the Soviet development.
          1. KCA
            KCA 26 August 2020 06: 31 New
            0
            Different in size? Those. do you mean to say that Motor Sich decided not to use the X-35 actually stolen from Russia, but to mold new ones?
            1. Avior
              Avior 26 August 2020 06: 45 New
              +2
              Geometrically, the dimensions are different. But Neptune is not a copy of Uranus.
              And they are not made on Motor Sich, Motor makes only engines, this is one of their specializations, short-life engines for cruise missiles were made there back in Soviet times. Kiev Luch makes rockets.
              The Kh-35 is a Soviet rocket, initially it was prepared for production in Ukraine under the Union, the entire set of documentation was there, for production in Russia it had to be converted to a different engine.
              But this is not a complete copy of the X-35, neither the Soviet nor the Russian version.
    2. Joseph
      Joseph 29 August 2020 23: 13 New
      0
      I do not fully understand these attempts from either side.
      Complete mutual destruction is guaranteed.
      And in the case of existing missiles without any hypersonic units.
      Intercepting warheads in the amount of at least hundreds is unrealistic for either side
      This is undeniable.
      It would be rational to just keep all this farm in good condition.
      Why stir up the new when the old kills reliably?
      Is there a lot of money?
      Americans - I will believe
      A lot of them
      1. Zementbomber
        Zementbomber 14 September 2020 13: 36 New
        0
        Since at least the second half of the 1970s, there have been doctrines of "targeted strategic nuclear strikes" (it is now officially adopted in the Russian Federation, by the way), "limited strategic nuclear war," "decapitating" strategic nuclear strike.
        Well Soviet the concept of 1991 "fast notnuclear global strike "- from which you are now so fiercely battered - has not been canceled either.
    3. Zementbomber
      Zementbomber 14 September 2020 13: 40 New
      0
      Something seems to me that after five years of development and pumping dough into this program, Northrop will declare - I DID NOT SHOOT.

      Dream dream...
      Having as much as six "Vanguard" warheads in service ...
  2. Thrifty
    Thrifty 25 August 2020 18: 19 New
    0
    They have a lot of dough, sooner or later, but they will receive such a weapon! The most difficult thing for us is to have a gap with them in this area of ​​weapons, which, given our level of funding, is very, very problematic.
  3. fn34440
    fn34440 25 August 2020 18: 47 New
    -11
    When the Chinese invent a new type of weapon, they hide it for decades.
    Our, especially at the HIGHEST levels, empty-bellied boasting with the letter "mu" makes our potential rivals use cruising methods to create analogues and even "cooler types of weapons.
    We ourselves are accelerating the arms race with our long, self-praising language.
    1. We are for our
      We are for our 25 August 2020 19: 22 New
      +2
      When the Chinese invent a new type of weapon, they hide it for decades.
      And do you know at least one example of weapons invented by the Chinese, and even hidden for decades?
      forces our potential rivals to create analogues by cruising methods
      our potential rivals are developing independently of propaganda in the media space.
      We are driving the arms race ourselves
      There is no arms race. On the army, all sides spend minuscule, and they prefer modernization to rearmament.
    2. nickname7
      nickname7 26 August 2020 10: 53 New
      -4
      forces our potential rivals by cruising methods to create analogues and even "cooler types of weapons

      They will not be able to catch up with us, because our analogs are always ahead of us, at least that's how RosSMI writes.

  4. Shopping Mall
    Shopping Mall 25 August 2020 18: 56 New
    -7
    The essence of this type of hypersonic weapon for the United States is not nuclear deterrence, but non-nuclear deterrence. The fundamental difference between the flight trajectory of a hypersonic glider and ICBMs along the flight path will allow strikes without fear of escalation and nuclear conflict. But this will only work if the United States does not have hypersonic gliding warheads.

    If the United States decides to create a GZLA with nuclear warheads, this will mean that it has not been possible to achieve an accuracy acceptable for non-nuclear weapons.
    1. We are for our
      We are for our 25 August 2020 19: 29 New
      -6
      This is not about "fear of escalation." The hypersonic MONO block does not need to be thrown high into orbit, so it can be made heavier, which is important in a non-nuclear version, it can also reduce its speed for more accurate guidance and maneuver exactly on the target (at the same time, it will turn into an ideal target for missile defense, but after all, everything needs than pay something, and that's another story).
      There are certain advantages of hypersonic gliders, but they are not at all obvious, and therefore developments in this area are proceeding without much enthusiasm from all sides.
      1. Shopping Mall
        Shopping Mall 25 August 2020 22: 59 New
        0
        Quote: We are for our
        This is not about "fear of escalation." The hypersonic MONO block does not need to be thrown high into orbit, so it can be made heavier, which is important in a non-nuclear version, it can also reduce its speed for more accurate guidance and maneuver exactly on the target (at the same time, it will turn into an ideal target for missile defense, but after all, everything needs than pay something, and that's another story).
        There are certain advantages of hypersonic gliders, but they are not at all obvious, and therefore developments in this area are proceeding without much enthusiasm from all sides.


        The United States has long wanted non-nuclear ICBMs, but there was a clear message from us that any launch of a strategic ICBM would be considered a probable nuclear attack. The carriers of hypersonic gliders will rise to a height of about 100 km, and then drop the glider. Its trajectory is very different from the ballistic one, therefore, if the United States does not make hypersonic gliding units with nuclear equipment, then we will have no reason to suspect them of delivering a nuclear strike. And it is much more difficult to track the SPRN hypersonic gliding blocks - the trajectory decreases from 100 to 30-40 km, and does not increase to 200 km, like the ballistic one, which can be seen from afar.

        With the shooting of hypersonic aircraft (GZLA) by the missile defense system, not everything is so simple. It is one thing to hit targets flying along a ballistic trajectory, another, maneuvering, but, at the same time, flying at a speed of 20-27M.

        GZLA, in fact, fall into the "window" between air defense systems capable of shooting down maneuvering targets at an altitude of 30-35 km and anti-missiles capable of shooting down low-maneuverable targets in the upper atmosphere.

        The S-400 can hit targets flying at an altitude of 30 km at a speed of up to 4800 m / s. The speed of the HZLA is 20-27M (declared speeds for American hypersonic units and for our Vanguard), this is about 6000-8100 m / s. I do not know of anti-aircraft missiles capable of intercepting maneuvering targets at this speed.
        1. Alber alber
          Alber alber 25 August 2020 23: 38 New
          0
          If I am not mistaken, then an interceptor missile with a speed higher than 500 m / s is declared on the c10000, and as far as I understand this will be the second system, after a235, in theory, capable of intercepting part of the gzur and gzla
        2. We are for our
          We are for our 26 August 2020 00: 31 New
          -1
          that any launch of a strategic ICBM would be viewed as a likely nuclear attack.
          firstly, all this is true for hypersonic speedboats, that is, it deprives the idea of ​​meaning.
          Secondly, the domestic videoconferencing systems are just now beginning to have satellites capable of (sort of) calculating the trajectory of launching ICBMs, and before that everything was the same ...
          Thirdly, all these weapons are not being created against Russia and China, and for the rest, I think, it makes no difference whether hypersonic warheads have wings.
          It is one thing to hit targets flying along a ballistic trajectory, another, maneuvering, but, at the same time, flying at a speed of 20-27M.
          Satellites are easily knocked down, MRBM simulators in the upper atmosphere also extinguish steadily. And they will find control on the GZLA, given that maneuvering at a speed of 20-27M is a conditional concept.
    2. Ryusey
      Ryusey 26 August 2020 17: 30 New
      -1
      Are you sure that you know the essence?) Or maybe the appearance of a hypersonic unit with nuclear weapons, is it their opportunity to win a world war?
  5. Operator
    Operator 25 August 2020 19: 13 New
    -3
    Hypersonic munitions, by definition, fly within the atmosphere at an altitude of 40 to 100 km.

    Russian air defense / missile defense systems S-400 and S-500 are equipped with atmospheric anti-aircraft missiles with a height of destruction of air targets in the entire range of altitudes up to 100 km, and the American ones are equipped with exclusively atmospheric anti-aircraft missiles with an altitude of up to 40 km and transatmospheric kinetic interceptors with an altitude of over 130 km.

    In other words, Russian air defense / missile defense systems knock down all US hypersonic ammunition, and American air defense / missile defense systems click their beak.
    1. Ryusey
      Ryusey 26 August 2020 17: 31 New
      -1
      There is no air defense area that cannot be pushed through.
  6. c8nmnb
    c8nmnb 25 August 2020 19: 18 New
    +1
    They have a powerful economy, a huge military budget, a developed scientific and design base, so there is no doubt that they will receive a lot of what is written in this article for service.
    1. tol100v
      tol100v 25 August 2020 21: 21 New
      +1
      Quote: c8nmnb
      They have a powerful economy, a huge military budget.

      Quote: c8nmnb
      They have a powerful economy, a huge military budget.

      For some reason, all the aftors forget to say that all of the above: "IN DEBT TO THE WHOLE WORLD"! And how not to remember Zheglov's phrase: "A thief should be in prison!" DEBT!
      1. nickname7
        nickname7 26 August 2020 10: 57 New
        0
        "IN A DEBT TO THE WHOLE WORLD"!

        Debt allows you to develop faster, then try to demand debt from someone who is much stronger than you. And they will forgive their debt.
  7. Mikhail m
    Mikhail m 25 August 2020 19: 38 New
    0
    In the competition between shield and sword, a leader emerged. A serious challenge to defense science. We will wait for the answer to the call.
  8. Incompetent
    Incompetent 26 August 2020 01: 20 New
    0
    It is noteworthy that the Russian complex has already entered service, ahead of ... the American development ...

    Only if Avangardov will be like Su57 - 76 pcs. before the age of 27, and the Americos have 187 f-22s and more than 300 F-35s now .....
    Well, since American industry is more powerful and funding is growing from year to year, then by the 30th year there is a real advantage in the number of hypersonic missiles in their direction at times!
    1. voyaka uh
      voyaka uh 28 August 2020 12: 45 New
      +2
      There will be 12 vanguards. And no more planned.
      While 2 are on alert.
  9. Tom Johnson
    Tom Johnson 26 August 2020 03: 58 New
    0
    I would be more concerned about LRSO, LRPF and ERCA 1000 km Hypersonic Artillery as well as Virginia Block V, with VPM's loaded with hypersonics. ARMY, NAVY, AIR FORCE will all be hypersonic and a saturation of A2 / AD is an inevitability given the geographic advantage that the US possesses.
  10. voyaka uh
    voyaka uh 28 August 2020 12: 43 New
    +2
    Gliders are a hopeless idea. That from the Russian side, that from the American side.
    Much hassle with manufacture, with guidance, low reliability.
    Russia will have ten Vanguards, America will have a dozen of these new ones.
    They stand for service, then they will be written off without noise.
  11. Zementbomber
    Zementbomber 14 September 2020 13: 24 New
    0
    According to open data, the GBSD ICBM will receive a multiple warhead with individual guidance units. Thermonuclear warheads W87 Mod 1 will be used - the latest modification of a fairly old product used on several types of American ICBMs. In this configuration, the GBSD will be a typical modern ICBM capable of solving strategic deterrence tasks.

    The W87 can be used as a MIRV, but on this ICBM it will be installed as a monoblock one.