Article Goals and objectives of the Russian Navy: destroy half of the enemy fleet The prospect of deploying large groups of reconnaissance satellites and high-altitude unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) capable of providing round-the-clock and year-round observation of the entire surface of the planet was considered.
Many consider this assertion unrealistic, referring to the high cost and complexity of deploying the Legend and Liana global satellite maritime reconnaissance and target designation systems (MCRTs), as well as the lack of such systems in a potential enemy at the present time.
The fact that an isotope nuclear reactor (with an electric power of only 3 kW) was required to power the satellites of the active radar reconnaissance system "Legend" does not mean that it is necessary for modern satellites of a similar purpose - the laws of physics have not changed, but the production technologies have changed, the energy consumption of electronic components, signal processing algorithms and much more
Why doesn't the USA have such a system? The first reason is because while the global satellite reconnaissance system is too complex and expensive. But this is based on yesterday's technologies. Today, new technologies have appeared, and the development of promising reconnaissance satellites on them is probably already underway - do not forget, the article was about a time period of twenty (+/- 10) years.
The second reason - and against whom 10-20 years ago the United States needed such a system? Against the rapidly aging naval fleet (Navy) RF? For this, even the existing US fleet is deliberately redundant. Against the Chinese Navy? But they are just beginning to pose a threat to the US Navy and, perhaps, will turn into a threat in just twenty years.
However, the first reason should be considered the main one. If the US global satellite reconnaissance system is not yet needed to track the Russian Navy and the PRC Navy, then it is more than necessary to track Russian (and Chinese) mobile ground-based missile systems (PGRK) of the Topol or Yars type and ensuring the possibility of delivering a sudden disarming strike.
As they say, time will tell. In any case, we will return to this issue more than once - we will talk about energy sources, target designation, covert communication systems with UAVs and much more.
Space technology advances rapidly - Northrop Grumman launches its second MEV service station to fuel satellites into orbit
Closing our eyes to the fact that already in the medium term, surface ships (NK) with a high probability will be detected and tracked by the enemy in real time, it is possible to create a fleet, the inevitable fate of which will be heroic death when attacked by long-range anti-ship missiles (ASM).
At an intermediate stage, a situation of uncertainty will arise when it will be impossible to understand whether a surface ship is being tracked or not due to the large number of satellites in orbit, maneuvering orbital platforms, high-altitude UAVs, autonomous unmanned underwater vehicles (AUV) and unmanned surface ships (BNC). How, then, will the planning of a covert advance towards the enemy be carried out?
In the articles of Alexander Timokhin, the need to fight for the first salvo is often mentioned - as a way to win in the confrontation between fleets. So, space reconnaissance assets and stratospheric UAVs are the most effective way to fight for the first salvo.
Does this mean that surface ships are no longer needed? Far from it, but their concept and objectives could change significantly.
On different historical stages, it is often possible to identify some distinctive feature that characterizes the development of attack or defense technologies. Once it was the strengthening of armor protection, then the widespread use of technologies to reduce the visibility became mainstream. In our time, active defense means - anti-missiles, anti-torpedoes, active defense systems, and so on - are becoming the dominant means of increasing the survivability of military equipment.
Since the appearance of anti-ship missiles, surface ships have always relied on systems of "active protection" - anti-aircraft missile systems (SAM) / anti-aircraft missile and artillery systems (ZRAK), systems for setting camouflage curtains, electronic warfare systems (EW). Counteraction to torpedo armament is carried out by rocket-propelled bombs, anti-torpedoes, towed by hydroacoustic jammers and other systems.
If the enemy is able to continuously track the NK and issue long-range anti-ship missiles target designation, the threats to surface ships will increase many times over. This will require a corresponding strengthening of NK protection measures, expressed both in design changes and in a shift in emphasis to defensive weapons.
As now, the main threat to surface ships will be aviation... For example, the Tu-160M missile-carrying bomber can carry 12 Kh-101 cruise missiles (CR) in its internal compartments. Upgraded Tu-95MSM bombers are capable of carrying 8 Kh-101 type missile launchers on the external sling and another 6 Kh-55 missile launchers in the inner compartment.
The United States Air Force (Air Force) is testing the ability of the B-1B bomber to carry an additional 12 JASSM cruise missiles on external sling, in addition to 24 missiles placed in the internal compartments, as a result of which one B-1B will be able to carry a total of 36 JASSM cruise missiles or anti-ship missiles LRASM. In the medium term, the B-1B will be replaced bombers B-21, whose ammunition capacity is unlikely to be much less.
The capabilities of strategic bombers allow concentrating hundreds of anti-ship missiles in a salvo
Thus, 2-4 American strategic bombers can carry 72-144 anti-ship missiles. If we are talking about aircraft carrier or naval strike groups (AUG / KUG), then for their attack the enemy may well attract 10-20 bombers, which will carry 360-720 anti-ship missiles with a launch range of 800-1000 kilometers.
Based on the foregoing, it can be assumed that a promising surface ship should have air defense (air defense) means capable of repelling a blow delivered by 50-100 anti-ship missiles. Is this possible in principle?
The threat of an air defense breakthrough is relevant not only for surface ships, but also for stationary objects. This threat and ways to counter it were previously discussed in the article Breakthrough of air defense by exceeding its ability to intercept targets: solutions.
There are several main problems in the reflection of the "star" raid of anti-ship missiles:
- short time to repel a strike against low-flying targets;
- lack of guidance channels for anti-aircraft guided missiles (SAM);
- Exhaustion of the SAM ammunition.
Look into the distance
It is possible to increase the time for repelling a strike inflicted by low-flying anti-ship missiles, possibly by increasing the altitude of the detection radar station (radar). Of course, the best solution here is a long-range radar detection aircraft (AWACS), but its presence is possible only near its shores or when the NK is in the AUG.
Another option is to use an AWACS helicopter on the ship. In itself, the presence of an AWACS helicopter on the ship is good, but the problem is that it cannot be used constantly. That is, in the event of a sudden strike, there will be no benefit from it - it is necessary to ensure that the radar is almost continuous in the air.
AWACS helicopters cannot provide round-the-clock coverage of NK from attacks by low-flying anti-ship missiles
Continuous air vigilance can be implemented with the help of promising unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) AWACS of a helicopter or quadrocopter (octa-, hexa-copter, etc.) type, the electric motors of which will be powered via a flexible cable from the carrier ship. This possibility was discussed in detail in the article Ensuring the work of the air defense system on low-flying targets without involving Air Force aviation.
Currently, a huge number of commercial electric UAVs with a carrying capacity of several tens to several hundred kilograms are being developed.
With an anti-ship missile flight altitude of 5 meters and a radar station located at an altitude of 200 meters, the line-of-sight range will be 67,5 kilometers. For comparison: with a radar height of 35 meters, as on the British destroyer Dering, the line-of-sight range will be 33 kilometers. Thus, the UAV AWACS will at least double the detection range of low-flying anti-ship missiles.
Confront the flock
The lack of missile guidance channels can be compensated for in several ways. One of them is to increase the capabilities of the radar in terms of the number of simultaneously detected and tracked targets through the use of active phased antenna arrays (AFAR), which is now becoming mandatory for promising NDTs.
The second method is the use of missiles with active radar homing heads (ARLGSN). After the issuance of the primary target designation, the missiles with ARLGSN use their own radar for additional search and targeting. Accordingly, after the issuance of target designation of the missile defense system, the ship's radar can switch to tracking another target. Another advantage of the SAM with ARLGSN is the ability to attack targets outside the radio horizon. The disadvantage of missiles with ARLGSN is their significantly higher cost, as well as less noise immunity of their radar in comparison with the powerful radar of the ship.
In the Russian air defense systems of the near zone, radio command or combined (radio command + laser) missile guidance is used. This largely limits the number of targets fired at the same time - for example, the Pantsir-M anti-aircraft missile and artillery complex (ZRAK) can simultaneously fire no more than four (according to some sources, eight) targets. It is possible that the use of AFAR as part of a target tracking radar will significantly increase the number of simultaneously attacked targets.
The third method is the maximum decrease in the reaction time of the air defense missile system and at the same time the maximum increase in the speed of the missile defense system. In this case, the sequential destruction of the approaching anti-ship missiles will be carried out as they approach the ship.
An ideal solution would be both increasing the "channel" of the air defense missile system due to the use of radar with AFAR and increasing the capabilities of radio command / laser guidance units, as well as reducing the response time of the air defense missile system in combination with an increase in the flight speed of the air defense missile system.
For the near zone, the possibility of developing an air-to-air missile system R-73 / RVV-MD with an infrared homing head (IR seeker) may be considered, the target designation of which can be issued by the main shipborne radars with AFAR. At the same time, for medium and long-range air defense systems, the transition to missiles only with ARLGSN is inevitable.
The R-73 air-to-air missile (RVV-MD) can become the basis for a promising Russian near-field air defense system - an analogue of the American RIM-116 air defense system
Exhaustion of ammunition
The problem of exhaustion of air defense ammunition, no matter how trite it sounds, must first of all be solved by increasing it to the detriment of other weapons, primarily the anti-ship missiles and anti-ship missiles.
It can be assumed that the main task of promising surface combat ships will be the task of protecting themselves and a certain zone around them from aviation and air attack weapons. At the same time, the execution of strike missions will fall on nuclear submarines - carriers of cruise and anti-ship missiles (SSGNs).
At the moment, the British destroyer 45 "Dering" can be considered an exemplary surface ship of this type, whose design was originally intended for solving air defense missions.
The concept of the British destroyer Dering is as close as possible to the concept of promising surface ships
Refusal to deploy strike weapons will significantly increase the number of missiles in the ammunition load. In addition, it is necessary to provide an optimal combination of ultra-long, long, medium and short-range missiles. Of course, the ability to destroy an air target at a distance of 400-500 kilometers is very attractive, but in fact it will not always be possible to implement it - for example, the enemy can launch an anti-ship missile system either from an even greater distance, or when the carrier is below the radio horizon level. Therefore, the number of long-range and ultra-long-range missiles should be limited in favor of short and medium-range missiles, which in some cases can be accommodated in four units instead of one "large" missile.
Instead of one long-range or medium-range missile, four 9M100 short-range missiles with IR seeker can be placed as part of the Redut air defense system
The dimensions of the 9M100 SAM can potentially be developed on the basis of the R-77 air-to-air missile (RVV-SD) with ARLGSN
For the Pantsir-SM close-range anti-aircraft missile and cannon system, small-sized Gvozd missiles are being developed (developed?), Accommodating 4 missiles in one standard transport and launch container (TPK). Initially, the Nail missiles are designed to destroy inexpensive UAVs, and their estimated range should be about 10-15 kilometers. However, the option of using such missiles to destroy low-flying anti-ship missiles at the last line, at a distance of up to 5-7 kilometers, could potentially be considered. At the same time, due to a decrease in the range, the mass of the warhead can be increased, and the increased probability of destruction should be ensured by the simultaneous launch of two or four conventional SAM "Gvozd-M" on one anti-ship missile system. Do not forget that a surface ship can also be subjected to a massive attack by inexpensive UAVs.
Small-sized SAM "Nail"
For self-defense against anti-ship missiles at short range, surface ships are equipped with automatic rapid-fire cannons of 20-45 mm caliber. The Russian Navy uses 30mm cannons. It is believed that their effectiveness is insufficient to combat modern low-flying anti-ship missiles. On some ships of the US Navy, automatic multi-barreled guns of 20 mm caliber have already been replaced with the RIM-116 air defense system.
However, there is a possibility that the effectiveness of cannon armament could be significantly improved. The simplest solution is to use shells with remote detonation at the target. In Russia, 30-mm projectiles with remote detonation on the trajectory were developed by the Moscow-based NPO Pribor. A laser beam is used to initiate ammunition at a given range. According to information from open sources, in 2020, ammunition with remote detonation passed state tests.
A more "advanced" option is the use of guided projectiles. Despite the fact that the creation of guided projectiles in the caliber of 30 mm is rather difficult, similar projects exist. In particular, the American company Raytheon is developing the MAD-FIRES (Multi-Azimuth Defense Fast Intercept Round Engagement System) project. Within the framework of the MAD-FIRES project, guided projectiles for automatic cannons with a caliber of 20 to 40 mm are being developed. MAD-FIRE ammunition must combine the accuracy and control of missiles with the speed and rate of fire of conventional ammunition of the appropriate caliber. These issues are discussed in more detail in the article. 30-mm automatic guns: sunset or a new stage of development?.
MAD-FIRES guided projectile prototype
In addition to kinetic damage, there are other ways to protect surface ships from attacking anti-ship missiles - we will talk about them in the next article.