When it comes to the conduct of hostilities in the air, then most often they talk about the range - the range of detection of the enemy by reconnaissance means, radar and optical location stations (radar and OLS), the firing range of air-to-air (V-V) or air-to-ground missiles ( B-C). It would seem that everything is logical? I spotted the enemy at maximum range before he spotted you, launched V-V or V-Z missiles earlier, first hit an enemy fighter or anti-aircraft missile system (SAM). Meanwhile, in the foreseeable future, the format of the war in the air may undergo radical changes.
Imagine that a stealth fighter was the first to spot an enemy combat aircraft, possibly with the help of external target designation, and was the first to launch B-B missiles. To increase the probability of hitting a target, two V-V missiles were fired. Judging by the effective dispersion surface (EPR), the enemy aircraft belongs to the fourth generation machines. Potentially, he can "twist" one V-V missile, but he has no chance of evading two. It would seem that victory is inevitable?
Suddenly, the marks of the B-B missiles disappeared, while the enemy plane continues to fly as if nothing had happened, without even changing its course and speed. The stealthy fighter fires two more V-B missiles - the pilot gets nervous, only two V-B missiles remain in the weapons bay. However, the missile marks disappear, like the previous ones, and the enemy aircraft continues its flight calmly.
Having fired the last two V-V missiles and no longer counting on victory, the pilot of the stealth fighter turns the car and tries to break away from the enemy aircraft at maximum speed. The last thing the pilot hears before ejection is the warning system signal about the approach of enemy air-to-air missiles.
How can the above scenario come true? The answer is active defense systems of promising combat aircraft, one of the key elements of which will be promising small-sized anti-missiles В-В, ensuring the destruction of В-В missiles of the enemy with a direct hit (hit-to-kill).
It is very difficult to hit a rocket with a rocket, in fact, "bullet to bullet". In the early stages of the development of air-to-air and surface-to-air missiles, this was almost impossible to implement, therefore, high-explosive fragmentation and rod warheads (warheads) were used to defeat targets, and are still mostly used today. Their destructive abilities are based on the detonation of warheads and the formation of a field of fragments or ready-made destructive elements (GGE), providing direct target destruction at some distance from the point of initiation with varying probability. The calculation of the optimal detonation time is carried out by special remote fuses.
The principle of operation of the core warhead
At the same time, there are a number of targets, the defeat of which by fragments can be difficult because of their significant size, mass, speed and strength of the shell. This primarily applies to the warheads of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), which can be guaranteed to be destroyed only with a direct hit or with the help of a nuclear warhead (nuclear warhead).
A transatmospheric kinetic interceptor must engage ICBM warheads using a direct hit method.
Supersonic anti-ship missiles, which, due to their size and mass, can reach the attacked ship by inertia, are also a difficult target for the destruction of fragmentation warheads - the fragments may not cause detonation of the warhead.
On the other hand, there are small, high-speed targets, such as air-to-air missiles, which are just as difficult to shoot down with a fragmentation or rod warhead.
In the late XX - early XXI century, homing heads (GOS) appeared, allowing to ensure a direct hit of a missile on a target - another missile or warhead. This method of defeat has several advantages. Firstly, the mass of the warhead can be reduced, since it does not need to form a field of fragments. Secondly, the likelihood of hitting the target increases, since a missile hit will inflict much more damage on it than one or more fragments hit. Thirdly, if, when a missile hits a target from a fragmentation warhead, a cloud of debris visible on the radar appears, then it is not always clear whether they are debris of the missile and the target or only the missile itself, while in the case of hit-to-kill the appearance of a field of debris with a high probability indicates that the target has been hit.
An important element that ensures the possibility of a direct hit is the presence of a gas-dynamic control belt, which provides a V-V missile, anti-aircraft guided missile (SAM) or an anti-missile with the possibility of intensive maneuvering when approaching a target.
Gas-dynamic control belt
V-V missiles against V-V missiles
Can existing air-to-air missiles be used to intercept air-to-air missiles or missiles? Perhaps, but the effectiveness of such a solution will be very low. First of all, without serious revision, the probability of interception will be low. An exception can be considered the Israeli air-to-air missile Stunner, made on the basis of the eponymous anti-missile system of the land-based system "David's Sling", which provides hit-to-kill target destruction.
Modern V-V missiles can potentially intercept enemy V-V and SAM missiles, but the effectiveness of such a solution will be low
The Israeli air-to-air missile Stunner was tested from the F-16 fighter and is apparently the most effective air-to-air missile in existence, capable of striking enemy air-to-air missiles and missiles
Secondly, air-to-air missiles are mostly designed to intercept enemy aircraft at long ranges - tens and hundreds of kilometers. They will not be able to intercept a V-V missile or an air defense missile at such a range - its dimensions are too small, it is far from the fact that the carrier's radar will be able to detect them at such a distance. At the same time, to ensure a long flight range, a lot of fuel is required, which leads to an increase in the size of the rocket.
Thus, when using V-V missiles to intercept enemy V-V missiles, a situation may arise when, with comparable ammunition, the consumption of V-V missiles of a defending fighter will be higher, since several V-V missiles may need to be launched on one enemy V-V missile. used as an anti-missile. As a result, the defending aircraft will remain unarmed earlier than the attacking one, and will be destroyed despite the missiles it has shot down.
The way out of this situation is the development of specialized air-to-air interceptors, and such work is being actively carried out by our probable enemy.
CUDA / SACM
On the basis of the AIM-120 air-to-air missile in the United States, Lockheed Martin is developing a promising small-sized guided missile CUDA capable of striking both aircraft and air-to-air / surface-to-air missiles of the enemy. Its distinctive feature is the dimensions and the presence of a gas-dynamic control belt that are halved compared to the AIM-120 missile.
The CUDA missile must hit targets with a direct hit-to-kill. In addition to the radar homing head, like the AIM-120 missile, it should be able to correct radio signals from the carrier's aircraft. This is extremely important when repelling group launches of V-V missiles and enemy air defense missile systems: in order to prevent all interceptor missiles from reaching the same target, as well as to quickly re-target anti-missiles from already destroyed targets to new ones.
The data on the firing range of CUDA missiles differ: according to some data, the maximum range will be about 25 kilometers, according to others - 60 kilometers or more. It can be assumed that the second figure is closer to reality, since the range of the original AIM-120 missile in the AIM-120C-7 version is 120 kilometers, and in the AIM-120D version - 180 kilometers. Part of the volume of the CUDA rocket will go to accommodate a gas-dynamic engine, but, on the other hand, it must be borne in mind that the implementation of hit-to-kill targets can significantly reduce the size and weight of the warhead.
The dimensions of the CUDA missile will significantly increase the ammunition load of both fifth-generation stealth fighters (for which this is especially important) and fourth-generation aircraft. So, the ammunition load of the F-22 fighter can be 12 CUDA missiles + 2 short-range AIM-9X missiles, or 4 CUDA missiles + 4 AIM-120D missiles + 2 AIM-9X missiles.
For fighters of the F-35 family, the ammunition load can be 8 CUDA missiles or 4 CUDA missiles + 4 AIM-120D missiles (for the F-35A, the placement of 6 AIM-120D missiles in the internal compartment is considered, in this case its ammunition load will be comparable to the F-22 ammunition load) , except for short-range missiles AIM-9X).
There is nothing to say about the ammunition load of the fourth generation fighters, placed on the external sling. The newest F-15EX fighter can carry up to 22 AIM-120 missiles, or, respectively, up to 44 CUDA missiles.
A similar missile CUDA - a small missile with improved capabilities (Small Advanced Capability Missile - SACM) is being developed by Raytheon, which is logical, given that it is she who produces the AIM-120 missile. In general, the relationship between US defense contractors has a stable state of love-hate - huge concerns either cooperate with each other or compete fiercely for military orders. Given the secrecy of the CUDA / SACM program, it is unclear if SACM Raytheon is an extension of Lockheed Martin's CUDA or if they are different projects. It seems like Raytheon won the tender, but whether it used the developments of Lockheed Martin is unclear.
It can be assumed that the CUDA / SACM program has a high priority in the US Air Force (Air Force), since the result obtained will allow not only to actually double the ammunition of combat aircraft, but also to ensure an increased probability of hitting enemy aircraft due to a direct hit-to-kill hit , as well as provide combat aircraft with the possibility of self-defense by effectively intercepting enemy V-V missiles and missiles.
If the CUDA / SACM missiles are more correctly called air-to-air missiles with advanced anti-missile capabilities, then the MSDM missile must be classified precisely as a short-range air-to-air missile.
MSDM / MHTK / HKAMS
The program for the development of a small-sized MSDM (Miniature Self-Defense Munition) anti-missile missile with a length of about one meter and a mass of about 10-30 kilograms of Raytheon aims to provide combat aircraft with means of short-range self-defense. The small size and weight of MSDM interceptors will allow them to be deployed in large numbers in weapons bays with minimal damage to the main armament. A key requirement for the project is also to minimize the cost of a single item and their production in large series so that these ammunition can be spent in large quantities.
The primary target designation for MSDM-type interceptors should be issued by the radar and OLS of the carrier aircraft, as well as by the missile attack warning system.
Presumably, Raytheon MSDM missiles will only have passive guidance to thermal radiation using an infrared homing head (IR seeker), supplemented by the ability to target a radar radiation source - for better interception of enemy V-B missiles with an active radar homing head (ARLGSN), and According to one of the company's patents, the elements of guidance for radar radiation are located not in the head part, but in the steering surfaces. Raytheon's MSDM missile defense is expected to be completed by the end of 2023.
Image from the Raytheon patent for the placement of radar sensors in steering surfaces
Lockheed Martin is also working in this direction. About her aviation There is very little information on the anti-missile, but there is information about the testing of an MHTK (Miniature Hit-to-Kill) missile of the surface-to-air (Z-V) class, designed to intercept artillery mines, shells and unguided rockets. Most likely, the Lockheed Martin anti-aircraft missile is structurally similar to the MHTK anti-missile.
The length of the MNTK anti-missile is 72 centimeters and weighs 2,2 kilograms. It is equipped with an ARLGSN - such a solution is more expensive than that of Raytheon, but it may become more effective when working on air-to-air missiles and missiles (for intercepting artillery mines, shells and unguided missiles, ARLGSN is an inevitable necessity). The range of the MNTK anti-missile is 3 kilometers, respectively, the aviation version can have a comparable or slightly longer range.
Tests of the MNTK anti-missile and the dimensions of the MNTK anti-missile model relative to the size of a five-dollar banknote
The European company MBDA is developing an HKAMS antimissile with a mass of about 10 kilograms and a length of about 1 meter. The specialists of the MBDA company believe that the improvement of the seeker of promising V-V missiles will make the traditional traps and decoys used by combat aircraft ineffective, and only V-V anti-missiles will be able to resist the enemy's V-V missiles.
It is characteristic that in all photos and images of MSDM / MHTK / HKAMS interceptors there is no visible gas-dynamic control belt, it is possible that super-maneuverability is realized by the deviation of the thrust vector.
The small dimensions of the MSDM / MHTK / HKAMS interceptor missiles will allow them to be deployed in three instead of one AIM-9X melee V-V missile, or, presumably, six MSDM missiles instead of one AIM-120 family missile.
Thus, the F-22 fighter will be able to carry 12 CUDA missiles + 6 MSDM missiles, or 4 CUDA missiles + 4 AIM-120D missiles + 6 MSDM missiles.
The ammunition load of the F-15EX fighter can be, for example, 8 AIM-120D missiles + 16 CUDA missiles + 36 MSDM interceptors. And when solving a problem, for example, covering a long-range radar detection aircraft (AWACS), the ammunition load can include 132 MSDM anti-missiles or 22 CUDA missiles + 64 MSDM anti-missiles.
Northrop Grumman also patented a kinetic anti-missile defense system for stealth aircraft, which can be compared to something like an active defense complex (KAZ) for tanks... The proposed missile defense complex should include retractable launchers with small-sized anti-missiles oriented in different directions to provide all-round defense of the aircraft. In the retracted position, the launchers do not increase the visibility of the wearer. It is quite possible that this solution will be implemented on promising bomber B-21 and on a promising sixth generation fighter, and MSDM or MHTK anti-missiles (in the aviation version) will act as destructive ammunition.
Image from Northrop Grumman's patent for a kinetic anti-missile defense system for stealth aircraft - launchers should house small anti-missiles and maneuvering decoys with electronic warfare (EW)
Based on the foregoing, it can be concluded that air-to-air anti-missile missiles will become one of the main elements of gaining air supremacy in the XNUMXst century, at least in its first half, and their development should become one of the main priorities of the Russian Air Force.