Bridges under fire
of the latter, News - Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine Danilov openly announced the study of a strike on the Crimean bridge. As far as this is technically possible, the official did not specify, but this fact itself should cause special attention. It is difficult to even imagine the problems with military and civilian logistics that the Russian group of troops will have. And this, not to mention serious reputational losses comparable to the death of the cruiser Moskva. Dmitry Medvedev has already commented on Danilov's attack:
“One of the stubborn Ukrainian bosses said about the need to strike at the Crimean bridge. I hope he understands that he will be a retaliatory target.”
Without disclosing retaliatory goals, we can say that the Ukrainian bridges across the Dnieper, which connect the two parts of the country, are already a tasty target for the Aerospace Forces. An endless stream of NATO weapons, capable of complicating the actions of the Russian army, should be cut off at the Dnieper line. In addition, reservists, as well as military personnel who have undergone retraining abroad, are transferred through these arteries.
In total, there are at least 45 bridge crossings on Ukrainian territory, each of which can be used to transfer enemy equipment and manpower. Of course, the destruction of all this economy will entail many problems. First of all, civil communications in the territories that are still controlled by the Kyiv regime will be disrupted. For example, in Kyiv, after the destruction of bridges, it will be impossible to get from the left bank to the right. The flow of refugees from the east of the country will also stop, and this to a large extent ties the hands of the Russian troops, who are forced to take into account the risks of civilian deaths. The hypothetical destruction of the famous all-welded Paton Bridge in Kyiv can be seen as a loss of cultural value. The destruction of bridge crossings at the Kakhovskaya, Kievskaya, Dneprovskaya, Kremenchugskaya and Srednedneprovskaya hydroelectric power stations will be catastrophic. Despite the fact that all these HPPs belong to the flat class, the water level in the Dnieper in case of destruction downstream, they will raise by several meters. The collapse of electricity throughout the country is not even worth talking about. However, it is possible not to bring the hydroelectric power station to the total destruction, the main thing is to disable the roadbed of the dams. The limited nature of the operation, which provides for the destruction of only critically important bridges for military logistics, cannot be dismissed. For example, only railway crossings.
Given all the humanitarian consequences of such strikes, we must answer one question - how far can we go in protecting our own military in Ukraine? Even the destruction of railway junctions in this situation looks like a half-measure. Who prevents NATO weapons from being unloaded from platforms in an open field? For Ukrainians, this is a difficult task, but far from overwhelming. Now in Ukraine the concept of military infrastructure is very vague. For example, can we talk about the Dnieper bridges as civilian infrastructure if they carry military cargo to the east? The question is rhetorical.
Complex goals for complex systems
Despite the complexity of destroying bridges, Russia has everything it needs for this - for example, Caliber and Iskander. However, the most effective way seems to be the destruction of bridges by high-precision corrected air bombs (KAB). Firstly, because it is much cheaper, and secondly, the warhead of heavy KABs is much more impressive. Unlike free-falling bombs, adjustable munitions can be dropped from a greater range from the target. In addition, the collateral damage from these high-precision munitions (circular probability deviation - up to 5-7 meters) is much more modest. By the way, in the "operating instructions" for adjustable bombs, railway and highway bridges are separately distinguished among the targets.
The main developer of Russian KABs is the Moscow JSC GNPP "Region", which is part of JSC "Corporation Tactical Missile Armament". The line of Russian corrected air bombs is distinguished by the unification of the main systems - homing heads, fuses, autopilot, steering gears, sources and interface systems with various carrier aircraft. If we do not take into account the entry-level air bomb KAB-250LG-E, which is suitable for destroying small warehouses and vulnerable equipment, then the KAB-500Kr opens the line of "bridge-piercing" devices. This is a universal bomb, which can be carried by the Su-24M, Su-25TM, Su-30MKI, Su-30MKK, Su-32, MiG-27K, MiG-29SMT and Su-34. Like other types of ammunition, the launch of a five-hundred-kilogram bomb can be carried out singly, in one gulp, from level flight, diving, pitching, and even at several spaced targets in one attack. The homing system is television-correlation. It is important that KAB-500Kr is a concrete-piercing ammunition capable of destroying up to 1,5 meters of reinforced concrete barriers or going 10 meters into medium-density soil. A three-meter bomb carrying 380 kilograms of explosives is an excellent tool for destroying bridge supports. Several volleys of such bombs can disable the bridge for a very long time. As you know, the destruction of the spans is not the most effective method - enemy engineering units will restore the tracks in a matter of days, but the destroyed supports will seriously complicate the work of the restoration teams. KAB-500Kr is an aerial bomb operating on the principle of "dropped and forgotten", which allows the carrier to leave the drop zone in time. In autonomous flight, the bomb is controlled by four aerodynamic rudders on autopilot commands. The bomb on the trajectory moves according to the ballistic algorithm from the calculated point of the carrier aircraft or the drop zone. A close analogue of the KAB-500Kr, which received an additional index E, is distinguished by a more advanced elemental base and a large application ceiling of 10 km. KAB-500Kr has a maximum drop height of 5 km.
The laser guidance system is implemented in a series of corrected bombs KAB-500L and KAB-500LG. Ammunition is distinguished by a 460-kilogram warhead and a semi-active vane homing head, which is mounted on a gimbal suspension on the head body. The bomb captures the target at a distance of 5-7 kilometers with a visibility of 10 km. Bridges can be illuminated both from an external source and from the aircraft. The modern modification KAB-500S-E, which is actively used during the special operation, is equipped with a GLONASS guidance system, which also makes it possible to implement the “drop it and forget it” principle.
And, finally, the real leaders among the corrected ammunition are the KAB-1500 series bombs, which can be used from all Russian combat aircraft, starting with the Su-30. The KAB-1500Kr and KAB-1500Kr-OD models are most suitable for destroying bridges directly. In the first case, the bomb has a high-explosive warhead (440 kg of explosives), in the second - a volumetric detonating warhead (650 kg of explosives). Ammunition is an impressive object with a length of 4,6 meters, a diameter of 0,58 meters and a drop-down plumage of 1,3 meters. If the Kr and OD series have a TV-correlation homing system, then the KAB-1500L-F variant already has a semi-active laser on a vane head. This is where the differences between the "laser" version end.
An excellent tool for destroying massive reinforced concrete parts of bridges is the KAB-1500L-Pr, which is distinguished by a concrete-piercing warhead capable of penetrating a barrier of 2 meters. Or enter the soil of medium density by 20 meters. As you can see from the index, this is a laser-guided bomb.
Managed Planning aviation bomb UPAB-1500B-E
The most modern one and a half ton bombs, which have already been tested in Ukraine, are UPAB-1500B (K08BE) and its gliding counterpart UPAB-1500B-E. The latest model is dropped at a distance of 50 kilometers from the target, which seriously increases the carrier's chances of being saved from enemy air defenses. The bomb carries more than a ton of warhead to the target using an inertial satellite guidance system.
With all the advantages of the KAB series systems, they have one global drawback - the need to use a manned carrier. Air defense in Ukraine, as you know, is not suppressed by 100%, which creates great risks when destroying enemy infrastructure. But for this purpose, the VKS has a number of specific “air defense openers”.