So, regular statements by Washington on the topic “we do not plan to destroy Russia” appear regularly. To a very large extent, this is an absentee discussion with Putin's statements about the "lethal" threat that will be created for Russia if American medium-range and short-range missiles are deployed in Ukraine.
The paradox is that inside Russia the president's theses were carefully ignored both by regular propagandists and by the whole horde of "experts" existing in symbiosis with them. What is more here: outright illiteracy or direct sabotage is a separate issue.
At the same time, the rare appearance of “rocket” theses in the media instantly drowns in the tantrums of jingoistic patriots.
Meanwhile, the issue was raised in the year before last. Putin, June 2021: “If Ukraine joins NATO, then the flight time of missiles from Kharkov or Dnepr to Moscow will be reduced to 7-10 minutes. If Russia deployed missiles on the southern border of Canada or the northern border of Mexico, how would the US react to this?
In the most detailed form, the problem was voiced on February 21 last year.
“Finally, after the United States broke the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, the Pentagon is already openly developing a whole range of ground-based strike weapons, including ballistic missiles capable of reaching targets at a distance of up to 5,5 thousand kilometers. If such systems are deployed in Ukraine, they will be able to hit objects throughout the European territory of Russia, as well as beyond the Urals. The flight time to Moscow for Tomahawk cruise missiles will be less than 35 minutes, ballistic missiles from the Kharkov area - 7-8 minutes, and hypersonic strike weapons - 4-5 minutes. This is called, directly "knife to the throat." And they, no doubt, expect to realize these plans.
In other words, we are talking about the threat of a disarming and decapitating strike. The purpose of which is to destroy the main part of the enemy's nuclear potential before he has time to react.
Naturally, it is impossible to guarantee 100% effectiveness of a disarming strike. That is why the offensive component must be supplemented by a "defensive" missile defense system. The quotes here are not random.
The creation of a disarming strike capability and the development of a “finishing” missile defense system are tightly interconnected “elements”. So, until recently, quite a standard thesis of Western propaganda was the statement that missile defense was not capable of repelling a massive strike, and therefore was allegedly not directed against Russia.
Indeed, the creation of a missile defense system capable of intercepting a full salvo of strategic missiles is almost unrealistic. However, the picture changes dramatically if 80-90% of the enemy's missile potential is destroyed before launch.
Restrictions on missile defense were introduced precisely because in a situation of a preventive strike, a much more compact version than is necessary for a total interception can play a decisive role - and this was a powerful destabilizing factor.
Finally, it should be borne in mind that 100% interception of "remnants" is not an imperative goal in reality. nuclear efficiency weapons extremely far from fantastic mass representations; at the same time, the stories of the Western elite about the infinite value for them of the life of any subject are worth practically nothing.
Actually, the deployment of "preventive" systems automatically assumes that an impressive number of Americans and a huge number of Europeans have already been written off as acceptable losses. Simply because the West has no non-coercive options for maintaining dominance.
Pershing - Second Edition
Let's take a closer look at the current US efforts.
So, Washington announced its intention to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty) in November 2017 - that is, less than a month after the successful testing of the prototype "long-range hypersonic weapon" (LRHW).
The "experimental phase" of the LRHW is considered to be the army's AHW program (tests in 2011 and 2014).
The declared range of the LRHW is over 1 miles (725 km). Tests in 2 were carried out at a distance of more than 775 thousand nautical miles. The “carrier” of the missile is a modified M2017 semi-trailer of the Patriot air defense system with two containers.
The naval version of the program using the same C-HGB hypersonic unit is the CPS program. The new missiles are to be part of the arsenal of Virginia Block V multi-purpose submarines equipped with an additional VPM (Virginia Payload Module) payload module with 28 vertical launchers. Also, Zumwalt destroyers are considered as carriers.
At the same time, initially naval RSDs, work on which began at the beginning of the 3s, were considered as an option for arming strategic submarines, including those converted into cruise missile carriers (4-XNUMX RSDs in each Trident mine). It is very likely that such a "conversion" is possible for CPS as well.
In parallel, DARPA is developing a promising RSD Operational Fires (OpFires). The range is estimated at 1–600 km. At the same time, we are talking about a project that is very indicative in terms of basing flexibility and the possibility of overcoming missile defense, a project that deserves separate consideration.
repeats and история with the "landing" of cruise missiles on the model of the ground-based "Tomahawks" of the 80s ("Griffin"). On December 3, 2022, the US Army announced the receipt of the first experimental battery of the Mid-Range Capability (MRC) ground-based missile system, aka Typhon. We are talking about a mobile system using a quad navy vertical launcher Mk. 41 for all the same "Tomahawks" plus anti-aircraft missiles SM-6 (for ground targets).
Short-range missiles have traditionally been in the shadow of IRMs, but the changes planned here are also extremely remarkable. Let me remind you that in the American case, tactical missiles act as an alternative equipment for conventional MLRS. HIMARS carries one MIM-140 ATACMS missile, M270 - two.
At the same time, according to the plans of the Pentagon, the "outdated" ATACMS will be replaced by the Precision Strike Missile (PrSM). The base range of the missile is about 500 (499+) km, in the Inc 2 modification it is planned to bring it up to 700–750 km. For Inc 4, which is being developed in parallel, the wishes have been increased to 1 km - through the use of ramjet engines. For reference: the distance from Kharkov to Moscow is 000 km, from Sumy - 647.
Meanwhile, the number of M270 MLRS and HIMARS in service with the United States alone before deliveries to Ukraine was more than 600 units.
Further, as in the 80s, the United States intends to build an impressive "fleet" of stealth strategic bombers. Let me remind you that initially the main task of the B-2 was precisely the hunt for mobile ground-based ICBM systems (aka PGRK) and OTRK.
Finally, there is a program of "non-kinetic" impact on the missile potential of "victims" - including sabotage, electronic warfare, etc.
…and SDI 2.0
Now let's look at the anti-missile component.
Over the past decade and a half, the United States has made systematic efforts to develop missile defense. The result is obvious. In 2017 and 2019, the ICBM simulator was intercepted by the ground-based GMD system, and in 2020 by the naval missile defense component (SM-3 Block IIA).
Meanwhile, everything that we have observed so far is only the first stage of the project.
Let me remind you that when intercepting in the final section, the missile defense system is forced to interact with a “complex ballistic target” of “divided” warheads, decoys, jammers, etc. At the same time, it is enough to shoot down a single and perfectly “visible” target in the initial section. As a result, the functions of the ground-based missile defense system of the “final section” are auxiliary, this is the last echelon.
So, interception in the initial part of the trajectory is the main mode of a rationally constructed missile defense system. In most cases, this can only be done from space.
The most realistic and conservative option here is the reincarnation of the “Diamond Pebbles” of the SDI era. That is, the placement in space of already used kinetic interceptors. At the same time, their task will be much simpler than when intercepting warheads in the final section of the trajectory.
In the 80s, it was believed that 4 interceptors were enough in the variant of a preventive strike.
Since then, the number of targets has been drastically reduced - for example, the fleet of Soviet / Russian ICBMs has shrunk from 1 to 398 units (for 310).
One way or another, already in July 2018, the US military budget was published, providing for the creation of a missile defense space echelon - first a “sensor” one. In November of the same year, the State Department formally refused to sign the "Treaty to Prevent the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space" proposed by China and Russia. The draft UN resolution “Non-First Deployment of Weapons in Outer Space” was also blocked.
In January 2019, a National Missile Defense report was published stating the obvious. "The interception of offensive missiles in the launch phase will make it possible to more effectively respond to missile threats, to use a smaller number of interceptor missiles to intercept enemy missiles in the middle and final sections of their flight."
Explaining Washington's position, Acting US Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan stated in plain text that the United States intends to supplement space "sensors" with a shock component.
One way or another, the combination of missile defense and disarmament means is a bid for unlimited military dominance. It hardly needs to be specified that an enemy deprived of its own nuclear potential will be under the threat of large-scale US atomic strikes - at best, it will have a choice between capitulation and genocide.
What is the role of Ukraine in this context?
Theoretically, the entire European part of Russia and the Urals are achievable for LRHW already when deployed on the eastern flank of the current NATO (in Poland, Romania, etc.). However, let me remind you that the task of "disarming" missiles is not just to reach, but to reach the targets in less time than the reaction time of the enemy.
Now let's look at the location of the position areas of the Strategic Missile Forces. Let me remind you that in total they have 3 armies and 12 divisions.
27th Rocket Army, 5 divisions. Positional areas farthest to the east are Yoshkar-Ola and Svetly (Saratov region). Distance Warsaw - Saratov - 1 km, Warsaw - Yoshkar-Ola - 711 km. When hosting in Romania, the distances are even shorter.
In other words, the entire army is within the range of the late Pershing (1 km) with its ten-minute flying time. That being said, a longer-range/"energetic" LRHW at the same range will be significantly faster.
In other words, outside the context of deploying a powerful anti-missile defense, the 5th Army is practically dead.
Let's return to the geography of the Strategic Missile Forces. 31st Rocket Army. 3 divisions: in Pervomaisky (70 km north of Kirov), Yasnoye and Dombarovsky (extreme east of the Orenburg region), and Svobodny (10 km from Verkhnyaya Salda).
Pervomaisky is removed from possible starting positions in Poland and Romania at a distance of about 1 km. The difference with the Western group is not fundamental.
However, for the Ural positional the situation looks different.
Distance Warsaw - Upper Salda - 2 km, Iasi - Upper Salda - 555 km. Warsaw - Dombarovsky - 2 km, Iasi - Dombarovsky - 499 km.
The flight time of comparable LRHW missiles to a range of about 2 km is well known and is already about 500 minutes.
Equally well known is the time it takes to make a decision about retaliation. Naturally, according to American data, this is a terrible military secret in Russia.
Formally, it is 25 minutes long, but the meeting of the president with the committee of chiefs of staff takes 10 minutes, obviously, which is mainly political in nature. In this case, the scenario provides for the detection of launches from satellites, which generates a significant number of errors. Obviously, with launches near the borders, fixed by early warning radars, the uncertainty is much less.
In other words, the flight time to the Ural position areas is likely to be excessive disarming strike.
At the same time, the shift of positions to the Baltic states does not solve the problem in any way. In addition to a limited gain in distance, Baltiya is an extremely unsuccessful option.
Undoubtedly, too complacent attitude towards NATO's Eastern Baltic foothold is ill-founded and harmful. However, it is in the case of RSD that the compactness and specific geography of the Baltic states make it an extremely inconvenient position.
For example, placing missiles too close to the border makes it possible to shoot them down on the active part of the trajectory, that is, extremely effectively. Meanwhile, in the case of the Baltic states, the situation is aggravated by the presence of potential Russian positions in the rear (Kaliningrad and the Baltic Fleet), which ensures the interception "in pursuit", with a minimum approach speed - and the same probability of a miss.
At the same time, if we exclude extreme options with the placement of IRMs practically at the positions of a potential Russian missile defense system (for example, in the Daugavpils region), then the possibilities of attacking the South Urals position areas will not be better than in the case of the Romanian option (Riga - Dombarovsky - 2 km) . In the case of the northern Urals, a gain of 393-500 km is theoretically possible, but also at the cost of the extreme vulnerability of missiles in the active site. For example, 700 km can be obtained by placing RSD positions near ... Narva, 700 - near Tallinn or in a comparable region of Estonia.
In other words, the Baltic gain in a realistic scenario (central Latvia) is limited by approaching Verkhnyaya Salda by about 370 km - under the greenhouse conditions of missile defense operation.
In the case of Finland, the situation for NATO is more optimistic, but not ideal. In other words, with realistic options for the deployment of RSD, the positional area in the northern Urals is undoubtedly under threat - for example, the distance Verkhnyaya Salda - Yuvaskyla - 1 km in the absence of rear missile defense positions.
At the same time, the distance in relation to the South Ural position areas will be frankly excessive, about the same 2 km. Thus, all the "north-western" options for the deployment of RSDs leave out of reach a very impressive geographically and, perhaps, the most problematic region for a disarming strike.
However, the “shift” of the starting positions to Ukraine solves the problem. Distance Poltava - Dombarovsky - 1 km. The distance Poltava - Verkhnyaya Salda is 776 km, while it is clearly not the minimum possible.
An additional problem is the need to build anti-missile defenses for two very different directions when trying to protect the Northern Urals and European position areas.
... And the second edition of 1941
It would seem that there is an obvious solution to the problem - "just" to move 2/3 of the nuclear arsenal and decision-making centers as far as possible beyond the Urals. It is hardly worth specifying that “only” is already extremely expensive. However, in reality, things are much worse.
Let me remind you that ground-based RSDs are supplemented by missiles on submarines and an air component. At the same time, Siberia is, firstly, a narrow or very narrow strip with a more or less dense population and developed infrastructure, to the north of which there are no early warning systems - the easternmost of the northern stations in Vorkuta - and there is only focal air defense. At the same time, the Ukrainian Swifts recently once again proved how problematic it is to fight even with fairly primitive low-altitude targets.
Secondly, the huge northern maritime "facade". At the same time, the distance between Salekhard and Anadyr, even in a straight line, is 4 km - about 420 times more than the length of the notorious Faroe-Icelandic NATO anti-submarine line with all its branches in the Danish Strait, etc.
In other words, along with the creation of a defense of the required level, the price of the issue will be unbearable and, much worse, we may not just be “late in deployment”. We are going to be late. Putin's appeal to the situation of 1941 was not at all accidental.
At the same time, the president clearly does not share the opinion of "patriotic" gurus about the invulnerability of mobile ground systems and submarines. And even basic knowledge about the issue is enough to understand the reasons - however, this is a topic for a separate article. Some problems of submarine stability were also discussed at the VO.
In general, the situation would have been extremely difficult and dangerous without the Ukrainian factor. At the same time, the missile threat is by no means the only one emanating from the territory of Ukraine. It is “only” about the most immediate, deadly and obvious threat.