In the system of modern weapons of the armies of the advanced countries of the world, high-precision rocket weapons are given key importance. A special place is given to long-range cruise missiles designed to engage ground targets, such as the American Tomahawk of various modifications. It was these missiles launched from both sea and air carriers that played a key role in solving the problems of enemy air defense, gaining air superiority, disorganization of state and military control systems, destruction of enemy based systems and communications by destroying the most important elements of these systems.
The importance of this type of weapons in the system of air attack weapons is constantly increasing, especially in connection with the increased capabilities of air defense systems and the desire to reduce losses of Air Force personnel. In this regard, an objective assessment of the capabilities of the CD is very important, since both the underestimation and the overestimation of the enemy are equally dangerous.
Cruise missiles in the war
In recent military conflicts: Iraq - 1991, Yugoslavia - 1998, Afghanistan - 2001, Iraq - 2003, Libya - 2012, cruise missiles were assigned the main role, especially in the early stages of hostilities. Moreover, the number of starts was measured in hundreds.
These missiles were used for the first strike against air defense systems, command and control systems, long-range air defense systems, and important objects of state and military control. As a result of such attacks, the aggressor succeeded in suppressing the air direction system and the zone fire cover of the air defense systems in the direction of the main attack in air offensive operations, disrupting command and control, and disorganize resistance.
The first large-scale military operation, in which modern KR was massively used, was the Desert Storm. The intensity of their use is constantly changing as the advantages of this type of weapon over others are revealed. Thus, during the first four days of the operation, the share of the CD accounted for 16 percent of strikes. However, after two months of the campaign, this figure was 55 percent of the total number of all air strikes inflicted (with 80 percent of the launches accounted for by the SLCM). 297 launches were made from surface ships and submarines, of which 282 rockets hit their targets with six failures for technical reasons after launch and nine missiles did not come out of the launchers. Thus, according to official data, the success of the launches was close to 100 percent. However, it is possible that publicly announced high efficiency is propaganda pressure on a potential adversary.
The use of missiles in the first blows virtually eliminated the loss of manned aircraft in the subsequent phases of the operation. Thus, the CD showed its advantages as a weapon of first strike at the initial stage of the conflict.
However, disadvantages were also noted: the duration of the preparation of the flight task (up to 80 hours); difficulties with the choice of flight route, as in the specific conditions of the Iraqi terrain (not sufficiently intersected with the absence of noticeable landmarks) were limited by the trajectory of maneuvering; low efficiency with the defeat of mobile targets.
Based on the conclusions made by the US Department of Defense specialists, work began on improving the performance characteristics of the Kyrgyz Republic from 1993. Soon, new modifications (Block III) began to come into service, equipped with a GPS satellite navigation system, the use of which made it possible to significantly reduce the preparation time for a flight task.
The 1991 experience of the year was taken into account during 1998's operation “Fox in the Desert”, where new modifications of high-efficiency missiles were used, which reduced their consumption. So, 370 KR was released (13 did not hit targets for technical reasons). It should be noted that during this period, Iraq’s air defenses were disorganized and there was virtually no resistance.
The use of KR against Iraq was of a similar nature in the 2003 year, when, during Operation Shock and Awe, it was used around 700 KR. The KR was actively used during the NATO aggression against Yugoslavia in 1999. To participate in the hostilities, a powerful grouping of the Navy and Air Force was created, which at the first stage consisted of 49 warships (including three aircraft carriers) and 550 aircraft.
In the course of the operation, the combined forces of NATO for two days struck two massive missile air strikes (MRAUs), each lasting more than three hours. At the same time, the operational formation of forces in strikes has changed, with a separate echelon of cruise missiles. During the first strikes, more than 200 KR were used, of which the targeted objects hit 65 percent of the missiles (according to calculations, this indicator should be at least 80 percent), 10 missiles were shot down and six away from the target. This suggests that by defensive actions, masking, maneuvering, the defender is able to reduce the effectiveness of an adversary with overwhelming numerical and technical superiority.
However, it should be noted that despite a slight decrease in performance, the goals of the strikes were achieved. During the first phase of the operation, an 72 object was struck, of which 52 is a military.
In connection with the active opposition of the Armed Forces of Yugoslavia, NATO found it necessary to strengthen its grouping to 57 ships (four aircraft carriers). In the course of further hostilities, strikes were inflicted on 130 targets, of which 40 percent were civilian.
In general, more than 700 of the Kyrgyz Republic, released on Yugoslav objects, up to 70 percent were used to destroy stationary objects, and about 30 percent - on state administrative and industrial facilities. About 40 KR was shot down and 17 gone. Per day really hit up to 30 objects. As a result, NATO’s air operations seized complete air supremacy, disorganizing the air defenses of Yugoslavia, which ultimately led to the achievement of political goals.
In Afghanistan, around 600 KR was used, which is clearly redundant and, apparently, had the character of revenge and intimidation. There were no targets “worthy” of such a number of missiles in Afghanistan, there were no air defense systems, aerial surveillance system, aviation, a communication system, etc. Therefore, the operation “Inflexible Freedom” can be described as large-scale exercises in an environment close to combat, culminating in combat firing practice
In Libya, 112 KR was used during the first strike, which destroyed 20 from the first strike 22 objects.
As a rule, in all conflicts of the Kyrgyz Republic, they were used to defeat specific point objects, the destruction of which was achieved by disrupting the functioning of complex objects and systems organized in a certain area. For the destruction of each such point object with the required reliability, from one-two to three-four KR were allocated, depending on the design and size of this object and the degree of its protection by means of air defense.
The number of affected elements in the structure of military and government facilities varies significantly. So, relatively simple, such as radar posts, anti-aircraft missile systems, bridges, individual objects of the energy infrastructure, could be disabled or destroyed by the defeat of one or two elementary point objects from their structure.
More complex structures, such as command posts, communications centers, airfields, anti-aircraft missile systems, large objects of transport and energy infrastructure, required for the decommissioning (destruction) of the defeat of three or five elementary point objects from its structure.
Large industrial enterprises, military bases and other military and civilian objects, having in their composition a large number of structures, buildings, communications and other elements, can be disabled or destroyed by the defeat of 10 and more targeted objects.
Thus, for destruction (decommissioning) of significant military or civilian objects in the absence or weak air defense, an expenditure of two to four missiles is required, to defeat relatively simple objects — up to six to ten and more missiles — to destroy complex objects.
And if there is an organized air defense system, even built on the basis of obsolete means, the required outfit increases 1,3 – 1,5 times, reaching three to six missiles to hit relatively simple objects and 10 – 15 - more complex ones.
This means that even in the absence of effective air defense, the quantitative capabilities of defeating operatively important objects of the Kyrgyz Republic are relatively small - with typical consumption of 500 – 700 КР from 50 – 60 to 120 – 170 objects depending on their type. In the case of air defense cover up even with limited capabilities to counter the CD, the estimated number of targets hit will be reduced to 30 – 40 and 80 – 120, respectively.
That is, it is impossible to solve strategic tasks only with the use of the CD, since the number of objects that need to be hit for this, even in relatively weakly developed countries, can reach 500 – 600 and more. They need to be used in conjunction with manned aircraft, focusing on the performance of specific tasks that manned aircraft cannot solve or its use for the implementation of such tasks will be accompanied by unacceptable losses.
Assessing the capabilities of air defense to combat the Kyrgyz Republic from the experience of past military conflicts, it can be stated that the outdated long-range and medium-range air defense systems in use by the victims ’aggression countries could not hit the Kyrgyz Republic. The main reasons for this are their inability to destroy low-altitude air targets with a small effective dispersion surface (EPR), as well as the desire of the aggressor to bypass the deployment areas of the air defense missile system, preventing its CR from entering the zone of destruction of the air defense missile system.
Anti-aircraft short-range fire weapons from the object-defense system, primarily anti-aircraft artillery systems, have become the main means of fighting the CD. Their probability of defeating the Kyrgyz Republic in four to six percent (from the experience of the war in Yugoslavia), given the fact that these were outdated samples that do not have modern fire control systems, can be considered quite high. This may be evidence that the object defense system, based on modern short-range means, can be an effective tool to combat the CD.
So, if the object air defense system will be equipped with such complexes as Pantsir-S, Thor and the like, as well as mobile medium-range air defense systems capable of fighting CD, then if there is a minimum necessary low-altitude radar field, ensure the required covering reliability It will be quite possible for the most important objects from the KR, especially if the corresponding EW facilities capable of suppressing the KR management system will be included in this system.
The effectiveness of electronic countermeasures of the Kyrgyz Republic turned out to be comparable in effectiveness to the firing means of the target anti-aircraft defense, which, according to the experience of Yugoslavia, led away from the target about 2,5 percent of the Kyrgyz Republic. In operational terms, this is of course a minor result. However, given the lack of electronic countermeasures of the control system of the Kyrgyz Republic in the Yugoslav army’s armament, it should be recognized as quite good, giving reason to rely on an operationally significant effect when using modern electronic warfare equipment specialized for fighting the control system.
An important feature of the application of the CD is a fairly large scale volley in the target area, due to the movement of volley rockets along individual trajectories. It is very difficult to provide an approach to the target of rockets with an interval of a shorter cycle of firing anti-aircraft fire weapons. That is, in fact, rockets approach the target one by one, occasionally in small groups of two rockets. This creates favorable conditions for repelling the strikes of the KR, especially anti-aircraft fire weapons with a small firing cycle.
The movement of the Kyrgyz Republic along individual trajectories bypassing the air defense zones makes it difficult to cover them with EW facilities both on the flight route and in the target area, which, to some extent, makes it easier to fight them for anti-aircraft fire weapons.
A number of conclusions can be drawn from the analysis of the experience of using the US CD from the perspectives of their development.
The Kyrgyz Republic, of course, is a powerful armament system, but they do not cancel manned aircraft and cannot fully replace it. Its operational niche in the armament system is the fight against targets that are well protected against air defense, the suppression of air defense systems and the control of troops in certain areas.
The task of crushing the enemy's armed forces grouping, undermining its economic potential, relying mainly on the Kyrgyz Republic in conventional equipment, even in the medium term, cannot be solved due to the huge need for these weapons (it is not economically feasible), for the delivery of which there are not enough carriers.
Among the most important strengths of this weapon, stemming from the experience of its use, we can note the high secrecy compared with other means of air attack (EAS), a greater range of fire, which virtually eliminates personnel losses, excellent accuracy of hitting the target, ensuring the reliability of hitting the target. (when the rocket reaches its goal) and minimizes collateral damage.
The weak sides of this weapon, which facilitate the fight against it, include low flight speed, a large scale volley in the target area, and difficulties with covering with EW collective means.
In addition, a long cycle of input and correction of flight missions of these missiles (ranging from an hour and a half for missiles with which such correction is possible in flight, up to ten or more hours that do not have such a possibility) allows them to be used (at least for the nearest perspective) against stationary or low-maneuverable objects.
What can be opposed to a winged threat
The experience of the combat use of the CD, despite the demonstration by these weapons of exceptionally high efficiency, suggests that it can be effectively dealt with if an air defense system is created taking into account their strengths and weaknesses.
First, it is advisable to strive to build an air defense system with reliance primarily on maneuverable forces and assets. Their change of position at least once every two to three hours will dramatically (at times) reduce the likelihood of their defeat of the CD.
Secondly, to organize operational frontiers of combat with the Kyrgyz Republic on the basis of a continuous low-altitude radar field created by radar patrol airplanes (XRD) (for example, such as A-50 and its modifications, and specially trained fighters to combat the CD The RLD will destroy the KR on the flight routes. Russia as such could use MiG-31 interceptors.
Thirdly, to create an effective object-based air defense system based on modern short-range anti-aircraft fire weapons and specialized EW equipment, primarily around potential high-impact air strikes of the KR - air defense system objects (primarily long-range and medium-range air defense systems, fighter radar stations, aerodromes of fighter aviation) , control centers and communications centers), military and government administration.
Fourthly, to conduct a sufficient amount of operational camouflage measures (in particular, distortion of the radar picture of the terrain), which will not only hide objects of impact, but also in the event of a strike, will significantly reduce the accuracy of CR hit the target or lead to false.
To counter missiles with passive thermal imaging guidance systems, it is possible to create false thermal targets in the final segment, which will reduce the likelihood of hitting a real object.
Other effective and inexpensive methods are also likely.
However, even the measures considered may reduce the effectiveness of the application of the CD by four to six times, making their use for a number of tasks economically impractical.
In general, it can be stated that the CD is one of the most powerful modern weapons systems that use conventional ammunition. However, any means of attack is always a means of defense. The experience of combat use of the U.S. missile defense and an analysis of the capabilities of existing and prospective air defense systems indicate that the creation of an effective system to counter this weapon is quite possible.