According to the theory of “long waves” of the Russian scientist Nikolai Kondratiev, a change of the so-called technological order (or waves) occurs every 50 – 60 years, and the process is accelerated. So, the first waves in modern stories humanity, associated with the use of water, steam, electricity, had just such a duration, the fourth wave lasted 40 years (1945 – 1985 years) and formed a way based on the development of energy using oil, gas, communications, synthetic materials and atomic energy .
Currently, developed countries live in the fifth technological order, which according to the forecast can be completed in the 2020 – 2030 years. The way of life is based primarily on advances in microelectronics, computer science, biotechnology, active use of space, satellite communications, etc. A sixth technological structure is being formed, which will be based on NBIC convergence (convergence of nano-, bio-, informational, and cognitive technology).
The whole history of mankind shows that any new technology finds its application first in the military field and only after a while it spreads to civilian products. Of course, the atomic boiler earned a little earlier than the atomic bomb was tested, but its main task was not the production of energy, but the production of weapons-grade plutonium. The technology of thermonuclear fusion still finds no other use than the hydrogen bomb, and even the Internet originally appeared for military communications networks. Many questions arise here about the impact of the new stage of the scientific and technological revolution on the development of armaments and military equipment.
We will try to answer the question: what will be the missile and artillery armament of the 21st century? Considering that currently the vast majority of articles, reports, forecasts are devoted to high-precision arms (WTO), moreover, of long range (hundreds and thousands of kilometers), for clarity and certainty, we will dwell on a specific class of missile and artillery weapons (RAV), namely anti-tank weapons (PTV). Why on it? Since actually Tanks appeared on the battlefield less than 100 years ago, this RAV class is quite new, it combines some of the most advanced types of weapons both in accuracy (getting into a relatively small mobile ground target is not easy) and in terms of power of action (hitting a modern tank is even more difficult). Finally, also because, in contrast to the means of hitting air targets that have developed over the same hundred years in a well-formed anti-aircraft defense (Air Defense) system, the domestic Armed Forces do not have a distinct anti-tank defense system (anti-aircraft defense).
"Red Hats" and RPG-7
Soon 100 will be exactly the first combat use of tanks. 15 September 1916 in France on the River Somme, British troops used the Mk.1 model cars against the German army. Field artillery, naturally, became the first "anti-tank weapon" (in quotation marks, because the artillery of that time was not intended specifically to fight tanks and its effectiveness was very low). The anti-tank mines (PTM), first self-made from artillery shells, and from December 1916 of the year - factory production, have become a truly specialized means. Until the end of the war, Germany produced almost three million PTMs, in which its opponents England and France lost about a quarter of their tanks. A little later, the Germans created anti-tank guns (PTP) caliber 37 millimeters ("Rheinmetall", obr.18 and Fisher models), capable of penetrating 15-mm armor at a distance of 500 meters. It was this gun that served as the basis for the development of the famous Russian “forty-fives”, released from 1937 to 1946 year in the amount of more than 60 thousand pieces. The very first anti-tank guns (PTR) - “Tankgever M1918” were used at the end of the First World War by the Germans against British and French vehicles. We will not dwell on the history of the famous Russian MTR systems of Degtyarev and Simonov, they were indispensable at the initial stage of the Great Patriotic War.
Along with PTP and PTR, armies of all countries widely used hand-held anti-tank grenades, at first high-explosive (for example, domestic RPG-40 and RPG-41), and from 1943 of the year and cumulative (RPG-43, RPG-6, German PWM-1 and German PWM-8 and ). From the same year, the Wehrmacht began to receive anti-tank faust-missiles of various modifications (more than 1942 million units were produced) with cumulative combat units (CU), which, along with the American bazooka (XNUMX year), became the prototype of all modern hand-held grenade launchers (RPG).
At the end of the Second World War, the first samples of anti-tank missile systems (ATGW) were developed in Germany ("Rothenkhen" - "Little Red Riding Hood"). To this day, anti-tank systems of various bases are the most common and powerful anti-tank weapon of the armies of all states.
Summarizing the data of a brief historical excursion, we can conclude that all the main types of combat vehicles (mines, guns, grenade launchers, rockets, and aviation means - cumulative bombs, rockets, automatic guns, etc.) were actually created by the end of World War II. It is worth noting a certain pattern in the development of PTAs - with the advent of tanks, general-purpose means were used against them (high-explosive artillery shells, bundles of hand grenades, high-explosive air bombs and rockets). The development of tanks led to the creation of highly specialized means - guns, armor-piercing shells, mines, hand grenade launchers, missile systems. Further improvement of armored vehicles in the second half of the XNUMXth century strengthened specialization, armor-piercing-submunition shells, tandem cumulative warheads capable of overcoming the protection of modern tanks appeared. It should be noted that many of the current guidance systems for guided anti-tank weapons and target sensors used in most high-precision munitions ensure that the striking element hits the armored (massive metal) target.
The expansion of the range of tasks solved by the TCP, primarily in local wars, armed conflicts and counterterrorism operations (for example, during the Iraqi 2003 campaign, most of the anti-tank missiles of portable Javelin complexes were launched for unarmored targets). It must be said that the USSR and the Russian Federation were and remain among the world leaders in this field. The first guided missiles with high-explosive warheads for helicopter ATGMs of the “Shturm-V” type were baptized in Afghanistan. Their further development - a missile with a high-explosive fragmentation warhead for the Ataka-V complex was used very effectively in the fight against terrorists in the Caucasus.
Of course, the determination of the prospects for the development of TCP is impossible without analyzing the trends of improving the tanks of a potential enemy and other objects of armored vehicles (OBTT). Even a brief analysis of these tendencies illustrates well the traditional opposition of the shield and the sword: each improvement in the quality of protection caused the appearance of a means to overcome it. And on the contrary - the emergence of a new means of overcoming protection caused its improvement. The thickness of the armor increased - the caliber of the guns increased. Cumulative warheads appeared - OBTT acquired protective screens, combined armor, mounted dynamic protection (DZ). Introduced tandem cumulative warheads capable of overcoming the hinged DZ, in response developed an embedded DZ. And so on.
Until the end of the 20th century, the development of the main battle tanks of the leading world states proceeded along the path of increasing all the most important characteristics: security, mobility, and firepower. For all this, of course, had to pay an increase in mass and cost. The best tanks of the world of the latest modifications are comparable in weight to heavy machines of the period of the Second World War (about 60 tons) and cost several million US dollars (Japanese "Type 90" - almost 10 million). The peak of the production of heavy armored vehicles also fell on the 80-s of the last century. In 1985, the USA produced more than a thousand Abrams type tanks, and the USSR produced up to 2500 units a year.
At the beginning of the XXI century, priorities in foreign tank building changed quite dramatically. For today, it is characteristic of a complete cessation of mass production in such leading powers as the USA, Great Britain, France and Germany. Only modernization of existing samples is carried out, primarily in the improvement of their information and control systems. For example, the modification of the Abrams М1А2 SEP V2 uses technologies developed under the program FCS "Combat Systems of the Future". Now tanks are able to detect enemy armored vehicles out of direct line of sight by receiving information from other sources, including satellites, in real time. This is how the principles of network-centric warfare are implemented. According to the well-known military analyst Mikhail Baryatinsky, the cost of modern tank digital electronics exceeds half the cost of a tank. As for the most ambitious American program FCS, it was planned to develop 18 types, including ground crew vehicles, including the promising tank MCS (weighing about 20 tons), as well as integrated crewless vehicles, drones and other automatic devices. That is, in the framework of this concept, the development of the tank itself serves to perform tasks of a higher level. A radical reduction in the mass of the tank was supposed to be achieved due to both the wide use of composite materials and the reduction of the thickness of the body armor while simultaneously increasing the firepower. To this end, in particular, new guided munitions are being developed, which should ensure the destruction of targets at a distance of up to 12 kilometers.
Continuous improvement of the OBTT, the expansion of the range of tasks solved PTS in various types of hostilities, led to a significant increase in the type of anti-tank weapons and a sharp increase in the range of used ammunition. Currently, there are four to six different types of RPGs in service, up to five types of portable ATGM with modifications, about the same number of models of self-propelled and helicopter complexes. Each modern ATGM can use from two to four or five types of guided missiles, and to the most famous Russian RPG-7, for example, more than ten different-purpose shots have been developed. Among them are cumulative monoblock and tandem, high-explosive fragmentation, anti-personnel, thermobaric, etc.
In the haze of forecasts
Taking into account the outlined prospects for the development of OBTT and the tasks solved by anti-tank weapons, the authors analyzed the requirements for promising TCP and modern technologies. The analysis showed that some reduction in requirements for the degree of destruction of tanks with single PTS ammunition and the achievements in advanced warhead technology created in the near future make it possible to switch to a single universal multi-purpose warhead for guided missiles, high-precision missile systems (VTRC) and salvo missiles fire (MLRS) and artillery shells main caliber. According to calculations, such a warhead must have a TNT equivalent of the order of 30 – 40 kilograms.
Of course, the natural weight and size restrictions on portable ATGMs and the so-called light complexes, designed, in our opinion, to replace in the near future, anti-tank grenade launchers, do not allow such power to be achieved at present. But the quite attainable equivalent in 10 – 15 kilograms will ensure the defeat of tanks in a less rigid than usual type. Now it is necessary to take the tank out of operation for hours or even days, and we consider it sufficient, if for minutes or tens of minutes. This will ensure effective destruction of all other targets. Such a degree is considered to be insufficient for ATGMs, even if light, but we believe that the promising wearable complex should be a multipurpose infantry weapon and the task of defeating tanks should be considered as network-centric, in which the fighter is just a component. Accordingly, his task will be of a limited nature: he stopped the tank, did not allow to hit himself, conveyed the information, disappeared.
In the light of the transition to building the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation according to the network-centric principle and the conduct of hostilities in the prospective unified intelligence-information space (SSIS), the importance of constantly finding any TCP in this space is difficult to overestimate. Modern technologies make it possible to provide each combat vehicle (helicopter, aircraft, command and control station, reconnaissance vehicle), TCP calculation, up to a separate grenade launcher, a means of determining its own and coordinates of the detected target and transmitting them to the SSIS. Our main problem at this stage is the development and introduction of new generation communication and data transmission to the troops, the unification of information exchange channels, the pairing of separate automated control systems and control automation tools and the solution of many other organizational and technical problems. That is, ultimately, the construction of the very URTI.
The solution of these problems will make it possible to move to a new principle of defeating small, high-security targets, including tanks, - group or, if you will, network-centric. This means that the goal is important to timely detect and transmit information about it in real time, after which a decision is made to defeat those means (in the near future, multi-purpose ones) that will do it with maximum efficiency.
Above, we noted that in the light of the above-mentioned concept of network-centric defeat, some reduction in the requirements for defeating a “tank” target with a single shot (launch) of a wearable PTS firing at a line of sight is permissible. Another situation with long-range TCP. Currently, it is believed that, having discovered an armored, motorized infantry or artillery unit on the march in the depths of the enemy’s battle formation, it is sufficient to detain it, disorganize it, and disable it for a while. There is a definite reason for this, given the transience of modern warfare and the fact that in the marching and even pre-combat order, it does not directly threaten us. But the same high dynamics of the battle, the maneuverability of the enemy will allow him to quickly restore combat capability, and taking into account the difficulty of detecting targets at long ranges, the principle of their destruction is advisable to correct. If we succeeded in detecting a potentially dangerous mobile target at a considerable distance and if there are means of destruction, then it is necessary to inflict maximum damage on the target from the first launch or salvo, since there can be no second - the target will disappear.
The gradual transition to modern forms of warfare, the new principle of hitting small-sized highly protected targets and the prospects for the emergence of a new generation of unified multipurpose TCPs make the question of the structure and characteristics of the anti-tank weapon system as an integral part of the overall advanced weapons system relevant. Justification of the rational structure of the PTV system, which corresponds to the modern concept of the conduct of hostilities and the level of technology development, requires a systematic approach.
Having conducted a significant amount of research, assessments, preliminary calculations, we came to the conclusion that for the next 10 – 15 years, the anti-tank armament system will be rational, based on a single (battalion company) wearable complex, a self-propelled and helicopter ATGM (VTRC).
The mentioned famous “forty”, like all its heirs - specialized anti-tank guns, is gradually leaving the arena. Calculations show that it is impractical to include the TAP in the PTV system either in towed or in self-propelled variants. At the same time, it is expedient to create a guided weapons complex of a promising tank with a rocket, ensuring the destruction of armored objects in the upper hemisphere at distances exceeding the effective range of tank guns with sabot projectiles, including when firing (launching) from closed positions. As an additional armament for armored combat vehicles, anti-tank systems should be used, as unified as possible with portable (light) or self-propelled vehicles. For a promising tank and all other armored combat vehicles, the most important requirement will also be the ability to function effectively in the SSIS, and their main and additional weapons must ensure defeat of a wide range of armored and unarmored targets.
Studies have shown that a promising multi-purpose STRC will exceed the MLRS in the effectiveness of attacking armored targets, therefore the use of missiles with self-guided or self-aiming combat elements designed for firing at such targets is justified only before the saturation of the VTRC troops. Multipurpose high-precision rocket and barreled ammunition, which can be aimed at various targets, not necessarily armored, will naturally complement the PTV system. At the same time, taking into account the peculiarities of using the mortar armament of the company’s battalion level, one can speak of the expediency of creating high-precision mines of caliber not only 120, but also 82 millimeters, in perspective with a combined (semi-active laser plus autonomous) homing head (GOS).
The system will also be supplemented by freelance self-defense means like RPGs or light ATGMs and, of course, the means of the engineering troops — anti-tank mines. In modern conditions, they acquire the features of “smart” weapons, that is, they are able to select targets (armored - unarmored, tracked - wheeled, etc.) and optimize the moment of operation. In a prospective system, there should be both manual-mounted PTM (special equipment) and those intended for remote mining (aircraft containers and, in the first place, rocket projectiles). The entire system of prospective anti-tank mine-blasting barriers must be remotely controlled, naturally included in the general system of command and control of troops and weapons, and also comply with the restrictions imposed by the international obligations of the Russian Federation.
The proposed version of the system PTV meets the realities of the modern day and existing or under development technologies. At present, the greatest relevance is in unifying, including interspecific, anti-tank weapons, reducing its type, moving to multi-purpose universal complexes, automating all the planning and use of this type of weapons in the framework of the concept of interspecific reconnaissance and shock actions.
The next stage of development of the means of warfare will lead to an increase in the selectivity of the impact on the enemy on the basis of obtaining complete information about his forces and means. In the more distant future, they will affect the most vulnerable elements and systems of the opposing side, including armored vehicles, if they remain in the armies of leading states. If it is necessary to disable the personnel (crew), the impact will be specifically on him, and if it is necessary to “blind” optical-electronic means, then the communication means, computers, internal combustion engines, etc. will be attacked. In the light of the theory of technological singularity development is difficult to predict exactly which means will carry out such targeted effects - nanorobots, biological or chemical agents, means of transmitting directed energy, computer viruses or something that we unable to provide. But it is necessary to intensify efforts in these areas now.
Thus, from the historical experience of the development of anti-tank weapons and the prospects for its improvement, we can conclude completely in the spirit of dialectics - weapons that grew out of the task of countering a new means of warfare (tanks) with available means, passed a stage of fairly narrow specialization (the defeat of only more advanced tanks and armored vehicles), has come up to the current period of creating unified multipurpose tools capable of hitting any protected object on the battlefield. In the haze of futuristic forecasts, they see their new specialization - hitting an object in its most vulnerable spot with the means of influence that, with this particular object, makes it as effective as possible. Moreover, the term “hit” will be understood as the task of disabling an object (reducing its danger for us to the required level) for a specified time.
The main direction of development of the RAA and means of warfare should be the introduction of network-centric principles not only in the command and control system, but also in the design of the armed forces, the design of new models and systems. An example of such an approach is the mentioned American FCS program. Regardless of whether it will be fully implemented or adjusted, it is already clear that almost any weapons and military equipment being developed, including tanks and other combat vehicles, will become part of a common (network-centric) weapon system in the near future.