US Navy creates weapon on new physical principles
It would seem that the US Navy today has a sufficient set of means of protection against cruise and ballistic anti-ship missiles (RCC). However, some military experts doubt that these defenses will be able to withstand the new generation of winged and ballistic missiles, being developed in a number of countries, primarily in China.
Volley on a million
The September report of the research service of the US Congress is devoted to the analysis of works in the field of creating weapons on new physical principles. This report clearly shows the concern of military experts that in a number of combat scenarios with the massive attacks of surface ships by various means of air attack, the existing ammunition of traditional defenses may, firstly, not be enough, and secondly, the cost of the naval anti-aircraft missiles ) this ammunition is simply incomparable with the cost of attacking weapons.
It is known that the US Navy missile cruisers have ammunition of 122 missiles, and destroyers - of 90 – 96 missiles. However, a part of the total number of missile weapons is accounted for by Tomahawk cruise missiles for strikes against ground targets and anti-submarine weapons. The remaining amount is the missiles which can be up to several dozen units. It should be borne in mind: to increase the probability of hitting an air target, two missiles can be launched on it, which increases the rate of ammunition consumption. In the universal vertical launchers of the ship, missiles of various types are installed together, and therefore the reloading of the UVPU is possible only when returning to the base or in the parking lot.
If we analyze the cost of specific samples of naval missiles of the US Navy, then the defense of a surface ship requires a lot of money. Thus, the price of one unit of anti-aircraft missile weapons for some types exceeds several million dollars. For example, to protect a ship from aircraft (LA) and cruise anti-ship missiles in the near zone, there are used RAM (Rolling Airframe Missile) missiles, costing 0,9 million dollars per unit of treasury, and ESSM (Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile) missiles for 1,1 – 1,5 million. For protection in the middle zone from aircraft and cruise anti-ship missiles, as well as from ballistic anti-ship missiles, the SM-6 Block 1 missile system worth 3,9 million dollars is used at the final trajectory segment. Standard SM-3 Block 1B (14 million dollars per unit) and Standard SM-3 Block IIA missiles (more than 20 million) are used to intercept attacking ballistic anti-ship missiles on the middle extra-atmospheric trajectory segment.
To increase the effectiveness of the means of defense of US Navy surface ships, they are currently working in the field of laser weapons, electromagnetic guns, and hypervelocity projectile. The availability of such means will allow counteracting both airborne and surface attack weapons.
Power of light
The work of the Navy in the development of high-power military lasers reached a level that allows you to counteract certain types of surface (SC) and air targets (CC) at a distance of about 1,6 kilometers and begin their deployment on warships (BC) after a few years. More powerful ship-borne lasers, which will be ready for deployment in subsequent years, will give the US Navy BC aerial the ability to counter the SC and CC at distances of about 16 kilometers. These lasers can, in addition to performing other tasks, provide anti-missile defense for BC at the final line against certain types of ballistic missiles, including the new Chinese anti-ship ballistic missile ASBM.
The US Navy and the US Department of Defense today are developing three types of lasers that can in principle be used on a BC: a solid-state SSL (solid state laser) fiber laser, an SSL slit laser, and a free electron lasers (FEL) electron laser. One of the experienced SSL fiber laser demonstrators developed by the Navy using the LaWS (Laser Weapon System) laser weapons program. Another option is a fiber optic SSL laser laser created using the Tactical Laser System (TLS) system. Among a number of US Department of Defense programs to develop an SSL slit laser for military purposes is the Maritime Laser Demonstration Marine Laser Demonstration Program.
The Navy also created a low-power FEL free-electron laser prototype and is currently working on a prototype of this higher power laser.
The report stresses that although the Navy is developing laser technologies and prototypes of potential ship-borne lasers, and also has a generalized vision of the prospects for their further development, at present there is no specific program for purchasing serial versions of these lasers or a certain program that specifies the specific laser installation times. on certain types of BC.
As noted in the report, laser weapons have both certain advantages and a number of shortcomings in countering various types of threats, including ballistic missiles.
Laser - arguments for
Among the advantages of laser weapons - cost. The cost of ship fuel for generating the electric power needed for an electrically pumped laser shot is less than one dollar per shot, while the cost of one short-range missile defense system is 0,9 – 1,4 million dollars, and long-range missile defense is several million dollars. The use of lasers can give BC an alternative when destroying less important UAV-type targets, while missiles will be used to ensure the destruction of more important targets. The BC is a very expensive type of naval technology, while against it the enemy uses relatively cheap military equipment, small boats, UAVs, anti-ship missiles, ballistic anti-ship missiles. Therefore, due to the use of lasers, you can change the ratio of the cost of defense of the ship. BK has a limited ammunition of missile and artillery weapons, the expenditure of which will require the temporary withdrawal of the ship from the battlefield to replenish the ammunition. Laser weapons have no restrictions on the number of shots and can be used to destroy false targets that are actively used to expend ship ammunition. A promising ship with laser and rocket weapons will be more compact and less expensive than a URO ship with a large number of missiles in vertical launchers.
Laser weapons will provide almost instant defeat of the target, which eliminates the need to calculate the trajectory of interception of an attacking target with an antimissile. The target is damaged by focusing the laser beam on it for a few seconds, after which the laser can be refocused on another object. This is especially important when the BC is operating in the coastal zone, when it can be fired at with rocket, artillery and mortar weapons from relatively short distances.
Laser weapons can hit super-manoeuvrable targets, surpassing ship-based missiles in their aerodynamic characteristics.
The laser provides minimal side damage, especially when conducting combat in the port area. In addition to the functions of hitting targets, a laser can be used to detect and track targets, and to influence them non-lethally, ensuring the suppression of airborne opto-electronic sensors.
Among them, the implementation of interception only within the line of sight of the target and the impossibility of the destruction of over-horizon targets. Limiting the possibility of intercepting small objects with strong agitation, which hides them in the crests of the waves.
The intensity of laser radiation passing through the atmosphere is attenuated due to absorption in spectral lines of various atmospheric components or due to Rayleigh scattering, as well as macroscopic inhomogeneities associated with atmospheric turbulence or heating of the atmosphere by the beam itself. As a result of scattering on such inhomogeneities, the laser beam can expand, which will lead to a decrease in the energy density, the most important parameter characterizing the damaging ability of a laser weapon.
When repelling a massive attack of a single laser on a ship, it may not be enough due to the need to repeatedly redirect it in a limited period of time. In this regard, it will be necessary to place several lasers on the battlefield of the type of anti-aircraft artillery systems (ZAK) of self-defense on the last line.
Low-power lasers of a kilowatt level can be less effective than more powerful megawatt-level lasers when acting on protected targets (ablative coating, highly reflective surfaces, body rotation, etc.). Increasing the laser power will increase its cost and weight. The impact of a laser beam in the event of a miss can lead to undesirable collateral damage and damage to its aircraft or satellites.
Nevertheless, the potential targets for a laser weapon may be optical-electronic sensors, including those used on anti-ship missiles; small boats and boats; unguided rockets, projectiles, mines, UAVs, manned aircraft, anti-ship missiles, ballistic missiles, including ballistic missiles.
Lasers with an output power of about 10 kilowatts can counteract the UAVs at near ranges, tens of kilowatts - BLA and some types of boats, hundred kilowatts - BLA, boats, NUR, projectiles and mines, hundreds of kilowatts - all the goals listed above, as well as manned aircraft and certain types of guided missiles, with a capacity of several megawatts - for all the previously mentioned targets, including supersonic anti-ship missiles and ballistic missiles at ranges up to 18 kilometers.
GCs with lasers with power over 300 kilowatts can protect not only themselves, but also other ships in their area of responsibility when they are, for example, in a carrier-based strike group.
According to the US Navy, cruisers with Aidzhis missile defense system and destroyers (ships of the CG-47 and DDG-51 types), as well as airborne helicopter dock ships (FCDs) of the San Antonio type LPD-17 have an adequate level of power supply for combat using laser weapons such as LaWS.
Some US Navy ships will be able to use SSL-type lasers with power output up to 100 kilowatts in combat.
So far, the Navy does not have a BC with sufficient power supply or cooling capabilities to ensure the operation of SSL lasers with an output power exceeding 100 kilowatts. Due to the large size of FEL lasers, they cannot be placed on existing cruisers or destroyers. Dimensions of aircraft carriers and amphibious assault ships (LHA / LHD type) with a large flight deck can provide sufficient space to accommodate a FEL type laser, but they do not have sufficient power supply to operate a megawatt FEL type laser.
Based on these conditions, the Navy in the coming years will have to determine the requirements for the designs of promising BCs and the limitations imposed on them in the case of installing shipborne lasers, in particular SSL lasers with a power over 100 kilowatts, as well as FEL lasers.
These restrictions led, for example, to the completion of the CG (X) cruiser program, since this project provided for the operation of an SSL laser with a power over 100 kilowatts and / or a FEL megawatt-type laser.
After the completion of the CG (X) program, the Navy did not announce any long-term plans for acquiring BCs capable of operating an SSL-type laser with a power over 100 kilowatts or an FEL laser.
However, as emphasized in the report, options for ship designs that can expand the capabilities of the Navy to install lasers on them in the coming years may include the following options.
Designing a new version of the destroyer DDG-51 Flight III, which the Navy plans to purchase in the 2016 fiscal year, with sufficient space, power supply and refrigeration capabilities to support SSL laser power 200 – 300 kilowatts or more. This will require the extension of the DDG-51 case, as well as provision of space for the placement of laser equipment and additional electric generators and refrigeration units.
Designing and purchasing a new destroyer, which is a further development of the DDG-51 Flight III variant, which will ensure the operation of the SSL laser with an output power of 200 – 300 kilowatts or more and / or the operation of a megawatt FEL laser.
Modification of the UDC design, which will be purchased in the coming years so that it is possible to ensure the operation of the SSL laser with a power of 200 – 300 kilowatts and more and / or a megowatt FEL laser class.
Modification, if necessary, of the design of a new aircraft carrier of the Ford type (CVN-78) so that the SSL laser can be operated with a power of 200 – 300 kilowatts and more and / or a megawatt FEL laser.
In April, the NNS 2013 announced that they were planning to install a laser weapon at the USS Ponce UDC, which was converted from an amphibious assault ship to an experimental one for technological development of a laser weapon against attacking boats and UAVs. In August last year, the 30 kilowatt laser was installed on this ship, which is located in the Persian Gulf. According to the statement of the Central Command of the US Armed Forces, the test laser successfully destroyed the high-speed boat and UAVs.
As part of the program to create naval laser weapons, the Navy initiated a project of technological refinement of the SSL-TM solid-state laser (solid-state technology maturation), under which industrial groups led by BAe Systems (BAE Systems), Northrop Grumman (Northrop Grumman) ) and Raytheon compete for the development of a ship's 100 – 150 kilowatt laser, effective against small boats and a UAV.
The US Navy R & D Department will conduct a thorough analysis of the results of testing the laser at UDC Pons for further use in the SSL-TM program, the purpose of which is to create a prototype laser with a power of 100 – 150 kilowatts for marine testing up to 2018. Interception rules and technology of LaWS use in combat conditions will be determined, which are then supposed to be implemented in more powerful samples of laser weapons.
Further increasing the laser power to 200 – 300 kilowatts will allow these weapons to counteract certain types of cruise anti-ship missiles, and increasing the output power up to several hundred kilowatts and up to one megawatt or higher can make this weapon effective against all types of cruise ships and ballistic anti-ship missiles.
But even if the developed weapon based on solid-state lasers has sufficient power to destroy small-sized boats, boats and UAVs, but cannot counteract the winged or ballistic anti-ship missiles, their appearance on ships will increase their combat effectiveness. Laser weapons will, for example, reduce the use of missiles to intercept UAVs and increase the number of missiles that can be used to counter anti-ship missiles.
Force of induction
In addition to solid-state Navy lasers from 2005, an electromagnetic gun is developed, the idea of which is that a voltage from a power source is applied to two parallel (or coaxial) current-carrying rail buses. When the circuit is closed, by placing on the tires, for example, a moving cart, conducting current and having good contact with the tires, an electric current arises that induces a magnetic field. This field creates pressure, which tends to push the conductors that form the circuit. But since the massive rails-tires are fixed, the only moving element is the carriage, which under the action of pressure begins to move along the rails so that the volume occupied by the magnetic field increases, that is, away from the power source. Improving the EM guns is aimed at increasing the final speed to the numbers M = 5,9 – 7,4 at sea level.
Initially, the Navy began developing EM guns as a weapon of direct coastal support to the marines during amphibious operations, but then reoriented this program to create EM weapons to protect against RPC. Currently, the Navy is funding the work of BA Systems and General Atomics to create two EM-weapons demonstrators, whose evaluation began in 2012. These two prototypes are designed for throwing projectiles with energy 20 – 32 MJ, which ensures the flight of a projectile over a range of 90 – 185 kilometers.
In April, the 2014 Navy announced plans to install an EM-gun prototype in the 2016 fiscal year aboard the Spiehead high-speed multi-purpose high-speed amphibious assault ship-catamaran JHSV (Joint High Speed Vessel) for marine testing. In January, 2015 became aware of the plans of the Navy to adopt the EM gun during the 2020 – 2025 period. In April, it was reported that the fleet was considering the possibility of installing an EM gun on a new Zumvolt-type destroyer (Zumwalt, DDG-1000) in the middle of the 2020-s.
At the end of 2014, the command of the naval systems of the US Navy Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) accidentally published a request for RFI (Request for Information) information on the program to create a powerful rail EM gun. The request was published on behalf of the Directorate of Directed Energy Weapons Programs and NAVSEA Electric Fighting Equipment (PMS 405), the US Navy ONR (Office of Naval Research) R & D Directorate and the Office of the Secretary of Defense. He appeared on the FedBizOpps 22 government website on December 2014, and was canceled four hours later. Anyone who has had time to become familiar with RFI can get an idea about the directions of development of the rail EM gun program. In particular, industry and academic institutions were invited to submit their proposals for the development of an FC-gun (fire-control sensor) EM-gun control system sensor for detecting, tracking and attacking ground and air targets and ballistic missiles.
According to RF, the FCS sensor of a future rail EM-gun should have an angle of view of electronic scanning of more than 90 degrees (in azimuth and in a vertical plane), track a target with a small effective scattering surface (EPR) at long range, track and hit ballistic targets in the atmosphere, block environmental disturbances (weather, terrain and biological), provide data processing for repelling a ballistic missile strike, providing air defense and hitting surface targets, while alive attack targets and launched supersonic missiles, to conduct a qualitative assessment of battle damage. In addition, the FCS sensor must demonstrate rapid closure of the fire control loop, increased resistance to technical and tactical countermeasures, high speed tracking and data collection, as well as technology readiness sufficient to create a prototype in the third quarter of the 2018 fiscal year and ensure readiness in 2020 – 2025.
RFI had an appeal to industrial companies and research institutes to describe the key elements and the degree of readiness of their FCS technologies, provide information on their suitability for multi-purpose applications, possible problems of integration with existing naval combat systems and the impact on the logistics chain.
The NAVSEA surface war research center in Dahlgren (Virginia) was supposed to accept industry proposals during the 21 – 22 period of January 2015 and give the final answer to the 6 February. But now, naturally, all these dates are shifted to the right.
The US Navy R & D Department has initiated an innovative program for creating an experimental model of an EM rail cannon in 2005. The first stage of the program envisaged the creation of a launcher with an acceptable lifespan and reliable pulse power technology. The main work was focused on the creation of the barrel of the gun, a source of energy, rail technology. In December, the 2010-th demonstration system, developed by SIC in Dahlgren, reached a world record in terms of muzzle energy, which was 33 MJ and sufficient to launch a projectile a distance 204 kilometers.
The first EM-gun demonstrator built by an industrial company belongs to BAE Systems and has the power of 32 MJ. This demonstrator was taken to Dahlgren in January 2012 of the year, and a few months later a competing prototype of General Atomiks arrived there.
Based on the achievements of the first phase of work in 2012, the second phase was initiated, during which work focused on the development of equipment and methods that ensured the rate of fire at the level of 10 shots per minute. To ensure constant rate of fire, it is necessary to develop and implement the most effective methods for thermoregulating the EM gun.
The first tests of the prototype EM guns developed by BAE Systems or General Atomics at sea will take place aboard the JHSV-3 Millinocket (Millinocket) multi-purpose high-speed amphibious assault ship-catamaran. They are scheduled for the 2016 fiscal year and provide for single-shot shooting. Firing in semi-automatic mode using a fully integrated shipboard EM gun is scheduled for 2018 year.
Hyper Speed Projectiles
The development of an EM gun also includes the creation of special hyperthread projectile (HVP) (hypervelocity projectile), which could also be used as standard 127-mm ship-projectile and 155-mm land guns. The US Navy cruisers, and there are 22 units of them, have two, and the destroyers (69 units) have one 127-mm gun. Three new Zumvolt-type DDG-1000 destroyers in construction each have two 155-mm guns.
According to BAE Systems, the HVP projectile has a length of 609 millimeters and a mass of 12,7 kilograms, including a payload of 6,8 kilograms. The mass of the entire set to run HVP - 18,1 kilogram with a length of 660 millimeters. The BAE Systems specialists say that the maximum rate of HVP shells is 20 rounds per minute from the Mk45 127 caliber of millimeters and 10 rounds per minute from the advanced 155-mm gun of the destroyer DDG 1000, which is designated as AGS (advanced test system). The rate of firing of the EM gun - six rounds per minute.
The firing range of HVP 127-mm Mk 45 Mod 2 cannons exceeds the 74 kilometer, and when firing 155-mm DDG-1000 destroyer guns - 130 kilometers. In the case of firing these projectiles from the EM gun, the firing range will be more than 185 kilometers.
The request from the Navy to provide RFI information to the industry in July 2015 for the manufacture of a prototype EM gun indicated the mass of the HVP launch kit within 22 kilograms.
When launched from an artillery 127-mm cannon, a projectile reaches a speed corresponding to the number M = 3, which is two times less than when fired from an EM-gun, but more than twice the speed of a conventional 127-mm projectile launched from a ship-gun Mk 45. According to experts, this speed is quite enough to intercept at least some types of cruise anti-ship missiles.
An advantage of the concept of using a 127 mm HVP gun and shell is the fact that such guns are already installed on cruisers and destroyers of the US Navy, which creates the prerequisites for the rapid spread of new shells on navy as the development of HVP is completed and this weapon is integrated into the combat systems of ships of the above types.
By analogy with ship-borne laser weapons, even if hyperspeed shells launched from 127-mm artillery guns are unable to counteract the ballistic missile, they will nevertheless improve the combat effectiveness of the ship. The presence of these projectiles will allow a smaller number of missiles to be used to counter the cruise missile, while increasing the number of missiles to intercept ballistic missiles.