1 last June, the American publication Popular Mechanics published an article by Joe Pappalardo entitled “How will Russian and American weapons fit in the new Cold War”). The heading fully reflects the author’s goals - he attempted to compare the existing military developments of the two countries and draw conclusions about the correlation of forces. It should be noted that a little more than a year has passed since the publication of this publication, which makes it possible to compare the conclusions of the American author with the results of further events.
At the beginning of his article, J. Pappalardo notes that when comparing the armed forces of Russia and the United States, it is difficult not to go back to the calculations of the times of the former Cold War, especially if we consider that a significant number of weapons of that era are still in use. In addition, Russia and the United States remain the largest sellers of weapons and military equipment, which is why quite old systems exist in the arsenals of a significant number of countries.
At the same time, the United States and Russia are currently developing new designs that will determine the appearance of a possible new Cold War and various future armed conflicts. In this regard, the author of the publication Popular Mechanics attempted to consider new promising developments and to determine which of the “competing” countries has advantages.
J. Pappalardo recalls that in recent years, joint combat work of people and robotic systems has become the norm. The wheeled and tracked vehicles of this class were actively used by the American army in Afghanistan and Iraq for solving a wide range of tasks, including mine clearance, reconnaissance and destruction of various objects. Robotics in recent years received a significant impetus associated with the conduct of hostilities. As a result, in a relatively short time, many robotic complexes were created, from light 5-pound reconnaissance vehicles to tracked vehicles weighing 370 pounds capable of carrying machine guns and rocket launchers.
Russia, the author notes, also did not sit idle and was engaged in their own projects of military robots. In June last year, several new models of such systems were shown during the Army-2015 exhibition. The exhibition exhibits were automated mine sweepers, fire robots, as well as equipment armed with rifle and rocket weapons. Also, the leaders of the Russian Defense Ministry stated that by 2025, one-third of the equipment of the Russian armed forces would be robotic.
According to the American author, the leadership in the field of robotics is currently in the hands of the United States. This conclusion is due to the presence of a mass of projects of such systems, as well as extensive experience in their combat use. Also, the American industry has some advantage in the form of more advanced technologies.
Every year in May, Russia demonstrates the latest models of weapons and military equipment. In 2015, the latest armored vehicles took center stage in the parade on Red Square. Armored combat vehicles are considered by Russians to be a reason for pride, and they are also deservedly regarded as one of the main reasons and means of victory in World War II.
The foreign press immediately drew attention to the newest Russian main tank T-14 "Armata". Among other things, it is called the first Russian tank, created after the landmark T-72. Thus, for the first time since the seventies, Russian industry built a truly new tank. Tank T-14 is built using the most powerful crew protection, is equipped with a developed reservation and carries an uninhabited tower. The media actively discussed the possibility of equipping the Armata tank with an 152 mm caliber gun with a significant increase in firepower. As a result, the newest Russian tank is the “top predator”, which is extremely difficult to kill.
At the same time, the United States is preparing new projects that allow it to retain existing relatively old tanks. It is argued that the new American modernization projects are based on the expansion of opportunities in comparison with the current state of technology. The efforts of the industry are focused on ensuring that the existing M1A1 Abrams tanks remain a serious opponent in the future. The latest upgrade options for this technology included the use of new infrared systems, new instrumentation equipment for crew jobs and a remotely controlled combat module.
Popular Mechanics edition recognizes Russia as the leader in the field of tank building. He notes that the new is not always the best, and that the Russian defense industry cannot compare with the Soviet one. Nevertheless, an attempt to resist the new armored vehicles of Russia would be a bad idea. Tanks "Armata" look very effective, as well as equipped with modern armor and detection systems. All this makes the T-14 a dangerous adversary.
Rocket artillery and missiles
The “god of war” in the current situation can be multiple rocket launchers: hardly anything can compare with the rain from the warheads delivered by missiles. When using unmanned aerial vehicles capable of searching for targets and determining the results of a strike, artillery can increase its potential in counter-battery combat. For this reason, artillery, including reactive, must have a high mobility in order to timely escape from the retaliatory strike.
Both the United States and Russia are armed with self-propelled medium-range and long-range MRL systems. At the same time, however, the two countries created their complexes in accordance with their own views. So, the United States created the M142 HIMARS system. On the self-propelled chassis of this machine is installed a package of guides for six 227 mm caliber missiles capable of delivering cluster warheads with various submunitions to targets.
The HIMARS complex differs from other systems by high accuracy of hits. In addition, the American industry has created a similar system with high rates of firing - ATACMS. Also ATZMS type MLRS receives a missile with an 500-pound warhead. A characteristic feature of the American salvo fire systems is the possibility of using satellite-guided missiles capable of hitting various targets. According to reports, to date, the army in a combat situation were used 570 missiles of the ATACMS system. In addition, in May (2015 of the year), the company-developer and manufacturer of new systems, Lockheed Martin, received a new contract to continue production of missiles with a total value of 174 million dollars.
Russian creators of multiple rocket launchers use other ideas. Traditionally, the number of missiles in the salvo has a higher priority than their accuracy. The standard appearance of the Russian MLRS is as follows: a truck on which the launcher is mounted with a large number of guides for missiles. For example, the BM-21 “Grad” combat vehicle is built on the basis of a three-axle truck chassis, carries 40 guides and can use up all the ammunition load in a matter of seconds. Here J. Pappalardo recommends recalling the HIMARS system with a six-rocket ammunition and a little more accuracy.
Nevertheless, the Russian armed forces pay great attention to other missile systems. In service are mobile complexes with long-range missiles, which can be used to attack various objects in the territory of Eastern European NATO member countries. Special attention is given to the Iskander-M operational tactical missile system (according to the NATO classification - SS-26 Stone). After 20 minutes of training, such a combat vehicle can launch a rocket with a range of about 250 miles and a warhead weighing 880 pounds. At the same time, the rocket deviates from the calculated point of impact of just 15 feet. Russia regularly conducts exercises with the use of Iskander family complexes. In addition, these complexes are deployed in new areas. For example, the placement of "Iskander" in the Kaliningrad region can significantly expand their area of responsibility.
According to the author, Russia is leading in the field of rocket artillery. Russian MLRS do not have high accuracy, however, the use of reconnaissance drones and spotters can significantly improve the efficiency of existing equipment. In the case of operational-tactical missile complexes, the Russian advantage is connected with the advantages of the “home field”. Russia has the ability to deploy missile systems in various areas, and also has a significant number of bases and the ability to supply them.
J. Pappalardo recalls that artillery from the very moment of its appearance was the main threat to the enemy forces. The experience of recent conflicts, in which American and Russian troops had to take part, clearly demonstrated the importance of ground forces in general and “traditional” barreled artillery in particular. The guns of various classes played a crucial role in all recent conflicts.
To survive in the conditions of modern war, artillery requires high mobility. For example, the gunners of the US Marine Corps, operating the towed howitzers of the M777 type, can change positions with the use of MV-22 Osprey converters. Rotary-wing vehicles are able to raise guns with the calculation and deliver them to the desired area, compensating for the initial low mobility of the towed artillery. In addition, American troops have “big guns” on self-propelled chassis, but this technique is not new.
The main self-propelled artillery of the United States M109 Paladin was adopted in the 1969 year. Over the past decades, this armored vehicle has undergone several upgrades, the results of which are now the troops have an ACS of the M109A7 type. This modernization, completed relatively recently, implies the use of some new systems, including an updated power supply complex based on an auxiliary power unit. This improves the performance characteristics of the self-propelled gun, opens the way for new upgrades, and also improves the basic combat qualities. So, the M109A7 SAU is now capable of making up to four shots per minute.
Meanwhile, Russia is developing completely new systems. At the May 9 parade, the newest self-propelled artillery 2C35 "Coalition-SV" was shown. To improve the performance of the new system in comparison with the existing, various innovations are used. For example, it has become possible to use adjustable projectiles that are independently guided by a laser illuminated target. Another characteristic feature of the new Russian self-propelled guns is the possibility of using various types of ammunition loaded into automated styling. All operations with the ammunition at the same time carried out without the direct participation of people.
The author of the publication Popular Mechanics cannot determine which country has an advantage in the field of barreled artillery, as a result of which a verdict: draw. The United States gunners are able to move both around the battlefield and through the air, which seriously increases the mobility of the units and also allows for attacks from unexpected directions. This gives the American artillery certain advantages. Russian artillerymen may not fly in the area of combat operations in order to find a comfortable position and strike. In addition, the Russian army has good combat vehicles. Nevertheless, the United States has good potential in tracking a land enemy and its subsequent destruction by air strikes.
The article "How Russian and American Weapons Would Be Up in a New Cold War" was published about a year ago, but on the whole it remains relevant. The weapons systems of the two countries reviewed by J. Pappalardo have not disappeared, and new projects have advanced even further. For example, US troops have already mastered the upgraded self-propelled guns M109A7, and are also preparing to receive the updated tanks M1A2 SEP v.3. In addition, the Russian T-14 tank is preparing for future mass production, and the troops have already received a significant number of MLRS of the Tornado family, which are characterized by enhanced characteristics.
However, over the past year, some events have occurred that could have affected the content of the Popular Mechanics article if it appeared later. So, the main sensation of last fall, which occurred during the Russian operation against terrorists in Syria, was the use of cruise missiles of the Caliber family. Such weapons were used several times with remarkable results by ships and submarines of the Russian naval fleet. It would be very interesting to see with what the American author would compare the Caliber rocket and what conclusions about it would be made.
Also in Syria, several types of aircraft showed their potential in real conflict situations: both the relatively old Tu-95MS, Tu-22М3 and Tu-160, as well as the latest Su-34 and Su-35С. This technique, capable of striking various targets with the use of a wide range of ammunition, could also fall into an interesting comparison.
Moreover, for some reason J. Pappalardo did not consider the mass of other types of weapons and equipment of the two countries that have appeared in recent years. It would be interesting to look at a comparison of the newest fighters of Russian and American production, submarines, ammunition of various types, etc. Nevertheless, it seems that the format of the article made it necessary to refuse to consider these samples.
The resulting comparison - even if abbreviated, as well as very conditional - can be a peculiar reason for pride. When comparing the potential of the two countries in four regions, it turned out that Russia won in two “nominations”, while the United States retains only one such victory, and the state of affairs in the field of barreled artillery does not allow one to accurately determine the advantage of one country. As a result, Russia defeats a potential opponent in a hypothetical Cold War with a total score of 2: 1.
Nevertheless, we should not forget that all such comparisons are very conditional and can not claim to be true. To determine the real situation with all its nuances, it is necessary to conduct more serious and in-depth studies, which, for obvious reasons, can hardly be published in open sources and in articles of the usual format. However, in this case, articles like "Popular Mechanics" are of particular interest.
The article "How Russian and American Weapons Would Match Up in a New Cold War":