At the end of this year, the US Navy will begin testing the “killers” of the Russian hypersonic gliding block “Avangard”, according to the American edition of The Drive. We are talking about the Standard SM-6 Block IB anti-aircraft missile in development. Since this missile is supposed to develop hypersonic speed, then, according to American journalists, it will be possible to intercept the hypersonic strike weapons that Russia and China already possess. In particular, in theory, Avangard, which is now being equipped with ICBMs UR-100N UTTH, should not leave the SM-6 Block IB either. That is, such is the logic.
The SM-6 of the previous modification – Block IA – is deployed on cruisers and destroyers of guided missile weapons (URO) and is an integral part of the Aegis integrated naval missile defense system. Its speed reaches 3.5 M. It can be used not only to intercept air targets, but also to fire at surface ships.
The Block IB missile is supposed to occupy the same cells in the Mk 41 universal launchers on the US Navy ships. However, this may not happen until 2024, such a missile readiness period, the speed of which should exceed 5 M, is planned at the Pentagon.
So, the hypersonic speed of this missile makes a lot of sense only when it is used as an anti-ship missile. Thanks to this, the probability of a breakthrough of the ship’s anti-missile defense significantly increases. There are already anti-aircraft missiles, the speed of which reaches hypersonic values.
For example, such is the missile of the Russian complex S-400 Triumph 48N6E3, the maximum speed of which reaches 2500 m / s or 8 M. But it should be borne in mind that the maximum speed is maintained only in a limited section of the trajectory, in its middle part.
However, when dealing with maneuvering supersonic targets, high speed is a necessary but not sufficient condition for interception. The overload capacity of the anti-missile is extremely important. If the target maneuvers with an overload of 80 g, then the overload capacity of the anti-missile should be even higher – from two to three times. Only the anti-missile missiles in service with the missile defense systems of Moscow and the Amur Central Industrial Region satisfy such conditions. The United States also has hypersonic interceptor missiles, which are national missile defense silo interceptors installed in Alaska.
In addition, there must be a perfect and extremely fast-acting system for detecting, tracking and targeting an anti-missile missile on a target. The most important role is played by the sensitivity and noise immunity of anti-missile homing heads.
In one of his publications, Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Missile and Artillery Sciences, Doctor of Military Sciences Konstantin Sivkov “With a calculator in hand” showed why the probability of interception by the Standard SM-6 Block IA anti-missile, which has been in service with the US Navy since 2013, of the Russian near-supersonic cruise missile Kh-32 is extremely small.
Interception should take place on a collision course, when the speed of convergence of two missiles is the sum of their speeds. In this case, it is equal to 2200-2300 m / s. Considering that the “American” seeker is able to see and capture the Kh-32 no further than 8-12 km, only 3-4 seconds remain for the missile approach maneuver.
It should be borne in mind that the SM-6 is controlled by aerodynamic rudders, the effectiveness of which in the upper atmosphere, where the X-32 is located, is low. Interception, of course, can occur, but this should be attributed to random events.
Now let’s imagine the situation of an attempt to intercept the Avangard with a promising SM-6 Block IB antimissile. Its characteristics are strictly classified. But we will generously provide it with characteristics that in reality it will not reach, that is, we will double the characteristics of the SM-6 Block IA. Its path speed will be 2310 m / s, and the range of capture of the “Avangard” seeker will be 20 km. And we will also equip it with gas-dynamic rudders that will control flight in a rarefied atmosphere.
The speed of the “Vanguard” – 27 M. Or 8910 m / s. Anti-missiles – 2310 m / s. The speed of convergence of the two missiles is 11220 m / s. Consequently, the “American” will have 20,000 / 11220 = 1.78 seconds for the maneuver.
It should be borne in mind that Avangard is constantly maneuvering. And if, from the launch of the interceptor missile to the rapprochement with the target, the gliding unit makes a maneuver, then the point of the hypothetical rapprochement with the Avangard calculated by the Aegis system will contain a significant error.
Extremely important is not only the anti-missile itself, but also the shipborne (since we are talking about the Aegis missile defense system) means of detecting and launching the anti-missile to the point of rendezvous. And they are quite inertial, including the processor that performs the necessary calculations. Sivkov argues that there are some chances of a successful interception if, firstly, the error in the launch of the anti-missile to the target does not exceed 30-40 meters. And, secondly, the control system of the intercepted object will not maneuver in the period from the beginning of the preparation of the Aegis for the launch of the anti-missile until it reaches the rendezvous point. But in the case of Avangard, these are just purely theoretical constructions.
The reality is that the new modification will not be able to practically intercept the Vanguard hypersonic maneuvering unit. Because theoretically this probability, according to Sivkov, does not exceed 0.2-0.4 percent.
However, Sivkov has a “home experience” for more or less successful interception of a limited number of hypersonic missiles. This is a “multi-missile interceptor” (MP), which is capable of much more successfully intercepting hypersonic targets than the SM-6 interceptor missile.
The MP should be made in the form of an unmanned flying platform with a range of about 500 km, a speed of 2 M. And a large payload. In the event of a threat of an attack by hypersonic missiles, the BP is lifted into the air, and it flies towards the detected threat. At the same time, high maneuverability is not required from him.
He also does not need serious avionics. The BP is equipped with several, about eight, air-to-air missiles with characteristics similar to those of the SM-6 missile. They are equipped with powerful radar seeker. And they have a fragmentation or needle warhead weighing 10-12 kg. Overload capacity – at the level of 100-150 g.
After reaching the target area, the MP releases all missiles, which are spread out into sectors in such a way as to create the widest possible viewing area of the space with its seeker. This method will make it possible to obtain the probability of intercepting one hypersonic anti-ship missile at the level of 0.21-0.4. When using four MP, it will increase to 0.61-0.87.
“A group of two or three ships already has a good chance of repelling the strike of small groups of hypersonic anti-ship missiles with fire means. And if we take into account the means of electronic warfare, then it may turn out that for the defeat of such a group it will be necessary to consume a significant amount of hypersonic anti-ship missiles, ”says Konstantin Sivkov.
It can be assumed that the esteemed Ph.D. is giving advice to US Navy admirals on how to deal with the Russian Zircon missile. Alas, everything is somewhat sadder.
Sivkov’s calculations are based on the LongShot project, which is currently being carried out by Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman. It involves the creation of just such a flying platform with air-to-air missiles, which are fired in a salvo.