The Ministry of Defense is working on the issue of equipping not only helicopters, but also combat aircraft with the latest LMUR guided missiles. It is also considered as a promising weapon for attack drones. The small-sized one-hundred-kilogram ammunition with a powerful warhead is characterized by increased accuracy and a range of up to 15 km. According to experts, in terms of weight and dimensions, it is well suited for arming attack aircraft and Orion drones.
Among the aircraft, first of all, the LMUR (light multipurpose guided missile), also known as the “product 305”, is being considered for arming the Su-25 attack aircraft, sources in the Ministry of Defense told Izvestia. It should complement his arsenal of unguided weapons and obsolete guided munitions developed in the USSR.
Izvestia has already reported that during testing, the novelty demonstrated high combat capabilities and versatility. As a result, several types of Russian helicopters will be equipped with “product 305”. It will be received not only by shock models, but also by special variants of military transport vehicles. Among them is the Mi-8AMTSh-VN “Sapsan” created for use by the Special Operations Forces.
Conventional helicopter missiles require constant visual contact with the target before and after launch. The one-kilogram LMUR is capable of striking objects invisible to the crew. On the cruising trajectory, it is controlled by a high-precision inertial onboard navigation system with corrections from GLONASS satellites. On the last leg of the flight near the target, the optical homing head is activated. At the same time, the rocket can detect and capture it in the sight both independently and with the assistance of a human operator. The mass of a powerful warhead is 25 kg, which allows it to destroy a wide variety of military equipment.
“The variant shown at the Army 2021 military-technical forum has a flight range of about 14.5 km,” military expert Alexei Leonkov told Izvestia. – It is designed for high-precision destruction of various ground targets, including armored ones. As a homing head, a thermal imaging head is used – along the command line, the ammunition is aimed at the target and hits it very accurately.
It is assumed that this kind of air-to-surface missiles will be installed on army aviation helicopters, primarily the Mi-28 and Ka-52 attack helicopters. And, perhaps, since the weight and size characteristics of this ammunition are quite optimal, it can be used for installation as strike weapons on drones, such as, for example, “Orion”, concluded Alexey Leonkov.
Tests in Syria
The existence of a new improved missile for Russian combat helicopters became known in 2019. Subsequently, it was reported that she was tested in Syria as part of the weapons of the modernized Mi-28NM. All more than 90 new serial machines of this type will be equipped with the necessary equipment for the use of LMUR.
For this, rotary-wing aircraft are equipped with specially designed launching devices, an interface unit and a command radio link for controlling the ammunition in flight. In 2022, tests of the “product 305” are to be completed on the latest Ka-52M attack helicopters, which are now undergoing state tests.
Installation of LMUR on aircraft will require similar modifications. Russian Su-25 attack aircraft in Syria used mostly unguided bombs and missiles to attack extremist targets. The planes went to a pre-calculated point using a satellite navigation system and dropped their combat load from a height of 4–5 km. Only on rare occasions did they drop lower in order to use a NURS or a cannon.
– Good rockets are always needed. “Product 305” with a launch range to the target of about 15 km was created for the battlefield aviation, – told “Izvestia” Hero of Russia, former commander of the 4th Air Force Air Force and Air Defense, Lieutenant General Valery Gorbenko. – One of its advantages is that it is self-guided – after the detection and capture of the target has occurred, the crew presses the “start” button, then the rocket works by itself, “let it go and forget it.” A helicopter or an airplane is capable of maneuvering immediately, pilots can already perform another task, and not engage in its guidance. This is a very good quality for both helicopter and airplane applications.
LMUR is quite an effective missile, especially since it is light for such a range. It would be nice to use it on Su-25 attack aircraft, because they used to have a limited set of homing ammunition, concluded Valery Gorbenko.
In addition to aircraft and helicopters, the weight and dimensions of the missile allow it to be suspended under the promising Orion, Sirius and Altius attack drones.
The need to increase the range of weapons of Russian helicopters has become one of the main conclusions from the operation in Syria. The main types of their anti-tank guided missiles, which were in service before, could hit targets at a distance of 5-6 km and had a light warhead.
In Syria, Russian helicopters tested the new Vikhr-1 anti-tank missiles for the first time in real combat conditions. They differed from the previous generation ammunition in increased range and flight speed. The Ministry of Defense disseminated videos showing how, day and night, they were able to hit tanks and fortifications of militants from a distance of 7-8 km. This allowed the rotorcraft not to enter the zone of destruction of portable anti-aircraft missile systems, guns and machine guns of terrorists and avoid losses.
Subsequently, the range of “Whirlwinds” was brought to 10 km. And in April, Sergei Shoigu instructed manufacturers to increase it by another 20%. These missiles are currently being tested on Orion medium attack drones. They can lift two of these ammunition.
The capabilities of combat helicopters should also expand due to the addition of the Chrysanthemum-VM missile with a range of up to 10 km to their ammunition load. They are being tested on the upgraded Mi-28NM drums.
Compared to such ammunition, the LMUR has a more powerful high-explosive fragmentation warhead. This makes it more effective against fortifications, buildings and clusters of unarmored vehicles, as well as infantry groups.
In addition to LMUR, a new family of lighter guided ammunition for drones was also presented at Army-2021. Among them are a 100-kilogram guided missile and a long-range gliding bomb X-50.
Anton Lavrov, Anna Cherepanova
Photo: Izvestia / Dmitry Korotaev