Tuesday, May 11, 2010

How to win in the missiles race. Part 1.

This is an interview with the chief of Russian 'Tactical Missiles Weapon Corporation' Boris Obnosov about the latest development. Initially it was published in 'Expert' journal.

The tendency toward the total liquidation of strategic carriers and warheads, fixed in the new Russian- American agreement  , unavoidably will lead to the fact that the role and the significance of conventional weapons    will sharply grow   in the very near future. But if with our arsenal of strategic weapon we actually can on the equal talk with the Americans,   in the sphere of conventional armaments there is no basis for parity. For example, the number of our contemporary combat aircraft   is approximately 15 times less than in the USA, the disparity in the number of 'blue water' combat ships between USA and Russia is as 20 times. This means that in   “global nuclear zero” situation Russia has no enough against its potential enemies.

The problem here is not in the quality of our tactical armaments, but in their quantity. While the Americans during the last ten years stocked up more than hundred thousands   aircraft bombs alone,   our army within the same period purchased the air based weapons for only   one day of war. This is so despite the fact that the new Russian missiles,   are not worse than American, but even they are better in a number of characteristics. The main developer of them is "Tactical missile weapon corporation' (KTRV in Russian abbreviation). This is one of most secret corporation in whole Russian  military-industrial complex [VPK in Russian abbreviation]. It was created about eight years ago during the consolidation process of Russian MIC, now it includes almost two ten different enterprises, plants and design houses, dealing in the sphere of air, ground-based and naval weapons. The general director of KTRV Boris Obnosov said us  about the development of new missiles and torpedoes and how they differ from the American analogs, why we should fear China and in what direction   it is necessary Russia to develop its air-based weapon .

Q - At the beginning of February the   flight tests of the future 5th gen fighter PAK FA were started. What armaments does make KTRV for this aircraft?

A - PAK FA weapon system will include only new models  . These are  air-to-air missile, tactical and medium-range missiles of the “air-surface” class,   antiradar and antiship missiles, and also the guided bombs.The main requirement  to this weapon is its intra-fuselage arrangement. In addition: the increased distance, noise protection, accuracy. I.e., those characteristics, which make  possible to successfully complete all kind of combat missions, like destruction of radars without the entrance into   enemy air defense zone  .

Q - The Prime Minister of Russia Vladimir Putin promised that the first series of the fifth generation fighters will enter   service in the Lipetsk pilot education center   already in 2013. Will  you complete your developments till this?

A - We now complete whole series of experimental design works and for the next two years will go to the final official tests of fourteen types of new missiles and corrected aerial bombs (KAB). They cover practically entire spectrum of targets, including VLRAAMs. Some of them will appear already in the next year, other after a year. Moreover the new missiles for the 5th gen fighter  will be adopted, also, on other carriers - Su-34, Su-35 and MiG-35. It is necessary to say that this is a bulk number of weapons. Nevertheless, I think, we will successfully complete the task.

Q - How the new missiles are different from its predecessors?  

A - Almost by all things. These are   fundamentally new models of high-precision weapon. Despite the fact that many of them preserved the exterior forms of its predecessors, inside they have got much more advanced systems, than those that they are established on the 4th gen fighters. These are new self-homing heads, with increased sensitivity and better jamming protection,   the new combined missile-ramjet engines with the controlled parameters (for the supersonic   “air-surface” missiles), new warheads, fuses, the system of intellectual support and much other. The tactical-technical characteristics of this new weapon will grow considerably because of all these systems. For the first time a   missile at the moment of start does not see the target but     find it in the process of autonomous flight. If we speak about the criterion of distance, the new missiles will exceed  the current range two times. Our classification of “air-to-air” weapons includes three types of missiles - small, medium and long range. Now the short distance – is considered up to 40 kilometers, and the average – up to 100 kilometers. So the targets, which are now attacked by intermediate range missiles, will be destroyed by the   short distance weapon.

Q - What will be the radius of action of  the new long range air-to-air missiles?

A – I should not say the number. I can only say   that it's very long. At the current moment no one aircraft missile of this class has such characteristics.

Q - How your new missiles stay in comparison with the American analogs, in arsenal of F -22     and F -35. Who 'wins' in this comparison?

A – In average we keep the parity with the USA. The American F -22 and F -35 aircrafts are armed with AIM-9X   sidewinder short distance air-to-air missiles , different modifications of   medium distance AMRAAM AIM-120  . Our new missiles RVV-MD and RVV-SD, with small and medium range  respectively, are nowhere inferior to them, but even   exceed them in some characteristics. For example, the combat range of RVV-MD exceeds AIM-9X almost   twice. The Russian missile is equipped with upgraded heat-seeking head. It is identical to American one in its sensitivity, and very comparable in area of jamming protection. This missile is intended not only for the fighters and the attack aircraft, but also for the combat helicopters. As far as the weapon of medium distance is concerned, our missiles have     approximately 10 percent higher combat distance  . In other respects Russian missiles of this type have practically the same characteristics as the American. Therefore I am completely confident, that   we will not lose.

Q - And in the “air-surface” class?...

A - Here the Americans have the basic antiradar missile - AGM-88 HARM, which is capable to strike targets at a distance up to 80 kilometers, in almost 3 Machs (three speeds of sound. - “Expert”). If comparing   it with our new antiradar missile X -31PD, then with other equal combat capabilities the Russian missile   exceeds the American analog three times in the term of range. It was possible to reach this due to the new ramjet engine. In the field of energy consumption it   two and half   times   more economical than its predecessor. This makes it possible not only to increase the combat distance, but also to realize the more sophisticated  trajectory of flight. Particularly X -31PD used to be able to win a duel combat with the air defense systems  'patriot'.

Furthermore, in the “air-surface”  class we have two additional   missiles - X -38ME and X -58UShKE. The first of them is of modular type. I consider that this is an unique multipurpose missile. It can be equipped with the combined guidance systems - laser, thermal-vision, radar type or satellite navigation. But the second missile (X -58UShKe) is equipped (as X -31PD) with broadband passive homing heads, which ensure the capture of all kind of radar targets that it is also very important. Until now   there were only the so-called selective heads on our missiles, each of them could capture only one type of targets (along the frequency spectrum). It created   some inconveniences, since it was necessary to hang three or four sister missiles under the wing, if it was intended to act against several types of targets.

Q - The new RuAF fighters will be armed with these missiles. But what with the antiship missiles for   naval aviation?

A – We are going to complete the creation of two new types of missiles - tactical supersonic X -31AD and subsonic X -35UE. These will be completely digitalized missiles, which will ensure   them better interrelation with the aircraft and will enlarge the spectrum of tasks. In contrast to the predecessors the combat distance   will grow twice as   minimum  . In this case the mass of X -31AD warhead will grow by 15 percent. Well one have to say about KABs (corrected air-bombs). Here we   can offer a lot against our potential competitors. Now we complete the development of an entirely new series of   guided bombs with  weight between 1500 and 500 kilograms, and also smaller caliber, with the increased range and new systems of satellite and laser guidance. They are intended for attacking of different ground and above-water targets, including bridges, ships, transport vessels, the objects of infrastructure etcetera. I consider KABs – as a very important weapon, which must be installed on all versions of the 5th gen fighters . It's because after the destruction of air defense system the enemy in his own territory is erradicated precisely with the aid of KABs. For example, the Americans during ten years of their operations in Iraq and Afghanistan stocked up more than hundred thousand corrected aircraft bombs.

Q - What trend in development of aviation missile do you consider as the most promising?

A - All last wars with the participation by the USA showed that they bet on the high-precision weapon. If during operation “Desert Storm” in 1991 in Iraq the share of high-precision weapon was seven percent,   eight years later in Yugoslavia it already reached 70 percent. I think that this trend will be developed   further. And we should be ready for this.  Our country is currently not longer as large as it was earlier, moreover its population decreases. And if   we make a war,   it would be better done without a “hot” contact.

Q – The impression is, that the US government and the Pentagon literally go crazy with the concept of the so-called 'smart wars'. The Americans have already several times conducted the tests of hypersonic flight vehicles. Is this a future of air-based missile development?

A – Without any doubts. I consider that the development of such missiles, capable of flying with a speed of 10-12 times higher than speed of sound, is the most promising trend in development of air armament. Undoubtedly, this is a head-on project – the quintessence of entire missile technologies development. New engines, new materials, new onboard radio-electronic equipment will be here used here. This project by its significance could be compared with   launching of   first satellite or with launching a human to the space. For   solution of this problem the resources of state, including intellectual, must be concentrated.

Q - In what, strictly, does consist technological breakthrough?

A - In reality the autonomous flight at hypersonic speed – is a very complex problem. The 'Hypersound' - means 5 Machs's minimum. Our X -31 missile in a number of cases reached speed 4 Mach, but not more. But in order to develop the  minimal hypersonic speed, the new combined engine installation, capable of working both on the subsonic and at the high supersonic speeds is necessary. Now we have the direct-flow air jet engine, which wonderfully works at supersonic speeds. Here we keep pace with the most advanced countries. But in order to be pulled out forward and to reach higher speed, it is necessary to ensure supersonic fuel combustion in a similar ramjet engine, or to create a totally new engine. This task must be solved by designers. But this is not at all. The action on onboard radio-electronic equipment sharply increases at the speed more than 7 Machs, the plasma is formed, the ionization occurs, the fairing is heated to unthinkable temperatures. But indeed it must keep the transparency for the self-homing radar  . Accordingly, the new materials, and the nonstandard design solutions are necessary. I.e., it is necessary to begin the  entire complex of   new aerospace researches. However, I am confident, that this task will be solved sooner or later.

Q - As I know, the developments of the hypersonic air armaments were conducted   long ago in our country, and in  the USA, but, according to the common opinion, it is nothing to brag with…

A - IN the USA serious work began in the eighties. If I do not   mistake, in 1982       NASA started the 'national   aero-Space   plane' (NASP) program      for hypersonic technology creation  . It united more than 60 subprograms, which covered all key directions - aerodynamics, engines, onboard radio-electronic equipment, fuel- and so on. By the way,   within the framework NASP widely adapts the nano-technologies. And as a result Americans already came to the stage of tests.

Q - And we?

A - Such works conducted at the beginning of the seventies and the prototypes even were created. But then, in the ninetieth  , as you know, all this matter was stopped. First of all it happened because the continuation of works required very large capital investments. But now many things were changed, there are positive shifts. This theme   was discussed on the military industrial board. We won the appropriate tender and   are now actively occupied by the production of a prototype. I hope that in the next two years there will already be the first results. I will say nothing more, fear to make a slip of the tongue…


  1. "why we should fear China and in what direction it is necessary Russia to develop its air-based weapon ."

    huh? so..why should we fear china?

  2. Hey Igorr, 8ak has published an image of what they claim is the Gorshkov.. check this out-


    Do you think it is a legitimate image? If so how is it not hidden? Nothing to hide?:)

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. to Sujith:

    Gorshi-Vikra was pictured a year ago from close distance and high resolution, so what rational to be aware from disclosing it in very median quality space-satellite picture?