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Russian Hypersonic Missiles


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#1 Inhapi

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Posted 02 January 2020 - 1558 PM

I don't know a thing about modern missiles. All i know the declaration of Putin that Russia now has these things in service has been cried out on several media outlets as a "game changer", "a new treat to peace" etc (paraphrasing here)

 

I can see the advantages of hypersonic missiles:

 

very fast attack times.

much les time to respond by any defenses.

immune ? to current active defense tech.

others ?

 

Are these things as scary as they are made out to be ? (just the concept of operational hypersonic missiles, lets not delve here into wether how much of what Putin tells is mere propaganda and/or scaremongering)

 

Thanks for any input.


Edited by Inhapi, 02 January 2020 - 2358 PM.

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#2 DougRichards

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Posted 02 January 2020 - 1818 PM

Sounds like the ICBM sounded in the 1960s which lead to MAD doctrine.


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#3 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 03 January 2020 - 1408 PM

They had missiles that went boom before, they still have missiles that go boom. What's changed?

Edited by Stuart Galbraith, 03 January 2020 - 1409 PM.

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#4 Chris Werb

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Posted 03 January 2020 - 1524 PM

The thing is (and I don't want to knock them), in a strategic context, these hypersonics only do what existing missiles can already do at much less cost. With the possible exceptions of Israel and Singapore, no nation today has a credible defence against very ordinary cruise missiles. 


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#5 Inhapi

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Posted 04 January 2020 - 0626 AM

Chris:

 

I was thinking in this direction too, but do not know enough on the topic to be sure my toughts were jusified.


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#6 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 04 January 2020 - 0715 AM

There is a distinction to be had between theatre level hypersonic missiles and strategic. The Russians already claim to have developed a strategic weapon called Avangard, which they say will make it immune to all BMD systems. OTOH, because the American BMD systems seem to be leakier than the Titanic, you wonder what the point is. There is also the question about whether it is actually operational, just just a piece of theatre the Russians have thrown up to get concessions out of the Americans. We will see.

 

Potentially more useful is the theatre level systems, such as Kinzhal with a range of 1200 miles and a speed of Mach 10, which would probably make it uninterceptable if they can get it to work. Whether they actually have got it to work is another matter. Also, hanging it on a combat aircraft helps with range, but it doesnt make it less vulnerable, particularly as a nuclear delivery platform. It basically reinvents the AS6 with greater speed, at which point you have to wonder, why bother?

https://en.wikipedia...Kh-47M2_Kinzhal

 

Its being touted as an anitcarrier weapons, but considering their initial deployment is with Southern Military district, they dont appear to have a lot of confidence in it carrying out that role.


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#7 lastdingo

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Posted 04 January 2020 - 0843 AM

The thing is (and I don't want to knock them), in a strategic context, these hypersonics only do what existing missiles can already do at much less cost. With the possible exceptions of Israel and Singapore, no nation today has a credible defence against very ordinary cruise missiles. 

I'm not sure about the "less cost" part. They may be smaller and lighter than a same range & same payload (quasi)ballistic PGM because of aerodynamic lift and (presumably) intake of air as oxidizer.

 

I think the manoeuvrability and thus ability to penetrate ABM defences (that have become so extremely fashionable in NATO since the SCUD scare of 1991) is the real selling point.

 

 

Medium range missiles are IMO most important as first strike arsenal. They could take out the majority of European airpower, also high value targets such as powerful artillery radars, air defence radars, above-ground depots for high value munitions, Oder and Vistula bridges and the like. I've argued for some time that we should plan our deterrence and defence with the assumption of such a strategic surprise attack. It has huge influence on the valuation of high value targets such as Typhoons, Rafales, AEW or Lightning II.


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#8 glenn239

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Posted 04 January 2020 - 0850 AM

Chris:

 

I was thinking in this direction too, but do not know enough on the topic to be sure my toughts were jusified.

 

I see in another thread that the US Navy apparently just cancelled a bunch of Burke Class destroyers they were intending to build.  Why do you think that might be?  


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#9 glenn239

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Posted 04 January 2020 - 0919 AM

I don't know a thing about modern missiles. All i know the declaration of Putin that Russia now has these things in service has been cried out on several media outlets as a "game changer", "a new treat to peace" etc (paraphrasing here)

 

I can see the advantages of hypersonic missiles:

 

very fast attack times.

much les time to respond by any defenses.

immune ? to current active defense tech.

others ?

 

Are these things as scary as they are made out to be ? (just the concept of operational hypersonic missiles, lets not delve here into wether how much of what Putin tells is mere propaganda and/or scaremongering)

 

Thanks for any input.

 

Add to your list an operationally significant range, since anything that flies so fast can travel a long distance.  

 

In terms of your list, time on target.  Right now aircraft need to hover over the battlefield in order to get their weapons on targets of opportunity.  Hypersonics allow that from the ground at much greater distances.  Against mobile targets, hypersonics coupled with C4I could have a big impact on operations because they can hit fleeting targets in real time, whereas slow cruise missiles cannot.


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#10 GARGEAN

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Posted 05 January 2020 - 0634 AM

I don't know a thing about modern missiles. All i know the declaration of Putin that Russia now has these things in service has been cried out on several media outlets as a "game changer", "a new treat to peace" etc (paraphrasing here)
 
I can see the advantages of hypersonic missiles:
 
very fast attack times.
much les time to respond by any defenses.
immune ? to current active defense tech.
others ?
 
Are these things as scary as they are made out to be ? (just the concept of operational hypersonic missiles, lets not delve here into wether how much of what Putin tells is mere propaganda and/or scaremongering)
 
Thanks for any input.

"Hypersonics" are new black. And without context that word is just buzzword what means nothing.
For starters, hypersonic missiles were in use by very many counties for soon to be a century, all the way from V-2. All ICBMs are hypersonic, Iskander is hypersonic, many SAMs and some AAMs are hypersonic... Buzzword came mostly from deeper work on airbreathing hypersonic missiles, which became more common in recent years. A bit later glider vehicles of ICBMs were included here too. Both are not totally new tech, gliders for example were worked on in US like half century ago, just never were fielded.
In case of Russia both are in work. Airbreather as Zirkon (still in work) and glider vehicle as Avangard, which went into IOC in December. Both are really useful indeed but as always not as gamechangers as screamed. Well, kinda.
Zirkon will be much fasted than current gen russian AShMs, thus it will be much harder to intercept. But it's not like any ship now is totally protected from P-800 barrage but will be totally vulnerable to comparable Zirkon barrage. It will just increase Pk from, let's say, 0.7 to 0.95 for properly committed attack. Useful, but hardly gamechanger.
With Avangard it's even easier. Yes, maneuvering HGV (Hypersonic Glide Vehicle) is a much harder to intercept that conventional ICBM. But in current state of things it matters very little. Because protection from ICBMs is... Well, it's a farce. There is NOTHING that ANY country in the world can do against massed ICBM strike with current or near future tech. US can intercept with good luck like 40 ICBMs in boost approach stage with GBI and with great lack a few dozens more warheads on descend. Russia can protect Moscow and surrounding from relatively harsh strike from dozens to hundred descending targets. For other counties even that capability is not present.
So in the end, if one ICBM will fly - all of them will fly. And if all of them will fly - it won't matter if you will intercept 2-4% of whole warhead count or none at all.
So both of those types are good and useful. And as usual both were looked at from amateur and wrong side.
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#11 Chris Werb

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Posted 05 January 2020 - 0831 AM

Sorry Lastdingo, I meant that the cruise missile option is cheaper. You can even have a single cruise missile attack multiple (many) soft targets. For fleeting targets you can retarget in flight and the CM can even have its own target recognition sensors.


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#12 lastdingo

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Posted 05 January 2020 - 0903 AM

Sorry Lastdingo, I meant that the cruise missile option is cheaper. You can even have a single cruise missile attack multiple (many) soft targets. For fleeting targets you can retarget in flight and the CM can even have its own target recognition sensors.

I once did a blog post about strategic surprise attack. Subsonic cruise missiles make this a lot harder against Europe because they either leave 30+ minutes time to react (=move the Rafales out of their shelters et cetera) or you need many different launching ships (which makes surprise much harder).

 

So I think hypersonic glide PGMs are a near-perfect substitute for MRBMs or IRBMs. GLCMs, ALCMs and even SLCMs are much less troublesome.


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#13 Chris Werb

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Posted 05 January 2020 - 1409 PM

 

Sorry Lastdingo, I meant that the cruise missile option is cheaper. You can even have a single cruise missile attack multiple (many) soft targets. For fleeting targets you can retarget in flight and the CM can even have its own target recognition sensors.

I once did a blog post about strategic surprise attack. Subsonic cruise missiles make this a lot harder against Europe because they either leave 30+ minutes time to react (=move the Rafales out of their shelters et cetera) or you need many different launching ships (which makes surprise much harder).

 

So I think hypersonic glide PGMs are a near-perfect substitute for MRBMs or IRBMs. GLCMs, ALCMs and even SLCMs are much less troublesome.

 

 

The Rafales need runways to take off from. I'd be surprised if any provision has been made for rapid dispersal. There really aren't that many active fighter airfields in W. European NATO now. The RAF, for example, has three of which only two house interceptors and have QRA and none have area or point air defences. Once aircraft are grounded, you can keep them that way by hitting the runways with free fall guided ordnance dropped from now unopposed fixed wing aircraft which has the added advantage of making much more blast/heave. You can add mines and/or chemical agents into the mix if you want the Russians are happy to use the later against us in peacetime, so I doubt they'd restrain in a "conventional" war.


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#14 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 05 January 2020 - 1447 PM

Although the mig31 missile carriers are just as vulnerable as the Rafales.
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#15 glenn239

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Posted 06 January 2020 - 0856 AM

 

With Avangard it's even easier. Yes, maneuvering HGV (Hypersonic Glide Vehicle) is a much harder to intercept that conventional ICBM. But in current state of things it matters very little. Because protection from ICBMs is... Well, it's a farce. There is NOTHING that ANY country in the world can do against massed ICBM strike with current or near future tech. US can intercept with good luck like 40 ICBMs in boost approach stage with GBI and with great lack a few dozens more warheads on descend. Russia can protect Moscow and surrounding from relatively harsh strike from dozens to hundred descending targets. For other counties even that capability is not present.
So in the end, if one ICBM will fly - all of them will fly. And if all of them will fly - it won't matter if you will intercept 2-4% of whole warhead count or none at all.
So both of those types are good and useful. And as usual both were looked at from amateur and wrong side.

 

 

It's primary function will probably be second strike deterrence, (in the Cold War the Russians were afraid of the possibility of a US first strike coupled with strategic defense capable of dealing with the residual counterattack)..  A secondary (more sinister) purpose would be for refined precision retaliation and escalation.  These days, statesmen prefer precisely calibrated measures of force, not launching everything in hopes something gets through.


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#16 glenn239

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Posted 06 January 2020 - 0900 AM

Although the mig31 missile carriers are just as vulnerable as the Rafales.

 

Dunno about that.  Russia is a big country and the Russians design their planes to fly from dispersal sites.  Rough fields, roads, civilian airfields.  That sort of thing.

 

Sorry Lastdingo, I meant that the cruise missile option is cheaper. You can even have a single cruise missile attack multiple (many) soft targets. For fleeting targets you can retarget in flight and the CM can even have its own target recognition sensors.

 

Cruise missiles are fine for non-hardened or non-time sensitive targets.  But for fortified targets not so much and for fleeting mobile targets, they are useless.

 

Battlefield domination is about operational tempo.  The quick and the dead.  Until the advent of hypersonics, airpower has been the fastest and the baddest.  But now, it's no longer the fastest.  


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#17 KV7

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Posted 06 January 2020 - 0947 AM

Hypersonics potentially shift naval warfare somewhat, as you can create a very hard to intercept missile with less mass than the DF-21 solution.

An in-expectation fleet crippling salvo turns into something that can be more easily carried by a strike squadron. 


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#18 glenn239

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Posted 06 January 2020 - 0950 AM

Right, AA cruisers and destroyers seem to be useless against hypersonics for the time being.  Maybe at some future date they can be retrofitted with updated systems.


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#19 a77

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Posted 12 January 2020 - 0426 AM

Right, AA cruisers and destroyers seem to be useless against hypersonics for the time being.  Maybe at some future date they can be retrofitted with updated systems.

In what way? a hypersonic missile cant sea skimming as low or be as stealthy (becuse of the massive air friction at low attitude) as a subsonic missile. The hypersonic missile can cover the distant faster, but it will alos be detected 

further out.

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#20 KV7

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Posted 12 January 2020 - 0547 AM

 

Right, AA cruisers and destroyers seem to be useless against hypersonics for the time being.  Maybe at some future date they can be retrofitted with updated systems.

In what way? a hypersonic missile cant sea skimming as low or be as stealthy (becuse of the massive air friction at low attitude) as a subsonic missile. The hypersonic missile can cover the distant faster, but it will alos be detected 

further out.

 

The actual intercept becomes very difficult if the incoming warhead has both high speed and some maneuverability.


Edited by KV7, 12 January 2020 - 0554 AM.

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