Keeping track of how public opinion changes is always interesting. Not so long ago, about ten to fifteen years ago, the prevailing opinion was that ICBMs were invulnerable. That is, they, of course, could be destroyed before the start, if it was possible to deliver a pre-emptive, counterforce strike, but after the launch, their interception was considered almost impossible.
However, time goes by, the world is changing, new technologies are developing, and most importantly, information wars do not stop. The United States has long since withdrawn from the treaty on the limitation of anti-missile defense systems: having announced its decision on December 31, 2001, it, after the established 6-month period, withdrew from it on June 12, 2002.
The official reason for this behavior of our American friends was the threat of nuclear blackmail from third countries. The fact is that the nuclear bomb continues its triumphant march around the world - in those years Iran and South Africa were able to assemble it, and Iraq, under the leadership of Saddam Hussein, was able to independently increase the range of the old Soviet Scud ballistic missiles. All this indicated that not so much time would pass, and ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads could be at the disposal of many countries, including those in whose affairs the United States believed it was possible to interfere. Well, you understand: when the United States gets involved in the internal affairs of any country, then this is a triumph of democracy, and if suddenly this very country finds the courage to defend itself with atomic weapons in its hands, then this is, of course, nuclear blackmail.
We will not delve into the history of the issue, let us consider better what the Americans got as a result of their, I must say, very expensive efforts in the field of missile defense.
So, the number one in the American missile defense system is the "miracle of hostile technology" called Ground-Based Midcourse Defense, or, for short, GBMD. Today, it is the only American system (and probably the only one in the world) capable of intercepting ICBMs and their warheads at virtually any point in their transatmospheric trajectory. It sounds creepy, but let's try to figure out what is behind this.
To begin with, let's recall how, in fact, an intercontinental ballistic missile works. In the first, active part of the trajectory, while the rocket engines are working, it is accelerated and kinetic energy is transmitted to it, sufficient to hit the given target. Then the engine, having worked out its own, is discarded as unnecessary, and the rocket leaves the atmosphere. It is here, as a rule, that the separation of warheads takes place, which fly further along a ballistic trajectory at an altitude of 1,000-1,200 km above the earth's surface or higher. When approaching the target, the warheads descend, enter the atmosphere (based on the video footage of the warheads falling at the training grounds, it can be assumed that the trajectory of the fall of the warhead passes approximately at an angle of 35-45 degrees to the earth's surface) and, in fact, hit the target assigned to them. How does GBMD counteract this?
Well, first of all, the launch of enemy missiles must be detected. For this in the United States, the Space-Based Infrared System is responsible - a space-based infrared system, or even simpler - a network of satellites that should record the launch of ballistic missiles.On the active part of the trajectory, when the ICBM engine is operating at its full power, it is not particularly problematic to do so with a good infrared sensor. Now 7 satellites are deployed in geostationary orbit: thus, the Americans have the ability to detect missiles and find out their trajectories approximately 20 seconds after the launch of the missiles.
However, this is where the capabilities of the US satellite constellation are exhausted - the fact is that upon completion of the active section, the engine stops working, which means it “shines” in the infrared spectrum, and then the US satellites can no longer control the movement of warheads - for this, radars are needed.
America, of course, has them: as part of the GBMD, as many as three stationary radars have been deployed at Cape Cod (Massachusetts), Bial (California) and Clear (Alaska) airbases, and two more older ones located in Greenland and the UK can also work in it. "Interests". True, for all their advantages, they have a significant drawback - their detection range for ballistic missiles and their warheads does not exceed 2,000 km. Thus, it turns out that the United States is able to receive initial information about a missile attack from satellites, it will include the number of missiles launched and information about their trajectory, but then the ICBMs "go into the shadows" and the Americans do not observe them until the latter arrives at 2,000 km to one of the above American radars.
I must say that the United States is not very happy about this prospect, so they created a maritime mobile radar for detecting ICBMs. This cyclopean structure with a displacement of 50,000 tons, built on the basis of a drilling platform, is 116 m long and 85 m high, with a draft of 30 m when deployed.
This monster is capable of detecting a target with an RCS of 1 sq. m at a distance of 4,900 km, but its main advantage lies in the fact that this radar can always be put forward in a threatening direction in order to be able to control the flight of enemy ICBMs immediately after the latter leave the visibility limits of the space satellite system.
What is it for?
The fact is that the GBMD system is focused on the destruction of ICBMs in the transatmospheric segment of their trajectory. To do this, it has GBI (Ground-Based Interceptor) interceptor missiles, which, in essence, are the same ballistic missile capable of launching a kinetic interceptor to an altitude of 2,000 km. And then, this very interceptor, equipped with its own engines and an electro-optical guidance system, receiving target designation from ground-based radars, shouting "Tenno henka banzai !!!" (well, or without it) must ram an enemy missile or its warhead. Given that the approach speed will exceed 15-16 km / s, such a collision, of course, will be absolutely fatal for both devices.
So, in theory, GBI is capable of hitting an enemy ICBM anywhere in outer space - its range is limited only by the speed of the system's reaction to the detection of an enemy missile and the flight time. Accordingly, the earlier the ICBM is "in the beams" of the target tracking radar, the better for the United States.
Dear reader, probably already impressed by the overwhelming power of the "gloomy American genius" who created the omnipotent Wunderwaffe? Well, let's see how it works in practice.
Let's start with the fact that GBMD is not able to engage ICBMs with multiple warheads with individual guidance units (MIRVs). Such work was carried out, but was abandoned due to the high complexity, as well as the fact that the Americans considered MIRV to be too complex technology for the latter to appear in third countries in the foreseeable future. True, in 2015, work on this topic resumed, but has not yet led to success. Thus, in order to repel the blow of one "Satan" with 8 warheads, the Americans need to ensure that their kinetic interceptor hits each warhead.
How many GBI interceptors does this need? To date, a total of 17 GBI launches have been made on real targets. In one case, the missile did not hit the target, since the target itself turned out to be defective and out of order. In the remaining 16 launches, targets were hit 8 times. In other words, the complex has demonstrated 50% efficiency, but … in "home" test conditions. As we know, in real hostilities, efficiency has a bad property to decrease by several times, and sometimes by orders of magnitude.
But, for example, the American GBIs are really capable of intercepting Satan's warhead with a 50% probability. Accordingly, 8 warheads will need 16 interceptor missiles. But this is only if the domestic ICBM in flight is divided into 8 warheads and … that's all.
Only our rockets do not work "a little" like that. In addition to real warheads, they carry with them a large number of simulators, divided into 2 main groups - light and quasi-heavy. Lightweight (mesh or inflatable) simulate the flight of warheads in space, where they are practically indistinguishable, but, of course, they quickly lose speed and burn out when entering the atmosphere. Quasi-heavy (weighing up to several tens of kilograms) manage to depict the warhead even during a significant part of the atmospheric flight, and they have no difference in speed with real warheads. All of the above is not some kind of modern know-how, our ICBMs have been equipped with such systems since 1974, and probably more than one generation of false targets has changed.
So, today, the Americans do not have truly reliable means of selecting real combat units among false ones. However, we do too. The United States considered it necessary, in addition to the existing satellites, to deploy another 24 special low-orbit satellites that could carry out such a selection, but … Firstly, it seemed to them too expensive a pleasure, and they did not do it. And even if they did, you need to understand that the nuances of the work of our false goals are a secret behind seven seals, and in the USA they can only guess how we implemented it. And, for obvious reasons, the Americans will no longer have time to learn from their mistakes in the event of a nuclear missile Armageddon.
It turns out that even if hundreds of false targets will almost not mislead the US missile defense system and will only double the number of potentially dangerous targets (that is, if one Satan is launched, the Americans will be able to assess the potentially dangerous 16 BB, of which 8 will be real warheads), then in order to hit them, the Americans will need 32 GBI anti-missiles. We repeat - provided that the accuracy shown on the training launches is achieved, and with the remarkable quality of the selection of false targets, despite the fact that neither one nor the other is to be expected from the American GBMD system today.
And the total number of GBI deployed in Alaska until recently did not exceed 30 missiles, and 14 more were supposed to be deployed in California. Unfortunately, the author of this article does not have exact information about the number of GBIs for today, but it is unlikely that it exceeds fifty and, in all honesty, it is extremely doubtful that all this US ammunition would be enough to repel only 1 (in words: ONE) heavy intercontinental ballistic missile of the Russian Federation.
What else do the Americans have?
Next on our list is the THAAD complex.
I must say that its principle of operation is in many ways similar to GBMD: in the same way, the defeat of enemy missiles is carried out using a kinetic interceptor, which needs to "stick" directly into the missile warhead, and in the same way, guidance is carried out according to the radar data, but at the final stage the IC seeker of the kinetic interceptor comes into play. But the THAAD complex is made mobile, which is why its characteristics are much more modest than those of GBMD. If the GBI interceptors, in theory, can shoot down ICBM warheads even over another hemisphere of the Earth, then the THAAD intercept range is 200 km, with an altitude of 150 km.While GBMD radars detect enemy "ballistas" for 2,000 km (and the maritime complex - even for 4,900 km), then the THAAD mobile radar - only for 1,000 km.
So, I must say that THAAD demonstrated very high results in tests and exercises - its accuracy was striving for 100%. But there is one caveat. Imitators of the good old Soviet R-17 were used as targets, that is, for a moment, all the same "Scud". And "Scud", for obvious reasons, for speed and other performance characteristics, is not an ICBM, which is a much more difficult target. So what - the Americans, it turns out, are engaged in fraud? Yes, it never happened: the fact is that both the developers and customers of THAAD never positioned this complex as a means of defense against ICBMs. Only against short- and medium-range ballistic missiles: officially THAAD is unable to hit either ICBMs or their warheads. So, generally speaking, we generally have no reason to regard THAAD as a missile defense element against our heavy missiles.
But let's say that the Americans do not really agree, and the destruction of warheads of ICBMs is such an "undocumented function" of THAAD. Alas, in this case, the Americans will face all the problems of selection of false targets, voiced above - in fact, they can more or less reliably determine the real targets only after our warheads have already entered the atmosphere very deeply, leaving THAAD almost no time to react … And before that, the US anti-missile forces will, in fact, hit the white light like a penny, firing on mostly false targets.
By the way, an interesting question: why did the Americans concentrate on kinetic interceptors, which require a direct hit on an enemy missile (warhead)? The fact is that, as a result of Operation Desert Storm, the United States came to the conclusion that remote detonation of the charge does not guarantee the destruction of the warhead of a ballistic missile, even if we are talking about old Scuds (although in the future, after appropriate modifications, SAM "Patriot" with a remote fuse destroyed "Scud" very effectively). At the same time, the use of nuclear warheads in interceptor missiles is undesirable, since their detonation does not "blind" the fire control radars for some time … the edge "of the missile strike zone - just to pave the way for the rest?
How many of our missiles will be able to hit the THAAD complex? As you can understand, today the US armed forces have either 2 or 4 batteries of this complex, each of which includes 24 missiles. Basically, this complex is exported to Japan, South Korea and the United Arab Emirates, which, by the way, fully confirms the version that THAAD is "sharpened" against short- and medium-range ballistic missiles - ICBMs do not threaten the aforementioned countries. By the way, THAAD is not only expensive, but very expensive - one complex costs about $ 3 billion, and this is not counting the fact that the cost of its development, according to some sources, was $ 15 billion.
And finally, the world famous Aegis with its SM-3.
In essence, the American naval missile defense system is the same THAAD, somewhat improved, and in some ways degraded. Improvements affected the missile itself - although the SM-3 is largely unified with the THAAD missile, it is a longer arm: the SM-3 is capable of shooting down targets at an altitude of 250 km at a distance of up to, according to various sources, 500-700 km. It seems to be great, but there is one caveat - the AN / TPY-2 radar, which ensures the operation of the THAAD complex, was not "delivered" to the US Navy ships, so either the standard AN / SPY-1 has to be dispensed with, and it is able to issue target designation by barely 350 km, hardly more. At the same time, there is no chance that American ships will receive something like AN / TPY-2 from the word "absolutely" - firstly, the THAAD radar costs crazy money (about $ 600 million), and secondly, it very "narrowly directed" and in the sector of view it loses to a single AN / SPY-1 grating, which on the destroyer of the "Arlie Burke" type, in order to provide all-round visibility, as many as 4 pieces are needed … In other words, equipping American destroyers with such a radar will increase their cost approximately twice, and even the immense military budget of the United States will go for this.
Today there are rumors that the next version of the SM-3 in its capabilities will approach the GBI interceptors and will have 1500 km of reach in height, 2500-3500 km in range, but even if this is true, the radar equipment of the US Navy ships will "serve" such range cannot. All hope is for external target designation, but where can I get it from? Yes, in 2008, the US missile cruiser Lake Erie hit a failed American emergency satellite according to another satellite, but the trajectory of the latter was known in advance (and evil tongues claim that the attack on the spacecraft that lost control was preceded by two days of calculations). and in the event of a real missile attack, such opportunities, alas, will not exist.
What can the THAAD anti-missile missiles and the currently available SM-3 modifications do to repel an ICBM attack? Formally, nothing, since both of these missiles are designed to intercept short- and medium-range ballistic missiles. Indeed, the capabilities of these complexes look more or less sufficient to intercept missiles like Iskander - with a flight range of 500 km and a maximum trajectory altitude of 100 km, ballistic missiles of the complex develop about 2.1 km / sec, but for warheads coming from speed of 16-17 swings in an airless space, their capabilities look, let's say, somewhat doubtful. We can recall the case of 2017, when the Hwanson-12 medium-range ballistic missile was launched from North Korea and, flying over the Japanese islands of Honshu and Hokkaido, fell into the Pacific Ocean.
Strictly speaking, this flight does not serve as evidence of the powerlessness of the American air defense - most likely, the Hwanson-12 passed over Japan at an altitude exceeding the capabilities of the SM-3 and THAAD, but the comment of Kingston Rafe, an American expert of the Arms Control Association, is very interesting:
“… A test shot, when the missile head re-enters the atmosphere, could have been possible, but the SM-3 was never tested in this mode. To shoot down a medium-range missile actually requires North Korea to tell us where it will land.”
Thus, there are great doubts that THAAD and SM-3 are generally capable of intercepting warheads of intercontinental ballistic missiles, and, oddly enough, the Americans confirm these doubts, saying that such a task was not set for these interceptor missiles. But even if we assume that the Americans are cunning, then, on the basis of the well-known performance characteristics of the complexes, it is extremely doubtful that these anti-missiles could do it well. On the Russian-language Internet, there has been a lot of talk about the possibility of destroying launching ballistic missiles in the active, accelerating section of their trajectory, but you need to understand that for ICBMs located on the territory of the Russian Federation, this is completely impossible, and that theoretically it would be possible to shoot down only the missiles of our SSBNs. But in this case, the American anti-missile missile will not have to go towards the SLBM, but in pursuit, that is, in order for the interception to take place, the US destroyer needs to be in close proximity to the SSBN - otherwise the SM-3 simply will not catch up with our missile.
In other words, at best, the SM-3 and THAAD will allow the Americans to rely on the defense of the territory located directly next to the complex (ship). But even here a number of difficulties arise:
1. Low probability of hitting warheads of ICBMs, provided that the latter use decoys. Today, all US exercises are based on the fact that the target missile is detected long before approaching the affected area, which makes the complex have sufficient time for calculations. But in real conditions, target selection will be possible only after the warheads begin to enter the atmosphere (in this case, quasi-heavy "decoys" will be recognized even later), that is, the ABM calculations will have to operate in conditions of terrible time pressure;
2. The huge cost of the solution.In order to protect at least 100 of the largest cities in the United States, it is necessary to deploy 100 THAAD batteries, which will not provide any guarantees of protection, but will require a cost of $ 300 billion.
In general, even if those approximately 400 missiles of the THAAD and SM-3 systems that are currently in service with the US Armed Forces can generally be used against ICBMs, no miracles should be expected from them. Even if we assume that the Americans by some miracle will manage to use all the missiles in repelling our full-scale nuclear missile strike, and in some no less miraculous way, the efficiency of intercepting real (and not fake) warheads of our ICBMs will be 20-25% (huge assumptions in favor of America), then even then the US missile defense system, taking into account GBMD, will be able to intercept 90-110 warheads at most. This is less than 7.5% of the warheads deployed on land and sea-based ballistic missiles of the Russian Federation, not counting strategic missile-carrying cruise missiles.
In fact, given the fact that most of these missiles will be "in the wrong place and at the wrong time" (for example, in Europe) and that, in addition to passive means of defense, such as false targets, the strategic nuclear forces of the Russian Federation will to use active suppression of the US missile defense, their real capabilities will be several times lower than those calculated by us.
From all of the above, an absolutely unambiguous conclusion can be drawn. The US missile defense system, in its current form, is capable of fighting only with single monoblock ballistic missiles. With a lot of luck, they will be able, if not completely destroy, then neutralize part of the warheads of one heavy ICBM with a MIRV, if the latter, due to some terrible misunderstanding (you don't even want to think about this), starts by accident. But this, as a matter of fact, and all their capabilities for today: the US missile defense system will in no case be able not to reflect, but even to significantly weaken the arsenal of the Russian strategic nuclear forces, if we suddenly have to use it for its intended purpose.
But is all of the above a reason to "rest on our laurels"? No. For, as Winston Churchill said: "Americans always find the only correct solution …" (immediately adding: "… after everyone else has tried"). In other words, if the United States has seriously taken up the issue of missiles that can effectively fight classical ICBMs, sooner or later they will create such missiles, and we must be ready for this.
What could we oppose to American delights? In essence, there are 3 directions, working in which we would completely neutralize the missile defense threat in the form in which the Americans create it.
1. The power of the ICBM. Interestingly, the START III treaty regulates the number of strategic delivery vehicles for nuclear weapons, but does not apply to their performance characteristics. That is, no one is stopping us from making a missile that, say, would hit the United States not through Alaska, but through the same South America, and following it at such a height that American anti-missile missiles would only burst into burning tears of envy. No, of course, if we can make an ICBM flying (exaggerating) at an altitude of 6,000 km above the Earth's surface, then no one is stopping the United States from making an anti-missile missile capable of reaching it there, only … But the cost of today's GBI interceptor is $ 70 million. In order to more or less effectively intercept just one ICBM with MIRVed IN per 8 blocks, we need, according to our calculations, at least 32 GBI. And this pleasure will cost $ 2.24 billion, despite the fact that our missile is hardly more expensive than one GBI, that is, $ 70 million.And in order to intercept a higher-altitude ICBM, an even more powerful and expensive interceptor is needed … In general, such an arms race will ruin even the United States;
2. Maneuvering warheads. Everything is clear here - the fact is that the task of "combining in time and space" an ICBM warhead and a kinetic interceptor is simple only at first glance.In fact, this task is akin to the defeat of one bullet with the help of another: it seems, too, nothing so complicated, if you forget about the force of gravity, different weights of bullets and the difference in trajectories, that a bullet in the air is influenced by the wind, and it will affect the "bullet" and "anti-bullet" in different ways, that depending on the shape of the ammunition they will lose their initial velocity in different proportions, etc. etc. In short, destroying a warhead flying along a ballistic trajectory is a very difficult task that the Americans have barely learned to cope with. And if an ICBM warhead also changes its flight trajectory unpredictably … in general, getting into it becomes almost impossible;
3. Finally, false targets. The more false targets an ICBM carries, the more difficult it is for the enemy to distinguish them from real warheads, the worse it is for the enemy missile defense.
So, surprising as it may sound, the Russian Federation was moving in at least two (or rather, in all three) directions. It was said about the heavy Sarmat missile that it would be capable of attacking US territory from any direction, and not just along the shortest trajectory, as it was before.
The newest Avangard units, capable of maneuvering at hypersonic speeds, are virtually invulnerable to kinetic interceptors. No, theoretically, you can probably imagine an interceptor with such reserves of energy that it can, while moving at a speed of several kilometers per second, also maneuver with sufficient overload to keep up with the unpredictable trajectory of the Vanguard. Here are just the cost of such a miracle-yuda off scale all conceivable limits, here, perhaps, we should talk about a multiple superiority in price over an intercontinental missile, and in fact it carries several "Vanguards" and a certain number of false targets … In general, missile defense of such a cost will be completely overwhelming even for the United States. And finally, although nothing is said in the open press about improving our false goals, it can hardly be assumed that work in this direction has been abandoned.
In other words, the US missile defense system does not protect against the Russian strategic nuclear forces today, while Sarmat, Avangard and the refinement of our false targets are guaranteed to ensure the preservation of this status quo in the foreseeable future. Back in Soviet times, a lot was said about the fact that the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) program proposed by the Reagan administration is extremely expensive, but it is quite easy to nullify its capabilities, spending orders of magnitude less funds.
The work on "Sarmat", "Vanguard" and false targets turns the US missile defense system into exactly what the Americans officially declared - into a means of combating single and technically obsolete ICBMs that could be created in third world countries. Indeed, against one or two North Korean missiles with the deadly name "Pukkykson", the American missile defense system will be quite effective.
And everything, of course, could have been fine, if not for one "but" - alas, both in the USSR and in the Russian Federation, the tragic tendency of our leadership to overestimate the American capabilities in terms of missile defense is clearly visible. "Sarmat", "Avangard" and false targets - this is an adequate response to the American missile defense system, absolutely effective both militarily and economically. But instead of dwelling on this, we begin to come up with all sorts of amazing miracles.
Nuclear-powered cruise missile! Well, why? And she, having an unlimited range, is capable of flying around the missile defense areas and ship formations of the Americans that threaten her. But excuse me, a conventional heavy ICBM is capable of doing the same - its warheads will fly very high above the ship's compound, where the ship's radars simply won't see it.Of course, a cruise missile can sneak low on the US missile defense radars and destroy them, and if we had any opportunity to clear the way for conventional ICBMs with such missiles … just we don't have such an opportunity. Simply because the flight time of a cruise missile, even with a nuclear engine or without, is much longer than that of an ICBM. And if the Americans kick at us with their nuclear arsenal, we will have to give an urgent answer, so that our ICBMs will reach the United States much faster than a nuclear-powered missile. As a result, American radars will still work as intended by their creators - and if so, then it would be more useful for us to hit with a large number of ICBMs at once. What is the point of weakening the decisive salvo so that a certain number of cruise missiles can fly sometime later?
And the same goes for the Poseidon torpedo. In theory, of course, it seems to make sense - so the Americans will teach their SM-3s to deal with ICBM warheads, put a destroyer with anti-missile missiles in each of their ports, and repel all our missile attacks, and here we are from under the water keek … But the fact is that - they will not be beaten off, the SM-3 will not cope with the Vanguards, which will also hide behind false targets. And if so, then there is no need to fence with torpedoes and a vegetable garden.
Let us repeat once more - "Sarmat", "Avangard" and false targets provide an exhaustive answer to the US missile defense program. But cruise missiles with nuclear engines and Poseidons are already beyond adequacy. They add next to nothing to our ability to breach American defenses, but they steal huge funds for development and deployment. Our resources are frankly small, and the decision to develop or deploy a given weapon system must be carefully weighed against the cost / effectiveness criterion. But even the most cursory analysis shows that these two weapons systems do not fit into them in any way.
And again … one could understand our leadership if, tired of the failures of recent years, it financed the development of the same Poseidons as alternative means of delivering nuclear weapons in case the programs for the creation of Sarmat and Avangard fail. It made sense. But today, when, in general, it is clear that both of these programs can be brought to fruition, the Poseidons should have been shelved until better (more precisely, worse) times, in case something completely new is invented in the United States, such, which ICBMs will not be able to resist. A kind of ace up your sleeve, in case of an emergency. But today, in conditions when we cannot afford to build SSBNs according to the Borei-B project, because it is "too expensive", and we get by with boats of earlier and less advanced modifications, when most of the 28 existing multipurpose nuclear submarines are laid up, when the programs for their modernization are constantly reduced and shifted "to the right", when the construction of only six SSNS of project 885M ("Yasen-M") stretches for at least 15 years ("Kazan" was laid in 2009, and there is almost no hope that that the entire six will be commissioned by 2025), the serial production of Poseidons and the construction of 4 (!) nuclear submarines for them is not just an overkill.
This is a crime against the state.