Our and foreign media are full of reports about the new American superweapon - the railgun (English "railgun" - "rail gun"). In the United States, newspapermen call it the "Arrow of God."
Let's try to consistently understand the new product. Why the cannon is a rail gun? Yes, because there is no barrel in it, and the projectile moves along two metal guides, vaguely resembling rails. The projectile is made conductive. During a powerful electromagnetic pulse, a large current flows through it, and the projectile heats up greatly. This completely excludes equipping it with conventional explosives, not to mention a nuclear warhead.
In the course of experiments in 2008-2016, the railgun dummy installations fired two- and three-kilogram shells. In a standard combat installation, it is supposed to fire projectiles weighing 9 kg at a speed 6-7 times higher than the speed of sound, at a distance of 450-500 km.
Thus, the railgun is a semblance of a smooth-bore cannon from the times of Ivan the Terrible, firing a solid core. The only difference is that the speed of the projectile has increased 10–20 times. As in the 16th century, in order to hit an adversary with such a weapon, only a direct hit is required.
I deliberately omit, as not of interest to the general reader, numerous technical problems associated with the creation of rail guns. Among them, an important place is occupied by the survivability of the installation (excessive heating, erosion of rail guides, etc.). It is curious how a tungsten projectile, heated to several thousand degrees, will behave when it hits the stratosphere at an altitude of 25 kilometers or more, where the temperature reaches minus 50-100 degrees Celsius. And tungsten, I note, is a very fragile metal.
I will focus on what is most striking - the accuracy of the railgun projectile at a distance of 400 kilometers or more. One gets the impression that the Pentagon is leading American politicians and the public by the nose. Have they forgotten that there is such a thing as atmosphere?
REALITY AND FANTASTIC
Here are two simple examples. At the end of the 1930s, the USSR adopted a 12.7-mm DShK machine gun, which fired a bullet weighing 48.2 g at a speed of 840 m / s. According to the 1938 firing tables, the maximum range of the DShK was 4 km, and in a similar 1946 table, the firing range was halved - to 2 km. What, the cartridges have worsened? No, both in 1938 and in 1946, DShK bullets flew at a distance of over 6 km. But this was the so-called ballistic range, when the bullet flew at low speed and tumbled in flight. So to shoot at the DShK at a distance of over 2 km was absolutely useless, as they say, into the white light - like a pretty penny. But it came to our military only in 1946.
Second example. A modern anti-tank sub-caliber projectile weighing 5, 9 kg and with an initial speed of about 2000 m / s has a tabular range of about 2 km. Further, it simply will not hit the tank, although this projectile is equipped with wings that unfold in flight for stabilization.
For beautiful ladies I will explain with two more examples. During the First World War, at altitudes of 300-400 m, pilots caught rifle bullets fired from the ground with their hands. And during the Battle of Borodino, one Russian general was sitting at a table in a tent, when a light (3 or 4 pounds) ball flew in at the end and hit him in the stomach. The general got off with a bruise and did not lose his ability to work. And the uniform remained intact!
The Americans boast that the railgun will be "equipped with a GPS corrector, which will prevent the projectile from deviating from the aiming point by more than 5 m at a range of 400 km." But actually the navigator is on the cannon, not on the projectile. All this seems to be unscientific fantasy …
Much more interesting is the alleged carrier of the railgun destroyer "Zamvolt". Its standard displacement is 14,564 tons, and the full displacement will reach 18,000 tons. According to the Pentagon's plans, by 2020–2025, the Zamvolt-class destroyers will be equipped with a pair of rail guns. In the meantime, their main caliber is two 155-mm artillery mounts (AU) AGS.
Tests of this gun began in October 2001. On August 31, 2005, a module of eight shells was fired in 45 seconds, that is, the rate of fire was 10.7 rounds per minute. The small-scale production of AGS was launched in 2010. The length of the gun barrel is 62 caliber. The barrel has a water cooling system. Single-sleeve loading. The elevation angle is + 70 ±, which allows you to fire at anti-aircraft targets. Especially for AGS, an LRLAP active-rocket projectile was created with a length of 2.44 m, that is, 11 calibers. The weight of the projectile is 102 kg, of which the explosive is 11 kg, that is, 7, 27%. The circular probable deviation of the projectile, depending on the range, is from 20 to 50 m. The cost of the projectile is $ 35 thousand. The firing range of the LRLAP projectile is 154 km. If necessary, the AGS installation can also fire a conventional 155-mm projectile, but the range is reduced to 40 km.
As a result, we get that the classic 155-mm gun mount of the destroyer is its real and formidable weapon, in contrast to the semi-fantastic rail gun. In my opinion, AGS will soon revolutionize naval artillery. The lead destroyer DDG-1000 Zamvolt entered service in May 2016, and the other two - DDG-1001 and DDG-1002 - are in a high degree of readiness.
Well, what kind of medium caliber ammunition do we have? Now (as of June 2016) the frigate "Admiral Gorshkov" of project 23350, armed with a 130-mm gun mount A-192M "Armata", is just being tested. In the second half of the 1980s, the Arsenal design bureau began the development of a 130-mm single-gun turret installation A-192M "Armata" of the automated complex A-192M-5P-10. The ballistic data and rate of fire of the new installation remained unchanged compared to the AK-130. The weight of the gun mount was reduced to 24 tons. The new Puma radar system was supposed to control the fire of the installation. The ammunition load was supposed to include at least two guided missiles - "Crossbow-2" and "Aurora".
In 1991, 98 shots were fired at the Rzhevka test site from the "Armata" installation, and it was planned to conduct state tests in 1992. However, the collapse of the USSR buried Anchar and other ship projects with new gun mounts, and work on the A-192M was mothballed. Shooting from the A-192M on Rzhevka resumed only in 2011. Meanwhile, in the Brezhnev era, unique ship artillery mounts were designed, in terms of their power, by an order of magnitude superior to both the 130-mm A-192M and the American 155-mm AGS.
In 1983-1984, a project was developed for a truly fantastic weapon. Imagine a ship, in the bow of which a certain pipe with a height of 4, 9 m and a thickness of about half a meter sticks vertically. Suddenly, the pipe bends, and from it with a crash … anything! No, I'm not joking. For example, our ship is attacked by an airplane or a cruise missile, and the installation fires an anti-aircraft guided projectile. Somewhere over the horizon, an enemy ship was found, and a cruise missile flies from the pipe at a distance of up to 250 km. A submarine appeared, and a projectile flies out of the pipe, which, after splashdown, becomes a depth charge with a special charge. It is required to support the landing force with fire - and 110-kilogram shells are already flying at a distance of 42 km. But the enemy settled down on the very shore in concrete forts or strong stone buildings. On it, 406-mm super-powerful high-explosive shells weighing 1, 2 tons are immediately used, capable of destroying a target at a distance of up to 10 km.
The installation had a rate of fire of 10 rounds per minute for guided missiles and 15-20 rounds per minute for shells. Changing the type of ammunition took no more than 4 seconds. The weight of the installation with a single-tier slug cellar was 32 t, and with a two-tier one - 60 t. The calculation of the installation was 4–5 people. Such 406-mm cannons could easily be installed even on small ships with a displacement of 2-3 thousand tons. But the first ship with such an installation was to be a Project 956 destroyer.
What is the highlight of this gun? The main feature of the installation was the limitation of the angle of descent to 30 ±, which made it possible to deepen the axle of the trunnions below the deck by 500 mm and exclude the tower from the design. The swinging part is placed under the battle table and passes through the embrasure of the dome.
Due to the low (howitzer) ballistics, the thickness of the barrel walls is reduced. The barrel is lined with a muzzle brake. Loading was carried out at an elevation angle of 90 ± directly from the cellar by an "elevator-rammer" located coaxially of the rotating part. The shot consisted of an ammunition (projectile or rocket) and a pallet in which the propellant charge was placed. The pan for all types of ammunition was the same. He moved along with the ammunition along the bore and separated after leaving the channel. All operations for filing and forwarding were carried out automatically. The project of this super-universal gun was very interesting and original, but the resolution of the leadership did not differ in originality: the 406 mm caliber was not provided for by the standards of the Russian Navy.
INSTEAD OF THE SEA - SPACE DALS
In the mid-1970s, the design of the 203-mm Pion-M shipborne mount began (not to be confused with the Pion-M self-propelled gun, 2S7M, obtained in 1983 by upgrading the 2S7!) Based on the swinging part of the 203-mm 2A44 self-propelled gun "Pion". This was the Soviet response to the American 203-mm experimental installation Mk 71. Even the amount of ammunition ready for firing was the same for both systems - 75 separate-case loading rounds. However, the Pion's rate of fire was higher than the Mk 71. The Piona-M fire control system was a modification of the Lev system for the AK-130. In 1976-1979, the leadership of the Navy was sent several reasoned enough justifications for the advantages of the 203-mm cannon. So, for example, the size of the funnel of a high-explosive projectile from the AK-130 was 1.6 m, and that of the Pion-M - 3.2 m.
The 203-mm active-rocket, cluster and guided projectiles had incomparably great capabilities compared to the 130 mm caliber. So, the active-rocket projectile "Piona-M" had a range of 50 km.
Or maybe Khrushchev and his admirals were right that after the end of World War II, guns of caliber over 127–130 mm were not needed by the Navy? Alas, all local wars have refuted this statement. According to the uncontested claims of American admirals, the most effective naval weapons of the Korean, Vietnamese and Lebanese wars were the 406-mm guns of American battleships. The Yankees, with the emergence of serious local conflicts, deactivated and modernized their Iowa-class battleships and actively used them to shell enemy coastal targets. The last time 406-mm guns of the battleship "Missouri" fired at the territory of Iraq in 1991.
But back to the rail guns. I repeat, the "Arrow of God" is an ideal system to "cheat" American congressmen who are not too versed in physics and military technology.
And here I put not a full stop, but a comma. The fact is that all problems of a marine or land-based installation of a railgun automatically disappear … in space. The "Arrow of God", in my opinion, is a very promising space weapon. In space, there is no atmosphere and no dispersion. And a projectile weighing even 50 g can really have a circular probable deviation of 5 m at a distance not only 400, but even 1000 km. A hit of a 50 g projectile is guaranteed to destroy any spacecraft, including an ISS-type manned station.
But the rail installation will not be able to shoot at ground targets from space. Although … let's get fancy. In near space, there are enough fireballs and asteroids weighing from 100 to 10 thousand tons. With the help of a railgun installed in a spacecraft in Earth's orbit, a few shots can correct the flight path of a mini-asteroid. Well, the destruction on earth from the fall of this "mini" will be equivalent to the explosion of tens or even hundreds of hydrogen bombs.