Extremely entertaining information continues to come from the Western European information space regarding new methods of countering the ground component of the Strategic Nuclear Forces of the Russian Federation. Apparently, the specialists of the US Air Force command correctly assess the highest technological level of development of our anti-aircraft / anti-missile weapons. They are well aware that the Tomahawk Block IV strategic cruise missiles, the long-range tactical AGM-158B JASSM-ER and the hypersonic descendants of the Kh-51A Waverider are unlikely to break into the defensive structure built on the basis of dozens or hundreds of anti-aircraft missiles. divisions S-300PM1, S-300V4, S-350 "Vityaz", S-400 "Triumph", and, finally, S-500 "Prometheus", for further destruction of all mine and mobile ground / railway launchers of ICBM R-36M / M2 "Satan", UR-100N UTTH "Stilet", "Topol" and "Yars".
For this reason, today from the mouths of the top officials of the US law enforcement agencies, we can hear about the existence of the most incredible concepts for disabling key facilities of the Strategic Missile Forces of Russia; despite the fact that similar plans are being hatched against China. In terms of sophistication, these concepts already surpass some episodes of numerous technotriller novels by the famous American writer Tom Clancy and are gradually catching up with modern Hollywood scripts.
In particular, at the international conference "Air Power - 2017", held in London from 12 to 13 July, the Chief of Staff of the US Air Force David Goldfein announced in his speech that the Pentagon was working on a concept of the future, which would involve the use of hypersonic transport shuttle gliders to deliver fighters of elite special forces to anywhere in the world in less than 60 minutes. Reading between the lines, it is quite clear that we are talking about high-speed delivery of US Special Operations Force units and other high-class sabotage formations deep into the territory of a potential enemy, where: the main logistics centers, strategically important objects of the defense industry (including precision engineering), command posts, large air bases, and, of course, as well as silo and mobile launchers of intercontinental ballistic missiles, which form the basis of the state's nuclear deterrent forces.
The list of tasks of the above formations includes: removing strategically important information from radio relay communication systems and radio information exchange channels, disrupting network-centric communication systems, disabling key elements of the Strategic Missile Forces, as well as enemy air defense and missile defense command posts, disrupting the power supply of defense industry enterprises, and much more. … As you can see, the Americans are planning to play for high stakes; but polemicizing, as you know, is many times easier than embodying the sounded scheme in the gland. What can you say about the technical aspects of the above idea, voiced by US Air Force Chief of Staff David Goldfein?
In his statement, he also referred to the British suborbital passenger shuttle Ascender, which has been under development by Bristol Spaceplanes Limited since about the mid-2000s. The glider of this aircraft has a tailless design with a developed wing and a supporting fuselage, which is connected to the wing by means of a large smooth aerodynamic inflow (mini-version of Buran and Space Shuttle). To reach the launch altitude (16 - 18 km), to launch a liquid-propellant rocket engine, it was supposed to use 2 conventional by-pass turbojet engines in the aft fuselage.
On the manufacturer's website bristolspaceplanes.com you can get acquainted with the flight performance and flight profile of the shuttle "Ascender": after turning on the liquid-propellant engine at 16-km altitude, the "Ascender" begins to climb 100-120 km at a speed of 2950 km / h; on the upper section of the trajectory, the speed decreases to 400 - 500 km / h, after which the descending section begins at a speed of about 3500 km / h, and then gliding to the ground runway. For use as a technological base for a promising landing shuttle, the prototype is very good, but given that the range should allow to overcome 3500 - 5000 km at an altitude of 60 - 100 km (and even at a hypersonic speed of 5 - 7M), the mass and overall dimensions of the shuttle are the glider, described by David Goldfein, should be enlarged approximately 1.5 - 1.7 times, with a large mass ratio towards the fuel. It will not be very difficult to create such a landing shuttle in the 21st century, but it is not the most interesting thing.
Apparently, the chief of staff of the US Air Force decided to ignore the main technical issues, which is strange for a person in this position. When flying at a high hypersonic speed of 5-7M, the frontal resistance of the shuttle plating can cause temperatures in the range of 650 - 800 ° C, and therefore it will be easily detected not only by promising optical-electronic sighting systems of tactical aviation such as OLS-50M or OLS-UEM (installed on board the T-50 PAK FA and MiG-35), but also with outdated 8TP type heat direction finders (installed on long-range MiG-31B interceptors). It will not be difficult to intercept such a shuttle using long-range missiles with an infrared homing head: when the speed is reduced to 4000 km / h, this space delivery vehicle becomes vulnerable to the R-27ET URVV with IKGSN at altitudes up to 27 km.
It is also vulnerable to any type of anti-aircraft guided missiles or air-to-air missiles with an active / semi-active radar homing head. The most important point is that an aircraft flying on 4-5M with a crew on board is not able to perform intensive anti-aircraft maneuvers (the structural elements of the airframe, when trying to make the slightest turn, will simply collapse, or the crew will not be able to withstand overloads), and therefore the shuttle cannot will be able to get away even from a low-maneuverable interceptor missile of the R-33C or R-37 type. It will be extremely difficult to protect this aircraft from interception. From this, the conclusion: the embodiment of this project in a real product, despite the "fairy tales" of David Goldfein, is a very costly action, which in the end will not pay for itself.