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40 years behind the Russians

The United States amuses itself with stories about the outdated Su-57 and the beautiful F-35

Part 1

Western blogger Andrei Raevsky on new weapons and new battle tactics.

The recent Huti drones strike at Saudi oil facilities has shown the world what Russians have known for several years: even fairly primitive drones can pose a real threat. Advanced drones pose a serious threat to any armed forces, although Russia has developed truly effective (including cost-effective, which is extremely important) capabilities to combat drones.


First: look at the very cheap end of the spectrum: drones.

These are devices that, according to one Russian military expert, require a processor of approximately 486 CPUs, about 1 MB of RAM, 1 GB of hard disk space, and some (now very cheap) sensors to capture signals from US GPS, Russian GLONASS, or both ( called “GNSS”). In fact, “good terrorists” in Syria, funded, supported and trained by the Axis of Good (USA / KSA / Israel), have attacked the Russian base in Khmeimim for hordes of such drones for years. According to air defense commander Khmeimim drones were shot down or disabled by Russian air defense in just the past two years. Obviously, the Russians know what the Axis of Good does not know.


The biggest problem: you should not use missile systems against drones.

Some self-proclaimed “experts” wonder why the Patriot missiles didn’t shoot down the Huti drones. They ask the wrong question, because rockets are completely ineffective against attacking drones. And, this time, this is not about the low effectiveness of the Patriot missile defense system. Even Russian S-400s are not suitable for use on individual drones or swarm of drones. Why? Due to the following characteristics of drones:


  1. they are usually small, with particularly inconspicuous, extremely light and consist of materials that minimally reflect radar signals;


  1. they are very slow, which does not facilitate their knocking down, but it complicates it, in particular, because most radars are designed to track and destroy very fast targets (aircraft, ballistic missiles, etc.);


  1. they can fly extremely low, which allows them to hide; even lower than cruise missiles flying on a low-level flight;


  1. they are extremely cheap, so spending missiles worth several million dollars on drones costing from 10 to 20 dollars (or even, say, 30,000 dollars for the highest class) makes no sense;


  1. they can be approached by swarms in huge numbers, much larger than the number of missiles that the battery can release.


From the foregoing, it is obvious how drones should be involved: either with the help of anti-aircraft guns, or with the help of electronic warfare systems.

Theoretically, they can also be destroyed by lasers, but this will require a lot of energy, so using lasers with cheap drones is possible, but not optimal.

It just so happened that the Russians have one and the other – hence their success in Khmeimim.

One of the ideal means of fighting drones is the formidable “Pantsir” («Shell» or «Carapace» in English), which combines multi-channel detection and tracking (optoelectronics, radar, infrared, visual, third-party data channels, etc.) and a powerful gun. And even better, the Shell also has powerful medium-range missiles that can hit targets that support the drone attack.


Another, no less formidable drone control system will be the various Russian electronic warfare systems deployed in Syria.

Why are they so effective?

Let’s look at the main weaknesses of drones.

Firstly, drones are either remotely controlled or have on-board navigation systems. Obviously, like any signal, the remote control signal can be blocked, and since silencers are usually closer to the intended target than the remote control station, it is easier for them to create a much stronger signal, since the signal strength decreases in accordance with the so-called “The law of inverse squares.” Thus, from the point of view of radiation power, even a powerful signal transmitted from afar can lose to a smaller, weaker signal if it is closer to the drone (that is, near the intended target along the probable axis of attack).

Of course, theoretically one could use all kinds of bizarre techniques to try to avoid this (for example, an abrupt change in frequency, etc.), but it very quickly and dramatically increases the weight and cost of the drone. It should also be borne in mind that the stronger the signal from the drone, the larger and heavier the onboard power elements should be, and the heavier the drone.


Secondly, some drones use satellite signals (GPS / GLONASS) or inertial guidance. Problem number 1: satellite signals can be faked. Problem number 2 inertial guidance is either not so accurate, or, again, makes the drone heavier and more expensive.


Some very expensive and advanced cruise missiles use TERCOM (terrain contour matching, SD tracking), but it’s too expensive for light and cheap drones (such advanced cruise missiles and their launchers are exactly what counters were developed S-3/400, at least in the financial sense). There are even more bizarre and extremely expensive technologies for guiding cruise missiles, but they are simply not applicable to weapons such as a drone, the biggest advantage of which is simple technology and low cost.


The truth is that even such a non-techie like me can build a drone by ordering all the details in online stores. Such a drone will be quite effective in, say, dropping a hand grenade or something else explosive to an enemy position. Someone with an engineering background could easily create drones that “good terrorists” used against Russians in Syria. A country, even as poor and devastated by the genocide war as Yemen, can very easily create drones used by the Hussites, especially with the help of Iran and Hezbollah (both of them have already successfully taken control of the drones of the United States and Israel, respectively).


And finally, I can promise you that right now, in countries such as the DPRK, China, Russia, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Venezuela, Cuba, etc., teams of engineers are working that are developing very inexpensive drones – Just like there are groups of military analysts developing a new tactic for their combat use.


This, I believe, is the first not very noticeable (so far) type of revolution in military affairs.

Second: look at the highest level: aircraft of the 5th generation and UAVs of the 5-6th generation.


Although some people in India stated (for political reasons and for the sake of the United States) that the Su-57 is not “really” a 5th generation aircraft (under the pretext that the first were deployed with 4th generation engines and therefore, that the Su-57 doesn’t have the same universal effective reflection area as the F-22), now in Russia and China the debate is about whether the Su-57 is really a 5th generation plane or in fact a 5+ generation or even On the 6th. Why?


First of all, the rumors emanating from the Sukhoi Design Bureau and from the Russian military are that the pilot in the Su-57 is indeed “one of the options”. This means that the Su-57 from the very beginning was designed to work without a pilot at all. I personally believe that the Su-57 has an extremely modular design, which so far requires a human pilot, and that the first batch of S-57 will probably not be the only one, and that the ability to remove the human pilot, which will be replaced by a number of improved ones, was built-in systems, and that in the future the Russians will deploy unmanned Su-57s.


These cases are about the 3rd, 4th, 5th, and now even the 6th generation, for my taste, are too fuzzy. Therefore, I prefer to avoid these categories and see no reason to dwell on them. What matters is what weapons systems can do, and not how we define them (especially for a non-technical article like this).


Meanwhile, the Russians first showed this:


Here you see the following:

The Su-57 flies with the new Russian long-range attack drone: the S-70 Okhotnik (Hunter in English, not Hunter-Killer from Terminator, maybe it is his grandpa) heavy attack drone. And here is what the Russian Ministry of Defense recently reported about this drone:


– Radius: 6,000 km


– Ceiling: 18,000 m


– Maximum speed: 1400 km / h


– Maximum load: 6,000 kg


Moreover, Russian experts now say that this drone can fly alone, or in a swarm, or in a joint flight with a manned Su-57. I also believe that in the future, one Su-57 is likely to control several such heavy impact drones.


Flag-waving patriots (we are talking about Americans) will immediately declare that the S-70 is a copy of the B-2. In appearance, this is quite true. But note: the maximum speed of the B-2, according to Wikipedia, is 900 km / h.


Compare this to 1400 km / h and understand that the design of the flying wing and the design of the supersonic flying wing are completely different platforms (supersonic voltages require a completely different design).


What can the Su-57 do when flying with the S-70?

Read further…


End of Part 1.

See Part 2 to Continue.

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