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Two new NATO missiles: nothing will remain from S-400

What can the promising “killers” of the enemy do with the Russian air defense system?

Vladimir Putin suggested that Saudi Arabia to acquire the S-300 and S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems in order to reliably suppress attempts to attack oil industry facilities. However, the American online edition of The Drive, in one of its publications, writes that Western engineers finally found control on both the S-400, the Pantsir-S1 anti-aircraft gun system, and other Russian systems designed for anti-aircraft and missile defense.


The antidote against Russian air defense / missile defense systems is currently being developed by two European companies – Matra BAE Dynamics Alenia (MBDA) and Leonardo. Five years later, it is expected to receive a new type of ready-made air-to-surface cruise missile – Select Precision Effects At Range Electronic Warfare (SPEAR-EW). Its feature is that it is an “electronic” missile, that is, a means of electronic warfare (EW).


SPEAR-EW missile should work in conjunction with another missile, also promising, – SPEAR-3, which is developed by the same company MBDA. Its creation began in 2016. This is an attack rocket, whose ideology is similar to the ideology of the American planning bomb GBU-53, also promising.


The American “baby”, whose length is slightly more than one and a half meters, weighs only 93 kilograms. And half of the mass it has on the warhead. This is a precision weapon without a jet engine. The novelty of this bomb is that it uses four guidance systems at once: inertial, satellite, using an infrared homing head (GOS), and also active radar.


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All the same is with SPEAR-3. The mass-dimensional characteristics are very close – the Euro-rocket weighs 100 kilograms. But there is an advantage – a large flight range, which is a consequence of the use of the engine. There is a drawback – a smaller mass of the warhead. And this is also a consequence of placing an engine along with fuel on a rocket.


As for the flight range, it is still small – 130 kilometers. For the “baby” is a great indicator. But in order to claim the role of “S-400 killer” this is not enough, about which a little lower.


The SPEAR-3 shock rocket is capable of acting autonomously, using the capabilities of its two GOS. Moreover, it can attack not only stationary targets, but also moving ones. External missile control is also provided. Firstly, it can receive target designation from external sources – from a rocket carrier – an airplane, from a ground command post. Secondly, the target for it can be highlighted by a laser, the beam of which is controlled either by some device in the air or by a ground gunner.


It is assumed that SPEAR-3 missile carriers will be two aircraft – the Typhoon Euro fighter and the American F-35. Two F-35 weapon compartments will house 8 missiles. The Euro fighter will be capable of carrying three such missiles on external suspensions.


If the SPEAR-3 missile is to be adopted at the beginning of the next decade, then its “sister,” as The Drive SPEAR-EW calls it, will be ready with a temporary shift of 2–3 years. Because MBDA just announced the imminent start of development. The decision to create it is quite logical, since in SPEAR-3 there are wide opportunities for its external management. So the younger sister will become a sort of guide for elder.


So, what features are supposed to be laid in SPEAR-EW? A wide range of electronic warfare functions, allowing you to block the operation of enemy air defense / missile defense. The Drive formulates this as follows: a missile will drown out the radar radiation from air defense systems, blind them, act as bait and replace signals from ground-based radars. The tasks, of course, are all-encompassing, but require a very serious engineering study, especially regarding the substitution of scanning location signals. The fact is that major NATO officials have repeatedly stated that Western electronic warfare technologies significantly lose to Russian ones.


The strategy for using the “sisters” involves the priority launch of SPEAR-EW missiles. They must conduct reconnaissance, identifying the location of enemy air defense / missile defense systems. After that, the SPEAR-3 strike missiles reaching the second echelon receive target designation and begin to destroy not only radars, but also anti-aircraft missile launchers and other technical means of the air defense / missile defense systems.


The “communication” between the two groups of missiles on the broadband channel is the most “close”. That is, the “scouts” monitor the work of the “air defense killers” and, if necessary, intervene in it, changing the redistribution of targets, introducing new points for the strike, or canceling the old goals.


The Drive pays special attention to the fact that the joint use of these two types of missiles is most dangerous for the enemy in the swarm attack mode. Since it is believed that it is impossible to defend oneself from a swarm of missiles or drones. Although no one has yet seen these swarms, you can only read about them in the reports of DARPA or other military-technical agencies involved in long-term scientific research in the field of super-promising weapons.


SPEAR-EW will be able to solve another problem – to make “passes” in the air defense / missile defense zones to ensure the safe passage of their aircraft. That is, again, for this, they must in the same way drown out the radar from the air defense systems of the air defense system, blind them, act as bait and replace the signals of ground-based radars. So far, nothing definite can be said about the reality and effectiveness of organizing such raids into the enemy’s deep rear, but the American online publication claims that these will be easy and safe “walks”. At the same time, fighters can simultaneously “work” with air defense systems, flying over them.


A completely natural question arises. Why fighters and bombers equipped with electronic warfare systems cannot feel safe approaching the enemy’s air defense zone equipped with modern air defense systems? Why should they be guarded by cruise missiles? After all, not only because the plane is much more expensive than a rocket? Indeed, based on the difference between the payload of the aircraft and the cruise missile, weighing only 100 kilograms, the capabilities of the aircraft electronic warfare complex are much more serious.


But, of course, it should be recognized that the joint work of EW missiles and attack missiles is a positive strategy. At least, as mentioned above, due to the relative cheapness of operations. And while there is no risk of losing pilots.


However, is it true, according to The Drive, that only pieces of metal will remain from Russian air defense / missile defense systems in a few years? Unlikely.


The fact is that the likelihood of a swarm attack on the S-400 in the form as stated by the authors of the publication is extremely unlikely. To conduct it, enemy planes must approach the air defense system at a distance less than the range of the SPEAR-EW missiles. And she, like her older sister, is 130 km. This is predetermined by the fact that both missiles use one engine and, apparently, the same compartment for accommodating solid fuel.


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But the range of detection of air targets at the S-400 reaches 600 km, the maximum firing range – 400 km. That is, carriers of missile swarms, fighters, will not be able to get close to the air defense system at a distance necessary for launching short-range missiles.


The same is true in relation to the complex of short-range object defense “Pantsir-C1.” After all, these systems, capable of destroying all types of aircraft within the radio horizon, are part (near border) of layered air defense / missile defense. Far approaches protect the S-400 or S-300 air defense system.


At the same time, modern Russian air defense systems are able to “see” the “invisible aircraft”, which is the F-35, at a very significant distance – outside the 130-kilometer zone.


This is perfectly understood by American strategists. That is why they plan to integrate the SPEAR missile family not on all F-35 fighter-bombers, but only on those with the letter “B.” They are used only on aircraft carriers. A carrier aircraft against the European part of Russia can not be used in any way due to geographic specificity. True, there is the Black Sea. However, the entry of aircraft carriers of any countries into it is closed according to the Montreux Convention.


From which it follows that SPEAR family missiles can be used against missile defense systems of states that are less technologically advanced.

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