From Orion to Zircon: what our army got in 2020

From Orion to Zircon: what our army got in 2020

30 December 2020, 20:36
Commander-in-Chief V. Putin, together with Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu and the highest ranks of the General Staff, traditionally summed up the results of the year for the army at a meeting at the National Defense Management Center.

Victor Kuzovkov

It was a serious event at which no less serious figures were announced: for example, in 2020, the provision of the army and navy with new weapons reached 70%, which is a very high figure by the standards of any country. And in the strategic nuclear forces the share of such weapons is even higher - about 80%. These figures are even higher than they were during the Soviet era.

Let us and we recall the most important and interesting events that happened in the past year . We will try to compile a small rating of these events, reflecting their significance and prospects for the Russian army.

Fifth place: drone "Orion"

On April 20, 2020, an act of acceptance into the Armed Forces of the first Orion complex, consisting of three drones and support equipment, was signed. Thus, the Russian army received a reconnaissance and strike unmanned complex, similar in its capabilities to its American and Chinese counterparts.

This event, strictly speaking, should have become quite routine, if not for our traditional lag in the field of unmanned aircraft. Yes, while the Orion is worse than the American Reaper and more expensive than its Chinese counterparts, but the very fact of the appearance in our army of a complex with more than a daily flight duration and the ability to attack ground targets is very remarkable. Moreover, this is, finally, a completely domestic development, and not licensed production, albeit not bad, but foreign samples.

Fourth place: salvo launch of ballistic missiles by the strategic submarine "Vladimir Monomakh".

On December 12 of this year, a test launch of four Bulava intercontinental ballistic missiles from the Sea of Okhotsk at the Chizha training ground in the Arkhangelsk region took place. The launch was carried out by the strategic nuclear submarine Vladimir Monomakh.

Events of this kind happen very rarely and are of great importance both for confirming the technical characteristics of missiles and the boat itself, and for demonstrating to all "interested parties" Russia's readiness for a retaliatory strike in the event of any encroachments on our state. The seriousness of this event is at least indicated by the fact that an intercontinental ballistic missile of any type is not much different from civilian space rockets, with the help of which we launch astronauts and payloads into Earth's orbit. Now let's remember how many emergency launches we had in civilian space in recent years?

In addition to missiles, such an event is a serious test for the submarine itself. The loads experienced by the ship's structure, even with a single launch, are very high, and with a salvo they become almost prohibitive. The successful launch of four missiles at once showed that the combat capability of our main nuclear deterrent facilities is at a high level, and the significance of this event can hardly be overestimated.

Third place: a joint flight of the Su-57 and the uncrewed aerial vehicle S-70 “Okhotnik” ("Hunter").

Many believe that the joint flight of these two combat vehicles is not as significant as their appearance in itself. But it is not so. Despite the fact that both the fifth generation Su-57 fighter and the S-70 stealth drone are in themselves important milestones in our scientific and engineering thought, their joint flight is a special event of great importance.

The trend for the joint use of manned and unmanned aircraft is noticeable all over the world. In particular, the United States is actively implementing the "unmanned follower" program, developing a special drone for this purpose. But the Americans are focused on defensive goals - the unmanned wingman must protect the manned aircraft, divert air defense missiles, interfere with them, confuse the calculations of the air defense system, and so on. In Russia, they took a different path - a stealth drone was used as an unmanned slave, which dramatically increases the striking power of such a bundle.

The problems that the designers need to solve are in this case much more serious than just teaching the drone to listen to the operator's signals. In fact, we are talking about the creation of a very complex software complex, close to artificial intelligence, capable of instantly making decisions in a complex combat situation. Presumably, the “Okhotnik” will have to instantly and independently respond to the radar that has turned on on the ground, attack the detected air defense system, and, on direct instructions from the fighter pilot, go to a given point and, under strong opposition from air defense systems, destroy important targets like air defense systems or enemy command posts. Perhaps he will receive some fighter capabilities, and then the enemy fighters, which have linked up with the Su-57, will have a very unpleasant surprise in the form of a pair of air-to-air missiles in the rear hemisphere ...

Second place: ATGM "Hermes"

At the Army 2020 forum, the Hermes anti-tank missile system was presented to the general public for the first time. Unlike its predecessors, it is capable of hitting targets at ranges of up to 100 kilometers. In addition, the missiles of the complex can use homing systems and independently find targets in a given area.

It would seem that this is "just" ATGM. Could the emergence of an anti-tank complex be more significant than, for example, a combination of a fighter and a stealth drone? But imagine, maybe!

First of all, let us state that while we were preparing for a "big war" with the "main enemy" for decades, this very enemy steadily improved its geopolitical positions in dozens of low-intensity conflicts. As practice shows, to dominate the world is not enough to have powerful nuclear deterrent forces - sometimes you need to show strength on a real battlefield. Therefore, the emergence of promising "conventional" weapons capable of changing the balance of power in any conflict is extremely significant and important.

ATGM "Hermes" only in name is "anti-tank". In fact, he is capable of hitting a wide variety of targets, from armored vehicles to stationary structures, from field shelters to surface ships. The range of action makes the Hermes, in terms of its effectiveness, almost a more important weapon than operational-tactical missiles. And at a cost an order of magnitude lower, their massive use is not only capable of paralyzing the operational rear of a potential enemy, but also does not exhaust its own economy.

"Hermes" can replace, albeit not completely, several types of weapons at once. In particular, operational-tactical ballistic missiles, MLRS, barreled artillery and attack helicopters. Moreover, only barreled artillery will be cheaper, with significantly less efficiency. And if we add to this the development of the Klevok-D2 hypersonic missile for this complex, then we can say with confidence that in the foreseeable future Hermes will be able to attack detected targets with almost one hundred percent efficiency - means capable of intercepting Klevok-D2, in the armies of the world is not yet observed ...

And now the most significant event of the year is the testing of the Zircon hypersonic anti-ship missile.

The first full-fledged test of the Zircon hypersonic missile from a sea carrier took place in January of the outgoing year. The missile was launched from the frigate "Admiral Gorshkov" and hit a ground target at a distance of 500 kilometers. The launch confirmed the design characteristics of the product, in particular, the speed is higher than Mach 8 (speeds of sound) and the cruising altitude of about 30 kilometers. Several more successful launches were carried out throughout the year, which allowed the leadership of the Ministry of Defense to talk about the imminent completion of the tests.

The significance of this event is determined, first of all, by the importance that the United States of America attaches to its naval forces. For many decades, the United States has improved the quantitative and qualitative power of its naval forces, significantly bypassing all the states of the world in this matter. For Russia, which is a potential enemy of the United States, the situation was simply deplorable - the Navy's own forces were clearly not enough even to inflict unacceptable damage on the enemy at sea in the event of a conflict.

The appearance of a missile capable of hitting the surface formations of the American fleet at a distance of about a thousand kilometers will dramatically increase the combat potential of Russian naval formations anywhere in the world. And the fact that at the moment there are simply no anti-missile weapons capable of guaranteed to bring down the Zircon, will only add respect to the “partners” in relation to the Russian flag.

As you can see, in spite of everything, the outgoing year was very rich in events concerning our army. To put it bluntly and bluntly, we have been preparing for war all year. So, if you believe the popular wisdom, we have every chance that the coming 2021 we will live in peace...

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