Question of the day: can the Ukrainian Neptune rocket become the killer of the Crimean bridge?

Question of the day: can the Ukrainian Neptune rocket become the killer of the Crimean bridge?

Question of the day: can the Ukrainian Neptune rocket become the killer of the Crimean bridge?

12 April 2020, 12:39
Photo: Соцсеть ВКонтакте
At the state test site of the Armed Forces of Ukraine "Alibey", in the Odessa region, the anti-ship missile R-360 was tested. The missile is part of the RK-360MTs ground mobile complex,

Victor Kuzovkov

The tests themselves, shot in the video from the moment the rocket was launched until it hit the floating target, can be considered quite successful: the rocket took off, covered a distance of 75 kilometers, captured and hit the target. Yes, knowledgeable people reasonably note that both the distance is small and the rocket moved in a straight line, without maneuvering in the final section, which makes it a relatively easy target for naval air defense systems. All this is true, but there is one caveat - for the first normal test launch, a larger one is usually not required. Even the first flight of an airplane usually takes place with the landing gear extended, and the flight itself is limited to a circle in the area of the airfield. That is, the simplest test algorithm in this case does not mean anything. But the hit of the missile at the target is a visible confirmation of the success of the tests and the fact that Ukraine still has its own RCC.

The mass of the rocket is about 870 kilograms. Target hit range: 280 kilometers. The mass of the warhead is 150 kilograms. The flight altitude in the final segment varies between 3-10 meters. Subsonic flight speed in all areas, up to a maximum of 1000 km / h.

Strictly speaking, this is a typical light near-range RCC. It is unlikely that it can seriously threaten large surface warships, such as a cruiser or destroyer, but for landing ships, boats and patrol ships of the FSB border service, tugboats and auxiliary vessels, this is a serious threat. Moreover, it can be called a threat to civil shipping and offshore stationary facilities, such as oil drilling platforms.

Now about sad things for Ukraine: alas, the R-360 Neptune is not even yesterday, but the day before yesterday rocket science. The history of its creation is quite typical for the fragments of the once unified state, and in a nutshell it looks like this ...

The progenitor of the “newest” Ukrainian (quotation marks would also be needed) rocket “Neptune” is the apparatus of the Soviet-made X-35 Uranus. Work on this complex (and the missile, respectively) was started back in 1977, and it was planned to make it a universal short-range anti-ship weapon: various modifications of the missile were to be launched from aircraft, ships, boats, submarines and coastal launchers.

In 1983, the USSR began testing the X-35. At that time, all the components of the new rocket were worked out, except for the most difficult at that time for Soviet industry - an active electronic homing head. Around the same time, all the documentation on the rocket, as well as several of its samples, were transferred to the Kharkov Aviation Plant, where they were going to place the main production of this product.

Further, as we recall, Perestroika happened, a conversion, detente of international tension and other delights of negative personnel selection under the communist system were added to it. For a while, funding for the project was curtailed, and then there was no time for new missiles at all - the USSR was rapidly moving towards its collapse, what new missiles were there ...

However, in Russia they quickly realized the need for such weapons for their armed forces. And after the collapse of the USSR, the X-35 missile was "brought to mind" already by the forces of Russian scientists and designers. Not without problems, of course: if the basic systems of the rocket itself were worked out and tested back in 1987, then it was possible to bring the AGSN to testing only in 1992, when the rocket took its finished shape. There were problems with financing, quite typical for the nineties. Only an export contract for the supply of Uran-E missiles to India in 1994 allowed us to continue work on the missile and to launch its mass production.

But, one way or another, in Russia a fully-fledged rocket, completely ready for combat use and corresponding to its design characteristics, appeared in the mid-nineties, or about a quarter of a century ago. True, it entered the arsenal of the Russian army and navy only in 2003, but this, too, can be considered a feature of the "transition period".

In Ukraine, the situation evolved somewhat differently. For many years no one thought about finalizing the rocket, and only the events of 2014 aroused interest in the development. It was then that the new leadership of Ukraine was followed by loud statements that the product will be finalized and put into production in 2016. Then the deadlines were postponed to 2018, and then it turned out that if it was not launched at the beginning of 2020, funding for the work could be stopped - the administration of President Zelensky did not show any great enthusiasm for this project ...

When creating (or rather, finalizing) the rocket, Ukrainian specialists had to solve several serious problems at once. They did not have their own turbojet engine comparable in performance with the turbofan engine-50, and they installed the MS-400 on Neptune, which is even worse, but it is mass-produced on the Zaporozhye giant Motor Sich. There were other difficulties, but the main thing was that there was no homing head! Neither active radar, as in Russia, nor any other.

It was its creation that took six years allotted for the creation of a rocket. Moreover, to this day there is no exact information about what kind of GOS is installed on this "purely Ukrainian" rocket. We know neither its capabilities nor its origin.

But since Neptune has hit the net at least once during the entire duration of test launches, I have to admit that something the Ukrainian technical genius did come up with ...

In principle, these descriptions would not be worth the ink spent on them if someone had not called the new Ukrainian development “a rocket to destroy the Crimean bridge”. And although the current Ukrainian administration, unlike the previous one, is not prone to shocking and provocation, we still need to consider the question “what if?” At least because administrations change periodically and who comes after Zelensky is unknown.

First of all, we must note that the range of the new missile really allows the Ukrainian army to bombard the Crimean bridge with its help. Moreover, even if the passport data on the range is slightly overestimated. And that means that they can still fire and hit it.

A completely different question is whether such a missile is enough to collapse such a structure? Without accurate engineering calculations it is difficult to speak with full confidence, and yet I venture to say no. Damaging the canvas or bridge structure, making it difficult or even temporarily impossible to move along it - yes, for this a warhead weighing 150 kilograms is enough. But if more can be achieved, it is only as a result of a massive attack with the simultaneous hit of several dozen missiles in the bridge. Which, you see, is rather problematic: missiles will have to fly through the territory of the Russian Federation and will probably be shot down in large numbers by anti-aircraft fire and aircraft.

Moreover, we can confidently say that at least some chance of success for such an adventure is only in the case of its complete surprise. Otherwise, air defense units, ships and aircraft ready to repel the attack will knock down all missiles launched towards the bridge.

As for the political and military consequences of such a provocation, they are quite obvious. Nevertheless, we will try to outline just one likely scenario ...

After a missile strike on the bridge, the hands of the Russian leadership will be untied. The Ukrainian side will immediately receive a series of air and missile attacks, which will destroy both the launchers of missiles seen in the provocation and other critical military infrastructure of Ukraine on the left bank of the Dnieper. It will surely be air defense facilities, large arms depots, military airfields and military units. Further, without introducing ground units, Russia, through the UN Security Council or unilaterally, like the Americans, will establish a “no-fly zone” over the territories from which a strike against the Russian Federation is possible. Further, in strict accordance with the American manuals, the patrolling of this zone by Russian aviation will begin with the destruction of everything that can shoot and resist. But I don’t even want to discuss the next “land” response of Russia ...

In general, if Ukraine wants to commit suicide, it definitely needs to bombard the Crimean bridge or some other facility on the territory of the Russian Federation. Moreover, the Russian military will even try to miss one or two missiles to the target, so that the picture for the world media is high-quality, leaving no doubt.

Summing up, I want to say: the very desire of Ukraine to have RCC is not something bad or illegal. Moreover, it was even a little paradoxical - the "most powerful army in Europe" did not have at all a single anti-ship missile in its arsenal. And let it be better to rivet the worsened version of the anti-ship missiles thirty years ago than to buy something really modern and dangerous from France, Norway or Italy.

The main thing is that absolutely noisy "hawks" should not be allowed to make decisions.

Found a typo in the text? Select it and press ctrl + enter