In particular, the maximum range of missiles of the new complex will be 100 kilometers - even the Israeli Spike ATGM cannot boast of such a range, the maximum range of which, in the SpikeNLOS modification, is 25 kilometers.
The difference from conventional portable infantry ATGMs is even more striking - for example, the Russian Kornet complex has a target range of 5 kilometers. This means that it can only be used within the line of sight, with direct fire contact with the target.
The creator of the complex is the Tula Instrument-Making Design Bureau, a traditional developer of anti-tank systems in service with the Russian army. And its full-fledged premiere will take place at the Army 2020 forum, which will open on August 23.
Although, speaking about the premiere, we must remember that the aircraft modification of the Hermes complex, namely Hermes-A, was presented to the general public much earlier, in 2009, and was developed in 2003. Does this mean that the new complex is actually not so new, and is a common modification of a long-known and well-proven weapon?
Actually this is not true. Formally, yes, it will soon be twenty years from the moment the aircraft version of the complex appeared. But the differences between the land version are so significant that the language will not turn to say that this is a simple revision. And above all, we are talking about the range: for the aviation version it is "only" 15-20 kilometers, which is five times less than that of the land one. This is not just a "substantial revision" - these are changes at the level of the concept of combat use, the use of reconnaissance and target designation means, the range of targets to be hit, and so on.
Presumably, the ground version of the Hermes ATGM will slightly resemble the Pantsir-S air defense missile system - a wheeled or tracked chassis (depending on the requirements of the military), on which a "package" of launch containers is installed. A total of 24 transport and firing boxes are supposed to be installed at one installation. Also, the complex will include a fire control vehicle equipped with a lifting-mast device, on which multichannel and multispectral optical-electronic and radar reconnaissance, identification, distribution and target indication will be located. That is, it is no longer a portable melee ATGM system, but a mobile system capable of quickly advancing to the front line of defense, delivering a fairly powerful blow across the entire operational depth of the enemy and swiftly avoiding a retaliatory strike.
The missiles of the complex have several modifications. The range of their action is different - it is 15-18 kilometers, 40 and 100 kilometers. The first is designed to hit targets within line of sight. Others can be used when shooting at a long distance from closed positions, for external target designation. That is, it is possible to work at a fairly significant distance from the front line, in a completely covert mode, without turning on its own radar detection equipment. The source of information and guidance can be front-line artillery reconnaissance aircraft and drones, front-line aviation and soldiers of the Special Operations Forces located in the rear of the enemy.
It is also known that the bicaliber missiles of the new ATGM may differ in diameter: depending on the range, a more powerful starting booster is used. Their diameter (together with the accelerator) is 170 or 210 millimeters. The very same combat stage is unified and, depending on the tasks, can differ in homing systems.
The first stage (although it is more correct, after all, to say "accelerator") of the rocket provides it with a fairly high cruising speed - up to 1000 m / s. On the final segment of the trajectory, the speed decreases to 500 m / s, which is a comfortable value for a guided munition that works, among other things, against moving targets. Such speeds provide a rather low response time of the Hermes ATGM to information - at a maximum range of 100 kilometers, the time to hitting the target will be about two minutes.
The withdrawal of ammunition to the target area is carried out by inertial or radio command method. Then, depending on the warhead, the homing system is included in the case. It can be semi-active laser (that is, requiring illumination of the target by an external operator), or completely independent optical or infrared.
Depending on the type of homing, the mass of use also differs. In particular, at a target illuminated by a laser, a salvo of two missiles at the same time is possible. And when fully autonomous seeker is used, simultaneous salvo firing of 12 missiles at once is possible. This can be useful when shooting at columns of enemy vehicles, places of their concentration, and other group targets.
There is also the possibility of salvo firing at several targets located at a great distance from each other. In this case, the complex will be able to simultaneously hit up to 6 targets, with six volleys of 2 missiles each.
The list of possible targets includes low-flying air targets. Most likely, we are talking about helicopters that are within line of sight. In this case, the target destruction range is unlikely to exceed 18 km. But even this is a very good indicator, comparable to the capabilities of the weapons available on the helicopters themselves. Although the solution of air defense missions, of course, will not be the main purpose of the new ATGM, but the very ability to "land" an enemy helicopter that has broken through an air defense sieve will, of course, not be superfluous.
Effective interaction with drones of various types is of great importance for the new ATGM. Still, it can be assumed in advance that in conditions of sufficiently powerful countermeasures of the enemy's air defense systems in the conflict zone, it is the unmanned reconnaissance and target designation systems that will come out on top. According to the developers, in general, the task of tactical interaction with the attached reconnaissance and target designation means has been solved at the highest level, and the reaction time of the complex, depending on the qualifications of the operator, can be only a few seconds.
Also, in addition to aviation, there is also a ship version of the complex, "Hermes-K". Small patrol boats are equipped with missiles with a range of 15-18 kilometers, because this is most consistent with the type of tasks they solve. Landing ships, corvettes and other ships of a similar displacement and purpose are armed with a wider range of missiles, because they face, among other things, the task of destroying coastal defenses located at a considerable distance and large surface ships. One rocket of the Hermes-K complex is capable of sending a ship with a displacement of up to 100 tons to the bottom. It is capable of inflicting significant damage on larger enemy ships, expressed both in a possible failure of on-board systems and in such serious things as a fire or detonation of part of the ammunition. In any case, the Hermes ATGM salvo is capable of disabling and rendering even a large surface ship incapacitated.
In general, it should be noted that the new complex can become a truly new word in domestic and world military equipment. Bringing melee weapons to the operational-tactical level while ensuring sufficient accuracy of the ammunition seriously expands the capabilities of the ground forces. It is also important that high efficiency is achieved relatively inexpensively. With a modern tank costing several million dollars, spending two relatively cheap anti-tank missiles to defeat it is not just rational, but even profitable.
But not only tanks can be the target of the new ATGM - this, of course, can be any armored vehicles, cars, mobile air defense systems, cannon and rocket artillery, field fortifications, etc. That is, almost the entire range of possible targets.
It is safe to say that the army has long lacked such weapons. Both main ways of using it promise great advantages - attacks from the relatively safe depths of their territory, when the enemy's front line is under attack, and "raids" directly to the front line, when the enemy can receive very tangible "shots" to a depth of tens of kilometers. Plus, it is guaranteed to be cheaper than using high-precision high-power ammunition, it is optimal from the point of view of the "risk-efficiency" ratio, which means that "shells" can not be spared.
In addition, the appearance of a land-based version of the Hermes ATGM system automatically increases the tactical value of unmanned reconnaissance and target designation systems, in which a lot of manpower and resources have been invested in recent decades. We can say with confidence that after the deployment of a new complex in the troops, for each drone shot down there will be many times more enemy targets destroyed.
The front-line logistics of the enemy is complicated, even if he was able to create a serious air defense group and is armed with modern means of counter-battery warfare. Now, in order to suppress transport communications in the front-line zone, it will not necessarily be necessary to risk front-line aviation and spend expensive operational-tactical missiles. Moreover, there is a hope that it will be possible to do this even with greater efficiency than using traditional weapons.
Of course, final conclusions can be drawn only after more complete information appears in the public domain. However, some things are clear now. For example, the Hermes-A complex is installed on Ka-52 attack helicopters, and they have shown themselves quite well in Syria, including because of the high quality of weapons. That is, we can already say that the main ammunition has proven itself well in real combat conditions and provides the characteristics specified during design. In addition, it is unlikely that the design bureau would dare to make such a serious version of the frankly unsuccessful complex.
At the same time, it is not yet entirely clear whether the task of creating remotely controlled guidance heads, like the Israeli or French complexes, has been solved. Alas, this requires a very high level of electronic components in order to ensure the receipt, encoding and transmission of a television signal from a relatively small warhead, keeping within very strict weight and size requirements. The situation when the operator directly observes the target and can correct the missile's flight is very beneficial both from the point of view of accuracy and from the point of view of obtaining additional reconnaissance information. But even if not, this is, firstly, a temporary, and secondly, an acceptable compromise.