Despite being very busy, I couldn't miss this one, since Dr. Mark Schneider is a Pentagon and State Department insider and he presented his views through US Naval Institute Proceedings, one of few remaining more or less competent forums on some key defense issues. He writes on the issue of venerable TU-22M3 upgrade to TU-22M3M version which, for all intents and purposes, is a completely new aircraft within old fuselage. Schneider starts with sacramental phrase.
He proceeds to assess new TU-22M3M capabilities:
The Backfire weapon upgrade is quite impressive, enhancing the bomber’s capabilities against both land targets and surface ships. In addition to the new land-attack missiles (the Kh-101 and Kh-555, according to Russian press), there reportedly will be at least two long-range ultrahigh-speed dual-capable (nuclear and conventional) missiles with land-attack and antiship capability. This is important because the Department of Defense has said the United States currently has no defense against hypersonic missiles. Backfire’s manufacturer, Tupolev, claims the improved Backfire bomber will be operational in 2021.
But while admitting a current vulnerable state of US Navy's surface fleet, he, predictably, settles back into the good ol' tactical and operational ambiguity of aircraft carriers:
The Kh-32 makes it more difficult to intercept the Backfire before weapons-release range. The Soviet-era Kh-22 (still reportedly operational) has half the range of the new weapon. While post–Cold War U.S. Navy fighters have much better radars and avionics than the F-14, they lack its long-range (and even the F-14 range would not be adequate against a Kh-32-armed aircraft). The longer range of the Tu-22M3M complicates a carrier strike group’s ability to set up a barrier defense. The extreme speed of the missile reduces flight time by a factor of four compared to a subsonic antiship missile, reducing the defensive value of locational uncertainty between launch and impact time.
It really is fascinating how outdated concepts and technologies continue to dominate thinking since:
1. Issue of locational uncertainty is resolved by number of means such as configuration of salvo, ability for refined (finishing) search (Dorazvedka) by active warheads of modern highly evolved anti-shipping missiles (ASMs), plus other tactical and technological means which make modern ASMs fully shoot-and-forget weapons, which are often launched not at fixed position of target but at an area accounting for the rate of obsolescence of the intelligence (last datum) on target's position. In this case, as I stated before, it is a salvo at the area with the radius R= Vcarrier*tfrom detection to impact.
2. By far the most terrifying weapon in TU22M3M is not even X-32, however deadly, it is fully hyper-sonic Kinzhal, which makes any defensive solution useless on arrival for a simple reason--modern Russian ASMs have ranges greater than ranges of carrier aviation and their air-to-air weapons. But there are other, no less complex, issues with the intercept of very to hyper high speed maneuvering missiles which cannot be resolved by creating another, intercepting missiles--solutions to that lie in a completely different field and physics.
3. Appearance of 3M22 Zircon on submarines, especially SSGNs, will make not only near-littoral operations of CBGs, which are already, impossible--it may complicate greatly even blue-water, that is ocean deployments of any assets. And that brings this ever sensitive issue of CBGs forth.
I repeat myself, US Navy's super-carriers are magnificent ships but they are way pass their prime as US Navy's main striking force. Against peer they are not only a secondary, if not tertiary, asset, they are, in actuality, a liability--one has to ask Elmo Zumwalt's question time and again: what happens, God forbid, with escalation if the United States loses one of its CBGs during conflict, what will be the psychological impact of such a massive loss? The era of magnificent American CVNs as strike and deterrent force against even near peer, forget peer, is over. In fact, in the same issue of Proceedings, Captain Barber calls on:
The U.S. Navy’s current fleet design does not match today’s conditions, much less those expected over the next 20 years. Today’s fleet—a mix of ship types that are simply evolutionary improvements and larger versions of designs from two or more decades ago—is too small, and the ships on average are too large. It is time for the Navy to make broad, significant changes in the fleet’s design.
Is such a redesign even possible? I don't know--institutional inertia, Status Quo culture, as called by Roger Thompson, and, in the end, colossal expenditures required for such a gigantic overhaul, may doom US Navy to a status of still beautiful visually but hollow force good only for demonstration of the flag and serving as high value prestigious targets in what shapes to be global very high threat environment. Again, don't tell me that I didn't warn:
Putin’s message was clear: “You didn’t listen to us then, you will listen to us now”. After that he proceeded with what can only be described as a military-technological Pearl-Harbor meets Stalingrad. The strategic ramifications of the latest weapon systems Putin presented are immense. In fact, they are historic in nature.
My next book is exactly a deliberation on these ramifications which are, indeed, historic. The signs of this understanding dawning on American professionals are unmistakable and these are good signs...for peace.
|He foresaw it all in 1970s