Thursday, November 24, 2022

Hypersonic Ad Nauseam On Thanksgiving.

There is some constant media "movement" and hassle around the US program of development of hypersonic weapons, which even a few short years ago, especially before March 2018, very many in the US in general, and Pentagon in particular, counted as a gimmick and boutique weapon systems. Boy, did they miscalculate. Now, suddenly, the United States are into hypersonics big time primarily into what could be defined as medium-range glide body for CPS (Conventional Prompt Strike). 

In some sense, it is a very American program since it revolves primarily around hitting fixed targets with the stand-off weapon, with it being hypersonic serving this "promptness" of which we all hear since the inception in early 2000s (W's Administration) and then de facto abandonment of the Prompt Global Strike (PGS) program, and relying on the enemy possessing no response and defense capabilities. This whole "Prompt Strike" thing, in other words, has been around in different iterations for at least 20 years with... nothing to show up for it with the exception, and you have guessed it, a lot of media noise. 

It warrants comparison with Russian program of hypersonic weapons all of which have been in serial production and deployed and even used in combat by the first line combat units. It is clear that the United States is nowhere near to fielding anything comparable to Avangard or 3M22 Zircon. I do not see anything comparable for years and, naturally, the only segment in which the US has any chance is that of weapon system being developed within the framework of CPS--a roughly 3,000 kilometer range glide body. And here where it all starts to get very confusing for many. US media constantly report on some minor developments of these weapons. But, as the US Navy reports three weeks ago:

Well, it is understandable why Johnny Wolfe talks about time not being a friend of the program. But even the US Army "Dark Eagle" is not a weapon, at least not yet, despite the constant stream of reports around it. But in the October a more subdued reports started to appear:

AUSA 2022 — The US Army will have a “couple” of live fire flight tests this fiscal year for its hypersonic weapon  program as it works toward fielding the missile in the coming months, according to the three-star leading the effort. Lt. Gen. Rob Rasch, director of the Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office, said today the Long-Range Hypersonic Weapon program is still on track to field to units by the end of fiscal 2023. Rasch said that the tests will “characterize” the glide body, the two-stage rocket motor and ground support equipment. Asked what would happen if the test fails, Rasch said the RCCTO team would “manage risk.” “If we have an anomaly and we don’t reach our … threshold, then we’ll sit down, analyze it and [talk] amongst the team and manage the risk as we go,” Rasch said during an event hosted by Defense News.

Exactly, as the Russian saying goes: don't say "hop" before you jump. Report continues:

FY23 is an important year for the Army’s modernization priorities, as the service plans to have 24 of of its 35 modernization either fielded or in prototyping. Asked if the service would be able to reach the goal, Army assistant secretary for acquisition, logistics and technology Doug Bush said he was “confident.” “We have a very well informed plan to do so,” Bush said. “Of course, there are risks. So one thing we do very well and we’re going into some test cycles on new equipment, just learn from the testing, adapt our plans, and then move from there. “So not everything is going to go perfectly, but that’s the point of doing the test.”

And here is the point of which we can now start talking confidently. As I write non-stop and ad nauseam--NO weapons system, even the most advanced exists in the technological and operational vacuum, the thing which Pentagon still didn't learn. Real integration comes with REAL, that is making operational sense and impact, integration of weapon system into the network of other weapons and systems which operate as unified organism. And here is the point: the United States now is involved in a life and death struggle with Russia, trying to preserve its increasingly untenable (and grossly exaggerated) status of a hegemon. But! But, if Russian hypersonic weapons created a revolution in military affairs, American ones will fail to do so. Here is an interesting explanation from Colonel (Ret.) Knutov, who today is a Director of Russia's Air Defense Forces museum. This is how he assesses the US program and the state of the affairs. 

                «Догонят» минимум через три года

Военный историк Юрий Кнутов в разговоре с iReactor оценил намерение Пентагона увеличить объемы исследований и темпы испытаний гиперзвукового оружия. По его словам, с учетом неудачных испытаний, которые США не раз проводили с целью создания гиперзвука, срок реализации военной программы составит не менее трех лет. «Американцы сейчас разрабатывают подобного рода системы, где-то в 2025-2027 году у них на вооружение должны поступить первые гиперзвуковые ракеты для подводных лодок и наземных систем», — отметил эксперт.

Юрий Кнутов отметил, что заявленная Пентагоном дальность стрельбы гиперзвуковых ракет составит около трех тысяч километров. При этом у российской армии уже есть то, что можно противопоставить в случае успеха США.

К примеру, система ПВО С-500 «Прометей», представляющая собой комплекс противоракетной обороны, которая была поставлена на вооружение в армию РФ еще в 2021 году. Радиус поражения С-500 составляет около 600 километров. Согласно заявленным характеристикам, она способна перехватывать в том числе гиперзвуковые и беспилотные летательные аппараты. Эксперт добавил, что Россия постоянно совершенствует те вооружения, которые есть, и продолжает разрабатывать новые. Поэтому Америке не удастся обогнать РФ. «Когда США разработают новые образцы вооружений, у России уже будет более совершенная технология. Поэтому отставание между Россией и Соединенными Штатами будет сохраняться на уровне 5-7 лет», — резюмировал Юрий Кнутов.

Translation: They will "catch up" in minimum three years. Military historian Yuri Knutov, in a conversation with iReactor, assessed the Pentagon's intention to increase the volume of research and the pace of testing of hypersonic weapons. According to him, taking into account the unsuccessful tests that the United States has repeatedly conducted in order to create hypersonics, the implementation period of the military program will be at least three years. “The Americans are now developing systems of this kind, somewhere in 2025-2027 they should receive the first hypersonic missiles for submarines and ground systems,” the expert noted. Yuri Knutov noted that the range of hypersonic missiles declared by the Pentagon will be about three thousand kilometers. At the same time, the Russian army already has something that can be countered if the United States succeeds. For example, the S-500 Prometheus air defense system, which is an anti-missile defense system that was put into service with the Russian army back in 2021. The radius of destruction of the S-500 is about 600 kilometers. According to the declared characteristics, it is capable of intercepting, among other things, hypersonic and unmanned aerial vehicles. The expert added that Russia is constantly improving the existing weapons and continues to develop new ones. Therefore, America will not be able to overtake the Russian Federation. “When the United States develops new types of weapons, Russia will already have more advanced technology. Therefore, the lag between Russia and the United States will remain at the level of 5-7 years,” summed up Yuri Knutov.

The "catch up" is in quotation marks deliberately, because as Knutov (and many other serious specialists in the filed, not least the President of Russia himself) note for years--the lag of 5-7 years which will be permanent (why, is a separate issue) will constantly mean not only better and generation ahead weapons, but systems of countering of appearing US weapons as a systems of previous generations. 

As with the Sputnik moment in 1957, after the US trying to demonstrate that it too has a viable space program, which it did have, initial problems with US satellites, such as Flopnik, Kaputnik or Jalopnik, among many other humiliating titles for Vanguard TV 3, lead to a reasonable call from all sides to "either put up, or shut up". We are living in the same paradigm today in regards to warfare. Comparisons are not only warranted, they are irresistible. For more than two decades the United States was trying to present the world with a new word in weapons. In these 20+ years the US didn't produce a single workable hypersonic weapon, while Russia produced an astonishing variety and, most importantly, weapons to counter weapon systems which the United States... doesn't have. Thus the lag becomes chronic and the gap unbridgeable, especially against the upcoming of increased range Zircons and a variety of M=9+ anti-shipping and land-attack missiles designed to be carried by all kinds of combat aircraft. 

Considering already existing and rapidly increasing gap in anti-missile and anti-air systems between Russia and the US, one can easily see how the balance of power shifts dramatically. In fact, have you heard much about US Navy's aircraft carriers lately? 

The USS Gerald R. Ford, and the strike group bearing its name, are set to return home to Naval Station Norfolk on Saturday. The Navy’s newest and largest aircraft carrier deployed for the first time on Oct. 4. The warship is the first of a new generation. “I am honored to welcome the Gerald R. Ford carrier strike group home from their inaugural deployment in the Atlantic, where they strengthened relationships with Allies and partners, exercised combined capabilities and demonstrated our commitment in the Atlantic,” said Vice Adm. Dan Dwyer, commander of the U.S. 2nd Fleet and Joint Force Command, Norfolk. “This deployment brought together an incredible group of Allies and partners with one single focus — to contribute to a peaceful, stable, and conflict-free Atlantic region through our combined naval power. Opportunities to interoperate and integrate make our nations, our navies, and the NATO Alliance stronger.” The Ford sailed more than 9,200 miles in the Atlantic, alongside ships from Canada, the Netherlands, Denmark, France, Germany, Spain, Finland and Sweden.

Well,  remaining in the Atlantic, with occasional visits to UK, is the fate of the US carrier-centric navy in coming decades, because venturing any closer to Europe, let alone into Mediterranean is not a good idea in case of, God forbids, serious war. These are strategic shifts which happen in a front of our eyes and it is a pathway to the new world in which there is very little place for modern West which now has no resources to re-assert itself. Moreover, it is not the West anymore. Meanwhile in 404:

The executive committee of Odessa city council has supported an initiative to dismantle a monument to Russian empress Catherine II, commonly known as Catherine the Great, who founded the city. “Members of the executive committee supported the draft decision on the dismantling and transfer of the monument to the Founders of Odessa,” the Odessa City Council wrote on their official Telegram channel on Thursday. The initiative will now be put to a vote by the city deputies on November 30, after which the monument may be moved from Ekaterininskaya Square to a proposed “park of Imperial and Soviet past.”

Recognize the pattern? Meanwhile for those in the US, Happy Thanksgiving, and that the world hasn't been thrown into the global thermonuclear war--it is an ample reason for being thankful.

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