Source: Sonar 2050 – В России состоялась «крылатая революция»
Translated by Sasha and subtitled by Leo.
As it usually happens in Russia, the most important information passes unnoticed. This time too only specialists noted that Russia has achieved a truly revolutionary progress in the field of missile arms, which allows us to review our defeat in the technological race on one of the important fronts of the Cold War. Details to follow.
“The Result Is Impressive”
The March 1983 introduction of BGM-109 Tomahawk to the American arsenal marked the arrival of a new epoch. Although cruise missiles had existed since the mid 70s, the Tomahawk was first to ‘learn’ to fly at a then fantastic distance of 5,500 km and to carry a nuclear payload. The United States imposed a missile arms race on the Soviet Union and won it. Just 32 ‘Los Angeles’ nuclear submarines carried 384 ‘Tomahawks’, while the surface ships had another 3,600 missiles.
The USSR looked rather pale against this background. Our cruise missiles were mostly designed to attack surface vessels and were carried by the strategic bombers. Since such aircraft could carry only a limited amount of missiles and there were only 76 of them, we could launch no more than 600 cruise missiles at a time. Not many. But within the framework of the general war strategy this level was regarded as sufficient.
A victory in Europe was supposed to be achieved on dry land, where tanks and artillery decided the battle. As for the destruction of the enemy on the other side of the Atlantic, the intercontinental nuclear missiles were to do the job. However in the beginning of the 21st century, it became apparent that the world and the character of the battlefield have changed significantly. Cruise missiles became a necessity, and in 2011 the Russian military was given a task to increase the missile count 30 fold.
The development followed two directions: the perfection of the missiles and the diversification of their carriers. The first one lead to the creation of products Kh-55, Kh-101 and ZM-54 ‘Kalibr’. [Ed. – Usually called 3M-54. The Cyrillic letter ‘3’ is the Latin ‘Z’.] The second one considerably changed the types and the count of the carriers. Specifically, the TU-95MS16 is now capable of carrying 6 cruise missiles in its internal bay and 10 on the external consoles. However, since the overall number of strategic bombers is limited by international treaties, their share in the salvo has increased only marginally, to 768 missiles.
The situation is very different in the navy. While in 2010 it didn’t have vessels carrying cruise missiles, in 2014 the MRK ‘Dagestan’ with 8 ‘Kalibr’ missiles appeared in the Caspian Sea. Next another 5 ships like that were built. This was followed by the ‘Buyan-M’ and ‘Karakurt’, the new frigates like the Project 22350 and the deeply modernized ships like BPK ‘Marshal Shaposhnikov’. The submariners picked up the baton, having ‘calibrated’ all the ‘Varshavyankas’ and the ‘Ladas’, the ‘Antheuses’ and the ‘Shchukas’. Even the not so modern Project 877 ‘Paltus’ submarines, upon their modernization, receive 18 ‘Kalibrs’ each, which raised the size of the navy’s salvo to over 1000 cruise missiles.
This way in autumn of 2020, along with the ground forces ‘Iskander’ systems capable of carrying 2-4 cruise missiles, the overall Russian salvo already exceeds 2,350 missiles. Nominally it is still less than what is available to the USA. However, firstly, the combat effectiveness of the newest Russian missiles surpass by far that of the old American ‘Tomahawks’, and secondly, let us remember that back in 2010 the Russian salvo had only 600 missiles. So the progress in the course of 10 years is truly revolutionary. And who said that we want to stop there.