This week the third test flight of the South American hypersonic vehicle (SFA) X-51 AWaveRider — promising layout missiles. But 15 seconds after the start, even before the main motor, WaveRider lost control and fell into the ocean.
The foregoing test, held last year, also failed — accelerator accelerates to the desired device to start the main engine speed, load, and does not fit not separated. But earlier, in 2010, the engine «machine» unable to work 200 seconds (300 planned), dispersed unit to a 5-speed of sound (5M). Duration of his work, so Makarov, three times higher than the previous record set by Russian / Russian hypersonic flying laboratory (GLL) «Cold». With all of this, in contrast to the Russian system, «Yankees» used as fuel is not hydrogen, and jet fuel.
Segodnyaschy trouble, of course, slow down hypersonic program from the United States, which spent 2 billion U.S. dollars. But this does not negate the fact that the U.S. already has a home for this programmki development — working layout hypersonic jet engine (scramjet aka skramdzhet).
Potentially able to disperse engines such aircraft up to 17 sound velocities on hydrogen and 8 — to hydrocarbon fuel. But for it to work you need to achieve stable combustion of fuel in a supersonic air stream — which, according to the 1st of the developers, not easier, than to keep a lighted match in the eye of the hurricane. In general, not so long ago it was believed that when using hydrocarbon fuel is in principle impossible, and only applicable for GPRVD fuel is flammable, creating operational difficulties and «swelling» volumes of fuel tanks due to the low density of hydrogen. Yet, since 2004, the West had a number of relatively successful test aircraft — as hydrogen and «kerosene».
What is the practical meaning of Two Billionth applets? Design speed X-51 — 7M (about 7 thousand km / h to 20 km altitude), the design range — 1600 km altitude — about 25 km. In other words, «long range» it corresponds approximately to the cruise missile BGM-109 «Tomogavk» (1600 km, with a nuclear warhead — 2500 km) or medium-range ballistic missile — for example, removed from service under the INF Treaty «Pershing-2» (1770 km). What are the advantages «Waveriders» compared with the «rivals»?
BGM-109 has a subsonic speed — 880 km / h So makarom flying on the highest range takes about 2-hours. In so far over the missile can be found and destroyed, and the target can move. Certainly, soaring to a height of about 60 m above the ground and owns a small radiologyDefensecations are already noticeable effect sizes cruise missile — a very problematic for the purpose. But known and successful examples of defense of the attacked objects from «Tomahawk» — For example, the Iraqi nuclear center during «Desert Storm.»
Ballistic missile with a range of the same order has an average speed of about 10 thousand km / h But at 1-x, «ballistics» can detect from space already at the start — an impressive torch from working rocket engines pretty good omen. In-2, the highest height line movement such range ballistic missiles close to 400 km, because they are quite early, «illuminates» on radar missile. B-3, «ballistics» — Nemanevriruyuschaya goal, making it likely to intercept them even anti-aircraft missiles, suggestive at preemption. In general, the modern development of missile defense systems mrbm is quite vulnerable target.
With all this ballistic missiles — phenomenally inefficient means of delivering the initial mass ratio and payload. Chemical rocket engines combined with a huge craving more Straseni voracity and ballistic flights in principle energy intensive. Ultimately, for example, «2 Pershing» with a starting weight of 7.4 tonnes carrying a warhead of 399 kg. For comparison — «Tomahawk» are practically the same at his weight about a half tons.
Now compare with hypersonic missiles. The speed and the flight time is generally comparable with that for «Pershing 2». With all this X-51, in the 1-x, uses more economical air jet engine. In-2, is not picked up to a height of 400 km, «telling» own presence on all the nearby ABM radars. B-3 — is able to rapidly maneuver. Note that as shown tests conducted in 2007, the Swedish SaabBofors, at speeds of 5.5M likely complex maneuvers even in the dense layers of the atmosphere. Ultimately interception WaveRider likely only if the last interceptor markedly superior in speed and maneuverability. At the moment, there is simply no such interceptors.
Available ABM complexes unable to beat with hypersonic missiles X-51. With all this, even if the ability to fundamentally defeat the highest rate target zone dramatically reduces interception.
In other words, WaveRider connects the flight time comparable to medium-range ballistic missiles, with even the lowest visibility and actual invulnerability in relation to modern air defense / missile defense. Meanwhile, at the time control of the USSR has gone to great lengths to remove the «Pershing» from Europe, exchanging them for an even greater number of its own medium-range missiles — and not in vain. 8-10-minute flight time of U.S. missiles turned them into almost perfect means disarming and «decapitation» blow — with exposed attack was no time for a response. In the case of bringing the X-51 series to be played back in the situation deteriorated version — though the creation of nuclear options «waveriders» can be fully.
With all of this application is not limited GPRVD medium-range devices. On the one hand, the views of the NATO Advisory Group on Research and Development of cosmic (AGARD), skramdzhety can be broadly applied in a purely tactical short-range systems — it is anti-tank missiles (intended for destruction of fortifications), missiles «air» and small caliber (30-40 mm) shells to destroy air targets. Another possible direction — Introduction to scramjet interceptors designed to intercept ballistic missiles in the original section of the line movement.
On the other hand, the use of hypersonic technology could lead to the emergence of a fundamentally new class of strategic systems. More limited version — the introduction of hypersonic vehicles as «maneuvering warheads» for conventional ballistic missiles.
Note that the long-range ballistic missile is not much vulnerable in the middle section line of motion (as surrounded by many light incorrect goals chaff and jammers), but is highly vulnerable to the initial and final sections of the line movement (light incorrect target eliminated by the atmosphere, in the final warhead eventually accompanies only a small amount of heavy LC). With all this and the warhead, and its «ambiance» are set nemanevriruyuschih ballistic targets that facilitates constructive puzzle defense. But high-speed maneuvering and «machine» scramjet with virtually invulnerable to today’s means of air and missile defense. Ultimately, combining traditional ICBM hypersonic maneuvering warheads can achieve reliable breakthrough respective tier missile defense.
In other words, it is about technology that can really make a revolution in military affairs. Hypersonic threat inevitably become a reality in the very near future.