Saturday, May 21, 2011

Debate On Solid Vs Liquid Propelled Missiles: Russia

Defense is ready to begin funding work on the creation of a new heavy liquid strategic missile that will replace the stand in the armies of more than 30 years of complexes of RS-20 "Satan" and SS-18 “Stiletto ".

To learn how to create a new missile, the correspondent of Izvestia interviewed, Honorary General Designer of MIC NPO Mashinostroyenia, Ph.D. Herbert Efremov

News: Herbert A., now under discussion on the desirability of developing a new liquid rockets. First Deputy Defense Minister Vladimir Popovkin sure rocket need only with it we can equate nuclear capability with the Americans. Designer of solid fuelled Topol-M and RS-24 "Yars" Yuri Solomon, by contrast, said that this project - a waste of resources, duplication of technology 30 years ago ...

Herbert: What is the danger of today's situation? In a new START Treaty has two defining parameters: a quota on the number of carriers (700 operationally deployed missiles and 100 more in storage) and the number of nuclear warheads (1550), which can be deployed on them. Unfortunately, right now, not after 7 years, as prescribed in the contract, we do not have such a large number of missiles. As of December 2010 as part of the strategic forces of Russia has 611 strategic missiles capable of delivering 2,679 warheads, of which two-thirds by 2020 will be retired in old age.

The problem does not settle and the production of solid propelled missiles, the Topol-M and Yars have upon them merely 1-3 warheads..We do not have a sufficient number of new submarines of Project 955 type Northwind with intercontinental ballistic missile Bulava.Older ships, mostly stand on the bases. If we are talking about retaliatory counter-nuclear strike, then you need to consider only those boats that are in the depths of the sea. And not the ones that we have at the bases. Warehouses of rockets - it's an easy target for any "Tomahawk".

Here in this situation, solid-fuel technology designer Yuri Solomon says: the only thing that has a right to exist - it's solid-fuel missiles. But we must understand that all of the past 50 years, the foundation of our strategic nuclear triad - and on the ground and in the air and at sea in submarines - were liquid propellant missiles. It is they who now determine the stability of our strategic nuclear forces.

News: Okay. Then explain the essence of the dispute. Solomon confident that solid-fuel rocket is reliable, environmentally safe, and most importantly - flies on a trajectory that is difficult to intercept for the enemy missile. Why is your liquid better?

Herbert: In this dispute, the main thing is to find the optimal composition of a future group of our strategic missiles. Understand the principle of its application. In matters of nuclear deterrence, we can only plan a retaliatory nuclear strike. In this case, we must have a sufficient part of our strategic nuclear forces, which be called upon all occasions.

In modern conditions, only strategic nuclear forces are fully capable of ensuring the integrity of our territory, the preservation of its natural resources. You have to understand that the enemy might suddenly & simultaneously attack  north, south, west and east. So that the 1.5 thousands of nuclear units are thus our inviolable reserve, which guarantees us security.If we follow the path of development as proposed them neither in 2020 nor after will we have adequate quantity of nuclear units!!

News: And yet ... What kind of missiles we should make?

Herbert: The first argument of our "solid" opponents is that our heavy liquid propellant missiles are in silos. And these mines are very easily affected by the same nuclear-tipped or conventional cruise missiles (on US-Russian START Treaty coordinates of all our mines were handed over to the Americans, their - to us). And the probability of annihilation by nuclear attack of these mines is almost 90%. About this, for example, says a highly respected general - a former chief of the 4th Institute of Defense Vladimir Dvorkin. Its just the Institute has studied the possibility and consequences of use of nuclear weapons. But he is being honest.Probability of hitting the missile silos is a somewhat different methodology. Then there are these tests prove that destroy rocket mine is not so simple as said Dworkin.

We check it back in the 80's at the Semipalatinsk test site in a series of experiments, code-named Argon. At the burial ground had been specially constructed launchers of all types of our missile silos. Their we double-tested full-scale nuclear explosions. The third time trying to impress; we tested conventional explosives, the equivalent power of the explosion which corresponded to nuclear. In the mines, even the paint does not crumbled. And then the missile was successfully launched.

I can authoritatively say: to effectively defeat missile silo to undermine the munition is not a hundred yards from the mine, but in the top ten. Technically this is not feasible. If we talk about precision weapons, the accuracy of its actions should be even higher.But here we must remember that the mines are deep in our territory and we have a technical tools that can prevent this.

News: But the solid rocket safer, including in environmentally ...

Herbert: Agreed. Liquid propellant uses dangerous poisons: heptyl and amyl. But they should be aware that the Soviet Union and now Russia has 50 years experience in storage and exploitation of such missiles. All of them are well protected in our mines, protected from the terrorists and even the impact of external conditions. All complexes of the fourth generation have ampulized fuel tanks.They are filled in once during the formulation of the mine on duty or in the factory. All for some reason keep silent about the fact that per year we manufacture 10-15 rockets Proton, which has same fuel composed of the same heptyl and amyl! In each of them, by the way, 600 tons of liquid fuel is stored. A carrier rocket Dnepr, which have 2-4 launches per year; each of them contains 200 tons of liquid fuel.

We also have many chemical plants, where people work with more dangerous substances - and nothing else. We once solved security concerns, after creating the ampulized rockets. Their fourth generation has such high quality that we can talk about the height of perfection in this field.  But here's combat missiles ... If you listen to George Solomon, then for some reason, liquid does not fit into the development of ground-based grouping of strategic forces. However, he modestly says nothing about the vulnerability of our mobile solid-fuel missiles of the Topol-M. Modern solid fuel has the same explosives. It is very sensitive even to fire small arms.

News: But Solomon has another argument. Solid rocket better pass defense system of the enemy. At the same time, liquid make it worse, and therefore has a high probability of intercept ...

Herbert: As a panacea for all possible cases they put forward an argument about the so-called short flight path of solid propellant missiles. That is, the machine starts quickly. Quickly reaches the separation (when the warheads are dispensed)., making it difficult to detect and intercept. I must say that things are not so simple. The difference between "short" and "long" (as in the liquid propellant), the trajectory is not so great. Not only boosting time but also maneuvering capability too is important. This maneuvering rate of liquid propellant is disproportionately higher than that of solid.  We must take into account the fact that if a working missile defense system is really created, then the so-called "bus" technology would dispense 6 to 10 warheads in a very short time. This would not be accomplished as a group disbursement of warheads, as described by Yuri Solomonov. Instead, it would be done using the bus, with a somewhat different algorithm of choosing the targets on the enemy's territory.

Solomonov is against the bus, because he is a proponent of independently-guided warheads. This means that they each will have its own control system. At some point, they seemed to scatter in different directions on the principle of the crowd, making them difficult to intercept, and then have everyone fly to the target. This means that each must have its high-precision control system, so as not to lose accuracy when you need it. Have its own propulsion system with its fuel tank. To everyone else is needed and a set of technical means to overcome missile defenses.

"The Bus" - it is for all warheads a common, flexible: guidance system, fuel and means to overcome missile defenses. It is worth remembering that the proposed Solomon option sometime in the early days of our youth in the 60's, was considered and rejected. Rejected because it requires one and a half times the cost of mass, and entails the loss of flexibility in overcoming anti-missile defence. Such a solution can be realized only in missiles with a large throw-weight that is heavy liquid missile as compared to solid propelled missiles.

News: There is another argument: the new missile will be very expensive, and money spent on it will go nowhere, because it will copy the technology 30 years ago?

Herbert: It depends on how the process is approached. But it will be same if the process is irrational to build (as was done in the case of the Bulava). Indeed, the revision may take 15 years.

I repeat: if today we only build solid-propellant rocket which carry 1-3 nuclear blocks, we in 2020 will not physically meet a quota of 1,5 thousand warheads. It is not necessary to create “feeding trough”, being pulled in the prolonged process of development of super-rocket with the overstated characteristics, with the exorbitant requirements for its combat equipment. It is not necessary to create tens of its versions and in this case to require the huge amount of money.The country's leadership encourages us to ensure that we are rationally allocated to managed the creation of strategic nuclear forces means. Yury S. himself speaks of the criteria for "cost-effectiveness." In this context, I can say that the cost of one heavy missiles will be slightly greater than the RS-24 Yars. For example, the cost of heptyl and amyl is 30 times lower than the fuel of solid propellant missiles. Its production takes a huge team of subcontractors - for small firms. Their 5-6 ton. Heptyl and amyl produce as a byproduct of chemical manufacture. And these companies will never be closed, because they produce a huge mass of other chemical products. Fighting equipment for the missiles already there. They can accommodate 10 or 15 high-power medium-sized nuclear units.

News: but there is a time frame of the development, production. As I understand it, the same "Bulava" missed it ‘long’ schedule time..

Herbert: If you follow the path of creating something radically new, the "stretching" of time may be even "longer" than was the case with Bulava. But there is another option. However, I still can't find allies. Its essence is to maintain the mines or silos of decommissioned SS-20 "Satan" - their 58 pieces. With these same missiles we must take the first two stages. I do this on purpose to emphasize: that the first two. They just need to "repeat". As once Joseph Stalin made Andrei Tupolev copy American bomber "Flying Fortress" - up to the markings and the technical designations in the English. No need to depart from what is safe and reliable. First two stages do not determine the combat characteristics of missile. They determine only the energy during the run,  they influence the removal of payload. All this can be made economically profitably in the cooperation with Ukrainian CB “Southern Machine Building Plant”, where this missile was produced.

I am responsible for my words. I have personally tested: the firm has retained all the tooling for the production of these steps.Sufficient to provide one complete construction of the plant where the missile is placed in a transport-launch canister - a body the size of half a kilometer. It retains all of the stocks, all the main sites for such work. We must understand that in Russia we do not have documentation on such machines. Therefore, cooperation with Ukraine is needed.

The first stage of cooperation - and this is negotiated with the leaders of KB Yuzhmash - could be to transfer technical documentation. Then, even in the event of a change of political situation in Ukraine, we can develop on that documentation. Believe me, this is difficult labor. All this will allow in short periods, qualitatively, without the risk to carry out the standing task: to create first two stages with their transport- starting container, solid-reactant gas generator, which ejects 200-ton machine from the silo to 20-30 meters, where its sustainer first-stage engines are started.

If this path is followed, then work in Russia will be less and savings will be huge. And it will not be risk. Even in the plan of finalizing “new” missile, a minimum of 25 test launchings will be required. As this is now happening with the same Bulava, which supposedly follows Topol-M. RS-20 that has long been tested….

In this situation, we will have to work out at 10-12 only starting something new that will be exclusively Russian - new blocks breeding warheads and a new control system. The entire top, certainly determining the combat effectiveness of the missile. It's the strength to make our developers and producers.

News: But we have the state's position: the production of armaments and military equipment shall be exclusively its own?

Herbert: But we still need Ukraine to maintain combat status of our missile systems components. Even in the worst case we can save from decommissioned RS-20 missile the transport-launching containers. They are eternal. They are  very complex engineering structures. They will only need to remount the block management system. You can save starter batteries, replacing the solid fuel after the warranty period of its operation. Finally, even if all will not be enough money - just to sort for recycling most of the first-stage engine. They need to replace a few gaskets. These missiles could also serve as 25-30 years.

I confess that it goes across the interests of our industrialists who wish to engage in work on a new liquid ballistic missile. But if we really want to quickly get a new missile with high live performance, this way seems to me most true.

News: Why are you more concerned about the state of work on strategic nuclear forces?

Herbert: The country needs to change attitude as to the development of strategic nuclear forces, and to preserve them. Too careless to leave work on nuclear forces between flights to the ISS and Mars!!Light bulb



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