CIA Operation

Hunting for the Russian Laser Dixon

Another betrayal by Ukraine will help the US in a year to arm the first destroyer with a “laser”.

As Army General Valery Gerasimov, the chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, reported, this December, the first Peresvet laser complex in Russia was put on combat alert in one of the “position areas of mobile soil missile systems”. The task of the complex, according to Gerasimov, will be to cover the maneuvers of strategic missiles from an air attack. The chief of the General Staff preferred not to give other details about the new weapon.


Only a few days passed. And on December 27, another head of our military department, Deputy Minister of Defense Aleksey Krivoruchko, said that most likely the matter would not be limited to “Peresvet”. Next year, it is planned to complete development work on the creation of another laser complex. This time – a tactical purpose for the destruction of unmanned aerial vehicles and the failure of light-weighted surface targets. It is natural to assume that we are talking primarily about a new type of naval weapons in Russia.


Are we ahead of the rest? Not at all a fact. Over the ocean, too, rush along the same road with might and main. For the fourth quarter of the outgoing year, very important tests were scheduled in the US Navy. There, on the recently built huge USS Portland-style San Antonio landing dock, a couple of months ago, they installed a combat laser system based on solid-state technology (Solid-State Laser Technology Maturation, SSL-TM) with a beam power of up to 150 kW.


About whether the tests took place in the States on time and what are their results, there is no information. But the American edition of Drive notes that the indicated laser power is capable of destroying at least enemy drones reliably enough. For the sinking of boats and small ships, the damaging power of the laser beam will have to be increased to several hundred kW. And in order to bring down a guided missile in flight, it is necessary to have at least 500 kW of power in reserve.


However, all this is only suitable if it comes to repelling attacks on their ships using single-enemy air attacks. And in order to ensure reliable comprehensive defense against a missile strike, for example, of an aircraft carrier strike group at ranges up to 5-20 kilometers, it is necessary to reach the power level of a combat laser complex that is beyond the limits of 3 MW.


Will someone and someday be able to achieve such a breathtaking indicator? Sure in the United States – yes! And very soon. According to Brian Clark, an analyst with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments of the United States, currently the equipment of US Navy ships with combat lasers is already in the “when” plane, and not the “if” plane.

– The laser is capable of shooting down cruise missiles. And this will happen in the near future,  – Clark said confidently. Rear Admiral Ronald Boxall, the recently retired head of the surface forces department of the U.S. Navy Command, said the U.S. Navy will receive a high-energy laser and integrated optical dazzle, as well as an associated intelligence system in 2021.


Such today is the landscape of a fierce military-technological arms race in the field on both sides of the ocean, about which only science fiction writers dared to speculate. But in superpower rivalries of this kind, not only the efforts of the most talented scientists and designers are usually important. Hidden from prying eyes, a secret brawl of intelligence always accompanies any real breakthroughs in the field of creating fundamentally new types of weapons in any country. And there is absolutely no reason to believe that with the development of combat lasers in our country and in the United States, the situation is somehow different.


Alas, I must admit right away: Russia has lost too much here a long time ago. Because in the design of the deadly “hyperboloids” (old name for the laser) for the fleet, we were ahead of the competition for decades. Our first experimental salvo of a ship’s laser gun was fired by Soviet sailors in 1985 at the testing range of special weapons, anti-aircraft and cruise missiles of the 31st Research Center of the Navy near Feodosia. And, according to Jane’s magazine, the U.S. Navy did not take up the same thing until 2007, at the request of the U.S. Navy Research Department. The Americans brought their laser weapons to the stage of practical testing, with a capacity of only 30 kW and only by 2014 at all.


When the first such gun AN / SEQ-3 (XN-1), created by the Electro-Optics Center, EOC of the University of Pennsylvania and the company L-3 Communication, on board the landing transport dock “Ponce” was tested in Persian the bay.


What happened to the development of combat lasers between the end of the last century and 2014? In the Soviet Union, practical preparation for the tests began long before the first shot. Back in 1977, the 31st Research Center of the Navy was ordered to begin preparing a training ground near Feodosia. Conducted a massive reorganization. The staff of the polygon itself was more than doubled.


By this time, Nevsky Design Bureau developed project 05961, which included the conversion of the Vostok-3 timber carrier of the Vytegrales type, the carrier of the Aidar experimental laser complex. At the Sevastopol Shipyard named after Ordzhonikidze, the former Vostok-3 was turned into the experimental vessel (OS) Dixon of the Black Sea Fleet. Three jet engines from a Tu-154 aircraft were installed on the ship as a source of energy for the laser installation.


Like almost any modern high-tech novelty, at first at Dixon everything looked quite primitive. So, the laser cooling system for each shot consumed up to 400 liters of alcohol, which was diluted with distilled water. And this ship was different from other ships of the Black Sea Fleet in that it even had to equip a special female latrine on it. This delicate circumstance was dictated by the fact that sailors had to go to sea with numerous scientific and service personnel, among whom were ladies.


The first laser salvo at a target located on the shore at a distance of four kilometers, “Dixon” gave in 1980. The shot was accurate, but the target was not destroyed, but only very warmed up. Since the efficiency of the beam, alas, did not exceed a miserable five percent. The rest of the energy was absorbed by the evaporation of the water surface of the southern sea.


But to Soviet researchers, this seemed only the beginning of a lot of work. However, soon in the USSR, which collapsed in the beautiful souls of Gorbachev’s dreams of a new “thinking”, all work in this direction was curtailed. “Dixon” for a long time and aimlessly waited for the decision of its fate at the pier in the Sevastopol Bay. It waited for almost “independent” Ukraine to take over everything around.


Then the scandalous and terribly painful for the sailors division of the Black Sea Fleet between Kiev and Moscow began. Now it’s not possible to find out: in which particular admiral’s head in Russia did the idea to include the top-secret Dixon at that time in the list of ships and vessels to be transferred to the Ukrainians? Why did they need an experimental combat laser complex, when the more primitive weapons in the newborn Navy were not able to serve?


But in the chaos of the ongoing pogrom, American ears suddenly arose. A certain overseas firm, hitherto unknown to anyone, out of the many ships and vessels that Kiev had just intended to scrapple the ships and vessels just received from Russia, expressed a desire to buy Dixon. And no one else. Buy, as assured by the new “strategic partners” of Ukraine, exclusively for scrap. And, therefore, for a penny.


From the very beginning, this venture looked very strange. The fact is that the metal cutting of former “sea scum” written off from scrap has traditionally been done in Asia. India, Bangladesh, China and Pakistan are global ship recycling centers. The world’s largest ship cemeteries are considered to be a plant in Chittagong (Bangladesh) and Gadani (Pakistan). And the Indian town of Alang, which is 50 kilometers from the Indian city of Bhavnagar, due to the many cutting sites in the district and its complete unsuitability for life, has generally received the nickname “Shore of the Dead” in the world.


The notoriety for these places was fixed due to the exceptional environmental harmfulness of such scrap metal mining. Many ship fuel tanks, aggregates, pipelines cannot be completely cleared of fuel oil and oils in advance. All of this has been pouring into the earth and ocean in thousands of tons for decades, polluting the environment. In many Asian countries, the pursuit of dollars has neglected environmental concerns. In the USA, no. And their own naval scrap for cutting is taken away by tugboats away from their native shores. Just in time for the Indians and Pakistanis.


That is why, in the desire of certain businessmen from the United States to first buy Dixon from Ukraine, and then with great risk of tugboats to drag it across the stormy Atlantic, it was easy to see something more than the desire to simply acquire several thousand tons of high-quality metals. But who in that (and in the present!) Ukraine cares about preserving former Soviet secrets?


Therefore, in 1995, the deal was concluded. And in the summer of 1996, the immobilized Dixon, under tugs, left its native bay forever.


But today, after so many years, it became known what terribly curious Americans found on board the former experimental ship of the Black Sea Fleet. According to TASS, in the holds were 35-megawatt power generators, special rotary mechanisms, large-capacity refrigeration units and much more equipment, indicating that the ship was equipped with laser weapons.


Why didn’t anyone in Moscow and Sevastopol bother to dismantle, destroy, or even blow them up before handing over the “Dixon” to Ukraine? Who to ask now? Those who should have done this have long been growing strawberries in the suburban and Crimean summer cottages at best. And in the worst, they are already in the “best of the worlds”.


Yes, in fact, in the 90s, Moscow itself didn’t particularly fool its head by keeping the secrets inherited from the USSR. From the leadership of our country, which had lost all conscience and an elementary sense of self-preservation, the most valuable military-technical information fall to the States kile Niagara rush. Too much to open our eyes to our geopolitical competitors across the ocean.


This happened, for example, with the unique K-36DM ejection seat developed at the Zvezda (Star) NGO in the late 70s. The whole world was convinced of the capabilities of this contraption at the Le Bourget air show on June 8, 1989. Then, in a demonstration flight, our MiG-29 fighter at a low altitude above the ground itself crashed. The pilot managed to catapult at an altitude of only 92 meters. The parachute dome did not really open, but the pilot survived.


Naturally, the US Air Force also instantly wanted to get the same. At the time of the collapse of the country, the US delegation was one of the first to arrive at the Zvezda. And they easily bought a handful of almost magical K-36DM. At the same time, no one in our honored NGO even thought to defend their brainchild with patent rights. Bottom line: now ejection seats, suspiciously similar to ours, warm the overseas military pilots. Who are being dragged into the war with Russia.


But back to the story with Dixon. We do not presume to judge what most of all in its holds struck “buyers” from the US intelligence and design bureaus. Perhaps this is just a coincidence. But in the late 1990s, Americans suddenly abandoned the use of a chemical laser as a ship’s weapon. The reason is its toxic components and the difficulty of maintenance.


In the future, the US Navy and other NATO countries focused on lasers, the power of which is carried out only by electric energy. That is, they took exactly the path that the Soviet developers of the Aidar laser complex followed. And today they continue to work in this direction.


In 2019, $ 190 million was allocated from the budget for the SNLWS program for the installation of a solid-state laser with a power of 60 kW and higher for destroyers of the Arli Burke URO class. At first, the equipment of three destroyers was provided. The first “Arly Burke”, equipped with laser weapons, is planned to be introduced into the combat fleet at the end of 2020.