The Pentagon promises to regain its air supremacy with a missile capable of guaranteed destruction of Russian fighters.
U.S. Edition Air Force, an informal mouthpiece of the U.S. Air Force, reported that the U.S. Air Force will restore guaranteed superiority in the sky after 2020, bearing in mind opponents such as Russia and China. The author of the publication, editor-in-chief John Tirpak, however, admitted that the Russian Federation and the PRC are cutting the technological gap at an accelerated pace.
According to Tirpak, Moscow and Beijing had a “window of opportunity” due to the short-sightedness of Washington, which “relaxed after the victory over the USSR,” to put it mildly. The Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA). Told him about this, which said that integration into the single mechanism of Russian missile defense systems and highly maneuverable aviation, as well as achievements in electronic warfare,“ – undermined America’s military advantage of the Air Force.
How the Yankees will restore their former power, Major General Scott L. Pleus, Director for Air and Cyber Operations of the US Pacific Air Force, shared with compatriots. “The F-35s and F-22s will quietly penetrate the contested airspace and“ suck out information like vacuum cleaners, passing it to heavily armed fourth-generation aircraft outside the contested area,” he said. “But these planes need higher-range missiles with SCRAMJET technology (hypersonic ramjet engine) that will fly much further, much higher, much faster.”
The United States has nearly twice as many combat aircraft as Russia and China combined.
Such an ideal weapon for destroying enemy aircraft should be the AIM-260 missile, which Lockheed Martin has been developing since 2017. It is intended to replace the AIM-120 AMRAAM (“American Ram”, with a range of 50 km in the first version), which Scott L. Pleus called “the undisputed champion of air combat since the early 1990s.”
Despite his grandiloquence, Pleus did not actually sin much against the truth. Recall that the AIM-120 was developed in response to the Soviet R-27 missile, which significantly outplayed the then most advanced American AIM-7 Sparrow missile, in the 80s of the last century.
By this time, work was already underway in the USSR to create the R-77 missile (with a range of 110 km), which was supposed to “eclipse” the AIM-120. But the era of Yeltsinism delayed its mass production for many years. Thus, the Americans formed a temporary superiority in air-to-air missiles, which by now is completely undermined, even according to Pentagon experts.
Despite a number of modernizations, “American Ram” is morally obsolete today. Moreover, even an increase in the range of destruction and a set of equipment to counter electronic warfare no longer make the “American ram” a guaranteed killer of Su and MiG fighters. The AIM-120D version, capable of attacking enemy aircraft from a distance of 180 km, has a price tag of $ 2 million – expensive even for the US Air Force. It is purchased in very small quantities for F-22 heavy fighters, including due to dubious value.
As the popular US news portal Jejaktapak writes, “the main reason for replacing AMRAAM is the increasingly sophisticated use of enemy aircraft.” The publication even cited an insulting example for the Pentagon when the Americans “disgraced themselves in full.”
In February 2019, the Indians suggested that the Americans “shoot down” their Su-30MKI with the best AIM-120C rocket – of course, not in a real attack, but in a combat simulation. This happened, most likely, after Lockheed Martin introduced the new F-21 light aircraft for India and from India on February 20, 2019.
This is a special version of the F-16 fighter, which was supposed to displace our MiG-35 in the long-term tender MMRCA (Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft) for the purchase of 114 ultramodern “medium multi-purpose combat aircraft” for the Indian Air Force.
The Americans brought along virtual training software, including simulation of air battles. Most likely, the output signals of the Su-30 MKI cockpit simulator were connected to the mathematical model developed by Lockheed Martin, and the real Indian Air Force pilot sat at the helm.
“… Using a combination of electronic warfare systems complex and high-altitude maneuvers thanks to a controlled thrust vector, the Su-30 MKI fighter dodged five AIM-120C missiles,” notes Jejaktapak.
Meanwhile, the Su-30 was developed in the 1990s, which means that the more advanced Su-35 and Su-57 fighters will cope even with the F-22 attacks – not to mention the F-16. Thus, high maneuverability not only gives a great advantage in short-range aerial combat, but also makes it easier for an aircraft to avoid a long-range missile attack.
Actually, it was the high-speed controlled thrust of our aircraft that pushed the Pentagon to create a long-range and hypersonic missile AIM-260 – in order to “reduce the reaction time of the enemy fighter to perform the anti-missile maneuver.”
Overseas experts, by the way, have already estimated the probable cost of the “killer Su-57 and MiG-35.” According to the most conservative estimates, the new “American ram” will cost no less than $ 4 million. Although it is likely that the price will increase at least twice. There was information that Lockheed Martin plans to install an active phased antenna array on the AMRAAM-2. This will allow, according to the developer, to provide a wider radar coverage and prevent the departure of Russian fighters during maneuvers from the interceptor radar zone. By the way, in the USA they do not hide that they borrowed the idea from the description of the latest Russian K-77 missile.
This means that only a dozen AIM-260 will cost the American taxpayers as much as one “gold” F-35 fighter. Once again, the US Air Force buys from Lockheed Martin, in fact, piece lots of the obsolete AIM-120D rocket with real demand many times more. For example, more recently, the Indian Air Force purchased from Russia 1,000 R-27 missiles in the amount of $ 220 million only for the local conflict in Kashmir.
A simple calculation shows that even ten billion dollars is not enough for the annual provision of American combat aircraft with the latest AMRAAM-2. For comparison, the entire Pentagon budget in 2019 is $ 716 billion.
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It would be nice if the AIM-260 really justified the title of one hundred percent “killer” of the Su-57 and MiG-35, but there is no such guarantee even in Washington. Firstly, in the United States today there is no really working hypersonic ramjet engine capable of lasting at least a few miles. Meanwhile, the new “American ram” should rush to the goal of about 400 km. Secondly, the question involuntarily begs, how much should a rocket carry in order to overcome such a distance? Tons, experts say. Or you need to have a nuclear power plant, as in the Russian “Petrel” – Burevestnik.
And thirdly, in future wars, one Russian fighter will be escorted by up to a dozen false targets that will issue the same picture on interceptor radars as the plane itself. In this case, to intercept, for example, the MiG-35 will require so many missiles that their cost will many times exceed the attacked machine. In this regard, Jejaktapak quite logically concludes regarding the plans to “regain dominance in the sky after 2020”: “The ability of AIM-260 has yet to be proved, but there seems to be enough room to improve the design of AIM-120.”
Nevertheless, the three world leaders in the field of military aviation have already entered the arms race in the field of the most expensive tactical weapons – aircraft missiles. Here, however, the potential of the entire economy, capable of providing the defense with high government expenditures, is critical. The United States and China, apparently, will carry this heavy burden, albeit with difficulty. And Russia may tear itself.