Supersonic precision weapons to appear in Russia next decade

Over the next few years the Russian army will significantly increase the number of high-precision weapons, including cruise missiles. Over the three years the number of controlled cruise missiles will be increased five-fold, and by 2020 - by thirty times. This was previously reported by Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.

His deputy Yuri Borisov said that supersonic precision weapons may appear in Russia in the next decade.

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"The Americans are conducting these developments, and according to forecasts, they will have such weapons at the turn of 2018-2025. But we are developing these weapons as well, and here, perhaps, it would be foolish to say that we are sitting idly. Yes, we are conducting such developments, and hope to have them by the same time," Borisov said.

It is worth mentioning that precision weapons are usually controlled from the outside, and are capable of hitting the target with the first shot at a given (quite high) accuracy, at any range within its reach.

This brings memories of the television footage of the time of the operation "Desert Storm," when a missile hit a certain structure, changing its course in flight, and got right into the window. Experts later said that there was a missile equipped with a video camera, and the operator guided its launch, roughly speaking, at the computer monitor. But there are many other ways to control shells and rockets.

It is now possible to create high-precision weapons that, in the opinion of almost all military experts, will determine the nature of a future war if it happens. Such weapons allow inflicting extremely accurate strikes at the attacked objects, up to getting to the desired window of a given structure.

For example, the war in the Persian Gulf has demonstrated the tremendous role that precision-guided weapons play in modern warfare. There is information that during the "Desert Storm" the Americans already used GPS to guide their missiles.

In addition to the Persian Gulf War, massive use of precision weapons was demonstrated in the special operations of NATO forces in Yugoslavia. Now, no one denies that it was the widespread use of cruise missiles and precision-guided weapons that allowed NATO to fulfill the assigned tasks without direct participation of ground troops and military operations.

In both of these conflicts it has been clearly demonstrated that the widespread use of guided weapons, in addition to a significant increase in the efficiency, also helps to reduce accidental losses among the civilian population. Carpet bombings that would have led to a widespread destruction of civilian buildings as it was in the case of the Vietnam War were used neither in Iraq nor in Yugoslavia. Guided weapons allowed hitting military targets relatively accurately, reducing the possible risk of the so-called collateral damage to a minimum.

The fact that Russia already has such weapons is evidenced by the successful elimination of the rebellious militant leader Dudayev who was killed with precision weapons in the mid- 1990s.

On April 21, 1996 Russian secret services intercepted a signal from Dudayev's satellite phone in a village located 30 kilometers from Grozny. Two Su-25 with self-guided missiles rose in the air. Dudayev was killed by a rocket while talking on the phone. His widow Alla Dudayeva then said that she was next to her husband at the time of his death. One rocket hit exactly at him, while others destroyed his car parked a few hundred meters away. According to the media, it was the first combat use of the Russian high-precision weapons.

There are other examples as well. For instance, during the memorable "Operation Peace Enforcement" in South Ossetia in August of 2008, the Russian Air Force, according to media reports, used guided precision weapons to destroy an aircraft plant and an airport south of Tbilisi. The target was hit with no collateral damage.

Lately, high-precision weapons are being developed with an eye to the space positioning. In other words, a local war anywhere in the world could be coordinated from the outskirts of Russia. Military satellites conduct optical, infrared and radiation reconnaissance and calculate the coordinates of enemy targets. Then the air force at a distance of 100-300 kilometers launches a missile or bomb using a satellite navigation system.

Unfortunately, in the 1980s and 1990s, for obvious reasons, the Russians did not conduct any special active development in the field of high-precision weapons. At the same time, the NATO countries have been investing billions of dollars in satellite guidance systems for missiles and bombs.

However, the groundwork of the Soviet defense industry was sufficient to catch up in a short period of time. A striking example of this is a missile complex "Iskander." It was so successful that experts consider it the best in the world and a very promising high-precision weapon. In part because of this newest weapon the plans of the U.S. to deploy missile defense in Europe have been revised.

Now not only Russia or the U.S., but also all other countries with the developed military industry consider the improvement of guided weapons a key component of a possible military action.

Now, many military experts include Russian missile system S-400 that is constantly upgraded after its adoption in August of 2007 into the ranks of the most powerful precision weapons. First, the complex was put on combat duty in the city of Elektrostal in Moscow region. After that, the S-400 units were also deployed in Leningrad region and the Far East. It is planned to create 23 divisions of S-400 by 2015.

Russia is not going to export the unique complexes until the needs of Russia and the national army are fully satisfied. The S-400, albeit precise, is clearly not a first strike type of weapon. This is a defense weapon, like all the latest Russian weapons.

Does Russia's intention to develop high-precision weapons mean renunciation of strategic weapons? Absolutely not. Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that the country would never allow an imbalance of strategic deterrence, reducing the effectiveness of its nuclear forces.

"We cannot allow an imbalance of the system of strategic deterrence, reduction of the effectiveness of our nuclear forces. Therefore, the establishment of military-space defense will remain one of the key areas of military construction," Putin said at a recent meeting on the state defense order in St. Petersburg.

The President is convinced that Russia should take into account the development plans of the armed forces for the first, so-called preemptive strike. To reflect such strikes, we need high precision, non-nuclear weapons.

Andrei Mikhailov


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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov