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Cruise Missiles – Russia’s National Weapon

G.A. EFREMOV, professor, Hero of Socialist Labour, the State Lenin Prize and the USSR State Prize laureate.

Background of the cruise missiles construction
Shore-based target Cruise missiles
First anti-ship complexes
Modification and Improvement of anti-ship cruise missile complexes
Long-range anti-ship missiles

Background of cruise missiles construction

During the post-war years aircraft-carriers assault units and other surface ships groups of the USA and, later, NATO posed a significant threat of launching a naval attack against our country. The destruction of surface ships, first of all aircraft-carriers, using traditional types of weaponry (artillery, torpedoes, mines, and bombs) became less effective and more problematic. There was an urgent need to search for the new means of warfare which could combine a bigger range capacity, higher hit accuracy, ample destructive effect; capability for mass application, flight path maneuvers and for use in different meteorological conditions and some other tactical characteristics. Specialized anti-ship self-guided cruise missile complexes could be such a type of weaponry. Extensive tests conducted helped to find the right solution to the existing problem: without resorting to adjustments of the fleet forces by tonnage, we were to confront the US and NATO-countries’ fleets with an adequate striking force. It was our own national way of constructing absolutely new weapons – anti-ship cruise missiles – and equipping home submarines and surface ships with them.

First of all, long-range cruise missiles allow a ship to take up the most advantageous attack position, to strike first, to break off from the enemy after fulfilling the mission assigned as well as to use its range reserve to carry out various tactical trajectory maneuvers. Secondly, its high flight speed provides an opportunity for quickly passing the so-called target counteraction zones and opportunity for preventing a cruise missile from being intercepted during its flight. Thirdly, there is a possibility to activate missiles of various flight altitudes, for example, a missile flies most part of its flight trajectory – cruise leg – at high altitude with insignificant aerodynamic resistance and, on approaching the target, it switches to low altitude thus hindering its interception. Besides, cruise missiles can conduct, if needed, different maneuvers along the course at any section of their trajectory.

In terms of meeting flight path requirements, the turbo-jet engine, which has been widely used in industry, has showed impressive results and has proved to be more reliable and endurable.

The purpose of destructing small-size mobile sea-based targets is usually achieved either by installing specialized guidance systems on cruise missile board or by dynamic characteristics of the missile itself which secure direct homing at the ship. Guidance systems can be based on interconnection of various information channels which help to operate efficiently in a difficult jamming environment.

Power characteristics and progressive engineering solutions permit to equip cruise missiles with a powerful warhead. In order to increase its destructive effect, the most favorable conditions are provided for the warhead to blast inside the ship’s hull – in its most vulnerable part.

Apart from that, cruise missiles help to implement a number of unique technical and technological advances enhancing tactical characteristics of this type of weapon. It includes, in particular, the potential for equipping the cruise missile board with an electronic jammer capable of affecting interception agents; the possibility for using special radio transparent coverings and materials as well as a large number of design innovations tended to reduce the missile’s visibility in different frequency ranges, etc. Moreover, cruise missiles can be used in volley-firing, and they can also be arranged in a rational way along their flight paths.

The options mentioned determine, to a considerable degree, the high efficiency of anti-ship cruise missile systems. However, it is practically impossible to achieve peak values of all those parameters simultaneously. While designing and projecting, it is essential to ensure the optimal ratio of all the parameters taking into account such key characteristics as their efficiency, importance, reliability, price, operability, practicability and ease of handling. In the process of cruise missile systems construction, all the technological advances and innovations adopted from various branches of science and engineering should be applied to achieve the highest possible results.

Original scientific-engineering solutions not only make the anti-ship cruise missile complexes designed by NPO “Mashinostroyenie” (Scientific Production Association “Mechanical Engineering”) the most effective means for surface ships destruction but also help them withstand competition on the ever-growing international military and arms market which is a very important factor nowadays.

Shore-based target cruise missiles

In the mid-fifties, following the resolution of the Soviet government, NPO “Mashinostroyenie” (Special Design Bureau-52, OKB-52) headed by then-chief designer the academician V.N. Chelomey was entrusted with the task of designing new models and types of weapon systems for the Navy. By that time the design office had already gained profound experience in developing the family of air-launched cruise missiles of 10X-series for ground-based targets destruction. This time, however, they were to create an entirely new kind of weapon which could be placed on submarines in order to aim at shore-based targets. This complex was named the P-5 (NATO designation SS-N-3c “Shaddock”).

The designing of the complex involved facing of a number of challenges and problems concerning the creation of a small-size and reliable guidance system, cruise engine as well as the storage, transportation and launching of a cruise missile and placing those missiles on the booster and their automated guidance system, etc.

The process of P-5 designing was based on the original solutions worked out by V.N. Chelomey personally, namely, placing a missile with folded wings in an air-tight container and its zero launching from this container with the wings being unfolded automatically in the air which, in its turn, allowed to install a sufficient number of containers on the booster. The missile had a lower arrangement of vertical fin and air inlet. A specially-designed turbojet engine was used as its engine. The launching assembly consisted of two solid-propellant rocket engines fasten together by a power support beam. There was a gyroscopic, noise-immune guidance system installed on the rocket which secured the stabilization process and homing at the target assigned.

The new principles which formed the basis for the P-5 project required an immense amount of research and design-theoretical work, design study and exploratory development as well as an extensive flight test program. In his work, the chief designer could rely on his team of talented colleagues whose inexhaustible scientific potential, creative and organizational energy were directed at solving those complicated tasks set by the government. The members of this wonderful team were, first of all, designers and researchers, namely: G.A. Efremov – the head of the design group and, from 1984, the chief designer; V.A. Modestov – the head of aerohydrodynamic and ballistic research, Hero of Socialist Labour, the State Lenin Prize laureate; S.B. Puzrin – the head of theoretical and experimental studies, the State Lenin Prize laureate; V.V. Sachkov – the head of on-board control and automation systems, Hero of Socialist Labour; M.I. Lifshits – the head of the testing department; Hero of Socialist Labour, the State Lenin Prize laureate; A.I. Korovkin – the head of the engineering department, the State Lenin Prize laureate; A.I. Valedinsky – the head of the cruise and booster-accelerating engines department; A.G. Zhamaletdinov – the head of the cruise missile on-board systems department; I.K. Denisov – chief engineer of pilot production, the USSR State Prize laureate, and many other talented specialists.

While creating the P-5 complex, the most complex and complicated scientific-technical problems have been solved. The most important break-through was the one concerning the launching of a rocket with folded wings directly from its container and their in-flight deployment within a minimal period of time. In relation to this, various experimental-designing works had been carried out in order to secure a reliable wing opening device functioning. All these innovative experiments resulted eventually in the invention of the automatic device opening the wings before the rocket coming out of the container. Later on this ingenious design solution has been installed on the next systems equipped with cruise missiles.

The extraordinary thing about Chief designer Chelomey’s work style was his willingness to closely cooperate with academic science while working on some involved technical issues. In that way, while developing the cruise missile container launch, academician I.N. Bogolyubov was of great theoretical help to him. It was Bogolyubov’s fundamental, thorough research work that actually formed the theoretical basis for analyzing the dynamic processes occurring after the missile’ separation from the container, which allowed to optimize the integration of the missile’ key parameters and its guidance system. The perspective technical solution of the rocking base “zero” launching was employed in all the next cruise missiles projects not only for submarines but also for surface ships and coast-based installations.

After the introduction of an ambitious and extensive State test program, the complex was adopted to the Navy armament in the late 1950s.

During 1958-1959, on the basis of the P-5 complex, over ten different modifications had been tested, the most effective and widely-produced and deployed of which was the P-5D complex equipped with a radio navigation system of a higher accuracy and improved on-board equipment. After a whole set of necessary tests had been done, the P-5D complex was adopted to the armament of the submarines of series-644, 655 and 659.

First anti-ship complexes

Under the Soviet government’ resolution of 1956, NPO Mashinostroyenie was charged with the task of developing the first two over-the-horizon target destruction guided missile complexes such as the P-6 (NATO designation SS-N-3a “Shaddock”) and the P-35 (NATO designation SS-N-3b “Shaddock”). Following the principle of scientific succession, only the best parameters of the P-5 and P-5D were used in the P-6 and the P-35 projects.

However, in order to meet the key tactical-technical and performance requirements for such complexes, for P-6 in particular, a large number of solutions had to be revised. To be more precise, for this complex a possibility for the selective mobile over-the-horizon target destruction has been applied; volley-firing secured; the anti-air defence maneuver has been introduced; the new, improved guidance system, including a RF homing head, has been developed and tested; the radiotransparent radome has been designed.

A whole set of new technical solutions for the cruise missile guidance system was to be worked out by the Central Research Institute Granit (Director N.A. Charin; chief designers M.V. Yatskovsky and I.Y. Krivtsov). The basic stages of the guidance system functioning were as follows: according to the target designation data on target data and submarine readings of the computing instruments, range and bearing are calculated, then they are input into the guidance system of those missiles assigned for launching. In the remote-control mode, the operator, tracking the current missiles coordinates, could correct its flight with the help of radio commands.

After switching on the radar sight, the operator can see a radar image of ships’ order on the display which enables him to choose the target. On confirming the force of the “capture” and the stable target tracking, he gives the command to dive. This stage completed, the remote-control process is considered finished and the cruise missile steers itself at a low altitude and carries out the homing guidance programmed. Apart from that, everything was provided for the self-contained target selection mode with further homing guidance.

An immense amount of work was to be done in order to design an on-board guidance system and its placement in restricted dimensions. Very useful for ships’ control system was the development of telecontrol radio links capable of operating in three different wave bands with an interconnected antenna station. The antenna station with a common hydroelectric drive incorporated three broad-band antenna devices and fitted perfectly well into the fore part of the submarine forward deckhouse. This original, innovative solution allowed for the use of high-directivity antennas on submarines.

A large number of experiments and proving trials were conducted in the Central Aerodynamic Institute on testing aerodynamic characteristics of cruise missiles. This important work was done under the supervision of academician A.A. Dorodnitsyn who actively participated in the experiments. The dummy tests conducted allowed our scientists to derive the value of the key aerodynamic characteristics and make more accurate theoretical calculations.

Furthermore, lots of tests and various experiments were carried out to improve the P-6 cruise missile guidance system. Along with laboratory dummy tests, it was considered necessary to conduct environmental trials in the conditions reproducing real-life ones as accurately as possible. The dummies were placed on board the helicopter and plane-laboratory.

After the successful termination of the flight tests program, the complex was adopted to the armament and became one of the main, widely-deployed types of weapons of the underwater fleet.

The main objective of the P-35 was a selective destruction of enemy surface ships beyond the radio-horizon. In the process of the P-35 construction a large number of technical problems analogous to those of the P-6 were to be solved. With the purpose of ensuring the selective target destruction needed, the principle of telecontrol was chosen as the basis for the guidance system (as was done for the P-6 complex). A specially-designed turbojet engine was installed on the rocket which was equipped for the first time with an air intake with a conical central body to reduce losses. The first laboratory tests of guidance system noise-immunity not only produced quantitative characteristics but also proved that the P-35 guidance system could be used in the organized radio countermeasures environment.

On the basis of the successful flight tests, the anti-ship rocket system P-35 was adopted to the Navy to be used on ships, self-propelled and stationary ground-based launchers. Since the rocket had been thoroughly studied, in 1963 they launched the compulsory compatibility tests which were completed by 1965.

In my view, several other P-35 modifications are worth mentioning here. Thus, for instance, there has been a great amount of study work done to adjust the P-35 to planes and to design a version of a rocket with an increased flight range. Some time later, materials have been prepared to place rockets on high-speed boats and rockets with torpedoes for submarines destruction. The development of various modifications signifies the fact that scientists and designers were willing to extend the P-35 application area. This was very much conducive to further development of multi-purpose cruise missiles.

The designing of P-6 and P-35 complexes with self-guided cruise missiles for sea targets destruction has highly contributed to the Navy being equipped with modern, state-of-the-art weaponry. The invention of this type of weapon has been a radically new and very important step in the Navy being equipped with cruise missiles, while the wealth of valuable practical experience and progressive technical innovations and solutions introduced by our talented specialists have formed the solid basis for development of new types of anti-ship missiles.

At the 1969 Military Defence Council, S.G. Gorshkov, the Commander-in-Chief of the Navy, characterized the invention of anti-ship cruise missile complexes as our greatest national achievement.

Modification and improvement of anti-ship cruise missile complexes

Despite all their merits, the first cruise missiles designed by the Scientific Production Association Mashinostroyenie were capable of only submarine-launch (capable of surface launch only) which significantly hindered their security. The new ideas and experience gained resulted in the development of the Ametist (NATO designation SS-N-7 “Starbright”). In the late 1950s Chelomey’s bureau began to design an entirely new submarine-based anti-ship cruise missile system, which used solid fuel and was the first Soviet cruise missile capable of submerged launch. During its construction process new principles of design and construction of lifting vehicles were elaborated. The intensive work and joint efforts on the part of the designers eventually resulted in the implementation of this kind of launching, and thus one of the most complicated engineering problems has been solved. Apart from that, Chelomey’s design bureau was the first to have used a solid-propellant rocket engine as a sustainer rocket engine.

While developing the Ametist, a series of tests had been conducted in Central Aerodynamic Institute in terms of the specific missile submerge launching parameters. The careful analysis of the experimental data tested on the dummies in the ballistic pond proved the scientific ideas and design solutions chosen to be correct and valid and permitted to proceed with full-scale tests.

The compulsory flight tests and state testing program was successfully completed, and in the late 1960s the Ametist complex was accepted into service and was deployed on the Project 670 (NATO name “Charlie I”) nuclear submarines. It should be mentioned that the Soviet submarine-based anti-ship cruise missile capable of submerged launch left behind the countries of Western Europe as it was designed ten years earlier then its foreign analogue (the first USA-made submerged-launch cruise missile the RGM-84 Harpoon was not accepted into service until 1977).

The Ametist was followed by an improved Malakhit (SS-N-9 “Siren”) missile. NPO Mashinostoyenie designed this complex as a universal cruise missile capable of both submarine-based submerged launch and ship-based surface launch. Compared to its predecessors, the Malakhit missiles could boast of a bigger range, lower flight altitude and an improved guidance system.

In order to enhance the guidance system’s noise-immunity, the cruise missile was equipped with two information channels: radar and thermal ones. On the basis of the two-channel target detection and homing guidance device, the guidance system was capable of selective target destruction due to the logical operations capability. Manually operated procedures of rocket preparation and launch were significantly reduced and automated. While developing the Malakhit, a wide range of extensive model tests concerning the analysis of specific characteristics and parameters of a submerged launch. Apart from Central Aerodynamic Institute, these tests and experiments were conducted in the Scientific Research Institute of Mechanics with Moscow State University under the direct supervision of the academician L.I. Sedov who had greatly contributed to the theoretical justification of original ways of experimental technique and procedure and gained data analysis. Using the results of the above-mentioned tests, a number of activities were carried out in order to enhance the sustainable missile motion along a submerged part of its trajectory.

The successful completion of a series of guidance system flight tests using the plane-laboratory IL-14, model and ground tests of the Malakhit complex permitted to proceed to flight-development and later to state testing. Technical supervision was provided by the Chief designer Vladimir Nikolayevich Chelomey. The Malakhit was adopted by the Navy in the early 1970s and served aboard Project 670M (NATO name “Charlie II”) submarines, Project 661, and Project 1234 missile corvette.

Long-range anti-ship cruise missiles

After P-6 and P-35 complexes had been accepted into service, the designers of NPO Mashinostroyenie began to develop a new complex, namely the strike Bazalt (SS-N-12 “Sandbox”) missile, which replaced P-6 and P-35 missiles on older submarines and armed Kiev-class aircraft carriers and Slava-class missile cruisers. This complex was intended to destroy the most powerful and high value targets such as enemy ship groups including aircraft-carriers battle groups. It was planned to arm both submarines and surface ships with this missile. Developed to replace the P-6, all the Bazalt’s main characteristics and engineering design had to be preserved. This means that the same telecontrol principle was employed on the new complex, and the missile was put in a small-size container with its wings folded producing in-flight deployment. Since the Bazalt was to replace the P-6 on submarines and since the P-6 was capable of surface launch only, they had to employ this type of launch, which was some sort of a “price” to pay for a possibility to rearm the booster with this new missile.

The Bazalt has a big range and supersonic speed: the rational form of its flight path permits it to evade the air defence area of the ship attacked; its guidance system was equipped with the on-board central computer capable of flight control and homing guidance in complex jamming environment. For the first time the cruise missile used an on-board electronic jammer which was intended to act on enemy anti-aircraft guided missile homing head, thus securing the missile’s invulnerability in the air defence area of the ship attacked. All the follow-ons designed at NPO Mashinostroyenie were equipped with such electronic jammers.

The Bazalt was the first cruise missile capable of traveling at a high supersonic speed (Mach 2). This factor had an impact on its engineering design. A special fuselage sector two-shock air intake was designed. Titanium alloy materials of necessary temperature resistant characteristics were used. The designers were especially scrupulous in studying the effects of simultaneous load and heat exposure on the construction.

An inestimable contribution to the problem of structural strength has been made by Academician V.S. Avduyevsky. His fundamental theoretical and research work has formed the basis for developing the technique and procedure of heat-resistant bench tests conduction.

In the late 1970s, compulsory ground tests were successfully completed, after which they proceeded to flight-engineering tests. In 1974, state testing was conducted, and the Bazalt was accepted to service to replace the P-6 to be used by submarines. It must be added that some time later they developed a sophisticated modification of this complex, i.e., the missile began to be equipped with a modern, more powerful launching assembly which significantly enhanced its range. Almost no booster improvement was required for this advanced complex to be placed on submarines

The Bazalt missile also armed the newly-built surface ships. In 1977, it was initially deployed on the first ship of Kiev-class aircraft carriers. In the 1980s, this complex armed Slava-class missile cruisers. In terms of its efficacy and performance characteristics, the Bazalt anti-ship cruise missile exceeded all its home-made and foreign analogues.

As early as the mid-1960s, while working on the Ametist and the Malakhit, the Chief designer Vladimir N. Chelomey came to the conclusion that it was necessary and already possible to take a further step on the way to the long-range missiles launch conditions universalization. He actually suggested developing a new cruise missile complex whose capabilities, in addition to higher speed and range, included submerged launch capability. It was intended to arm both submarines and surface ships with this complex. The new complex was designated the P-700 Granit (its NATO reporting name is SS-N-19 “Shipwreck”) and it was designed in the 1970s to replace the Ametist and the Malakhit, both effective missiles but with too short a range in the face of improving weapons of the US Navy carrier battle groups. In the process of its design, all allied sciences and partner design bureaus were actively engaged in the development of a large number of alternative designs (practically dozens of them) concerning this cruise missile, its on-board guidance system, etc. afterwards, all these versions were estimated according to their operational efficiency, production cost and period, realizability. On the basis of a careful analysis of all the above-mentioned parameters key requirements to the cruise missile system and its elements of armament were formulated. From the very moment the first long-range anti-ship cruise missiles capable of surface ships destruction had been developed, a problem of providing them with target designation data arouse. This problem could be solved with the help of spacecrafts only. The Chief designer Vladimir N. Chelomey began to develop such a system.

The theoretical basis of this spacecraft construction, orbit parameters as well as relative satellite position have been worked out and detailed in close cooperation with our famous academician M.V. Keldysh. The system consisted of several radar and electronic reconnaissance satellites which could transfer the target designation data directly to the rocket booster or ground-based stations.

The Granit is notable for its new qualitative characteristics. For the first time in the history of rocket production, they managed to design a long-range missile with an autonomous guidance system. Its on-board guidance system was based on a three-processor computer with the use of several information channels which allowed it to operate in a complex jammer environment and detect true targets against any background interference. This is the largest cruise missile in use by any military force, larger even than its predecessors. Most of its space is devoted to a very large fuel tank, allowing the missile to cruise up to 625 km at Mach 2.5. Upon attaining sufficient altitude, it engages its jet engine and accelerates to attack speed. Initial guidance system is inertial, with an active radar seeker for terminal homing. Just like the Bazalt, it uses a formation-flight profile, with one missile flying high to locate its targets and the others flying at medium altitude to evade radar. Should the lead missile be destroyed by enemy anti-missile missiles, another from the formation, chosen at random, takes up the lead. The designing and projecting of this system was carried out by the team of scientists and designers of Central Scientific Research Institute Granit headed by its General Director V.V. Pavlov, Hero of Socialist Labour, and the State Lenin Prize laureate.

From all the versions and alternative designs proposed the designers has chosen a turbojet engine as its cruise engine. Our scientists and designers were the first to have solved a complex engineering problem of engine start within a very short period of time when the missile goes from under the water. The potential for missiles maneuvering permitted to employ a rational formation mode and unique guidance mode when fired in swarm in order to choose the most advantageous flight path. One of them goes up and designates targets, the others – attack. The one that goes up does it in short pop-ups, so it makes it harder to intercept. It works like a network with datalink between each missile. Missiles are able to differentiate targets, detect groups and prioritize targets automatically using information gathered during flight and types of enemy ships and battle formations pre-programmed in their on-board computer, after that they attack highest priority-to-lowest: after destroying the first target, the missiles left are attacking next prioritized target. It should be emphasized that no earlier cruise missile system designed at NPO Mashinostroyenie was notable for concentration and successful implementation of such a number of scientific and technical innovations as the Granit was. The missile’s elaborate design required the conduction of a series of extensive ground tests in hydro-ponds, wind tunnels, heat-resistant test benches, etc.

In 1976, after the whole set of compulsory ground tests of the cruise missile and its key elements (guidance system, cruise engine, etc) had been completed, the flight-development tests began. In 1979, this complex was prepared for the state testing. The testing was conducted on coastal-based test benches and lead ships, namely, the submarine and cruiser Kirov. The tests were a success and the Granit missile was accepted into service with the Navy. It formed the primary armament of Kirov-class nuclear heavy cruisers and Oscar-class cruise missile submarines.

At present, the Russian Federation has a unique group of submarines armed with cruise missiles which is capable of fulfilling a variety of missions in the World Ocean.