A battlefield weapon with both offense and defense

  On October 1, 2019, during the military parade celebrating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, various latest missiles made their debut. The advantages of missiles lie in their high power, long range, high precision, and strong defense penetration capabilities. They are weapons with super offensive and powerful deterrent capabilities. In recent years, the research and development of various types of missile weapons and equipment has attracted the attention of various military powers. As a high-tech main battle weapon for precision strikes, missiles have become star equipment in modern warfare, and their role and status are becoming increasingly irreplaceable.
  Since the Second World War, after more than 70 years of ups and downs, missiles have developed into a large family with a wide variety of uses. According to different classification methods, missiles can usually be divided into ballistic missiles, air defense and anti-missile missiles, air-to-air missiles, anti-tank missiles and anti-radiation missiles.
“Ultra-long-distance killer”: ballistic missile

  A ballistic missile is a missile that flies according to a predetermined procedure under the thrust of a rocket engine, and after the engine is turned off, flies along an elliptical trajectory that is only affected by the gravity of the earth. Ballistic missiles can be divided into short-range (within 1,000 kilometers), medium-range (1,000-4,000 kilometers), long-range (4,000-8,000 kilometers) and intercontinental missiles (generally 8,000-13,000 kilometers).
  Take the U.S. “Minuteman-3” intercontinental ballistic missile as an example. It is the third-generation ground-to-ground strategic nuclear missile in the United States and the main land-based strategic ballistic missile currently in service in the United States. It is the first solid intercontinental ballistic missile with multiple warheads in the United States Ballistic missiles were developed in the mid-1960s to early 1970s. On August 16, 1968, the missile was tested for the first time, and it began to be equipped with troops in April 1970. The missile has a maximum range of 14,800 kilometers and a launch mass of 34,500 kilograms. It adopts the NS-20 inertial balance guidance and control system, and its hit accuracy is close to 100 meters. In order to improve the penetration capability, the improvement measures of the “Minuteman-3” intercontinental ballistic missile compared with the previous generation include: installing MK12 multiple guided warheads, increasing the terminal boost control system, improving the penetration device, and strengthening the missile structure and control lines ,and many more. By adopting new technological achievements in subsystems such as propulsion, warhead, guidance and launch, the U.S. military comprehensively improves the strike capability, penetration capability and survivability of existing and improved missile models, prolongs their service life, and enhances reliability and safety sex. The improved version of the “Minuteman-3” intercontinental ballistic missile is to improve its tactical and technical performance through the improvement plan of the guidance system, propulsion system and launch control system.
  In recent years, ballistic missiles have continued to maintain a momentum of rapid development. In terms of strategic ballistic missiles, major military powers such as the United States and Russia have comprehensively promoted the upgrading of missiles, improved system construction, and focused on improving the comprehensive combat capabilities of missiles. Emerging industrialized countries have focused on increasing the range of missiles and improving their deterrence. In terms of tactical ballistic missiles, countries, especially developing countries, attach great importance to the development of tactical ballistic missiles, focusing on improving the comprehensive performance of missiles and playing the role of deterrence and actual combat. In addition, various countries have also strengthened missile testing and deployment, and continuously improved missile propulsion system performance, hit accuracy, battlefield adaptability and other comprehensive tactical and technical performance.

“Minuteman-3” intercontinental ballistic missile
“Sky Blade”: Air-to-Air Missile

  Air-to-air missiles are missiles launched by aircraft to attack and destroy air targets. Compared with other types of missiles, air-to-air missiles have the characteristics of fast response, good maneuverability, small size, light weight, and flexible and convenient use. They can be divided into short-range combat missiles, medium-range interceptor missiles and long-range interceptor missiles.
  The American “Sidewinder” (AIM-9) series air-to-air missile is the world’s first infrared-guided air-to-air missile. After continuous development, it is still one of the world’s mainstream short-range air-to-air missiles. At present, the latest model of the “Sidewinder” series of air-to-air missiles is AIM-9X, which has been installed in troops since 2003. It is the fourth-generation short-range air-to-air missile developed by Raytheon Technologies for the U.S. Air Force and Navy, and is used to replace the third-generation missiles such as AIM-9L/M. The AIM-9X has a slender body of 3 meters, a projectile diameter of 0.127 meters, and a weight of 85 kilograms. It can carry a 9.36 kilogram ring explosive fragmentation warhead with a range of more than 16 kilometers. The missile adopts infrared imaging seeker, advanced flight control, thrust vectoring and other technologies, which have greatly improved its combat performance. Especially after adopting the thrust vectoring technology, the turning rate of the “Sidewinder” series missiles reaches 60-100 degrees per second, which not only improves the agility of the missiles, but also obtains the large maneuvering overload required for omnidirectional combat, and enables the missiles to be able to operate at low speeds. It can fly at a high angle of attack, and its maximum angle of attack can reach 50 degrees, thus effectively attacking highly maneuverable aircraft. At the same time, this technology also enables the missile to achieve “over-the-shoulder launch”, that is, to turn 180 degrees in a large maneuver within a few seconds after launch, so as to attack rear targets. It is currently the only short-range combat air-to-air missile owned by the US military that can compete with the Russian AA-11 “Archer (Archer)”.

Sidewinder air-to-air missile

  Recently, major countries in the world continue to promote the development and upgrading of short- and medium-range air-to-air missiles, and air-to-air missiles are developing in the direction of long-range and network-centric guidance to meet the needs of strong confrontational air combat in the complex electromagnetic environment in the future. Among them, military powers focus on increasing the range of missiles, improving strike capabilities, developing advanced guidance technologies and enhancing damage capabilities, so as to comprehensively improve combat effectiveness.
“Radar Killer”: Anti-Radiation Missile

  Anti-radiation missile, also known as “anti-radar missile”, is a missile with a reconnaissance and directional receiver and is used to attack electromagnetic radiation sources such as radar. In electronic countermeasures, it is the most effective weapon for hard-killing radar, and it belongs to the tactical offensive electronic warfare hard-killing weapon. Its basic working principle is: use the electromagnetic wave radiated by the enemy’s electronic equipment for passive guidance, automatically track and fly to the source of the radio wave until it is destroyed. At present, anti-radiation missiles have become one of the important means of electronic warfare in modern warfare.
  The United States has always been in a leading position in the field of anti-radiation missile research, and its typical representative is the AGM-88E anti-radiation missile. AGM-88E “Ham” is the latest improvement of this series. As the third-generation anti-radiation missile of the United States, it has always been known for its excellent performance. It was jointly developed by the former American ATK company and the European Missile Group. The missile is 4.17 meters long, with a projectile diameter of 0.254 meters and a warhead weighing 66 kilograms. Its maximum speed can reach Mach 3 and its maximum range is 90-150 kilometers. It is upgraded on the basis of the original AGM-88C, retaining part of the body design and structure, mainly upgrading the guidance and control system and passive radar seeker, effectively expanding the coverage of the radar working frequency band. AGM-88E has added INS/GPS joint guidance device and digital anti-radiation navigation sensor, installed digital autopilot and electromechanical control steering gear, and adopted new active millimeter wave radar/broadband passive radar dual-mode seeker, It has anti-target radar shutdown function. Another important feature of this type of missile is the addition of data link equipment. On the one hand, target information from external sources can be obtained from the data link, fused with the data measured by the missile, and the target position and radiation characteristics of the target can be updated in real time to enhance the awareness of the battlefield situation; and the precise location of the target are sent back to the carrier aircraft and the command and control center, so that subsequent waves can carry out fixed-point precision strikes on the target area.

  The anti-radiation missile with equally good performance is Kh-31P. This type of missile is the main type of anti-radiation missiles currently in service in Russia. It belongs to the third generation of anti-radiation missiles. It is a multi-purpose anti-radiation missile developed by Russia in response to the US “Patriot” air defense missile system. Inertial navigation system and passive radar guidance system. This type of missile is an important equipment for Russian MiG-29M fighter jets. At the same time, it can also be equipped with new aircraft such as Su-30MK and Su-35. It is specially used to attack air early warning aircraft and ground radar stations such as the American E-3. Air Defense Killer”. Because it is aimed at a typical target, the missile uses a limited bandwidth seeker, which can accurately capture and track the target in a wide frequency range, which not only improves the hitting accuracy, but also reduces the technical difficulty of anti-shutdown and the airborne target positioning equipment. requirements. For decades, the Russian Tactical Missile Company has continuously upgraded the Kh-31P anti-radiation missile. The Kh-31PD anti-radiation missile produced in 2012 is an upgraded version of the Kh-31P. It mainly increases the range of the missile and expands the guidance. The working frequency band of the head. The later modernized and improved Kh-31PM is a further upgrade to the Kh-31PD. While increasing the range, a new type of composite seeker is used to meet the requirements of enhancing the ability to resist electronic interference.
  The confrontation between military powers such as the United States and Russia has promoted the development process of anti-radiation missiles, and some countries are also stepping up the development of a new generation of anti-radiation missiles. At present, the development trend of anti-radiation missiles is mainly reflected in: reducing the size, so that anti-radiation missiles can be placed in the built-in bomb bay of stealth fighters; increasing the range, can attack long-range surface-to-air missile radar systems; Enhance the survivability and combat effectiveness of anti-radiation missiles. The new generation of anti-radiation missiles will develop in the direction of small size, integrated guidance system, diversified missile functions and multi-missile coordinated operations.
“Rising star”: Hypersonic missiles

  Hypersonic missiles are a new type of missiles that can fly at a speed greater than Mach 5. They have outstanding features such as fast flight speed, strong lateral maneuverability, and wide combat airspace. According to different power sources, hypersonic missiles can be divided into boost-gliding hypersonic missiles and air-breathing hypersonic missiles. The former generally adopts the structure of a hypersonic warhead plus a booster rocket engine. The missile is powered by a rocket engine. The warhead is a cone or waverider structure. The flight characteristics are similar to ballistic missiles, and the flight Mach number is 5-20; the latter is more Close to cruise missiles, it uses a scramjet engine as its main power, and its flight Mach number is 5-10. As a rising star in the missile family, the emergence of hypersonic missiles has subverted the space-time concept of traditional offensive and defensive operations, and poses a huge threat to the existing air defense and anti-missile systems. Therefore, it has become the priority weapon and equipment for major military countries.
  Since 2017, Russia has taken the lead in promoting the three hypersonic missiles “Dagger”, “Pioneer” and “Zircon” into service, forming a trinity rapid strike system of sea, land and air, thus pushing the competition of hypersonic weapons to a new stage. In the Russia-Ukraine conflict in 2022, the Russian army used a “Dagger” hypersonic missile to destroy an ammunition depot in Ukraine. This is the first time that the Russian army has put hypersonic weapons into actual combat. As the world’s first boost-glide hypersonic missile, the warhead of the “Dagger” missile weighs 480 kilograms. In addition to loading conventional warheads, it can also carry nuclear warheads. It is launched from an airborne aircraft platform and adopts a high-throwing trajectory. It can dive at a large angle, the maximum flight speed can reach more than Mach 10, and the range can reach 2000 kilometers. At present, the “Dagger” missile is carried and launched by the MiG-31K carrier aircraft, and one aircraft can carry one missile. Although the MiG-31K is an old model, its maximum flight speed can reach Mach 2.83, and its combat radius can reach 1,500 kilometers. It can form a “fast + fast” combination with the “Dagger” missile to achieve rapid response and rapid deployment. , The combat effect of rapid launch can realize the rapid and precise attack on time-sensitive targets outside the defense zone. The combat combination of the MiG-31K supersonic fighter and the “Dagger” missile has made up for the shortcomings of ballistic missiles that are easy to be tracked and the launch platform is easy to be exposed after the missile is launched to a certain extent, so that the advantages of ballistic missiles can be better utilized. In addition, the “Dagger” missile also uses a composite guidance system with higher precision and stronger strike power, which undoubtedly makes it difficult for any air defense system to implement effective interception. In addition to dealing with ground targets, the missile can also be used as an anti-ship missile against sea targets such as aircraft carriers.
  With extreme speed and flexible trajectory, hypersonic missiles can easily penetrate the existing air defense and anti-missile system, preemptively strike and destroy the enemy’s command and control hub, strategic weapon launch platform, and air defense and anti-missile system nodes, enabling the enemy to counterattack combat capabilities paralysis. The emergence of hypersonic missiles has greatly shortened the “decision-attack-strike” cycle of traditional operations, and it is difficult to be found (the flight trajectory is located in the early warning and detection blind spot of the existing air defense and anti-missile system), and it is difficult to be identified (flying around the body at high speed) Forming a “plasma sheath”) and being difficult to be intercepted (both flight speed and maneuverability exceed the limit of interception weapons) will also have a subversive impact on traditional defense methods, combat modes, and combat methods.
  In the future, the battlefield combat space will continue to expand to the deep sea, the polar regions, and near space and high space domains. Air-space integration, multi-terrain, and multi-climate operations will become the norm. Missile weapons cross deep water, pass through the atmosphere, and leap into space. They exhibit good flight qualities in different media and are capable of multi-domain operations. Their multi-purpose development will become an inevitable trend to meet the needs of future warfare.