This article is prepared by SouthFront contributor “PR” exclusively for southfront.org
Some time back, Pentagon announced the concept of Prompt Global Strike-a rather PEACEFUL albeit measured conventional substitute to an all out nuclear exchange between the superpowers and eventual MAD with a hell lot of banter. Prompt Global strike is entirely based on hypersonics-the idea being to design, develope and field a family of Mach 5.0+ manouverable non ballistic, cruise missiles and unmanned acs capable of complex trajectories. The extreme speeds allowing you to engage time-sensitive targets and providing for very short warning and reaction times on the part of the defender thus severely complicating engagement geometries and moving well outside the kinematic performance of modern and upcomingBmd syatems. The underlying principal being any place on earth can be targetted within tens of minutes instead of the usual hours and by resorting to such delivery systems an adversary’s C4I can be wiped rather quickly making him brain dead and his warfighting potential can beseverly degraded in the blink of an eye thus destroying his zeal and urge to fight ,all this being done without crossing the nuclear threshold .
Boeing started work on the air breathing X-51A Waverider scramjet prototype which will gradually morph into a functional high speed strike weapon and a year back Lockheed Martin annouced the developement of Sr-72 , the supposed unmanned successor to the legendary Blackbird. Although America reportedly possess an adhoc pgs capability in the form of Aurora, Sr-75 Penetrator ,TR-3B Black Manta all of them from the stable of Skunkworks ,nothing comes even close to what Ivan has to offer.
O well, there is the Chinese then who has been able to gatecrash their way into this elite and exclusive club and they are nowadays very gungho abt their new child- the WU-14 . Now here comes the Russians. They have taken this entire thing to a whole new level with the Yu-71. Launched atop a UR-100N Stileto, this thing can not only clock speeds of 11000 km/h but also carries a crew and is said to be pretty agile too. So all in all you have a true hypersonic attack aircraft ,more of a spaceplane that is both endo and exo atmospheric and can harness the best of both flight regimes.
The things you can accomplish with such a design is endless. A sound basic design can spawn a no of platforms with each being specialised and equipped for a particular role very much in the lines of the Flanker /Eagle/ Hercules -a truly multirole capability. It can beused to deliver a nuke penetrating any balliatic missile sefense systems in its path( Aegis, Spy-1DV and SM-2,3 and 6 combo; Boeing Raytheon GMD, LM Thaad and pac-3 being the obj for now) and without allowing the BMEWS and PAVE paws networks to predict the incoming direction and launch point much like the Soviet Fractional Orbital Bombardment system using the R-36; as a first or 2nd strike platform, as a conventional strike aircraft which can penetrate the most sophisticated and structured ,overlapping IADs network;as a spaceplane for anti satellite warfare-shooting down American KH and Lacrosse series of PHOTOINT and IMINT and Rorsat satellites and even X-37B, interdicting America’s super black platforms like the Aurora and Tr and sR series thus taking away America’s Jack in the Sky and ofcourse as a dedicated ISR platform with significant SIGINT,Elint hardwares nd a capable Sar, isar with Gmti/t sub foot resolution radar and even exo atms interception of Multiple independently retargetble v bus before separation ,Marv and upper stages of ICBM,Irbm may not be a distant reality and not to mention the opponent’s hypersonicmissiles and space jets. Our future gen may well get to watch a dogfight being played out at 80000m , a farcry from those WW2 days when fighter jockeys rarely crossed the 25000 feet mark.
To top it off, unlike the Waverider or the Wu-14 the Yu-71 or Project 4202 can be used again and again for a significant no of times keeping in mind the monetary aspect of this and guranteeing a not too high per sortie cost . An anti high supersonic bmds has been in the works for quite some time. Dubbed the S-500, and designed by a consortium of Almaz Antey and Fakel ,it is scheduled to make ita debut in 2016. So the Ruskies has already taken care of the shield side of things and with the Yu,Ivan has checkmated the Americans in their own game.
Questions that remain unanswered are:
- Whether Yu will be powered or not and its flight path-i.e. After being put into a low erth orbit by the SS-19, will it just glide after deorbiting close to or above its intended target OR it will cruise under its own power. In all probablilityy it will have its own propulsion since after coming out of orbit and dropping its payload it wont be able to glide for long due to skin and wave drag in the eartg’s atmosphere and most likely will be unable to return to its mother base which will be in Russia(likely targets will be in US and Nato Fob in Germany Poland Belgium) and its carrying pilots who must eject if the ac cant be retrieved.
- Even if its powered, what will be the propulsion cycle – will it be a mix of air breathing scram jet/ramjet and low bypass turbofan. ramjet for Mach 2.5+, scramjet for 4+ at 120000ft + and a variable cycle turbofan with adaptable overallpressure ratio,bypass rto,xompressor pr ratio for crusing below Mach 2.5 through the atmosphere for the return leg of the mission and for the final landing or for maximising time on station after de orbiting OR Its a combo of liquid propellants based rocket motor and the turbofan thus bypassing the highly complex scramjet. The former option is more likely since work on scramjets is well underway by NPO Mashinostroyena for Brahmos2. For maintaining and manouvering in orbit small impulse liquid propellants based thrusters will be used.
- Will it carry its own supply of oxidant for its flight regime outside the atmosphere or will it collect its O2 supply from cruising in the upper atmosphere which will allow for a small takeoff weight and give considerable leeway in the choice of launchers boostera used. If the latter is used then the flight profile will be two stage to orbit – after separation from the booster at anywhere between 40-80 km,cruising to scrub 02 from the atmosphere and then moving onto outer space instead of direct liftoff to orbit. The TS-T-O has been adopted by ISRO for the RLV programe.
My take on it is the design is single crewed and similar in dimensions to the Bowing X-20 Dynasoar or a beefed up MiG-105 with a lifting body with BWB design with wide LERx instead of the conventional delta and variable dihedral winglets and a modest 500-800 kg payload considering the fact that the present booster is a UR-100N. It may well be a technology demonstrator for proof of concept an fine tunement of the aerodynamics with the production variant way larger than the present design and making use of a heavy weight booster which may well be the Angara A5.
An aircraft launched Yu 71 variant is also possible which is piggy backed on & launched from a VM-T Atlant or a modified IL-476 or Blackjack which will further down cost.