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Cruise missiles and space exploration: the killer of aircraft carriers
Material posted: Publication date: 24-08-2015
When it comes to intelligence space technology, on a spy satellite, imagination paints primarily a "cosmic eye" - flying in low Earth orbit with powerful optics unit, "read" license plates and stars on the shoulder straps. However, not all exploration of space - an optical reconnaissance. At the time, the Soviet Union was to create an interesting space reconnaissance complex with several other tasks.

It well-known that ­ at recognised parity of the parties armed forces of the NATO and the Warsaw contract developed in an epoch of cold war ­ asymmetrically. In the USSR the rocket weapon of different types was actively developed, ground forces, especially tank troops were improved. The USA actively worked over «a long hand» on the sea, creating ­­ fleet of the aircraft carriers striding on the seas and oceans in an environment of carrier-based striking forces (AUG) where entered both maintenance vessels, and the battle ships - they put up an unapproachable wall anti-aircraft, protivokorabelnoj and anti-submarine defence, and also carried out prospecting functions.

Too notably

Oppose to America in this sense something similar to the USSR could not, especially taking into account N.S.Khruschev's known position which has refused to develop carrier-based fleet, entirely relying on nuclear-missile power. However to the powerful American Navy anybody could not remove an opposition problem from the agenda - and if at the USA were AUG, should appear and means of strife with them. Possibility was required is reserved to steal up to AUG on not so short distance and to strike a blow. For this purpose is better the submarines equipped with cruise missiles approached.


In 1959 on arms the first has been accepted Soviet protivokorabelnaja cruise missile P-5 created within the precincts of ОКБ-52 under the direction of V.N.Chelomeja and intended for starts from submarines­. The rocket flied with transsonic speed on range to 500 km and could carry with itself BCH in weight to 1 t, including the nuclear. The problem was only in one - П-5 started only from surface position, and emersion is already a detection of camouflage. Other decision Was required.

"Legend" is necessary

By developing a cruise missile - «murderers of aircraft carriers­» - in ОКБ-52 have started cruise missile working out ­ in 1969, and it has been taken into service in 1983. The rocket has received name П-700 "Granite". It could be launched from under water from the inclined containers established at an angle 60 °. Before start the container filled with sea water to balance a difference of pressure, and then the accelerator pushed out the rocket to a water surface where already began work the mid-flight engine. П-700 flied on a supersound (2,5) on distance to 600 km, and at flight on the maximum range at first rose on the big height (for decrease in front resistance), locked on the target a homing head (GSN), and then went down to a sea surface. There it moved to the purpose at midget height that complicated its detection by radars of the probable opponent. And at a rocket volley could be built in some kind of "flight" - a spatial configuration with distribution of the purposes in structure AUG.« The granite »intended for equipment of nuclear submarines of the project 949 (« the Granite "and" Antej »), the cities which have received the name of Soviet Union, - among them sad memory К-141"Kursk". Besides, П-700 established and on the surface ships.

"Granite" represented certainly more serious threat AUG, than the previous versions protivokorabelnyh rockets, but also here there was a problem. At shooting from the big range GSN of the rocket could not lock on independently the target so, the weapon demanded an additional target designation. AUG moves with a great speed and regularly changes a current of traffic: to shoot at random is not present the slightest sense. Aircraft DRLO in case of the conflict will be immediately attacked by means AUG, and whence to it to undertake at open ocean, especially at practical absence of own carrier-based fleet. The target designation could be organised only from space. For the decision of this problem in the same ОКБ-52 (later «NPO Mechanical engineering») in parallel with "Granite" working out there was a creation of system of global sea space investigation and a target designation (MKRTS "Legend"). Within the limits of system it was supposed to create grouping of companions which continuously would scan the World ocean on purpose «bespropusknoj all-weather investigation and reception of the information on surface target conditions».


The companion with an active radar-location the MOUSTACHE had the nuclear reactor coupled to the thermoelectric generator as electroenergy installation.

Drama over Canada

Companions should conduct investigation by means of a radar-location, and the MOUSTACHE (the operated companion active) became the first-born of system. The word "active" concerned a way of a radar-location of the World ocean - similar to a pencil (the cylinder with the concentrated termination) the companion irradiated a surface of ocean of the long, speaking on behalf fodder unit with the aerial and accepted the reflected signal. As the active radar demanded a significant amount of energy and should function both by the light of the Sun, and in a shade of the Earth, designers have decided to refuse solar batteries. As the power supply have decided to use the nuclear energy installation БЭС-5 "Beech" including the reactor on fast neutrons БР-5А. Warm, allocated with the reactor, it was transformed to an electricity not through steam, the turbine and the classical electrogenerator (as it occurs on the atomic power station), and it is direct - by means of elements from thermoelectric materials. The first companion of this series under the name "Kosmos-102" has been launched in 1965 - truth, instead of the reactor onboard there was a gabaritno-weight breadboard model. Tests proceeded till 1975 when the MOUSTACHE, at last, has been taken into service.

The radar the MOUSTACHE had the low permission and consequently the orbit on which it should work, has been defined enough low - only 265 km. After operation term the basic unit of the companion burnt down in atmosphere, and the reactor was withdrawn into a high orbit where could be years 200−300. After this term it any more did not represent radioactive threat. And nevertheless the nuclear power-plant in such low orbit was a dangerous invention. On September, 18th, 1977 the companion the MOUSTACHE ("Kosmos-954") nekontroliruemo has descended from an orbit and has fallen to territory of Canada. Failure has had on sparsely populated territories, victims were not, but Canada and its allies on the NATO should use this occasion to make to Soviet Union diplomatic scandal. Starts have interrupted for three years and have renewed already in 1980 after careful completion in respect of radiating safety­. Nevertheless in 1982 one more companion has fallen - fortunately, in ocean, instead of to a land. At last, in 1988, at the height of reorganisation, the USSR has met new friends from the West, and the nuclear MOUSTACHE has gone to history.


УС-А. The operated companion of active supervision

  • Average height of a working orbit - 265 km;
  • Orbit inclination-65 degrees;
  • Weight - 4150 kg;
  • Onboard source of power supplies - nuclear power installation;
  • Electric capacity - 3,5 kw;
  • The engine - ZHRD reusable inclusion.


УС-П the Operated companion of a passive radar-location

  • Average height of a working orbit - 440 km;
  • Orbit inclination - 65 degrees;
  • Weight - 2500 kg;
  • Onboard source of power supplies - solar power installation;
  • The engine - ZHRD reusable inclusion.


A series of the Russian nuclear submarines - the project 949 ("Granite" and "Antej")

  • The main mission of a class - destruction of carrier-based shock connections
  • Arms: 12 coupled launching sites PKR "Granite", 28 torpedoes

Openwork weaving

The MOUSTACHE-ITEM the Letter "P" as it is possible to guess became newer and perfect device in system MKRTS, meant a passive radar-location. The MOUSTACHE-P did not irradiate ocean, and carried out problems of radio investigation, taking the bearings and identifying the surface purposes on work of their radio means. On this companion there was no «a peace atom», and for power supply panels of solar batteries answered. The MOUSTACHE-P was easier, than the MOUSTACHE (2800 kg against 4150), and worked further from the Earth, in an orbit of 440 km, having thus higher permission of a radar, than the companion with an active location. Radar aerials were the most interesting element the MOUSTACHE-P. They represented an openwork texture of set of the elements which had among themselves sharnirnye connections, and in a starting time were cleaned in the small container. The first flight has made the companion in 1974 and worked to the middle 2000. In 2007 last MOUSTACHE-P ("Kosmos-2421"), according to NASA, has collapsed in an orbit (Russia has not confirmed this data, having declared only a conclusion of the device from operation). On it the Soviet resource has been depleted also "Legend" definitively became a legend.

Heavenly "Liana"

However it is impossible to tell that on it the history of the Russian sea space investigation has come to the end. Since 1993 work on the system of the new generation which have received the name "Liana" has begun. Originally it should consist of four companions of radar-tracking investigation "the Lotus-with", created in cooperation Moscow TSNIRTI, TSSKB "Progress" (Samara) and the Petersburg factory "Arsenal" (he participated as well in works over MKRTS). Companions will fly in an orbit in height of an order of 1000 km. It is informed, what even at such height radars of companions possess much higher permission, than devices MKRTS, and can distinguish objects in the size from 1 m. "Liana" will to work not only on the sea, but also overland, having incurred also functions of Soviet system "Virgin soil". Subsequently "liana" will add with companions "Peonies-nks". For today into an orbit two "Lotuses-with" so "Liana" is while at a formation stage are deduced.

Oleg Makarov


Tags: Russia , innovation , USA , AME

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