The Soviets reasoned that Western navies could be kept out of the fight if faced with saturation attacks using supersonic Kh-22 and KSR-5 Anti-Ship Cruise Missiles. Happily enough this was never put to the test, as we have since then learned that the Soviet bombers, support jamming EW systems and ASCMs generally performed better than we had thought, and their ASCMs had far more lethal warheads than believed during the Cold War period. The Force Awakens: Volume 2 PDF study of the AV-MF reconnaissance, targeting and strike force, its strategy and doctrine remains relevant today.
Författare: Chuck Wendig.
In the strategic context it is because China and India have both adopted the Soviet force structure and doctrinal model. In the technical context it is because most of the systems available today in the market are evolved variants or descendants of these Soviet designs. China’s new „Second Island Chain“ strategy envisages the development of a significant strategic bomber force, intended to control the seas out to the Japan-Guam-Australia-Andamans arc, and hold at risk any basing within this arc. The aircraft available to the PLA to implement this strategy are much the same as used by the Soviets in their grand play: Tupolev Badgers, Bears and Backfires. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, a considerable volume of hitherto classified technical material has emerged on numerous Russian websites, and the US DoD has progressively been digitising its mammoth archive of photographic materials. Exploiting this windfall of open source materials, APA is pleased to present this short briefing package on this topic.
The Russian Badger fleet vanished during the 1990s, as the cost of maintaining it was no longer justified. During its service life it spawned more specialised variants and subtypes than any other bomber ever built. Another open issue is the PLA’s future path in ASCMs. Until now the PLA’s primary focus has been on the development and deployment of subsonic Tomahawk-like missile airframes, suitable for land attack and anti-shipping strike, but lacking the speed and knockout punch of the Cold War era Soviet ASCMs.
AS-6 Kingfish supersonic ASCMs carried by the AV-MF Badgers. It is known many were used up as drone targets. We should not disregard the future possibility of the PLA adopting the former Soviet Kh-22 and KSR-5 missile designs, as both run on the same propellant mix as the PLA’s large warstock of Styx derived Silkworms. Integrating the KSR-5 on the H-6, suffice to say, is not a difficult engineering task, one which Raduga and Tupolev would no doubt relish performing. Whether we consider new build or refurbished and upgraded Kh-22 and KSR-5 rounds, we are confronted with formidable weapons.
Modern digital guidance systems and radar or anti-radiation seekers, more refined midcourse autopilot algorithms, and improved propellants would result in weapons with greater range and lethality than the analogue originals. The 5,900 kg launch weight Kh-22 and 4,500 kg launch weight KSR-5 remain the benchmark for lethality in ASCMs. The last round of block upgrades on the Kh-22 series saw the adoption of a 900 kg shaped charge warhead. Another technology which has recently matured are thermobaric warheads, which the Russians have trialled in a range of weapons, including at least one ASCM type. Soviet tactics envisaged not only saturation fire with large numbers of Kh-22 and KSR-5 ASCMs converging on their targets simultaneously, but also intensive jamming support provided by specialised Badger variants, equipped in the manner of the US Navy EA-6B Prowler and US Air Force EF-111A Raven with high power tactical jamming suites, based on the „Azaliya“ and later „Buket“ systems.
A final note is that the PLA is still in the early stages of building up its new force structure, and we should not be surprised should further items of advanced Russian technology of this ilk appear in the future PLA orbat. The Tu-95RTs Bear D Reconnaissance and Targeting platform was a specialised variant of the Tu-95 Bear A which emerged during the mid 1960s. X-band acquisition and guidance radar, which was used to target ASCMs launched by Soviet warships and submarines. The Bear D remained in service until the early 1990s, when it was replaced with satellite technology.
KM Bear C strike aircraft was the first cruise missile carrier variant of the Bear, developed during the late 1950s to attack strategic targets and opposing naval forces. Its primary weapon was the large Mach 1. F adaptors were installed to carry the Kh-22. The Kh-20 semiconformal weapon bay was altered to fit the BD-45F, and wing root pylons were introduced to mount a pair of BD-45K, for a total warload of up three rounds. The Tu-95MR Bear E was a reconnaissance and intelligence gathering variant introduced during the early 1960s. They were progressively converted to trainers by the 1980s, as the newer Tu-142 and Tu-95RTs subsumed their role. The Tu-142 Bear F is the largest LRMP and ASW aircraft ever built, and one of the highest performing.