Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
August 02, 2021

Why Hypersonic Missiles Are Real Game Changers - by Gordog

A Technical Look at the Science Behind the Headlines

by Gordog

The Americans are now crying ‘uncle’ about Russia’s hypersonic weapons. After the most recent flight test of the scramjet-powered Zircon cruise missile, the Washington Post on July 11 carried a Nato statement of complaint:

"Russia’s new hypersonic missiles are highly destabilizing and pose significant risks to security and stability across the Euro-Atlantic area," the statement said.

At the same time, talks have begun on the ‘strategic dialog’ between the US and Russia, as agreed at the June 16 Geneva Summit of the two presidents. The two sides had already agreed to extend the START treaty on strategic weapons that has been in effect for a decade, but, notably, it was the US side that initiated the summit—perhaps spurred by the deployment of the hypersonic, intercontinental-range Avangard missile back in 2019, when US weapons inspectors were present, as per START, to inspect the Avangard as it was lowered into its missile silos.

But what exactly is a hypersonic missile—and why is it suddenly such a big deal?

We all remember when Vladimir Putin announced these wonder weapons in his March 2018 address to his nation [and the world]. The response from the US media was loud guffaws about ‘CGI’ cartoons and Russian ‘wishcasting.’ Well, neither Nato nor the Biden team are guffawing now. Like the five stages of grief, the initial denial phase has slowly given way to acceptance of reality—as Russia continues deploying already operational missiles, like the Avangard and the air-launched Kinzhal, now in Syria, as well as finishing up successful state trials of the Zircon, which is to be operationally deployed aboard surface ships and submarines, starting in early 2022. And in fact, there are a whole slew of new Russian hypersonic missiles in the pipeline, some of them much smaller and able to be carried by ordinary fighter jets, like the Gremlin aka GZUR.

The word hypersonic itself means a flight regime above the speed of Mach 5. That is simple enough, but it is not only about speed. More important is the ability to MANEUVER at those high speeds, in order to avoid being shot down by the opponent’s air defenses. A ballistic missile can go much faster—an ICBM flies at about 6 to 7 km/s, which is about 15,000 mph, about M 25 high in the atmosphere. [Mach number varies with temperature, so it is not an absolute measure of speed. The same 15,000 mph would only equal M 20 at sea level, where the temperature is higher and the speed of sound is also higher.]

But a ballistic missile flies on a straightforward trajectory, just like a bullet fired from a barrel of a gun—it cannot change direction at all, hence the word ballistic.

This means that ballistic missiles can, in theory, be tracked by radar and shot down with an interceptor missile. It should be noted here that even this is a very tough task, despite the straight-line ballistic trajectory. Such an interception has never been demonstrated in combat, not even with intermediate-range ballistic missiles [IRBMs], of the kind that the DPRK fired off numerous times, sailing above the heads of the US Pacific Fleet in the Sea of Japan, consisting of over a dozen Aegis-class Ballistic Missile Defense ships, designed specifically for the very purpose of shooting down IRBMs.

Such an interception would have been a historic demonstration of military technology—on the level of the shock and awe of Hiroshima! But no interception was ever attempted by those ‘ballistic missile defense’ ships, spectating as they were, right under the flight paths of the North Korean rockets!

The bottom line is that hitting even a straight-line ballistic missile has never been successfully demonstrated in actual practice. It is a very hard thing to do.

Consider that a modern combat rifle with a high-velocity cartridge can fire a bullet at a speed of about 1,200 meters per second [1.2 km/s]. That is barely one fifth the speed of an ICBM warhead, and only about half the speed of a short or intermediate-range ballistic missile. Clearly, intercepting anything that flies double or even five times the speed of a rifle bullet is going to be a daunting task. [Note from our previous discussion on the space race and the technicalities of orbital flight, that the ICBM does not reach orbital velocity, but flies on a suborbital trajectory—although it does exit the atmosphere].

Between the two, speed and maneuvering, the latter is much more effective in evading defensive interception.

We know this from many actual battlefield results. When the US launched large salvoes of subsonic Tomahawk cruise missiles at Syria in 2017 and again in 2018, a number of them were intercepted by Syrian air defenses. But not nearly all. Many did get through despite the T-Hawk’s relatively slow speed of about 500 mph, which is only about M 0.7. But the cruise missile’s ability to fly low to the ground and maneuver in flight, changing direction constantly, make it a tough target to hit. Likewise in the Falklands War, the Argentines used subsonic and fairly short-range, French-made Exocet sea-skimming cruise missiles to sink several large British warships, including a then-state-of-the-art Royal Navy destroyer, HMS Sheffield.

Even bird hunters know this, and will use a shotgun that scatters many pellets over a wide area rather than a bullet-firing rifle to take down slow-flying, but maneuvering, land and waterfowl! Obviously, if you combine high speed WITH maneuvering, you will have a missile that is going to be very difficult to stop. [If not impossible, with something like the Avangard, which reaches ICBM speeds of up to M 25!].

But let’s lower our sights a little from ICBMs and IRBMs [and even subsonic cruise missiles] to a quite ancient missile technology, the Soviet-era Scud, first introduced into service in 1957! A recent case with a Houthi Scud missile fired at Saudi Arabia in December 2017 shows just how difficult missile interception really is:

At around 9 p.m…a loud bang shook the domestic terminal at Riyadh’s King Khalid International Airport.

‘There was an explosion at the airport,’ a man said in a video taken moments after the bang. He and others rushed to the windows as emergency vehicles streamed onto the runway.

Another video, taken from the tarmac, shows the emergency vehicles at the end of the runway. Just beyond them is a plume of smoke, confirming the blast and indicating a likely point of impact.

The Houthi missile, identified as an Iranian-made Burqan-2 [a copy of a North Korean Scud, itself a copy of a Chinese copy of the original Russian Scud from the 1960s], flew over 600 miles before hitting the Riyadh international airport. The US-made Patriot missile defense system fired FIVE interceptor shots at the missile—all of them missed!

Laura Grego, a missile expert at the Union of Concerned Scientists, expressed alarm that Saudi defense batteries had fired five times at the incoming missile.

‘You shoot five times at this missile and they all miss? That's shocking,’ she said. ‘That's shocking because this system is supposed to work.’

Ms Grego knows what she’s talking about—she holds a physics doctorate from Caltech and has worked in missile technology for many years. Not surprisingly, American officials first claimed the Patriot missiles had done their job and shot the Scud down. This was convincingly debunked in the extensive expert analysis that ran in the NYT: Did American Missile Defense Fail in Saudi Arabia?

This was not the first time that Patriot ‘missile defense’ against this supposedly obsolete missile failed spectacularly:

On February 25, 1991, an Iraqi Scud hit the barracks in Dharan, Saudi Arabia, killing 28 soldiers from the U.S. Army's 14’th Quartermaster Detachment.

A government investigation revealed that the failed intercept at Dhahran had been caused by a software error in the system's handling of timestamps. The Patriot missile battery at Dhahran had been in operation for 100 hours, by which time the system's internal clock had drifted by one-third of a second. Due to the missile's speed this was equivalent to a miss distance of 600 meters.

Whether this explanation is factual or not, the Americans’ initial claims of wild success in downing nearly all of the 80 Iraqi Scuds launched, was debunked by MIT physicist Theodore Postol, who concluded that no missiles were in fact intercepted!

As the missile experts in the NYT point out:

Shooting down Scud missiles is difficult, and governments have wrongly claimed success against them in the past.

Governments have overstated the effectiveness of missile defenses in the past, including against Scuds. During the first Gulf War, the United States claimed a near-perfect record in shooting down Iraqi variants of the Scud. Subsequent analyses found that nearly all the interceptions had failed.

Why is shooting down Scuds so difficult? Because this was arguably the world’s first hypersonic missile [it flies at M 5 and does MANEUVER]!

If we take a closer look at this missile, we see that it is propelled nearly throughout its entire flight. This is the key. The warhead only separates from the missile body a few miles [mere seconds], before reaching its target. That missile body contains a means for maneuvering the missile, by means of thrust vector—using graphite paddles that move into and out of the rocket engine exhaust stream, as seen here. So it will be jinking and jibing as it enters the terminal phase of flight—making it a very hard target to radar track and shoot down!

Once the warhead separates, the spent missile body falls harmlessly to the ground, as it did just outside the Riyadh airport, landing on a nearby street. It is this now uselessly falling body that could be locked onto by air defense radars and hit by interceptor missiles—while the warhead itself sails unobstructed overhead.

The only real problem with those ancient Scuds was their accuracy. They could be off by hundreds of meters. But of course, accuracy and missile guidance systems have come a long way since then. The modern successor to the Scud, the Russian truck-launched Iskander, has an accuracy of about 5 meters! It too, is really a hypersonic missile that reaches M 7, but has a range of only 500 km—which was dictated by the now-defunct INF treaty, from which the Trump administration unilaterally withdrew.

The Russian Iskander-M cruises at hypersonic speed of 2,100–2,600 m/s [Mach 6–7] at a height of 50 km. The Iskander-M weighs 4,615 kg carries a warhead of 710–800 kg, has a range of 480 km and achieves a CEP [circular error probable] of 5–7 meters. During flight it can maneuver at different altitudes and trajectories to evade anti-ballistic missiles.

Iskander is generally described, at least in the west, as a ‘quasi-ballistic’ missile. But ‘quasi’ or not, the US considers the Iskander a very dangerous weapon, and a type of weapon which it does not yet possess. In fact, the US’ attempts to develop its very first hypersonic missile have been rather slow out of the blocks. Its first flight test attempt with the proposed Lockheed-Martin AGM183 [aka ARRW] in April of this year, did not even manage to release the rocket from the wing of the B52 carrier! The second attempt, on July 29, managed to get the rocket to release, but the engine failed to fire!

Clearly the US is many years away from fielding a working hypersonic missile. These early tests were only supposed to test the rocket, and carried a dummy ‘glide vehicle’ which is supposed to separate from the rocket once it reaches a speed of about M 6 or so, and then glide to its target while maneuvering.

The prototype missile would carry a frangible surrogate for that [glide] vehicle that would disintegrate after release.

However, it is unclear how an unpowered gliding body is going to accomplish aerodynamic maneuvering INSIDE the atmosphere. The concept of boost-glide, which is used by Avangard, works by hoisting the glide vehicle up above the atmosphere, at ICBM speed, where the ‘glider’ can then skip off the upper layers of the atmosphere like a flat pebble skipping over the surface of a still pond.

The overall flight range of AGM183 is a claimed 1,000 miles [1,600 km]. Clearly such a short-range missile, and reaching a speed of only about M 8 at most [based on statements of reaching its target in a flight time of 10 to 12 minutes] is not going to be able to use the boost-glide means of maneuvering, which requires exiting the atmosphere.

The Technical Deep Dive (If you are not inclined to follow technical details jump to the conclusions.)

So let’s look at Russian hypersonic technology in a little more detail, so that we may understand more than just what the technically-challenged media are telling us. From what the Russian military has already fielded, we can see that hypersonic missiles come in all shapes and sizes. Some, like Avangard, are launched by powerful ICBM rockets and have ICBM-like striking range. Others, like Zircon, are more like a Tomahawk or Kalibr cruise missile, powered by an air-breathing engine, and able to aerodynamically maneuver throughout their flight to the target—but flying about ten times faster.

Others, like Kinzhal, which appears to be an evolution of the Iskander [itself an evolution of the Scud] are powered by relatively small rockets and are designed to maneuver gas-dynamically [thrust vectoring], again, during all phases of flight, right up to the target.

These are the three primary types for purposes of basic classification. They all fly very fast [up to M 25 for Avangard], but they use different propulsion systems, and different means of maneuvering. Let’s begin with the Kinzhal, since we already understand the basics of how a Scud or Iskander works. In the case of Kinzhal, it is launched from a very high speed and height by a MiG31 interceptor aircraft, which is designed to fly up to 1,500 km at a cruising speed of M 2.4, at a height of about 20 km.

By carrying even an unmodified Iskander up to this speed and height, its range could easily double, to about 1,000 km—since the rocket chemical energy required to reach that height and speed would be saved, and could be expended on increasing its flight range.

The range given for Kinzhal is 2,000 km, but it is not clear if that includes the flight range of the MiG31 carrier aircraft. My guess would be that it does. The MiG has a combat radius of over 700 km at its M 2.4 cruise speed. That means that after release, the Kinzhal would need to fly for about 1,300 km before hitting its target—for an overall system range of 2,000 km. In fact, the MiG could fly a significant portion of its flight subsonically, saving fuel, and accelerate up to supersonic cruise speed, or even its top speed of M 2.8, only in the last couple of hundred km, before launching Kinzhal. It would then circle back and return to base subsonically again. This would increase range even more.

Either way, it is a safe bet that the overall range to a target, say a US aircraft carrier, from the takeoff point of the MiG [now deployed in Syria], is realistically going to be no less than the stated 2,000 km, if not more. This is certainly a game-changer for US naval dominance! Carrier-based aircraft would have no chance to fly far enough from their floating airfield to intercept a MiG31 launching a Kinzhal at 1,000 km or more distance from the ship. The F/A-18 has a combat radius for air-to-air missions of only 740 km. Obviously, it is not going to be able to reach the MiG launching from outside of 1,000 km.

Now let us look at the Zircon cruise missile that Nato is complaining about. So far, this missile has been successfully test-flown at target distances of up to about 450 km. The Russian MoD says its range is actually in excess of 1,000 km, and that flight tests to maximum range will be forthcoming.

This too is a game-changer. The Zircon will be carried by Russia’s new class of surface warships in the frigate or ‘small destroyer’ size, as well as on the new Yasen-class cruise missile nuclear subs that are now coming into service. These state-of-the-art subs will also carry subsonic Kalibr cruise missiles with a maximum range of 4,500 km! Combined with the air-launched Kinzhal, the US Navy will face some very stiff challenges—from the air, from the sea, and even from under the sea. It should be noted that both the Zircon and Kinzhal are not exclusively anti-ship missiles. They can just as readily target land objects, including Nato command and control centers—which Putin has said Russia will do, in the event of any kind of western aggression!

But Zircon is also a technological tour de force. The unique feature of the Zircon is its scramjet engine. This is the first time that the world has a production engine of this type—something which has long been a goal for both the US and Russia.

Not surprisingly, the Russians flew the world’s first scramjet prototype back in 1991—the Kholod, which means ‘cold’ in Russian. Remarkably, in the Yeltsin détente atmosphere of the early nineties, the Russian developers of the world’s first functional scramjet engine, the Central Institute of Aviation Motors [CIAM] invited Nasa to participate in the flight tests at the Sary Shagan test range in Kazakhstan. The results were published in the US professional literature, here, and here.

But despite this technology boost from Russia, the US has not been able to keep up. Its experiments with scramjet engines, although wildly hyped in the media, have been dormant for several years. It appears that the US has given up on the idea of building a working scramjet engine for the time being—much as they gave up, decades ago, on the idea of building a closed-cycle rocket engine, having deemed the technology ‘impossible.’

So what is a scramjet engine anyway? To fully understand this, let’s first look at how a turbojet engine works. Here is a picture that is worth a thousand words. Air enters the front of the engine and is then compressed by a number of rotating blades on a series of wheels, similar to a fan or propeller. The compressed air is then passed into the burner, or combustion chamber, where fuel is squirted in and the result is a high temperature and high-pressure gas that then drives the turbine wheels—which are bladed in a way similar to the compressor wheels up front.

The turbine wheels and compressor are on a single shaft and rotate at the same speed—so it is the energy of the gas driving the turbines, that drives the compressors. The remaining energy in the gas is squeezed out through a nozzle, which accelerates the gas flow, which, in turn, creates thrust—on the principle of Newton’s Third Law, action-reaction. The force of the fast-moving mass flow of gas out the nozzle, must be compensated by a REACTION force in the opposite direction [forward thrust], as per the conservation of momentum principle. Hence all jet engines, whether air-breathing or rocket, are called reaction engines.

[Incidentally, the heart of any liquid-fuel rocket engine is a turbopump, which is basically a gas turbine engine. It has a burner, where some amount of the fuel and oxidizer are burned, supplying gas to drive a turbine wheel or wheels, which then drive two ‘compressor’ pumps [also wheels], that pressurize the oxidizer and fuel, which is then delivered to the main combustion chamber under great pressure.]

Now what happens when you want to go very fast with a turbojet engine? Well, you basically hit a wall, due to the physics of airflow]. The faster you go, the greater the ram pressure on the front of the engine. This ram pressure [technically called dynamic pressure, or ‘Q’] is like kinetic energy—it increases by the square of speed. [KE = M x V^2 / 2; Q = rho x V^2 / 2; they are the same except mass is replaced by density, rho, since we are dealing with a flowing fluid instead of a solid particle!]

In simple terms, dynamic pressure [aka ram pressure] is what you feel on your hand when you stick your hand out the window of your car while driving on the highway.

The results of this quadratic pressure rise with speed are profound! At a typical passenger jet cruise speed of 450 knots, or M 0.8, the pressure increase from ram effect, at the front of the engine fan, is about 1.5. Also, the engine inlet must SLOW the airflow down to about M 0.5, so that the rotating blades can work efficiently.

If you increase flight speed to M 2, the pressure rise at the engine face due to ram effect is seven-fold! At this speed, you don’t even need a compressor or turbines.

This is the idea of the ramjet engine—you need no moving parts, just an air inlet that is designed to slow down the airflow to below sonic velocity, turning kinetic energy into pressure energy. The combustion chamber is simply a pipe with fuel squirters, where that compressed air is burned with fuel, and then expelled through a nozzle, exactly as on the turbojet. In fact the afterburner on supersonic fighter jets works exactly like a ramjet engine—fuel is squirted in and combusts with air that was used for cooling the combustion chamber walls upstream [only a small amount of air is burned in a turbojet engine, with air to fuel ratios of over 50, compared to about 15 for a car engine.] An illustration of an afterburner shows the simple basic geometry.

But the ramjet hits a speed limit too, just like the turbojet. In both cases it has to do with the falling efficiency of the engine inlet at higher speeds: more of the kinetic energy of the high-speed airflow is converted into heat, rather than usable pressure. In a turbojet, the heat limit is reached by about Mach 3, when the heat of that incoming air exceeds the materials limit of the compressor blades. In the ramjet, eliminating those unneeded blades and all the other moving parts raises the temperature limit to a much higher value—so flight up to about Mach 5 is possible.

Above those speeds, the Ramjet faces a different kind of problem. As flight speeds continue to increase, the efficiency of turning that kinetic energy into pressure continues to decrease steeply. This pressure loss is due to a series of shockwaves generated by slowing down the airflow in the engine inlet passage, upstream of the combustion chamber. The biggest shockwave and biggest pressure loss happens when the flow finally transitions to below sonic velocity. This is called the normal shockwave, because it is perpendicular [normal] to the inlet wall, as seen in this illustration of a supersonic inlet and its shockwaves.

So the speed limit comes because most of that ram pressure is not recoverable—it is simply dissipated into heat by the inlet shockwaves.

Enter the scramjet. Here, the flow is never actually slowed to below sonic velocity. That’s why it’s called a SCramjet, for supersonic combustion—the airflow through the combustion chamber is well above Mach 1, perhaps closer to Mach 2. By comparison, the flow in a turbojet enters the burner at just M 0.2, ten times slower—and in the afterburner and ramjet, it is about M 0.5.

This solves the speed limit issue of not having any more pressure energy available. But it comes with HUGE challenges. At a flight speed of M 6 or 7, the craft is moving at a speed of about 2,000 m/s. The main challenge is the flame front speed of combustion. Even if it took only one hundredth of a second to combust the air-fuel mixture, it would require a combustion chamber 20 meters long! That is hardly practical of course, but is in line with the flame propagation speed of aviation kerosene. That is why the afterburner jetpipes on supersonic aircraft are several meters long.

So we see that each type of airbreathing engine, turbojet, ramjet and scramjet, has its own speed limit, as shown graphically here. Even the scramjet will run into a wall at some point. The vertical measure is specific impulse [ISP], which is engine efficiency, per mass of fuel burned. We see that ISP decreases the faster we go, in any type of engine—it simply means that fuel use rises much faster than flight speed!

But back to the main challenge of the scramjet, which is flame speed. This is strictly a limit of the chemical physics of fuel combustion. Hydrogen burns ten times as fast as kerosene, but is not a practical fuel—it must be cooled to near absolute zero to be liquid, and so is not storable, and cannot be launched at will without time-consuming fueling. All of the previous scramjet experimental prototypes, both US and Russian, used cryogenic liquid hydrogen fuel. But the Zircon uses a kerosene-based fuel innovation that the Russians call Detsilin-M.

The exact means by which the Russians have achieved this fuel chemistry is of course a tightly held secret, but it is clearly a remarkable breakthrough in chemical engineering—comparable to the breakthrough in materials science that led to the closed-cycle, oxygen-rich staged combustion rocket engine in the 1960s [which the US still has not demonstrated].

In a previous discussion here, the technically-inclined commenter and longtime gyroplane pilot PeterAU1, dug up some interesting material about ‘doping’ kerosene with certain additives to enhance flame front speed. But the technicalities of that subject are beyond the scope of this relatively brief introductory discussion. [Although I’m sure we may hear more in the comments section!]


The bottom line is that the Zircon represents not only a formidable and very deadly weapon—but it is indicative of the engineering capabilities of the Russian aerospace industry. It is an impressive achievement that is in fact groundbreaking. As mentioned already, Zircon is only the beginning of scramjet engine use by the Russian military. The next generation of such missiles, like the already mentioned Gremlin, will be even smaller and more capable in range and speed. At some point in the future, we may even see scramjet engines on superfast civil aircraft—but that is probably a long way off yet.

An even bigger engineering accomplishment is the astonishing Avangard boost-glide vehicle. But I will leave that remarkable story for another discussion.

The bottom line is that these new Russian technologies are in fact tilting the global military balance going forward. They are game-changing because they are UNSTOPPABLE with today’s air defense technology. Just like the Plains Indians couldn’t hope to stop, with their bows and arrows, the US cavalry with their repeating rifles.

Even more profound may be the psychological effect that Russia’s engineering accomplishments must be exerting on the American psyche, which is used to assuming that they have the smartest engineers and make the best military hardware.

That is demonstrably NOT the case anymore.

And that may be the biggest game-changer of all!

Posted by b on August 2, 2021 at 10:15 UTC | Permalink

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Blues @ 195:

Glad you like the article!

On the subject of MAD, I agree that is still in force. But at some point in the future, actual and perhaps even reliable interception of ICBMs may indeed be possible, for the simple reason that they don't maneuver. That would kill MAD.

Anyway, as mentioned already, I plan to do a deep dive on air and missile defense, and I think that will give folks a little more perspective.

Your comments about space-based Again, a lot of technical issues here, and it doesn't work anything like folks imagine. Yet another subject to thoroughly explore.

Posted by: Gordog | Aug 4 2021 16:01 utc | 201

@Gordog | Aug 4 2021 15:52 utc | 198

Btw, what subject would you [and others] like to see next? I was thinking about a deep dive on air and missile defense, but there is also the stealth thing, which is very interesting. 😺

Thanks for the follow up! What I like about this stuff is that it teaches me things I don't already know, and you do it in a way I can follow (at least to some extent), and that's really great. So I would like to be taught some more :-) I think you should follow your instinct/interest and talk about what you believe is important, and perhaps isn't commonly known or understood. I know next to nothing about stealth, so at least there is an opportunity for me to learn there :-D And yes, missile defense I vote for as well because it seems so over hyped and still central to US military doctrines these days.

Yes, we might tolerate the Gorbie talk, but then I might bore the audience with the story about him causing my plane-to-get-married getting cancelled because we could not park next to his plane-to-pick-up-nobel-price in 1991....

Anyway, please continue as you have started!

Posted by: Norwegian | Aug 4 2021 16:22 utc | 202

@ 198 gordog... your insight, and generousity are noted.... i appreciate your response to norwegians smarmy attitude on those of us talking about gorbachev and the wider relevance of all this here... it is essentially understanding history better to bring us to a better understanding of why russia and the world finds itself at this particular juncture which is very specific to the topic on hypersonic missiles that you articulate so well.. so, thanks!

@ jackrabbit... i really don't think galerkin and you are that far removed from each others viewpoint! going on memory, i recall harvard university had written up the plan for the transition of russia to a neoliberal country in the same mold as the west.. but somewhere along the line some people in russia in positions of power saw how they were being screwed royally... so, over the course of the past 30 years ( maybe the last 20 in particular), they have created a society and culture that is more independent and respectful of their past then many could have imagined.. and they are a proud people too, capable of much.. the hypersonic missiles speak to this directly.. no matter how russia got here, got here it did!! i am not sure if i am being given another round of all star wrestling, or it is the real thing.. i think it is the real thing and this chasm in the powerful on planet earth is real, as opposed to made up..

Posted by: james | Aug 4 2021 16:24 utc | 203

@JackRabbit #197
I've done a lot of reading, over the years, on the ways by which different oligarchs amassed their fortunes.
It is 100% clear that there was no planning of any kind. It was a bunch of incompetent assholes in titular power, listening to another bunch of incompetent assholes from the West, both being manipulated by bankster and wannabe bankster assholes for profit.

Nor was the collapse was pre-ordained.

The failure of will at the very top disenchanted everyone in the system. It is like an army about to fight a battle, but its general declares that "we're all going to lose and die" first.

Yes, the USSR had problems - but let's not forget that the US had its own problems not long before. We can see the impact of leadership (or lack thereof) precisely in situations like this.

Gorbachev's successor, Yeltsin, was a drunken idiot who took Western money and bumbled about so badly that he had to institute a coup to stay in power. Was Yeltsin a strong leader to motivate the Russian government/bureaucracy? I would say not.

Yet throughout this whole situation, there were groups in Russia who retained cohesion and also retained a desire to preserve Nassha Rassiya, as opposed to the groups seeking gain for its own sake. The patriotism and honor of many/most Russians is not to be underestimated.

Is Putin a saint? History will judge. Yes, he has a brother-in-law on the Gazprom board. Yes, he certainly enjoys expensive watches and hanging out in fancy palaces or yachts owned by oligarchs.

But so what? Neither Americans nor Russians (nor Chinese) care about leaders enjoying the perks of fame and power if they actually do a good job. Putin's plan to restore Russia didn't appear out of thin air - he wrote it in his post-graduate thesis: the use of energy - oil and natural gas - as the basis by which Russia would regain its place in the world stage.

As far as I can tell, Putin is still keeping in mind his mandate to improve Russia and the lot of its people. Can the same be said for any American president going back until Eisenhower?

Posted by: c1ue | Aug 4 2021 16:33 utc | 204

But the Zircon uses a kerosene-based fuel innovation that the Russians call Detsilin-M.

The exact means by which the Russians have achieved this fuel chemistry is of course a tightly held secret, but it is clearly a remarkable breakthrough in chemical engineering—

I found a 2016 article about Detsilin-M
3M22 Zirkon Hypersonic Anti-Ship Missiles to Give Russian Navy Pivotal Advantage

According to Russian Deputy Defense Minister Dmitry Bulgakov, completely new fuel Detsilin-M was designed in Russia for hypersonic cruise missiles. "Russian army has been supplied in recent years with Detsilin-M fuel which expands the range of strategic cruise missiles by 250-300 km. It will be used as fuel for jet engines of new hypersonic strategic cruise missiles", he said.

That seems to confirm what you are saying, i.e. that the Detsilin-M is indeed used for hypersonic cruise missiles and the secret of the scramjet is in the fuel, i.e. how fast it burns.

Posted by: Norwegian | Aug 4 2021 17:37 utc | 205

Gordog @ 198

Thanks for the informative articles and follow up comments.

An article on stealth would be great for the simple fact that whilst some US military pundits admit that Russia’s missiles and missile defense is far more advanced than anything in the west, they downplay the significance of this by stating that the F22 will simply take out such batteries due to it stealth technology that will evade air defense.

If you can clarify what is stealth and how it actually works and can it really evade detection, can the Russians shoot the F22/B2 out the sky then it truly is game set and match to the Russians.

All the US would have left is the nuclear triage(which explains why the want to spend $1T to upgrade it as that is all they have left.

Posted by: Down South | Aug 4 2021 17:40 utc | 206

S.P. Korolev @ 189:

Yes, the Rockdyne RS25 Shuttle engine is indeed a closed-cycle engine.

But there is a big difference. Because it's a hydrogen-fuel engine, the turbopump can be run with a fuel-rich mixture, because hydrogen will burn cleanly.

You can't to do this on a hydrocarbon engine [kerosene], because you won't have combustion if your fuel-to-oxygen mixture is too rich. So you have to run an oxygen-rich turbopump.

And here is the big problem---and it's a doozy. If you've ever had hands-on experience with gas welding equipment you may have had the chance to use the cutting torch head. This has a lever on the handle that you squeeze for a huge burst of extra oxygen.

Once you've heated up the steel plate or whatever with the normal fuel mixture, you then squeeze the oxygen and the thing just melts like candle wax---blowing big holes in very thick steel like it was styrofoam!

So that is the big challenge that you don't have in a fuel-rich turbopump. Those burner walls, and especially the rotating turbine wheels are going to be blasted with the equivalent of a cutting torch!

It's no wonder that US engineers deemed it 'impossible' and closed the books on the idea. But the Russians, in their typical, 'nothing is impossible' attitude, just went ahead and solved the metallurgy.

So the bottom line is that neither the BE4 nor Raptor is far enough along for outsiders to be able to tell just where they are on the learning curve.

Now I should also explain how a closed cycle engine works, and why it's a big deal. As mentioned in the article, the turbopump is simply a gas turbine engine, in principle, very much like those you will find in aircraft engines and other applications.

This creates exhaust gases, so what do you do with those? The simplest method is just to dump that exhaust overboard, exiting through an exhaust pipe that runs beside the bell-shaped thrust chamber.

Now, obviously that fuel and oxidizer you just burned in the turbopump burner is just going to waste and adding nothing to your engine output.

What if you could run that exhaust from the turbopump into the main combustion chamber just above the bell nozzle?

Well, obviously you would be adding a lot of mass flow, which means more thrust, since thrust = mass flow x gas velocity.

Also you could make the turbopump a lot more powerful, having the 'compressors' [in liquid-handling they are technically called pumps] impart a MUCH greater pressure to the fuel and oxidizer. As already mentioned pressure is the coin of the realm in any heat engine---because only pressure energy can be converted to work energy in an engine. The heat added by combustion, only INCREASES the amount of work that pressure can do!

So you have two big benefits: more mass flow [just like the ejector that takes in ambient air and routes it into the exhaust stream]. And you also have much higher pressure.

Just to show the numbers: the Russian closed cycle engines are making near 4,000 psi at the chamber [it's actually much higher at the pump output, but a lot of pressure is scrubbed off due to fuel being circulated through cooling passages in the thrust chamber bell].

That's nearly FOUR times the chamber pressure of the Rocketdyne F1 that powered the Saturn V. SpaceX claims its Merlin is up to about 1,300 psi---but as with anything SpaceX, I take it with a grain of salt, since they publish absolutely nothing in the professional literature.

So just to explain what happens next. If you were to just run that fully burned exhaust from the turbopump into the combustion chamber, it would just make massive problems. You can see in that picture, the black diesel-like smoke coming out of that turbopump exhaust pipe. Kerosene is simply a more refined diesel, btw.

It's just like the turbojet afterburner I mentioned in the article. It wouldn't work unless you had a lot of AIR coming out of the turbine exhaust---with which the afterburner can mix additional fuel and have combustion.

So that is why you need a fuel-rich mixture in the turbopump burner to have the closed cycle, which is 'closed' because every bit of fuel and oxidizer mass ends up in the combustion chamber!

Now, having closed cycle on a hydrogen engine is fine, but hydrogen is not a practical fuel for lower stages, because its density, even in cryogenic liquid form is just too low. That massive center tank on the shuttle was for the hydrogen and literally dwarfed everything else on the launch vehicle.

But those three RS25 engines only accounted for a measly 15 percent of launch thrust! Obviously, the idea of a purely hydrogen launch vehicle is pure silliness! Imagine the air drag when you hit maximum Q [dynamic pressure]. It would probably hit a wall and simply stop climbing, lol!

The RS25, like the F1 kerosense engine, also had big problems with combustion instability. On both, the problem was brought under control with basically engineering bandaids---acoustic resonance chambers on the RS25.

The Russian hydrogen engine for the Energia launcher for the Buran shuttle, RD0120 was a much better engine.

It never had any issues with combustion instability, because the Russian engineers figured out that having a hemispherical injector 'plate' which is where the fuel and oxidizer squirters are placed in the combustion chamber.

It was also much simpler and cheaper---while also having slightly higher specific impulse AND chamber pressure!

Unlike the RS25 with its two-stage turbopump, the RD0120 employed a single-stage pump. Its thrust chamber cooling scheme was also a much better solution, that employed an inner and outer shell that was brazed together. These shell halves feature corrugated [wavy] surfaces, that increased flow turbulence and also increased heat transfer surface area. Brilliant, if I may say so!

US [Rocketdyne] approach to cooling that big bell nozzle was to use literally hundreds of tubes to carry the fuel coolant, and shape those tubes into the bell nozzle shape, as seen here in the interior view of the F1.

[You can also see the flat injector plate, which caused all the combustion instability problems. Those raised partitions are the bandaid that got that under control.]

Now this tube scheme is not nearly as effective at cooling as the Russian scheme with the wavy surfaces sandwiched between two shells.

The reason is simple physics of heat transfer. In a pipe, most of the flow is going through the middle, where the fuel molecules have no chance to contact the tube wall and actually transfer heat energy from the wall to the fuel. That is the heat energy that the hot exhaust is putting INTO the wall, and needs to be absorbed by the circulating fuel coolant.

There is also practically no turbulence in a straight pipe flow. Turbulence enhances heat transfer because the molecules get bounced around and most of them will end up hitting the wall and thus having an opportunity to absorb heat energy from the wall surface.

And finally, there is much more heat transfer surface area, due to the waviness. Heat transfer is largely a function of surface area: if you put a big shallow pan of water on the stove it will heat up a lot more quickly, than if you put a small deep pot with the same amount of water.

Rocketdyne copied this thrust chamber cooling design with the two shells on their subsequent RS68 engine, which is used in the Delta IV launch vehicle with very good success.

You can see that this is a gas generator engine, with the turbopump exhaust pipe sticking out at top left. But it is a very powerful engine at 750,000 pounds of thrust. It is far simpler than the super-fussy RS25.

I get a good chuckle when I read US 'science' media where they say that the Russian RD171 is the world's best rocket engine [very true], but the RS25 is supposedly the second best, lol!

Hardly! 😹

Anyway, that's almost a deep dive right there on closed cycle engines, lol!

PS: As for writing 'articles' for the US 'science' media---well, I'll take a pass on that, lol!

I'm happy right here, reaching far fewer folks, but all of them very interested in the physics and engineering of modern aerospace wonders.

Regards to all, Gordog 😺

[Yes, I'm much more a cat guy, but 'Gordog' is the nick I'm stuck with, lol. Pals from your youth can be cruel!]

Posted by: Gordog | Aug 4 2021 17:55 utc | 207

James @ 202: Thanks for your kind words. Yes, this is what makes this 'watering hole' interesting---folks can discuss in groups whatever interests them.

Remember when the teacher would have you rearrange your little desks and tell you to 'discuss among yourselves', lol? Good times!


Norwegian, thanks for the link about Detsilin-M fuel! And again, thanks for your feedback about possible discussion topics! 😺


Down South @ 205: Thanks for your vote for the stealth discussion. I will definitely do both---air and missile defense AND stealth.

Perhaps it makes more sense to do air defense first and then get into why stealth is not the answer [oops, I just gave away the bottom line, lol!] But don't worry, the real question is the why and how, and we will dive very deep!

Posted by: Gordog | Aug 4 2021 18:05 utc | 208

james @Aug4 16:24 #202: i really don't think galerkin and you are that far removed from each others viewpoint!

I disagree. galerkin believes that the transition to capitalism was desired by, instigated by, and planned for by Russian elites.

I argue that the West desired and planned for a USSR collapse (as a smart and determined adversary) and then, when it came, they did nothing to help because the collapse didn't result in the capitulation that they wanted to see.

c1ue @Aug4 16:33 #203: It is 100% clear that there was no planning of any kind.

I think you mean on the Russian side.

The fact that Yeltsin's followed Western advice (not Russian economists or planners) is a pretty good indicator that you are right.

<> <> <> <> <>

The West made a historic blunder in their post-collapse policy toward Russia and we are living through the result: a new Cold War.

They also made a historic blunder in wasting huge resources to remove Saddam (at the behest of Israel and neocon Zionists).

They compounded these mistakes with egregious social policies that are big "f*ck you" to most of us: racist policing and support for apartheid Israel; giveaways to the wealthy that have created the greatest wealth inequality in 100 years; no accountability (including a war on whistle-blowers); etc.

Some call what has occurred in the last 30 years HUBRIS. I point to the ideologies of the Empire:

  • Zionist neocolonialism along with "exceptionalism" rhetoric
    Supremacist thinking is anti-humanist and often has racist undertones
  • neoconservativism
    Government's 'noble lies' (propaganda) are OK - except those lies are often not so noble.
  • neoliberalism and neofeudalism
    This is a form of fascism, especially when it dovetails with supremacist thinking.

In some sense we should be glad for these blunders because a globally integrated power structure may not be in the best interests of humanity. When two or more power centers compete, there is more caring for lower classes and economic stagnation (from reduced competition as the powerful 'bank' their gains) is less likely.


Posted by: Jackrabbit | Aug 4 2021 18:08 utc | 209

@ Debisdead et al. "longbow révolution "
And BTW Gordog on decisive new weapons...

1/ thanks for this thread, and yes Russia is far from fighting the last war.
Speed, manoeuvrability, range & precision and mobility [of the launcher]. The  "precision missiles Revolution" + hypersonics make the heavy American "airborne & carriers chivalry" obsolete .

But don’t fix everything.

2/ At Agincourt, the English archers did not directly exterminate the French knighthood. In fact, they were retreating and their entrenched camp was naturally on the top of a hill. The French chivalry, arrogant of superiority and supremacy, attacked.
Sloping path, rain, mud... It was first the horses wounded by the arrows that disarrayed the knights and turned the charge into an infamous quagmire.Most of the French deaths were caused by blows with stick or hatchet. The British chose to take alive those who had a market value.

At any time and regardless of the technological gap, the human factor, determination, knowledge of the adversary and terrain... .. determine the outcome.
[Dien Bien Phu, Stalingrad,...]

Perhaps there is only one Gorbachev [or Yeltsin, or Brejnev....] per century.
But a team like the one solidly formed around Putin, Lavrov, Chouigou...
Not much more often either.

A question :
Speed, manoeuvrability,range & precision and mobility [of the launcher]. You need all that 5 for air & missile defense.
Possible game changers too.

Are Hypersonic missiles used by S500?

Posted by: Rêver | Aug 4 2021 18:29 utc | 210

Jackrabbit and others interested in the USSR's demise and otherworldly decade of the 1990s. IMO, the best book on the subject is Stephen Cohen's Failed Crusade: America and the Tragedy of Post-Communist Russia. Here are a few observations provided at its beginning:

"As a result of the Yeltsin era, all the fundamental sectors of our state, economic, cultural, and moral life have been destroyed or looted. We live literally amid ruins, but we pretend we have a normal life.... WE heard that great reforms were being carried out in our country. They were false reforms because they left more than half of our country's people in poverty.... What does it mean to continue these reforms? Will we continue looting and destroying Russia until nothing is left?... God forbid these reforms should continue."
Alexander Solzhenitsyn, 2000

"Can Russia count in any way upon the good sense of a country whose administration misunderstands us fantastically every time?"
Gleb Pavlovsky, advisor to President Putin, 2001

"America's Russia-watchers, with only a few exceptions, committed malpractice throughout the 1990s. In significant ways, many of them continue to do so today. The results have undermined our values and jeopardized our nation's security."
Cohen's opening paragraph, pg 7, 2nd edition.

Those self-professed as "Russia specialists" lied profusely at what they were doing since "their prescriptions, reports, and prognoses were fundamentally and predictably wrong". [My Emphasis] The drive to remake Russia in America's image goes back to the exploits of 19th century missionaries, and that embodied the Crusade's goal. Except that by 1992, the USA was neither an industrial capitalist or democratic nation--it was a Neoliberal Outlaw Empire--and deep inside the depths of its Deep State, such a transformation wasn't the goal whatsoever; rather, the opposite was true--Russia was to become completely dependent on the Outlaw US Empire as it was cut down to size, both in area and population. When looked at closely, it's no wonder Putin's main goal is to redeem Russia's people by lifting them from the poverty they were immediately subjected to by a totally unfeeling, uncaring Outlaw Empire, and to resume developing Russia. IMO, the Outlaw US Empire should consider itself extremely fortunate that Putin doesn't seek revenge for what was done to his nation and its people.

Remember 1993? Who advised Yeltsin that it was perfectly fine to send in tanks to besiege Russia's Parliament building and then open fire? CIA/Rhodes Scholar Bill Clinton, no democrat he. It wasn't just the murder by sanctions of 500,000 Iraqi children that ought to have Clinton and his team facing the gallows, but also the murder by "reforms" of millions of Soviet people throughout Eastern Europe. At that point, Yeltsin was clearly a dictator, but he was never called out for his actions; rather, he was applauded.

The USSR's demise began at its inception as a political class became Russia's newest Oligarchs who had a very separate existence from the masses once the Civil War ended. Just as the poor desire becoming rich in capitalist nations, the masses dreamed of the wealth and privileges that came from being a party member and advancing to its heights, and it wasn't long until the process of becoming a member of Russia's Communist Party was corrupted and ceased being meritocratic. To look good to those in Moscow, lower level party officials lied about accomplishments, which made proper development policy impossible to implement. But at the root lay the misinterpretation of Marx by Lenin--To become a completely Socialist nation, Capitalism needed to first have its efforts exhausted while making the masses owners of all means of production via the state, not the other way round. Failure to first build a capitalist system atop the Tsar's Feudal system, then much later transition to socialism then communism is what caused the USSR's demise. Only now is Putin doing what ought to have begun 100 years ago. And along with industrial transformation there needed to be an educational revolution since the majority of Russian's were illiterate peasants. Also required was proper land reform along with telling the peasantry why this was required and how it would lead to greater harvests and thus eliminate the specter of famine that haunted them.

Yes, It's easy to see what went wrong well after the fact. The ideologues were unbending and felt the need to insulate themselves from society. That the Tsar's secret police institution wasn't abolished was also a great error. But all of that long passed under the bridge of time, and now Putin's trying to do what should've been done.

Posted by: karlof1 | Aug 4 2021 18:38 utc | 211

Why are Israelis better at shooting down the primitive Palestinian rockets? They show not 100% accuracy, but I believe about 80%, if the media reports are to be believed. I did not read all comments in detail and I might have missed the answer to this question, so I apologize if I am making a redundant question.

Posted by: bystander04 | Aug 4 2021 18:46 utc | 212

Rêver @ 210: Thanks for your feedback and question!

Yes, many air defense interceptor missiles are by definition hypersonic for a very long time now!

But the innovation of late is in OFFENSIVE missiles, which have either been very fast, but not maneuvering [ballistic missiles]...or, very slow but maneuvering---subsonic cruise missiles like Tomahawk and Kalibr. [Although the russians have long had supersonic cruise missiles like P800 Oniks, but these top out at about Mach 3, and maybe Mach 2 down low when skimming the sea surface in targeting a ship.]

For air defense missiles, the S200 that was developed in the 1960s could reach a speed of about 2.5 km/s. That is well over mach 7. And it would of course maneuver at huge g-loads as it pursued its target aircraft. [Commenter PeterAU1 already pointed this out upthread.]

Incidentally, that old S200 can still be deadly in the right hands. The Syrians used it to shoot down an Israeli F16 at very long range in 2018. The debris landed inside Israeli territory.

This was a liquid-fuel rocket engine, but was launched with solid-fuel boosters. An astonishing piece of engineering for the time. Even today's solid-fuel air defense missiles are having a difficult time matching that performance.

The fastest air defense interceptor is the Russian 'Nudol' missile which is now in testing and designed to intercept ICBMs. It's said to reach Mach 17. From the published reports they are also able to turn at loads up to 200 g, which is incredible. A modern fighter jet will be able to sustain at most about 6 g in a banked turn!

Anyway, I will have more on a future discussion of air and missile defense.

Btw, thanks for your discussion on those old battles and horsemanship [and all the others on the old weapons technology].

This is all very relevant military technology history, and is indeed a fascinating subject [but something I do not know much about, so I appreciate learning from this discussion].

Posted by: Gordog | Aug 4 2021 18:59 utc | 213

@JackRabbit #209
I meant planning on either side.
Declassified reports make it abundantly clear that the US intel agencies were just as surprised as the Russian people by the collapse of the USSR.
I would quibble a bit about "Western advisors". It is abundantly clear that the tide of advisors into the former USSR was much like the tide of carpetbaggers into the South after the Civil War; in fact, it would not shock me if many of those carpetbaggers are descendants of the Civil War ones.
Did anything positive come out of the so-called "smart people's" planning after the 1991 collapse?
There were some positives that arose entirely due to the privatization: individuals mostly got ownership of the properties they lived in, free and clear. At least those who weren't too confused to register, those who weren't bribed or threatened, etc. But even that can be ascribed more due to the gangsters' focus on the state owned enterprises; there are well documented tales of how the gangsters aggregated votes from everyday people to gain voting majorities in a number of SOEs, so street level shakedowns were by no means unknown.
It is my firm belief that the same "end of history" bullshit that idiots like Fukuyama yammered about, was shared by those morons flooding into Russia to "help" and get rich in the process.

Posted by: c1ue | Aug 4 2021 19:19 utc | 214

Back in the seventies USSR fielded the S200 missile that is still used in some places today. It is listed in wikipedia as having a speed of 2500 meters per second which translates into various mach speeds depending on altitude but well into the hypersonic range.

The current hypersonic cruise missiles are only a little faster so a a little more heat and forces for the shin and frame to deal with (depending on peak speed).

The main difference between USSR and now Russia's anti aircraft missiles and these hypersonic cruise missiles is the engine. Very short burn times for the SAM rocket engines whereas the the scram jets are liquid fuel air breathing and run for all of or the majority of its flight.

A number of years ago I followed a bit of a project in the US by a small group or company to develop a hypersonic aircraft powered by a scram jet. Last I heard of it, they were having problems with engine intake melting at somewhere between M5 and M7.

Another aspect of these missiles is their anti shipping capability which means they need updates on target positions, but also initial target acquisition. Satellites will be used but they are easily taken out which would limit the range (2000k+ ? for the air launched Kinzal and 1000k for the ground or sea launched Zircon) unless other target acquisition systems available.

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Aug 4 2021 19:28 utc | 215

@Rêver #210
Could a 160 lb pull longbow penetrate the best steel chest plate armor in French knights? No.

But they didn't need to.

Among other things, the archers would shoot in arrow-storms: hundreds to thousands of arrows peppering a small area in a short period of time. A group of knights crossing a 500 yard killing zone would get literally thousands of 160 lb pull weight arrows shot at them during that crossing. A horse carrying an armored knight isn't a sprinter - it is more like a Percheron. 25 mph max speed means roughly 40 seconds to cross 500 yards. 100 archers with 25 arrows/minute firing speed = 1670 arrows. The lower the speed and/or the higher the firing rate - the more arrows.

The knight's horse, his shield, his henchmen and likely some arm/leg action - all would get skewered. Once a knight is stripped of steed and henchmen, he isn't all that effective any more.

This is one of the principal reasons why longbows could be effective vs. armored knights whereas crossbows really weren't. Many crossbows were of higher striking power, but were so slow and clumsy that the "bolt-storm" is simply impossible.

Secondly, the French knights didn't all have the best steel armor. Steel armor was extremely expensive and had to be custom fitted. I don't know the exact numbers, but it wouldn't surprise me if 10% or less had the latest and greatest steel armors. Only the feudal lords of the largest demesnes could afford that stuff.

Posted by: c1ue | Aug 4 2021 19:34 utc | 216

Gordog 213

Looks like you posted while I was writing.

Any thoughts on backup or alternative target acquisition systems - over the horizon radar ect.

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Aug 4 2021 19:38 utc | 217

Peter, @ 215:

Yes, those are the key points.

I mentioned in my #178 the new radarsats that Russia is putting up specifically for acquiring naval targets. There are inks there to some further reading on the specifics of those sats.

Of course LEO sats can be taken out, but it's not actually that easy either. The US took out one of its own LEO sats with the Aegis missile ships a few years ago. But that ship would need to first place itself in a position to attack any given adversary sat.

With the Russian radar sats already up there, the tactic is going to be for an ALERT whenever the radarsat picks up a USN vessel moving into position for a possible kill shot.

[Don't forget that fixing a sat position in the sky is done with both telescopes and radar. That is much easier done from the ground where you have a lot of area to work with, than on a ship.]

So any ship moving to threaten a sat will prompt the launch of the MiG31 Kinzhal to scramble and get into position to attack that threat.

It's going to come down to tactics, and who has more cards to play. I think the Russian idea of simply dazzling spysats that may be within range of their mobile ICBMs is a good one. You don't need to damage them, since that would be an act of war.

Simply blinding them temporarily is enough---since they will soon pass and be out of visual range anyway...and only come back [or perhaps the next one coming within viewing range] after some period of time.

Radarsats are different. They have much lesser limitations, and are more difficult to interfere with---short of shooting them down. At which point the doodoo hits the fan anyway.

Posted by: Gordog | Aug 4 2021 19:53 utc | 218

Peter @ 217:

I gotta tell you man, I'm having trouble keeping up with you, lol! What's your secret power source? 😸

OTH radar is one method, but I believe it's more effective against targets in the sky, rather than surface. Could be wrong.

Posted by: Gordog | Aug 4 2021 19:56 utc | 219

Thanks Gordog. Hypersonic ramjet [not rocket] make a decisive difference in range and guiding, I suggest.
Mach 17 and 600g, that's for manœuvrabilité. Impressive ! Does that mean 180° in less than 5s with a radius of 4-5 km?
Target acquisition and guiding make the efficiency.

A new weapon need a new tactic.
Facing that [2*new] with old Arrogance is a good way to collapse. [since SunTsu©]

Of the roughly 8,000 troops Henry had at Agincourt, only around 1,000 to 2,000 were men-at-arms and knights with heavy plate armor. The rest were English and Welsh archers equipped with the English longbow, a weapon known for its deadly range of fire. Henry deployed his archers on the flanks of his line behind a protective palisade wall of sharpened wooden stakes. When French cavalry and men-at-arms charged the English position, the bowmen let loose with a flurry of arrows so thick that it supposedly darkened the sun. French nobles and knights went down in droves, many of them hit by multiple arrows fired with enough force to penetrate armor. Others were trampled by horses that had been spooked by the storm of projectiles. Once the French force panicked and became bunched together, the English archers traded their bows for poleaxes and lead mallets and joined their knights in a counterattack. The resulting massacre left between 6,000 and 10,000 French troops dead. The English only lost a few hundred men.

Posted by: Rêver | Aug 4 2021 20:39 utc | 220

Speaking of the end of the USSR, Gorbachev just gave another interview:

Perestroika did not cause USSR’s downfall but ‘a lot of things’ should have been done differently, says ex-Soviet leader Gorbachev

He still insists on the theory that the August coup - and not the disastrous Perestroika - was the responsible for the dissolution of the Union. However, this is the first time he kinda admits some responsibility.

Posted by: vk | Aug 4 2021 20:58 utc | 221

@Jackrabbit #198:

I will add here some links that hopefully will answer some of your questions and petitions for sources: (TIME front cover in 1996)

With respect to the planned fashion of collapse (the "overthrow") of the union, you can check this:

The above is very interesting not only in itself, but also this arch-spook asset Rob Maxwell, who ended up at some point owning most of scientific journals, is the father of Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein closest associate. Also pay attention to the detail that when Soviet hardliners(Kryuchkov) approached Maxwell in order to help preserve the union in exchange for soviet jews being transferred to israel + credit. When the west realized what was going on, Maxwell was thrown into the ocean.

Regarding Kosovo and yugoslavia:

And that's just one point. Another would be the expansion of NATO to the east despite verbal assurance of the contrary. But overall, what I am trying to say is that, while both sides collaborated in the overthrow of the socialist block, each side had its own agenda, with the new russian elite hoping to be integrated as an equal partner in the western institutions, while the western imperialists simply wanted another puppet regime. Just because something is planned doesn't mean it is "planned 100% in every aspect". That is cartoonish.

As far as the "aid", again, this is so preposterous to even think that. Eastern Europe was turned into a huge organ/human trafficking sphere. That includes former Yugoslavia, which after all is a similar case: A socialist-socialdemocratic prosperous republic being broken up. DynCorp and the UN were involved in human trafficking ( Was this "planned"? As is the case with USSR, yes and no. No, if you want to be pedantic, in the sense that all this was planned to get a bunch of extra prostitutes but YES in the sense that the resulting shock reforms, privatization and ensuing mass poverty and criminal chaos would create favorable conditions for all kinds of criminal activity. The whistleblower even won in court against DynCorp: So you could say, this is how "democracies" are supposed to work, huh? :)

Quality of life in Russia was consistently declining - especially relative to the West. That is systemic. And if it can not be reversed, then collapse is inevitable.

Quality of life was not consistently declining in USSR. The economy found itself in stagnation during the 80s. Obviously there are systemic and geopolitical reasons for that, but what I am trying to explain to you but you seem rather stubborn is that the systemic part wasn't nearly sufficient in general to justify a "collapse". Or, to be more precise, it was not sufficient from the point of view of most soviet citizens. But it was sufficient from the point of view of the elites. It is interesting that over the last decade, the opposite is true in the west. Most people evidently don't like the way the system operates, especially in the US. Only in the COVID crisis you had 600k deaths in the US which were preventable. Nothing happened besides a change in the admin. Why? Part of the reason is US being an imperialist state and it can depressurize using peripheral resources. Another is the psychological makeup of both the american ruling class and the american plebeians. Both are exceptionalist and the former is also ruthless, and as a culture it tolerates casualties more than others. Thus, such "failures" don't register as they would in another country, let alone USSR. If 600k deaths occurred in 80s USSR, a course under the title "Failures of communism" would probably be mandatory in all secondary education all over the west.

Posted by: galerkin | Aug 4 2021 20:58 utc | 222

Two funny questions for air defense thread and target acquisition:

If the F35 [or another] is really stealth/invisible, how does its headquarters know where it is? ACARS?
If the stealth/invisible plane communicates with its base, how can we be sure that the communication is not also listened to, decrypted and known to the opposite camp?

And so his position and even his entire flight plan.
as Col Dani's crew....
# Gordog | Aug 2 2021 15:36 utc | 29

Waiting for radar echo is perhaps a little bit WW2. Or 80's, before internet and hacking

Posted by: Rêver | Aug 4 2021 21:01 utc | 223

Re thinking that, at the speed of hypersonic missiles compared to ships, if the missiles have their own target acquisition once they are in the ball park target area then updates on target positions are not needed. I guess that depends on the area the missile is capable of detecting its target in and how far a ship can travel when it's at maximum range for the missile. Fire several missiles and the area in which a target can be detected increases. That then comes back to the range at which the missile can detect its target and how fast it can then change course to put it on target.

It could be tactics Russia relies to defend its sats. Putin has stated that the overall intention is to make Russia's defence so strong that nobody will even think of attacking

Gordog, not sure what to say to this - "I gotta tell you man, I'm having trouble keeping up with you, lol! What's your secret power source? 😸" My writing, many typos, phrasing ect is not the best to say the least but it's something I'm stuck with. The kid that always asked why....

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Aug 4 2021 21:23 utc | 224

OT, but most will find that it fits in. Putin meets with ROSATOM CEO Alexei Likhachev and review the state of his company and its place within Russia's economy and society, although it would be nice to read the entire transcript.

Likhachev starts with this announcement:

"I would like to point out a record in electricity production: 215.7 billion kilowatt-hours. This exceeds the Soviet maximum.... It was 215 in 2020. I hope now it will reach 220; it is very likely."

Within the overall business:

"There are a number of new spheres. Our workers in the nuclear weapons industry are actively taking part in medical projects linked with nuclear medicine and also work on small energy units. In other words, the nuclear weapons complex has become an important part when it comes to the implementation of the national project on developing equipment, technology and research in atomic energy. This project has been going on since the start of this year primarily owing to your executive order. This is a very serious line of development; these are big nuclear cities. Of course, we will do all we can to improve the living standards of the people there." [My Emphasis]

ROSATOM is also the "owner/operator" of Russia's nuclear ice breaker fleet as well as in the education and medicine fields. As Putin notes, "It is a multi-business company with 350 organisations and 300,000 employees." Plus as with most Russian state-owned companies, they also provide most everything for their company towns, a holdover from Soviet times as I've noted before. Unfortunately, their conversation about the nuclear weapons industry is the part of the transcript not provided. Here's a link that will take you to anyone of its 14 areas of business.

Posted by: karlof1 | Aug 4 2021 21:31 utc | 225

Many thanks to B and Gordog for their interesting and informative article.

I wonder whether it would also be possible to deal with the issue of armed drones, as they are one of the relatively new weapons that are considered capable of changing military strategy, as evidenced by the recent conflict in Karabakh and its use by Turkish forces in Syria.

Posted by: gabriel moyssen | Aug 4 2021 22:13 utc | 226

gabriel moyssen @ 226: about supposedly 'revolutionary' drones, lol!

Yeah, I really should do an article on that.

Ask yourself this: how hard is it to shoot down an ultralight aircraft flying at maybe 100 mph?

Because that ultralight aircraft and those Turkish UAVs use the exact same Austrian-made, four cyclinder, 100 hp Rotax 912.

Btw, the US Predator drone uses the same engine.

This buzz about these little toys is the most ridiculous, internet fanboy-fueled nonsense that I have ever come across. Oh well, we live in the age of fakebook and twatter, after all.

Yes, I will put that on my list, lol! It will be a lot of fun bursting this silly bubble.

Peter, I'm going to have some more thoughts about target acquisition for Zircon and Kinzhal.

I have to reconsider first my ideas about flight trajectory. I would say it is not very likely that they are going to come in low, but will do a terminal dive on target from very high, simply because of the huge difference in speed that they can reach up high.

That will also play into their radar homing range, the higher you are the better. There could be interesting strategies here too, in terms of a flight 'pack' that communicates by datalink with each other, like the P700 antiship missiles back in the '70s.

You would have one of the pack flying high, and acquiring the target, while directing the others flying low. If it gets knocked out, another one pops up in its place.

A pack tactic is probably likely with the new hypersonic missiles also.

Btw, I should at some point discuss the new KH95 long-range hypersonic missile that's been announced in the last days. Martyanov seems to think range will be up to 5,000 km. I see that as ridiculously optimistic. But will need to consider the idea some more---based on what little info is available.

Rêver, about 'stealth' aircraft.

Some Serb wiseguys had a lot of fun with that back in the day: for instance, 'sorry, we didn't know your plane was invisible,' lol!

Or this one, in Serbian:

Sori, avion ti gori

Translation: sorry, your plane's on fire [only it rhymes obviously in Serbian, lol!

Posted by: Gordog | Aug 4 2021 22:51 utc | 227

@220 Poleaxes and mallets! Those were the days. Now it's all computer screens and people pushing buttons.

So the English yeoman came out on top and the elitists French knights paid the price for their arrogance. An early example of class warfare. But wait...the English bowmen were probably Anglo-Saxons! That would make the French victims of Perfidious Albion. So was Henry V invading France or was he reclaiming the property of Henry II? Did he have a case? Not expecting an answer.

Posted by: dh | Aug 5 2021 1:12 utc | 228

Hi Gordog,

Thanks for your informative post and responses on the topic of hypersonic weapons. I believe that earlier on in the comments thread you mentioned a possible future post on the subject of "Escalation Domination" which I heartily endorse. Martyanov has covered it to some degree on his blog but a fuller exploration on this site would be very worthwhile.

Posted by: thermobarbaric | Aug 5 2021 2:07 utc | 229

Wow, I spent years on this topic. I can't dispute any of the OP claims.

There is of course, so much more to the topic.

Let me start with the deplorable state of DoD Simulation Software development.

Posted by: Michael P Kenny | Aug 5 2021 2:41 utc | 230

@c1ue #214:

Declassified reports make it abundantly clear that the US intel agencies were just as surprised as the Russian people by the collapse of the USSR.

That doesn't contradict the existence of covert plan/coordination. It simply means they didn't expect it to "collapse", because noone did. USSR needed reform, but what ended up happening was the Wests wet dream. And I explained the reasons why it happened.

@karlof1 #211:

It is funny that Solzhenitsyn, one of the most notorious monarchists and rabid anticommunists weaponized by the US against USSR sheds tears for what happened to his dear Russia. It is also funnier when commentators always adopt the mandatory charitable approach towards the actions of the US. "Mistakes", "failures", "incompetence" or that it turned out that "russian specialists were wrong". This is a massive cope from people who think the US was at some point in its history a progressive force in any affairs. It wasn't. When I read declassified files on intelligence operations, the reports are usually top notch. When CIA fronts that pose as news outlets publish news about, for example, Fidel Castro's authoritarianism etc, people don't realize this is a load of BS intended to manufacture consent - even if the author of such lies believes them. For example it was clear the CIA had a clear and accurate view of internal cuban affairs (example: Or the recent russiagate phenomenon. It is clear that these "experts" are plants. Never, not for a second, think that US planners consider their opinions seriously.

Posted by: galerkin | Aug 5 2021 3:48 utc | 231

karlof1 255

Thanks for putting that up. With the military modernization, Putin has stated it must have spin offs for the civilian sector.
Not as in US MIC profits, but tech developments that can also be used to increase standards of living.
Russian involvement in Syria many faceted. Destroy UN designated terrorists that would also be a threat to Russia, prevent the US overthrow of the Syrian state, give its military people combat experience, test weapons in a combat situation. Perhaps there is other facets to add but that all was within Putin's stated aim of bringing about conditions for negotiations without starting new wars which Russia has achieved.

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Aug 5 2021 3:55 utc | 232

At sometime in the past I read something along the lines of 'US establishes air dominance with fighter aircraft whereas Russia establishes air dominance by putting a tank on the enemies airfield'.
"Today supremacy in the aerospace is a vital condition for ground and naval groupings of troops (forces) to conduct combat operations successfully," the article reads.

"For this purpose, Russia is developing and accepting such advanced and upgraded armaments, military and special hardware for service in its Aerospace Force as the Tu-160M strategic missile-carrying bomber, the Kinzhal airborne hypersonic missile system and long-range air-launched precision weapons, in particular, the Kh-95 hypersonic missile," Zarudnitsky wrote.

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Aug 5 2021 4:27 utc | 233

@ 225 karlof1... that was also interesting.. thanks..

@ gordog.. fascinating commentary and response to many here.. thanks..

Posted by: james | Aug 5 2021 4:28 utc | 234

One thing I have always wondered: if targeting a ship - which is a huge hunk of metal sitting on the water - what about magnetic targeting? Or some other form based on the significantly different properties of metals vs. h2o?

Posted by: c1ue | Aug 5 2021 14:40 utc | 235

For the first time, the characteristics of the newest hypersonic missile Kh-95 are revealed

It is claimed that the Kh-95 will have a range of 2500 to 5000 Km

“Its range should be comparable to the Kh-101 or Kh-555 missiles, that is, somewhere from two and a half to five thousand kilometers. The speed should be comparable to the flight of the Zircon rocket, that is, about 6-8 times the speed of sound. ", - said Konstantin Sivkov, Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Rocket and Artillery Sciences.

And western interceptors have no chance, due to the speed of the missile

Moreover, apparently, this will become a very big problem for potential Russian adversaries, since today the West has difficulties even with intercepting subsonic missiles moving 6-8 times slower than the estimated flight speed of the Kh-95 rocket.

Posted by: Norwegian | Aug 5 2021 14:52 utc | 236

And let's turn things around and place the shoe on the other foot. One of the defining characteristics of the American character is bragging. Outlandish bragging, especially about its supposed mastery of science and technology.

Posted by: Gordog | Aug 3 2021 19:20 utc | 172


Like the bragging about the imaginary manned moon landings

"Does anyone remember the years of media hulabaloo about the so-called Prompt Global Strike system? It was a huge subject for media coverage, even though it did not even yet exist!"

Just like hype surrounding the imaginary manned moon landings?

"Well, it was the Russians that developed the prompt global strike weapon. It's called Avangard.

Imagine what the hype would be if the Americans had actually got there first, lol? 😹"

Again, like the bragging surrounding the imaginary manned moon landings?

Posted by: Triden | Aug 5 2021 15:13 utc | 237

@Triden | Aug 5 2021 15:13 utc | 237

The fact that the US is bragging about many things today, does not mean historical facts are cancelled. The Moon landings happened, get over it.

Posted by: Norwegian | Aug 5 2021 15:18 utc | 238

The Moon landings happened, get over it.

Posted by: Norwegian | Aug 5 2021 15:18 utc | 238


The existence of the Van Allen radiation belts would suggest otherwise.

The published photos of alleged astronauts in demonstrably unpressurised "Astronaut suits", allegedly taken on the Moon's surface would also strongly suggest otherwise

The existence of published photos, allegedly taken on the moon's surface, showing the alleged "landing module" construction consisting of what looks like cardboard held together with sticking tape would also suggest otherwise.

It takes Chris-Chan levels of gullibility to continue to profess belief in that farce

Posted by: Triden | Aug 5 2021 16:54 utc | 239

Norwegian, thanks for the link on the Kh95.

Very sparse information, though. We don't even know what kind of propulsion it will use---scramjet like Zircon, solid-fuel rocket like Kinzhal.

Remember, that the faster you go, your fuel burn keeps increasing even faster! Refer back to the chart on specific impulse vs Mach number.

So, if it is to be carried by the mighty Tu160M, then it could be a fairly big missile that can carry lots of fuel.

But it will also be carried by the smaller Tu22M. So it's not going to be that small.

That article is comparing its range to a SUBSONIC air-launched cruise missile the Kh55, which is similar to a Tomahawk. It is simply not possible to go ten times faster and have the same range, unless you have more than 10 times the fuel.

A scramjet is going to be more efficient [again see the chart on ISP] than a rocket engine, by far. By the chart, the scramjet has a four times higher ISP at Mach 6 than a rocket engine.

Remember in an earlier post I mentioned that even if Zircon was about the same size [and therefore drag area] it would need 12,000 pounds of thrust to go Mach 4 at sea level [wavetop, sea-skimming mode].

The Tomahawk needs only 400 pounds of thrust to fly at 500 mph [Mach 0.7] at the same height, with the same drag area.

So I would say that even Mach 4 is out of the question for Zircon at sea level. I would say more realistically Mach 3 tops. That would require just a little over half that thrust, about 6,500 pounds [about 29 kilonewton].

That is still more than times times the engine thrust of the Tomahawk, even if they are the same size and same drag. Probably the Zircon is bigger and makes more drag.

That is because of the thick atmosphere down low. Up high at 10 km, the air density is only one third of sea level, so drag is also one third. At 20 km height it is even much better with air density of only 7 percent that of sea level.

But either way, the power required [thrust] grows much more quickly with speed, because remember drag is a function of ram pressure [dynamic pressure, Q[ which increases by the square of speed. Go ten times faster and the drag is 100 times higher!

That's why we see in that chart that ISP falls as you go faster. It takes more and more fuel, for every little additional increment of speed.

So I am certainly skeptical of 5,000 km range for any Mach 6 to 8 missile. It would have to be HUGE.

I think even 2,000 km would be an incredibly impressive number.

Now remember what I said about Kinzhal...the range is given as 2,000 km, but I am assuming that that is NOT for the flight range of the missile itself, but for the combined range of the MiG31 carrier, plus the range of the missile.

So if we are talking about the Tu22M carrier aircraft, which has a combat range of 2,500 km...then adding 2,000 km flight range for the Kh95 gives us 4,500 km.

The Tu160 has a much longer range, so it can fly easily 5,000 km and then have enough fuel to turn around and come back, all without refueling.

Anyway, we'll see how things shake out. It won't be a couple of years anyway until we begin seeing flight tests and finding out more particulars---about propulsion type etc.

Posted by: Gordog | Aug 5 2021 17:59 utc | 240

Thanks Gordog, as usual your posts are packed with information! I've read your latest reply a couple of times now :-) I understand the basic idea that fuel consumption goes through the roof when the velocity increases to high levels since drag increases by velocity squared. Maybe you are right the range includes the Tu22M range, the article I linked to could possibly be understood that way

the capabilities of an air-launched hypersonic missile will be such that it will probably be able to hit targets at distances of up to 5 thousand kilometers.

... or maybe the Kh95 flies so high that drag becomes much less important... but then it can't be an air breathing scramjet I suppose.

Posted by: Norwegian | Aug 5 2021 20:35 utc | 241

Hello Gordog and welcome to the MoA bar

I have not engaged in this thread because the only thing I would have to add would be the perspective that the game changing is for empire to move to bio-chemical warfare and computer/network warfare.

I would ask if you think there could be a point where Russia could make a decapitation strike against the US/empire, not that they may want to but may be driven there by circumstances not entirely under their control?

Posted by: psychohistorian | Aug 5 2021 20:59 utc | 242

@ psychohistorian | Aug 5 2021 20:59 utc | 242 who forgot to add the financial warfare that is ongoing.....

Posted by: psychohistorian | Aug 5 2021 21:01 utc | 243

Norwegian, glad to explain---and feel free to ask any questions about things that you want to understand more fully.

I am happy to interact with folks like yourself who have an avid interest. Plus you obviously have the engineering background that you will be able to grasp these aerodynamic and thermodynamic concepts, just using basic physics and mechanics.

I will have more to add tomorrow. 😺

Posted by: Gordog | Aug 5 2021 21:28 utc | 244

I found a brand new new 80+ page PDF called Nuclear Ramjet and Scramjet Propulsion

It has a lot pf details, photos and diagrams and also some math. It starts with 1960's technologies, including nuclear. From page ~60 it discusses the information in the March 2018 talk by Putin. It provides details on the Sarmat ICBM, The Burevestnik nuclear cruise missile, the nuclear underwater vechicle, the Kinzhal, the Avangard, the mobile laser cannon.

Posted by: Norwegian | Aug 5 2021 21:28 utc | 245

Thanks for the warm welcome, Psychohistorian!

The only way either side could contemplate a decapitation strike is if they are confident in their missile defense to intercept the inevitable counterstrike.

It would be impossible to take out all of the opponent's ICBMs in a first strike. Nuclear subs on both sides are underneath the world's ocean, which is a black hole. You will never be able to know their locations and take them out.

The same is true, perhaps to a lesser extent, for Russia's road-mobile ICBM launchers.

I will be preparing an article on the air and missile defense technology of both sides in a future installment. So that may give some indications which side might be farther along on the path to real-world missile defense, which is the key to holding first-strike capability.

Posted by: Gordog | Aug 5 2021 21:34 utc | 246

Norwegian, thanks for the link, lol!

This clown has zero knowledge about anything. the 'math' he presents on page 32 has nothing to do with stagnation temperature. It's simply the equation for kinetic energy, which actually doesn't apply to flowing fluids like air, as I explained in the article. You use density instead of mass.

The relationship of speed to stagnation temp is based on mach number. Here are a couple of pages on stagnation temp thermodynamics from Farokhi's standard text, Aircraft Propulsion: here, and here.

Also he has simply repeated a lot of crap that played in the western media about that nuclear accident that supposedly involved Burevestnik testing. It didn't!

He doesn't even know that Burevestnik is NOT a ramjet, but an ordinary turbojet. The author name sounds Indian---a lot of Indian clowns putting up all kinds of nonsense on the internet, without actually knowing anything.

But he has gathered a lot of pictures. Some of those will be useful in my future article about Burevestnik.

Posted by: Gordog | Aug 5 2021 22:24 utc | 247

@Gordog | Aug 4 2021 17:55 utc | 207

[Very interesting discussion of closed-cycle rocket engines]

Thanks, it's very appreciated.

I'm happy right here, reaching far fewer folks, but all of them very interested in the physics and engineering of modern aerospace wonders.

Heh, look at all the people who advise you with mock sincerity to go away and write a book, or go away and write for some other site, or go away and make a series of videos. The common theme, of course, is for you to go away. Well, I like your articles just fine, and am glad that you have chosen to stay.

Posted by: Cyril | Aug 5 2021 22:59 utc | 248

@ Cyril | Aug 5 2021 22:59 utc | 248:

Heh, look at all the people who advise you with mock sincerity to go away and write a book, or go away and write for some other site, or go away and make a series of videos. The common theme, of course, is for you to go away. Well, I like your articles just fine, and am glad that you have chosen to stay.

Well, I for one would be delighted if Gordog both stayed and wrote a book! Hey, if Orlov and Raevsky can do it . . .

Posted by: corvo | Aug 6 2021 0:09 utc | 249

@corvo | Aug 6 2021 0:09 utc | 249

Well, I for one would be delighted if Gordog both stayed and wrote a book! Hey, if Orlov and Raevsky can do it . . .

Raevsky (the Saker) is essentially supported by his wife, a veterinarian. And I have noticed that when he is fully immersed in book writing, his website comes almost to a standstill.

Orlov wrote his book (called, I think, The Five Stages of Collapse) before he started writing columns.

I think I know why so many people want Gordog to go away. Perhaps Americans don't like to be reminded that their vaunted rocket science is second rate.

Posted by: Cyril | Aug 6 2021 0:48 utc | 250

@ Cyril | Aug 6 2021 0:48 utc | 250:

And I have noticed that when he [Raevsky] is fully immersed in book writing, his website comes almost to a standstill.
Must be at work on a book now, I suppose!
Orlov wrote his book (called, I think, The Five Stages of Collapse) before he started writing columns.
Reinventing Collapse, actually, and it's the first of several!

Posted by: corvo | Aug 6 2021 1:24 utc | 251

Cyril, I don't think anyone here has been insincere.

In fact, I'm very humbled by all the sincere encouragement!

As for those other writers you mention, I write about completely different subject matter, so I don't see the comparison.

I would much rather be answering technical questions, which I'm happy to do, than to engage in frankly negative talk about the very real enthusiasm here.

Posted by: Gordog | Aug 6 2021 1:40 utc | 252


Although I can't do the numbers, many of the concepts involving flight under hypersonic I understand. Hypersonic I believe is when the shock wave comes in onto the body of the aircraft or missile.
With Russia looking at long range hypersonic, I thought about the concept of riding the shock wave. Seems like it eliminates lift drag ratio as the shock wave is providing the lift.
Looking it up, I ran onto this site that explains it a little.

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Aug 6 2021 4:56 utc | 253

Peter @ 253:

That website, is one of the few genuinely legit sources of aeronautical information on the internet! It is run by ex-Nasa guys and they have a lot of very good articles on there---all of them very good!

They also have a very handy atmospheric calculator, which you may be interested in.

For example if you enter an altitude of 20 km and a speed of Mach 10 you will get all kinds of important data; for instance a true airspeed of 2,951 m/s; a true dynamic pressure of 8,084 lbf/ft^2; and a stagnation temp [aka total temp] of 4,550 kelvin.

This is very handy. [I use my own spreadsheet-based atmospheric properties calculator since this is integral to doing things like jet engine cycle analysis. Everything starts with atmospheric properties.]

Yes, your description of shockwave lift is indeed accurate. Here is a little info about the physics of airflow that might help you understand shockwaves.

Pressure waves travel through air at sonic velocity, the speed of sound. What that means is that when there is a flow field, as for instance around a wing, the differences in pressure at different places will be transmitted as pressure waves both forward and behind that flow field, in all directions.

That is why you see that the airflow AHEAD of the wing is actually starting to tilt up already some distance ahead of the wing, as if in anticipation, as seen here. A good wind tunnel video with smoke streamlines flowing past an airfoil, here.

Now once you reach supersonic speeds, you are outrunning those pressure waves, and the air ahead of the supersonically moving wing [or other body] has no prior notice of what's coming, so you just basically ram into that air like a wall.

This is what creates the shockwave. Here is Ernst Mach's 1887 photograph of a bullet and the shockwave in front of it, which has the characteristic 'bow' shape. It has that shape because of the rounded nose of the bullet. Also a video here.

Now what happens ahead of that shockwave is a lot of compression. So the idea of the hypersonic waverider, is to shape that shockwave in a way that the vehicle is getting lift from it. [The shockwave shape follows the body shape.]

This way you increase your lift to drag ratio [aka glide ratio]. The important part of increasing your L/D ratio is that you are effectively DCREASING your drag. This is very important because drag must be overcome by thrust. [The two forces are acting in opposite directions horizontally] I know you know this, but others here may not. [Four forces of flight.]

So that is the big deal about waveriders. They are a way to go faster with less engine power [thrust].

Btw, you might have noticed the name 'Anderson' in that article you linked to. That's John D Anderson, one of the foremost authors of standard textbooks in aeronautics.

I have all his books, and I highly recommend his Introduction to Flight which is the gold standard in introductory aeronautics courses.

Posted by: Gordog | Aug 6 2021 16:57 utc | 254

Thank you Gordog for the information on missile navigation (#178). Looks like those missiles integrate major technical advances from many different engineering fields.

I can't help but being stunned by the gap between Russian military engineers and their American counterparts. The Russians must earn a fraction of what the Americans earn and yet they're so much more successful. They must really believe in their mission. Maybe the Americans are demoralized like the Boeing engineers. Bad management, financialization of everything, maybe subcontracting of some jobs.

I look forward to hearing about missile defense and stealth. I believe we're also due a sequel to the space race. But don't rush, we're patient and know that good things come to those who wait.

Posted by: Robert Macaire | Aug 7 2021 4:12 utc | 256

Saker just put a link to Gordog's article:

Posted by: Robert Macaire | Aug 7 2021 4:53 utc | 257

"Instead, the Soviet Union was abandoned by its own elites. It was a "revolution from above."

And from outside:

Posted by: JM | Aug 7 2021 13:49 utc | 258

@Gordog #254
As I mentioned earlier: the Shvall torpedo is able to travel much faster due to traveling inside an induced air bubble caused (likely) by a spar ahead of the torpedo.
At very high speeds - air becomes much more like water, hence my speculation that an adaptation of this technology may have been used to increase missile speeds.
Purely a guess though.

Posted by: c1ue | Aug 7 2021 14:54 utc | 259

@Robert Macaire #254
Russian military scientists and soldiers are very patriotic, but I think it is a mistake to think there aren't also patriotic American military scientists and soldiers.
The difference is more likely due to focus. The Pentagon is clearly focused on PR and budget getting whereas the Russian military establishment has had a very clear picture of what they are facing, the challenges that need to be overcome and the directed technologies believed needed to overcome them.
For example: the "Golden Fish" sub (Papa class, project 661) was a tour de force creation - a submarine which was practically faster than American torpedoes.
It demonstrated that titanium was the future of submarine construction.
The Golden Fish (called because it was so damn expensive) reportedly reached 51 mph underwater vs. the 23 mph the Los Angeles class attack subs can achieve. (The LA class subs were built in the 1970s).
But it was so noisy that going at speed could be detected literally across an entire ocean. Note the Golden Fish was commissioned in the early 1960s.
The experiences gained from operating the Golden Fish almost certainly helped with the development of the Shkvall torpedo though, and also its 1960s era nuclear engines showed that nuclear propulsion could be used for more than just long station times (i.e. speed/power). Note how the latest generations of Russian weapons use nuclear engines for speed/power.

Posted by: c1ue | Aug 7 2021 15:04 utc | 260

As I mentioned earlier: the Shvall torpedo is able to travel much faster due to traveling inside an induced air bubble caused (likely) by a spar ahead of the torpedo.

Posted by: c1ue | Aug 7 2021 14:54 utc | 259

But an excellent guess. It is difficult to see how they could do what they seem to be doing without some way to reduce "friction", to flatten the curve of exponential growth.

The recent theorizing about a relativistic bubble allowing super-luminal travel is something like that idea too.

I was wondering what would happen if they shaped a RAM scoop to funnel the shock wave into the intake, sort of focus it. Tricky I'll bet.

Posted by: Bemildred | Aug 7 2021 15:11 utc | 261

@Bemildred #261
Indeed - that's why I specifically note that air at high speeds more begins to resemble water.
And note that an "air bubble" for a missile might be simply a zone of decreased air density. It doesn't have to be a vacuum to provide real potential benefit much as the air bubble for Shkvall isn't vacuum, simply a region of significantly less density compared to the unmodified medium.
The point is that - from what little is written about Shkvall - some sort of supercavitation is induced to create said bubble. I am far from qualified to understand if this is possible for air, but I don't see anything fundamentally barring it.

Posted by: c1ue | Aug 7 2021 17:49 utc | 262

Posted by: c1ue | Aug 7 2021 17:49 utc | 262

Indeed!. I've been trying to think of things you could stick out there in front and expect it to last long enough ...

But the idea, yeah. Your own private vacuum to fly in.

Posted by: Bemildred | Aug 7 2021 18:02 utc | 263

Causes me to think of those bullet shaped shock waves in some of those illustrations Gordog posted. If you were sitting in the focus of the parabaloid (well, something like that), that would be more comfortable, and all you have to push against the hypersonic air flow is the forward prow.

Posted by: Bemildred | Aug 7 2021 18:11 utc | 264

Robert @ 256: About Russian engineering vs US.

You've touched on some of the important points: bad management, financialization, etc.

But there are a couple more key factors. One is that the Russian MIC is mostly state-owned enterprises. In the US, the owners are big investors who demand profit---for instance the mega-fund Blackrock and others like it. It's all about money.

Another issue is cultural. In the US, engineering is no longer a valued profession. Young people are much more interested in careers in so-called 'entertainment' or even being social media 'influencers.' The value to society from such activity is obviously zero!

Engineering and science have built our modern world, yet this line of work is not pursued by many young folks. Part of the reason is that such an education now costs a lot of money in the US [it didn't 50 years ago], so only well-off middle class families [who are getting smaller in number all the time] have the means. And they prefer to steer their children into more lucrative careers in business and banking etc.

The result is that the US is not producing many engineers for a country its size. Russia graduates twice as many engineers and even much smaller Iran matches the US.

But that's not the whole story either. Russia has the good fortune of inheriting what was by far the world's most advanced higher education system in hard science and engineering. That means the quality of the engineers is higher.

Just as an example, in Russia you can graduate with a doctorate in rocket engine design, because there are academic institutions that specialize in that.

There are no such institutions in the US higher education system. You can graduate with a doctorate in physics, or, at best, a combined aeronautics and astronautics.

That means that when you are ready to go to work with that new PhD, you have years of practical learning ahead of you if you want to become a rocket engine designer. In the Russian system, you not only get the highly specialized education, but also hands-on practical experience as part of your study.

This is known as the 'Russian method' which was pioneered in the 19'th century by Bauman Technical University.

...the school participated in the Universal Exposition in 1873 in Vienna and the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition of 1876, where this method won a gold prize.

It proved to be influential on John Daniel Runkle when he introduced manual training alongside theoretical training at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It was also applied to other American technical universities.

Btw, the competition to get in Bauman is fierce. Only one in ten applicants are accepted. I happen to know a couple of guy with rocket engineering degrees from Baumanka, as they call it in Russian.

So that is the legacy of the Soviet system, which pursued a no-holds-barred program of building up the world's most formidable technical education system.

Not only that, but it was free. A barefoot peasant child from the boonies had just as much a shot as the son or daughter of of a bigshot city slicker. For instance the peasant son Yuri Gagarin.

The US started moving in this direction too during the FDR era and post WW2. Although it was never free, the cost was heavily subsidized, and accessible to lots of ordinary families. Also back in those days, engineering was a respected valued profession.

But today is a whole different ballgame. The financial sector has basically snuffed all of this out, because students are a vast opportunity for debt peonage, which is what the US system is all about.

We are seeing the effects now, with these Russian advances, and the Chinese are going to move even farther ahead in the coming years because they are really devoting a huge amount of resources to education. Look at the world statistics for the wider STEM category, which also includes math and 'technology' [which is mostly a technician level of education, as opposed to a full engineer]. The stats here.

So that is indeed a very relevant point that you raised, and I'm glad to have had the opportunity to address it.

Posted by: Gordog | Aug 7 2021 18:18 utc | 265

C1ue and Bemildered, about the Shkval torpedo:

This torpedo uses a solid-fuel rocket motor for propulsion, instead of a propeller as on conventional torpedoes.

The gas bubble that envelopes it is created by ducting part of the rocket exhaust gas from the nose, as seen here.

So that is an easily recognizable feature that is not present on any of the rocket-powered missiles like Kinzhal and Iskander.

The issue of air density is only relevant at very low altitudes. For instance at a height of 20 km [66,000 ft], the air density is only 7 percent of that at sea level. So drag will only be 7 percent also.

I'm not sure how applicable this concept is to an air vehicle. Water has about 700 times the density of air at sea level, and about 10,000 times the density of air at altitude 20 km.

I had already mentioned in previous comments on this thread the issue of flying very low, which would be an advantage in the anti-shipping role---since the ship's radar horizon is only about 20 km. So if you come in very low at high speed, the ship defensive reaction time is reduced to practically impossible.

But an air-breathing missile like Zircon, which is definitely designed for the anti-ship role, would have a hard time reaching even Mach 3 at wavetop height. That's because the drag would be so great that it would require an impossible amount of thrust. See my comment 240 above.

Rocket propulsion has much greater potential to travel at very high speeds in the dense air at low altitudes. The Russians already have an anti-ship missile that does this, the 3M54.

This missile is quite ingenious. It uses an ordinary turbojet engine, like any subsonic cruise missile [like Tomahawk or Kalibr] for most of its flight.

But it sheds the turbojet engine and wings for its terminal sprint at Mach 2.9, using the rocket motor. So it will come in really fast when it counts, when it is already close to the target and reaction time of the ship defense will be minimal.

So that is why I would make an educated guess at this point that Zircon is going to be flying quite high for its entire flight. And then come in at a steep dive on target.

Unlike the wave-skimmer which will be visible to ship radar only 20 km out, the Zircon [and Kinzhal] will be visible from many dozens or even a couple of hundred km out, due their high flight in the sky. But they are going to rely on maneuvering to prevent ship defenses from getting a radar lock. That is the whole key.

The Kinzhal is rocket powered, so it could potentially use a different end-game, similar to the 3M54, but flying most of its flight up high. It could then drop down low for only the terminal sprint of maybe 20 to 30 km. [But again, I doubt it does, again because its maneuvering means it is not vulnerable to air defense while flying high anyway].

Now the reason that the 3M54 uses a rocket motor for that terminal sprint is that there is a big difference in rocket and air-breathing propulsion. Any air-breathing engine makes less thrust the faster it goes.

This is is basic physics of propulsion. An air-breathing engine is taking in air that is also moving very fast. And thrust is simply the difference between the flight speed and the additional speed increment of the exhaust flow velocity.

So in order to keep flying faster and faster, the air-breathing engine must produce a faster and faster exhaust velocity.

But the exhaust velocity of any chemical-fuel engine has a hard physical limit. The simple physics is that you cannot fly faster than your own exhaust in any air breathing engine.

So if you are already flying at 2,000 m/s [about Mach 6 or 7] your exhaust speed is going to have to be higher yet. And here you are going to run into that limit of chemical-fuel engines.

Even a rocket engine will have a maximum exhaust velocity of about 3,000 m/s. But the rocket can and will fly faster than its own exhaust, because it is not taking in air that has to be accelerated.

It is carrying its own oxygen that is already flying at the speed of the rocket, so it will just keep accelerating as long as you have fuel and the engine keeps burning.

That's how you reach orbital velocity of 8 km/s with an engine exhaust velocity of only 3 km/s. Or even escape velocity of 11 km/s.

Of course the limitation with rockets is that they have to carry a lot of propellant. And that propellant is burned up quickly. Even for a flight to mars, like the Perseverance Rover, the engine burn time is a total of about 1,100 seconds for both stages. That's under 20 minutes.

By that time you will have reached over 11 km/s and the rest of the flight, six months, will be simply coasting. Same for a flight to the moon.

Anyway, those are some of the important basics about propulsion and a comparison between air-breathing and rocket.

Bottom line is that a Shkval-like method of an encapsulating rocket gas bubble, could possibly work---BUT that would only be useful for a rocket-powered missile, not air-breathing. And even then, only at low altitudes in dense air.

I'm not sure if this idea has ever been explored in any way, but it is not in use on any of the missiles discussed here.

Posted by: Gordog | Aug 7 2021 19:17 utc | 266

Gordog @265

I have no doubts about the excellence of Russian higher education. Still there's something of a conundrum that maybe calls for some clarification. When you look at the Shanghai university rankings, Russian universities and institutes are nowhere near the top. The first, Moscow State University, only shows up at rank 93. For a long time now I've also been puzzled by the lack of German universities near the top despite their industrial excellence (TU Munich #54 only). When you go to specialized rankings (say Physics or aerospace engineering or whatever) it is better for German universities but still dismal for Russian ones. Maybe the Russians don't like to publish and prefer to keep their knowledge secret. Still I was shocked at not finding any Russian institution in the top 50 in mathematics.

Posted by: Robert Macaire | Aug 7 2021 19:40 utc | 267

@Gordog | Aug 7 2021 19:17 utc | 266

But the exhaust velocity of any chemical-fuel engine has a hard physical limit. The simple physics is that you cannot fly faster than your own exhaust in any air breathing engine.

That makes sense. But what about nuclear propulsion? The russians have miniaturized reactors. If you can carry all the propellants like a rocket, but keep it much more compact and long lasting in a nuclear device? Maybe you could travel at very high speeds in the dense air at low altitudes over a relative long time that way?

Posted by: Norwegian | Aug 7 2021 19:53 utc | 268

Robert, about university 'rankings':

I'm not sure which particular rankings you are talking about, but most of these are compiled by various media outlets and other such bullshit artistes, lol!

Remember a thing called the 'Global Health Security Index'? A few months before covid even existed, they published a 'ranking' of countries that would be best prepared for an epidemic or pandemic.

Ranked: Global Pandemic Preparedness by Country

Have a good laugh with that. Unsurprisingly the US and UK are ranked at the top, numbers one and two! And look where China is, way down there among various banana republics.

How far removed from reality is that? I mean, the actual results of the US, UK and other supposedly 'top' countries in dealing with covid is solidly at the bottom.

While China, ranked, ranked number 51, basically beat covid with incredible efficiency. Even dirt poor Africa has hardly been touched by covid!

What a farce. it's the same thing with those university 'rankings.' those are concocted by the west's propaganda machine. Nothing more than that.

A quick search for global university rankings returns results form an outfit called Quacquarelli Symonds, which is a British company, according to their wikipedia entry.

So that is why they are not going to promote Russian universities. Btw, the western propaganda machine loves these kinds of 'rankings,' lol! The Economist rag puts together this kind of nonsense all the time. A couple of years ago, they ranked Britain, the second most powerful country in the world, lol!

Btw about that 'global health security index'...if you look at the 'about' page, you find the sponsors---Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Open Philanthropy Project, which I believe is a Soros front, and suchlike flim-flam artists.

Bottom line is results, Robert. The Russians have had to crack a number of very difficult engineering problems to produce this kind of technology, just like they did in their world-leading rocket engine technology.

By their fruits ye shall know them, said a smart guy somewhere, I believe.

Posted by: Gordog | Aug 7 2021 20:59 utc | 269

I was talking about this:

It looks pretty serious, but surely flawed.

Posted by: Robert Macaire | Aug 7 2021 21:09 utc | 270

@ Posted by: Robert Macaire | Aug 7 2021 21:09 utc | 270

If I'm not mistaken, this ranking uses the metric of Nobel Prize winners at a very high weight to the final score, which heavily favors the Ivy League universities and Cambridge and Oxford. Even one Nobel Prize winner is enough to catapult a university some dozens or even hundreds positions.

Posted by: vk | Aug 7 2021 21:35 utc | 271

Robert, thanks.

Had a good laugh at that list. Any kind of rankings are fundamentally a useless concept. A group of people sits down and puts together a list of criteria, and then ticks off little checkmarks.

That's it. Do these people even go to the actual campuses and sit in on classes and such? Of course not.

Anyway, it doesn't change facts. You simply cannot get a highly specialized education in aerospace in US universities like you can in Russia.

I have had the good fortune to work with a number of very good engineers over the years, on some interesting projects. [Although my engineering work was always a part-time, freelance thing because I had a full time job in aviation---although that does leave you a lot of spare time].

The Russian guys I know are simply a cut above, no question about it. If I was putting together a team, there is nothing to think about. I know exactly who I would choose.

Btw, SpaceX treats its engineers particularly badly. There is some discussion on Reddit about this. They pay less than the auto industry, and no overtime---despite the fact that the hours are very long.

As a result the turnover is very high. Engineers only last two or three years before going elsewhere. That is no way to run a rocket company.

We all know what happened to Boeing, which used to be a strong engineering company. They are now a wall street company. So that's how it goes in the west. Finance capital has taken over, and they don't give a rats ass about engineering.

Posted by: Gordog | Aug 7 2021 21:44 utc | 272

Norwegian @ 268, about nuclear propulsion:

So yes, you may have noticed the links I put up in earlier comments about the Russian nuclear 'space tug' called TEM.

The idea here is to use the electrical power from the reactor to propel ionized gas. The exhaust velocity here is about 10 times that of a chemical engine, if not more. So probably 30 km/s or higher.

But the limitation is that this is extremely heavy, plus the amount of thrust it makes is very small---a tiny fraction of a chemical rocket.

But, the difference is also that it can CONTINUE making thrust for a very long time. Because it uses a tiny amount of propellant [the ion gas that it expels to make thrust].

So for a long space voyage, for instance even to mars, it could cut travel time dramatically. This is because your propellant has much higher efficiency. The specific impulse of an ion thruster is about ten times higher than a chemical rocket, maybe more.

So, unlike the rocket engine which burns for maybe 20 minutes and then you coast for six months at 11 or 12 km/s, here you can keep the engine running for several days or perhaps even weeks, reaching huge speeds. Because it will just keep accelerating slowly all the time that the ion thruster is 'burning.'

This is based on Newton's Second Law, the change of momentum of an object is in direct proportion to the force applied. In space, once you are free of earth's gravity, there is no other force acting on your craft, other than the engine thrust.

Now, as nuclear propulsion in an atmospheric flight vehicle. That's a whole different ballgame. An ion thruster can never work because its thrust is tiny [but it can last a long time like I just explained.

So I will get into the details of the nuclear-fueled cruise missile, Burevestnik, in a future article. notice I said nuclear-fueled, and not nuclear-powered.

The reason is that the power source is an ordinary small turbojet engine, just like on the Tomahawk or Kalibr cruise missiles. The only difference is that heat energy comes from the reactor, instead of burning fuel in the combustion chamber.

Posted by: Gordog | Aug 7 2021 22:05 utc | 273

re: university rankings

I'm old enough to remember the Gourman Report, which purported to rank universities. This was in the 1980s and 1990s. Somehow Soviet universities always ended up at the top, even the dodgier-sounding regional ones, and a little bit of digging revealed why: it gave disproportionate weight to number of library holdings. Soviet institutions were really good about counting each pamphlet; Western libraries, not so much.

This isn't to say that the Soviet institutions were bad; only that a one-size-fits-all approach to bibliometrics yields curious results.

The Shanghai folks, as far as I'm able to determine from their web-accessible information, weight publications in (primarily Western) journals really highly. This may account for the relatively low ranking of Russian institutions, as few Russian journals are covered by Web of Science.

Posted by: corvo | Aug 8 2021 0:58 utc | 274

this article was linked Saker article
Has the US Begun Its "Great Retreain
in the UNZ review
Kudos Gordog

Posted by: ld | Aug 8 2021 4:21 utc | 275

@ Gordog | Aug 7 2021 22:05 utc | 273

Thanks for the reply! Yes, I am aware of the space tug and I am also aware of the fact that the thrust of a nuclear ion engine is much smaller than for a chemical rocket. I also fully understand that it works over a much longer period of time and would therefore revolutionize travelling to Mars and other long distance space destinations by reducing total travel time to a small fraction of what is achievable with today's short rocket impulse + "free fall" approach.

I guess my imprecise terminology was hinting at what you call "the nuclear-fueled cruise missile", where the heat energy is used to drive a turbojet engine. It is useful to clarify the difference. I guess that means it must be air breathing and thus limited by the rule that it cannot fly faster than its exhaust, even if nuclear-fueled. But perhaps it could fly at high velocities in the atmosphere for far longer than a chemically fueled turbojet missile. I guess that is the core idea of the Burevestnik, it can reach targets that are otherwise far out of reach. I remember the Putin presentation showing a missile travelling around South America....

Posted by: Norwegian | Aug 8 2021 5:17 utc | 276

Norwegian, about the nuclear-fueled cruise missile Burevestnik.

Yes, you are correct about flight range. With nuclear fuel as the energy source, the flight range is basically unlimited. The real limitation would be how long the turbojet engine can run continuously. It would need maintenance at some point.

But this is a subsonic cruise missile. It's flight profile will be similar to the US Tomahawk or Russian Kalibr. That means flying at maybe 400 to 500 mph at low altitude, even only a few tens of meters above terrain. That low flight and maneuvering is what makes these subsonic cruise missiles dangerous. They are still hard to stop.

Here is a picture of a nuclear fueled propulsion setup, using two ordinary J47 Pratt & Whitney turbojets.

Those turbojets are completely ordinary, except that their combustion chambers are getting hot airducted to them from a heat exchanger that receives its heat energy from the reactor up front.

Think of your car radiator, which is an example of a heat exchanger. hot coolant flows through tubes with fins on them [to increase heat transfer surface area], while cooling air flows in from the front of the car and through the spaces between those finned tubes, picking up heat from the coolant.

It's the same with a nuclear reactor. Everything is based on heat exchangers. Only in an NPP the reactor heat is used to heat up pressurized water, which turns to steam, which then drives big steam turbine wheels, as seen here.

The shaft power from those turbine wheels drives an electric generator. That same steam turbine can be powered by natural gas or coal to provide the steam.

So driving the turbines in a jet engine by means of pressurized hot air is the same thing---only the working fluid is air rather than water.

Have a look again at the cutaway of a turbojet engine.

In the nuclear setup, the air coming out of the compressor is routed to the heat exchanger, instead of the combustion chamber. The super-heated air is then routed back just in front of the turbines, and drives them in the same way as on the kerosene-fuel engine.

One more point about Burevestnik that is improperly understood in the media reports. There is no need for this engine to dump ANY radioactive exhaust!

That is in fact crucial---because leaving a radioactive trail would make it possible to find these missiles with radiation surveillance sensors. Such sensors can detect radiation from significant distances. It may even be possible to mount such sensors on orbiting satellites.

So exhausting radiation would defeat the purpose of the missile, if it could be so easily located and tracked!

This is how NPPs work. They do not release radiation into the lake or river water that they use for cooling!

As I mentioned already, the way this is achieved is that you have two INDIRECT cooling streams that are never in direct contact with one another.

This was proposed even back in the 1950s when these nuclear-fueled propulsion experiments were going on. See the Indirect Air Cycle.

I will definitely be doing a full deep dive article on Burevestnik. But I hope this clears up some questions. 😺

Posted by: Gordog | Aug 8 2021 15:17 utc | 277

Peter AU1 | Aug 2 2021 18:18 utc | 54

You can gassify old sump oil with red hot steam. Also emulsified with water*, it burns much more cleanly than does "pure" sump oil.

I found that I could get a gas, which mixed with the right amount of air, burnt without making soot, by injecting fixed proportions of sump oil and water into a red hot stainless steel tube.

* I used the detergent that is used for making "cutting oil", unfortunately, I cannot remember what it is called.

Posted by: foolisholdman | Aug 9 2021 15:48 utc | 278

It has been a superlative thread and tour de force by Gordog. Thank you. I can only add a bit of ‘fiction’ to the science here.

If we imagine we live on the only tiny blue dot in this part of the Galaxy that can accommodate this type of Life.
Then we imagine a tiny fraction of that life on that dot wants to dominate all of the little blue dot and threatens to destroy all of the little blue dot- without actually asking all involved in the potential extinction.

Then we as imaginary outsiders to the little blue dot can only conclude that there is no thought by the little blue dotters of the greater threat the little blue dot faces from everything that is ‘out there’ in the deep dark space it floats through.

E.g A meteorite a bit bigger than a missile or even a ship, speeding at upwards of 50km/sec in our direction.

Which if we were able to see in enough time and direct energy at, may save the annihilation of the little blue dot.

Hell yes let us develop the technology and engineering to deal with that and point it in the right direction- away from the little blue dot. In its self preserving sense.

I like the idea of lasers. As well as missiles There is plenty of solar energy that can be collected to generate the electricity to fire such bolts. Even if single use. Without need to worry about reusibility.

As for the geopolitics of the last 60 years.
Imagine that the two nuclear superpowers and their invented systems decided to settle which of the invented systems was better at delivering for these who set both up.
Imagine they decided to see which system put a man on the Moon and bring him back alive first as the game to decide which will be progressed- for the owners who set both up.
When that was settled. One system would lay claim. The other would dismantle over a generation.

So ... we know Gorbachev was only delivering. We know the other side had their spy in the Kremlin. We know that Maggie Thatcher said we are doing business with the losers.

We now know that the people who had been sold as slaves - refused the setup game and its supposed outcome.

We are not their playthings or slaves and we live on the same blue dot - they need to finally understand. As do we slaves.

This is probably the greatest site above and below the line doing so on the little blue dot at the moment.

Thank you all and keep it up. I am humbled.

Posted by: DG | Aug 11 2021 21:41 utc | 279

Thanks for this very thoughtful contribution, DG! 😺

Posted by: Gordog | Aug 11 2021 22:30 utc | 280

@Gordog, thank you for the information. I am looking forwar to more.

I have a distinct feeling that we are so focused on
air capability that the submarine drone announcement
of 2018 has gone little noticed. Since those can
travel unnoticed at tremendous depths and are faster
then torpedoes, land advantages US has in Poland
and Rumania seem to be completely offset by
equally close nuclear powered and armed AI managed drones.

With silence surrounding these weapons — makes me believe that these are the real issues. With proximity issue
being solved, all other capabilities. are suddenly of high importance and indeed — gamechangers.

Posted by: Bianca | Aug 12 2021 20:37 utc | 281

Thanks for your feedback, Bianca!

Yes, I will be writing more on these subjects. The Poseidon nuclear torpedo is indeed a very interesting topic! 😺

Posted by: Gordog | Aug 12 2021 20:49 utc | 282

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