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!]

Conclusions:

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

Comments
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“There is no man in the loop for these, and I don't think it's feasible over such long flight distances, since you would have to have real-time radio comms. They do use this with UAVs like the US Predator and such, using satlink. But there is a longish delay, which is okay for a slow-moving craft like a UAV 100 to 200 mph, but not for something going very fast.”

Perhaps this is one of the purposes of Elon Musk’s StarLink satellite constellation. While his mars colonization project is the apparent purpose of his Starship/Super Heavy rocket, the idea of mars colonization is so impractical and obviously unprofitable that it could very well be a cover for something else just as Howard Hughes’ Glomar Explorer’s goal of recovering a sunken Soviet submarine was disguised as a sea bed mining operation. Even the StarLink constellation is unlikely to be profitable.

Posted by: Kevin | Aug 2 2021 23:12 utc | 101

Peter AU1 @95--

We also have the new series of reactors cooled by lead, which really aren't that new being used in Alfa class subs during the 1970s. I tried to find some info on the nuclear powered and armed torpedo but came up empty, although IMO its reactor's likely similar to those used on the Alfa subs.

Yes, too much Sci-fi influence regarding explosive lasers--blasters--whereas real laser ability isn't at all like that. Good to have that bubble burst.

What I see as probable are hypersonic drone interceptors capable of maneuvers manned craft can't perform because they'll kill the pilot.

Posted by: karlof1 | Aug 2 2021 23:19 utc | 102

Outstanding post. Makes me wonder. Russia can;t be attacked because the costs would be astronomical. China might be attacked, if the attack could stay localized to SCS Taiwan theater and, maybe, the costs might be more or less acceptable. Where does that leave Iran? Do they have an even bigger target painted on their back as the weakest link in Eurasian integration?

Posted by: casey | Aug 2 2021 23:21 utc | 103

@Peter AU1 95

"The Russian space tug, Zeus, is a project now underway. It uses a nuclear reactor to generate electricity to power an electric thruster. I take it would have to operate without a cooling system as there is nothing to dissipate excess heat to."

No there different principles at play.

Firstly current designs from the Keldysh Research Center suggest the craft is designed with an integral cooling system based on the heat radiation of tiny droplets of liquid. These cool the fast neutron core, then fall along the length of the central truss (open to vacuum), and are collected at the far end and pumped back to the reactor. This has the advantage of faster heat dissipation (tiny droplets have high surface area to mass), plus it avoids micrometeor damage to traditional radiator panels - which the reactor would need a massive surface area of.

Secondly there is an inconsistency in the reported power output of the YaEDU reactor. Most sources are claiming it is only 500kW, whilst other reports claim it will be 1 MW. Either way, it is still a thousanth of the power I proposed for a 1GW orbital ABM laser satellite (the power required for one shot, one kill), and so the scale of cooling for such a weapon is three orders of magnitude more.

Or to put it another way, a 1GW laser in space would need over 11,000 times the radiator panels of the ISS to cool it sufficiently to fire rapidly enough to tackle multiple ICBMs.

Posted by: Pete | Aug 2 2021 23:21 utc | 104

Gordog
The likes of radiation cooling is why I like reading your comments. Hadn't thought of that.

For its cons, the SR-71 was/is the only aircraft deployed with a cruise of M3+. Not bad for 60s tech. Both the soviets and Americans built M3+ bombers. The Soviets were built but never test flown, The Americans flew a couple of prototypes for but they too were redundant by the time the prototypes were ready for test flight. Two were flown for a number of years but I don't think they were M3+, at least never flew at M3+.

This is the link to the BBC documentary. It is the original pilot interviews, including the pilot who made the first test flight that is interesting. The BBC makes out it is an original design rather than the last in a line of development. The A-12 although built earlier was deployed later and I think it had a higher rate of failures.

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Aug 2 2021 23:33 utc | 105

The link for 105 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=84Jjh0258Is

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Aug 2 2021 23:41 utc | 106

Pete 104

Thanks for that.
When Putin unveiled the new strategic weapons systems back in 2018 he also spoke of completely new physics principles so I am constantly wondering where that is in both the new military and space tech. Is it to do with hypersonics, nuclear reactors or something else?

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Aug 2 2021 23:46 utc | 107

@ Posted by: Prof | Aug 2 2021 20:46 utc | 83

Up until Krushchev (in which we can already see the first signs of degeneration), the Bolsheviks had a doctrine of "catching up (and then surpassing) the developed capitalist West". This was as clear as day since day 1 of the Revolution and can be proved by overwhelming evidence. In fact, it wasn't even a doctrine: it was common sense.

Whatever the form or shape that diagnosis took, fact is the Bolsheviks up to Krushchev were aware the USSR wasn't ready yet. They talked about a proletarian State, the building of socialism, Soviet power, socialist forms of cultivation - but they never talked about the real deal actually existing in the USSR (only that they were working to get there).

Somewhere during the Brezhnev era (1964-1980), it was declared the USSR was a "developed socialist society". To put it simply, Brezhnev gave up. The USSR then abandoned every socialist goal and withered until a reformer came from the liberal (capitalist) side of the spectrum to bury it (Gorbachev). If I'm not mistaken, the USSR only had four years of recession in its history excluding the war years (Civil War and WWII): three of them were during the Perestroika, one of them being the last year of the USSR's existence (1991). Scholars still wonder why the USSR really fell, but, from the point of view of a socialist project in the historical sense, it was over somewhere during Brezhnev.

Posted by: vk | Aug 2 2021 23:47 utc | 108

@Gordog

You beat my reply, but thanks for adding more details to answer Peter AU1.

I am fully aware of the traditional use of radiators in space. The point I left to readers to extrapolate is that the sheer surface area required to cool a missile killing space laser is literally immense... which makes the laser satellite unfeasible to launch except as a multi-part orbital construction project. It also makes it a massive target and vulnerable to accumulated micro-meteor damage. To be blunt, it would actually be a better engineering solution to simply add a pressurized heat sink with 10t of water.

The exposed droplet cooling tech is, of course, impressive. However we still don't know what the liquid volume loss is over time, nor if the design works without acceleration. Details I hope we find out in the future.

Posted by: Pete | Aug 2 2021 23:48 utc | 109

karlof1 102

For a long time I have thought the Soviet Union put a lot of research into areas the west did not. Also a lot of pure scientific research whereas american research is more results orientated as in can it be put to use, can a profit be made.
Russia as successor state would have a huge scientific database at its disposal.
America discarded the closed cycle rocket engine as impossible. I always wonder what sort of research went on here and what sort of scientific data does Russia have from it? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gCBzycJhdtI&t=1s That was another area US thought wasn't worth exploring.

And then, as I put in my post to Pete, was Putin talking about new physics principles.

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Aug 3 2021 0:01 utc | 110

@ Prof (#83),

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

Why would its elites abandon the system without a plan for better future? They were reckless and let a tragedy happen. How many people died during the transition?

Russia was looted in a big way after it was abandoned. Who were the looters? What are their common characteristics? How much money was taken out of Russia to foreign countries?

Posted by: Max | Aug 3 2021 0:04 utc | 111

If the US wants to negotiate ANYTHING it means they are losing and want a time out...Russia should never negotiate with the US regarding their national defense.

This cannot be emphasized enough. It's not just Russia but anyone.

Posted by: Ian2 | Aug 3 2021 0:20 utc | 112

@ Peter AU1 107

None of us know precisely what new physics Putin was alluding too. From my perspective however, I believe the Russia has made some major breakthroughs in:

Material Science - the creation of new heat resistant materials needed to survive thermal levels of sustained hypersonic flight in atmosphere. Lower the altitude the worse the problem. All US tests have ended with a burn-through of the test vehicles' skin, or the melting of the superstructure underneath its ceramic protection via conduction.

Chemical Science - Gordog explained part of the fuel breakthrough in ignition speeds. But I also think they have discovered a more energy dense solid fuel as their missile ranges have increased significantly this last generation.

Missile Guidance - When traveling at hypersonic speed, an object cannot communicate in the lower EM spectrum. Infrared is also right out for obvious reasons. So either the Russians have cracked the plasma sheath comms problem, or, their inertial guidance has evolved significantly. This also applies to terminal guidance, as I cannot fathom how a Zircon manages to acquire a maneuvering ship if it is still hypersonic at impact.

Nuclear Power Plants - The Russians also seem to have made a major breakthrough in miniaturizing nuclear power. If the Burevestnik testing results in a functional weapon, then that is a demonstration of just how far ahead they are in fission tech. Whilst the Nuclear cruise missile might be dirty as hell in terms of radioactive exhaust, the fact they can quickstart, stabilize then maintain such a fast fission reaction is incredible. The Poseidon is also an advancement in miniaturizing small fission reactors, but Burevestnik aims to release enough heat to provide continuous thrust without melting down. I have no idea what isotopes they must be using.

Posted by: Pete | Aug 3 2021 0:22 utc | 113

Gordog | Aug 2 2021 20:29 utc | 80 (Acetylene)

Thanks! Look forward to learning about navigation!

Acetylene is easily dissolved in acetone at more or less one bar...and I believe it's solubility extends to kero and the rest of petro fluids... IUPAC handbook ought to show mutual solubilities.

As a gas it's unstable over about 2 bar @ ST, in solution much happier, as it regasifies in the engine cycle the instability creates very high burn rates, eg detonation pressures and speeds.

I recall reading that some pulse jet engine used solutions of acetylene, kero and 5% +/- silicone oil (softens the valve closing). Experimental detonation engines (yeah, PJs are a dead end...)

As I understand things the thermo eff of nuke reaction engine in a rocket is different from thermo eff of an electrical generator, as the heat is extracted by the mass of fluids in the exhaust ("evaporative" cooling, so to say, or air cooled, depending on airbreather/pure rocket)...I have the idea that Te of N genset runs about 20%...ie is terrible. Diesels with Te of 50 + % are no longer unusual, but yes indeed a GT genset (fuel hog) would be lighter, probably simpler to maintain.

EmD 20 loco engines for example run up to about 5,000 hp...3.7 mw, and obviously use atmosphere as ultimate heat sink.

It may well be that the prime mover for the Russian laser system(s) is less interesting than the power storage for firing pulses...which I assume is capacitor based. Modern understanding of the sexy capacitor designs is probably the big big "secret"...and leads back to basics, which the US refuses to teach as the basics (hard stuff like mathematics, chemistry, physics) is said to be "racist"...go figure.

Best to all.

Posted by: Walter | Aug 3 2021 0:49 utc | 114

Pete 113

From what I have read, perhaps it was something Putin said, the hypersonic missiles can communicate through the plasma so perhaps that is the new physics principle.
A number of things I have suspected of operating under a new physics principle turn out to be new tech designed with currently known physics principles.

This is what Putin had to say of the power unit for the torpedo..
"In December 2017, an innovative nuclear power unit for this unmanned underwater vehicle completed a test cycle that lasted many years. The nuclear power unit is unique for its small size while offering an amazing power-weight ratio. It is a hundred times smaller than the units that power modern submarines, but is still more powerful and can switch into combat mode, that is to say, reach maximum capacity, 200 times faster."

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Aug 3 2021 1:16 utc | 115

Why would [Soviet] elites abandon the system without a plan for better future? They were reckless and let a tragedy happen. How many people died during the transition?

Posted by: Max | Aug 3 2021 0:04 utc | 111

Intellectual atrophy of the elite is a regular phenomenon, e.g. intellectual capabilities of Chinese rulers at the initial stage of a dynasty and the final decades, and closer to our Western homes, we can see it too.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Aug 3 2021 1:22 utc | 116

Peter @ 105, about the Blackbird:

Yes, I agree with you those top speeds are impressive, especially for 1960s. But for me the real meat and potatoes is that engine. For that time, and the materials science for the compressor blades especially, it was quite something.

Today, we should be able to build a Mach 4 turbojet aircraft with this kind of semi-ramjet scheme. It's a GREAT idea!

--------------------------------------------------------------

Pete @ 113:

Thanks for your points. Good stuff.

Only one disagreement. The plasma sheath is only going to come into play for the Avangard, but not the others. They're just not going fast enough.

For instance at sea level the total stagnation temperature at Mach 6 is going to be 2362 kelvin. At that point you will have air molecule dissociation, so O2 spits up into 2 0s at about 2000 K to 4000 K. It's not going to lose an electron and become ionized until above 9000 K for both oxygen and nitrogen.

So that's not going to happen even at Mach 10 at sea level, which gives stagnation temp of 6,000 K. And that is stagnation, which means only on areas of the flight vehicle body where the flow comes to a complete stop. Very small areas in practice.

So the terminal radar homing should work just fine. Also consider that it will be impossible for either Kinzhal, and especially the airbreathing Zircon to fly at Mach 6 to 10 at sea level. I would say maybe M4 for Zircon if it is coming in at wavetop height. The dynamic pressure to overcome is just too great.

Even at Mach 4 at SL, the dynamic pressure at mach 4 is nearly 24,000 lbf/ft^2. The drag area of a Tomahawk is about half a square foot, so a missile that size is going to need 12,000 pounds of thrust to push through that thick se level air at Mach 4.

Even that is a tall order. But at that speed stagnation temp is only 1,000 K. So down low you have the limitation that you can't really go very fast. You can go fast up high though and come in with a dive on target.

Now if it's coming in a steep dive from high above, Zircon probably could hit Mach 5 or 6. But again, that is not going to make any plasma. Even Kinzhal might carry maybe 6 or 7 in a near vertical dive---because it will inevitably slow down some even in a vertical dive and engine going full tilt!

The only thing that's going to make a plasma cloud is Avangard and its Mach 25 reentry speed. That thing is literally going to be a fireball, like Putin said, lol! just like a capsule reentry where the view out the window is big orange flames.

The Avangard is going to be inertial guidance only. No ICBM carries satnav or any radio devices as a rule. Those can jammed and spoofed.

I don't think either Zircon or Kinzhal will rely much on satnav, except for maybe midcourse correction. The current inertial nav systems with laser ring gyro and strapdown are pretty darn accurate and don't drift much at all.

I agree with you about material science to handle these high temps. Some breakthroughs there for sure for Avangard. I will get into that in the Avangard discussion.

I also have the feeling that the Russians have made some big steps in miniaturizing nuclear power, and even more important, increasing POWER DENSITY---ie the amount of thermal power generated per unit mass.

They are major wizards at nuclear and have been for a long time. This is a field you ignore at huge peril. Btw, the Burevestnik doesn't have to emit hardly any radiation. The strategy would be the same as for NPPs where you have two DISCREET streams between the reactor cooling medium and the heat sink water that is going to come out of a river and which you cannot irradiate.

Here the heat sink is air of course, but we have quite a bit of airflow at a flight speed of say 500 mph. So no worries about cooling. Just a matter of power density and making it light enough.

Now, folks here have said they want to hear more about Burevestnik, so I don't want to go too deep right now, but the thing is perhaps up to 10 times heavier than a Kalibr cruise missile from what I've heard. The lower estimates are just three to four times the mass.

I also agree with your point that they have probably done some chemical science wizardry. That's almost a given with the Zircon scramjet.

Posted by: Gordog | Aug 3 2021 1:30 utc | 117

Walter, thanks for getting back to me with more solid info on acetylene. Very interesting.

I've just mentioned above a couple of nav system basics, but will expand more later. [Maybe I should just start writing that book that one of the commenters suggested, lol]. 😸

Posted by: Gordog | Aug 3 2021 1:40 utc | 118

Peter AU1 @115 Re new physical principles

I start with the observation that Russia tends to understate the performance of its military tech, and to opt for secrecy. The fact that Putin was so outspoken in 2018, and Russia seems increasingly confident, particularly militarily, suggests that the "new physical principles" are indeed a major scientific breakthrough. After all, a new laser is hardly a big deal. My gut feeling - and we won't know maybe for years - is that this is not just some marginal advance but a new tech dimension made possible by a major scientific breakthrough in one of the fundamental sciences. Its not in the nature of Putin or Russia to bullshit. We are all speculating about marginal, albeit significant, gains by Russia, but I feel this is something much bigger.

Posted by: cdvision | Aug 3 2021 1:43 utc | 119

Peter @ 115, thanks for those numbers on nuke power density quoted by Putin.

Wow! If true, that is literally HUGE!

Posted by: Gordog | Aug 3 2021 1:47 utc | 120

Well I really like the way all the YT vids of the death ray machines 'n warp factor 4 vehicles are preceded by commercials for war vid games, the mentality of both is the same, boys & their toys.

Posted by: Debsisdead | Aug 3 2021 2:01 utc | 121

Posted by: Prof | Aug 2 2021 20:46 utc | 83
Instead, the Soviet Union was abandoned by its own elites. It was a "revolution from above."


Not really, the Western elite had already taken over the new generation , or post Revolution ones, suddenly these people and their children become millionaires and roll in in to London, The same happened with the Bolshevik Revolution, both Lenin and Trotsky, were trained and financed by the Banking elites, all the works of Karl Marks were printed by Rothschild, Marx visited USA, it was GP Morgan waiting to welcome him! The desalinisation of Afghanistan started in 1964, and the Mr.THOMAS GOUTTIERRE is the real father of Taliban, Mujaheddin etc , all the books were printed in University of Nebraska, same thing happened in obscure Somalia,

Posted by: Grishka | Aug 3 2021 2:02 utc | 122

"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."

This is the most dangerous phase. This is happening not just for the military sector but for the economic, political, diplomatic, trade and other sectors as well.

The attitude of "If I can't have it all, one else can have it" will be most prevalent. Given the US's track record in using atomic bombs we are in for a rude surprise.

Posted by: jiri | Aug 3 2021 2:19 utc | 123

Max 38
"Russia has too many frozen conflicts. Will the Financial Empire challenge Russia by exploiting these frozen conflicts in Belarus, Ukraine, Syria and internally?"

Seeing the news today about Biden moving troops from Afghanistan to Syria makes me wonder why did SAA / Russian airforce let Idleb fester for this many years after the bulk of the country had been retaken? If they would have stormed Idleb and pushed the jihadi hordes back into Turkey or better yet eliminated them all together would the US even think about using only the SDF and whatever ISIS type trash they've been training in Al Tanf to try and take Damascus? I doubt it. The US-Zio war planners know they have a 100k+ Jihadi army with nothing to lose waiting in Idleb. That's why PBS made the Al Qaeda leader fluff piece "The Jihadi", as propaganda to set these forces up as allies in the American mind. What on earth could Assad / Putin be waiting for? End the war by taking Idleb no matter what it takes. Russia seems to have choked strategically by letting this conflict become frozen.

Posted by: Jason C | Aug 3 2021 2:22 utc | 124

@Posted by: Prof | Aug 2 2021 20:46 utc | 83

Very well put. In addition, there was corruption that became widespread during the Brezhnev period - producing some major players that were well equipped at taking advantage of any reforms to increase their corruption and asset stripping, some at senior levels in the party. Together with the officials who saw that they could create their own wealth, rather than rely on the party form their privileges, this was a significant block waiting to pounce.

Why Xi Xinping is so focused on addressing corruption and removing competing centres of power - he saw what happened in the USSR, as well as throughout Chinese history (the corruption of the Eunuchs was central to the fall of the Ming Dynasty).

Posted by: Roger | Aug 3 2021 2:24 utc | 125

@Posted by: Max | Aug 3 2021 0:04 utc | 111

The looters were many of the elites themselves, once they saw that there would be change they worked out that primitive accumulation and rentier capitalism would be much better for them than a renovated socialism. May as well jump on the bus and take some of the spoils, and many of them had got used to already taking some spoils - there were huge amounts of foreign currency from oil and gas exports that could be siphoned off with the right friends under Brezhnev.

Very much Animal Farm, with the corrupted nomenklatura as the Pigs.

Posted by: Roger | Aug 3 2021 2:29 utc | 126

USA will not go after Russia or China. They will attack and neutralize Iran first, as they are preparing to do very soon. And AS USUAL, Putin the Pussy will not lift a finger to help Iran and neither will China. Thus China's oil supply will be destroyed too. USA does have a plan.
While you are masturbating over military porn, USA/UK/Israel are preparing the ground to attack Iran.

Posted by: Hoyeru | Aug 3 2021 2:50 utc | 127

Gordog , i propose you routinely contribute in MoA , especially in technical military matters that you are expert with.

Posted by: Stormwind | Aug 3 2021 2:52 utc | 128

Hoyeru @Aug3 2:50 #127

While you are masturbating over military porn, USA/UK/Israel are preparing the ground to attack Iran.

The 'masturbating' is coupled with a disinterest in discussing the latest Israeli-Iran flare up on the Open Thread. Rather curious.

!!

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Aug 3 2021 2:56 utc | 129

Prof @Aug2 20:46 #83:

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

There may be some truth to this but it doesn't excuse Western cruelty. Especially if one is considering why we are where we are today (with Russia and China as allies) as james mused about @Aug2 18:50 #61.

* Bush promised not to move Western borders "one inch" eastward. That promise was not honored and was probably always a lie.

* In his interview with ft.com a few years ago, Kissinger remarked how no one foresaw the ability of the Russians to absorb pain during the 1990's. I take this as a tacit admission that the West was seeking capitulation.

* It is well known that Russia asked repeatedly for debt relief but the West demanded that it continue to service its debts even as Russia faced a social disaster.

* Columbia Economics Professor Jeffry Sachs argued for a big aid package for Russia in the 1990's. That never happened. He is now a fierce critic of USA/West.

Note: This list is not complete.

<> <> <> <> <>

Good to see that Grishka @Aug3 2:02 #122 pushed back on the misdirection.

!!

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Aug 3 2021 3:08 utc | 130

I have been looking through Putin's 2018 speech to check what context it was in. It is not in there so in one of other speeches or interviews around that time.
I found a number of references to the 'new physics properties though that seems interchangeable with 'new physical properties' which I take is a different thing.

This from a 2017 piece in RT
"Another, the Zadira-16 (Russian for ‘cocky’) was signed with the Russian Federal Nuclear Center, a Sarov-based nuclear lab with historic ties to Russia’s nuclear weapons program. The system would be “based on new principles of physics,” a term used in the Russian military for non-traditional weapons systems, from direct energy weapons to anything more exotic"
https://www.rt.com/news/400957-russia-army-expo-contracts/

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Aug 3 2021 3:17 utc | 131

I just dug up this and translated it on Yandex.

https://vpk.name/news/174791_minoboronyi_toropit_uchenyih_s_razrabotkoi_novogo_oruzhiya.html
"The development of weapons based on new physical principles is in full swing in Russia. The leadership of the Ministry of Defense makes no secret of this. For example, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Yuri Borisov told reporters that the army is on the verge of another scientific and technological revolution, and fundamentally different weapons systems are being replaced, which are based on physical principles that were not previously used in this area. "We especially expect a major breakthrough in the field of laser technology, electromagnetic weapons, and so on," said Yuri Borisov.

Let's open the veil of secrecy over this "and so on". As previously reported by NVO, last week a meeting of the Scientific and Technical Council of the Military-Industrial Commission was held, where one of the issues on the agenda concerned the development of a generator for creating large, tens of kilometers long, artificial plasma formations for disabling spacecraft. The idea, however, is not new. At the beginning of 1991, by decree of the Council of Ministers of the USSR, 1 million rubles were allocated. for R & D "Fizika-RVO", several million more – for R & D "Farada-RVO" and "Apparat-RVO", which were carried out by order of the Ministry of General Engineering of the USSR and military unit 57275 (Military Space Forces). However, after the collapse of the USSR, all work was stopped.

The results of research in the field of ultrashort electromagnetic radiation pulses and their use as a means of active influence on various receiving and transmitting devices have already been implemented in hardware. The system generates a pulse with a duration of less than 10 ns, which is shorter than the EMP of lightning or even a nuclear explosion. This makes it almost impossible to detect radiation sources that are spaced apart in space, which can be disguised as a small van. The system generates interference in the spectrum up to several gigahertz, which has a high penetrating power. They paralyze the operation of all known communication and data transmission systems, including combat control signals."

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Aug 3 2021 3:28 utc | 132

"Fizika-RVO" "Farada-RVO" "Apparat-RVO"

Farada refers to capacitance - another yandex translate
"[farad] — unit of electrical capacity in SI. It is named after the English scientist M.. Faraday. Designations: Russian F, international F. 1 F is the capacitance of the capacitor, at which the charge in 1 K creates a potential difference of 1 V on the capacitor plates."

RVO relates to these gadgets
"The spark gap valve RVO-10 is a protective device of a support-suspended design, containing series-connected spark gaps and resistors enclosed in a sealed porcelain housing, which reliably protects the internal elements of the spark gap from the external environment during the entire service life."
https://perm.pulscen.ru/products/klapan_reguliruyushchi_25ch945p_du100_ru16_privod_kt_36506533

From the original piece that I quoted...
"The results of research in the field of ultrashort electromagnetic radiation pulses and their use as a means of active influence on various receiving and transmitting devices have already been implemented in hardware."
" The system generates interference in the spectrum up to several gigahertz, which has a high penetrating power. They paralyze the operation of all known communication and data transmission systems, including combat control signals.""

Reminds me of USS Donald Duck in the black sea.

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Aug 3 2021 3:57 utc | 133

@ Grishka (#122), you’re on the right track.

@ Jason C (#124), good point. Lavrov comes across as the Soviet Union’s Maxim Litvinov in the foreign affairs. What are their common characteristics? It seems like Vladimir Putin knows how to play that geopolitical game like Stalin.

@ Piotr Berman (#116) & Roger (#126), Who were the backer and bankers of those elites? We know the reality, do you? They all need to return back the loot to Russia.

“Russia/USSR defeat and conquest is the ultimate goal of the bankster families. Nothing has changed since the Napoleonic invasion to Hitler to the present (all were working for the xxxxx bankster team – any other talk (ideology) is just window dressing.”

“Under the guise of looking for students who have xxxxx roots, they try to pick out all the talented students with good prospects, and send them to study in the West. Of all the universities in the West, .... Columbia, Yale, New York, ...” Who were leading this program? Who was funding it?

Posted by: Max | Aug 3 2021 4:08 utc | 134

Peter @ 131 and 132:

Amazing stuff. Thanks for digging that up. Great discussion here, so big thanks to all.

Look forward to continuing tomorrow! 😺

Posted by: Gordog | Aug 3 2021 4:14 utc | 135

Some points on scramjets and hypersonic maneuverability.

First, maneuverable reentry vehicles, MARVs, have been around since the late 1960s, and actually reached deployment on the Pershing II missile in the 1980s, though its purpose was for greater accuracy, and not evading interception. (It could have)

Second, there have been a hydrocarbon scramjets tested in the west as well. While technically it is rocket science, it ain't rocket science metaphorically.

Third, the fuel in question, given the additional performance, is almost certainly a borane based fuel like
Triethylborane, which has been used since the 1960s, most notably as an igniter for the SR-71, whose JP-7 fuel was very hard to ignite. It was also considered, and abandoned for use in the afterburners of the B-70 Valkyrie.

It's toxic and ignites spontaneously in the presence of air, which makes a pain for regular manned operations, but for a storeable fuel in a missile, it is relatively easy to handle. It has about 40% more heat content than kerosene.

It burns quickly, and so is well suited to a ramjet.

The Russians have lots of experience with boron based fuels, as they work nicely with solid fuel ramjets, such as the SA-6 missile.

Posted by: Matthew G. Saroff | Aug 3 2021 4:36 utc | 136

Excellent article and commentary. What I would like to add is that we all saw how the West blew out Russia after the Soviet Union collapsed in an attempt to gain control of the asset base which would lead them to control the political base in time. Russia was the hoped for key in containing China and the West failed. The West went after Russia's partners in the world methodically in an attempt to isolate their influence.

The anti Russian propaganda stems from the frustration of that failure and fear that Russia may gain traction politically in Europe not through war but through common sense diplomacy. The US has descended into a form of madness looked upon by Russians as an unstable tinderbox of a nuclear regime.

The West navigated China completely differently. The partnered with them in a form of capitalism which they hoped would corrupt China and lead them then to fold their new found riches into the Western sphere of influence. They also used China to enrich themselves and implode US unionism which was at its peak at the time Nixon went to China to get the ball rolling.

The West failed there as well in part. They were able to immensely enrich themselves but now China is a complete adversary wanting its influence in its sphere of operation.

This is what makes the West extremely dangerous. They will never accede to partnership in the spheres that should typically granted to a regional superpower.

Now we face a world with new weapons systems becoming increasingly autonomous with regional powers more heavily armed with far more destructive weapons than at any time in past history. How does this end well? Am I supposed to depend on MAD to make me feel safe? Really?


Posted by: circumspect | Aug 3 2021 4:51 utc | 137

debsisdead
From some of your earlier posts, you have put in time fighting with or with people that were fighting for I take it something better. War is the history of civilization. Be better if that wasn't the case but we bare what we are it seems. The advent of nukes should have brought that to a stop, but five-eyes want to stay on top.
Apart from that, cutting edge tech is interesting - be far better if it were in the civilian field, but mostly throughout history it has been in the military field. Food, shelter from the elements and defenses against thy neighbor appear to be the essentials for life.

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Aug 3 2021 5:02 utc | 138

Gordog @75 re Peresevet and Satellites

Did you catch this from Bart Hendrickx in The Space Review? This article was the first time I heard the satellite-dazzling mission for Peresevet described. Definitely a practical mission for laser weapons, and a further disincentive for the US crazies to contemplate a first strike.

Interested to hear more about the GZUR/Gremlin missile, I had heard nothing about this important development until it was mentioned in Martyanov's blog a few days ago. The globalsecurity article is a little unclear probably due to translation issues but it mentioned the use of a ducted rocket in GZUR. The author may just mean placing the solid booster stage within the (sc)ramjet combustion chamber as you described above, but it would be great to get your opinion on the use of ducted rockets/ejector ramjets in hypersonic vehicles.

Walter and I were discussing them toward the end of your last thread, such as the '60s era Gnom that could have become the first road mobile ICBM if not for the death of its chief designer. I don't have the aerodynamics/gas dynamics background to evaluate their utility in hypersonic applications, the almighty wiki states that they are incapable of supersonic combustion but I seem to recall a lot of interest in ejectors in US hypersonic research in the '80s.

Posted by: S.P. Korolev | Aug 3 2021 5:08 utc | 139

As to the discussions on the use of small nuclear reactors for directed-energy weapons, as a complete outsider, it occurs to me that comparing the cooling problems of a continuously-operating reactor to a defensive weapons system is not very relevant. For brief pulses of enormous power (and significant energy total) something like phase-change cooling could be used. If the time scale of the pulse is relatively short the effect will be adiabatic so the total energy of the pulse is more important than the average power over a period of seconds or minutes.

It also occurs to me that there may be some possible intermediate reaction rate between the ~1 microsecond that a bomb uses and the start-up time of a civilian or military nuclear reactor that is intended to operate continuously. Of course there would be safety issues, but we're talking about a military defensive apparatus intended to save millions of lives, so a fair degree of risk is acceptable.

The (apparently unpromising) US experiments with an airborne weapon on a 747 used a chemical laser to generate a large enough amount of power to demonstrate some capability, but it would only be capable of a dozen or two shots before requiring refueling.

An interesting 1979 paper (now censored from the NASA website) is available here from the internet archive. It refers to liquid uranium compounds, used in a directly nuclear-pumped laser system.


Posted by: Billb | Aug 3 2021 5:22 utc | 140

@ Posted by: Gordog | Aug 2 2021 13:38 utc | 14

"As for some kind of military technology 'race'...well, there is no race. The US is all bluff and bluster, and tons of pork and gravy for the bloated and corrupt 'defense' industry, which is run by Wall Street."

Some of the would like to be "exceptionalists" evangelise the notions of "magic bullets" and that "war" is restricted to things that go bang, whilst engaging in what they purport to be their new invention designated "hybrid war", seeking to deny historical records that attempts at coercion have always come in many forms/vectors simultaneously.

"The Russian military is full of people with strong science background. They know the hand the west is holding is very weak. They are not worried, believe me."

The "not worried" are not restricted to the "Russian military" whilst the sum of some who know the hand the the west is holding is very weak increases through every interaction with the would like to be "exceptionalists" social relations. Research suggests that such is more a function of analysed experience than belief/emotionalism which is the resort of would like to be "exceptionalists" rendering them complicit in their own transcendence, whilst believing in hopes/possibilities of linear restructuring - also known as reform.


Posted by: MagdaTam | Aug 3 2021 6:31 utc | 141

b and Gordog

Thank you, excellent post and great comments.

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Aug 3 2021 7:17 utc | 142

re Peter AU1 | Aug 3 2021 5:02 utc | 136

Yep, nearly 50 years ago, I would like to think I've grown out of some of the things I did back then but that doesn't preclude the notion that sometimes fighting is the only way for humans to get those basic essentials.
However that is not what the weapons being discussed here will ever be used for.
These weapons, if ever they are used, which when you concentrate is close to inevitable, are not the ways and means for decent humans to get their slice, these weapons are designed and constructed for the sole purpose of ensuring one crew of types establish dominance over another crew of types.

Just as the englander longbow was designed and constructed for the purpose of penetrating armour plate, so that the englander king could establish dominance over the french king.
When Henry V beat the armies of Charles VI like a tatty old rug, no decent person ate better, got a home or found freedom, but a big mob of them, the poor sods on both sides sent in with pitchforks, slashers and staves to help fight & support the 'troops' died in great number. There is a huge burial mound at one side of Agincourt battlefield where thousands of them got dumped buried.

Posted by: Debsisdead | Aug 3 2021 7:23 utc | 143

Peter AU1 @ 131 & 132 & others.

Be wary of using Yandex and Google etc. translators with the Russian language. Like all languages, it depends on subject matter focus and age of the writer and reader. You can very easily be confused by incorrect translations. A classic example is the motor car, It's автомобиль. Except it's also авто and машина. Now машина can be almost anything mechanical, it depends on context and the age of the writer.

My "nephew" is studying electrical/electronic engineering at University in Tyumen, he excitedly told me about research he was involved in. The words that he used had evolved drastically from the dictionary meanings, and only by using DeepL and Linguee could I understand him.

Posted by: Cossack | Aug 3 2021 7:54 utc | 144

@98 Passer by
That doesn`t change the basic premise. If you know how to build a hypersonic glider and you know how to build hypersonic engines then why not build a hypersonic glider powered by hypersonic engines in order to fly to the edge of space?

Posted by: m | Aug 3 2021 8:00 utc | 145

That doesn`t change the basic premise. If you know how to build a hypersonic glider and you know how to build hypersonic engines then why not build a hypersonic glider powered by hypersonic engines in order to fly to the edge of space?

Posted by: m | Aug 3 2021 8:00 utc | 143

I think it's still fundamental problems of scaling the sizes of aircraft with aerodynamic drag, weight, etc. At some point they can probably mix rockets and air breathing engines into one single aircraft but that would involves decades of development and numerous testbed.

Posted by: Lucci | Aug 3 2021 8:15 utc | 146

@ Posted by: Max | Aug 2 2021 16:32 utc | 38

“However, external forces have CHALLENGED Russia not militarily but by betrayals from
INTERNAL TRAITORS to create regime changes.”

Perception management including “secrecy” is a function of the beliefs of others.
The beliefs of others can be encouraged but the most productive encouragement is self-encouragement.
Mr. Martynov is of the view that you only get one Mr. Yeltsin in a given period predicated on presumptions of Mr. Yeltsin'senemies of the peopleness and traitorship – presumptions which you apparently share - and hence you both illustrate the observation that “the most productive encouragement is self-encouragement” which had/has utility in the ongoing lateral process of the transcendence of the “Soviet Union” by the Russian Federation and the transcendence of “The United States of America” by “The United States of America”.

Posted by: MagdaTam | Aug 3 2021 8:31 utc | 147

I have never enjoyed a long technical piece as I did this. Thank you immensely for this offering. I'm sure going to read it many times more.

Posted by: Steve | Aug 3 2021 8:58 utc | 148

@Gordog | Aug 2 2021 23:03 utc | 97

Martyanov has a brief news item on the nuclear space tug here, and Anatoly Zak has more details here.

This is very interesting information, but many articles of Anatoly Zak's website appear to be paywalled, unfortunately. Oh well, one may consider the expense...

From what I can gather from open information, the Zeus space tug seems revolutionary with a nuclear reactor cooled by radiators combined with electric propulsion. This seems far more realistic and exciting than the Musk toys!

Posted by: Norwegian | Aug 3 2021 9:44 utc | 149

Posted by: m | Aug 3 2021 8:00 utc | 143

>> If you know how to build a hypersonic glider and you know how to build hypersonic engines then why not build a hypersonic glider powered by hypersonic engines in order to fly to the edge of space?

The space shuttle is a type of hypersonic glider. It uses some kind of small engine on descent, mostly for maneuvering. But it can not go into space by itself.

The hypersonic speed is reached mostly due to the descent, from falling on Earth, an engine is just for small maneuvers.

The other two weapons also have nothing to do with ballistic missiles reaching space. One is a (small) cruise missile launched from ships and another is relatively small aeroballistic missile dropped from planes.

Posted by: Passer | Aug 3 2021 9:47 utc | 150

Great article and comments, especially the description of how air passes through the different types of engines and the issues at higher mach numbers.

The only nit I have have is that the US (well SpaceX) has succeeded in developing a closed-cycle rocket engine that uses an oxygen-rich preburner. Twenty-eight Raptor engines are currently being installed for the first orbital flight test of the 9m diameter Starship/Superheavy Booster.`

The Raptor engine uses both fuel-rich and oxygen-rich preburners and these convert all the fuel and oxidizer from liquid to vapor before it burns, so combustion is more complete, giving the engine a very high Isp (efficiency).

An oxygen-rich preburner is similar to a oxy-acetylene cutting torch, so developing an alloy that can withstand these conditions is quite difficult. Soviet scientists and engineers achieved this already decades ago.

Not really relevant to the rest of the discussion, but the fanboy in me has to point out the facts ;-)

Posted by: bolangi | Aug 3 2021 10:13 utc | 151

@ Peter 133

RVO relates to these gadgets

No, this has a different meaning here, the Russian text goes as follows
"Совета Министров СССР было выделено 1 млн руб. на НИОКР «Физика-РВО», еще несколько миллионов – на НИОКРы «Фарада-РВО» и «Аппарат-РВО»"

НИОКР is correctly translated as R&D project, «Физика-РВО» is the name of the project, where РВО [RVO] stands for «Российское военное обозрение» [Russian Military Overview/Prospect/Outlook]

Regards

Posted by: BG13 | Aug 3 2021 12:39 utc | 152

BG13
The names of the three projects - Yandex comes up with Physics, Capacitance and Apparatus - apparatus seems a somewhat generic term on its own. An apparatus involving the first two?

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Aug 3 2021 13:46 utc | 153

this is a fantastic technical discussion on the bolts and nuts of hypersonic toys. awaiting a book from gordog i'd include in my library.

Posted by: gorcat | Aug 3 2021 13:48 utc | 154

@Jackrabbit #68

1. The "systemic failure" in the USSR wasn't nearly as bad as the systemic failures in capitalist core countries, yet the latter don't seem to (politically) threaten them. I don't think 80s USSR, obviously in stagnation but certainly not terminally ill, was worse than post 2008 West, let alone post-Covid. The real issue the USSR faced was an improper handling of its intelligentsia and the managerial strata. The collapse of the Union was not "systemic" but all-out top-down decision by the siloviki and their friends, who would become the billionaire oligarchs of today, with some of them deciding to flee with all the wealth they stole to LA and London for a good life. Most USSR citizens, maybe with the exception of some Baltic states, were in favor of the Union. You don't see similar tremors in the West/US because the elites earn benefits both during the booms of the economy and the downturns(crises), so why scrap the system? What the plebians do for that? Well, they blame china it seems:)

2. Again, you are wrong. The West did not fail in the 90s. It succeeded. They even boast of how Yelts was surrounded by hundreds of CIA personel. The market reforms were drafted by CIA men. Your reading is way too charitable (probably because you are an American?). Misrecognizing successes for failures is the ever persistent Chomskian obfuscation.

Posted by: galerkin | Aug 3 2021 15:21 utc | 155

Peter,

yes the names are physics - that could be anything; Farad (its the SI-unit not the physical quantity) - likely problems with capacitors, e.g. for the LASER talked alot about in the commentaries, or batteries; Russian Apparat can be anything, even a food processor, I would prefer "device" or "module" as translation, in any case more applied than the first one.

Posted by: BG13 | Aug 3 2021 15:34 utc | 156

An article just came out in the RT about this subject:

"It is impossible to intercept such missiles": how Russia is implementing a program to create hypersonic weapons [in Russian; use machine translation]

Posted by: vk | Aug 3 2021 15:38 utc | 157

@ Peter AU1

The Peresvet has 3 separate vehicles: the laser itself, the power unit, and the command & control/radar. There is also a railway version, and, if I remember correctly, a version in a bunker with an integral railway track by which it can come out of the bunker; but it can also operate through a hatch in the roof of the bunker. The video you linked looked like it might be the bunker version. At the moment of firing you can see a white vertical line, which must be the laser - this is obviously not the target but the Peresvet itself, peeking out through the roof of its bunker. I am guessing what seems like an explosion may be an "explosive" release of heat for cooling purposes - I don't see any other explanation for it, unless it has something to do with capacitative discharge.

In the period after Putin's announcement in 2018 there were one or more illuminating articles I think on strategic culture, though I didn't see anything just now on a quick search.

Posted by: BM | Aug 3 2021 15:46 utc | 158

@ Prof | Aug 2 2021 20:46 utc | 83 quote - "Instead, the Soviet Union was abandoned by its own elites. It was a "revolution from above." thanks... add to that the wests effort to dominate and i don't see why gorbachev is vilified as much as he is... thanks for your insightful comments..

@ vk | Aug 2 2021 23:47 utc | 108.. thanks interesting additional insights...

@ Grishka | Aug 3 2021 2:02 utc | 122... thanks... where do you think we are headed at this point??

@ Roger | Aug 3 2021 2:24 utc | 125 / 126... thanks for your input on this interesting sideline topic here...

@ Jackrabbit | Aug 3 2021 3:08 utc | 130... i don't think the prof would disagree with your view of western cruelty in all this... thanks..

thanks for everyones comments on the topic of gorbachev... it just seems to me it is easy to vilify one person, when there was a whole lot more going on then just one person here... i don't buy it myself.. you've all helped clarify that for me..

@

Posted by: james | Aug 3 2021 15:55 utc | 159

@ Rob | Aug 2 2021 23:12 utc | 100

I really wish people would stop calling it the 'Cuban missile crisis', it be far better described as the 'Turkish missile crisis'.

Aside from that quibble, I agree with you entirely. Most readers of this blog seem to assume that the US/NATO would refrain doing something if that action was insane, the problem with that assumption is that the US/NATO leaders ARE functionally insane.

Posted by: MarkU | Aug 3 2021 16:13 utc | 160

Jackrabbit @ 7 Maybe that 'something more' is a willingness to confront USA/NATO+Israel. Recent strong rhetoric from China indicates that such a change in attitude.

<=please confirm <=does the UN have a base actually on American soil.
Some foreigners in UN clothing might make Americans their target?

Oligarchs (many are in China and Russia, and Norway..Israel, Saudi Arabia, etc.) have ordered take down USA governed America.. history is full of Oligarch take downs Spain, France, England, Germany, Ottoman, Japan, Russia and others. Its part of keep the nation states franchises separated, weak, and in the dark programs.

Things in USA governed America are worsing.. The monopoly powered corporations are taking what they can as they prepare to sit out the coming chaos and likely genocides and deaths of the governed created by unmanagable financial large financial debts.

IS it possible the major industrial failures of recent times, in America, are not acts of nature, are not mistake or mismanagement, but are the result of trojans, placed at the helm to position the calamities that cause the failures to happen.. Every day on TV I see lawyers advertising if you have this or that side effect of a drug or operation, please call; the ads say, the providers or producers have set aside megabucks to compensate for the injuries the megabuck codrporations have caused you, if you qualify..they just want to keep everything secret, and have congress give them some more money to disappear. Are the oligarchs intentionally seeking failure onset.. ?

Biswapriya Purkayast@ 8 weapons sufficiently difficult to intercept is one thing, < failure to develop sufficient alternatives does not seem to be bothering anyone at the USA.. <= maybe the oligarchs want it that way?

gottlieb @ 15 missible gap illustrative of ..bribes and cover-ups.. <=how about intentional and on track.. ?? Privatizing the inventions of mankind, via copyright and patent monopoly laws and conducting state affairs in secret , have rendered to the Oligarch, private ownership of all the parts needed <=to build a winning race car, the challege now is to find an American University graduate with sufficient technical known-how to assemble it.

Even the basic knowledge has been copyrighted and placed inside of oligarch controlled corporations safes, hidden from the general public. Copyright and patent laws have retained access control to information and access by establishing high pay-walls, and gates that require specific authorization.. .. The sequestering, hiding and gating technical information has been a prominent feature of the USA governed society since 1948.

Paul Damascene @ 18 and 20 The MIC seems unable to absorb these lessons
the comprehensive ass-kicking NATO / US forces 'Blue team" received at the hands of China in the South China Sea. <= teaming obsolescence with incompetence has rarely produced a winner?


C1ue @ 24.. the force found itself stifled from the get-go during the October war game. <=an outcome planned from the git go?


ToivoS @ 82 ..it might be due to US universities no longer introducing their young engineers and science students to some really difficult physical problems. (in my case, this problem of turbulence was introduced as insoluble, thus challenging us to solve it, not in that course but later on, if possible). <= humm..

Prof @ 83 the reforms..unleashed processes that <=created a new coalition of groups and classes [Trojans] that favored replacing socialism with capitalism. <=the Flexians at work? So, the Soviet system was not just destroyed by Gorbachev the individual. It was not overthrown by "popular" struggles for "freedom". It was not overthrown by a mass desire to abandon the Soviet federation.

Instead, the Soviet Union was abandoned by its own [Trojan] elites. It was a "revolution from above." <= just as is going on today in USA governed America.

Jason C @ 124 What on earth could Assad / Putin be waiting for? End the war by taking Idleb no matter what it takes. Russia seems to have choked strategically by letting this conflict become frozen. <= Russia is part of the Flexian (Gerhard @36) controlled nation state system? Russia will move when told to do so.

Roger @ 126 The looters were many of the elite <= [Trojans] themselves?


Posted by: Hoyeru @ 127 Putin .. will not lift a finger to help Iran and neither will China. China's oil supply will be destroyed too. USA does have a plan. While you are masturbating over military porn, USA/UK/Israel are preparing the ground to attack Iran. <===After the kill Iran, damage China war, The Trojans (flexans (Gerhard @36) will have completed their death by financial destruction objective, which mutilated Russia years ago. Americas will be no better off than the Indians wiped out to establish capitalism and private property rights in America and defeated Ottoman lands.


Jackrabbit @ 129 "There may be some truth to this but it doesn't excuse Western cruelty" <= its not the governed who are cruel, its the Flexan (Gerhard @36) system of hidden Trojans used to pit one set of nations against other sets of nations that produces the cruelity. <=The idea that the governed people of a nation are responsible to a victor nation is used by the Flexan to hide the true cause of the deaths and destruction "contrived conflicts" produce.


Peter AU1 @ 131 <=that translation is revealing.. pulse with a duration of less than 10 ns and 132 " The system generates interference in the spectrum up to several gigahertz, which has a high penetrating power. They paralyze the operation of all known communication and data transmission systems, including combat control signals.""

Max @ 133 poses questions which demonstrate the operation of the flexan.. (Trojans)..

Billb @ 140 https://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/19790014704_1979014704.pdf does not come up says not available.

Debsisdead @ 143.. these weapons are designed and constructed for the sole purpose of ensuring one crew of types establish dominance over another crew of types. <= yes, and in deep dark secret.. as far as the public is concerned.


galerkin @ 155.. The collapse of the Union was .. top-down decision by the siloviki and their friends, who would become the billionaire oligarchs of today, ..
yes the Trojan representatives of the Flexans (Gerhard @ 36).


<= I wonder what would be the effect on the development and operation of the human mind if the 5g signal were pulsed at 10 ns.?

tanks to B and Gordog for the illuminating journalism.. NYT beware.. here comes MOA.


Posted by: snake | Aug 3 2021 16:17 utc | 161

galerkin @Aug3 15:21 #155

You make good points with a logical basis but I don't think they are as strong as you think they are:

  1. The collapse of the Union was not "systemic" but all-out top-down decision by the siloviki and their friends, who would become the billionaire oligarchs of today ...

    A managed collapse such that the powerful retain power is logical and there is evidence of powerful government officials being in bed with the oligarchs in certain places. But to what extend these people jointly planned a collapse and transition to capitalism is questionable.

    Links?

  2. The West did not fail in the 90s. It succeeded.... They even boast of how Yelts was surrounded by hundreds of CIA personel.

    If the West HAD succeeded as you suggest, then there would have been no reason not to provide aid and thus strengthen Russia people's tie to the West.

    Western succeess was mostly in helping to destabilizing USSR such that a collapse, managed or otherwise, was inevitable.

    I'm skeptical of the rumors of "hundreds of CIA personel" surrounding Yeltsin. What there was, I would guess, is hundreds of pro-Western oligarch-wannabes attempting to influence Yeltsin to enact measures that would enrich them.


<> <> <> <>

What you (still) ignore is the actions taken, or not taken, by the West that increased the misery of the population. That appears to have been deliberate and designed to force capitulation. There was never going to be any significant aid program to Russia without such capitulation. Millions suffered greatly, and unnecessarily, due to this power play. IMO this cruelty undermined Western goals instead of furthering them. The most clear example of this is Russia's revitalized military and alliance with China.

Only about a decade later, USA would embark on a war of choice in Iraq that would cost trillions of dollars and thousands of lives. If such resources had been used to help the Russian's during the 1990's that kindness would have furthered the West's aims much more than overthrowing Saddam.

The Wests unenlightened dipshits have forced us into a new Cold War which brings additional cost and risk of a hot war. Those dipshits never face any accountability. They fail upward and we all suffer for it./rant

!!

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Aug 3 2021 16:37 utc | 162

@ Debsisdead | Aug 3 2021 7:23 utc | 143

RE: "Just as the englander longbow was designed and constructed for the purpose of penetrating armour plate, so that the englander king could establish dominance over the french king."

Will you please stop rewriting history to fit in with your chosen narratives !!

The longbow was NOT invented by the English and arguably not even by the Welsh who used it against the English before the English ever used it themselves.

Posted by: MarkU | Aug 3 2021 16:44 utc | 163

@MarkU #163
Indeed. Debsisdead is passionate but oh so very wrong about so many things.
Regarding the long bow: it doesn't matter how it was invented. The use of an English long bow is a non-trivial process; it takes literally years of training to get strong enough and capable enough to shoot said bow. We're talking about draw strength of 80 to 130 lbs, but without the pulleys and what not in a modern compound.
It is like lifting the 80-130 lb weight, only with a 15th century person (significantly lighter and shorter), and repeated hundreds of times. Think a minimum 25 shots a minute, up to 50, but for hours.
English nobles couldn't and didn't do it - they were the ones who got spanked by the French knights regularly.
It was the English yeomanry who provided the bulk of the long bow corps - the English middle class as it were. Too poor, you couldn't afford to have a prime working age male spend so much time practicing with the bow.
Then there's the leveling aspect: an armored knight is basically invulnerable to any number of hoe or spear armed peasants - but the same isn't true for a long bow. Think a lot of droit du seigneur happened in England?

Posted by: c1ue | Aug 3 2021 17:12 utc | 164

I see a lot of argument about how the USSR failed in 1991.
Yes, Gorbachev was definitely to blame.
No, it wasn't some vast conspiracy although there was a conspiracy to drive oil prices down.
But the ultimate problems were the Baltic, Eastern European, and East German SSRs. They collectively imposed an enormous economic burden on the USSR economy.
Gorbachev was correct in understanding they had to be let go; where he went wrong was thinking that doing so would buy any form of respect or cooperation from the other side of the Cold War.
A less "surrender monkey" type would have, at a minimum,
1) done some studies to understand how existing economic dependencies could be redirected. For example, the primary iodine plant for the entire USSR was in Ukraine in 1991. Post collapse, there were iodine deficiencies seen due to the disruption of that single item.
2) negotiated benefits from the "freeing" of the Baltic and Eastern European SSRs, as well as East Germany, instead of just pulling out. The West would happily have paid to "free" these countries.

Nor am I particularly impressed with conspiracy theories about siloviks or what not. People seem to have forgotten that most of the early crop of oligarchs are dead and/or neutralized: the Jewigarchs Berezovsky, Gusinski, Blavatnik, Khodorkovsky etc.

Secondly, if the siloviks were what propelled the oligarchs into place (as opposed to them forming their own state-looting gangs), how do you explain the accession of Putin and his ongoing stranglehold of power?
Did the intel siloviks go on vacation for a decade?

It is fairly well documented how the various oligarchs attained their status - the biggest used bankster tactics such as that bank which held money for the Russian government but used the deposited funds to buy privatizing industries - which then recycled the cash paid back into said bank. But the actual methods were all over the map - catch as catch can with the result being the ultimate financial/economic Darwinian contest.

Posted by: c1ue | Aug 3 2021 17:26 utc | 165

S.P. Korolev @139:

Thanks so much for that very extensive article on the Peresvet. I read it with great interest and it really filled out a lot of info I had no idea about! Good stuff.

Thanks also for the article on the Gnom ICBM project from the sixties.

I came across a small amount of info on the Gnom a few years ago when I was involved in an investigation of ejector technology for subsonic turbojets. It was an extensive study project with a team of top-notch people and we reviewed pretty much all the extant literature.

The idea was to evaluate the possibility of a fanless bypass turbojet, where the ejector principle is used to add air mass flow and thereby increase thrust---the same principle behind the bypass turbofan.

The investigation was sponsored by one of the major industry players in the engine industry and our research concluded that the concept was indeed viable, but only for certain types of applications, but not for commercial civil transport with those very efficient high-bypass fans. It would work in a small engine with low bypass, for instance as on a cruise missile.

Anyway, the industry sponsor said 'thanks,' paid us very well, and has been sitting on the idea since, lol! They do this all the time of course, but rarely decide to pursue anything much outside the established configuration.

There was a lot of experimentation with ejectors for the purpose of vertical-takeoff aircraft, starting in the sixties. I think even some test articles were made, but not full prototypes if memory serves.

So a lot of applications for the ejector---right from the very slow end, up to high-speed rockets like Gnom, which btw, appears to be the high point that the technology was ever taken to. not sure what happened, but the performance certainly seems impressive.

Btw, the same ejector principle is used in more pedestrian fluid-handling applications, for instance in the petrochemicals industry. You might even find some youtube videos where they use compressed air to drive a water pump with no moving parts, just the compressed air going into the ejector. It moves an impressive rate of water mass flow for a handheld device!

Thanks again for your contribution. I will circle back to the earlier discussion. I had thought that just tapered off and haven't checked it lately.

Posted by: Gordog | Aug 3 2021 17:33 utc | 166

@ Jackrabbit | Aug 3 2021 16:37 utc | 162...i basically agree with you...

@ c1ue | Aug 3 2021 17:26 utc | 165.. it seems simplistic to me to put all the blame on gorbachev... i have a hard time accepting that...

Posted by: james | Aug 3 2021 17:51 utc | 167

Peter AU1 | Aug 3 2021 3:28 utc | 132

in re https://vpk.name/news/174791_minoboronyi_toropit_uchenyih_s_razrabotkoi_novogo_oruzhiya.html

I read that with relish. Thanks!

I see, sparkgaps are inter alia random number generators (of a sort), according to a pal who is a EE and cut his teeth on the spark gap radars aboard ship... Thus presumably the time of "next pulse" cannot be known, and because of the extremely narrow pulse width the emissions concentrate power giving a type of "gain" as well as making RDF azmuth impossible. Spark gap radars were considered unjammable in Vietnam era because of the randomness, I have been told)

I can't imagine how the physical limitation imposed by impedance in the amplifier-antenna is dealt with... How to chop off 10 ns ?? Or is it some sort of one-shot diode? Huuummmm.

Speaking of old radar... I wonder how an old SCR 584 would fair against the Russian ECM system.

Posted by: Walter | Aug 3 2021 18:02 utc | 168

@snake #161

Correction: Archived PDF:

https://web.archive.org/web/20100520181441/https://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/19790014704_1979014704.pdf">https://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/19790014704_1979014704.pdf">https://web.archive.org/web/20100520181441/https://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/19790014704_1979014704.pdf

NASA Contractor Report 3128
Initial Conceptual Design
Study of Self-Critical
Nuclear Pumped Laser Systems

Posted by: Billb | Aug 3 2021 18:29 utc | 169

Walter

Apparently yandex led me astray on the sparke gadgets. Though the rest I take it is correct.

BG13 @152 posted this..

"No, this has a different meaning here, the Russian text goes as follows
"Совета Министров СССР было выделено 1 млн руб. на НИОКР «Физика-РВО», еще несколько миллионов – на НИОКРы «Фарада-РВО» и «Аппарат-РВО»"

НИОКР is correctly translated as R&D project, «Физика-РВО» is the name of the project, where РВО [RVO] stands for «Российское военное обозрение» [Russian Military Overview/Prospect/Outlook]

BM 158
I posted the wrong link with that comment. This is the one I was referring to which I posted a bit further down the first comment page https://youtu.be/B2xt2201PbM?t=69 This one is firing down from above. Who knows perhaps its fake, perhaps not.

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Aug 3 2021 18:31 utc | 170

Gordog

Thinking on combustion speed a bit more, it should not be beyond the realms of current possibility to dial in a combustion speed with catalysts or something like acetylene as Walter mentioned. Pressure and heat will greatly speed up combustion which is basically oxidation of the fuel. Fuel injection though would be critical as in getting it mixed with the air very fast.

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Aug 3 2021 18:40 utc | 171

I've been rather caught up in engaging in some interesting technical discussion, and trying to answer at least some of the questions. It's a terrific discussion.

But I want to also address the very few dissenting comments, like Gerhard @ 36. Hope you are still here Gerhard, I did not mean to ignore your thoughtful comment, but, as noted, I have been trying to keep up with the 'mass flow' of the discussion here, lol!

Gerhard notes:

That all would be gamechanging if Russia had 1.000 of these hypersonic missiles, plus 10.000 of the new Checkmates.

But even then that all would be a nonsense-game because war today has another face and such traditional weapon systems are merely symbols of power.

First about the question of quantity---which as Stalin noted astutely, has a 'quality' all its own.

There are first some technical points to consider. An intercontinental-range weapon like the Avangard is rightly considered a STRATEGIC weapon, like the ICBM. It therefore falls under the treaty on strategic missiles, START, which both powers seek to preserve.

So it is useless to talk about many hundreds of such weapons---it's simply not part of the arms control framework.

That said, even a few Avangards are enough to change the strategic thinking---especially the notion of a US first strike, which has been a very real, and publicly stated goal in the US political discussion.

The US would indeed launch a decapitation strike against Russia, if it felt confident that it could deflect the greatly reduced Russian counterstrike by means of missile defense.

That is a HARD REALITY. And it is the foremost challenge to the people of Russia and its political and military leadership.

The answer to that challenge is an UNSTOPPABLE strategic missile, like Avangard. That does indeed turn the entire idea of a US first-strike into a dead letter!

The other two hypersonic missiles discussed here, Kinzhal and Zircon, are conventional weapons. Just like the existing Tomahawk cruise missile, they cannot be detected by missile early warning systems, which rely on satellites and over-the-horizon radar to pick up the massive launch signature and near-orbital flight speed of ICBMs.

Now the second part of your statement asserts that such conventional weapons are supposedly 'irrelevant.' But then you are already contradicting yourself, when you say that Russia would need hundreds of or even thousands of such 'symbols.'

Well, which is it? Is conventional military strength irrelevant or not?

The answer is that they are very relevant. Any actual shooting war between the US and Russia would start in a conventional way---probably in a hotspot like Ukraine.

This has not changed since the cold war! And I plan to write about this in future posts here. The concept of military escalation is very poorly understood among the lay audience---perhaps even more poorly than the technical and scientific fundamentals of how modern weapons actually work!

The basic idea in the US-Russia conflict revolves around the concept of escalation dominance.

Let's say Russia responds forcefully to a military provocation against the Russian-speaking breakaway republics in Ukraine. And let's say that the US, and any Nato willing partners it can drag along responds forcefully in turn---say by launching air attacks and cruise missiles at the Russian forces.

What happens then? I will explore that very relevant scenario in detail in a future discussion. But for now, we see that the US backed away this time. It is crystal-clear that the Russian military called the US bluff.

So we are in a period of a cold war again. Both sides are simply biding their time and hoping that they can gain the upper hand. But these very significant technological advances by Russia show that it is Russia that is gaining. Time is on Russia's side.

Let us not lose sight of the importance of military technology.

This goes back many thousands of years. If we look at the genetic history of Europe, we see that, starting about 5,000 years ago, the original, indigenous population was overwhelmed by peoples originating on the Pontic Steppe [present day Ukraine to Caspian Sea] who had domesticated the horse and invented the wheel.

See The Horse, the Wheel, and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World.

This builds on the established Kurgan Hypothesis of how these Indo-European speakers carrying the R haplogroup came to dominate Europe.

The horse and wheeled vehicles were obviously a huge military technology that enabled the conquest of Europe five thousand years ago!

A couple of thousand years later came a very small device, the rider stirrup, which, while seeming insignificant, actually revolutionized warfare---making possible heavy cavalry.

Some argue that the stirrup was one of the basic tools used to create and spread modern civilization, possibly as important as the wheel or printing press.

After that we had gunpowder, repeating rifles, the airplane, the ICBM etc.

It is nonsensical on its face to seek to minimize major developments in aerospace technology in today's world.

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.

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!

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? 😹


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

Posted by: vk | Aug 3 2021 15:38 utc | 157

"An article just came out in the RT about this subject:

"It is impossible to intercept such missiles": how Russia is implementing a program to create hypersonic weapons [in Russian; use machine translation]."

I only recently discovered how easy it is to machine translate a whole webpage, and indeed its linked pages. Using Google Translate (yes, I know, caution is required with any Western translation service), do the following:

1. Simply paste the site URL you want translated into the left hand text box and:

2. Select the language to be translated from (the default "automatic detection" works OK) and the language into which you want the page to be translated.

3. Simply click on the link in the right hand text box and wait for the translation to appear (10 secs or so).

Twenty years ago, machine translation used to be an unusable joke but now it is pretty good, but obviously not perfect.

Posted by: ftmntf | Aug 3 2021 19:31 utc | 173

Peter AU1 | Aug 3 2021 18:40 utc | 171 (speeds)

I have read that the "burn" running at detonation is the "trick", so to speak, rather than mere deflagration. Naturally controlling detonation as a continuous process may be difficult, but it's 'wa more horsepower/sec, and it seems like the way to get the power density one would "aim" for. I mentioned acetylene more as a mere example of a powerful metastatic material, of course a genuine expert could write the list from memory of likely materials.

But I am entirely an amateur.

For those who don't understand the terms>

Def/ Det > https://www.differencebetween.com/difference-between-deflagration-and-detonation/


Posted by: Walter | Aug 3 2021 19:45 utc | 174

@ Gerhard (#36), Hi. Good points and you summarize the situation well. Thank you.

@ snake (#161) good points. I like your usage of the word “Trojan” representatives.

Janine Wedel in her book “Super Elites” called them the "flexians". That word doesn’t communicate their role of shadow power play well and the first time readers don’t grasp it easily. I prefer to use the word “TRAITORS,” as they don’t operate in the best interest of the nation but their backers and bankers. Janine in her Ted talk uses the examples of Neocons (democratiZation) and Neoliberals (privatiZation). So prefer to add those terms to the word ‘traitor’ to communicate the real play of the shadow player - “Neoliberal Traitors”. They form Russia’s fifth column.

Any preference, “Traitors” or “Trojans”?

Posted by: Max | Aug 3 2021 19:47 utc | 175

@ Posted by: c1ue | Aug 3 2021 17:26 utc | 165

If you interview Russian people who are still defending the dissolution of the USSR nowadays, the most biting point they will tell you is the consumer (light) industry and services. They claim that, in capitalism, you can choose a plethora of services and goods for personal consumption, while in the USSR would could not or could only choose two or three options. Having the capacity to travel and consume abroad, in Turkey, the USA and Western Europe is also a commonly told point. Having a car (instead of having to wait 3-4 for a Lada) is the most mentioned example - maybe that explains the present Russian middle and upper-middle (not to talk about the oligarchy) voracity for luxury cars, and the easiness with which German auto penetrated Russia after the fall of the USSR.

So, long story short, the Yeltsinites essentially sell an idea of of a petty bourgeois, middle class lifestyle as the justification for the fall of the USSR. In their view, having a small possibility of living a middle class liberal lifestyle was worth it (including giving up free education and healthcare).

But this may be a documentation distortion. The middle class dominates public opinion, as they are the class of the academicians, politicians, ideologues, clerics, journalists and other opinion-makers. I made a quick internet search and found out that, in 2014, some 8 million Russians traveled to Turkey as tourists. That would make the Yeltsinites essentially some 24-32 million strong (rounding up; most likely a person will travel with his/her children, and Russia has a chronic negative birth rate problem, so a household may well be below four). Maybe if we interview the poorer Russians - the portion of the population who can't enjoy the wonders of middle-class liberal life - the opinion about the post-Soviet world would be completely different.

Posted by: vk | Aug 3 2021 19:58 utc | 176

Walter 174

Of relevance here I think is that diesel engines can also detonate if the fuel is injected instantaneously. Diesel is injected over a short duration during combustion. Diesels run on a compression ratio of 14-1 upwards. Most would be double that. The old low compression diesels would choof a lot of smoke until they got warm enough to fire.

Gordog would have an idea of likely scramjet pressure and air temp but I guess it would be enough for diesel to detonate jet fuel. A chart I downloaded gives the carbon chain ranges for several jet fuels and diesel among others and at the shorter end, jet fuels and diesel are similar but at the longer diesel stretches out a bit further.

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Aug 3 2021 20:31 utc | 177

Robert Macaire @ 88, who asks about hypersonic missile navigation:

Well, this is a big subject, Robert. It really needs a whole separate deep dive.

But just in short, I had already mentioned that strategic weapons like ICBMs and Avangard rely on purely self-contained nav systems, inertial nav, that does not rely on any radio like GPS or the Russian Glonass and similar Chinese and European satnav systems, since those can be interfered with quite easily.

Most missiles, including subsonic Tomahawk and Kalibr use inertial nav as their primary system---so do passenger jets. Satnav only plays a small supporting role for midcourse correction.

Now the new conventional hypersonic missiles, like Zircon and Kinzhal, will also use inertial as the primary nav tool. But they will also use onboard radar to hit moving targets like ships.

Now the big challenge here is how do you ACQUIRE a target location to begin with, like say a US aircraft carrier, at very long range of many hundreds of km, or even up to 2,000 km away?

The simple answer is that this is not easy at all, since this far exceeds conventional radar range. But this is in fact a KEY REQUIREMENT to somehow do so. the only realistic way to do this is by means of satellite surveillance of some sort, including sats that carry radar!

The Soviets had radar sats in orbit for many years to keep track of the US navy and to fix their positions for their long-range, near-hypersonic ship killer missiles. But those sats have long since become inoperational.

Russia is now putting up a new constellation of sats with radar capability just for that purpose: to fix the location of targets for these fairly long-range hypersonic missiles. This space network is called Liana, and Martyanov has more info on this.

Anatoly Zak, on Russian spaceweb also has more detailed info: here and here.

Another commenter mentioned that he could not access some previous links to Zak's site because of paywall, but they all open just fine for me using the Mozilla Firefox browser.

Posted by: Gordog | Aug 3 2021 20:40 utc | 178

Speaking of laser weapons, it has been rumored that it was Boeing's YAL-1 experimental antimissile laser that destroyed SpaceX Falcon 9 CRS-7 on June 28, 2015. Presumably this experimental Boeing aircraft had been dismantled a couple months prior, which makes for a pretty good alibi if you happen to trust the assertions of one of the biggest players in the MIC racket with billions of dollars in profits on the line (Aside: Boeing has a long and fortuitous history of the products from competitors for lucrative government contracts blowing up at the most inopportune times... lucky Boeing!).

Some important notes about the YAL-1:


  1. It used a chemically pumped laser. Short of massive X-ray lasers that are driven by H-bombs, good old fashioned chemistry is still the best way to store a whole lot of energy in a compact package and release that energy in a controlled way. Chemically pumped lasers are the most powerful lasers that can be used as weapons that are also reasonably portable.

  2. As others have already pointed out, powerful lasers have very limited range near the ground where the air is thick and full of crud that will absorb and/or disperse the energy of the beam. To target launch vehicles a hundred km away or more your "big fricken` laser" has to be above most of the atmosphere, as does your target.

  3. The laser on the YAL-1 didn't "blast" its targets like a Hollywood laser blaster. Instead it would heat a point on the target over the course of a couple thousand milliseconds until something on the target failed.

SpaceX CRA-7 was 150 seconds into its flight when its LOX tank experienced an anomalous "overpressure event" and ruptured. This put it mostly above the atmosphere. As a commercial launch vehicle not expecting an attack, it obviously wasn't making any evasive maneuvers, and at less than two and a half minutes into its flight it was just barely getting up out of the atmosphere and not yet moving very quickly. The Falcon 9 booster is quite a large target and an easy one to hit at that point.

The anomalous overpressure that SpaceX CRA-7 experienced is entirely consistent with the LOX tank being heated by an exterior energy source, such as a laser.

Of course, this is all just conspiracy theory. We all know that Boeing would never play dirty or put their thumb on the scale for a few billion dollars more.

Posted by: William Gruff | Aug 3 2021 21:02 utc | 179

MarkU @ 42: who does not agree that Russia's hypersonic weapons are really a gamechanger.

Unfortunately, the comment is full of factually mistaken assumptions. For instance this:

The US/NATO currently have a greater first strike potential due to the short flight time from their missile bases to targets in the RF.

That is definitely NOT the case at all! What 'missile bases' are you talking about? There are ZERO missiles stationed in Europe capable of reaching Russia. That is a simple fact.

The INF treaty banned ground-launched missiles with a range of between 500 km and 5,000 km. The US has since abrogated that treaty [Trump], but have not [yet] installed any such short and medium range missiles.

What the US does have in Europe are the so-called Aegis-ashore 'missile defense' installations in Poland and Romania. These are like the ship-based Aegis, which I mentioned in the article.

[Which failed to attempt an intercept of any of the short and medium range missiles that North Korea launched multiple times in the last few years over the Sea of Japan and even overflying Japan itself. So we can rightly assume a lack of confidence by the USN in the true capability of their supposed 'missile defense' system.]

The Russian issue with these 'missile defense' launchers is that their Mk41 launch tubes can also launch Tomahawk cruise missiles, which are subsonic, turbojet-powered cruise missiles that are mainly carried on US warships and subs. They can be either conventional or with a small nuclear warhead.

But since the INF treaty is now void [the Russians have also withdrawn], it remains to be seen if any such missiles will be actually deployed in Europe.

So the US does not have ANY missiles that it can launch at Russia from Europe, with 'short flight time.'

[Unless the US does clandestinely slip in T-hawks in place of the SM3 interceptor missiles that are supposed to be in those Polish and Romanian launch tubes. But the number of these launchers is very limited anyway]

In fact it is Russia that has a very big advantage in launchers that can hit Europe, including those 'missile defense' bases in Poland and Romania.

That method would be by way of launching the very long-range Kalibr cruise missiles that are now carried on quite small Russian ships, including corvette-class ships that can navigate Russia's inland waterways. For instance the Volga system that can be traversed by ships of this size, all the way from the Black Sea or Caspian in the south, to the Baltic Sea in the north.

Such missile strikes were demonstrated numerous times against jihadist targets in Syria---with Kalibrs launched from these small ships in the Caspian! They flew over 1,500 km and hit their targets with impressive accuracy.

The Kalibr actual flight range is over 3,000 km so you could have Russian corvettes on the Volga firing salvoes of these at US bases in Europe---exactly the reverse of the situation you imagine.

This fact of the small missile-carrying ships capable of sailing deep into the Russian heartland, might well have been seen by the US side as a sneaky circumvention of the INF treaty---and they would have a point, lol!

Of course the US navy could also sail its cruise missile carrying destroyers into Nato European waters in the Med Sea or the Baltic and launch T-hawks against Russia.

But that's where the new hypersonic weapons come into play, big time! A single Kinzhal could be launched from a MiG31 from inside Russian territory, and hit any ship in most of the Med and Baltic!

So that is the gamechanger right there. The Russians can strike very quickly and at any US base in Europe, or any USN ships in European waters!

No wonder Nato is complaining about these 'destabilizing' weapons!

Posted by: Gordog | Aug 3 2021 21:33 utc | 180

Matthew G Saroff @136:

About Maenuverable reentry vehicles: Yes, these have been around for a while, but then the Scud has been around even longer. As I noted in the article, it was the first missile that fit the definition of 'hypersonic,' combining both flight speed above Mach 5, plus maneuverability in all phases of flight.

The Pershing was maneuverable for the same reason as the Scud---it carried a rocket motor on its reentry vehicle so that it could maneuver in the terminal phase.

About boron-based fuels: thanks for your thoughts. Another interesting possibility for further research, as we try to understand the Zircon scramjet.

-----------------------------------------------------------------

Bolangi @ 151: about the SpaceX Raptor engine, which is supposedly a closed-cycle engine:

This engine has never flown into space, so it counts as vaporware right now!

I am not at all confident that this engine will actually prove its specifications for a very long time. That will require launches to orbit with a known payload mass, and known rocket specifications such as empty mass, fuel mass etc.

Even for Falcon 9, which has been flying for some time, this kind of information is hard to come by, and the maximum payloads launched are far below what is claimed.

I'm afraid SpaceX fans are going to be in for some rough sledding in the months and years to come, as much of the fantastic promises come to naught! 😺

Posted by: Gordog | Aug 3 2021 22:18 utc | 181

Gordog @180--

Those supposed air defense systems in Poland and Romania are what myself and Russia call dual purpose since they can house a conventional or nuclear warhead, with Russia having declared that any launch by them would be treated as a nuclear attack to be responded to in kind. So, it's quite true that NATO has offensive missiles stationed close enough to be capable of attacking Russia. Those types of missiles also are emplaced in Japan and South Korea. The following is from a 2019 report given by MoD Chief Shoigu:

"Pentagon tests conducted in August and December for medium-range missiles confirm the fact that the United States developed missile systems prohibited by the INF Treaty during the period of its operation.

"The next logical step will be the deployment of such missiles in Europe and the East."

Recall NATO's missile defense was supposedly aimed at deterring Iran. Well like the cheating reported above, that lie was easily seen through. I could dig up more on Russia's defense posture versus those NATO missiles, but I'll let my memory serve me and allow my words to stand.

Posted by: karlof1 | Aug 3 2021 22:25 utc | 182

Gordog
Boron added to jet fuel https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zip_fuel
A study on boron for solid fuel ramjets https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/

Very high energy density but slow burning.

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Aug 3 2021 22:45 utc | 183

Congratulation Gordog, you really know your subject and how to explain it to the layman. Perhaps as one barfly suggested write a book. Also consider a continuing internet video series with occasional updates. It would be well subscribed.

Posted by: Paul | Aug 4 2021 0:10 utc | 184

@Jackrabbit #162:

A managed collapse such that the powerful retain power is logical and there is evidence of powerful government officials being in bed with the oligarchs in certain places. But to what extend these people jointly planned a collapse and transition to capitalism is questionable.

Links?

What links do you expect? Don't you know that the present day oligarchs there are former spooks and their close associates? It is not entirely clear *how* all this played out during these times (that is the work of future historians) but it is not questionable at all that the faction that ended up winning (again with the help of the CIA using Soros as a front - that's how he became a conspiracy meme) wanted integration with western institutions and NATO. What is surprising to me is how both the reformist faction(Gorby) and the Yelts/Putin faction literally thought the imperialists were looking for "equal-terms" collaboration and not the ultimate prostitution of the successor state. Putin changed his mind wrt the west after yugoslavia.

If the West HAD succeeded as you suggest, then there would have been no reason not to provide aid and thus strengthen Russia people's tie to the West.

Western succeess was mostly in helping to destabilizing USSR such that a collapse, managed or otherwise, was inevitable.

I'm skeptical of the rumors of "hundreds of CIA personel" surrounding Yeltsin. What there was, I would guess, is hundreds of pro-Western oligarch-wannabes attempting to influence Yeltsin to enact measures that would enrich them.


Again, I suspect it is your underlying assumptions that distort your understanding. The market reforms were carried out by the new pro-western elite in full coordination from CIA. The resulting misery is unprecedented in peace times in terms of production capacity lost, lives lost, poverty etc. Whether Americans thought they were "helping" them is to me a not-even-secondary issue although I don't believe they give 2 shits. The imperialists don't provide "aid" to help, but use aid as a weapon to win over civil society. Biden tightening sanctions against Cuba, intensifying covert ops but at the same time increasing their internet access would probably be confusing to you, but not to me. Increasing their internet access is not "aid" or "help" any more than letting USAID or other NGOs operate within your borders.

What you (still) ignore is the actions taken, or not taken, by the West that increased the misery of the population. That appears to have been deliberate and designed to force capitulation. There was never going to be any significant aid program to Russia without such capitulation. Millions suffered greatly, and unnecessarily, due to this power play. IMO this cruelty undermined Western goals instead of furthering them. The most clear example of this is Russia's revitalized military and alliance with China.

I don't ignore that the West carried out hostile actions. That is a given. But this is not the whole story. The miscalculation of the US elites was that they thought russian elites were similar to the apologies of ex-soviet now-democracies statelets and that they could do whatever they want. That triumphalism in my opinion was very damaging to their long-term planning(wars in middle east, china, russia etc). But all that is tangential to your original point: the USSR did not collapse due to systemic reasons. It was overthrown when its elites and upper educated strata realized/thought they would do better if they switched to capitalism and integrated with the west. Most bureaucrats became oligarchs or state officials, and russia (and other post soviet states) lost many of their educated from migration. Who ended up dying, prostituting themselves and in poverty? The working classes. Paul Cockshott has an interesting video on this matter:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EE-kCZnlGZU

Posted by: galerkin | Aug 4 2021 0:36 utc | 185

@james #167
Gorbachev didn't cause the dissolution of the USSR.
However, his choices led to the worst possible outcome of said dissolution. As I noted earlier: the real problem was the massive economic burden of the Baltic, Eastern European and East German states.
So yes, Russia's "Lost Decade" is largely Gorbachev's fault. Not just believing American and Western European lies on NATO, but disorderly breakup of the Soviet economic system; completely clusterf'd retreat from the above regions; failure to build or be given real economic benefits for the surrender, etc etc.

Posted by: c1ue | Aug 4 2021 0:50 utc | 186

@vk #176
I think it is not as simplistic as that.
The "lure" of America is designed specifically for young, educated people.
If you're young, you don't have to worry about super expensive health care. You don't have to worry about super expensive education. Even high housing costs, etc seem fine if you can get the Google job.
The problem again is that this is not the set of choices left for Russians today.
Barring the ultra-rich - all of the above begin to be of concern as each individual ages. Will you be able to afford sending your kids to a good school? Pay for braces? Be able to live in an apartment large enough to hold your family without bunking like a dorm room?
I see more and more people yearning for the old days because they are now hitting these points in their life. And that's with the still very affordable Russian health care setup.
And that's the choice left to Americans: we have the cheapest iPhones in the world but the most expensive health care. We have the cheapest food but the most expensive education. The list of tradeoffs go on and on and on.
And coupled with this is the other side of the coin: flat wages. If you're not PMC, you're not seeing wage growth.

Posted by: c1ue | Aug 4 2021 0:56 utc | 187

@ galerkin | Aug 4 2021 0:36 utc | 185.. thanks for this and your other comment on the thread.. they are insightful and educational..

@ c1ue | Aug 4 2021 0:50 utc | 186... okay... i suppose without knowing, i can accept all that... it just strikes me that gorbachev is a convenient excuse for the fall of the soviet union.. it all gets dropped on gorbachevs doorstep and that strikes me as inaccurate.. thanks for your comments as always..

Posted by: james | Aug 4 2021 4:11 utc | 188

Gordog @166

Cheers Gordog, The Space Review is going to a reduced publishing schedule over the next month (probably due to lack of material) so it might be a good time to submit an article. They publish some ridiculous US and Indian keyboard warriors from think tank land during slow news weeks who rant about the Chinese/Russian threat, you'd make a good antidote to that kind of lazy thinking.

Re US staged combustion engines, what about the Space Shuttle Main Engine (SSME/RS-25)? It seems to have a ridiculously complex turbopump arrangement compared to Russian engines, but the Americans claim that it is a staged combustion engine. They had terrible problems with it blowing up on the test stand during its development (pushing back the first shuttle launch from 1977 to 1981) and the US-style combustion chamber was prone to leaks. One famous example was STS-93 when an engine ejected a pin used to repair a hole in the nozzle (somehow managing not to hit anything on the way out), resulting in a hydrogen leak that led to premature engine shutdown and a lower than planned orbit.

It looks like Bezos is having trouble with his methane/oxygen staged combustion engine designed to replace the Russian RD-180, Musk just picked up the contract to launch the Europa Clipper probe to the moons of Jupiter because NASA doesn't trust Bezos to have it working in time. All the high value NASA probes launched in recent years have used the Atlas 5 with the Russian RD-180, without it Europa Clipper will be heading to Jupiter with the help of an open-cycle engine that wouldn't have looked out of place on a 1960s-era Delta.


Posted by: S.P. Korolev | Aug 4 2021 5:05 utc | 189

Gordog @166

Cheers Gordog, The Space Review is going to a reduced publishing schedule over the next month (probably due to lack of material) so it might be a good time to submit an article. They publish some ridiculous US and Indian keyboard warriors from think tank land during slow news weeks who rant about the Chinese/Russian threat, you'd make a good antidote to that kind of lazy thinking.

Re US staged combustion engines, what about the Space Shuttle Main Engine (SSME/RS-25)? It seems to have a ridiculously complex turbopump arrangement compared to Russian engines, but the Americans claim that it is a staged combustion engine. They had terrible problems with it blowing up on the test stand during its development (pushing back the first shuttle launch from 1977 to 1981) and the US-style combustion chamber was prone to leaks. One famous example was STS-93 when an engine ejected a pin used to repair a hole in the nozzle (somehow managing not to hit anything on the way out), resulting in a hydrogen leak that led to premature engine shutdown and a lower than planned orbit.

It looks like Bezos is having trouble with his methane/oxygen staged combustion engine designed to replace the Russian RD-180, Musk just picked up the contract to launch the Europa Clipper probe to the moons of Jupiter because NASA doesn't trust Bezos to have it working in time. All the high value NASA probes launched in recent years have used the Atlas 5 with the Russian RD-180, without it Europa Clipper will be heading to Jupiter with the help of an open-cycle engine that wouldn't have looked out of place on a 1960s-era Delta.


Posted by: S.P. Korolev | Aug 4 2021 5:05 utc | 190

I am looking forward to more articles like this, and I hope the important discussion about these technologies and what they imply for the geopolitical balance is not distracted with endless irrelevancies about Gorbatsjov.

Posted by: Norwegian | Aug 4 2021 7:05 utc | 191

Biden.... increasing (Cubans') internet access.... is not "aid" or "help" any more than letting USAID or other NGOs operate within your borders.

US siege warfare is cruel, evil, inhuman, despicable.

Once they get their teeth into you, they shake you down like a remorseless pit bull.

That is why China's anti-sedition legislation is a wise move in stopping US NGOs dead in their tracks in Hong Kong.

That is why it is very interesting that that Belorussian "activist" was found hanging in a forest last week.

When you see a street fight is inevitable, you move first, terminate the encounter with extreme prejudice.

Posted by: kiwiklown | Aug 4 2021 7:32 utc | 192

That was for galerkin @ 185.

Thanks for an astute observation on US. exceptionalist evil.

Posted by: kiwiklown | Aug 4 2021 7:38 utc | 193

- Sure, Russia has hypersonic weapons, right ? And I was born yesterday, right ? This is obviously russian propaganda.

Posted by: Willy2 | Aug 4 2021 10:41 utc | 194

Sad Marku & silly ciue are always so eager to try and show they're correct that they miss the point and either deliberately or mistakenly misinterpret what another posts as a weak assed attempt to prove another wrong in the hope that will get some poorly thought through take on an issue across.

The fact that not only did ciue & marku twist what I posted into something else, none of what they tried to contend impacted on the point of #143, which was that blather about whose got the biggest rocket doesn't aid any decent human one iota because, like the development of a longbow force when england fought france, no normal human benefits from the asinine fascination with weapons.
New weapons systems, a tactical alteration to gain strategic advantage, are just about selfish arseholes fighting selfish arseholes over power which they won't share - ever.

Incidentally I did not say that englanders invented the longbow. Just like the russians with the scramjet - which wasn't invented by russia but was developed & refined by 'em, the longbow which had been around in all sorts of forms since neolithic times was developed by those normans who took over england. They did this after they saw the effect which longbows that utilised parts of of the yew tree, had on armour, not just mail which could be penetrated by a crossbow, but armourplate which was usually impervious to a crossbow. I dunno if it was a natural or a manmade laminate but the welsh/englander longbow used the heartwood of the yew for compression and sapwood for tension.
Normans observed this during their subjugation of england & wales. They beat the indigenous longbowmen because they were better organised & disciplined, nevertheless they saw the advantage of a longbow - much better range & penetration than the crossbow preferred by archers elsewhere.

Just for the dreary wannabe pedants I found an article on some of this here.

After the norman invaders noticed that welsh & english longbowmen penetrated mail and then plate armour they encouraged longbow skills among the englander population. Normans (Short for northmen) were vikings sold on xtianity seeking to escape the harsh conditions of western scandanavia.

A culture that succeeded long term through conflict quickly saw the benefits of the longbow and ready for the inevitable wars with normans 'back home' (the normans had been infrance for a century & a half or so by the time William had his disagreement with Harold over who was england's rightful heir, so they had come to consider France as home when William 'the conqueror' & co invaded england).

After the normans had been in england for a coupla hundred years or so, the wars with france's normans began. Same stuff as always, who was the 'rightful' bossfella. Arseholes fighting arseholes.

The yeoman farmer class - not serfs, not aristos, allegedly the early bourgeoisie, but IMO that is just fanciful class conscious englander self-delusion, were leaned on to train in the use of the longbow every Sunday. During the reign of King Edward I a law was passed to make longbow practise the only permitted sport played on a Sunday in england. Sunday being the good xtian yeoman's only day off. The englander aristos insisted that these 'landed peasants' begin training on the longbow right from when the were kids. Naturally a lot of these yeoman types got proficient with the weapon. They had a few more rights than the serfs rounded up to fight with farm tools & sticks, but yeomen were still obligated by oath to fight for their 'lord' so they did.

During the hundred years war between england and france which was fought over which pox encrusted aristo cousin got to rule england, france or both, the englander longbow squads were all over french knights who had failed to adapt to the tactical change, at least in part because the by that time overly inculcated into arcane ritual, french knights considered the style of fighting used by the englanders dishonourable.

One of the last really big blues in that war was Agincourt where as I wrote before a big burial mound where french serfs, slaughtered in the thousands, were all disposed of. Henry V won just about all the battles but lost that war in the sense that he didn't get to sit on Charles VI throne.

Cutting edge weapons that likely caused many englanders of the time to bar up, yet all that happened was lots deaths of ordinary humans by starvation & violence.
However lets not let facts get in the way of anyone's masturbatory fantasy.


Posted by: Debsisdead | Aug 4 2021 10:48 utc | 195

Well this has been quite the technological tour de force from Gordog! I have my own predictions regarding the implementation of mega-military mayhem. MAD is here to stay, unless the USA collapses (which I'm rather sure it will).

It will not just be about hypersonic this-or-that. I suspect space orbital nuclear devices will be the future. A single rocket will send to orbit two actual warheads, plus perhaps 100 decoys. Since even outer space maintains a tiny atmosphere, and the decoys will be thousands of times less massive than the warheads, the decoys and warheads will eject minute quantities of liquid nitrogen so all the satellites will move at slightly different speeds. This is required because speed is quite easily measured by electromagnetic sensors, and massive satellites would be far less affected by space atmosphere.

When signaled to launch, one warhead would (very quickly) drop slightly prior to the other. The second one to drop would observe very precisely where the first one detonated, and use that information to obtain ultra-precise targeting information that would otherwise be obfuscated by atmospheric conditions.

Ultra-precision will be the 'real game-changer'. With such precision a massive continent could be totally paralyzed by only a few warheads for decades.

The earth is infested by lunatics.

Posted by: blues | Aug 4 2021 12:16 utc | 196

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

Translation :

Russian missiles threaten our hegemony, it's unacceptable.

Posted by: jean passant | Aug 4 2021 14:15 utc | 197

galerkin @Aug4 0:36 #185

What links do you expect?

Links to historians, news reports, or pundits that support your assertion of a planned transition to capitalism.

=
Don't you know that the present day oligarchs there are former spooks and their close associates?

Oligarchs in the West also hire former spooks and their close associates so Russians doing the same doesn't tell us much.

=
It is not entirely clear *how* all this played out during these times (that is the work of future historians) ...

It's been 30 years now. Surely if a transition was planned some evidence of that planning would have been found/reported by now.

The evidence (as per the Cockshott video you link to) is that market reforms were made in a disorderly fashion with little real planning. This was a desperate attempt to right the economy, not driven by a desire to "integrate with the West".

A darker view would be that Yeltsin was persuaded by the West to do things that would cause collapse and lead to the hoped-for capitulation to the West.

=
... but it is not questionable at all that the faction that ended up winning (again with the help of the CIA using Soros as a front - that's how he became a conspiracy meme) wanted integration with western institutions and NATO.

Yet the West never supported this 'winning' faction with aid? It makes no sense for them not to have done so.

=
What is surprising to me is how both the reformist faction(Gorby) and the Yelts/Putin faction literally thought the imperialists were looking for "equal-terms" collaboration and not the ultimate prostitution of the successor state.

You don't consider the possibility that Yeltsin or his staff figured it out and passed the baton to FSB/Putin as a result? Then Putin played along as he rallied the resistance?

IMO you are placing too much emphasis on personalities and not enough on institutions. The same mistake made with those who think that US President's control policy-making.

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Putin changed his mind wrt the west after yugoslavia.

This statement requires some explanation. Why would Yugoslavia cause such a fundamental change? Why wouldn't a pro-West Russian elite simply throw-off Putin if he had developed such deep reservations?

The simpler explanation is institutional: FSB and Russia military was already distrustful of the West. Yugoslavia simply confirmed their concerns.

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Again, I suspect it is your underlying assumptions that distort your understanding. The market reforms were carried out by the new pro-western elite in full coordination from CIA. The resulting misery is unprecedented in peace times in terms of production capacity lost, lives lost, poverty etc. Whether Americans thought they were "helping" them is to me a not-even-secondary issue although I don't believe they give 2 shits. The imperialists don't provide "aid" to help, but use aid as a weapon to win over civil society. Biden tightening sanctions against Cuba, intensifying covert ops but at the same time increasing their internet access would probably be confusing to you, but not to me. Increasing their internet access is not "aid" or "help" any more than letting USAID or other NGOs operate within your borders.

This is hand-waiving. If the West had 'won' over their main global adversary they would've provided aid to solidify that win. You acknowledge this earlier when you write:

What is surprising to me is how both the reformist faction(Gorby) and the Yelts/Putin faction literally thought the imperialists were looking for "equal-terms" collaboration and not the ultimate prostitution of the successor state.

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... the USSR did not collapse due to systemic reasons.

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.

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It was overthrown when its elites and upper educated strata realized/thought they would do better if they switched to capitalism and integrated with the west.

Once again, there is some logic to this but I have asked for links from you so that we can ascertain to what degree the transition was planned.

I think when a collapse, like the USSR collapse, happens it is often surprising to everyone. I favor c1ues explanation that Russia was trying to rid itself of the costs associated with Eastern Europe. That shows an attempt to right the ship instead of bring it down. In that scenario, it's the Western PUSH that destabilized those plans and led to a quick collapse.

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Most bureaucrats became oligarchs or state officials ...

Most?

My impression is that a few powerful state officials (like governors) enriched themselves by serving mafia-like oligarchs. This collusion went well beyond the normal corruption.

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Who ended up dying, prostituting themselves and in poverty? The working classes.

The working classes always pay the price. We continue to pay the price for this unnecessary second Cold War.

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Paul Cockshott has an interesting video on this matter ...

One stark statistic that he presents: 5.7 million excess deaths from 1991-2001 (the birth rate also collapsed and migration soared). Are we to believe that a collapse of this magnitude was planned for? Or that, in the midst of such a calamity, Western aid was refused to the pro-Western faction that 'won'?

Cockshott talks about how the technical and managerial classes in the USSR were disgruntled by a standard of living that was below that of their colleagues in the West ... and it was continuing to fall. Perhaps this is the basis for your claim that the collapse was prompted by Russian elites? But, to the extent that this 'proves' planning for a transition (it doesn't really) it doesn't explain the utter collapse or the West's refusal to provide aid to prop-up the pro-Western faction that you claim had "won".

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I'll add that what we've saw in the post-collapse period (2000 - present) is the continuing disrespect for the Russian State and an expectation that Russia would/must join with the West. We can surmise that Russian capitulation is the fundamental strategic goal and has been since Reagan in the 1980's.

!!

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Aug 4 2021 15:01 utc | 198

Norwegian @ 190: Thanks man! ✊

I do intend to keep writing articles, as long as MoA will have me. So far there seems to be a lot of interest. Lots of folks with solid engineering or technical backgrounds here too [like yourself], but perhaps in non-aerospace fields.

Many very good questions also from non-technical folks who are trying to understand how this stuff works and what it means. I'm trying to answer as much as I can and fill in any gaps---having a lot of fun too! Really a GREAT discussion!

As for Gorbachev, I wouldn't be too harsh on the political junkies here, lol! They are doing their own thing and that's fine. I've read all of those comments, and there is actually a fine discussion here with lots of thought-provoking points presented. It's all good!

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. 😺

Posted by: Gordog | Aug 4 2021 15:52 utc | 199

@Debsisdead #194
A whole lot of wind to repeat what I posted.
You just can't admit that you were wrong or that other people actually understand more about numerous areas over which you blithely emit.
Nor is your sad attempt to salvage successful.
Practice one partial day of the week does not a longbowman make, especially when that one day a week is what is allotted for the peasant to tend to their own food supplies.
Perhaps you've never done any type of competitive sport based on muscle - you cannot build up nor maintain sufficient muscle mass without both plentiful food supplies and nearly daily training. An English longbowman would be a near-Olympic class weight lifter by today's standards.

As for the rest: I don't actually disagree with most of your political notions; the problem is that you are such a revolting individual that you drive away far more people than you proselytize, nor are you nearly as smart as you think you are.

Posted by: c1ue | Aug 4 2021 15:53 utc | 200

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