Russia’s Zircon Missile Relegates Carriers to Bombing Small Poor Countries
Pesky Russians went and built a Mach 8 anti-ship missile. "There is no technological solution for stopping this type of weapon in the US currently — the ramifications are colossal"
Judging by the stream of the news re: latest launch by Admiral Gorshkov of 3M22 Zircon, tests are very successful and as TASS reports (in Russian) another three launches from Gorshkov are planned by the end of the year. [Text is from October 2020.] This includes the strike at the target imitating aircraft carrier. This is only natural and easy to foresee. Somewhere in these launches is supposed to be an underwater launch from one of the Yasen-class (project 885) SSGNs, last time it was Severodvinsk, I believe, which was planned to be used as a platform for this launch.
As was expected, and guys on discussion boards already pointed out — there is a lot of butt-hurt and spin in Western media re: this launch. But then again, recall an initial reaction and then torturous (for the West) transition through the Kubler-Ross Grief Model. It ended up, of course, with the United States demanding to include these non-existent weapons to the START treaty.
I am on record, consistently, that moving into the hyper-sonic paradigm IS a real revolution, cannot get any more real than that. It is a revolution because it changes the nature of warfare. Putin, when speaking to Valery Gerasimov upon Zircon’s launch was explicit — it is an event of a massive scale for Russia. Well, for the world too. Another “expert”, Kyle Mizokami, writing about Zircon gets it all wrong.
Zircon is designed to use white-hot speed to hit targets before they can mount an effective defense. If a defending ship has its search radar mounted 100 feet off the ground and Zircon flies at an altitude of 1,000 feet (the real number might be much lower), the radar should detect the missile around 50 miles. At 1.7 miles per second, Zircon will close the gap in just 29 seconds, meaning the defending ship will need to detect, track, identify, launch defensive missiles, and achieve intercept in less than half a minute.
As any Russian anti-shipping (or land-attack) missile Zircon has a multi-variant flight paths and it can approach target on different trajectories, including “diving” into the cone of radar blindness, attacking almost vertically, similar to X-32. But this is beyond the point, any intercept of maneuvering M=8+ missile is not the matter of “29” seconds (granted it will be detected at all–and there are reasons to assume that even detecting this type of missile is extremely difficult), it is physically impossible even under the best of circumstances to do anything. The salvo of 4 or 6 Zircons — it is beyond the capability of the most advanced anti-air/missile systems to even react to and will remain so for a long period of time.
There is no technological solution for stopping this type of weapon in the US currently. Ramifications are colossal: generally, it will be a slow arduous reshaping of surface fleets towards smaller (frigate size) strike platforms. For the Russian Navy, Zircon unties hands in terms of Sea Control not only in littoral and Green Water zones but, upon necessity, in the remote or ocean zone, allowing to guard surface strike groups against any attempts of US Navy to bring to bear its CBGs’ firepower.
Thus aircraft carriers are finally removed to the niche where they belong–primarily a power projection tool against unstable entities. Obviously, a gigantic expenditure of building and maintaining any US Navy’s CBG raises the serious question about the validity of the approach of having roughly $20 billion worth of hardware (CVN+escort ships+air wing) being commensurate with the rather very limited tasks this insanely expensive force can perform under present conditions. It is too expensive to bomb some shithole of a country somewhere, but attacking Russia? What a wonderful collection of expensive, prestigious targets.
With Russia having officially announced 7 subs and 5 frigates already planned for being armed with Zircon, plus having potentially other 6 modernized Udaloys (project 1155M) armed with a full version (1000+ km range), not to speak of a massive fleet of Russia’s small missile ships (pr. 21631 and 22800) slanted to receive Zircon Light (around 500+ kilometer range) version, one is forced to ask a question–What Now?
Now Marshal Billingslea will try to, yet again, pretend that Russia will negotiate on her newest arsenal and he will “press” Russians who, probably, will giggle in private about being “pressed”, into some sort of compliance with… whatever will be the flavor of the month in D.C. Of course, the most terrifying prospect for the US is the appearance of some sort of similar weapon in China’s hands. Not that it will happen necessarily, but who knows — Russia will not allow China to fall militarily if the shit will hit the fan (God forbids) and some crazies (and there is plenty of those) in D.C. will decide to finally direct America’s implosion outside by starting a “little victorious” war. Even old fool Kissinger noticed:
The US needs to rethink its hegemony and talk to China about imposing limits on their competition, because the alternative is the creation of conditions similar to those that preceded World War I, Henry Kissinger has warned. “Our leaders and their leaders have to discuss the limits beyond which they will not push threats, and how to define that,” said Kissinger, a top diplomat during the Nixon administration, who is credited with orchestrating US rapprochement with China. “You can say this is totally impossible, but if it is, we will slide into a situation similar to World War I,” he warned.
The United States simply has no good options currently. None. The less bad option, however, is to talk to Russians and not in terms of geopolitical BS and wet dreams that the United States, somehow, can convince Russia “to abandon” China — the US has nothing, zero, to offer Russia to do so. But at least Russians and Americans may finally settle peacefully this “hegemony” BS between themselves and then convince China to finally sit as a Big Three at the table and finally decide how to run the world. This is the only chance for the US to stay relevant in the new world. The US either negotiates and accepts limits of its influence or it will vanish one way or another. Anyway, there is a lot to ponder on this issue, because the world changes at an insane speed. Bad timing, I picked the wrong week to finish my third book, LOL.
God, do you remember those times when America was fun and laughed at itself sincerely. MAFA–Make America Fun Again, I kid, I kid;)
Source: Reminiscence of The Future