Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Objekt 4202 / Yu-71 / Yu-74

Russia is developing some sort of hypersonic warhead for use on its new Sarmat heavy ICBM. This is advertised as an effective countermeasure to American anti-missile interceptors. The Russians are working hard to put the hype back into hypersonic, but it is unclear precisely how this new warhead is expected to evade missile defense interceptors. As best as one can imagine, the vehicle would perform a trans-atmospheric trajectory in which the flight altitude was typically too deep in the atmosphere for exo-atmospheric kill vehicles to conduct an intercept. The hypersonic vehicle would be initially boosted to high speed by an ICBM, and then continue under its own power, skipping along the top of the atmosphere. This concept was first studied by the German engineer Eugene Sanger, whose "Silver Bird" antipodal bomber was intended to bomb New York City. During the early years of the Cold War the Soviet Union investigated a variety of such mixed propulsion configurations, including rocket boosted cruise missiles and rocket launched boost glide vehicles.

The priority development of a hypersonic weapon is on a par with high-precision, accordingto Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who oversees the defense industry issues of the government. In his opinion, the one who will own hypersonic weapon "will change the principles of warfare." And, of course, the relevance of this theme highlights the priority in Russian President Vladimir Putin. During his meeting with the students of the National Research Nuclear University "MEPhI", which took place in 2014, the President drew attention to the importance of the development of new materials in the context of just this military equipment. "Modern hypersonic missile systems that provide several Mach speed, it is impossible to imagine without modern materials, - said Vladimir Putin.

According to the president of the Academy of Geopolitical Problems, retired Colonel-General Leonid Ivashov, the appearance in Russia's own hypersonic weapons will restore the balance of power, as there is practically no means of protection against such weapons. At the same time, as stressed by the head of the Academy of Geopolitical Problems, a key task for such weapons can be to destroy enemy missiles when the main thing is "to have time to react."

As explained by the "joint venture", military expert and editor in chief of the portal Militaryrussia Dmitry Kornev , the correct technical name of the tested aircraft is "aeroballistic hypersonic combat equipment" (AGBO). Its peculiarity is that most of the flight unit moves along the boundary of Earth's atmosphere. And it is this aerodynamic movement at high speed is termed "hypersonic flight" with a seed up to 7 kilometers per second. It is important to understand that the machine "4202" in itself can not fly. To start it necessarily need a ballistic missile. The "Pretty pictures" often encountered on the web depicting some futuristic hypersonic aircraft, some vehicles with wings, with a pronounced tail and so on, and not the reality. Most likely, the "Objekt 4202" looks not much different from the usual combat unit. Nevertheless, it is able to create additional points by maneuvering airfoils. This is the main innovation of hypersonic unit.

Boost-glide technologies mate a rocket booster with a hypersonic glide vehicle, which may or may not incorporate an air-breathing supersonic-combution ramjet. A Maneuvering Reentry Vehicle (MARV) is a ballistic missile reentry vehicle, with no propulsion system, equipped with its own navigation and control systems capable of adjusting its trajectory during reentry into the atmosphere. In the 1970s the three measures that were proposed in the United States for increasing hard-target, counterforce capability were: Refine the existing guidance system for the Minuteman III; Initiate engineering development of a larger yield warhead (MK-12A) that could be placed on the Minuteman III; and Initiate advanced development of terminally guided maneuvering reentry vehicles (MARV), such as the Evader MARV as an anti-ABM warhead for deployment on 100 TRIDENT I missiles by the early 1980s.

Due to the stringent requirement of a high degree of accuracy for conventional vehicles, lifting re-entry can be used to attain the impact at the desired terminal flight path angle and speed and thus can potentially improve accuracy of the re-entry vehicle. The re-entry of a medium range and intermediate range vehicles is characterized by very high negative flight path angle and low re-entry speed as compared to a maneuverable re-entry vehicle or a common aero vehicle intended for an intercontinental range. Highly negative flight path angles at the re-entry impose high dynamic pressure as well as heat loads on the vehicle.

The design of flight control systems for high performance maneuvering reentry vehicles presents a significant challenge to the control systems designer. These vehicles typically have a much higher ballistic coefficient than piloted vehicles like as the Space Shuttle or proposed crew return vehicles such as the X-38. Moreover, the missions of high performance vehicles usually require a steeper reentry flight path angle, followed by a pull-out into level flight. These vehicles then must transit the entire atmosphere and robustly perform the maneuvers required for the mission. The vehicles must also be flown with small static margins in order to perform the required maneuvers, which can result in highly nonlinear aerodynamic characteristics that frequently transition from being aerodynamically stable to unstable as angle of attack increases. The control system design technique of dynamic inversion has been applied successfully to both high performance aircraft and low beta reentry vehicles.

It has been found that cross range capability of up to 35 km can be achieved with a lifting-body design within the heat rate and the dynamic pressure boundary at normal entry conditions. For shallow entry angle of -20 degree and intermediate ranges a cross range capability of up to 250 km can be attained for a lifting body design with less than 10 percent loss in overall range. The normal acceleration also remains within limits. The maneuvering capability could be used to greatly complicate hit-to-kill or conventional warhead ballistic missile defense systems.

The MaRV/BMD terminal engagement scenario is partitioned into the tandem engagement subproblems of searching, tracking and discrimination, and interception, which are the various functions of the BMD system. For the MaRV search subproblem, which is typically a radar problem, the probability of acquisition is the performance measure of im portance. In the MaRV tracking subproblem, which also is typically a radar problem, the tracking error is the performance measure of importance. The subproblem of MaRV discrimination is a classification or pattern recognition problem for which a measure of importance is the probability of correct discrimination or correct classification. The subproblem of MaRV interception is a guidance and control problem for which two measures of importance are the probability of interception, which is dependent on the definition of interception, and the miss distance. All of these performance measures are well established in the field of defense systems, and are sensitive to MaRV characteristics and trajectory evolution.

Missile defense interception of a mid-course trans-atmospheric warhead would confront similar considerations. The timeline would be at least an order of magnitude longer, the search and track subproblems might entail infra-red tracking systems, and discrimination would be much easier in the absence of credible decoys. The interception end game thus becomes a contest between the divert capabilities of the inteceptor and the boost-glide vehicle. Understanding the potential maneuver parameters of the boost-glide vehicle would permit proper sizing of the interceptor divert propulsion. But as George Lewis points out, American exoatmospheric "interceptors can only operate at altitudes above about 100 km, while almost all of the glide portion of a boost-glide weapon’s trajectory will take place at altitudes below 100 km, making intercepts by existing GBI or SM-3 interceptors essentially impossible... Even if a decision is made to develop a THAAD-ER system, which may be able to intercept down to altitudes of about 40 km, it may be difficult for it to intercept a highly maneuverable, intercontinental-range vehicle, and a large number of THAAD-ER systems might be needed to cover U.S. territory. In addition, the low-altitude and unpowered nature of the glide portion of a boost-glide weapons trajectory could pose severe problems for the U.S. early warning and missile defense sensors. It is possible that as the glide vehicle heats due to atmospheric friction, it may once again become visible to early warning satellites."


Extremely maneuverable, ultra-fast and elusive, the hypersonic Yu-71 can break through any missile defense system, military experts said. Russia has reportedly carried out four tests by June 2015. Russia is test-launching a new hypersonic attack aircraft that can carry nuclear warheads and penetrate missile defense systems, US media said citing a report by Jane’s Information Group. The development of the Yu-71 vehicle took several years, and Russia reportedly conducted the most recent test flight on 26 February 2015, with an SS-19 missile trying to deliver the Yu-71 to space. The new hypersonic aircraft is part of Moscow’s plans to modernize its Strategic Missile Forces.

It is said that the Yu-71, a secret missile program codenamed 'Project 4202', has probable speed of up to 11,200 kmh (7,000 mph) and is extremely maneuverable, which makes it an incredibly dangerous and a hardly targetable weapon. Thanks to its speed and unpredictable trajectory, Yu-71 can evade an enemy's missile defense systems. 'This would give Russia the ability to deliver a guaranteed small-scale strike against a target of choice; if coupled with an ability to penetrate missile defenses, Moscow would also retain the option of launching a successful single-missile attack.'

The Jane's authors assume that Russia may put into service up to 24 nuclear-capable Yu-71 aircraft between 2020 and 2025. Moreover, by that time Russia may have developed the Sarmat - a new ICBM that will carry the new hypersonic device. The report also said that Russia's next generation strategic stealth bomber PAK DA will carry hypersonic cruise missiles. China had tested its hypersonic strike vehicle Wu-14 at least four times since January 2014, seriously alarming the Pentagon, as the device may reportedly neutralize the US anti-missile shield. The United States was also engineering a similar device AHW (Advanced Hypersonic Weapon) as a part of its Prompt Global Strike program, which is not covered by the 2010 New START Treaty with Russia. Jane's experts predicted that Moscow may use the new hypersonic aircraft as an ace in the sleeve during arms control talks with Washington.


According to analytical website Ostkraft.ru, in 2016 Russia successfully tested its experimental Yu-74 hypersonic glide vehicle. The Yu-74 was carried by the intercontinental-range RS-18A (NATO codename: SS-19 Stiletto) ballistic missile system. The glider was launched from the Dombarovsky missile base in the Orenburg region and hit a target located at Kura Missile Test Range in northern Kamchatka region, the Russian Far East. The Yu-74 system specification as well as the details of the test remains top secret. Reportedly, the gliders are developed to be loaded onto Russia's RS-28 Sarmat (SS-X-30 by NATO classification) – the state-of-the-art heavy liquid-propelled intercontinental ballistic missiles which are currently being developed for the Russian army.

Reports that the new ICBM was designed to carry up to 24 nuclear-loaded Yu-74 gliders seem far fetched, and this may refer to the total number of ICBMs to be equipped with these warheads. It was claimed that each Sarmat ballistic missile will be able to hit any target located within a 6,200 mile radius in one hour. Each Yu-74 glider can be equipped with a nuclear warhead, electronic warfare (EW) applications or false target simulators. "These features guarantee penetration of any existing and prospective missile defense system of a potential adversary. By adopting such systems Russia's Strategic Missile Forces will significantly increase their efficiency," Russian analysts emphasize.

The website also called attention to the fact that the project aimed at creating Russia's hypersonic air-launched cruise missiles has also entered its final phase. Reportedly, new hypersonic cruise missiles will be in many respects similar to the Yu-74. Ostkraft analysts emphasize that the Yu-74 gliders would not only evade NATO's missile defense systems but will be also capable of penetrating through the US THAAD shield. The analysts argue that while the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system is effective in intercepting outdated R-17 Elbrus tactical ballistic missiles, it is potentially vulnerable to the threat posed by advanced missile systems.

Objekt 4202

The Russian military has successfully tested a new hypersonic weapon, currently known as "object 4202." Defense analyst Victor Litovkin told Radio Sputnik 29 October 2016 that the cutting-edge warhead is expected to be fitted onto the Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM). "This was the second test of hypersonic warheads for the Sarmat. The first was carried out several months ago on the Kapustin Yar site," he said. Litovkin explained that the latest test was conducted using the R-36 Voevoda ICBM.

In case of successful completion of Russia’s leading development work “4202" for the development and creation of hypersonic aircraft, created by the US global missile defense system would be meaningless. This was announced on 22 July 2015, by a source familiar with the situation. “If Russia will have an aircraft that has already gained fame as “object 4202", capable of hypersonic speed to maneuver the pitch (vertical plane) and yaw (horizontal plane), our country will be able to solve the problem of guaranteed overcome any prospective missile defense system”, the source said.

The Sarmat liquid-fueled, MIRV-equipped, super-heavy thermonuclear armed ICBM is meant as a replacement for the R-36 family. The first image of the new missile was unveiled earlier this month. "Technical characteristics of the [new hypersonic weapon] are classified, but I can assume that there are up to 20 independently targetable warheads. Each of them has its own flight program. They fly like cruise missiles but at hypersonic speeds," he detailed. "People in Siberia mistook them for meteorites."

The new Russian-made weapon is capable of accelerating to a maximum speed of 15 Mach (7 kilometers per second). It is intended for the most advanced intercontinental ballistic missiles in Moscow's arsenal. The warhead was created using solely Russian-made components, including on-board equipment, electronic components and the guidance system, an unnamed source at the Roscosmos State Corporation told Izvestiya. Litovkin further said that "object 4202" has been in development since the Soviet era, but initial concepts and ideas were not completed before the end of the Cold War.

"The fact that all of this has been restored, that it is working is great. We are standing on the shoulders of giants. It's great that we have these founders and we can use their research to ensure national security," he said. The defense analyst pointed out that Russia is spending ten times less that the United States on defense, including research and development. "Nevertheless, we have produced weapons that bring the entire US missile defense system to nothing," he said. "Today we have new means of penetrating air defense complexes that we can be proud of. Not a single missile defense system [in the Pentagon's arsenal] will be able to withstand our missiles. Let Americans, if they want, throw money down the drain," he said.

Russian defense analyst Vladimir Tuchkov ntoed "As for Project 4202, it appears that this system will be able to meet and surpass the speeds discussed by Tactical Missiles Corporation's director. This missile too is being developed by the NPO Machine Building plant. To be more precise – this is not an independent missile, but rather a warhead onboard an intercontinental ballistic missile, which, after separation from the launch vehicle, acts like a hypersonic cruise missile would, maneuvering freely to determine direction and pitch."

According to informed estimates, Project 4202 is capable of speeds between Mach 7 and Mach 12. For this reason, Tuchkov noted, the system can overcome "not only modern means of US missile defense, but even those systems which American engineers have not even begun to develop yet." The testing of Russia's hypersonic gliders is taking place using the tried and true RS-18B 'Stiletto' silo-based ICBMs, used to accelerate them up to the appropriate speed. "After being adopted by the military, Project 4202 will be installed aboard the new RS-28 Sarmat, and on future Russian ICBM designs. This is expected to take place between 2020 and 2025. When the expected first batch of 20 supersonic warheads is rolled out, it will effectively make the US missile defense system pointless. Every Sarmat will feature three hypersonic combat gliders."

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