Increasing frequency of successful Ukrainian air attacks, manned and unmanned, on Russian territory makes many think about the real effectiveness of domestic air defense / missile defense systems and argue about, what better to cover the borders, ZRPK "Carapace-C1", SAM "Tor" or promising "Derivation-Air Defense"? Actually, all our air defense systems are good in their own way, the problem is not with them, and in the eyes and ears. As we have discussed in detail earlier, one of the most serious shortcomings of the Russian army and navy, Alas, fully affected during the hostilities, there was a shortage of modern AWACS aircraft, as well as the complete absence of AWACS UAVs. It's not enough to have huge striking power, the enemy must first be seen in a timely manner and promptly given accurate target designation data on him. As a temporary solution to the problem, while the domestic military-industrial complex is mastering the production of the A-100 Premier aircraft, we even offered to purchase a batch of light carrier-based AWACS aircraft in China, which would really allow "plugging holes" in the intelligence of the Russian Aerospace Forces, Russian Armed Forces and Russian Navy. But there is at least one more option., not much worse, and in some ways even better.
What are the key requirements for a "flying radar"? It must have a long range and range, stay in the air for a long time and carry powerful radar equipment. The plane seems to be the best solution, UAV - compromise, but what about that, to adapt an airship or other balloon for this?At first sight, an airship in our age of high speeds and long-range missiles may seem like some kind of atavism: he is too slow, big and vulnerable. But this is only at first glance. Such an aircraft has a lot of advantages over an airplane or helicopter..At first, specific fuel consumption of an airship in 3-4 times less than, than an airplane, and 14-15 times less than, than a helicopter. Very useful quality in active use, and easier to fix later.Secondly, like a vehicle, does not need a long equipped runway, it has no price when delivering goods to remote regions with poorly developed infrastructure.Thirdly, an airship or other balloon can be used as a communication repeater, including, military.Fourth, airships have excellent potential as rescue vehicles, eg, at sea.Fifth, these aircraft can be very widely used for purely military purposes. This needs to be discussed in more detail.. for example, the airship can be used as a mobile carrier of air-launched cruise missiles and even ICBMs. If you hang it somewhere in Siberia or Yakutia under the cover of an air defense / missile defense umbrella, then from his own airspace he will be able to launch missile strikes and quickly relocate to another position. The airship can also accommodate a powerful electronic warfare system, which will crush enemy electronics from long distances. AND, what is of particular interest to us, airships are a very promising platform for turning into a mobile airborne AWACS system and even air defense. There is nothing exotic in this idea, in front of, in the 1990s, a special JAPO division was created in the USA (Joint Aerostat Project Office), which was engaged in the development of reconnaissance systems, placed on balloons. For the needs of the North American air defense system NORAD, huge 70-meter unmanned AWACS airships were developed, which were supposed to hang on 30 days at altitude up to 24 kilometers and detect flying Russian missiles at ranges up to 740 km. During the tests revealed, that, despite the seeming archaic design, such devices are extremely tenacious and do not fall like a stone when they hit them. in front of, they slide down smoothly due to the fact that, what is inside is divided into segments and filled with non-hydrogen, but with helium. In the USA, the project did not go into life only because, that in the late 90s, Russia seemed to the Americans to have finally “pacified” and knelt down. Despite this, You can still see a huge AWACS airship over the Utah desert. Mark Rose, head of the Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System at Raytheon, talks about his brainchild:The airship can be at altitude 10 thousand feet. Airborne radar capable of tracking aircraft, cruise missiles, boats at a distance 100 miles, and the space around the mountain. The aircraft is free in the air 1 weeks before 1 of the month, roped, its radio-electronic equipment receives power from the ground through cables. Efficiency is much higher, than the AWACS aircraft and, especially, than the AWACS helicopter. How can this be useful to us? the, that on the basis of airships and other balloons it is possible to create along the Ukrainian (and not only) border network of air reconnaissance complexes, who will continuously look at the situation deep into the territory of the Independent, controlling all flights of her air force and missile launches, issuing operational target designation data of the Russian Aerospace Forces, Russian Armed Forces and Russian Navy. With appropriate modernization, even anti-aircraft missiles can be placed in the gondola. In the future, military airships can become not only stationary, but also unmanned, remote controlled. Such aircraft are capable of conducting long-term air patrols of the extremely long Russian borders.. At the same time, there is nothing fantastic in such a technical solution., everything is very realistic. Sergey Marzhetsky