Secret cruise missile – main mystery behind sunken Kursk
A research and production facility called Mashinostroyeniye based in the town of Reutovo not far from Moscow has given Strana. Ru exclusive information about the newest Russian anti-ship winged missiles that were on board the Kursk submarine that sank to the bottom of the Barents Sea during naval exercises in August 2000.
According to Mashinostroyeniye's information, the stricken atomic-powered sub still holds 22 secret, supersonic, long-range winged missiles called Granit (SS-N-19 "Shipwreck" according to the NATO classification) against which not a single navy in the world has efficient means of protection.
It is precisely for this reason that Russian naval ships are compelled to be on constant patrol duty at the point with coordinates 37 degrees 35 minutes E. Long. 69 degrees 40 minutes N. Lat. in the Barents Sea. The Kursk sub with its bow ripped apart by a powerful explosion lies on the sea bottom at a depth of approximately 100 meters.
The central command post of the Russian Navy reports that there was "a changing of the guard" at the site of the disaster a few days ago. The heavy missile-armed cruiser Pyotr Velikiy (Peter the Great) has taken the place of the large anti-submarine ship Admiral Kharlamov. The seamen of the North Sea Fleet face extremely harsh conditions in the stormy, winter sea. Wind velocity in this area is as high as 11 meters per second. With a moderately rough sea and snow flurries, visibility is less than one kilometer. It was in such conditions that the Pyotr Velikiy crew ushered in the New Year.
Mashinostroyeniye's General Director and Chief Designer Gerbert Yefremov points out that submarines of the Antei 949A class (the stricken Kursk belongs to this class) appeared back in the times of the Soviet Navy to counterpose American aircraft carrier units and any other strike naval groups on the high seas. The idea of a so-called "asymmetrical response" was materialized at the beginning of the 1980s by the Mashinostroyeniye facility headed by Academician Vladimir Chelomey." In a nutshell the idea was based on creating a powerful group of strike, atomic-powered submarines armed with supersonic, long-range, anti-ship, cruise missiles. Precisely such a missile was designed and built at the end of the 1970s and beginning of the 1980s. It was called the Granit.
Such a missile, according to its designers, could be fired both by surface vessels and submarines. It had a range of more than 500 kilometers. The 10-meter long missile had a starting weight of 7 tons. Its flying speed is 2,800 km/hr. The Granit is capable of carrying various types of warheads.
Yefremov considers that not only the excellent flying specifications and self-targeting warhead's capabilities of eluding radar detection allow the Granit to retain its unique combat performances. The missile's chief advantage that is not especially advertised by Mashinostroyeniye's specialists is its original target-finding capabilities. It is based on the rich experience of the designers of artificial, thinking electronic systems capable of functioning according to the "one missile - one ship" principle against a single naval vessel or "a flock" of missiles against group of ships.
The missiles themselves are capable of classifying and distributing the targets according to their importance. They also select the proper tactics and plans for the attack. The missile's onboard computer contains all the data concerning modern classes of naval ships for the purpose of avoiding errors while selecting maneuvers and mode of attack against the chosen target. Besides that, the missile's memory also contains purely tactical information, for instance, the battle order of the ships that enables it to recognize what it faces - a convoy, an aircraft carrier group or assault force, and to attack its main targets.
The missile's onboard computer also holds information to outsmart the enemy's radar systems, as well the tactical methods for outwitting the enemy's air defense capabilities. The designers hold that after they are fired, the missiles themselves decide which ones will attack the main target and what maneuvers are to be carried out on the basis of mathematical algorithmic programs. The missile is also equipped with the necessary means to outmaneuver attacking anti-missiles. After knocking out the main target in a group of ships, the remaining missiles attack other ships in the order, excluding the possibility of two missiles hitting one and the same target.
Specialists are of the opinion that if other navies in the world manage to acquire such a system sometime in the future, the Granit will remain the most powerful weapon against any well-protected enemy. Even if the Granit is hit by an anti-missile, the Russian missile, due to its huge weight and high speed will be able to preserve its initial velocity and as a result, will reach its target. The force of this collision will be such that even without its warhead, the missile will be able to split a destroyer-class ship into two.
Today, Mashinostroyeniye is carrying out a program for maintaining the Granit's high efficiency throughout its entire service life. This concerns both its flying specifications and its "intellectual" capabilities. All this work is being done without any large investments. Besides that, the technical solutions employed in designing Granit have been put into the basis of a concept for creating a new anti-ship missile called Yakhont.