The missile shield is hardly foolproof
When analyzing American ballistic missile capabilities and anti-aircraft missiles with long range ballistic capabilities, Russian experts have found that the problem is that Americans rockets cannot intercept any ballistic missile in the mesosphere (the altitude of 35000-80000m). Therefore, Russia has focused on developing means of hypersonic cruise flight running for long distances at this difference of heights.
The principle used by the US antiballistic shield is to send a rocket into space or within a point of impact before calculating the trajectory of ballistic missile. Therefore, American interceptor missiles are operating as suborbital rockets with solid fuel. Once they are started they cannot be stopped and traction cannot be adjusted. If it does not comply with ballistic missile target trajectory calculations or avoidance maneuvers, missile intercepting misses.
Two of the three types of anti-ballistic American missiles of SM-3 Block 1b are THAAD and SR19, which are based on the same engine with solid fuel derived from one of the two engines of the second stage, missile intercontinental MX Peacekeeper (decommissioned) and Minuteman II. This engine is produced by Aerojet General, and develops a thrust of 27,226 kg.
SR19 rockets have a mass of 15t, are manufactered at Fort Greely (Alaska) at Vandenberg (California) and in Hawaii, and are designed to hit ballistic missiles in cruise flight between 150 km and 500 km altitude. The THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) missiles weigh 900 kg, form also a ground-based shield against ballistic missiles, which in the terminal phase of the flight, immediately before re-entering the atmosphere or during reentry, act between 80 km and 150 km altitude. Rocket SR19 is heavier, has slower speeds, and has more fuel than THAAD.
The third antiballistic interceptor, SM-3 Block 1b, is based on US AEGIS ships at Deveselu in Romania, is aimed at striking ballistic missiles in flight cruising at heights between 100 and 300 km. SM-3 Block 1b weighs 1.5t has three solid rocket stages, the first being Aerojet MK 72, which constitutes the third stage of US intercontinental ballistic missile Minuteman-II and develops only 15,600 kg. Besides the three types of ballistic missiles, anti-aircraft long-range Patriot missiles can hit ballistic descent path below the altitude of 35,000 m.
The first Russian weapon designed to penetrate US ballistic shields is the ground-to-ground missile system Iskander, which has a range of 500 km, a cruise ceiling of 50,000m, and a speed of 7600-9300 km/h.
3M22 Zirkon has a smiilar path meant for striking aircraft carriers. Its launching tests began on March 18th, 2016. The rocket Zirkon, which weights 5t, is launched from an aircraft and is equipped with a scramjet engine type, which compress air before it enters the combustion chamber, there is no stage compressor, using only dynamic compression, obtained via the intake device. Scramjet engine imprints Zirkon rockets at a speed of Mach 6.2 (6500 km/h) at a cruising altitude of 30,000 m and a kinetic energy of impact with the target 50 times higher than air-ship missiles available.
Another means of hypersonic fighting, which is now in testing in Russia, is space glider Yu-71 (Project 4202), which between 2013 and 2016 was launched 4 times from Dombarovsky Cosmodrome using the first stage of intercontinental ballistic missile UR-100. At an altitude of 70 km, the rocket begins corrections for applying space gliding at a horizontal tragectory giving it a cruising speed of 11.200-12.500 km/h, then separation occures. The entire space glider flight distance of 5500 km was overcomed in 16 minutes. Unlike warheads of ballistic missiles, space gliding of the Yu-71 creates lift and can maneuver so that its flight is one of the variables that can not be calculated by computers of ballistic shields centers of the American leadership. Starting from 2020, Russia will have 24 Yu-71’s at the Dombarovsky strategic nuclear base.
50% of the fuel missile is used for lifting from the ground and climbing through dense layers of the atmosphere up to 10,000 m. Therefore, Russian researchers are turning to adapt a stage rocket that works with liquid fuel, with adjustable trajectory, a running time of 300-400 seconds, as a launcher for a space glider. The weight of the space rocket and glider must be about 40 tons, and launched from an altitude of 8-10,000 m from transport plane IL-76m.