Project “Research for the creation of an aircraft complex for the long-range interception of cruise missiles”

Innovative projects that have received a positive conclusion from the expert examination organized by the Department of Defense of the Ministry of Defense. 

Fig. 1. A flying model weighing 65 kg, on which the UAV control system was tested 

Project 6 

Research to ensure the creation of an aviation complex for the long-range interception of cruise missiles in the interest of increasing the effectiveness of counteracting a massive strike by subsonic cruise missiles

From the project description:   

Currently, the most well-developed means of an air attack by NATO member countries are subsonic cruise missiles (hereinafter – KR) of the Tomahawk (BGM-109 Tomahawk) type of land, air, and sea-based (submarines, surface ships). The annual release by the US industry of cruise missiles of this class exceeds 400 units. The range of use of such cruise missiles is currently 1,500-2,000 km. There is evidence that at least 7,000 such cruise missiles have already been accumulated in the United States, and new developments of extended-range cruise missiles (of the order of 3000-3500 km) are also being opened.

The Russian armed forces have air defense systems that are capable of providing zone-object cover for troops and important objects of military-state significance from strikes of the Kyrgyz Republic of various bases. The S-300, “Tor” air defense systems and the “Pantsir-S1” anti-aircraft missile and gun system have the highest capabilities for destroying missile defense.

As part of mixed groups of air defense systems, they are able to carry out the highly effective zonal-object cover of troops and important objects of military-state significance from individual attacks of the Kyrgyz Republic of various bases.

In the case of a massive strike of KR flying at low altitudes, the capabilities of all these complexes, even when used in the extreme version, may not be enough. Moreover, the tactics of protection against low-intensity attacks (3-5 and even up to 10 attacking objects) of high-speed low-flying aircraft significantly differ from defense methods if the number of attacking objects reaches 15-20. An urgent need is expanding the area of ​​the possible destruction of attacking objects.

However, the detection range of RS flying at low altitudes (15-50 m) by means of these complexes does not exceed 20 km. At the same time, the cost of a single launch, for example, the S-300 complex, is commensurate with the cost of the Kyrgyz Republic (the cost of BGM-109 Tomahawk is about 1.5-2 million US dollars).

Also, long-range interception of the Kyrgyz Republic is possible with MiG-31 fighter interceptors. But it should be borne in mind that, firstly, the armament of each fighter-interceptor MiG-31 (four guided missiles (hereinafter referred to as UR) long-range with semi-active GOS R-33 under the fuselage, as well as two UR “air-air” with thermal GOS R-40TD or R-60 / 60M (two or four)) is intended to a greater extent for combating strategic bombers (carriers of the Kyrgyz Republic), with fighters or aircraft RLDN; secondly, there are not so many MiG-31 aircraft that they can effectively resist a massive strike of the Kyrgyz Republic; thirdly, in such a scenario, too many pilots for the MiG-31 are required, the preparation of which is very expensive and lengthy. At the same time, if you provide the MiG-31 interceptors with long-arm weapons,

This “long-arm” weapon can be a group of autonomous unmanned aerial vehicles (hereinafter referred to as UAVs), launched by the MiG-31 operator or the aviation complex of long-range radar monitoring and guidance (hereinafter – AK RPDN) A50 in a given vicinity of the enemy’s attack armada and capable of intercepting these subsonic missiles in homing mode. Each UAV interceptor is armed with several air-to-air missiles (up to four missiles from Igla-S or Verba MANPADS).

Funds in the form of a group of UAV interceptors are capable of preempting and destroying the bulk of enemy subsonic missile defense systems at distant approaches to protected objects, while meeting certain requirements, making it easier for traditional air defense systems to protect objects. Another purpose of the UAV interceptor could be the destruction of enemy unmanned aerial vehicles.

Proposed Solution: 

The flying wing aerodynamic scheme is currently the most popular for creating high-speed shock UAVs (X-47B, nEUROn, Taranis). A characteristic feature of this scheme is the high (10-12) aerodynamic quality achievable at certain flight modes, which allows obtaining high flight speed with a relatively low thrust ratio (the ratio of the thrust of the power plant to the weight of the aircraft). This property also allows you to get a greater range. The indicated properties were practically verified in-flight tests of a reduced scaled UAV model performed as part of the Fighter R&D (Fig. 1, above).

Project-6_ UAV-interceptor_ equipment location

Fig. 2 – Location of avionics on a full-size UAV 

Project-6_ UAV-interceptor_location of equipment_ side view

Fig. 3 – On-board electronic equipment, side view 


General characteristics of a full-size UAV 

  • Length: 5.1 m
  • Swipe: 6.0 m
  • Height: 1.45 m (on the chassis)
  • 1.10 m (with retracted chassis)
  • Center section width: 3.17 m
  • Empty weight: 1200 kg
  • Maximum take-off weight: 2000 kg
  • Engine: 36MT
  • Thrust: 450 kG

UAV flight characteristics 

  • Maximum speed: 900 km / h
  • Cruising speed: 540 km / h
  • Ceiling:
  • (determined by the engine): 8000 m
  • Time in the air: 4+ hours
  • Flight range: 2500+ km
  • Normal overload max 4,5

On-board electronic equipment includes: 

  • multifunctional radar station (MFRS);
  • lateral radar (RLBO);
  • optical location station (OLS).

The project intends to use a multifunctional radar station (MFRS) of the 8-mm wavelength range as providing the most popular characteristics in terms of gain and angular resolution with the medium midship size of 200 mm or more.

The antenna system MFRS is performed in the form of a passage phased antenna array (PAR), providing a beam deflection of up to + 60 ° when tracking the target. In the algorithms of the PAR operation, the implementation of cosecant forms of radiation patterns, arbitrary beam expansion, suppression of individual side lobes is implemented.

View of the developed and assembled HEADLAY mockup of 2045 elements for the antenna system of the MFRS radar layout

Fig. 4 – View of the developed and assembled prototype HEADLIGHT of 2045 elements for the antenna system of the layout of the radar MFRS

In the project, in addition to the MFRS, it is planned to use a side-scan radar with a synthesis of a millimeter range aperture. Aperture synthesis radar (PCA) is designed to receive radio images of the underlying surface when the locator carrier is moved relative to it at a certain height (distance), in addition, mathematical processing of the received image and spectral analysis of the reflected signals allow high-speed objects to be detected against the underlying surface, such as for example, like cruise missiles.

The identification system is not directly part of the IFRS equipment but can be additionally integrated into the avionics complex.

The target detection range of IFRS:

  • with EPR of the order of 0.01 m 2  17-20 km;
  • with EPR of the order of 0.1 m 2   25-27 km.
  • Viewing angle  + 60 °.
  • The number of targets followed is from 4 to 10.

Estimated work order:

It is required, within the framework of scientific research, to develop the structure and parts of the complex, which includes: a ground control point, two flying models of high-speed subsonic UAVs (in the dimensions of 1500-2000 kg) with a flight control system, and armament and avionics equipment modified for the target.

These unmanned vehicles, designed and created as operating flying models in the process of the proposed research for testing key modes, can be considered as a prototype for design and development work on creating a UAV interceptor of the same dimension (1500-2000 kg) with a flight range of up to 2500 km, and also prototype for larger UAVs. Based on the experience gained, a number of large UAVs of the same aerodynamic design can be developed quite quickly, since associated with the flight control system is solved for UAVs of smaller dimension. This approach can significantly reduce development time and costs.

Tactical methods of using UAV interceptor groups against a massive strike of the Kyrgyz Republic should be developed in detail in the process of performing research using mathematical modeling and the elements of ground and flight tests that are consistent with it. To develop application tactics within the framework of research, it is supposed to create a special stand for mathematical modeling that allows playing scenarios of group counteraction of a large number (about 100) of dynamic objects.

A preliminary study of the scenarios of an enemy air attack with the help of a massive attack by the Kyrgyz Republic shows that there are real possibilities for successfully repelling such an attack.

The results of the examination: 

The examination was carried out by experts of the following organizations: 

Central Research Institute of Military Aviation, Air Force Center “Air Force named after prof. N.E. Zhukovsky and Yu.A. Gagarin “, VA East Kazakhstan them. G.K.Zhukova, FSBEI HE “MAI (NRU)”, FSBI “Center for the Study of the Military Potential of Foreign Countries” of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation; FSBEI HPE “BSTU“ Voenmekh ”named after D.F.Ustinov “.

The conclusion of the examination: 

Despite the scientific significance of the project, the “Interception” code, it requires refinement in collaboration with research organizations of the Russian Ministry of Defense in order to link it with the requirements for a promising anti-cruise missile system, the rationale for the weapons used and tactics. It seems advisable to carry out this work as part of the Demonstrator research project, which is included in the Interagency comprehensive target program for creating complexes with unmanned aerial vehicles.

 Shortcomings, recommendations and expert comments : 

  1. The technical feasibility of the project in the proposed version is doubtful, especially regarding the choice of weapons for intercepting the Kyrgyz Republic. AKDP UAVs equipped with short-range air-to-air missile defense systems with thermal imaging homing heads can be considered as one of the possible means of integrated combat with long-range missile systems. However, at the same time, the tasks of reliable detection of flying missiles and pointing UAVs on them must be solved, which requires the participation of long-range radar detection and control systems and other reconnaissance and information assets in the system. It seems necessary to expand the range of weapons in addition to those proposed in the draft MANPADS.
  2. The UAV itself must be equipped with a powerful onboard electronic computer and software and algorithmic software with elements of artificial intelligence, which will ensure the offline operation and independent decisions. In this case, the possibility of affecting the UAV and its avionics by the damaging factors of an air nuclear explosion should be considered. The project did not carry out a feasibility study for the creation of an AKDP UAV in comparison with alternative versions of aircraft systems capable of solving the tasks of combating the Kyrgyz Republic.
  3. It is necessary to study the issues of UAV interaction with each other, information interaction (support) of the UAV interceptor with radar detection and guidance of ground and air-based in solving problems of guidance, target designation, target allocation, and tracking.
  4. The issues of solving the problem of detecting promising small-sized cruise missiles and creating a control system based on artificial intelligence are not considered.
  5. The authors of the project lack the scientific and technical reserve necessary for the implementation of the intelligent control system of the UAV group, and the cooperation for creating the specified system has not been worked out.
  6. It is doubtful whether it is possible to detect by means of a ZG radar at a distance of 1,500 km not only a single RS but also a dense group of 100 -150 such targets.

Source: ГУНИД Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation


The development of projects to achieve the objectives of the examination was carried out by several methods, namely heuristic (conclusions of experts, organizations and interested military command and control bodies), measurement and registration (testing or evaluation tests).

More than 340 promising innovative developments and technologies were previously selected by specialists of the military command and control agencies, research organizations and military schools of the Russian Ministry of Defense during the ARMY-2017 forum.

You can see all the projects on the  GUIDED blog of the Ministry of Defense on our website. 


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