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Unobtainium alloy: The main secret of Russian supersonic weapons

Without the unique materials manufactured by Soviet scientists, Moscow was unable to gain a breakthrough in engine manufacturing

At the Edward (California) base, the US Air Force successfully performed the first tests of the new supersonic missile AGM-183A (Advanced Rapid Response Weapon, or ARRW), called Arrow.

This information is provided by the American military magazine The National Interest (TNI).

“We use the right to build rapid prototypes prescribed by the US House of Representatives to quickly bring the capabilities of supersonic weapons to combat readiness. We have established a positive roadmap for the ARRW program, ”said US Air Force assistant commander for procurement, technology and logistics, Mr. Will Roper said.

However, there is nothing new, because the “Arrow” has not yet taken off, and has not even started from the plane, despite claims to have been flying. In fact, the model of AGM-183A is attached to B-52 bombers. Manufacturing research agencies are the Pentagon’s top defense contractors – Lockheed Martin and Fire Control, collecting data on nose arrays and impact vibrations on the Arrow prototype.

US Air Force representatives do not share any “newness”, if not taking into account the “positive prototype manufacturing roadmap”. However, under the ARRW program introduced in May 2018,  the AGM-183A will have to fly at 5M or more than 6000km / h. It is a drama, which, as Lockheed Martin & Fire Control engineers affirmed, can be achieved in the medium term thanks to current US technologies.

TNI reported that the study of manufacturing AGM-183A is based on the program Tactical Boost Glide of the project of the US Department of Defense’s Future Research Projects Agency (DARPA). At first, everything of this program was promised “magnificent”. DARPA experts pledged to US generals to build a interceptor missile at 20M, or 24,000 km / h, meaning 6.6km / s.

However, something went wrong. The requirements have dropped to the level of supersonic missiles and re-deployed from the beginning. The fact that people test the “Arrow” model doesn’t change anything. The problem is that the aerodynamics of flying devices when reaching the speed of 5M are quite different from those of “riding a flower view” on the B-52 with a maximum speed of 957km / h (0.86M).

In other words, given the US Air Force’s grant of the “ridiculous” amount of $ 480 million, the ARRW could be brave to talk about American systematic issues in this area. The generals seemed to be monitoring the progress, while the scientists pretended to be testing.

Not even this made The National Interest surprising. It turned out that these contractors had carried out a similar supersonic project like HASW that the US also poured in 928 million dollars of tax from the people. Russia’s site shared about HASW’s engine ground test program and the fear of American experts before the Russian “supersonic weapon”. TNI author Michael Pek also writes about the Pentagon’s great desire to quickly acquire true supersonic weapons to keep up with the “Kinzal”, “Iskander”, “Tzircon” and “Avangard” missiles. of Russia.

On the other hand, the US seems to have enough with HiFIRE super sound program, which Pentagon’s defense contractors have deployed for more than 8 years, including cooperation with Australia. Moreover, just three years ago, the results of the program were called by the Americans to succeed: the warhead launched with Terrier Orion missiles, achieved a speed of 7.5M.

In fact, in the final reports that talked about the problems related to the oxygen supply mechanism in jet engines did not allow the rocket to maintain supersonic velocity for the required time.

However, in the framework of HiFIRE, the principles of manufacturing supersonic missiles were launched, which would have to include 3 separate components: rocket engines, missiles carrying warheads and rockets of missiles. Each of these components needs to solve a series of complex technical tasks, but in relation to issues beyond the ability of science and technology, it is still good to research and manufacture a straight jet jet engine. determined.

Scientists working for HiFIRE program have called the manufacture of straight jet jet engine “quantum kick” in the field of engine manufacturing. If comparing the level of tasks to be solved, it is like moving from steam engines to internal combustion engines.

The speed ceiling has been calculated, which will be achieved by a straight-jet jet engine – that’s 24M. In fact, the burning of fuel in the supersonic flow of air is unlikely to surpass 17M. This number has been raised since the 1980s by Rockwell experts studying the self-igniting mechanism in a straight-jet jet engine according to the “X-30” project.

From that point on, the barrier to breaking 10 years ago would be the material to make the combustion chamber and jet jet jet escape at a speed beyond the flow of air. When reaching 5M, even the best heat-resistant metal melts for a few tenths of a second.

RD-170 engine engineers for the “Buran” space shuttle mounted on the “Energia” transport missile also encountered similar problems. They later built the famous RD-180 rocket engine around the world. In its combustion chamber, with a diameter of about 380mm, each second burns 0.6 tons of kerosene. And here the nozzle also has to withstand a huge load due to pressure and temperature, just like in a supersonic engine.

Interestingly, the Americans, who assembled the RD-180 in the Russian license in the 2000s, admitted that if they owned titanium alloy to build the combustion chamber and engine nozzle “Energomash “, They may have made their rocket engines without the edge of Russia. In the US these materials are called unobtainium – “impossible to achieve”.

Despite the fact that the US owns alloy reverse (engineering) technology, Americans still cannot find the secret of unobtainium. In the engine BE-4 of the Blue Origin company, which the United States wants to replace the “Energomash” product, the pressure in the chamber will be two times lower (132 versus 253.3), and the repulsion will much weaker (2500kN compared to 4000kN) of the RD-180.

Because of the secret technologies of supersonic technology, it is recommended to evaluate the programs of the top three countries in this field – Russia, the US and China, only by relying on the final product. What American and Chinese missiles can do when flying for a few seconds at 5M and even 7.5M only says one thing: they lack material.

Currently, they do not have alloys that can withstand the excess load of supersonic straight-line jet engines.

So when in the US appears RD-180 engine, then the specialists of Lockheed Martin and Fire Control can bring the ARRW and HCSW programs to a successful shore. Temporarily, it is still “unattainable”.

It should also be noted that special unobtainium alloys were made from the 80s of the last century, so the “Avangard” manufacturing research has been successful thanks to the Soviet science-technology legacy. .

Overall, this involves all other modern Russian weapons that are perfected on the basis of new technologies. Even the 5th generation Su-57 fighter is a deep upgrade version of the Su-27, as the entire Russian arms production line is “Made in USSR”.

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