RUSSIAN SEA MINES
Director of Gidropribor Central Research Institute
Russian naval mines are unrivaled for their performance characteristics, reliability and ease of operation. Russian scientists and designers of virtually all classes of mines have captured the lead in their development.
Naval mines may be "dangerous invisible" enemy or partner enabling any maritime nation, regardless of its technical potential, to defend its territory from the sea. Like nuclear weapons, mines are a deterrent factor. Sea mines push underwater and surface forces, including those armed with missiles and nuclear weapons, farther out to sea from the shore line.
Sea mines are mostly defensive in character. They do not destroy material values, factories, palaces, museums, houses; do not kill old people, women, children and those who do not attack water frontiers of sovereign states. Rather, they protect the values created by people.
Use of naval mines during World War II and in postwar local sea conflicts showed their ever increasing role in the performance of operational and even strategic missions. Naval specialists of many countries note the high efficiency, reliability and relatively low cost of this weapon. Mines boast the highest cost-efficiency index.
Mine barriers permit vast sea and ocean theaters of operations to be kept under control and when the status (armed – unarmed – sterilizer) of the planted mines is controlled remotely, friendly forces can cross the minefield.
The general trend and purpose of development of mines, as precision weapons, are stipulated by their ability to counter today's and future sea threats, as well as by their efficiency and relatively low expenses of defensive missions, in view of military-geographic and military-economic conditions.
A modern mine (mine system) is basically a multifunctional device incorporating elements of artificial intelligence.
Mines are classed by operating principle into contact and influence; by planting method into moored, bottom and floating; and by mobility into self-propelled and fixed.
Mine fields can be controlled and uncontrolled. Recently, a new mine class, the attacking mine, has appeared. This mine represents a combination of a mine-carrying platform and a torpedo or a water- water-target or water-air-target missile.
Mines can be planted by aircraft, submarines, surface ships, underwater robots, and frogmen, as well as merchant ships, fishing ships, ferries and motor boats.
Most post-WWII domestically produced mines and mine systems have been developed by the
St. Petersburg Gidropribor Central Research Institute, which is entitled to the status of a State Research Center. Development and use of naval mines is not contradictory to International Law.
As a ship is likely to sink if its underwater portion is badly damaged, the idea emerged of delivering an underwater strike and developing mine exploders that respond to different ship's physical fields at a considerable distance from the ship and detonate the mine at the moment the ship is passing at a certain distance from it.
Before World WarII, bottom influence mines were being developed in England, Germany and the Soviet Union. First Russian bottom mines, including the small and large aircraft-laid mines AMD-1-500 and AMD-1-1000, were developed in 1942. Later, they ranked high among their best foreign counterparts. At the end of WWII (in 1945), the upgraded versions of these mines appeared. They were designated AMD-2-500 and AMD-2-1000, respectively. These mines are designed to destroy surface warships and other vessels, as well as submarines.
Weight and size of the small mine (450 mm) were similar to those of the FAB-500 aerial bomb, and of the large mine (533 mm) to those of the FAB-1500 aerial bomb. Standard aircraft attachment points were used to suspend the mines.
Bottom mines (except for the AMD-1-500) can be scattered from surface ships and motor torpedo boats, while the two classes of the large mines can be scattered from the above platforms and from submarines.
The main difference between the AMD-1 and AMD-2 mines is that the AMD-1 mine is equipped with a single-channel two-pulse magnetic influence exploder, while the AMD-2 mine is outfitted with an acoustic-magnetic influence exploder.
After WWII (in 1951), the AMD-4 aircraft-laid bottom mine entered service. It was developed from the AMD-1 and AMD-2 large mines. The weight and size of this mine were similar to those of the FAB-1500 aerial bomb.
In 1954, fundamentally new mines appeared: the upgraded large mine, designated AMD-2M, and large bottom mine, designated IGDM. The IGDM mine featured a hydrodynamic (pressure) channel and the AMD-2M mine became a baseline model for the development of a radically new telecontrol system which was later used in many other mine classes.
Simultaneously, more complex designs and innovative target detection sensors were being developed, mine planting depth was increased, etc.
In 1957, the Navy received the IGDM-500 small bottom mine, and in 1959 it got the MDT tubular bottom mine and Serpei large bottom mine. In 1961 such unique bottom mines of the UDM family as the UDM large air-dropped mine (1961) and UDM-500 small bottom mine (1965) came into service. In 1979, the UDM-2 mine, featuring fundamentally new performance characteristics, was developed. Later, on the basis of the UDM family of mines, their successors, designated MDM-3, MDM-4 and MDM-5, were developed for export. At the same time, the DM-1 (MDM-1) mine, designed to be laid by submarines, entered service. The latest modification of this mine is the MDM-6.
All of the above mines can be air-dropped, scattered from surface warships and other vessels, and the MDM-1 and MDM-6 types can also be laid from submarines. As regards size and explosive charge, mines can be subdivided into superlarge (UDM-2, DM-1, MDM-5, MDM-1, MDM-6), large (IGDM, AMD-2M, Serpei, UDM, MDM-4) and small (IGDM-500, UDM-500, MDM-3).
The specific feature of the UDM and MDM-3, -4, -5 air-dropped mines is that they are not provided with the traditional parachute system. This feature gives these mines such tactical advantages as the high level of mission security and possibility of laying from low altitudes.
Modern bottom mines are equipped with multichannel exploders fitted with sensors responding to such physical fields of a ship as the acoustic, magnetic (induction), hydrodynamic (pressure), electric, etc. The operating principle of a highly-sensitive influence exploder with an operating radius of 50 to 60 m is such that it is actuated when a ship passes over it. This factor, in combination with a delay arming, ship counting, channel selection and telecontrol devices, makes the mine highly resistant to sweeps. As the mines are planted on the seabed, they hide in mud, which makes them inconspicuous and difficult to detect. The bottom mines can also be equipped with facilities to detect and destroy underwater mine-hunting vehicles normally operated ahead of mine sweepers.
Bottom mines can be stored for at least 20 years and their power sources for 10 years. These mines retain lethality for more than a year and then can be removed.
The submarine-laid bottom mines produced in Russia have been developed into self-propelled mines. The concept of their development appeared in the 1970s. According to experts, the presence of this type of weapon in the naval inventory presents a real mine menace to an adversary's forces even in areas where his antisubmarine defense is strong. The first Russian self-propelled mine, designated MDS-1, is driven by a propulsion plant originally designed for one of the torpedoes currently in production. Physically, the mine is comprised of a mine module and carrier. The mine module is basically a warhead charge and equipment section accommodating the sensors responding to the target's physical fields, the influence equipment, power supplies, and safety and functional devices. The exploder's activation zone depends on its sensitivity to the physical fields produced by a target-ship and is about 40 m. The mine is detonated as soon as the target-ship or target-submarine comes within a range when the intensity of the physical fields produced by it is sufficient to activate the mine's influence exploder.
The SMDM self-propelled mine developed from its predecessor, the MDS-1, is a combination of the mine module with a propulsion plant taken from the 53-65KE long-range oxygen torpedo (the torpedo and mine are exported). The mine module accommodates either a three-channel (acoustic-induction-hydrodynamic) or two-channel combined influence exploder. The mine can develop a speed of up to 42 knots and travel a distance of up to 17,000 m.
The SMDM mine assumes the function of a standard bottom mine after it has been fired from a submarine's torpedo tube, run the prescribed distance, and landed on the seabed at the required depth.
According to experts, the major advantage of the MDS – SMDM family of mines is that after being laid on the seabed, they are difficult to detect by mine-hunting sonars of submarines and surface ships, as well as by underwater mine-hunting vehicles. The mine employment method makes it possible to achieve surprise, depriving the enemy of the possibility of taking mine countermeasures or performing evasive maneuvers.
The SMDM system's mine module, driven by the propulsion plant of a 650mm caliber super-heavy torpedo (model 2 SMDM mine), can be transported over a distance of up to 50 km.
Moored mines, which were carried mainly by surface ships, are designed to destroy surface ships.
Russia's surface fleet had a whole line of reliable moored mines developed on the eve of World War II, among which were such types as the 1908/39 Mirab, AMG, KB, KB Krab, AGSB and small moored mine, YaM.
Developed before WWII, the AMG mine was the first air-dropped mine. It could even be emplaced through ice. The Mirab and KB Krab mines were equipped with some elements of influence equipment.
On the basis of the engineering and design solutions incorporated in these mines, more advanced types (influence mines above all), serving different purposes, were developed in the the first 15 years after World War II. Those mines were: the GM mine (1956), KSM medium mine, KAM acoustic mine (1957), and KPM anti-landing contact mine (1957). The UGM and UKSM mines, which could be fitted with several types of influence exploders, were developed from the GM and KSM mines.
After WWII, main efforts were concentrated on the development of new moored mines equipped with influence exploders of different types, including the antenna type.
The first influence exploders of moored mines were electroacoustic directed-action type (Krab), causing the mine to detonate under or near the target-ship's (submarine's) hull. This exploder was later developed into a hydroacoustic exploder fitted on the KAM and Lira mines.
The operating principle of the antenna-type exploder was based on the application of the electric field produced by the target-ship.
Creation of antisubmarine and multipurpose submarine-laid mines was another direction in the development of moored mines in Russia.
These mines were represented by the PM-1 (acoustic) and PM-2 (under ice antenna-type) influence mines. They entered service with the Navy in 1959 and 1965, respectively. The PM-2 mine was specifically designed to counter submarines under ice cover. The mine's antenna system consisted of three antennas: upper, middle and lower, each of which had two electrodes connected with the transformer unit's primary windings. Activation of the influence exploder took place upon the target submarine entering the danger zone. In this system, sea water was used as an electrolyte and the mine's antenna system electrodes functioned as transducers.
These mines were filled with a more powerful explosive charge ("sea mixture") than TNT. Unique devices were developed to enhance the safety of these mines and broaden their planting depth range. Moreover, it was necessary to develop long corrosion-resistant high-strength mine mooring cables. A theory of the mine body strength and buoyancy developed at that time allowed the designers to reduce the weight of the moored submarine-laid mines and increase impact resistance of air-dropped mines. For the first time transistors were used in Russia to develop influence equipment for mines.
Emergence of underwater missile carriers spurred the development of antisubmarine mines. In addition to mines, special-purpose mine-hunting sonars, deep-water sweeps, as well as various mine hunting and killing assets came into service with the world's navies. According to expert opinion, with mines available at that time, mine warfare efficiency, especially against submarines, became insufficient, though the abilitiy of mines to detect physical fields of target ships grew several times. Following the analysis of these factors, it was decided to bring the explosive charge closer to the ship's hull, enhance the effectiveness of the burst and, simultaneously, reduce the weight of the charge.
The work in this direction in the USSR commenced in 1947 and it took the designers almost 10 years to develop a shipborne rocket-assisted ascending mine, designated KRM (1957). The mine featured a passive-active acoustic system that was capable of detecting and classifying a target, transmitting commands for the warhead separation and igniting the rocket motor to transport the warhead to the sea surface to the target's (surface ship or surfaced submarine) location. On the basis of this mine, a fundamentally new class of rocket-assisted ascending mines, adapted for sowing from aircraft (RM-1, 1961) and submarines (RM-2, 1963 and PRM, 1968), were developed. The PRM-type moored rocket-assisted mine was used against submarines of various classes, including low-acoustic-signature boats cruising at 40 to 600 m depths at any speed. This mine was armed with three rockets controlled over a flexible link (wire) while it was running towards the target.
The warhead (rocket) of the RM-1 and RM-2 rocket-assisted ascending mines runs towards the target along a straight path. Upon activation of the hydroacoustic influence system that determines the target's relative depth, the bodies of these mines, filled with explosive charges, are propelled towards the target by their rocket motors. The mines used to be detonated in the immediate vicinity of the target upon activation of either a contact or hydrostatic exploder. These mines are highly reliable and effective. The attack lasts seconds. Attempts made by other countries to manufacture such mines failed.
In the 1960s, basically new active mine systems, i.e. wide-band rocket-assisted mines and mine-torpedoes were developed. Mines not only retain advantages over other underwater weapons, but have acquired a new capability to attack remote targets within a relatively short time and with all elements of surprise.
The first active mine systems came into service with the Navy in the early 1970s. They were represented by the PMR-2 antisubmarine rocket-assisted mine, which is unrivaled in the world, and the PMK-1 mine system (the export version of the PMR-2 system), which was basically a combination of a moored mine and a fast underwater automatically targeted rocket, as well as the PMT-1 antisubmarine mine-torpedo (the export version of the PMK-2 system) – a combination of a moored mine and a small antisubmarine homing torpedo. The caliber of the PMK-2 weapon is 533 mm and its length is not more than 6 m. The distinguishing feature of these systems is that though they are basically active mines, they attack targets themselves. The equipment of these mine systems detects and classifies an underwater target, determines its course and running depth, optimizes the target intercept trajectory and generates a command to launch either a rocket, which runs at a speed of about 80 m/s, or torpedo.
The warheads (rockets or torpedoes) are accommodated in sealed launchers planted at great depths. There are no effective countermeasures against them today. Operation of the target detection, classification and dynamic parameter determination systems is based on acoustic principles.
Due to the great operational depth, wide target engagement zone and short time of attack, which practically deprive the target of the opportunity to take countermeasures or perform an evasive maneuver, the mine systems have given the Navy capabilities in the performance of antisubmarine missions which no other weapon system of prolonged action against the enemy can provide.
On the basis of the above mine systems, a multipurpose shelf mine (MShM) can be developed in the future.
Even a brief reference to the major trends in the development of mines and the most effective sea weapons indicates the emphasis the state has always placed on this issue.
The major criteria in the development of naval mines are the same for all navies in the world. They are:
– greater detection range of targets with low levels of physical fields;
– engagement of fast-moving targets, including submarines and dynamically-supported ships;
– modernization of existing exploders and development of new unified versatile multipurpose exploders;
– reduction of visibility of bottom and moored mines; enhancement of the selective capability and anti-sweep resistance of mines; remote control of the "armed – unarmed – sterilizer" status of mines;
– improvement of onboard power supplies;
– development of multipurpose transportable mines;
– reduction of target attack time and simultaneous enhancement of reliability and noise immunity of mines; optimization of target selection from a group of targets; optimization of the attack trajectory;
– improvement of weight and size characteristics; development of systems adapted in terms of their dimensions to aircraft and submarines of all navies in the world.
A breadth of scientific and technological experience in the development of underwater weapons enables the Gidropribor Central Research Institute to develop highly efficient up-to-date equipment for the national economy. This equipment includes:
– integrated underwater picture presentation systems that transmit information to fixed or mobile data collection and processing points;
– integrated systems for collection of hydrophysical, hydrometeorological and ecological information in the world's oceans;
– autonomous, seabed and moored stations designed to study the ocean and seismic activity to forecast uncontrolled earth-crust behavior in the interests of marine product extraction industry, etc;
– integrated systems for the defense of the national interests of coastal states in their 200-mile economic zone.
According to military experts, the significance of mine warfare systems for naval operations will invariably increase and they will be used extensively to achieve the offensive and defensive goals stipulated by the naval strategies of maritime nations.
Russian-made mine warfare systems, embodying the latest scientific and technological advances, have not exhausted their potential for further refinement and broading the range of existing weapon systems as well as development of fundamentally new systems capable of performing non-standard missions.
The Gidropribor Central Research Institute employs highly skilled researchers, engineers, technicians and professional workforce, and has a unique production base. The Institute is prepared to develop mine warfare systems for service with the Russian Navy and for export.