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S-13 Aircraft Weapon System

S-13 AIRCRAFT WEAPON SYSTEM: CURRENT STATUS AND PROSPECTS FOR GROWTH

S-13 rocket with different warheads

The weapon system had been built to help tackle a major task facing front-line and army-level aviation, that of destroying hostile aircraft kept in a variety of concrete shelters, as well as destroy runways, command posts, communications nodes and other fortified facilities. 

    In the mid-1980s the S-13 airbcraft rocket pod system (NARV), designed to include the B-13L five-tube launcher and a complement of 122mm S-13T, S-13OF and S-13D rockets, entered service with the Soviet Air Force. The weapon system had been built to help tackle a major task facing fron-line and army-level aviation, that of destroying hostile aircraft kept in a variety of concrete shelters, as well as destroy runways, command posts, communications centers and other fortified facilities. The S-13T baseline rocket was developed for that purpose. It featured an extended high-power, solid-propellant rocket engine and a double-module enetrator-type warhead. Later  the product was expanded to produce the S-13OF and S-13D rockets, carrying high-explosive warheads designed to neutralize light-armored and vulnerable materiel and personnel. 

Given the ingenious engineering solutions employed in developing the munition (an optimized TNT charge design boasting no armor shielding, the S-13T warhead's self-contained modules in a tandem configuration, casting technology for producing S-13OF warhead casings that uses a diamond-shaped pattern to achieve the desired fragmentation effect, etc.), we have managed to build highly-lethal weapons and maintain the most affordable per-unit costs (the latter traditionally being a crucial requirement for unguided aircraft weapons). For example, the fire power of a Su-25 attack aircraft, armed with high-explosive rockets magnified by its inherent agility in the air, is equal to salvo firings of several Grad MLRS systems. The warhead's principal characteristics are given in the Table below. 
 

Basic Characteristics of the S-13 Rockets
S-13T 
Double-module high-explosive warhead. 
Penetrates 6 meters of soil plus 1 meter of concrete. 
Craters 20 square meters of runway. 
Warhead weight  - 37 kg 
Maximum effective range - 4,000 m
S-130F 
High-explosive with 450 precut fragments, 
each weighing between 25- 35 grams. 
Warhead weight - 33 kg 
S-13D 
Vacuum-type. 
Warhead weight - 32 kg 
TNT equivalent - 35 kg


At the same time, given general trends in the development of armaments and military hardware, the upgrading of the S-13 weapon system to still higher performance levels has become a pressing challenge. To expand the tactical uses and combat capabilities of the existing aircraft, the first task is to extend effective ranges and augment firing accuracy rates at maximum engagement distances. Given the results of tests done at the Institute of Applied Physics, these goals could be achieved by the use of a semiactive laser homing head with terminal corrector. A semiactive seeker is chosen because of the low-contrast nature of likely targets in the IR and millimeter-wave bands. In addition, semiactive laser seeker heads are generally simple in design, affordable, can be used with the baseline S-13  core components (launcher and sight system) without heavy reengineering, and allow for refitting of in-service unguided aircraft rockets with a smart-munition capability. 
 

S-13 Rockets


To increase the rocket's sighting launch range, a more powerful engine needs to be installed. This increase is achievable via the use of a composite solid propellant. This option would not only enable the rockets to fly faster, which would obviously translate into greater penetrating ability, but also increase the rocket's size and weight reserve, thereby making the standard product upgradable into a smart munition. Should these solutions be applied, the penetrator-type rocket's lethality would be enhanced at least 5-7 times. 

Later the S-13 system's modernization should be focused on the B-13L launcher in order to secure aircraft-to-rocket interface, in order to: 
- activate the rocket's fuse option depending on the type of target; 
- assure the use of a mixed complement of rockets; 
- indicate on the cockpit display the types and quantity of rockets available in the pod. 

These affordable improvements would allow S-13 aircraft rocket pods to keep their proven strengths while radically boosting lethality.


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