A loud occasion for new discussions on the current state and future of the Caspian Flotilla appeared on October 7 2015. On this day, four ships of the flotilla joined the fight against terrorists in Syria, sending 26 missiles to enemy targets. The strike with the use of Calibr cruise missiles, which have not yet been used in real operations, naturally attracted the attention of specialists and the general public. In addition, an important topic of discussion was the indicators of the range of launched missiles, as well as the military-political consequences of the appearance of such weapons.
20 November of the same year, a group of four ships of the two types again attacked the objects of illegal armed groups in Syrian territory. As reported by the Ministry of Defense, all 18 cruise missiles successfully hit these targets. Later, the Caliber family missiles were repeatedly used by Russian ships and submarines, but now launches were carried out without the participation of the Caspian flotilla. At the same time, it cannot be excluded that rocket ships serving in the Caspian Sea can at any moment receive an order and re-execute launches.
Due to known factors, the development of the Caspian flotilla until recently was not a priority task of the military department. Nevertheless, a few years ago, the situation changed in a noticeable way, as a result of which the union received a lot of new material parts and technology. The 2014 and 2015 years were record-breaking in this respect - in just two years the flotilla received 10 ships and auxiliary vessels of various classes and types. Several small rocket ships equipped with the most modern weapons were accepted into the fleet of the fleet. The existing ships, in turn, were being upgraded.
This update led to remarkable results. According to official data, at the beginning of last year, the share of new ships, boats and vessels in the Caspian flotilla reached 85%. This accordingly affected the combat potential of the operational force. Of particular interest in this context are the new rocket ships, which are distinguished by the highest combat qualities and wide capabilities.
The largest and most powerful fighting ships of the Caspian Flotilla are the two watchdogs of the 11661 "Cheetah" project. On the last day of the summer of 2003, the lead ship of this type, named Tatarstan, was accepted into the flotilla. At the end of the autumn, the 2012 fleet received a second ship, Dagestan. It was built on the updated project and therefore received a different weapon system. Such a modernization has led to the fact that Dagestan in several combat characteristics, primarily in the maximum range of missile firing, is several times greater than Tatarstan. As a result, it was the rocket ship of the renewed project that was involved in striking the targets of terrorists.
The ships of the basic and updated Cheetah project have a total displacement of more than 1900 tons and the greatest length of 102 meters. The greatest width is 13,2 meters. The hull and superstructure of ships have a special shape formed by a large number of straight surfaces. Alloys of aluminum and magnesium are widely used to facilitate construction and reduce radar visibility.
The ships are equipped with a two-shaft main power plant, incorporating diesel and gas turbine engines. For work on cruising modes, ships must use a diesel engine with power 8000 hp. Full speed is achieved with the help of two gas-turbine systems with 14500 hp power. The power supply of the onboard systems is provided by three diesel generators with an output of 600 kW each. The main engines are connected to two propeller shafts. The economic speed of the "Cheetah" is 14 nodes, cruising - 21 node, the maximum - 28 nodes. The maximum cruising range reaches 4 thousand nautical miles.
The ships "Tatarstan" and "Dagestan" have different missile systems. Thus, the head ship received the Uran anti-ship system with X-35 missiles, capable of hitting targets at ranges up to 260 km. On board there are two quad launchers. The modernized version of the 11661 project implies the use of the Caliber-NK universal missile system capable of using missiles of various purposes, including anti-submarine missiles and designed to destroy coastal targets. The ammunition of the ship consists of eight missiles. As the current Syrian operation has shown, the Caliber missiles can be used for targets at distances of the order of 1500 km.
The ships are equipped with a variety of barrel armament. They carry one X-NUMX-mm AK-76M artillery and two anti-aircraft AK-176Ms each. It also provides for the use of pedestrian installations with large-caliber machine guns. Protection from an air attack is imposed on the Osa-MA-630 anti-aircraft missile system (Tatarstan) or the Palash system (Dagestan). Also on board there are portable missile systems.
Unlike the newer Dagestan, the Tatarstan patrol has an anti-submarine bomb-control system RBU-6000, two twin torpedo tubes with a caliber 533 mm and a platform for a helicopter.
Currently, the Caspian flotilla has only two rocket ships of the 11661 "Cheetah" project. The possibility of building new ships of this type was mentioned earlier, but the corresponding contract has not yet appeared. Whether the construction of such ships for the Caspian flotilla will continue is not completely clear.
In May, 2010 was signed a contract for the construction of five small rocket ships of the 21631 project “Buyan-M”. Three such ships were to be transferred to the Caspian flotilla in the future. In the summer of the same year, the head ship "Grad Sviyazhsk" was laid down. A year later began the construction of two other ships. In 2013-14, three “Buyan-M” for the Caspian flotilla were launched, completed and put to the test. At the end of July, the ships "Grad Sviyazhsk" and "Uglich" filled up the 2014 of the Russian Navy. In December, the Great Ustyug began its service.
The ships “Buyan-M” differ from the “Cheetahs” in smaller sizes, however they are comparable in some combat characteristics. The 21631 project provides for the construction of ships with a length of 74 m and a maximum width of 11 m with a displacement of 950 tons. The hull lines correspond to river-sea ideas, and the shape of the superstructure and openly placed units are made with account of the reduction in visibility for radar systems.
The ships are equipped with four diesel engines with a total capacity of more than 9800 HP. Such a power plant through the gearbox is connected to the jet propulsion. "Buyan-M" is capable of speeds up to 25 nodes. The maximum cruising range in nautical miles 2500 is achieved at half the economic speed. The autonomy of swimming is declared at the level of 10 days.
Inside the superstructure of the 21631 project ships is a universal vertical launcher 3-14 with eight cells for the transport and launch containers of missiles. The ship can use Onyx or Caliber missiles as the main strike weapons. The first are intended to attack surface ships, while the family of the second includes products for various purposes.
Protection from an air attack is imposed on the Gibka-R complex, equipped with Igla family missiles. Also for this purpose can be used two artillery complexes AK-630М-2 "Duet". In front of the superstructure is the A-190 turret gun mount with a 100 caliber mm gun. Along the perimeter of the ship are two tumba installations for heavy machine guns and three similar devices for rifle weapons.
The Caspian flotilla serves three ships of the 21631 “Buyan-M” project: “Grad Sviyazhsk”, “Uglich” and “Veliky Ustyug”. Two more such ships (“Green Dol” and “Serpukhov”) at the end of 2012, were transferred to the Black Sea Fleet. The sixth ship of the series has already been launched, and four more are at different stages of construction. There are contracts for two other rocket ships. Thus, in total, the Russian Navy will receive Buyan-M 10-12 in the foreseeable future.
All "Caspian" ships of the 21631 project have already managed to participate in a real combat operation. The October 7 rocket attacks and November 20 2015 of the year were carried out by a ship group consisting of the Dagestan patrol and three Buyan-M type ships. During the first strike, four ships launched 26 missiles, and during the second live firing, 18. It should be noted that the ships of the 21631 project from the Black Sea Fleet also did not remain without the opportunity to test their weapons. "Serpukhov" and "Green Dol" shot at the enemy in August last year.
Over the past five years, the Caspian flotilla of the Russian Navy has received four newest ships with universal missile systems, allowing to solve various combat missions. Such an upgrade of the ship grouping should have led to an increase in the share of modern equipment and weapons, positively affecting the flotilla’s combat capability and affecting the balance of forces in the region. All these ship building results were expected, but until a certain time only a narrow circle of military experts could know how exactly new ships could affect the situation.
It is hardly worth recalling what effect the launches of the Caliber cruise missiles produced in October of the year before last. Precise data on these weapons were not available until that time, and published characteristics related to the export version of the complex. Already the first massive missile strike showed that the firing range of new missiles can reach 1500 km. In addition, according to some data, the maximum launch range is much longer. Thus, relatively small ships of the Caspian Flotilla at one moment turned into a powerful military-political tool.
Two missile strikes against terrorist objects in Syria clearly showed the radius of the zone of responsibility of ships in the Caspian Sea. It turned out that, even without going beyond this water area, Russian ships can attack targets in the Middle East or in other areas. The Caliber missiles are capable of reaching a large part of the Middle East region, the northern part of the Gulf of Aden or the Arabian Sea. Also under the control of the Caspian flotilla are some areas of Central Asia and even part of Eastern Europe.
Earlier, the command of the Russian fleet said the presence of missile weapons with a launch range of up to 2600 km. If it was specifically about the Caliber cruise missiles, such characteristics allow them to reach the eastern regions of the Mediterranean, Central Europe and Scandinavia. At the same time, the main zone of responsibility of the Caspian Flotilla can be the southern and eastern directions, since the North and the West can be more effectively controlled by ships and submarines of the Black Sea Fleet.
Thanks to new ships with promising weapons, the Caspian flotilla of the Russian Navy sharply increased its combat and military-political potential, becoming a serious instrument of influence on the situation not only in the Caspian Sea, but also in a very large region around it. Continuation of the operation and modernization of existing ships, as well as the construction of new ones, will allow preserving and increasing the existing potential.
In addition, the crews of all strike ships need to develop the necessary skills and regularly train. The last training events with the use of airborne weapons took place just a few days ago. In the middle of last week, all three ships of the “Buyan-M” type went to one of the Caspian sea firing grounds for training shooting. According to the press service of the Ministry of Defense, during these exercises, the crews were supposed to destroy the conditional enemy ship group.
During the shooting, surface, air and ground conditional targets were hit. At the same time, some of the targets were out of line of sight. Some of the objects of the conditional enemy were destroyed with the help of artillery systems on board. Others should have been attacked with Caliber missiles. It is curious that, for reasons of economy, missile firing was carried out by the method of electronic launch. The crews performed all the necessary procedures for preparing the missile system for firing, but the launch and flight of the rocket was simulated by appropriate electronics. Real ammunition did not leave the launcher.
Already having experience of real combat use of rocket armament during a full-fledged operation, the crews of the ships “Grad Sviyazhsk”, “Uglich” and “Velikiy Ustyug” successfully coped with the training task. The ship group of the conditional enemy was successfully destroyed, and the sailors checked their skills and confirmed their skills.
Four new rocket ships of two projects capable of carrying cruise missiles with uniquely high performance will remain in service for the next several decades. In addition, it cannot be excluded that in the future the grouping of such ships in the Caspian Flotilla will be replenished. Thus, the smallest operational integration of the Russian Navy, despite the known limitations, has already become an effective tool of a military and political nature, and will maintain such status in the future.
The current modernization of the armed forces, which implies the development, production and supply of new weapons and equipment, leads to very different results. First of all, an increase in the share of new designs is achieved, which has a positive effect on the combat capability of the army as a whole. In the context of the development of the Caspian flotilla, the implemented programs have led to more interesting results. Thanks to them, a renewed and strengthened structure came to protect the southern borders of the country.
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