After many years of decline, the Russian Navy is gradually recovering its potential. New ships are being built, new campaigns are being organized in remote regions, and real combat operations are also being conducted. Nevertheless, while the Russian fleet in its power can not be compared with fleet The Soviet Union at the peak of its development. This situation attracts the attention of domestic and foreign experts, and therefore often becomes a topic for discussion and analytical articles.
6 August: The National Interest published the next article by international security specialist Robert Farley in The Buzz. The topic of the publication entitled “Why Once Once Superpower Navy Is in Big Trouble” (“Why the once super powerful fleet of Russia is in big trouble”) was the current state of affairs in the Navy of our country, as well as the prospects for its development. According to the analysis of the available information, the American expert came to negative conclusions.
At the beginning of his article, R. Farley recalls recent events. So, last year the Russian Navy carried out several large and significant operations. Offshore Syria was working ship group, led by the aircraft carrier "Admiral Kuznetsov", and the ships of the Caspian flotilla launched cruise missiles. The activity of the submarine forces has also increased, although not yet to the level of the last Cold War.
However, the author believes that Moscow, building plans for the development of the fleet, should listen to the Gospel of Matthew: "Watch and pray, so as not to fall into temptation: the spirit is alert, but the flesh is weak." The Russian fleet is in a messy state and in the future, this situation is likely to worsen.
The current situation
R. Farley recalls that Russia inherited from the USSR a numerous and modern fleet of submarines and surface ships. However, the young state could not support such a Navy, because of which a significant part of the ships was quickly written off. The remaining major combat units are currently distinguished by a great age and an ambiguous technical condition. Thus, only three of the 24 large surface ships (frigates of the 11356 project) were laid down after the collapse of the USSR. At the same time, a significant number of ships are nearing the end of their life cycle, despite all efforts to upgrade and modernize.
How long the only aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov can remain in service is a big question. However, despite all the ambitious proposals and projects, it will not be possible to replace it in the near future. The heavy nuclear missile cruiser Peter the Great continues to serve, and in the foreseeable future the Admiral Nakhimov of the same type will join it. However, the age of these cruisers has already passed for 30 years.
R. Farley notes not the most pleasant tendency observed during the development of the Russian Navy. If Moscow had built every ship that had been promised for construction over the past decade, now it would have had a world-class fleet. In the context of national security, the Russian state has succeeded in announcements of large projects, but is lagging behind in their implementation. The actual situation with the construction of ships and submarines, by global standards, looks quite gloomy.
The greatest successes of the modern Russian shipbuilding are the frigates of the projects 11356 (Admiral Grigorovich-class) and 22350 (Admiral Gorshkov-class). The first have a displacement of 4000 tons, the second - 5400 tons. Construction of the lead ship "11356" took about seven years, the first frigate of the 22350 project was built about nine. Two frigates of the 11356 project have already entered the fleet, and the head Admiral Gorshkov of the 22350 project will have to start service before the end of this year.
Here, the author recalls the pace of construction of the leading ships of some modern foreign projects. So, the first British destroyer Type 45 was built about six years. The lead American ship of the Arleigh Burke type was built in four years. Japan and China spent the same amount on building the first destroyers of the Atago and 052D projects, respectively. At the same time, R. Farley notes that all of the above-mentioned foreign ships differ from Russian frigates by almost a large displacement.
A good substitute for aging ships currently in service could be 12 promising destroyers of the “Leader” type with a displacement of 17 kt. However, there is little to say that the Kremlin is really going to build such ships, not to mention the completion of construction. within a reasonable time. The recent economic crisis has led to an additional deterioration in the situation in military shipbuilding. The annexation of the Crimea and the subsequent sanctions of third countries seriously limited the possibilities for acquiring foreign-built ships, as was already the case with universal landing ships of the Mistral type. However, for the time being we cannot exclude the possibility of the appearance of an order for ships of Chinese construction.
The central element of Russia's naval power is the submarine fleet, first of all, nuclear submarines of various classes. According to the American author, nuclear submarines - both strategic and multi-purpose submarine cruisers - in fact became the only direction in which Russian shipbuilding succeeded after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The composition of the submarine forces was significantly reduced - at certain periods only 13 submarines with ballistic missiles, 7 carriers of cruise missiles, 17 nuclear submarines with torpedo arms and about two dozen diesel-electric ships remained in the ranks. Nevertheless, despite all the difficulties, the Russian fleet was working on a replacement for decommissioned submarines and was preparing new projects.
In the foreseeable future, the eight submarines of the Borey 955 project will be a deterrent to strategic use. Three of them have already been built, and the rest are already at different stages of construction and will be commissioned over the next few years. The existing multi-purpose submarines of the 945, 949 and 971 projects will be complemented by the latest 885 “Ash” cruisers in the amount of seven units.
The current situation in the Russian Navy R. Farley offers to compare with the situation in the past. To this end, he recalls the main events and trends of the 20th century, including those that took place shortly before the formation of the modern Russian fleet.
In the context stories The Russian navy last century was a very interesting period. In 1905, Russia was a developed “second-tier” naval power. She had large and modern fleets in the Baltic and Black Seas, as well as in the Pacific. Losses during the Russo-Japanese War led to a real crisis, but soon the situation was rectified. After 13 years after the Tsushima battle, despite the exit from the First World War, the Russian fleet will receive seven new dreadnoughts. These ships allowed Russia to be on a par with such sea powers as France and Italy. However, it still could not compete in this respect with the UK, the United States, Germany or Japan.
The October Revolution 1917 of the year, in contrast to the process of the collapse of the Soviet Union, simultaneously led to a consolidation of efforts and a temporary suspension of a number of ambitious military projects. Like the Russian Federation in a few decades, the USSR in the first 20 years of its existence did not have a clear idea about the future development of the navy. Just before the start of World War II, a large-scale construction program was launched.
However, the outbreak of war stopped the implementation of existing plans, and also led to obvious conclusions. It became clear that the power and security of the state, first of all, are connected with the ground forces, but not with the fleet. At the same time, the country's leadership did not abandon the further development of the Navy. As a result, at a certain point — already during the Cold War — the fleet of the Soviet Union surpassed the French and British navies in numbers and strength, becoming the second in the world.
But then everything fell apart again. The new independent Russia could no longer support the navy it had inherited. In addition, the capabilities of the young state were insufficient to maintain the pace of construction of new ships and preserve a full-fledged "healthy" shipbuilding. The fleet entered the death spiral. The cost of maintaining the technical condition of old ships increased, as well as the time spent building new ones. At the same time, the quality of construction and maintenance fell. The last blow at the moment was the economic crisis of recent years. According to R. Farley, foreign sanctions and falling energy prices have led to the fact that now only the construction of submarines is showing signs of life.
The author of The National Interest also writes that in the current situation, comparisons of the Russian fleet with foreign naval forces are far from being in its favor. By the time Russia builds its second aircraft carrier, the Chinese fleet will have at least three such ships. India and the UK will already have two ships each with an air group. From the point of view of other surface ships, the situation looks even worse. France, the United Kingdom, Japan and China over the past decade have built and put into operation new large surface combatants. According to R. Farley, all such foreign innovations are superior to the old Russian ships in terms of technological complexity.
It is particularly noted that a comparison with Chinese shipbuilding gives even more noticeable results. Russia has ordered and received five surface ships since 2000, of which three were laid during the times of the Soviet Union. The Chinese fleet during this time managed to order around 40 ships. In the future, probably, a similar ratio of numerical indicators will only worsen.
Robert Farley illustrates the current situation in the development of the Russian Navy by Robert Farley with a quote from Dmitry Gorenburg’s recent article “Russia's New and Unrealistic Naval Doctrine”, published in late July in War on the Rock. The author of this publication wrote that the naval ambitions of Moscow at the moment look painfully unrealistic. Until Russia restores its naval shipbuilding, it will not be able to compete with China, Japan or South Korea. Until Russia restructures its economy, it will not succeed in restoring shipbuilding.
Despite the large investments in the defense sector, for the time being Russia can claim leadership only in certain areas of military shipbuilding. These are nuclear-powered submarines with ballistic missiles and other weapons, as well as frigates and other ships of the middle classes. Simultaneously with this great achievement, we can consider the adaptation of the newest missile systems to be installed on already existing platforms of different classes.
R. Farley considered it necessary to remind that the modern Russian Federation is forced to live with the same problems as its predecessors in the person of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union. The Russian Navy is divided into four main operational strategic alliances. However, none of them can easily support the others. Because of this, in particular, the campaign of "Admiral Kuznetsov" in the eastern regions of the Mediterranean Sea with the subsequent return without serious damage was considered a great success. For comparison, the author cites the Chinese Navy, divided into three regional fleets, capable of helping each other without much difficulty.
Having reviewed various known data and having drawn some conclusions, the author of The National Interest summarizes. He writes that at present the Russian fleet is in poor condition, and the country is simply unable to rebuild it, getting rid of the existing shortcomings. In the foreseeable future, Russian shipbuilding should be engaged only in those projects that are guaranteed can be implemented in the existing situation. First of all, it is necessary to develop a nuclear submarine fleet of strategic and other purpose, and also to build a relatively small group of surface ships capable of solving certain tasks. Apparently, these plans should not be supplemented in view of the complexity or impossibility of performing new tasks.
The article "Why Most Once Once Superpower Navy Is in Big Trouble":
The National Interest: Why Russia's once-powerful fleet is in big trouble
- Ryabov Kirill