We have already had occasion to comment on the possibility of building aircraft carriers in Russia (Aviation Itching, NVO from 08.03.13). In order not to repeat the plot of that publication, let us briefly list only the circumstances that will not allow our country to acquire full-fledged aircraft carriers in the foreseeable future.
First, it is the lack of qualified personnel necessary for the design and construction of such complex ships and the service to them.
Secondly, in our country, unfortunately, there is no necessary scientific and technical potential for successful assembly of modern aircraft carriers in shipyards, as well as no industrial base capable of supplying with all the necessary nomenclature of components and weapons such complex ships as aircraft carriers.
Third, new aircraft carriers will need new aircraft, including those that have never been built in the Russian Federation, for example, deck radar patrol and control aircraft, refueling aircraft. According to preliminary estimates, approximately 7 billion will be required only for the development of the DRLO aircraft.
Fourth, it will be necessary to build naval bases for receiving and servicing aircraft carriers.
To date, there are no such bases. Our only heavy aircraft carrier Admiral Fleet Soviet Union Kuznetsov ”received a permanent residence permit at the pier of the 35th shipyard in Rosta, from where it occasionally goes to sea.
Fifth, in order to launch an aircraft carrier into the sea, it must be provided with an escort consisting of very expensive surface ships of a class not lower than a frigate and nuclear submarines that are being built with great creak and which take years to fine-tune.
Finally, sixthly, Russia simply does not have the money to build modern aircraft carriers, and even more so - nuclear multipurpose, comparable to American ships of this class. Direct and indirect costs for the creation of the head of such a ship will require about a billion dollars for every thousand tons of its displacement. These expenses not only "eat up" the budget of the Navy, but also significantly "gnaw" the finances of other branches of the Armed Forces.
Of course, I would very much like to have atomic floating airfields in the Russian fleet. But this is possible only “according to the command of a pike”, that is, in a fairy tale.
ABOUT COMPETENCES AND NUANS
Maybe something has changed in our country since the publication of the previous material in 2013? Only that optimism among supporters of Russian aircraft carriers has increased. Here is what Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who is responsible for the defense industry in the government, told Interfax correspondents in March of this year: “We can build everything, we have the competencies for this. If a decision is made on the need to equip our Navy with an aircraft carrier, it will be implemented. We have an understanding of how to do this. there is aviation equipment that can be equipped with a ship, strike weapons. From a technical and production point of view, all this is feasible, there is no doubt. ”
He is echoed by the President of the United Shipbuilding Corporation Alexei Rakhmanov: “My deep conviction is that we are able to create such a ship. The rest is nuances. ” Finally, on July 30, First Deputy Chairman of the Council of the Federation Committee on Defense and Security, Franz Klintsevich, on the program “Sunday Evening with Vladimir Solovyov” on Russia 1 TV channel, referring to aircraft carriers, said: “In the near future, we will lay six,” most unwittingly reminding the hero of Gogol's unfading comedy "The Inspector General".
However, I am sure that all statements of this kind are erroneous. The necessary competencies (this is a word in the sense of "qualification", if I am not mistaken, it was Dmitry Rogozin who first launched) Russia still does not possess and will not pledge any aircraft carrier in the near future. But the "nuances" with which there is no opportunity to cope, will be above the roof.
Shipbuilders and the Ministry of Defense meanwhile are not asleep. Only this year, thanks to their efforts, the carrier-based “wave” has risen high several times. The Krylov State Research Center (KGNTs), which was still in 2015 for the first time at the “Army” forum, presented the concept of a promising atomic aircraft carrier of the 23000E “Storm” project, continues to demonstrate its offspring at various arms exhibitions. Not without it, and at the St. Petersburg International Navy Salon this year.
This leviathan with a displacement of 95 KT, length 330 m, hull width 42 m, draft 11 m and width of the flight deck 85 m with unlimited cruising range can carry up to 90 aircraft. Just breathtaking! However, “Storm” was an advance project, that is, a sketch, and it remained so. Such concepts can be done even by students of the shipbuilders, as St. Petersburg State Marine Technical University is commonly called. The technical project of the miracle ship, not to mention the detailed design, is still very far away. And there will not be enough specialists, and these stages of work will require funds for the Nemer.
That is why, in the second half of this year, the accents began to shift towards a lighter version of the aircraft carrier. At the MAKS-2017 air show, Deputy Defense Minister Yury Borisov said that in 2025, it was planned to lay a new heavy aircraft carrier with the possibility of accommodating short take-off and vertical landing aircraft (SUVVP). At the Army-2017 forum, Borisov reaffirmed this information, stating that the Defense Ministry is discussing with aircraft manufacturers the creation of a promising aircraft that will be the development of the Yakovlev vertical take-off and landing aircraft line. It is worth recalling that at the dawn of the post-Soviet era, the fleet began to disown, as a devil from incense, from the supersonic VTOL of the Yak-141, which set the 12 world records for speed and payload, under the pretext that Americans prefer conventional deck planes. After the F-35B Lightning II SUWVP, created with extensive use of the Yak-141, appeared in service with the US Marine Corps and the United Kingdom Navy, the interest in the vehicles of this class awoke again. Only work in this area will require a lot of time and money.
And in the beginning of November of this year, the KNSC reported that in the near future it would introduce the concept of a promising light multipurpose aircraft carrier (LMA), the development of which is being carried out by the Center on its own initiative. It should be "cheaper and faster to build." Its approximate displacement should be in the range 30 – 40 thousand tons, and the number of aircraft that the LMA will carry, 40 – 50. Among them are deck fighters Su-33, as well as MiG-29K. A light aircraft carrier should also be able to receive radar patrol aircraft. The construction of such a ship is possible at Severodvinsk Sevmash or at the Zaliv plant in Kerch. Nothing is said about the power plant of the ship. But in order to reduce the cost, it will be necessary to abandon the nuclear power plant (AES), which, among other things, requires the deployment of biological protection systems, significantly weighting ships with a power plant of this type. But the domestic industry does not yet produce diesel and gas turbine installations of large capacity, and it does not make sense to install anti-flooded and capricious steam-turbine power plants.
The pursuit of cheapness carries many unpleasant surprises. We illustrate this statement with the example of the Indian aircraft carrier "Vikrant" (translated from Sanskrit "Masculine") with a displacement of 40 thousand tons, which should be based on 40 aircraft, including MiG-29K fighters with a springboard takeoff. The development of his project was launched in 1999 year, and the laying took place at the shipyard in Kochi in February 2009. The implementation of the 71 project, created with the participation of the Nevsky Design Bureau (NPKB), the Italian company Fincantieri and the French concern DCNS (now the Naval Group), was then estimated at ridiculous 0,5 billion dollars. The project also involved Americans who supplied four gas turbine engines LM 2500 +, Western European electronic profile companies and Israel, which supplied the Barak-1 and Barak-8 anti-aircraft missile systems (SAM).
It should be noted here that the designers and builders of modern warships abroad are in much more favorable conditions than their Russian counterparts. It is enough for them to open the reference book in order to select for their offspring gas turbine engines of American, British, Ukrainian or Chinese production, diesel engines of German, American, French or the same Chinese companies. Then it remains only to agree on the price and delivery time. The same applies to electronic equipment and various weapons. Our shipbuilders have to deal with counterparties only within the country. Sometimes they do not even have much idea what is required of them. Because of this - long deadlines and high prices.
But back to the "Manly". Despite international assistance, the ship hovered on the stocks until August 2013, when it was lowered into the water. By that time, the estimate was exceeded several times. Today it is 3,765 billion dollars, and the ship is supposed to be handed over to the fleet in 2023 year, that is, 14 years after the launch. Despite the motto “I defeat those who fight with me,” the aircraft carrier failed to overcome low qualifications, oh, sorry, the competence of Indian shipbuilders.
Formerly, the Indian Navy wanted to acquire three aircraft carriers of the "Vikrant" type. Now those plans have been forgotten. The next step is to create a project of the aircraft carrier Vishal (“Giant”) with a displacement of about 65 thousand tons with an air group of 50 – 55 aircraft. It is possible that it will be equipped with a nuclear power plant. However, there is an obstacle to this - the development of the AEU will require 10 – 15 years. Meanwhile, the Indians are not without reason afraid that the Chinese will overtake them in a carrier race and turn the Indian Ocean into their lake.
Indeed, the PLA Navy will soon have a second aircraft carrier, built, albeit based on the somewhat enlarged Soviet 11435 project, but solely on its own. Yes, and the appearance in the seas and oceans of nuclear aircraft carriers under the flag of the PRC is left to wait no longer for as long as many think. Beijing needs them not so much to project power in remote areas as for purely practical purposes — ensuring the security of communications that supply the constantly growing economy of the country with raw materials. And although Beijing is now increasingly focused on Russian gas and oil, it is unlikely to put all its eggs in one basket and continue to consume raw materials from the Middle East and other regions.
That is why Indians are in a hurry. And now, apparently, their main partners in the field of aircraft carrier construction will be the undoubted leaders and authorities in this area of shipbuilding - the Americans. Washington has already offered Delhi its services for the supply and licensed production of electromagnetic catalysts EMALS. Negotiations are underway between Boeing Corporation and HAL, the Indian state-owned aircraft manufacturing company, on the possibility of jointly producing the F / A-18E / F Super Hornet fighter aircraft, since, according to various sources, the Indian fleet has become disillusioned with Russian MiG-29К / KUB because of their frequent breakdowns.
WHAT IS IT LOOKING FOR IN A COUNTRY FAR
What tasks will be performed by promising Russian aircraft carriers is not very clear. In any case, in terms of the criterion "cost - efficiency." Russia has all the necessary resources for prosperous development. Because of the sea-ocean, we have nothing to import in large quantities. Then why write floating airfields? Compete with the Americans? There is no point in such a confrontation, because we do not catch up with them. Be no worse than the Chinese? But compared with China, Russia simply does not have a shipbuilding industry.
Nowadays, the Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union Kuznetsov, a heavy aircraft carrier cruiser, is often addressed to the Syrian campaign at the end of last year. The following figures are often cited: in two months of participation in hostilities, the pilots of the Russian aircraft carrier carried out 420 combat missions, of which 117 at night. Obviously, the way it is. Although the Americans, who watched every “sneeze” of our ship, claim that the 154 aircraft was launched from the Kuznetsov deck to perform combat missions. Probably, both figures are correct - after all, part of the aircraft from the board of the Russian TAVKR immediately after arriving at the shores of Syria flew over to the Khmeimim airbase, from which she carried out combat work.
But it's not that. The normal intensity of flights from the decks of American aircraft carriers of the Nimitz type is 120 departures per day. The performance of the newest aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford with EMALS-160 electromagnetic catapults departures per day, and if necessary it can be brought to 220 sorties. The newest British aircraft carrier "Queen Elizabeth", on which American aircraft of short takeoff and vertical landing F-35B "Lightning II" will be based, should produce 24 fighter in 15 minutes, in a day - 110 machines, and in five days - 420, that is the same amount that rose from the deck of the Russian TAVKR for two months.
The work of Kuznetsov did not make a great impression on our Western "partners". The Syrian group of the Aerospace Forces (VKS) would cope with it without the participation of the deck Su-33 and MiG-29K. But this operation demanded a lot of money. As calculated at the agency RBC, it cost the power in 7,5 – 10 billion rubles. These figures seem to be underestimated, since they do not include preparation for the march: ship repairs, training trips to the sea, and training for pilots that took place over several months.
We must not forget that aircraft carriers and other large-tonnage warships are tasty targets for the enemy. The Russian fleet has excellent anti-ship missiles (PKR) "Caliber" and "Onyx" sea-based and X-32 - air. Soon hypersonic Zircon anti-ship missiles will be added to them, the blow which cannot be reflected by all currently existing air defense missile defense systems. China has anti-ship ballistic missiles DF-21D with a range of up to 2 thousand km, which with good reason is called "aircraft carrier killers". Americans are not asleep. Starting next year, the US Navy will be armed with a new version of the MST, the Tomahawk Marine Attack cruise missiles, to attack not only coastal, but also naval targets at a distance of up to 1000 km. The approach is also unobtrusive LRASM anti-ship missiles, which can destroy enemy surface ships that are at a distance of 800 km, when dropped from an aircraft and 300 km - when firing from destroyers and cruisers. We should not forget about the heavy torpedoes of submarines, which are pretty close to sneak up to aircraft carriers.
The current second cold war is not for a day or two. It will last a long time. And in the confrontation with the United States and NATO aircraft carriers will not help us, but only ruin. In order to make the right impression on the opposing side, the Russian fleet needs more submarines - nuclear and air-powered power plants equipped with cruise missiles. They are quite capable of “pressing” the American fleet to the shores of the United States. The constant combat duty of Russian submarines in the waters adjacent to America will require that the lion's share of surface and submarine forces be pulled back to the East and West Coast of the United States.
Meanwhile, as the USC President Alexey Rakhmanov recently complained, there is not enough money to complete the construction of the strategic Prince Knight Oleg submarine of the 955A project at Severodvinsk Sevmash. But how can they be enough if the modernization of the “prestigious” atomic cruiser “Admiral Nakhimov” requires more and more billions of rubles? By the way, this year the Russian Navy has not received and will not receive a single new submarine, either nuclear or diesel-electric. As it became known last October, there are no funds for the modernization of the Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union Kuznetsov. Instead of the previously planned 50 billion rubles. no more than half of this amount will be released. It is enough only to replace the boilers and parts of electronics. That is, the combat potential of the ship will not increase significantly.
WHO STANDS FOR AIRWAVE WAVE
Those who do not get tired of chasing the carrier wave seem to be well aware that Russia is not capable of carrying aircraft carriers, and there is no need. Then why do they tirelessly raise this topic? What if it turns out to lay such a ship with a multibillion-dollar budget. Using the mechanism of scrolling money through hundreds and even thousands of counterparties, there will be an amazing opportunity to endlessly “cut” public funds and “roll back” them. At least, there is no other intelligible explanation for the active injection of an aircraft carrier wave from representatives of the fleet and industry.
Do we need naval aircraft carriers? Of course, yes. Only you need to start not from the complex and expensive, but from the simple and more necessary. The workhorses in the Syrian campaign have become large landing ships (BDK), which carry weapons, ammunition and equipment. Some of these BDK under the "fifty dollars", that is, they serve for a very long time. They need a replacement. Such a replacement can be, for example, universal landing ships (UDC) of the “Surf” type with a displacement of 23 thousand tons, a length of 200 m and a width of 34 m. Their cruising range should be 6 thousand nautical miles, and autonomy - 30 days. In addition to the landing of 500 – 900 marines, armored vehicles and airborne assault vehicles, this UDC can be based up to 15 helicopters of various classes. In the future, they will be able to take and fighters vertical takeoff and landing, if such, of course, will be created.
The special value of such ships is that they are able to take part in conflicts of low intensity, transport equipment and display the flag in the seas and oceans. Not by chance ships of this class are becoming increasingly popular. Following the United States, they are replenishing the fleets of Spain, Australia, Turkey, and soon the UDC will also appear in the Chinese Navy.