Global nuclear missile - a conflict that begins with the full use of strategic nuclear forces by both sides. Regardless of whether such a conflict is sudden (say, as a result of an error in the warning systems of a nuclear attack) or preceded by a certain period of aggravation of relations, the United States, the Russian Federation and Europe will retain a certain military potential after the use of strategic nuclear forces and will be able to conduct ground-based and air battles, including with the use of tactical nuclear weapons. This is due to the fact that today's first-strike forces (of the order of 1500-1600 warheads for each side plus some amount of deployed nuclear weapons Britain and France will not have enough to completely destroy the economic and military potential of their opponents.
In such a conflict, the usefulness of U.S. aircraft carriers is not in direct participation in hostilities, but in the ability to remove a significant amount of deck from a strategic nuclear force aviation (we are talking about hundreds of aircraft), which, upon arrival in Europe, may turn out to be the decisive argument in the post-apocalyptic confrontation. In this case, aircraft carriers will turn into air transport and repair shops, but if it is in this form that they can contribute to winning the war - why not?
The second type of conflict is non-nuclear. It will begin with the use of conventional weapons, but it can be argued that any full-scale non-nuclear conflict between the Russian Federation and NATO, during which the parties will not find a diplomatic solution, with probability 99,99% will develop into a global nuclear missile.
This leads to the fact that such scenarios, such as, for example, a large-scale non-nuclear invasion of the Russian Federation with the aim of destroying its statehood (or vice versa, the “excursion” of the Russian Federation armed forces to the English Channel) cannot be undertaken due to the absence of any reasonable goal. If such an attempt is not reflected by conventional armaments, then nuclear will be used, and the invaders will suffer damage, putting the nation on the verge of destruction and multiply surpassing any possible benefits from the war. Consequently, the conscious unleashing of such a conflict is completely pointless for any of the parties.
Nevertheless, it is impossible to completely abandon the occurrence of a non-nuclear conflict. One of the possible scenarios is a clash between the armed forces of one of the members of NATO and the Russian Federation in “hot spots” like Syria, followed by escalation.
Here it is necessary to take into account the following: although human civilization will survive in the event of a global nuclear conflict, it will face so many negative consequences that it will be extremely difficult to “clear up”. No country that has entered into a nuclear war can count on a better prewar world — it will be many times worse for it. Accordingly, it can be expected that in the event of a non-nuclear conflict, the parties to it will postpone the use of nuclear weapons until the last, and use them only if it will be impossible to defend their interests with the help of conventional weapons.
It is absolutely impossible to imagine that a non-nuclear conflict will begin as a result of a sensible solution and the systematic preparation of one of the parties, in the image and likeness of how Hitler prepared himself, tying up his troops on the Soviet-German border before the invasion of the USSR. But it may well arise unexpectedly for both parties as a result of a tragic accident.
A non-nuclear conflict may begin as a result of someone's mistake or a planned action by one of the parties, confident that retaliation will not follow. As an example, the death of the Tu-154 in 2001 from the Ukrainian anti-aircraft missile or the destruction of the Su-24 by the Turkish Air Force in Syria can be given. In both of these cases, the conflict was settled through diplomatic channels, but it cannot be guaranteed that this will continue.
Thus, despite the impossibility of a pre-planned large-scale non-nuclear conflict, we cannot rule out an accidental clash between the armed forces of the Russian Federation and NATO at some hot spot. And if the injured party does not go through a political settlement of the incident, but strikes back, thereby opening up large-scale military actions, in this case a state of war may arise between the Russian Federation and the NATO member country.
The main scenarios are three possible scenarios:
1) Military actions will take a character limited in time, place and composition of the forces involved (like coercion to peace in Georgia), after which a diplomatic solution will be found and peace reigns
2) Military action will escalate into a full-scale non-nuclear conflict between the Russian Federation and NATO, which, however, will be able to stop and conclude an armistice before the full-scale use of strategic nuclear weapons
3) Military action will grow into a full-scale non-nuclear conflict between the Russian Federation and NATO, which will develop into a global nuclear war.
A non-nuclear conflict is unlikely to last for any long time - according to the author, from its beginning to a political settlement, or the nuclear-missile Armageddon will take no more than one and a half or two months, or maybe less. Long pauses like the one that preceded the “Bore in the Desert” are hardly possible. During the five months of inaction that the multinational force needed to gather the forces they needed for the war with Iraq, the Russian Federation and NATO would manage to agree on a compromise acceptable to all parties three times.
Accident and transience are two key features of a possible non-nuclear clash between NATO and the Russian Federation.
Obviously, the goal of both parties to a conflict of this kind will be to force the adversary to peace on the most favorable conditions for itself and before a nuclear war begins. This determines the strategy of the armed forces of both sides, whose main task will be to eliminate as quickly as possible the enemy’s military potential deployed against them in order to deprive him of the ability to “continue the policy by other means”. In essence, the early defeat of the adversary’s military group will put it in conditions when it is necessary either to accept the political conditions of the opposing side or to use nuclear weapons, which no one wants.
And to smash the enemy easier and faster, with superior forces. Accordingly, the rate of transfer of reinforcements to the conflict area is of paramount importance. And here the United States and NATO are not doing well.
Of course, the total non-nuclear military potential of the United States and NATO is many times greater than the Russian one. The United States Air Force (including the Air Force, the International Maritime Commission and the Aircraft Aviation) is many times superior in capabilities to the Russian Federation Air Force. The number of land forces of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation is inferior to the number of land forces of Turkey alone. But the problem is that NATO needs considerable time to concentrate its potential in the right place, and in case of a sudden, unexpected armed conflict, they will not have such an opportunity.
In the previous article, we compared the forces of the NATO and Russian Air Forces in Europe to 2020 g and concluded that they, these forces, in the event of a sudden conflict and before the redeployment of the mass of the US Air Force to Europe would be quite comparable.
It is quite possible that this is an overly optimistic estimate for the RF ASC. It can be assumed that purchases of aircraft to 2020 g will not be as large-scale as the author suggested, and will be reduced or postponed to a later date in the new LG of 2018-2025. In addition, the VKS is not only the material part, but also the pilots, which Mr. Serdyukov’s efforts now lack. The destruction of educational institutions, the cessation of enrollment of cadets for nothing could not pass, and the scale of this problem, according to the open press, is, alas, indefinable.
But the Russian Aerospace Force of the Russian Federation has a single command, a powerful component of ground defense, and other advantages listed in the previous article. And this allows us to expect that even with the most negative assessments of the receipt of the material part and the number of trained pilots of the Russian Federation, in the event of a sudden start of the conflict, the NATO Air Force will still not have overwhelming air superiority. And it is very important, including because aviation is an excellent way to significantly slow down the enemy’s delivery of reinforcements to the conflict area.
In the previous article, we defined the number of combat-ready aircraft of the European countries of NATO and the Russian Federation to 2020 g roughly as 1200 versus 1000, not counting the US 136 aircraft on European bases and air forces of the CSTO countries. But it should be noted that much more modest forces can be sent to the area of the alleged conflict, because both European countries and the Russian Federation will not be able to concentrate their air forces in full force. There are many reasons for this: this is both logistics and the need for air cover for other areas, and for some in NATO there is also a banal desire to avoid a fight, dissuading from lack of readiness, or just sending symbolic contingents. Therefore, we can probably talk about the opposition of air groups numbering hundreds (perhaps 600-800 on each side, but maybe less), but not thousands (and not even a thousand) of aircraft.
What role can US aircraft carriers play in this confrontation? Obviously - extremely high.
Suppose that at the time of the outbreak of conflict, the United States could bring into the sea only four of the existing ten aircraft carriers, two of which are in the Pacific, and two more - in the Atlantic. What does this mean?
Depending on where the conflict began (the southern, Black Sea region or the northern region closer to the Baltic Sea), a pair of US aircraft carriers, loading quite modern F / A-90E / F SuperHood into their overload to 18, can advance to the Mediterranean or to the coast of Norway. From there, part of the aircraft will fly to ground airfields, and the other part will be able to operate directly from the aircraft carriers themselves. How far? Well, for example, an aircraft carrier strike connection (AUS), which came out to Swedish Gothenburg, may well attack from its decks both St. Petersburg and Minsk (less than 1100 km) provided refueling, which it is not difficult to organize from Norway or Poland. Well, despite the fact that Sweden will allow to use its airspace, of course.
At the same time, the AUS itself remains virtually invulnerable, since, in addition to its own forces and means, it is covered by a whole network of ground and airborne air attack detection equipment, ships of the German and Polish Navy from the Baltic Sea, and expect an attack from the Norwegian Sea ... go north, take a big detour, rounding Norway and, passing along its coast, fly over the North Sea? And then attack, without having cover with fighters? This is even for a second-rate action movie, perhaps, it will be too. And what else? For coastal defense missile systems too far, and there are still problems with target designation. Baltic fleet? Now he is too insignificant to hope to break through with sufficient forces to the range of use of weapons to the AUS. Northern Fleet? Alas - to bring the submarines into the North Sea and under the USSR was a completely non-trivial task, and today, in the event of a conflict, our few submarines will be extremely necessary in order to provide at least some kind of cover for strategic missile submarines it will grow into a nuclear one. And this is a more important task than the liquidation of the AUS, so it is extremely doubtful that the Northern Fleet will even at least send something towards the Atlantic.
The situation is similar from the south - for example, in the event of a conflict with Turkey, nothing prevents the AUS included in the 6th fleet USA, move into the Aegean. Without even climbing into the Dardanelles and the Bosphorus, maneuvering somewhere in the Izmir region, the AUS can attack with carrier-based aircraft and anti-ship missiles LRASM almost the entire Black Sea. From Izmir to Sevastopol in a straight line - less than 900 km ... Again, there is a situation in which the aircraft carriers themselves have almost absolute protection, since they can be attacked only through the territory of Turkey, covered by numerous fighters and, more importantly, by numerous radar detection air targets. For the Su-30 and Tu-22M3 in Crimea, the AUS in the Aegean Sea is a completely unattainable goal. In fact, only the Russian Mediterranean squadron can provide some sort of counteraction to the AUS, but frankly, the times of the 5th OPESK, when the USSR on a permanent basis had up to 30 surface and 15 submarines, not counting transports and support vessels, have long passed. And those one and a half ships that we can afford today in the Mediterranean Sea now, can only show that they know how to die with dignity.
As for the Pacific Ocean, here the AUS from a pair of aircraft carriers with escort ships can use the “hit-run” tactics, delivering unexpected strikes from a large distance on our coastal objects. They obviously will not do too much damage, but they will require a serious diversion of aviation forces for the air defense of the Far East. Obviously, in order to give battle to an AUS of two aircraft carriers with good chances for success, it is necessary to have at least two regiments of fighter aviation and a regiment (or better two, but no place to get) missile carriers, not counting aircraft to cover Vladivostok, Komsomolsk-on-air Amure, Kamchatka ... In essence, the presence of American AUS on our Far Eastern frontiers is justified by the fact that they will draw upon themselves large forces of the VKS to counter aircraft carriers. Neither the Pacific Fleet (now reduced to the nominal values), nor coastal missile systems can withstand AUS independently, without the support of ground-based aviation.
In the light of the above, we understand how deeply mistaken are those who consider US aircraft carriers to be conceptually outdated targets for Russian anti-ship missiles. Consider the "anti-avianos" argument:
Aircraft carriers carry too few aircraft to have a significant impact on the struggle of the air force
This is true only in conditions where there is time to concentrate the Air Force. But in the most likely scenario of a conflict between the Russian Federation and NATO (surprise!) This time will not be. And then the appearance in the initial stages of the conflict of a pair of aircraft carriers carrying 180 combat aircraft plus support and information aircraft provided with everything necessary (ammunition, fuel) can have a decisive influence on the air battles. Just because when 500 domestic planes are fighting against NATO 700, the addition of 180 machines in favor of NATO may be decisive.
The movement of aircraft carriers is easily controlled by space reconnaissance and over-the-horizon radar, and then they can be easily destroyed by cruise missiles.
In fact, the only space system that allowed targeting of anti-ship missiles existed under the USSR (Legend), but was lost by us due to its high cost and the inability to maintain the orbital constellation of satellites at the minimum sufficient level. But it should be understood that even in the best years, the Legend was not a “vundervaffe” and, by and large, was a good (but very expensive) space reconnaissance system (but not target designation). Alas - to this day, there are enough people who are confident that the 4 satellite of the new Liana system (two of which are not fully operational) can provide our ships with target designation at any time and at any point in the world’s ocean. The author does not intend to argue with such a point of view (especially since the real capabilities of the satellites are still classified), but recalls that in all contemporary conflicts, the standard practice of NATO was the first blinding blow, which deprived the adversary of its means of controlling the situation. And there is no doubt that in the event of a war, our ground-breaking systems, which are large stationary objects, as well as reconnaissance satellites (we try to track the trajectory of enemy military satellites, and we and the United States from launch) will be attacked and most likely destroyed.
In addition, among people far from military equipment, there is a misunderstanding that the anti-ship Caliber missiles have a much smaller range than cruise missiles designed to destroy stationary targets. This is a dogma, and not only for us. The United States, by adapting the Tomahawk cruise missile for use as an anti-ship, received a drop in range from 2500 km to 550 km (according to other sources - 450-600 km). Therefore, the scenarios in which enemy AUSs lie down on the ocean from satellites in real time, are then taken to escort the SGRRs and drown with Calibers launched from the coast at a distance of 2 000 km from our coastline, despite their attractiveness, are categorized as unscientific fiction.
Modern submarines alone can destroy AUG. 10 AUG - 10 APL, check and check, Yankees!
The most interesting thing is that in this statement is not so little truth. A modern nuclear submarine is indeed an extremely formidable weapon, which, under certain conditions and great luck, is capable of destroying an enemy aircraft carrier following in the guard of surface and submarine ships.
The only problem is that nothing is given for nothing. The cost of a modern serial submarine of the 885M project (“Yasen-M”) in 2011 g was determined in 32,8 billion rubles, which exceeded a billion dollars at the exchange rate at that time. However, there is information that even such a price did not reflect the cost of its manufacture and was subsequently increased to 48 billion rubles. for the serial boat, i.e. amounted to approximately 1,5 billion dollars per ship. The Russian Federation could not afford the massive construction of such submarines, limiting itself to a series of 7 hulls, and today only one Severodvinsk is in service.
The remaining multipurpose nuclear submarines of the Russian Navy are the old ships of the USSR times, but the problem is not even that - they knew how to build boats in the USSR, and the same “Pikes-B” are still a formidable opponent for any nuclear submarine in the world. The problem is their technical condition.
From the 27 nuclear submarine (for simplicity, we will call APKRKR and MAPL), listed in the Navy:
4 boats are in reserve
3 Boats - Pending Repair
8 boats - under repair and on modernization
12 boats - in service.
At the same time, the US Navy submarine fleet includes 51 multi-purpose submarines. Of course, some of them are also being repaired, but it is clear that, as a percentage, the share of American submarines in the ranks is significantly higher than ours. And this means that, having a list ratio of almost 2 American boats to one of ours, in the event of a conflict, we will have 3-3,5 (if not more) multipurpose US NPS against one of our boats. Of course, the situation can slightly improve the presence of a certain number of diesel boats - as long as we do not recall the submarines of the European countries of NATO.
In other words, under the water, we will be confronted by the enemy many times superior to us in numbers, if only it is only in numbers ... It would be strange to hope that the quality of the equipment of the latest Virginia does not exceed the same “Schuk-B”. In fact, on an equal footing with the "Virginia" and "Sea Wolves", it is likely that they can "play" the "Severodvinsk", but it is one, and the American submarines of the specified types - 18 pieces.
At the same time, for the Russian Federation in the event of a conflict with NATO, the task of extreme importance will be to cover the SSBNs with intercontinental nuclear missiles on board. They deployed about 700 warheads, which is more than 40% of their total number, ready for immediate use, and their preservation is strategically important. So it would not be a mistake to assume that the main forces of our atomicines will be deployed to cover the patrol areas of strategic missile submarines — on the threshold of Armageddon, this is a much more important task than chasing aircraft carriers. It may well be that the 3-4 of our submarines still venture into the ocean, but seriously expect that the pair of Anteyev 949A of the Northern Fleet is able to pass the Norwegian Sea to the North and there, using only its own means of detection, to identify the location of the AUS and strike at him ... Of course, miracles happen, but you can not build a strategy on them. But aircraft carriers in the Mediterranean with the beginning of the conflict are completely inaccessible to our submarines, because in wartime they will not pass through Gibraltar. Is that, fortunately, one of the "Anteyev" will be on a watch in the Mediterranean. But even there the chances of successful actions of a single ship tend to zero.
The saddest thing is that in the medium term the situation for us will only get worse. Of course, by the 2030, we will complete “Ash” with the following, but the following - the “Huskies” will be commissioned after 2030 g, and by this time the majority of our submarine fleet of the USSR heritage will exceed 40-year-old. It is possible that in the future we will be able to improve somewhat, having the 14-16 of the newest submarines in service, not counting those who are undergoing repairs, but this will not drastically change the situation.
Carriers - floating coffins, just one missile in the flight deck and all - the ship is disabled.
Even if it were like that, how could this rocket reach him? Until the aircraft carrier operating in the North or the Mediterranean, there is no move, neither our surface ship, nor the underwater, unless a happy accident. But aviation is also not an assistant here - how can I attack AUS from the same Izmir, or the entrance to the Dardanelles? Well, they gathered in the Crimea the regimental forces outfit in three, and then what? Their Turkish air defense aircraft, if it does not stop, then pinches so that there will not be any forces left for any AUS, and the losses will be beyond, because some of the damaged vehicles will not reach back across the sea.
Certainly, aviation is a formidable enemy of an aircraft carrier. Perhaps - the most formidable. But not in the case when she needs to fly for many hundreds of kilometers, to wade through air defense through enemy territory, and only then try to attack the advance warning and ready for defense, bristling with fighters and anti-aircraft missiles.
As for our Far Eastern borders, everything is more complicated and simpler with them. It is simpler, because between us and the enemy there is only sea water, and in this case both the NPS and the aviation have a chance to successfully counteract the AUS. It’s harder in the sense that in the Far East, Americans don’t need any kind of victory, they just need to pull off part of the VKS force, so they can use the “hit-run” tactic, and it’s much harder to counteract than to attack the AUS operating in one particular place.
In view of the above, it can be stated that the nuclear aircraft carriers of the United States retain their relevance today, and are able to have, if not decisive, then a very serious impact on the outcome of both the global nuclear missile and non-nuclear conflict of the Russian Federation and NATO.
Thank you for attention!
Previous articles of the cycle:
Russia against NATO. The ratio of the forces of tactical aviation
Russia against NATO. Background conflict
Russia against NATO. The role of aircraft carriers in nuclear conflict