In this article we will try to deal with the reasons that prompted the USSR to begin construction of an aircraft carrier fleet.
The history of the creation of Kuznetsov began when, for the first time in the history of the USSR, the development of a draft design of an atomic aircraft carrier with an ejection take-off was included in the naval shipbuilding plan for 1971-1980. However, 1968 could also be taken as a starting point, when the Nevskoye Design Bureau (PCB) of the Ministry of Food Industry in parallel with the creation of the aircraft-carrying cruiser 1143 of the project began to develop a promising nuclear aircraft carrier of the 1160 project.
How did it happen that the Russian Navy suddenly became intently interested "weapons aggression? The fact is that in the 60-s the complex research work “Order” was launched, devoted to the prospects for the development of ships with aircraft armament. Its main findings were formulated in 1972 year and boiled down to the following:
1) Aviation support for the Navy is of paramount, urgent task, since it involves the development of naval strategic nuclear forces; without air cover under the conditions of the domination of anti-submarine aviation of a potential enemy, we will not be able to ensure not only the combat stability, but also the deployment of our submarines with both ballistic missiles and multi-purpose, which are the main striking force of the Navy;
2) Without fighter cover, successful operations of the sea-based missile, reconnaissance and anti-submarine coast-based aviation — the second most important strike component of the Navy;
3) Without a fighter cover, more or less acceptable combat stability of large ships is impossible.
As an alternative, deployment of powerful land-based fighter naval aviation was considered, but it turned out that to provide air cover even in the coastal zone, to a depth of 200-300 km, would require such an increase in the fleet and its structure in addition to the existing one. will exceed all imaginable limits. Most likely, ground-based aviation “failed” the reaction time — an aircraft carrier accompanying a ship group does not have to constantly keep the air group in the air, since it can be limited to one or two patrols and quickly lift the necessary reinforcement into the air. At the same time, airplanes from land aerodromes simply do not have time to take part in repelling an air attack and therefore can only rely on those forces that by the time it began are in the area of patrol. However, the author of this article did not read the “Order” in the original and does not know this for sure.
The Order was meticulously taken into account the experience of the Second World War. The conclusions of Grand Admiral K. Doenitz, who called the main reason for the defeat of the German submarine fleet “the lack of air cover, reconnaissance, target designation, etc.” were fully confirmed during the “Order” research.
According to the results of the “Order”, the TTZ was prepared for the aircraft carrier - it had to have a 75 000 - 80 000 ton displacement, be atomic, have four steam catapults and ensure the basing of an air group not less than 70 aircraft and helicopters, including fighters, attack and anti-submarine aircraft , as well as aircraft RTR, EW, AEW. Interestingly, the developers did not anticipate the deployment of anti-ship missiles on the 1160 project; they were added there later, at the request of the Navy Commander-in-Chief S.G. Gorshkov. TK was transferred to Nevsky PKB for further work.
In 1973, the 1160 advance design was approved by the commanders of the Navy and Navy, the ministers of the shipbuilding and aviation industries, but then the Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee, D.F. Ustinov. He demanded to consider the possibility of building another heavy aircraft-carrying cruiser (the third in a row, after Kyiv and Minsk) under the 1143 project, but with the placement of catapults and MiG-23А fighters on it. It turned out to be impossible, therefore DF Ustinov demanded:
"Make a new project on 36 aircraft, but in the dimensions of" Kiev "
It also turned out to be impossible, in the end, they “agreed” on a new project on the 36 LA, but in increased dimensions. He was given the 1153 cipher, and in June 1974, the commander-in-chief of the Navy, approved the TTZ for a new ship. But at the beginning of 1975, the DF. Ustinov intervenes again with the requirement to decide what exactly to develop - ejection aircraft carriers or aircraft carrying cruisers with VTOL. Naturally, D.F. Ustinov believed that we needed TAKR with VTOL. Nevertheless, the sailors still managed to insist on their own and in 1976 a resolution of the Central Committee of the CPSU and the USSR Council of Ministers on the creation of "large cruisers with aircraft armament" was issued: two ships of the 1153 project were to be built in 1978-1985.
The 1153 project was a “step back” regarding the concept of a full-fledged aircraft carrier of the 1160 project (both of them had the Eagle code). The new ship was smaller (on the order of 60 000) and carried a more modest air group (50 LA), fewer catapults - 2 units. Yet he, at least, remained atomic. However, when in 1976, the draft design of the 1153 project is completed, the verdict follows:
“Sketch draft approve. Further design of the ship to stop "
Model TAKR project 1153
By this time, “Kiev” was already in the fleet, the “Minsk” was being completed, a year ago it was laid down “Novorossiysk”, and the design work on “Baku” was at such a stage that it was clear: if a return to the catapults and horizontal take-off aircraft takes place then it will be only on the fifth domestic TAKR, which now again had to be designed from scratch. In the next TTZ, the number of aircraft was reduced to 42, the nuclear installation was abandoned, but at least the catapults were saved. TAKR was supposed to carry 18-28 aircraft and 14 helicopters, and it was assumed that the "aircraft" component would include 18 Su-27K, or 28 MiG-29K, or 12 MiG-29К and 16 Yak-141. The helicopter squadron was supposed to be made up of Ka-27 helicopters in anti-submarine and search and rescue variants, as well as in a modification of the radar patrol.
But then another enemy of the aircraft carrier fleet arose - N.N.N. Amelko. He considered aircraft carriers unnecessary, and proposed to build anti-submarine helicopter carriers instead of them on the basis of a civilian container ship. However, the project N.N. Amelko "Halzan" turned out to be completely unsuitable, and as a result DF was rejected. Ustinov (at that time - the Minister of Defense), however, a cross was also put up on the 1153 project.
Model helicopter "Halzan"
Now the sailors were asked to develop an aircraft carrier "with the necessary improvements", but in the displacement of no more than 45 000 t, and most importantly - the catapult was anathematized. It is believed that this is the fault OKB them. Sukhoi - his chief designer MP Simonov said that a catapult was not needed for his aircraft, but a springboard would be enough. But most likely, that MP Simonov made his statement after the springboard was chosen for the fifth heavy aircraft-carrying cruiser, so that the Su-27 would not be "out of board" of the aircraft carrier.
The sailors still managed to "beg" another 10 000 t. Displacement, when DF. Ustinov arrived at TAKR "Kiev" on the teachings of "West-81." After stories about the real combat effectiveness of the wing of the "Kiev" D.F. Ustinov "was empathized" and allowed to increase the displacement of the fifth TAKR-a to 55 000 t. In fact, this is how the first and only domestic aircraft carrier appeared.
There is no doubt that the United States was extremely concerned about the program of building aircraft carriers in the USSR and diligently "discouraged" us from this. As they write V.P. Kuzin and V.I. Nikolsky:
“Foreign publications of those years, concerning the development of aircraft carriers, accompanied our studies“ almost synchronously ”, as if pushing us away from the general course, which they followed themselves. So, with the advent of the VTOLP, the naval and aviation magazines of the West almost immediately “choked with enthusiasm” about the fascinating prospects for the development of this area, which almost all military aviation must follow. We began to increase the displacement of aircraft carrier ships - they immediately began to publish and the inexpediency of the development of such supergiants as the Nimitz, and that it would be preferable to build aircraft carriers "smaller" and besides not with atomic energy, but with conventional energy. We took up the catapult - they began to praise the springboards. Often information flashed and in general about the termination of their aircraft carrier construction. ”
It should be noted that the author of this article himself came across similar publications (translated articles by American authors in 80’s “Foreign Military Review” of XNUMX).
Perhaps today the “Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union Kuznetsov” remains the most controversial ship of the Russian Navy, the assessments addressed to him are as numerous as they are contradictory. And this is not to mention the fact that the need to build aircraft carriers for the Navy of the USSR and the Navy of the Russian Federation is constantly being challenged and serves as a subject of heated discussions, and the history of their development has acquired a lot of legends and conjectures. Before assessing the potential of the first Soviet TAKR, from the deck of which horizontal take-off and landing aircraft could take off, let's deal with at least some of them.
1. The aircraft carriers were not needed by the fleet, but their construction was lobbied by a group of admirals, naval commanders led by Navy Commander Gorshkov.
Contrary to popular belief, the need for full-fledged aircraft carriers in the fleet of the USSR was by no means a voluntarist decision "from above" and not "the whim of admirals", but the result of serious research work that lasted several years. The “Order” research was started in 60's, the author could not find out the exact date of its beginning, but even if it was 1969, it didn't matter, it was not fully completed even in 1972. In addition, the history of the development of Soviet aircraft carriers clearly indicates that the most consistent opponent S.G. Gorshkova - D.F. Ustinov was not at all against the construction of aircraft carriers, as such. The need for large aircraft-carrying ocean ships was obvious to him. In essence, the contradiction between S.G. Gorshkov and D.F. Ustinov did not consist in the fact that one wanted to build aircraft carriers, and the second did not, but that SG Gorshkov considered it necessary to build classic aircraft carriers (in many respects comparable to the American Nimitz), while D.F. Ustinov hoped that their tasks could be accomplished by smaller ships that were carriers of VTOL aircraft. Perhaps the only "pure" enemy aircraft carriers, who completely denied the usefulness of carrier-based aviation, was Admiral Amelko, who advanced the construction of anti-submarine helicopter carriers instead of TAKR, but he did not leave behind him anything that was scientific, but generally distinct. justification of its position. But in his case, indeed, it is easy to suspect purely opportunistic, "undercover" actions, since He was considered an opponent of S.G. Gorshkov.
2. Supporters of the construction of aircraft carriers for the Soviet Navy did not take into account the experience of the Second World War, which demonstrated the advantage of a submarine over aircraft carriers.
In fact, in the course of R & D “Order”, the experience of the most effective submarine fleet, the German one, was carefully studied. And it was concluded that submarines can be successful in the face of strong opposition from the enemy only if their deployment and actions are supported by aviation.
3. Carriers are not needed for the defense of the near sea zone.
As the Research and Development Order showed, the provision of air cover for the ship group by land-based aircraft, even at a distance of 200-300 km from the coastline, is significantly more expensive than an aircraft carrier.
4. Carriers were needed, first of all, as a means of neutralizing the wings of the American aircraft carriers. With the advent of long-range anti-ship missiles "Basalt", "Granit" and their underwater carriers, the task of countering US AUG was solved. The submarine missile cruisers and the space reconnaissance and target designation system nullified the power of the United States AUG.
In order to understand the fallacy of this statement, it is enough to recall that according to the “Order” research without air cover, we are not that combat sustainability, we could not even guarantee the deployment of multi-purpose submarines. And, importantly, this conclusion was made in 1972 g, when there were flight design tests of the BCRT missile, and the US-A prototypes, the satellites that were equipped with the Legend radio station, were being tested in space. In other words, the conclusion about the need for aircraft carriers was formulated at a time when we were already very well aware of the potential capabilities of the Basalt RCC and the Legend ICRC.
5. Df Ustinov was right, and we had to abandon the construction of ships, providing the basing of aircraft of horizontal take-off and landing in favor of the aircraft carrier with VTOL.
The dispute about the advantages and disadvantages of VTOLP is endless, but without any doubt, aviation achieves the greatest effect when sharing fighters, EW and DRLO aircraft. But basing the latter on TAKR not equipped with catapults proved impossible. Thus, even taking on trust the thesis that “there’s still a bit of time and money - and Yakovlev’s design bureau would present the world with an analogue of the MiG-29, but with vertical takeoff and landing,” we still understand that VTVP TAKR-and lose the wing of the classic aircraft carrier.
There is no doubt that one can argue about how necessary the carrier fleet is today for the Russian Federation, because almost 50 years have passed since the R & D period “Warrant” has passed and during this time the technology has stepped far forward. The author of this article believes that it is needed, but acknowledges the existence of a field for discussion. At the same time, the need to create an aircraft carrier fleet in the USSR at the beginning of the 70-s is not in any doubt, and the USSR, though not immediately, began its construction.
This aspect is also interesting. The TK and the 1160 Orel project, which was formed based on the results of R & D “Order”, represented themselves as “tracing paper” from the American strike aircraft carrier — not only fighters (or dual-purpose fighters / bombers) were to be present in its air group, but also planned on the basis of the Su-24. In other words, the 1160 project was a multipurpose aircraft carrier. But later, and rather quickly, the air group of the promising TAKR-a lost strike aircraft - starting, perhaps, with 1153, we should talk about designing a non-multi-purpose aircraft carrier, in the image and likeness of the US, but about the air defense aircraft carrier, whose primary task was to air cover the attack forces (surface ships, submarines, missile-carrying aircraft). Does this mean that R & D “Order” confirmed the effectiveness of the American development of naval power in our peak? It is impossible to say this precisely without reading the “Order” reports. But it can be stated that the USSR, designing and creating aircraft carriers, did not copy the American fleet in its development.
In the United States, they confirmed their opinion on the priority of air power over the sea - not counting strategic SSBNs, of course. Otherwise, almost the entire range of tasks "fleet against fleet" and "fleet against the coast" was supposed to be solved by deck aircraft. Thus, the US created a surface fleet "around" aircraft carriers, their destroyers and cruisers - this is primarily escort ships, which were to provide air defense / air defense system of the aircraft carrier, and secondly - the carrier of cruise missiles for action against the coast. But the task of destroying the enemy surface ships before destroyers and cruisers was practically not set, deck installations anti-ship "Harpoons" were for them a very situational weapon "just in case." If you need to save "Harpoons" donated first. For a long time, the new destroyers of the US Navy were not equipped with anti-ship weapons at all, and the Americans did not see anything wrong with that, although then they were still concerned with the development of anti-ship missiles capable of "fit" in the Arly Berkov and Tikonderog TSS. The American submarine fleet was quite numerous, but still multi-purpose submarines, rather, complemented the capabilities of the AUG in terms of anti-submarine defense, and also solved the task of destroying Soviet SSBNs in areas where deck-based aircraft of the United States could not establish their dominance.
At the same time, the Soviet Navy (not counting SSBNs) considered the main task was “fleet versus fleet”, and it was supposed to solve it by land-based missile-carrying aircraft, submarines, and large surface ships carrying the Basalt and Granit heavy anti-ship missiles. The aircraft carrier of the USSR was not the “backbone” around which the rest of the fleet is built, and the deck aircraft of which was to solve “all tasks”. Soviet TAKR-s were considered only as a means of ensuring the sustainability of the fleet attack forces, the role of their wings was to neutralize the air threat posed by deck aircraft of the Americans.
And here we come to another very common misconception, which can be formulated as follows:
6. Kuznetsov is not an aircraft carrier, but a TAKR. Unlike the classic aircraft carrier, which is a defenseless airfield, the Kuznetsov-type ship possesses the entire spectrum of weapons, allowing it to act independently, without resorting to the protection of numerous surface ships.
Let's take a look at the main characteristics of Kuznetsov.
Displacement. I must say that the data on it vary in different sources. For example, V. Kuzin and G. Nikolsky argue that the standard displacement of a TAKVR is 45 900 t, and the total displacement is 58 500 t, but S.A. Balakin and Zablotsky lead, respectively, 46 540 and 59 100 t. At the same time, they also mention the ship’s “greatest” displacement - 61 390 t.
The Kuznetsov TAKR is equipped with a four-shaft boiler-turbine power plant with a capacity of 200 000 hp, which was supposed to provide the speed of 29 nodes. The steam was produced by eight KVG-4 boilers, with increased steam capacity compared to the KNV 98 / 64 boilers used in the previous Baku TAKR (on which 8 boilers provided the power of the 180 000 hp).
Armament: its basis, of course, was the air group. According to the draft, "Kuznetsov" was to provide 50 basing of aircraft, including: up to 26 Su-27K or MiG-29K, 4 AEW helicopter Ka-25RLD, 18 anti-submarine helicopters Ka-Ka-27 or 29 and 2 prospecting Ka-27PS rescue helicopter. For the base of the air group, a hangar with a length of 153 m, a width of 26 m and a height of 7,2 m was provided, but, of course, it could not accommodate the entire air group. It was assumed that the hangar will be able to accommodate up to 70% of the air group, the rest of the machines should have been on the flight deck.
The attempt to base the Yak-44РЛД DRLO planes on TAKR is interesting. Apparently, this was the case - in 1979 g, when Yakovlev Design Bureau received an order for the design of this aircraft, no one had ever imagined to deprive our TAKRs of catapults and to develop an ejection plane, but after the decision to manage springboard, I also had to “cut” and the air group - the Yak-141 should have made its basis, and all other aircraft, including the MiG-29 and Su-27 - only if they can be adapted to the non-catapult take-off from the springboard, and the same is true for the Yak-44. But if it turned out to be possible in the case of the 4 generation fighters with high thrust-to-weight ratio, the creation of the DRLO aircraft capable of starting from a springboard faced certain difficulties, so its creation “stalled” and accelerated only after it became clear that the seventh TAKR USSR - "Ulyanovsk" still will be catapults. It is also interesting that at some point the fleet made the requirement to base the future Kuznetsov RLD vertical take-off and landing! But in the end they limited themselves to DRLO helicopters.
TAKR was equipped with percussion weapons - 12 under deck PU PKR "Granit". Anti-aircraft missile weapons are represented by the Dagger complex - 24 PU for 8 mines, total 192 missiles. In addition, the "Kuznetsov" installed 8 SPECIALIST "Dirk" and the same AK-630M. Two RBU-12000 "Boa" are not so much anti-submarine as anti-torpedo complex. The principle of its operation is the same as that of the anti-submarine RBU, but the ammunition is different. Thus, in the Udav salvo, the first two projectiles carry false targets to divert homing torpedoes, while the rest constitute a “minefield” through which torpedoes who “do not wish” to be distracted by traps must pass. If it is overcome, then conventional ammunition, representing missiles - depth charges, is already used.
Active countermeasures are complemented by passive ones, and here we are talking not only about electronic warfare systems and setting false targets, etc. The fact is that on the ship for the first time in domestic TAKR implemented underwater structural protection (PKZ), which is a modern analogue of the PTZ of the Second World War eras. The depth of the PKZ is 4,5-5 m. However, even when overcoming it, the capabilities of the TAKR are impressive - it must remain afloat when flooding any five adjacent compartments, while the hangar deck must remain no less than 1,8 m above the water surface. The ammunition and fuel storages received box-booking, unfortunately, its thickness is unknown.
Thus, we see a large, heavy ship, equipped with a variety of weapons. Nevertheless, even the most cursory analysis shows that the armament of the Kuznetsov TAKR is not at all self-sufficient, and can “open up” fully only when interacting with other warships.
Air Group "Kuznetsova" can provide air defense or anti-aircraft defense of the ship, but not both at the same time. The fact is that according to the rules of the Russian Navy, refueling or arming aircraft in the hangar is strictly prohibited, and this is understandable - there is the danger of concentrating kerosene vapors in a confined room, and in general - an enemy rocket that landed on the hangar deck and caused the detonated prepared air-ammunition , will inflict the hardest damage to the ship, and, possibly, will completely lead it to death. A similar incident on the flight deck, no doubt, will also be extremely unpleasant, but the ship will not be threatened with death.
Accordingly, TAKR can use only those aircraft that are located on its flight deck - those that are in the hangar must also be lifted, filled and armed. And there is not too much space on the flight deck - fighters can be placed there, and then the ship will perform the functions of air defense, or helicopters, then the TAKR will be able to implement the PLO functionality, but not both at the same time. That is, you can, of course, roll out a mixed air group, but at the same time, the number of fighters and helicopters will be such that it will not be able to solve the tasks of air defense and anti-aircraft defense with due effectiveness.
As a result, if you focus on air defense, the ability to search for enemy submarines will not exceed those of a large anti-submarine ship of the 1155 project (GAK Polinom and a pair of helicopters), which is completely inadequate for such a huge ship with a rather large air group. The BOD of the 1155 project is, of course, a formidable opponent for the 3-generation submarines, but in a battle with such a submarine, it can, of course, die itself. This is an acceptable risk for a ship in the 7 000 and a displacement, but with the same chance of success being confronted by the APL, the giant TAKR, six times superior to the displacement of the BOD, and with dozens of airplanes and helicopters on board — unthinkable waste. At the same time, if you focus on solving the tasks of the PLO and force the deck by helicopters, the ship’s air defense will be critically weakened. Yes, the TAKR is equipped with rather numerous Dagger air defense systems, but it should be understood that this air defense system has a range of air targets 12 kilometers, with an altitude of 6 000 m, that is, it is aimed at fighting not only with enemy aircraft, but with missiles and guided missiles used by them aerial bombs In essence, both the Dagger and the Dirk, and the AK-630, mounted on the Kuznetsov, this weapon has completed several small missiles whose carriers have broken through the TAKR fighters. By themselves, they will not provide the defense of the ship.
Now - shock weapons. Yes, "Kuznetsov" is equipped with a dozen of the RCC "Granit", but ... this is not enough. According to the calculations of the Russian Navy, in order to "break through" the AUG anti-aircraft defense, at least 20 missiles were needed in the volley, which is why our heavy atomic missile cruisers carried the 20 "Granites", and the submarine Antey SSGNS - even 949 such missiles, so that, so to speak, with a guarantee.
Quite another thing is the situation when the domestic TAKR works together with the RNR of the 1164 Atlant project and a pair of BOD. Together with the RKR, a TAKR could provide 30-rocket volley that no AUG would like to taste, while fulfilling the tasks of the Daggers and Dirks Kuznetsov would be supplemented by the C-300F SAM, thus forming an echeloned Air defense. Conversely, when performing air defense tasks, a pair of BODs with helicopters based on them would add to the capabilities of the TAKR and could well guarantee an ASW of a similar connection.
All of the above suggests that, although domestic TAKR could be used independently, but only at the cost of a significant weakening of efficiency and being subject to excessive risk. In general, as we have said above, the USSR SLRT is not “a warrior alone in the field,” but a support ship for surface, submarine and air strike groups equipped with guided missile weapons and intended for the destruction of large fleets of a potential enemy. But it would be wrong to see in the domestic TAKR such a "hand-written bag," to ensure the protection of which half of the fleet had to be diverted. The TAKR supplemented the fleet's strike forces, allowing it to accomplish the tasks of routing the enemy with a smaller outfit of forces and with a lower level of losses. That is, the creation of the TAKR saved us money that otherwise would have been required to create additional SSGMs, missile cruisers, and missile-carrying aircraft. And of course, the lives of sailors and pilots serving on them.
Продолжение следует ...