Nevertheless, it is worth clarifying this issue once and for all. Naturally, relying on the needs of our fleet, and it is in the part of the defense of our country, and not hypothetical semi-colonial expeditions somewhere.
History This one started back in the thirties, when a group of military men offered to acquire an ersatz aircraft carrier built on the hull of a non-military, initially cargo ship, on the Black Sea. Then there were proposals to build a light aircraft carrier on the hull of one of the unfinished royal cruisers, then the 71 and 72 projects, the inclusion of aircraft carriers in the 1938-1942 shipbuilding program, carry over to the next period, the war ...
In 1948, created on behalf of N.G. Kuznetsova special commission to determine the types of ships necessary for the Navy made two fundamentally important conclusions. The first - when ships request a sea of fighter cover, coastal aircraft will always be late. The second - there are almost no such tasks at sea that surface ships, in a combat situation, could effectively solve without aviation. The Commission concluded that, without aircraft cover, the relatively safe removal of the ship from the coastline would be limited to a strip of approximately 300 miles. Further, coastal aviation will no longer be able to protect ships from air strikes.
One of the solutions to this problem was the light aircraft carrier aircraft and in the same year 1948, TsKB-17 began work on the 85 project ship, a light aircraft carrier, with an air group that was to consist of forty fighter aircraft upgraded for deck use.
Then there was the expulsion of Kuznetsov, Khrushchev and his rocket attacks, the Kotkovsky thirty-year-old “approve”, the R & D “Order”, who showed that without air cover, the Navy ships could not survive the war Hobbies - Tavkry project 1143 "Krechet", as destructive when striking from the direct tracking mode, as useless for the tasks of the "classic" aircraft carrier. It is customary to scold these ships, but they are scolded by people who do not understand what for and within the framework of what strategy they were created, and what was the basic tactical scheme of their combat use. In fact, the ships were, to put it mildly, quite good. And even more likely good than just good ones. But - for a narrow set of tasks, in which the struggle for air supremacy or the air defense tasks of the naval units were not included.
However, how much rope does not curl, and the end will be. Already by the mid-seventies, it became clear that staking on strike missile submarines, URO ships and naval missile-carrying aircraft (together with Air Force Long-Range Aviation) might not work. The MPA and the Air Force waited for the appearance in the near future of the destroyers of the Sprouens and the cruisers of the Ticonderoga, the interceptor of the F-14 interceptor and the mass-based DRLO aircraft of the deck-based. Of course, aircraft carriers could still be incapacitated, but the price of the issue became too high.
A submarine waited absolutely fantastic concentration of anti-submarine aircraft, which made it doubtful their deployment at the right turn of launching missiles. By that time, it was already clear that in the future, 1143, 1144 and 1164 cruisers, missile submarines, 956 destroyers supported by anti-submarine ships and submarines with anti-ship missiles would conduct surface battles, but they needed air cover.
There were two concepts of his organization.
The first one assumed that the coastal formations of the Air Force or the VSS of the fleet would allocate the necessary number of fighter planes, then designed by the new DRLO aircraft, and tankers, who in the future should have been able to refuel light aircraft, and a permanent outfit from these forces would “hang” over water areas, above all the Barents Sea, and to provide air defense of naval strike groups that were supposed to withstand the attack of NATO forces.
They also had to ensure the safety of submarines from anti-submarine aviation of the enemy. Boats that go through open water to combat duty areas to go under pack ice were quite vulnerable to enemy anti-submarine aviation, and before leaving them under ice, the sky had to be “closed” (in those years, the ice cover in the Arctic was significantly more, and the ice was closer to the coast).
The second concept included the following. The USSR must step over the ideological bogeyman, known as "aircraft carriers - a tool of imperialist aggression", and simply begin to build them. Then the question of air cover fell away on its own - now the KUGI would have "their" fighters on the principle of "here and now." They would not have to wait or ask. Serious battles in the naval circles and the leadership of the military-industrial complex lasted for several years. Naval aviation, which, in all seriousness, would be required to plan a loss "from the regiment" for each combat departure, insisted on aircraft carriers capable of meeting bombers on the way to the target and ensuring their protection with their ship fighters. There were also opponents of such a decision, holding on to the "anti-avian" traditions established in the Navy. Both among the top military leaders and among the “captains” of the military industry there were doubts as to whether the budget would “pull” the second method.
The aircraft carrier in the meantime has already been designed. Smoothly evolving from the “Soviet“ Enterprise ”, the 1160“ Eagle ”project, into a smaller, but also atomic 1153, project that bore the“ working ”name“ Soviet Union ”ended up as a hybrid of“ Krechet ”- the 1143 project, enlarged , and the 1153 project. At the last moment, the evil genius of the Soviet aircraft carriers intervened in the process - D.F. Ustinov demanded that the catapult be replaced with a springboard in the draft, citing the fact that the Soviet industry did not produce catapults. This was done, and by 1978 the future Soviet aircraft carrier bore almost all the signs we know today. But it was necessary that the transition of the project "into metal" be given a flick.
Finally, the fate of an aircraft carrier in the USSR Navy was decided by the research work of 1978, which aims to determine which of the concepts of the organization of air defense is more economical - constant combat duty in the air of basic aviation or aircraft carriers with ship fighters. The results were shocking, even for supporters of aircraft carriers.
Maintaining close in numbers to the air group's regiment in the air, in continuous combat duty, with a sufficient number of aircraft on the ground for rotation, with fuel and measures to defend coastal airfields from air strikes, "consumed" the cost of an aircraft carrier in just six months. The calculations were made for the latest prototypes of the MiG-29 at that time and the Su-27 prototypes created both in the land and ship versions.
In the 1982 year, the first Soviet aircraft carrier for horizontal takeoff and landing aircraft was laid in Nikolaev. The ship was given the name "Riga". Then he was Leonid Brezhnev, then Tbilisi, and today we know him as Admiral Kuznetsov.
The ship was not designed to solve the shock tasks by the air group and before preparing to participate in the Syrian war, even for storing bombs on board was poorly adapted (before going to the cellar for ammunition had to be reconstructed). It was, and, in fact, there is an air defense aircraft carrier.
Here is how his appointment defines our Ministry of Defense: “Designed to give strategic stability to missile submarines of strategic purpose, groups of surface ships and naval missile-carrying aircraft in combat areas”.
Simple and concise.
Consider the main tactical niche "Kuznetsova" in relation to the site.
This scheme is a reflection of the “NATO” view of things, which, in turn, is repelled by the fact that they tracked down during our teachings. The dark zone is the so-called “bastion”, a zone tightly closed by surface ships and aircraft, in which, in theory, it is difficult for a foreign submarine to survive, and it is simply impossible for a foreign patrol plane. We will not analyze now whether the concept of bastions is correct (this is not quite so), we just accept it “as it is”. During this period of danger, RPLSN with ballistic missiles are being brought into this zone.
The lighter zone is the hypothetical battlefield - from the West Fjord to the mouth of the Kola Bay in the south, including the entire Norwegian Sea, up to the Faro-Icelandic barrier. In the northern part of this array lies the border of pack ice, under which the strike submarines can hide from enemy anti-submarine aircraft and from there carry out attacks on their assigned targets. But first they need to get there from Gadzhiyevo.
And this is where Kuznetsov comes in handy. Acting in conjunction with URO ships to the north of the territorial waters in the Barents Sea, the naval aviation group (CAG) provides an instant response to the calls of surface forces and patrol aircraft, and a wide control zone in which enemy anti-submarine aircraft cannot operate freely. We can say that Kuznetsov does not have DRLO planes in order for his fighters to detect air targets at a great distance.
But the ship is not very far from its shores, and can rely on DRLO coastal aircraft. This air regiment in the air is unbearably expensive, and one A-50 and a couple of tankers are another matter. The A-50 is capable of patrolling 1000 kilometers from a home airfield for four hours without refueling. With refueling, four hours easily turn into eight. Three airplanes provide round-the-clock duty, and, importantly, they bring far away targets. But they, too. Thus, the issue with DRLO can be closed quite simply.
It can be said that the ship will not withstand the attacks of fighter aircraft from Norway. But it works in conjunction with URO ships, which provide him with additional air defense, and Norway itself becomes one of the high-priority targets from the very first day of the war, and after a while the airfields on its territory may turn out to be unsuitable for flights from them.
It can also be said that the Kuznetsov CAG most likely will not withstand a coordinated strike from the American AUS. It will not stand, but who said that this fight should be taken? In theory, the group commander is obliged to evade such a battle.
But not to let other anti-shipbreakers work, and the ship regiment may well protect its own. Or, at least, substantially complicate the enemy in the performance of the combat mission of finding our submarines, and facilitate the implementation of a similar mission to our aircraft. When an enemy attacks a warrant of surface ships of URO, Kuznetsov’s airplanes are able to strengthen the air defense of the formation, having reached the line of destruction of enemy airplanes beyond the range of the defeat of naval air defense missiles.
When attacking the enemy’s ship formations with the help of the Caliber missile launched from submarines, the Kuznetsov’s planes could well disrupt the actions of the deck interceptors and allow the missiles to break through to the enemy’s warrant. There, of course, they will be met by the AEGIS system, but low-altitude calibers and subsonic until the last shot to the goal. This makes them a problematic goal for the shipborne air defense missile systems, they will be noticed too late, and then the accelerating second stage factor will work, which will at least lead to a breakdown in targeting part of the shipboard missiles.
The specificity of the RCC salvo from a submarine is, firstly, its noise, and secondly, the low density of the salvo - the rockets start in turn. Enemy hydroacoustics will detect a volley long before their radar could detect missiles, and deck interceptors can be sent there, which will be easy to kill the slow Caliber. But if you drive them away, then the situation turns over one hundred and eighty degrees, and now the speed of the Caliber becomes their advantage - there is no super-son, then there is no compression jump, EPR is smaller, the detection range of the shipborne radar too ...
And, of course, the Kuznetsov air group is invaluable as a source of intelligence. Moreover, it can operate according to the “armed intelligence” method of the Americans, when small groups of planes, finding a “convenient” target during reconnaissance, immediately attacked it. This will “sweep away” from the theater of operations all single ships, small ship groups without air cover, non-nuclear submarines in a surface position, rocket boats and patrol airplanes, forcing the enemy to “gather in a pile” and maneuver only with large forces.
Especially important is the role of the air group as a means of targeting for coastal strike aviation. Both assault air regiments, and long-range aviation with Tu-22M, and even MiGs with Dagger missiles (if they really "work" on surface ships, which, frankly, have certain doubts), target targeting is required to deliver an effective strike. Moreover, in real time. Creation of such communication systems with the help of which it is possible to transmit such a central control unit is vital, but the “eyes” of these systems will need “platforms”. It would be naive to think that an enemy with thousands of cruise missiles and anti-aircraft missiles SM-3 will use over-the-horizon radar and reconnaissance satellites against them. But air reconnaissance over the open sea is so easy not to drive. And, most importantly, ship-based fighters may well participate in aircraft attacks from the coast, escorting them, protecting them from enemy interceptors, conducting distracting, false attacks and covering the departure of strike forces. The complex of the basic shock and naval aviation may well be stronger than the base one, and the ship separately.
This is what the Kuznetsov is for as part of the Navy, this is what it was built for, and what tasks it and its air group should work out.
From this point of view, the Syrian campaign looks somewhat strange. Although, if there is an aircraft carrier, then shock tasks on the coast from it should sometimes be trained, but we must clearly understand that the task of striking the coast for an aircraft carrier is the last one in importance, and it’s not at all the fact that this should be done at all. Ship planes - sea weaponand not overland. Nails are not clogged with a microscope.
What happens if you write off this ship? All the most powerful anti-submarine aircraft of our "partners" will be able to operate near our shores almost unhindered. Coastal planes are unlikely to keep pace with high-speed anti-battles. This, in turn, will very quickly remove our main strike force at sea, the submarine, from the game. Then it will be the turn of the surface ships, which will be re-warmed by strike aircraft in several stages. Then everything. The enemy will be able, for example, to starve Kamchatka, Norilsk and Chukotka. Demonstrative.
Likewise, enemy surface ships will also operate relatively unhindered. They just need not to enter the affected area of coastal missile systems.
And, of course, one ship is too small.
In the Pacific theater of military operations, the Navy has basically similar problems. Near potential enemy with superior fleet, and the most powerful anti-submarine aircraft. Its fighters will easily reach our PLO planes in the Sea of Okhotsk, bypassing the onslaught zones of coastal air defense missile systems, skipping “below” the radar field ground radar. And from the outer, eastern side, the Sea of Okhotsk is a vulnerable area. Having a carrier fleet, any enemy will be able to concentrate superior forces against any military object on the islands. It is necessary that behind the chain of islands there was a reinforcement capable of engaging in battle immediately, for tens of minutes from the moment of the call. From the coastal airfields of Primorye, this cannot be done.
According to some authors, the probability of repelling the attack of someone's AUG or even AUS, having at least one aircraft carrier is about four times higher than if you do not have any.
Alas, in the Pacific Fleet we didn’t have URO ships, almost no small anti-submarine ships and minesweepers left, let alone aircraft carriers.
But the United States has them and almost Japan has, the latter announced the imminent restructuring of its Izumo into light aircraft carriers, all of them will be armed with F-35B aircraft. Bad thrust-capacity and poor reliability of these machines could play into our hands, if we were able to at least meet them in the sky, but alas ...
It is time to say out loud - we can not protect even the near sea zone, without aircraft carrying ships and ship fighters. This does not negate the need to have PLO corvettes, minesweepers, frigates, but they alone will be incredibly difficult to fight off even against an enemy of the Japanese level. We, of course, have nuclear weapons, but their use may be politically unacceptable in a given situation, and it will not be possible to hide behind it all the time. We must be able to fight and conventional weapons. And to have these weapons at least in the minimum amount.
This also applies to aircraft carriers. In the future, in order to ensure that the enemy is not allowed to conduct any activity near our shores, it will be necessary to have at least one combat-ready aircraft carrier with a combat-ready air group both in the Northern Fleet and in the Pacific. Taking into account the fact that such ships are operated in a very intense mode, and require frequent repairs, it is worthwhile to calculate the possibility of a larger number.
However, we must understand that to have an aircraft carrier itself or two is not even half the battle. Ship regiments are needed - at least two, in order to carry out the rotation of air groups and to compensate for combat losses. We need a basing point with a normal berth, with electricity, steam and fuel supply, with access to motor transport and, possibly, a crane. Now this is not. And, most importantly, we need teachings. Testing flights for aerial reconnaissance, for combat patrols, testing flights for repelling an air strike, with different compositions of combat groups, from a couple to the entire air group, day and night, for attacking weakly defended surface targets, for escorting a missile volley and defending PLO aircraft. All these complex tasks should not cause difficulties, they should be worked out to automaticity. It is also necessary that the actions of the deck crews, including in case of emergencies, such as an arresting cable break, a fire on the deck, an explosion on the deck, have been worked out before automatism. It is necessary for the team to skillfully cope with the consequences of the use of nuclear weapons, including deactivation of the deck. Naval headquarters must be prepared to use the potential of naval aviation wisely. And, of course, the ship’s radio and electronic equipment must be updated in a timely manner.
Unfortunately, today there is no certainty that when the repair of Kuznetsov will be completed, all this will be done. And all the more there is no certainty that the “holes” in defense caused by the lack of such ships in the Navy will be closed in the foreseeable future. Rather, there is confidence in the opposite. Our shores will continue to remain without protection for a very long time.