The first details of the complex with the code "Surface" appeared at the very beginning of the spring of this year. Domestic media, citing sources in the Navy command, published interesting data on a promising project and the possibilities of a new weapons.
The other day, the "Surface" system again fell into news. This time we are talking about one of the carriers of mine weapons. It was previously mentioned that the complex will be able to use various ships and aircraft, and now a specific model of equipment has appeared in the media. One of the carriers of mines and controls will be the upgraded Be-12 Chaika anti-submarine aircraft.
Thanks to the media, currently there is information about the architecture of the promising complex, the principles of operation and some of the possibilities. The current status of the project and estimated completion dates are also known. Exact performance characteristics, however, have not been published. The appearance of new products remains unknown.
The complex "Surface" includes two main elements - the actual sea mines and a special control unit. Mines in their appearance and capabilities are similar to some older products, while the control unit uses the most advanced solutions.
Mines from the complex are equipped with acoustic and magnetic target sensors, as well as carry communications. The type of installation and method of operation of the products are unknown. Also, the principle of operation of the fuse is not specified.
An important feature of the “Surface” is the lack of direct connection between the target sensors and fuses - the blasting process is controlled by the control unit. Mina is able to identify the physical fields of the target and carry out its recognition by characteristic features. Mention is made of the presence of a self-learning hardware unit capable of exchanging data with the control unit.
The mine complex control unit is a computer system with elements of artificial intelligence designed to control the operation of mines. The unit must receive data from the ammunition, process it and give instructions based on the current situation. Due to such opportunities, the “Surface” complex forms a “smart” controlled fence in the water area.
According to media reports, the control unit of the complex is capable of giving mines different tasks that correspond to the current situation and threats. So, ammunition can identify specific targets and hit only them. Due to this, it is possible to hit the enemy ships or to counteract his mine action. Mines will be able to identify specific ships and undermine them or ignore them. In particular, they are able to miss a minesweeper with mine action weapons, but hit any other ship.
Determining the type of target by physical fields is also a means of identifying “friend or foe”. In this case, their ships will be able to safely pass through the fence, while the enemy expects an explosion.
Mine with self-learning equipment can be used both as part of the complex, and separately. However, the absence of a complex control unit should reduce the potential of the weapon. To fully utilize all the features of the “Surface”, a control unit with AI and a number of other mines in the water area are required.
In the first news about the complex, it was mentioned that domestic ships, submarines and marine aviation. In early September, more accurate data appeared on this subject. Currently, the modernization of the Be-12 anti-submarine aircraft is being prepared, and it is they who will become one of the carriers of the “Surface”. After the upgrade, "The Seagulls" will be able to carry a wide range of weapons; the presence of a mine complex will increase the range of tasks.
Timing and Strategies
As of March, the Surface complex was in a high degree of readiness. Then it was reported that the tests of the new development will be completed before the end of the year. The timing of adoption was not specified, but it is obvious that this will happen in the very near future. Apparently, at first the new complex will replenish the ammunition of existing ships and submarines capable of using mine-torpedo weapons.
According to recent reports, the deadlines for completing the tests remain the same. At the same time, the fleet command began to develop concepts for the use of new weapons. The “surface” is seriously different from existing mines, and new techniques are needed to realize all of its benefits.
Of all the potential carriers of the complex, only the Be-12 aircraft is known so far. In January, the Ministry of Defense announced its intention to begin the modernization of such equipment this year. Thus, in the coming years, the Navy will receive both new mine weapons and improved carriers for it.
The benefits to the fleet
Now in service with the Russian Navy there are several types of sea mines with different characteristics and capabilities. Such weapons allow you to put barriers with the help of surface ships, submarines or aircraft. Existing mines generally meet the needs of the fleet, but this does not exclude the need for further development of mine-torpedo weapons.
A characteristic feature of mines that are in service is their independence - a barrier is a number of mines that are not connected to each other and are unable to coordinate actions. The new “Surface” project proposes to supplement mines with communications and introduce a separate control unit with AI elements into the complex. As a result, the fence becomes a single coordinated system.
An autonomous mine complex can be deployed in a given area and act completely independently, waiting for enemy ships. Depending on the task, the “Surface” can be installed on the routes of movement of ship connections, at ports and on sea lanes. Having received the appropriate task, the control unit will wait for the desired target to appear and organize its defeat.
An important feature of the complex is compatibility with different carriers. Ships and submarines will be able to establish relatively large and long minefields, including at a great distance from their bases. The use of carrier aircraft such as the Be-12 will ensure quick deployment in the area of the intended passage of the enemy - including just before its appearance.
Mines from the "Surface" are able to determine the type of target by physical fields. In addition, the AI of the control unit must process the incoming signals. Due to this, it is possible to increase both the combat effectiveness of the barrier and its survivability. Having identified the minesweeper, the complex will be somewhat protected from its means of combating mines. Accordingly, the likelihood of successfully maintaining the fence with the subsequent defeat of real targets increases.
Thus, the new weapon system gives the Navy a whole series of new opportunities that increase the effectiveness of mine deployments. At the same time, a fundamentally new weapon has obvious drawbacks. Obtaining new opportunities is associated with the introduction of complex electronic components - primarily, a control unit with AI elements. This negatively affects the cost of development, production and operation of the complex.
The appearance of a fundamentally new mine complex has led to the need to develop concepts for its use. Determining the best practices is a necessary step and will have obvious positive consequences.
The introduction of a new mine weapons complex will begin no earlier than 2020, but the results of this process are worth the wait. In addition to the “simple” mines of old models, the navy will receive products with more capabilities. However, while the fleet and industry need to complete the tests and organize mass production. Probably, in connection with this, the military will reveal new details of the Surface project.