Take and combine
Everyone probably knows history with the French Mistrals, large universal landing ships (UDC), which Russia never received. It may be recalled: back in 2010, Russia and France announced a deal to build two Mistrals for the Russian Navy in a French shipyard. And two more ships of the same type were supposed to be built under license in Russia itself.
Further events around Crimea and the related deterioration in relations between the West and Russia put an end to all this. Many were initially surprised by the fact that the department of the then head of the Ministry of Defense, Anatoly Serdyukov, preferred western ships instead of Russian ones. Serdyukov (in fairness, I note: not the worst Minister of Defense in the history of the Russian Federation) was accused of "surrendering national interests", "indulging the West" and other largely contrived sins.
In reality, everything is much simpler: Russia has neither the experience of building UDCs, nor the experience of their use. There is, of course, its own shipbuilding. Even in the Soviet years, a variety of landing ships were built, some of them still serve the Russian Navy. For example, for all the years of the USSR, fourteen large landing ships of the 1171 project were commissioned. Of the relatively new - a large landing ship project 11711. The lead ship, Ivan Gren, was launched in 2012. The second ship of the series will be "Peter Morgunov."
However, the experience of Soviet / post-Soviet projects will not help much here. Formally, the UDC is a subclass of the landing ship. In fact, this is a new class of ship. The USA acutely felt its need during the Vietnam War. When the interaction of different landing groups revealed many problems that would have made themselves felt with particular force during the "global" conflict: putting people and equipment on a fortified bridgehead is extremely difficult.
The solution was the combination of shock, landing and management functions within the framework of a single ship project. Helicopters can land the first wave, which will partially clear the coast. Then, with the help of high-speed boats, units with equipment and heavy weapons will land on it. Americans, for example, can all this be dropped by LCU or LCAC boats. Large and lifting. In general, in terms of carrying capacity, one UDC can replace ten “ordinary” large landing ships. From the side - a very profitable investment.
There are some differences in understanding the concept. So, the latest UDC U.S. Navy of the type "America" of the Flight 0 series do not have a docking chamber for the above-mentioned craft, but they do have additional hangars and workshops. There is a bet on air potential. However, in general, you need to understand that any universal landing ship is very expensive, very complex and at the same time quite vulnerable to air attacks: not every UDC carries fifth-generation fighters like America. This, of course, does not mean at all that universal landing ships are not needed. Quite the contrary.
A New Twist
The abandonment of the Mistral hurt the potential of the Russian fleet, especially when you consider that the only conditional aircraft carrier - Admiral Kuznetsov - is being repaired and cannot fight. And its repair can be "eternal".
Therefore, in Russia more than once offered alternative options. Now history has received a new development. In October, BUSINESS Online reported that the Ak Bars Shipbuilding Corporation, which includes Zelenodolsky Yard Gorky and which is headed by Renat Mistakhov, claims to develop UDC. The ship is supposedly being developed by Zelenodolsk Design Bureau.
Apparently, these are not just rumors. Earlier, in September this year, unconfirmed information appeared that the Kerch branch of the plant named after Gorky will take on universal landing ships. “Two universal landing ships (UDC, they are also called helicopter carriers) with a displacement of up to 15 thousand tons are planned to be laid at the Zaliv shipyard in Kerch, which, as you know, is controlled by it. Gorky, ”wrote then the publication“ BUSINESS Online ”with reference to TASS. The bookmark is planned for May 2020 of the year, and the head helicopter carrier fleet should be received before the end of 2027 of the year.
Project of contention
From the outside, everything looks good. The country still has money, as well as those who want to build new ships. But everything is not so clear, if you look closely. In August of 2014, Ukraine announced that the Zelenodolsk enterprise by force seized the Zaliv Kerch Shipbuilding Plant OJSC, which had previously belonged to Ukrainian oligarch Konstantin Zhevago. And 15 March of the same years, the United States imposed sanctions against the plant to them. Gorky, although the enterprise had previously encountered Western restrictions.
More experts were surprised otherwise. According to Aleksey Litsis, Head of the Design Department of the Federal State Unitary Enterprise Krylovsky State Scientific Center, Russia has “far more pumped up from the point of view of building large Sevmash ships, Baltic and Volga-Baltic factories, and now the Far Eastern Zvezda factory is preparing to launch "".
There are other points of view. All the same, “BUSINESS Online” cites the opinion of Vladimir Leonov that sanctions are not a sentence for the plant at all. And in the new material, the publication considers other aspects of this issue, speaking in favor of the fact that the choice was made correctly. Experts believe that the Baltic Shipyard and Admiralty Shipyards are already heavily loaded, and the Kerch Zaliv has a large dry dock and much of what is needed to build a large ship. Finally, experts focus on the development of the Crimean industry, which in the current conditions is extremely important for the current government.
Money and ships
An order to design such a large ship is a huge responsibility, but there is also huge money. Experts believe that the main benefit here is Tatarstan, which owns the majority stake in Zelenodolsk Design Bureau (75% minus one share). “Tens of billions of rubles will be allocated for the design and construction of UDC ... This is very profitable and profitable. That’s why for the participation in the creation of UDC today there is a serious undercover struggle, ”the source said in an interview with“ BUSINESS Online ”.
On the technical side, everything is both simple and complex. Zelenodolsk Bureau was founded in 1949 year. Starting work with submarine hunters, Design Bureau engineers developed the world's largest hydrofoil warships of the Sokol type, as well as, for example, the 11540 project patrol ship. These are serious achievements. But as we already wrote above, in Russia they never built full-fledged UDC, and the ships developed earlier have almost nothing in common with them.
So the prospects of the first Russian universal landing ship are more than vague. This is best seen in the example of the aforementioned large landing ship "Ivan Gren", which was laid back in 2004, and put into operation only in 2018. And about whether Russia generally needs universal landing ships, we will talk sometime later.