The fire at Admiral Kuznetsov caused a flurry of publications in the community on the theme that this ship is now over. At the same time, they recalled all the accidents and emergency situations that occurred with this unfortunate ship.
It is worth returning the venerable audience to reality. In this regard, a small “digest” of near-avian issues plus some “repetition of the past.”
A bit about the fire
First of all, a fire. I must say that in our ship repair something burns all the time. This is due to the serious degradation of domestic ship repair. In an interesting way, the same persons who sit on the boards of directors in shipbuilding in the development of marine weapons and in various state colleges and commissions. Those who influence everything receive dividends from everything, but they are not personally responsible for anything.
Ship repair is actually still "in the feeding" of the characters who do not care about its effectiveness from a large bell tower. In many respects, this explains the shortage of personnel at repair plants, and the "antediluvian" (for example, pre-war) equipment, and the general condition of the entire repair infrastructure, buildings, structures, etc.
The moral decomposition of the top of the Navy is superimposed on this “from above”, which naturally turned into the “Queen of England” - it performs purely ceremonial tasks. Neither the Commander in Chief, nor the Commander in Chief, nor the General Staff of the Navy manage fleets, they are responsible for military-technical policy, but they cannot always influence it. The fleet is de facto transformed into "Naval units of the ground forces", which cannot but affect the attitude of his senior officers to the service.
All this is above, and below we have an unorganized crowd of people on the ship being repaired, tolerance orders signed by the executors “for a fool”, it is not clear whether the ship’s repair technology is violated or not formalized when it is not cleaned of dangerous contaminants before starting work , and a fireproof cape not thrown over the cable-track shaft.
All this is one of many indicators that the fleet is seriously “sick”, but nothing more.
The fire itself did not do fatal damage to the ship. 95 billion rubles voiced by the Kommersant newspaper are nonsense, absolutely obvious to any person who knows how to think at least a little. There is simply nothing to burn for such an amount. The fire area on the ship was equal to four good three-room apartments, and on different decks. The combustion temperature of fossil fuels in confined spaces with a limited supply of oxygen at atmospheric pressure can in no way be more than 900 degrees Celsius, even in the midst of a fire.
All of the above together clearly indicates that there is no fatal damage to the ship. Of course, some equipment was damaged, possibly not cheap. Yes, the time frame for the ship to go out of repair will now increase, as will its cost. But this is not a reason for writing off and certainly not 95 billion rubles. The ship could send a serious destruction of the hull for decommissioning, but even if somewhere individual steel structural elements lost their toughness and became more fragile, then when performing repairs in a technically competent way, the value of this problem can be reduced to zero. However, steel conducts heat well and it is unlikely that the body heat, even in the combustion zone, has reached some dangerous values for the steel parameters - heat dissipation to other structural elements outside the combustion zone was too strong.
The only really irreparable loss is the dead people. Everything else is more than fixable.
You can relate to A.L. Rakhmanov, the head of the USC, but one cannot help but admit that in this case he is right in the preliminary assessments of the consequences of the fire.
Of course, the investigation is yet to come, as are the conclusions of the commission that will examine the ship. Ahead is an adequate and accurate assessment of damage. But the fact that there can be no question of any cancellation of Kuznetsov due to this fire is obvious now.
This means that everyone should stop rehashing other people's nonsense - nothing currently hinders the restoration of the ship, although of course it is a pity that extra money and time.
So, it must be restored.
In the correct version - a normal repair, with the renewal of the power plant in general and the boilers in particular and the modernization of electronic weapons. You don’t need to invest in this ship with your mind, it’s already old, unlucky, and it was not invented in the best form, but it is necessary to bring it into a combat-ready state. The combat value of Kuznetsov before the repair was openly conditional, not only because of its condition, but also because of the training of its crew - from the commander to the sailors on the flight deck, and frankly weak in terms of training the air group.
Correctly completed repair of an aircraft carrier, which will make it possible to operate it under normal conditions, make transitions at high speed and a long stay at sea without loss of serviceability, will make it possible to organize full-fledged combat training of the 100th and 279th separate naval fighter regiments.
It is worth saying the following: what we had in terms of preparing regiments before is absolutely unacceptable. Initially, Kuznetsov was created as an air defense carrier with missile weapons. RCC "Granite" has never been his main weapon; in the old educational films of the USSR Ministry of Defense, everything is said quite intelligibly about this. However, the specifics of impact reflection aviation from the sea is that the reaction time required for this should be very short.
Article “We are building a fleet. Wrong ideas, wrong concepts ” an example of reflection of a strike on surface ships by the forces of a coastal fighter aviation regiment from a watch position on the ground was analyzed, and it was shown that in the presence of a radar field 700 kilometers deep from the ship group to be protected, the air regiment manages to fly to "its" attacked ships simultaneously with an attacker if the protected ships are no further than 150 kilometers from the airfield.
If the ships move further from the coastal airfields, then the only thing that can disorganize the enemy’s attack is to ensure combat duty on air in the air. As the area in which hostilities are moving away from the coast, the cost and complexity of such combat duty is constantly growing, in addition, interceptors on duty in the air lose the opportunity to receive reinforcements upon request, and the enemy will not only launch “attackers”, but also an escort. And he will be strong
The aircraft carrier makes it possible to have on-board strike groups permanently present in the air interceptors and helicopters AWACS, as well as combat aircraft with container radars, partly replacing AWACS aircraft. In addition, during their air combat duty, a comparable number of interceptors may be on deck in a minute or so readiness for take-off.
Even if the adversary is superior in numbers, the interceptor’s counterattack will force him to “break up” the battle formation, lead to losses, disorganization of the attack, and, most importantly, to increase the magnitude of the missile salvo of the attacking aircraft (in time), but this is not will make it possible to create such a density of a missile salvo that ship’s air defense in the attacked ship’s group cannot cope with.
In addition, enemy attack planes emerging from the attack will be faced with the fact that they are attacked by interceptors from an aircraft carrier who did not manage to enter the battle before the enemy detached the weapons.
We recall the Falkland War: in most attacks, surface ships took the first blow (which proves their ability to survive under air strikes), but the bulk of the Argentine aircraft were destroyed by the deck Harriers at the exit of the Argentines from the attack, which allowed the British to win the war of attrition between the Royal Navy and Argentine Aviation. Thus, the “shooting” of the enemy’s departing strike aircraft is critically important, and in addition to ship MiGs, there will be no one to carry out this task if we ever have to fight at sea.
Thus, as an air defense carrier, “Kuznetsov” must work out the reflection of a massive airstrike together with surface ships, and in conditions close to real, that is, a massive attack by the enemy with forces that are clearly superior to those that our aircraft carrier can take to the air by the time the enemy launches missiles, the introduction of ship planes into battle along squadrons, the work of "catching up", the evasion of the aircraft carrier from an enemy missile strike. Naturally, all this should happen day and night, and in winter and summer.
Of all this, in the best case, the 279th okiap performed a group interception of air targets, and not with full strength for a long time. Such training is not conducted regularly, such that the naval omshap on the Su-30SM would really “fight” against the ship carrier group with Kuznetsov and the ship aviation regiment on it never at all. And without such teachings, there is no, and there will be no understanding of whether we are doing everything right and how effective these actions are.
Of interest is the use of ship aircraft in the escort of anti-submarine Tu-142, working in the interests of the ship carrier group. In escorting a volley of cruise missiles (enemy interceptors may well shoot down slow anti-ship "Caliber" if they do not interfere), in air reconnaissance, both in the form of "pure" scouts and in the form of AUGRUs that attack the detected target after it is detected.
In the event of a global war, the main striking force of the Russian Navy will be submarines, and the "cleansing" of airspace in the areas of their combat use will be critically important. Modern basic patrol aviation poses a monstrous threat to submarines, and it should not be over those areas where our submarines will operate. Even if the Russian Federation captures Svalbard and northern Norway during preparatory measures, there will still be enormous gaps between the air defense zones organized by coastal aviation and anti-aircraft missile forces over the sea, which can be covered by nothing but surface ships. And it is Kuznetsov that will be the most useful of them, and the only one capable of suppressing the actions of the Orions and Poseidons against our submarines, as well as providing relatively free actions of the Tu-142 and Il-38 against enemy submarines. All this will be critically important for ensuring Russia's defense capabilities.
But for this it is necessary to bring the combat readiness of the ship itself, and its aviation, and the headquarters on the shore, managing the aircraft carrier group to the highest possible level. The weapon itself does not fight, the people who use it fight, and for this they must be trained properly.
These questions have already been raised earlier in the article. “Coast Defense Carrier”. However, the tasks of an aircraft carrier cannot be reduced to the tasks of air defense and a hypothetical war with a strong enemy. Before the Syrian campaign, which had so ingloriously passed, the cellars for storing aircraft weapons at Kuznetsovo were modernized for storing bombs in large quantities, which had never been done on this ship before.
And the only real combat missions that domestic deck pilots performed in a real war were shock.
And it’s not just that.
Of course, we must keep in mind a possible war with the United States and its allies, as a maximum of what we may have to face. However, at the same time, the probability of such a war is small, moreover, the better we are ready for it, the lower this probability.
But the likelihood of an offensive war in some underdeveloped region is constantly growing. Since 2014, Russia has embarked on the path of expansionist foreign policy. We are pursuing a much more aggressive policy now than the USSR has ever been after the death of Stalin. Operations similar to the Syrian USSR have never been carried out at all.
And this policy gives rise to a high probability of entering into military conflicts far beyond the borders of the Russian Federation. For example, a map of the presence of the Russian Federation in African countries. It is worth remembering that in each of them there are also extensive commercial interests. And this is just the beginning.
And where there are commercial interests - there is unfair competition from the “partners”, there are attempts to nullify the efforts and investments of Russia by banal organization of a coup in the client country, which the West has done repeatedly. Exacerbation of internal conflicts within Russia’s loyal countries and military attacks by pro-Western regimes are very likely.
In such a situation, the possibility of rapid military intervention can be very important. Moreover, on the one hand, it may be required much faster than a stationary air base can be deployed on the spot, and on the other, on the territory where there are no corny airfields.
And this is not science fiction - when our troops arrived in Syria, the fighting went on in Damascus itself. Before the collapse of the Syrian defense was very short. How would we intervene if it were not possible to use Hmeimim?
There can be only one answer to such calls and it is called the word “aircraft carrier”. Syria in all its glory has shown that neither the Kuznetsov nor the naval aviation are ready for the strike tasks.
This means that we will have to work in this direction too - air reconnaissance over land, departure to strike by a pair, several links, a squadron, and the entire aviation regiment. Attacks to the maximum range, combat duty in the air 5-10 minutes from the war zone, practicing the departure with the maximum possible composition, practicing a joint strike by aircraft from an aircraft carrier and cruise missiles from URA ships, practicing combat sorties at maximum intensity, day and night - we never did anything.
And, since we are ready to attack the coast, it’s worth working out the most basic, classical task of an aircraft carrier fleet - air strikes on surface ships.
This gap will also have to be filled.
Worth mentioning is anti-submarine operations. During the first trip of Kuznetsov to the Mediterranean Sea, they were practiced, an attempt was made to simultaneously carry out anti-aircraft defense and air defense operations, at the same time it turned out that it was impossible to do these things at the same time - only one thing. This example shows well that the theoretical ideas for waging war with the help of an aircraft carrier in practice have to be adjusted.
That is, Kuznetsov will have something to do. And, no matter how it turns out that by the time, for example, the distribution of Libya, the ship will not be ready yet. This will be a big and fat “minus” for our country.
Alas, besides all of the above, there is another chronic problem - infrastructure deficiency. So, from the moment the first aircraft carrier combat ship of the USSR Navy capable of carrying combat aircraft on board was commissioned, it was already nearly forty FOUR YEARS. This is a lot. This, frankly, is a lot. And for this considerable time, our country has not mastered the construction of normal berths in different fleets, where ships of this class could be moored.
It's a shame. There is an expression according to which all types of armed forces are indicators of how a nation can fight, and the fleet is also an indicator of how well it can think. From this point of view, everything is bad with us. For decades, the presence of aircraft-carrying ships in the fleet, and in two fleets, did not force the responsible leaders to provide them with an elementary parking place.
Until now, one has to listen to the opinions of admirals that the operation of a large ship in the North is somehow a special problem. But why is this not a problem with icebreakers? What's the question? The fact is that the whole huge Russia cannot put a berth, build a boiler room, a turbocompressor workshop, a water pump station and an electric substation next to it. We can build Sochi, we can send many thousands of kilometers of pipeline to China, and raise a new cosmodrome in the Far Eastern taiga. But we cannot make a berth. This, of course, is an indicator of both the ability to think and the organizational abilities of our people and we should not be indignant, the individuals from the "near fleet" did not come from Mars to us, and we and they are parts of the same society.
But on the other hand, awareness of the problem is the first step to begin to solve it, we still have no choice. So in addition to the titanic task of restoring the aircraft carrier, bringing it into operational condition, bringing the training of air regiments to the “world average” level for carrier-based aviation units, we still have an even more titanic task - to finally build a berth.
Another problem is the basing of naval aviation regiments. Complaints of the responsible commanders are usually the following: a polar night, no skills to train, it’s cold in the Arctic, I don’t want to serve there especially, the planes constantly stick out at the Nitka River in Crimea, and to train pilots on real hikes, you have to chase an aircraft carrier already to the Mediterranean Sea, where it’s warm and bright.
Here it is worth recalling again about "An indicator of how well a nation knows how to think." The questions that will need to be asked next time in response to such complaints are:
1. Why are shipboard regiments not permanently based in some convenient region for service? Aviation is a mobile kind of force, the transfer of okiap from under, for example, St. Petersburg with its high standards of living in Severomorsk will take about a day. Shelves simply need to be removed from the north altogether - if only because it is a front-line zone and basing them there on an ongoing basis, we risk, in which case, to lose the personnel of all naval aviation in the first minutes of the conflict, without having time to transfer a single aircraft to the aircraft carrier, if the aircraft carrier itself will survive such a conflict. This consideration alone is enough to “relocate” the naval aviation regiments to the south, and relocate them to the ship if necessary.
2. Why do we need a drama about the impossibility of conducting combat training during the polar night? The ship is also mobile. It can be transferred to the North Sea, can be transferred to the Baltic Sea. What prevents, for example, from transferring “Kuznetsov” to the Baltic, there they can receive air regiments, train pilots on takeoffs and landings on an aircraft carrier, day and night, flying in conditions as close to combat as possible - but in a calm Baltic? With sunrises and sunsets, not a polar night? And only then to return with the already trained personnel to the north, continuing military training already there? What's the question? The provocative approach of the aircraft carrier to the Baltic? But, firstly, this process can be as open as possible, secondly, sooner or later they will get used to it, and thirdly, we don’t have much to lose, we are already not blamed for that. The Baltic, of course, is one of the options, there are others.
One way or another, and the basing of an aircraft carrier in the North is a purely technical problem and it can be solved.
Look into the future
As soon as we need aircraft carriers, and we can support them, it is worth considering the possibility of building new ships of this type. Everything is very complicated here. At present, Russia has two factors that strictly limit the construction of aircraft carriers — the presence of an appropriate shipyard and the availability of an appropriate main power plant (GEM). These factors are interlinked.
Currently, Russia has two main options for creating a power plant. The first is based on gas turbine engines created on the basis of the M-90FRU gas turbine engine, but in a marching, and not an afterburner, optimized for long-term operation. Such a turbine, of course, will have to be created, but not from scratch, but on the basis of a well-known design in mass production. How real is such a power plant? Will there be enough for an aircraft carrier?
Answer: enough, but easy. Take, for example, the Indian Wikrant, in the creation of which Russia participated. It is equipped with four General Electric LM2500 gas turbine engines, with a capacity of 27500 hp. each - that is, in terms of power, is an analog of the M-90FRU, which also has 27500 hp. Even approximate "estimates" show that the energy of exhaust from four such turbines is quite sufficient to use the recovery boiler to get the right amount of steam for the catapult, and not even one. The Indians really do not have it, but a couple of catapults on a ship the size of a Wikrant would have stood up, and it would have greatly increased its effectiveness in this case.
Lyrical digression for "beginners": catapults never freeze, and on the ship they never freeze because of them, planes fly perfectly from aircraft carriers in cold climates, they deceived you.
Thus, Russia has a chance in five years to get the right turbine for a light aircraft carrier. The problem may be in the gearbox - nobody makes them except the Star-gearbox, and it collects each unit by the corvettes every year, but we have the opportunity to get around this problem - the latest atomic icebreakers are equipped with a full electric propulsion system, which means Russia technically capable of creating the same for a gas turbine power plant. This removes the problem of gearboxes - they simply will not be there.
The third problem remains - where to build. I must say that this is not easy - the Baltic plant could be reconstructed for such a ship, but the Western high-speed diameter of St. Petersburg and the presence of a pipeline on the seabed severely limit any ship or ship being built there in height (52 meters, no more) and draft (under normal conditions - 9,8 meters). Theoretically, it is possible to restore the Zaliv factory in Kerch - its dry dock allows you to build a hull for such an aircraft carrier, some minimal hull work will have to be done outside the dock, this can be done.
But here the questions of the state of the “Gulf” arise, which is corny not ready to build anything more difficult forgive the Lord “patrol ship” of project 22160, and the political question is the passage of the built aircraft carrier through the Bosphorus and Dardanelles. This will happen solely on the goodwill of Turkey, which makes the construction of a ship in the Crimea extremely risky.
SSK Zvezda in Vladivostok is not suitable for the reasons of expensive logistics - the delivery of equipment and components there increases the cost of the finished ship by 1,5-1,8 times, which is hardly acceptable.
Thus, the fastest option is the reconstruction of the slipway at the Baltic Shipyard, and the creation of a lightweight (40 tons) aircraft carrier with gas turbine engines and full electric propulsion (if it is not possible to solve the problem with gearboxes, if it is possible, then electric propulsion is optional), with height and draft allowing go to sea from the Baltic factory.
In extreme cases, the ship can be withdrawn somewhat unfinished, for example, with a dismantled radar, which would then be installed in another place.
But here the problem of our geography arises: in the Barents Sea, where an aircraft carrier will have to carry out combat missions in case of war against the directly territory of our country, there is usually a lot of excitement, and the 40 ton aircraft carrier is simply corny too small to allow continuous use of aviation.
The question then arises: is it possible, using the developments, for example, of the Krylov State Scientific Center in terms of the contours of the underwater part of ships, various types of rocking stabilizers, and the like tricks, to “force” a 40 thousand-ton aircraft carrier to follow the wave at least at the Kuznetsov level " or not. If not, the idea disappears.
And then the question arises differently.
Then you have to build a ship with a displacement of 70-80 thousand tons and a nuclear power plant. I must say right away - it is possible that it will be possible to create an atomic power plant for a ship of this class even easier and faster than a gas turbine one - nuclear power plants are produced for icebreakers. Such a ship satisfies the climatic conditions of any potential theater of operations much better than the hypothetical “Russian Vikrant”. And it is quite possible to create a carrier-based DRLO aircraft under it, like a transport and a tanker, and the number of sorties per day from such a ship can be effortlessly provided at the same level as from the Khmeimim air base.
But only if it is possible to reconstruct the finished production under the “Russian Vikrant”, then it will have to be built for such a ship - there is no dry dock or slipway for such ships in the European part of Russia. There are no cranes with a lifting capacity of 700-1000 tons, there is still much more.
And, what’s the most annoying, for nothing but aircraft carriers they are not needed - Russia will manage to do with almost any task of building anything. The infrastructure necessary for the construction of such a ship is in itself unbearable - it will be needed only for an aircraft carrier, otherwise you can do without these costs.
Here we are in this situation.
The "large" frigates of the 22350M project and the modernized nuclear submarines of the 949AM project, which are being created now, will be able to become a fully-fledged escort for the future Russian aircraft carrier. But the future of the aircraft carrier itself is very vague for the above reasons.
And while this is so, it is worth stopping all talk about the allegedly cancellation of "Admiral Kuznetsov." Despite the need for this class of ships, there will be no alternatives to our only one aircraft carrier for a very long time.