The first show to the public - a further evolution of what we know as the corvette of project 20386
On January 9, 2020, a new round of the epic with the corvetofregate of project 20386 developed by TsMKB Almaz became public. This time, Almaz Central Design Bureau again jumped above its head and finally turned the project into a frigate, moreover, not just a frigate, but nothing more than a frigate of the “ocean zone”.
We look at the photo.
Clearly visible increase in size (and therefore displacement) and new launchers
So what do we see? Fixed one of the drawbacks of the old project - a weak percussion weapon. Now instead of the RK “Uranus” on the model there are two launchers 3C-14, capable of at least using the KR “Caliber”, and, possibly, “Onyxes” and sometime in the future “Zircons”. The launcher in front of the cannon is the Redut launcher. The fact that Admiral Evmenov said about 32 "Caliber" is some kind of mistake, there are obviously 16 missiles in shock weapons and the same number in the anti-aircraft missile launcher.
For this, however, the ship had to be lengthened. Moreover, which is logical, not only the bow, where the "Caliber" sheltered, but also the stern. The reasons, apparently, are the need to avoid constant trim on the nose and the desire to provide contours with greater speed and better seaworthiness, the ship is now no longer in the "near sea zone, capable of" occasionally "performing tasks in the far", but "oceanic". Recall that even the frigate of project 22350, the most powerful warship in its class, belongs to the distant sea zone.
We will return to frigate 22350.
Those who closely monitor the domestic shipbuilding know in detail history with the “corvette” of project 20386. It is worthwhile, however, to retell it in general terms for those who missed this information.
Until recently, we knew him like that.
So, from Soviet times, the main striking force of the Navy is nuclear submarines of various types. However, they are very vulnerable from foreign submarines at the exit from bases and in a number of other cases. Similarly, foreign submarines pose a great threat to domestic surface ships and vessels.
In order to make it extremely difficult for any enemy to act in the near sea zone, small anti-submarine ships — MPC — were built in large numbers in the USSR. Despite their small size and displacement, these boats proved to be very effective anti-submariners in our specific conditions.
After the collapse of the USSR update fleet stopped, the modernization of previously built ships was not carried out. Under these conditions, the number of IPCs was constantly decreasing, Russia's vulnerability to foreign submarines was growing.
The construction of project 2000 corvettes began in the early 20380s. These ships were the first ships capable of fighting submarines built in the post-Soviet era. I must say that they were characterized by a number of both conceptual and design flaws, and the manufacturing quality of the first ships was simply terrifying. There have been changes in contractors, criminal cases, landings ... as a result, everything worked more or less on the Loud, corvette handed over to the Pacific Fleet by the Amur Shipyard.
Of course, even in a fully operational state, these ships were far from ideal. So, they don’t have a radio correction for SAM, which greatly reduces the potential of the Redut anti-aircraft missile system and makes it difficult to repel an air strike. They do not have a bomb, which makes it impossible to fight against NAPL that are lying on the ground and deprives the ship of some other advantages. They have badly located anti-aircraft guns AK-630M. There are questions about the real radar stealth and the justification of a superstructure made of composite materials. The biggest disadvantage of these ships as anti-submarine - there are no anti-submarine missiles (PLUR), which dramatically reduces the potential of this ship as a hunter for submarines. And they are expensive. The price of such a corvette calls into question its mass construction in quantities sufficient to cover BMZ.
In fairness, we will make a reservation that the modernization of the project could solve most of these problems, and the revision of the composition of the REV "in the right direction" on newly built ships - reduce the cost of them.
The corvette 20385 planned to replace this ship had an enhanced weapon composition and more powerful electronic weapons, the basis of which was the multifunctional radar system from Zaslon JSC. He also had 16 launch cells in the Redut anti-aircraft missile launcher instead of 12, and one 3C-14 eight-shot launcher, with which it was possible to launch a wide range of guided missiles, including missile defense systems and missiles of the Caliber family.
However, since 2013, strange things began to happen in the system of domestic shipbuilding. The Navy refused to continue the 20385 series. Today, there is a conviction in society that the reason was the inability to receive imported MTU diesel engines and gearboxes due to sanctions. In practice, information on the cessation of construction of 20385 was voiced in the media before the Ukrainian crisis. Information sources complained about the high cost of the resulting corvette.
The groundwork for the canceled 20385 corvettes in the form of an integrated tower-mast structure and the MF RLC was installed on the last four corvettes under construction of project 20380, which increased their cost even more.
It seemed that, since the corvettes were expensive, it was either necessary to try to make them cheaper or to develop a new, more massive project to upgrade BMZ ships, especially anti-submarine ones. The continuation of the series in a slightly modified form was quite logical from the point of view of inter-ship unification. Instead, a completely different thing happened.
In 2016, the public was presented with a model of the new corvette - project 20386. The ship was distinguished by the highest technical complexity, huge displacement for the corvette, weakened weapon composition compared to 20385, lack of unification with previously built ships in many systems. A lot of technical risks were laid in its design, and, most importantly, it was almost twice as expensive as the Project 20380 corvette, having the same offensive weapons, the same cannon, 4 SAMs and more air defense systems, and worse than 20380 submarine search capabilities. From 20385 it was impossible to compare it at a significantly higher price.
The further history of this project and its analysis was made in the author’s article “More than a crime. The construction of the corvettes of the project 20386 is a mistake ” and in a joint article with M. Klimov “Corvette 20386. Continuation of the scam ». The latter lists the technical risks of the project.
Since then, however, much has changed, and in addition, rumors about the amusing evolution of this project, the details of which were hidden from the public for some time, began to receive material evidence for a long time in the "near fleet".
Probably worth voicing them.
Scandals, intrigues, investigations
Starting from the same 2016, information circulated around the project, which for the time being, remained unconfirmed.
The first was that RK Uran was removed from the project. This, firstly, was logical, because even small RTOs had “Caliber”, and the fact that the ship with “Uraniums” will replace the ship with “Caliber” and “Onyxes” somehow looked strange.
The same sources speculated that in 2016 prices the price of the “corvette” would reach 40 billion rubles, which would “send” it to almost the same price niche in which there is an incomparably more powerful and truly worthy warship - project 22350 frigate.
A little later, closer to 2018, another source, quite informed, informed the author that "a larger ship and a displacement, and a more expensive, actually a frigate, are already being worked out to replace 20386." The source did not provide details, but as we can see, he was right: at least some work is underway. In light of the fact that the 22350 series was in doubt and there were no bookmarks for the ships of this project for a long time, the information about replacing them with something corvette-shaped, and even for the same money, sounded frightening.
And again, according to the same source, at the Almaz Central Design Bureau, some figures have the bold idea of "crawling" into the niche of creating ships of large classes than Almaz has always done in the past.
Finally, after the publication of the second article, the author received a short message stating that “6” will be different ”.
All of the above gave reason to think that the project is actually undergoing some kind of processing. It is possible that the appearance of the lead ship will remain more or less close to the known, and serial ones are planned with changes. At the same time, the project number may remain the same, in modern Russia there is no need to look for examples of how the project was completely redone under the same number; everything has already been found.
Future Options and Risks
In order to build any forecasts, you need to know exactly what the model shown is. “Corvette based on project 20386” is written on the tablet, that is, it cannot be guaranteed that it is precisely amended 20386 and that it is being built in exactly the same way, although it is impossible to deny it, especially considering rumors from the past that suddenly began to be confirmed in large numbers.
Therefore, we will evaluate the project as if it were a separate project, and not one, 20386, which, since the end of 2018 (two years after laying), began to be built at the Severnaya Verf shipyard.
Firstly, this is definitely a frigate. He is big as a frigate, heavy as a frigate and armed like a frigate. Thus, this ship is already cutting off not only updating BMZ forces, like the “old” 20386, but is aiming to replace 22350. Of course, it is unlikely that they will sacrifice a series of 22350 for the sake of this project, but now, but when at least 22350M appears in the drawings, it’s quite possible that someone will try to push the idea of a “light frigate” plus it, which in itself, separately from 20386, is quite good, but we need to clearly imagine what this “light frigate” will do under our specific conditions .
And why should it be that way.
So far, it’s obvious that this ship is not anti-submarine - the dimensions of the GAS fairing make it impossible to think that its main task will be to combat submarines, and it is better to have two helicopters for the anti-submarine frigate. Although using a towed GAS, a helicopter and an anti-submarine missile system from 3C-14, it is possible to deal with submarines, there are no clearly expressed features of an anti-submarine ship in this project.
Obviously, this is not an air defense ship - it has few missiles, it is not possible to simultaneously fire from a cannon and an air defense system, and the two AK-306s installed on the superstructure behind the GTU gas ducts are just some kind of anecdote.
That he has? He has 16 cruise or anti-ship missiles. This is the same as the first four frigates of 22350 have. That is, we have before us a certain edition of the strike ship, but light, and obtained by processing a completely different project.
That is, it is “just a ship” - a light frigate, invented without an explicit concept of combat use. The result of blind evolution, which did not come from tasks, but just like that - faster, more, more expensive.
Its advantages, apparently, will be speed and range. Cons - complexity, price and the fact that this is again a duplicate project in relation to frigate 22350.
Thus, such a ship, if there is now 22350, does not make sense at all, and then, when 22350 changes to 22350M, then a light frigate will apparently be needed, but different.
Returning to frigate 22350, it is worth saying that the abstraction from "Diamond" does not withstand comparison with it from the word "completely." It can be assumed that, theoretically, the diamond super corvette / light frigate may have higher speed and range. But even so, that makes little difference. The frigate 22350 has a total superiority in air defense due to the twice as much ammunition of the missile defense system and the more advanced Poliment radar, it has much more advanced air defense systems of the near zone, it has a more powerful ASG and is better able to deal with submarines, it has a more powerful gun (130 mm), his outermost two ships have 24 missile cells in 3C-14 installations against 16, and he is already in the series.
Today, Russia already has a frigate project in mass production - 22350. This ship is multiple times more powerful, which means it is more useful than any variation of 20386. In addition, it is produced in series. There is no reason for TsMKB Almaz to spend budgetary funds on unnecessary ships in the same class.
We have a gigantic, monstrous in scale hole in the defense of the near sea zone - there are no forces capable of ensuring the deployment of nuclear strategic nuclear forces, and there are no forces capable of ensuring the deployment of a submarine. Old IPCs are dying, instead of modernization in the direction of cost reduction, it was complicated (MF RLK) and then “slaughtered”, the 20380 series was completed on two ships, although its simplified version could also become the BMZ base ship, when the construction of such large corvettes still there was a time.
We have huge problems with mine forces. And if the difficulties in building new minesweepers are understandable (but not their design - it is inexplicable), then the complete absence of attempts to modernize existing ships gives away not even stupidity, but betrayal. In our country, neither anti-submarine aircraft nor anti-submarine helicopters are produced.
We really have a lot to spend without the “old” 20386, not to mention the “new”. All this was true when this crazy project was just launched, and right now, when for some reason we were shown the model of a frigate made on its basis, even more expensive.
And if, in fact, under the brand name of the “old” 20386 models, a new one with “Caliber” and a corresponding increase in price is already being built, then this will have no justification at all, because one such unnecessary overgrowth corvette will “eat” at least three ships easier .
The Almaz TsMKB has many talented designers who are capable of developing world-class ships using obviously low-tech components. There are interesting developments on the ships of the near sea zone. Have experience. There is the ability to finally give the country what it has long needed - a project of a massive simple and inexpensive ship BMZ, which can replace MRK and MPK. There are also such projects.
Instead, we see a long-standing epic of budget development in any way possible, of increasing the number of OCDs at the cost of seriality, which the TsMKB itself contributed a lot to through its leaders, and other shameful ways to get public money. Alas, yesterday’s model is from the same place, and has the same purpose. Responsibility for all of the above lies with the management of this company.
I would like to believe that fornication with gigantic and super-expensive corvettes and frigates growing from them, expensive but weak against the background of competitors already under construction (22350), will someday end, and this design bureau will again, as before, serve the country's defenses.
Who would only finally achieve this!