Most Russian ships are small ships. But you can’t call it balanced light forces. These are the remnants of the USSR Navy and a number of unsystematically tuned ships
Assessing what the fleet’s naval composition should be, it will inevitably have to resolve a number of contradictions: forces that are optimal for some tasks are not applicable if tasks change, universal ships are ships that poorly solve very many problems, but good only some, and the fleet which has the optimal “tools” for any task in sufficient quantities, is impossible for economic reasons, and what is important to understand, is impossible in principle for no one, and not only for Russia.
Here are some examples. It is economically possible to focus on small ships, but they themselves are devoid of combat stability and are easily destroyed by a serious enemy, see article "The harmful myth of the mosquito fleet". Many tasks that can be solved with small ships can be solved by large ships, but here economics and demography come into play: even a rich country will have difficulty recruiting the right number of crews and financing the fleet, in which destroyers are assigned the tasks of corvettes. In addition, the life cycle of such a ship is much more expensive than that of a corvette, and it can only solve some problems with a helicopter.
For example, a missile boat can get ahead of the enemy in a maneuver, launch a high-speed attack, and launch a missile on an enemy ship from a favorable position due to a speed of 43-45 knots, and the frigate will not be able to shoot expensive expensive long-range missiles, or use a shipborne helicopter armed with missiles or even a couple.
But there may be no target designation, and the weather may not allow helicopters to fly. On the other hand, boats with a high degree of probability can be killed by enemy aircraft. As it happened, for example, with Iraqi boats in 1980, and with them in 1991.
As you can see, there are a lot of contradictions.
The USSR resolved this issue by creating specialized ships for each task and creating naval fighter and missile aircraft. Rocket boats and small missile ships, in the far sea zone, could be attacked by surface ships, except aircraft and submarines, by modernized BODs (for example, Project 61PM ships equipped with anti-ship missiles), missile cruisers of various types - from Project 58 to Orlan, later aircraft carriers cruisers. Small anti-submarine ships in the BMZ were in charge of anti-submarine defense, project 1135 BPCs (later reclassified to SKR) in BMZ and DMZ, 61, whole anti-submarine helicopter carriers cruiser 1123, project 1134A and 1134B, then 1155, 11551 ...
This system had a giant minus - it was just incredibly huge and required a lot of money. Even the USSR, with its power, could not stand the arms race at the time, to say nothing of today's Russia. Russia will have to “combine the incompatible” and build a powerful and efficient fleet - but cheaply. Is it possible? Yes it is possible. Let us examine what approaches to surface forces will have to be guided in order to do this.
Light forces and their place in the Navy system
We will call the “light” forces the Navy surface formations, consisting mainly of small ships from boats to corvettes, inclusive. This is an unprofessional term, but intuitive for a civilian. Why does the fleet need such forces?
There is such an eloquent example, as a comparison of the intensity of operation of the BOD of projects 61 and 1135 on the one hand, and small IPC projects 1124 on the other. The captain of the 1st rank A.E. wrote about this. Soldiers in his memoirs "Admiral Routes":
Now about the cost - effectiveness. There were other beautiful anti-submarine ships. For example: BOD pr. 61 and pr. 1135 (1135A), which subsequently, modestly transferred to patrol ships of the second rank. But project 61 differed from project 159 (159A) only in large displacement, number of crew, gluttony of gas turbine engines and high cost of maintenance. Armament and sonar were almost the same, the crew was almost double the rank of the second. Of particular pride is the architecture and gas turbine power plant, it is really beautiful - “The Singing Frigate”. But it is impossible to fight with submarines alone. But the 1135M, in addition to the wing-mounted GAS, already had a towed hydro-acoustic station (BGAS) “Vega” MG-325, which combined the advantages of the winged and lowered GAS, because the BGAS antenna could be towed at a given depth (within the TTD). True, the ship commanders really did not like to use BGAS because of the danger of losing the towed antenna. So, it is no coincidence that they were reclassified to watchdogs. They were practically not allowed to engage in anti-submarine training, but kept in bases because of the high cost of operation. On fuel, which one ship with two gas-turbine power plants consumed for a daily exit to the sea, the KPUG, consisting of three ships of Pr. 1124, could search for submarines for three days!
For reference. KPUG - ship search and strike group, so-called small (3-4 units) detachments of anti-submarine ships that perform tasks of group search and, in case of war, the destruction of enemy submarines.
What is important for us here? The financial issue is important - small ships, firstly, cost less, require smaller crews, and, very importantly, require less fuel. For a period of 25-30 years, the savings are huge. In addition, focusing on “light forces” you can have more fleets for the same money - literally.
The disadvantages are mentioned above, in addition, such ships cannot conduct high-intensity military operations in the far sea zone. Drive one submarine or sink a couple of transports - please.
To become an instrument for breaking into the defense of a large ship’s strike group or even an aircraft carrier group, to fight with heavy ships, to “work” as part of a ship’s strike group (CGM) in the open ocean is not. Little autonomy, little weapons on board, severe restrictions on the use of weapons on pitching, a strong drop in maximum speed on pitching, inability to repel massive air and missile attacks, inability to work together with aviation outside the combat radius of base (ground) aviation.
The conclusion is simple - those tasks that the "light forces" perform better than the "heavy" must be solved precisely by light forces, while on the one hand, their number should not be too large, otherwise they will "eat up" the resources that are needed for others forces, and on the other hand, they must act together with the "heavy forces", which will have to provide them with combat stability and protect them from attacks of a potential enemy. The question, therefore, is in finding the optimal balance between light and cheap ships on the one hand, and large and expensive on the other. And also in their optimal appearance.
Considering that the conduct of offensive military operations by Russia against some third world countries is much more likely than the defense of its territory during the global war, our “light forces” should not be a strictly defensive tool in order to fight only on their own shore. They should be able to be used for offensive purposes, at least for secondary tasks.
Given that Russia is not the USSR, and, firstly, it does not have so much money, and secondly, it has already seen the collapse of the country, these ships cannot, with rare exceptions, repeat the Soviet concept, when for most tasks there were specialized ships . In most cases, ships should be multi-purpose.
Further we start from tasks.
We list the tasks that small ships and the main threats to them can effectively solve. Based on the list of these tasks, it will already be possible to “make an approach” to determine the optimal appearance of “light forces”.
Anti-submarine defense. No matter how far the progress strides, the quantity matters. A large number of ships using combined means of searching for submarines, for example, low-frequency omitted hydroacoustic stations when working from a stop and towed hydroacoustic stations when working on the go, as well as various sources of external low-frequency “backlight” (from GAS-emitters on some ships that give “backlight” »For others, up to special ammunition for bombing, the practical feasibility of which has already been proven), allows you to create very effective movable anti-submarine lines, which the submarine simply cannot overcome condition. This is especially important when the task is to prevent the breakthrough of foreign submarines in one or another water area. To form such lines, the number of ships is still important, they need a lot, and since we traditionally have little money, these should be cheap ships, both on their own and in operation (for example, “for fuel”). No less important are such qualities in the anti-submarine guarding of convoys and landing troops at the transition.
Protection of the water area (separately from the tasks on the PLO). Small ships can perform the tasks of protecting the designated area near the coastline or man-made object at sea from the penetration of "light" enemy forces, subversive and reconnaissance groups on speed boats and other watercraft, speed boats and boats trying to carry out mine-setting, in some cases - by helicopter. Also, light forces can effectively block any designated areas, provided that dominance is achieved in the air and at sea.
Striking cruise missiles along the coast from a large number of dispersed platforms, an example of which was the combat use of the Caspian Flotilla’s RTOs against terrorists in Syria. RTOs as an example of a ship are unsuccessful, it itself is conceptually unsuitable for the fleet of the future and this issue will be considered separately, as long as we take the principle that small ships can do this, and the enemy cannot (under a number of conditions) destroy them all simultaneously.
Tracking weapons. During a threatened period, a small ship can monitor enemy naval groups in the near sea zone under a number of conditions (for example, it must be used in appropriate weather conditions so that a priori less seaworthiness compared to a large ship does not prevent it from performing a wave task).
Destruction of enemy surface ships.
Support for landing operations - protection from submarines, surface ships and single aircraft at the transition, fire support by conducting artillery fire along the coast. Here we again come to the conclusion that there are more ships - more artillery barrels, and the example of the same corvettes suggests that it can be a 100 mm gun.
In this case, it is impossible to reduce the actions of light forces to the defense of their territory or work in their BMZ - this is not true. Offensive actions are quite “tough” with light forces, and not only in the near sea zone, but also near the enemy’s coast.
Examples of such places are the Norwegian fjords, the straits between the Kuril Islands, the straits between the Aleutian Islands, some parts of the Baltic Sea, the South China Sea, the Philippines, the Aegean Sea, the Caribbean Sea. Small ships are capable of carrying out effective attacks of the naval forces of the enemy, his units of warships, transport ships, individual ships and ships, subject to the achievement of air supremacy, or at least ensuring that the enemy is unable to use aviation in the absence of his own aviation, too, and more before the seizure of dominance at sea. And the need to use them and away from their shores (and close to strangers) requires taking seaworthiness seriously - even a small ship should be able to storm and move with strong excitement. And this is quite feasible.
What's in the red? In the air defense minus. And that is the problem. When providing any KPUG or KUG ship from the light forces with reconnaissance information, an attempt to withdraw a group from an air strike can be made with the same or great success as for large ships. But if the exit didn’t work out and the enemy strikes, then the Iranian Operation “Pearl” is repeated for the Iraqis or the shooting at Bubiyan for them - the aircraft will simply gobble up small ships and not choke. It has always been so.
For small ships, it is technically impossible to provide the power of ship’s air defense sufficient to independently repel massive air strikes.
Another problem is the battle with large surface ships of the enemy - the latter can simply hit a relatively small salvo of small ships with their own air defense systems, but the opposite is not the fact that it turns out to be true - the vertical launch installations, which are today the de facto standard for warships, can form a large salvo of anti-ship missiles. At the same time, a large ship can survive the hit of one anti-ship missile system and even maintain limited combat effectiveness, and with small ones it will not work, there is one rocket and the end, at best, the charred skeleton of the ship can be towed for repair. This limitation dictates requirements for the number of attacking units, the number of missiles at them, their speed both in attack and at its exit and withdrawal, to stealth in the radar and infrared range. We will come back to this too.
So, the tasks are clear, consider what tools they can be addressed. As well as how the composition of light forces, their interaction with other forces, is affected by the limitations on combat use that they have.
Options for the composition of light forces, their disadvantages and advantages
As already mentioned, it is necessary to immediately put aside the idea that a separate ship is needed for each task - simply because it will be too much for the budget. Accordingly, ships should be multi-purpose, except for those tasks that a normal ship made at a realistic level of technology cannot be solved. Then a specialized ship will be used.
We make an assumption and suppose that we want to solve all the problems listed above with one ship. We’ll check if this is possible, and what kind of ship it should be, what features it should have.
First, consider weapons and weapons.
So, to accomplish missile defense tasks, we need: a sonar system (SAC), a launcher for anti-submarine missiles (PLUR), preferably at least a small bomb, such as RBU-1000, the Package-NK complex, preferably redesigned to use torpedo tubes instead launcher with TPK. In this case, the HAC may include both towed, and hardened or bulb and lowered hydroacoustic stations (GAS).
Need a radar system. Since a small ship cannot resist massive air strikes or powerful missile salvoes, it makes no sense to deploy a powerful and expensive radar with fixed large-sized canvases - all the same, there will be no missiles on board in the right amount, and it’s better to save. So, it can be a relatively simple complex.
In addition, when solving OVR tasks, a gun is required, some missiles to destroy surface targets, preferably simpler and cheaper.
To conduct offensive operations, the same gun, the same missiles are needed, but now it’s not simpler and cheaper, but more efficient. And they are also needed for tracking weapons.
What is necessary in order for such a ship to deliver cruise missile attacks over long distances? Need a universal launcher 3C-14 for "Gauges." But, in fact, for the anti-ship missiles needed in a serious war, it is needed the same as for the anti-submarine PLUR needed.
The tasks to support the landing are solved the same with the caveat that the gun is needed from 100 mm.
What else do we need? We need a helicopter. To perform tasks on PLO. But here we need to make a reservation - in principle, we need a helicopter, where it will be based - this is another matter. It just has to be by itself, it’s not necessary to have all the infrastructure on the ship for it.
But even if it will be - also not bad.
Now imagine our ship.
Photo collage. REV from the usual 20380 (and in fact it is even possible to radar from Karakurt, it may turn out even better), PU 3S-14 for offensive missile weapons (Caliber, Onyx, Zircon, PLUR), PU Uranus and SAM with 16 rockets at the stern. More powerful than 20385 and apparently cheaper
So, option 1 is our good old 20385. But, an important caveat, it removed the multifunctional radar from Zaslon, as a totally redundant system for a mass ship of this type, a simplified radar system was used (on this model - like the first 20380, there is a tower with “Furke”, “Puma” and “Monument”, it’s really not necessary to do just that, there are options both cheaper, and easier and better - at the same time), launchers of RK “Uranus” are delivered to the vacant volumes. Experts argue that if you use a radar complex on a similar ship that was used at Karakurt RTOs and use a simplified steel instead of a composite superstructure, the cost of the ship can be reduced to 17-18 billion rubles at current prices.
This is less than a pair of RTOs. Our ship satisfies the list of tasks that were listed above almost completely. He has a hull, there is a cannon, there are rockets, and different, both expensive (Onyx, Caliber, in the future Zircons), and cheaper Uranus. He carries an anti-submarine helicopter on board, and if you design such a ship again (a simplified version is in any case a new project), then you can also provide a strike Ka-52K. It is possible to envisage a missed ASU that is absent on this project and a bomb on a newly designed ship can also be “registered", even if it is small.
Such a ship can also inflict cruise missile attacks. Can it be considered cheap and massive? Quite. For 1,8 prices MRK Navy will receive a replacement for MRK, and also a replacement for the IPC, as well as a replacement for TFR. In terms of anti-submarine capabilities, such a ship is several times superior to the old TFRs of project 1135 and frigates of project 11356, closely approaching ships that are a class higher.
Such a ship can even carry out an interbase transition to another ocean - the Baltic corvettes went to the Red Sea, which proves their ability to make transitions to the Indian Ocean, which means such ships would find themselves in an offensive war somewhere far from our shores.
What are the disadvantages of such a ship? Cons are.
For warfare in some complex coastal areas (skerries, fjords, archipelagos), among the channels and shallow water, it is too big. He has a big draft - 7,5 meters on the bulb, this is due to the large bulb GAS Zarya. For the same reason, such ships cannot be built in factories that are located on inland waterways, except for the Amur River - it will not pass along most rivers.
What else? And he lacks speed. The best representatives of the project 20380 reached the move to 26 knots with the project 27 knots. The speed value will be considered a little later, for now, just remember this. Of course, if you design the ship again, then “playing” with contours and propellers, you can speed up, but how much is an open question.
Nevertheless, even taking all of the above into account, such a ship could very well become the basis of the “light forces”.
Option 2. If we talk about mass character, then the simplified version of 20385 with reinforced, oddly enough, weapons can be beaten by the creation of Zelenodolsky Design Bureau. The model in the picture is assigned the index 11664, but there are other options on the same case.
A couple of options for the corvette based on the 1166 case. The most interesting, alas, was not shown. ZRAK in this place will icy wildly. If it is "Shell-M", then also water dust will interfere with aiming. ZRAK must be removed aft
A corvette based on the project 1166 building can also serve as a base for the “light forces”. What are its advantages in comparison with the reference above 2038X?
Firstly, it is cheaper. Generally speaking, it is quite difficult to calculate the price of a ship that is not yet there, but most likely its price will be somewhere in the range of 13-15 billion. It has less draft and smaller size, which means that it can be built at a larger number of plants (including Zelenodolsk itself) and has less restrictions on conducting military operations in shallow areas. For the cost of ten 2038X, you could probably get 12-13 1166X. Even with the same GEM of two DDA-12000 units, a ship with a Zelenodolsky hull will most likely be a little faster. On it you can ensure the constant basing of the helicopter, but the conditions for its storage will be worse, there will be less fuel on board. At one time, the fleet rejected such a ship, wanting to get a more “cool” 20380. As a result, however, it was left almost without ships.
Other disadvantages of the project are also obvious - a simpler sonar station “Platinum-M”, “Zarya” will not fit there, all missile weapons are located in the 3C-14 installation, there is simply nowhere to add more missiles. In general, the ship is a little faster, a little cheaper, a little more massive, worse, like an anti-submarine and with weaker rocket weapons. As well as the previous version, it replaces the RTOs when striking along the coast with cruise missiles. The most important difference is that if the 2038X has a Redut air defense system with 16 missiles, which, with a sane radar, will also go where it should, then the Zelenodolsk project does not have any air defense systems, it has an air defense system, and it is extremely poorly located. It would be much more logical to place it at the stern, and to lay an artillery gun in air defense tasks from bow course angles. By the way, in this case it will have to be made 76 mm, since such a gun is better than an 100 mm as an anti-aircraft gun. But she is worse in everything else. The differences between 100 and 76 mm guns are especially critical when shooting along the coast - the expenditure of shells on the same typical target with a 76 mm gun is XNUMX times higher. But there will be no choice - the weakness of the air defense of the ship does not leave him.
You can, however, go even further and simplify the ship even more, losing in the combat power of each individual ship, while winning in their quantity.
Option 3. So, the well-known Chinese project 056. One of the most massive warships in the world. Two diesel engines, two shaft lines, a 76-mm gun, small-sized cheap anti-ship missiles, self-defense air defense aft. There is no hangar for a helicopter at all, there is only a landing pad and a fuel supply.
Type "056", also known by the name of the lead ship as type "Qingdao". A model of simplicity and mass, but not without flaws
There is a towed GAS, there is a surname, the latter, sort of like a subspecies of the Russian Platinum. Simplicity and cheapness as it is. There is a truth and a nuance - the inclined launchers for Chinese anti-ship missiles YJ-83 allow launching new Chinese anti-ship missiles with a range of up to 50 kilometers - here the Chinese technologically gave us “as young” - in Russia such a project was killed during various near-naval intrigues many years ago, but the Chinese brought everything to metal. We wouldn’t be bothered by such an option for real and serial 20380, such missiles are very much asking for it, but what’s not there isn’t. There are normal torpedo tubes of caliber 324 mm - we just have to finish it before, apparently for this we will have to lose some war with great losses.
Russia is quite capable of producing such ships. Our engines are slightly weaker than those used by the Chinese, the maximum diesel power SEMT Pielstick used on the Chinese corvette is greater than our Kolomensky 16D49 at 1400 hp. We do not have a compact rotary launcher for self-defense air defense systems, similar to the American RAM, which the Chinese install on their corvettes.
But, to tell the truth, this cannot stop us if we have to build “light forces” around such ships - the same as that used on Project 22160 patrol ships, that is, two DRRA6000 diesel engines, each of which includes engine 16D49 Kolomensky plant with a maximum power of 6000 hp and gear transmission RRP6000. With all the disadvantages of such a power plant (low power and too bulky and heavy transmission), it is quite possible to create a similar warship around it, but you will have to win back the lack of power by the contours of the hull. In principle, this cannot be considered impossible.
The place of the Chinese self-defense air defense system will be completely taken by the Pantsir-M, instead of the Chinese anti-ship missiles the vertical 3C-14 will completely “stand up”, which will again provide for the launch of the missile launchers on ground targets and anti-aircraft missiles, and even more than the Chinese ammunition and more powerful missiles . RLK will also get serial, from Karakurt. The productivity of the Kolomensky Zavod and Zvezda-reduktor LLC will allow it to build a couple of such ships a year, if necessary, without any additional investments in infrastructure. True, having invested a penny in a couple of stands for assembling and testing gearboxes and units, you can order large corvettes in the same quantity, but they are more expensive.
What are the benefits of “Russian 056”? Price and production time. Such a ship will cost 11-12 billion rubles and it can be laid literally at any shipyard in the country. About two units a year right now. The minuses are also clear - in comparison with 1166X it will not have conditions for basing a helicopter, the latter can only make a short landing on it for refueling and replenishing ammunition.
Speed is critical - the Chinese ship is unacceptably slow, we, with the mass of our units and lower diesel power, will have to try very hard not just to keep up with them, but to get the normal speed.
Another critical point is that in such a small ship, in a rather acute form, restrictions on the use of weapons begin to arise due to unrest and a drop in speed with great unrest. It is impossible to do something here without high costs and expensive technical solutions, and even these expensive solutions will not solve all the problems - some types of rolling can only be eliminated due to the size of the ship and nothing else. This flaw of the hypothetical “Russian 056” must be clearly kept in mind. However, something here you can "win back" due to the contours.
With the fire support of the landing, everything will also be “not very”, as with the 1166X - a 76 mm caliber gun for shooting along the coast is far from the best option, but, again - there is no choice with such air defense.
Nevertheless, a similar ship can also become a base for light forces. But this option is not the last.
Option 4. As mentioned earlier in the article “Step in the right direction. The multi-purpose project "Karakurt" (PLO) » the ship that we know as the Karakurt RTO could initially be multi-purpose. And even had to be. However, this is now quite real.
One of the early projects of a multi-purpose ship based on the Karakurt. Unfortunately, THIS MOST project was not shown. Till.
The internal volumes of “Karakurt” make it possible to reconfigure this ship and create on its basis a small corvette that would be able to carry out both the tasks that are assigned to the RTOs today and those that performed and are fulfilling the old MPC. At the same time, its composition of weapons on board will be as follows - a 76-mm gun, a 3S-14 launcher, the Pantsir-M air defense missile system, and Pack-NK launchers, apparently installed across the ship, above the hull frames (to compensate for recoil) Naturally, without the possibility of recharging. Although in the right way it would be still develop a light torpedo tube - then the “Karakurt PLO” would have increased ammunition, and the requirements for the installation site of the SL would be much more lenient.
The GAS on such a ship is likely to get towed and lowered, which, in principle, would be enough for the mass use of such ships, although it would not be superfluous. The disadvantages of such a ship are clear - everything is the same as that of the “Russian 056”, and even the complete lack of the ability to land a helicopter - in the best case, you can attach a compact platform to which you can lower some cargo on a cable or lift a wounded from it, no more . Speed will be a plus - such a ship will be clearly faster than all the options listed above.
And of course, these options are not the only ones possible. The ship subsystems produced in Russia make it possible to come up with many other options, which are quite “working”.
Interaction with BNK
It is easy to see that whichever of these ships becomes the base for the future “light forces”, and all of them are related in one thing - insufficient air defense, which, in principle, has already been mentioned. And since we plan to use such forces, we must immediately resolve the issue of air defense. Let us immediately clarify why aviation from the coast cannot completely solve the problem with air defense.
Article “We are building a fleet. Wrong ideas, wrong concepts ” an example was analyzed with the reflection of an enemy aircraft attack on a naval strike group, and in some ideal, almost unattainable conditions, when there is a reliable radar field for many hundreds of kilometers. And even in this case, the chances of aviation on alert at the airport are minimal or even zero.
In principle, the combat experience confirms this: the Iranian operation “Pearl” in 1980 ended just like that - Iraqi boats were simply killed in about a four-minute attack. The only thing that matters is the presence of fighter aircraft on combat duty in the air. But it is impossible to hold large forces in the air, and small aviation forces will only mitigate the enemy’s strike, but they will not be able to repel it.
These examples quite sufficiently substantiate a huge problem that light forces themselves will not solve - air defense.
And here we need a means of giving the light forces the very lack of combat stability - large surface ships.
Of all the above options for the base ship of "light" forces, the corvette based on project 20385 is the most capable of air defense, the least hypothetical is the "Russian 056".
Accordingly, to protect the hypothetical 2038X we will need an air defense ship of the same force, to protect everything else a little less. In the future, when the process of shaping the appearance of warships will be returned back to a scientific basis, this will be an important point - saving on a corvette, we spend additional money on an air defense ship and this must be taken into account.
What kind of ship should this be? It can be something similar to frigate of project 22350. Perhaps, it is simply he himself. Acting in conjunction with a couple of duty fighter units in the air, and, in fact, protected by corvettes, such a ship by the fact of its presence in the KPUG or KUG (ship strike group) of small ships will make an attack on them a rather expensive event. At the same time, it will not hurt to strengthen the ship group and a couple of frigates if the danger of an air attack grows.
In the future, however, it will be necessary to depart from such use of the frigates of project 22350. These ships will be needed for more serious offensive missions. At present, Russia is developing a “large” frigate of project 22350M, a fully gas turbine ship with a significantly enhanced composition of missile weapons, and, hopefully, a couple of helicopters.
It is to be expected that as soon as a lead ship of this type completes state tests and enters the Navy, the construction of the 22350 familiar to us will probably be stopped, and instead of it the place of the most powerful domestic URO ship will take 22350M. This, in general, is good and right if everything works out as it should.
However, the 22350M is an attack ship, the task of which is not to graze corvettes, but in high-intensity offensive operations in the DMZ, otherwise there is no need to create it.
And in this case, it turns out to be beneficial for Russia to develop an easy and relatively simple air defense frigate, possibly completely diesel, in which both anti-submarine and offensive capabilities would be at the level of a corvette, and only in terms of air defense and seaworthiness would it have significant superiority over light ships. Such a ship would be substantially cheaper than 22350, and, in general, universal enough to use it not only for air defense of "light" forces. It is especially important that he can carry two helicopters on board, and it is desirable that these could be AWACS helicopters if necessary (the width of his hangars should allow them to be based on board).
Thus, a scheme emerges - small ships, whether it is a 2038X level corvette or the conditional "multi-purpose" Karakurt "perform all of the above combat missions, and so that they are not interrupted by air strikes, a couple of interceptor links are on duty over the area in which they operate on water one or two light air defense frigates. Which, in other conditions, can perform tasks independently.
At the same time, both corvettes and a light frigate should be created in a complex - for example, if helicopters (2038X and 1166X) can be based on corvettes, then the presence of a pair of helicopters on each frigate is not so critical and you can donate one hangar to save money (although this is very strong not advisable). And if “Russian 056” or “multipurpose“ Karakurt ”are fighting with us, then it’s absolutely impossible to sacrifice a hangar and each ship must carry a couple of helicopters. So it will be possible to give the KKE even a little anti-submarine helicopters “here and now”, and not on the shore. At a great distance from the coast, this can be important.
It should also be understood that all possible light corvettes except 2038X will have 76-mm guns, unsuitable for shooting along the coast, which means that this task will largely fall on frigates, which dictates only a 100-mm or larger gun on it , and increased barrel life and ammunition.
Theoretically, a brigade of surface ships (brnk), which we call “light” forces in the article, could have two divisions of four ships each, which in wartime would form the desired ship groups, for example two, and frigates would be given command fleet, from one to two per brnk. In exceptional cases, up to three.
However, we lack something in this scheme. None of the above types of ships has one important property, which is often necessary for strikes on enemy surface ships - speed.
The value of speed and how to attack surface ships?
In the article “Building a Fleet. Attacks of the weak, loss of the strong ”one of the universal rules was formulated - so that the weakest side in a naval war had a chance of victory over the strongest side, it should have superiority in speed.
Alas, with the above options for warships, this is not a dream. The same corvette 20380 in its perfect condition is much slower than the destroyer Arly Burke, and with increasing excitement, this difference grows.
Can this be neglected? In the case of light forces, partly yes. Almost all of the tasks listed above can well be solved at 25-26 nodes. This is for the forces fighting in the DMZ, where you can’t count on the rapid emergence of your aircraft from the coast, where it is easy to stumble on the totally superior enemy forces and find yourself in a situation of “breaking contact or dying,” speed superiority is simply critical. For light forces, which either operate in their BMZ, under the cover of “heavy” and aviation from the coast, or operate on foreign coasts, but then, when the “heavy” forces have already thoroughly undermined the enemy’s ability to resist and you just need to kill him, the speed is not so critical. It is needed and important, for example, with a quick change in the search region for submarines, but its drawback is not fatal, although harmful.
In addition to one task for which speed is critical. We are talking about one of the tasks from the list above - about hitting surface ships.
What is essential for attacking enemy surface ships? You need to get ahead of them in the transition to the designated area, you need to preempt them in a maneuver, at the exit to the line of launch of their missiles, and in retreat. Small ships cannot fight with the exchange of blows until the enemy is completely destroyed, they carry out attacks and retreat, then, if necessary, carry out attacks again. The battle with ships in the performance of light forces is "volley" in nature and consists of alternating attacks and waste. And in order to minimize the time during which the enemy himself can attack, and also to prevent him from breaking the contact and leaving the battle, speed superiority is needed. Or, at least, so that the enemy did not have one.
In the modern world, it is accepted that the main means of destruction of surface ships are combat aircraft and submarines. However, these forces have a drawback - they are not able to hold the water area behind them. Only surface ships can do this. Also, only surface ships can ensure the guaranteed inability to use enemy sea lanes. It is very difficult for submarines to stop the movement of warships at high speed (29-30 knots or more), and aviation in numbers sufficient to suppress any ship’s air defense cannot “hang in the air” forever. An example of the Great Patriotic War, when high-speed ships sailed to Sevastopol without air cover and in conditions of enemy domination in the air, is very indicative and it is still relevant.
And this means that in some cases the enemy will have to use his NK to act against our forces. But which ones? Destroyers of one and a half billion dollars per unit? Not. For such purposes, there are other ships.
For example, Japanese "patrol ships" of the Hayabusa type, with a displacement of 240 tons, they are armed with four Japanese anti-ship missiles Type 90 (analogous to Harpoon or our Uranus), 76 mm cannon, and two 12,7 mm machine guns . GEM - three turbines and three water cannons. Speed - 46 knots.
"Patrol" (the Japanese do not call everything by their proper names, masking their creeping remilitarization) boat "Hayabusa".
And here is the Norwegian Skjold. Displacement 274 tons. Due to aerostatic air unloading of the hull, its speed at zero waves exceeds 60 knots. With three points - 45. Armament - eight barely visible anti-ship missiles NSM, which today are perhaps the best small-sized anti-ship missiles in the world. In any case, neither our Uranus nor the American Harpoon stood with them. And traditionally - 76 graph paper. At the same time, the Skjold is also inconspicuous - its missiles are removed in the hull, and the hull forms are specially made so that the ship was difficult to detect. Like the Hayabusa, turbines were used as engines for the Norwegian ship.
That is, they do not save on power plants at such ships, they save on everything else. Because speed.
In fact, there are many examples - almost all of our neighbors have similar high-speed units in one form or another.
Recently, a high-speed warship, which not only formally exists and is in combat, but also something really can appear, appeared among the Americans. It is, oddly enough, about LCS - this sample drank public money, fortunately not our sample and not our money.
There was a useless freak, a useful and dangerous freak became. LCS type "Independence" armed with anti-ship missiles Koensberg Naval Strike Missile NSM. And also the UR “Hellfire” launcher to repel mass attacks of small boats and boats, a 57-mm automatic cannon capable of firing shells with programmable detonation, a combat helicopter with anti-ship missiles “Penguin” or UR “Hellfire”, and UAVs for reconnaissance. The stealth hull and the speed of a missile boat
Something, however, is changing - today in the US Navy there is a program for installing Koensberg NSM anti-ship missiles on these ships. And that all changes. A suitcase without a handle suddenly turns into a ship with guided missile weapons capable of supporting a course of 44 or 47 knots for a long time. Add to this the ability to carry a helicopter armed with anti-ship missiles and we have to admit that now the combat value of these ships is very far from zero. Of course, the air defense problem remains, but the Americans rarely go on the attack without ensuring air supremacy.
So, if some enemy climbs to our shore to fight surface ships, then they will have a common and key property - high speed. No one will ever send an expensive and slow missile destroyer to a meat grinder.
Similarly, start a blockade of some coast of Russia, and such high-speed units armed with massive and cheap missiles will fight with its fleet. And this is exactly what we need to prepare for.
Of course, a helicopter is an ideal tool against such ships. But, as already mentioned, aviation cannot always fly, and it cannot hold the water area, cannot continuously be in the designated area, or be based for weeks on a piece of rock with a floating berth and a fuel barrel. And sometimes that’s what will be needed.
What means does Russia have for such quick battles? Firstly, these are missile boats, and secondly, project 1239 RTOs. At the same time, RTOs are huge as corvette and expensive as a frigate, it also has expensive Mosquitoes, and there are only two of them, both in the Black Sea Fleet. By and large, they can be considered as a statistical error, they will not be built anymore.
But project 1241 missile boats are a completely different matter, if only because there are a lot of them.
Like western classmates, they have a speed of more than 40 knots and a 76-mm gun. Like foreign boats, they use afterburner gas turbine engines. At the same time, boats are larger than their classmates, heavier and more noticeable in the radar range. They are inferior in speed to their competitors, but not by much, not by critical value.
The upgraded Lightning with anti-ship missiles Uranus. Until the development of the next-generation missile boat, that’s fine. It’s only in line for the engines that the existing boats stand both for Karakurt and for the existing RTOs.
At the same time, there is the possibility of a substantial increase in the missile weapons of existing boats - their modernization with the installation of a missile weapon complex similar to project 12418 would allow these boats to carry up to 16 Uran missiles, which would make the boats the most armed boats in the world.
It is worth saying that, in principle, the boat should be different - even more speedy, inconspicuous, with a reduced crew and preferably cheaper. At the same time, you can put up with a reduction in the number of missiles on board for speed and stealth. But while there is no such boat, the Lightnings rearmed with Uranus are quite suitable for missile attack tasks.
Alas, few today demonstrate a full understanding of the role of a missile boat. Even among military professionals, boats are rated as a less important combat weapon than RTOs (meaning “normal” RTOs capable of catching and attacking a surface ship, rather than Buyan-M “missile barges” that cannot do anything like that). The motivations in this case are usually the following - MRCs are better armed, have more advanced electronic weapons and self-defense air defense systems, you can organize aviation control from it by placing KPUNIA / KPUNSHA there.
That is true, but for some reason no one undertakes to explain how to impose a battle on an enemy who has an advantage in speed of 10-13 knots (18,5-24 km / h)? How to re-maneuver it? And if the battle was not in our favor, then how to break the contact and leave?
And why is it so important to have powerful electronic weapons on the attacking “unit” if its task is simply to bring the missiles to the launch line, launch them and leave at the speed limit? All this can be done by external target designation from other ships or even aircraft. REV MRK risks being a thing in itself.
In fact, faith in RTOs stems from the belief that the enemy will be forced to expose their expensive large surface ships, which are inferior to RTOs in speed, under their blow. But an unbiased analysis of the situation tells us that if this happens, it is visible only in the Sea of Japan and only during the conflict in which Japan is involved. In all other cases, the enemy is more likely to withdraw his URO ships, pushing forward light forces and submarines supported by aviation. YES and BNK are inferior in speed only in calm water, and in four points the RTOs may not catch up with a large destroyer.
In fact, the only real advantage of a “classic” missile defense system over a missile boat is the presence of self-defense air defense systems. But they won’t win the war, to defeat the enemy’s ships, the boat, subject to the issuance of a reliable command center for it, surpasses the RTOs in solving such a problem, if only because the RTOs will not be able to catch up with most of their goals. At least important.
Who will issue the control center for missile boats? For example, helicopters from corvettes (if corvettes capable of carrying them on board will be taken as the basis) or from frigates providing light air defense forces. Or basic aviation from the coast will give it. And the absence of air defense systems must be compensated by interference systems, speed and maneuverability, and stealth in the radar and infrared ranges.
To summarize the subtotal. "Light" surface forces should consist of:
- main ships - multi-purpose corvettes. It is they who must hunt submarines, carry out attacks of surface ships in simple conditions (the target cannot evade an attack due to speed or does not try to do this), attack the enemy coast with cruise missiles, guard convoys and landing troops. If a decision is made that these should be large corvettes (2038X or 1166X), then helicopters should be based on corvettes. If any other variant of the corvette is selected, except 2038X, then, therefore, the cannons on frigates should allow the fulfillment of the tasks of fire support for the landing. In general, this ship can be small - right up to the Karakurt with anti-submarine capabilities:
- missile boats for solving the tasks of anti-ship defense. Onts should be very fast, inconspicuous in the radar and thermal ranges, small and inexpensive, armed with 76-mm guns and anti-ship missiles and minimal self-defense weapons, without prejudice to the above qualities. These boats will have to cover the corvettes from attacks of small NK enemy, attack the enemy from ambush.
These ships are supported by frigate URO, which provide them with air defense. Moreover, in principle, frigates, like multipurpose ships, are capable of acting independently.
Also, surface forces interact with aviation, both base and ship. It is precisely such forces that will fight "off the coast" - it does not matter whether ours or the enemy.
And, of course, evaluating the appearance of “light forces”, one cannot but give a few examples of how to provide the KUGs and KPUGs of the Navy with the necessary number of helicopters.
As previously mentioned in the article “Air fighters over the ocean waves. On the role of helicopters in the war at sea ”, helicopters are capable of performing a wide range of tasks, including the defeat of air targets.
Moreover, their defeat by enemy fighters is very difficult. However, they need to be based somewhere.
If the base ships of the "light forces" will be corvettes with a hangar, the problem disappears. Assuming that the hypothetical air defense frigate we have has two hangars, we get that the KPUG has four corvettes, and one such frigate has 6 helicopters.
However, everything changes if we have a small corvette as the base ship, for example, analogue 056, or the “multipurpose Karakurt”. Then we have only two places on the KPUG where helicopters can be stored. And, if we assume that in a pair of "neighboring" KPAGs, AWACS helicopters from frigates interact not only with their frigate, but also with the "neighboring" one, then this is more or less acceptable. But anti-submarine helicopters have nowhere to be located.
Is this a problem? On its shore - no. At a distance of 100-150 kilometers from the coastline, it is even better to base helicopters on the ground - they do not depend on pitching. But as the area of action of the KPUG moves away from its territory, the problem grows more and more. It can be solved without involving other ships only by capturing the land and equipping the runways there.
This, in principle, is possible, but in the case of an offensive war against some distant country, the situation temporarily becomes unsolvable.
This factor has long been well known, but many military personnel are not very worried, because for them the ship is, first of all, a means of PLO, moreover, in its BMZ and not very far from the coast, and not just PLO, performing tasks on PLO during the deployment deployment RPSL. And here they are right in some way, a small corvette will be cheaper than a large one, which means that more will be built with the same money, which will provide more search capabilities, and aviation, in the course of tasks to ensure the deployment of strategic nuclear forces, will fly from the coast, this is just not principle .
And the fact that later it may be necessary to fight in completely different places and completely different conditions, and you can also think later.
The question, however, remains.
But there are solutions.
The first thing that suggests itself is the use of integrated supply ships as a carrier for helicopters. Currently, there is not a single full-fledged such ship in the Navy, although there is positive experience with their use. The Navy previously had such a ship - "Berezina" project 1833.
Currently, small auxiliary vessels are being built for the auxiliary fleet, and the spacecraft are not designed and laid.
However, the need to conduct some operations away from the coast will inevitably force them to build, simply because without such ships it is impossible to organize a full-fledged fighting fleet. And here their large sizes can come to our aid.
KKS usually has a hangar and a runway. The reason is that, firstly, sometimes there is a need to make up for losses in helicopters. And, secondly, because sometimes you can transfer cargo only (or is it just more convenient) by helicopter.
The same "Berezina" had a hangar. But we are not interested in Berezina.
RFA "Fort Victoria".
Fort Victoria is a British ship of this class. Among other things, it has a hangar for three helicopters Augusta Westland AW101 - rather rather big cars. And the take-off and landing deck for two helicopters at the same time. That is, in this case, it’s not just about just carrying helicopters on board and sometimes flying one of them into the air, but about making regular group flights possible. And this is so, the British constantly use this ship both as a supply vehicle and as an aircraft carrier that “closes” the shortage of helicopters for naval groups operating in the sea.
Actually, this is the solution. A certain nonexistent and not designed now, but once needed in the future Russian ship of this class, in the same dimensions, will be able to provide the base for about four Ka-27 or Ka-31 helicopters. Thus, the problem of helicopter basing is partially resolved.
In general, there is a need to discuss a frigate carrying not two, but three helicopters. From 1977 to 2017, the Japanese Naval Self-Defense Forces were armed with Shirane-type destroyers. These, of course, are not frigates; their total displacement exceeded 7500 tons. But they also had a lot of weapons - two 127-mm gun mounts, a massive ASROC anti-submarine missile launcher. There was a developed superstructure. If we talk about our needs, when using hangars for our compact helicopters, one artillery installation and a shorter flight deck, three helicopters can be “fit” into a significantly smaller ship.
Theoretically, the very compact Ka-27s and their derivatives can be stored in very small hangars, as evidenced by the hangar on the same corvettes 20380. At the same time, even the width of the corvette 20380 (or 20385) is sufficient to accommodate a pair of hangars. Its width is less than what the American frigate of the Perry type is only 70 centimeters. Here's what the result of “measuring” the corvette 20385 in width looks like.
Please do not take for a really possible technical solution, it's just an estimate of the size - one.
And below is a section of a corvette in order to estimate the required dimensions of a hangar for one helicopter along the length of the ship. And silhouettes to scale.
You should not consider these pictures as some kind of call to make a corvette with two helicopters - this is nothing more than a demonstration of what dimensions are really needed on the ship for several helicopters (namely, the corvette will not work out like that, but this is not about that).
But at the same time, it is not difficult to verify that the ability to create a ship with a displacement of 3900-4000 tons, armed at the project level 20385 (100-mm gun, Package-NK, one PU 3S-14, a pair of ZAK AK-630M or one or two ZRAK), but with increased ammunition of the air defense system and powerful radar (the same "Poliment Redoubt") and three helicopters is not obviously unrealistic.
Although it will require designers to exert themselves.
One way or another, creating a new generation of “light forces”, it’s worth exploring the possibility of providing them with helicopters in the right quantity - naturally, in case the ship without a helicopter becomes the basic “small corvette”.
At the worst, there is the opportunity to go along the path of very poor countries and equip a former civilian ship in a warship, for example, the Malaysians did, creating their own ship base for fighting the Bunga Mas Lim pirates and its sistership on the basis of a small container ship. Such a solution has a lot of disadvantages, but they are blocked by one of its advantages - price. And in the extreme case, if there are no sane and quickly implemented options, you can go for it too, but with the understanding that the presence in the naval group conducting the hostilities is not essentially a combat ship that does not have, for example, design features aimed at increasing the combat survivability can have extremely negative consequences.
Bunga Mas Lima. It can be so, and it will even work, with all the disadvantages of such an approach. The price will be much less RTOs.
Nevertheless, such methods should not be dismissed on the spot, even the British resorted to them during the Falklands war, using mobilized transport vessels, and during operations in Lebanon altogether an impromptu helicopter carrier converted from the merchant ship under the ARAPAJO project was extremely unsuccessful, by the way. But blindly repeat after them and do not, the principle is important.
One way or another, this issue is being resolved - if resolved.
"Light forces" with the support of large ships and aircraft - an effective means of warfare at sea. They are able to provide anti-submarine defense, which is critical for us, and to solve a host of other tasks. An ideal option would be to build them around large corvettes as a universal unit and missile boats as an anti-ship unit. With corvettes 2038X in size, there will be fewer questions about seaworthiness and the use of these forces in the DMZ, for example, when protecting some convoys to Venezuela or somewhere else just as far away. Corvettes have a minimal gun for conducting more or less effective fire along the coast, and they themselves carry a helicopter. It is only necessary to simplify and cheapen them, while simultaneously strengthening the composition of weapons on board - and this is possible.
But in other cases - if it is mistaken for a basic corvette on hull 1166 with a 76-graph paper or with a ship similar to the Chinese project 056, or with something multipurpose in size and displacement of the Karakurt, the scheme will also work. Moreover, each option will have its own strengths and weaknesses. For example, a small multi-purpose version of Karakurt will allow you to configure one and a half times more ships than a certain version of 2038X. But it will be necessary to separately resolve the issue of fire support for the landing and helicopters.
The common points for any base ship will be, firstly, the need for air defense frigates, capable, together with aviation and the corvettes themselves, of repelling an air strike, and secondly, the need for very high-speed missile boats, with a minimum level of radar visibility and 76- mm gun plus to missiles. Before the creation of such ships, it is quite possible to get by with the existing project 12418 and modernize the existing missile boats of project 1241.
I would also like that the final formation of the appearance and the determination of the required number of “light forces” should be preceded by research, covering all aspects of the problem - operational-tactical, economic and the question of the possibility of attracting the right amount of personnel. And so that when developing modifications of corvettes for the forces of the new structure, the mass of their subsystems and body contours are subject to the most serious checks to ensure the required speed.
In practice, it’s true that there’s nothing like that, but there are only 12 corvettes already built and under construction that can at least somehow fight with submarines (not to say very well), useless patrol ships and the “eternal” long-term construction 20386, and a rather big brood of new RTOs, which sometime in 2027 will be in operation 30 units. The concept of “build anything” is obvious, and the results will also be “on the face”. But so it is with us.
Nevertheless, it is worth at least voicing the right ideas. It is possible that someday they will begin to be realized.