TARKR "Peter the Great"
The eminent ruler of Russia, Emperor Alexander III, said that our country has only two allies: the army and navy. About Russia's second ally, about its naval navy. and will be discussed in this article.
The author of this material is not an expert in naval matters, however, she is actively interested in it and wants to share her observations, fears, ideas with people who are partial to the fate of our country and to questions of its defense potential.
The latest history of the Russian Navy
Consider the latest history Russian Navy. Russia inherited the second largest combined fleet in the world, second only to the US Navy. It should be noted that Russia got not only ready-made ships, but also backlogs at shipbuilding enterprises, which helped our Navy to stay afloat in the dashing 90s. From 1991 to 2000, the Russian fleet received the following ships: 2 destroyers of Project 956 Sarych, 2 RTGs of Project 12341 Ovod, 9 RTGs of Project 12411 Lightning, 1 RTG of Project 1239 Sivuch, 6 base minesweepers of the project 1265 Yakhont, 5 raid minesweepers of Project 10750 Sapphire, 1 marine minesweeper of Project 12660 Rubin, 4 MPK of project 1124M Albatros, 1 TARKR of project 11442 Orlan Peter the Great, 1 BOD of project 11551 Admiral Chabanenko ”, 5 nuclear submarines of Project 949A Antey, 6 nuclear submarines of Project 971 Pike B, 1 nuclear submarine of Project 945A Condor, 1 nuclear submarine of Project 671RTM Pike, 4 nuclear-powered submarines of Project 877 Halibut, 1 small landing ship hovercraft project 12322 "Zubr", 2 BDK 775M project.
As can be seen from the statistics, in the 90s the Russian Navy replenished well, although, of course, it must be borne in mind that these were still Soviet backlogs that were being completed. New ships for our fleet at that time were almost never laid down, which was reflected in the shipbuilding disaster of the 2000s, when the ships that entered the armament of the Navy could be counted on the fingers.
It is easy to find out from open sources that between 2001 and 2010 the Russian Navy was replenished with: 1 TFR of project 11540 Hawk, 1 corvette of project 20380, 1 sea minesweeper of project 266ME Aquamarine ME, 1 sea minesweeper of project 02668 Agat, 1 submarine of project 971 “Pike B”, 1 RTO of project 12411 “Lightning”, 1 corvette of project 11661K “Cheetah”, 1 small artillery ship of project 21630 “Buyan”. A few landing and anti-sabotage boats could be added to the above, however, they have neither strategic nor even tactical significance, and they can be ignored.
Did Russia build in the period 2001-2010? large surface and submarine ships? It turns out very much! But for the Navy of China, India, Vietnam. Sevmash was in full swing loaded with the work of modernizing the aircraft-carrying cruiser Admiral Gorshkov in the interests of the Indian Navy. If even a part of the ships built during this period in commercial interests would be transferred to the Russian fleet ... This situation is especially surprising given that this was the period of the greatest economic success of market Russia. There were funds in the treasury.
Nuclear submarine “Severodvinsk” of project 885 “Ash”
Nevertheless, with the beginning of the 2010s, the situation begins to change for the better. The State Arms Program 2020 is adopted, in which the Navy is given a significant place. It cannot be called revolutionary or breakthrough for the fleet, but finally, in recent history, we began to meaningfully build a navy.
Alas, this program was not implemented within the framework in which it was planned. Western sanctions imposed in 2014 and the unavailability of industry and production chains, which had to be built in places from scratch, also played a role. Nevertheless, in 2011-2020, the fleet received: 5 corvettes of project 20380, 2 missile regiments of project 22800 Karakurt, 8 missile regiments of project 21631 Buyan-M, 1 corvette of project 11661K Gepard, 2 small artillery ships of project 21630 “ Buyan ”, 3 sea minesweepers of project 12700“ Alexandrite ”, 3 frigates of project 11356Р, 2 patrol ships of project 22160, 7 diesel-electric submarines of project 636“ Varshavyanka ”, 1 frigate of project 22350, 1 nuclear submarine of project 885“ Ash ”, 3 strategic missile carriers of project 955“ Borey ”, 1 BDK project 11711. In addition, this year our Navy should receive: 1 frigate of the project 22350, 2 corvettes of the project 20380, 1 corvette of the project that 20385, 1 RTO of the project 21631, 5 (most likely less) RTOs of the project 22800, 1 patrol ship of the project 22160, 2 sea minesweepers of the project 12700, 2 RPKSN of the project 955 "Borey", 1 BDK of the project 11711, 2 nuclear-powered submarines of the project 885M, 1 diesel-electric submarine project 677 "Lada", 1 diesel-electric submarine of project 636. Thus, 2020 should be a very fruitful year for the Navy. It is not a fact that all of the listed ships this year will be included in the fleet, but this will certainly happen in the near future.
I would like to ask: what after 2020? How will the shipbuilding program develop further? Is a new catastrophe like the catastrophe of the 2000s awaiting us?
Today in construction are: 4 frigates of project 22350, 4 corvettes of project 20380, 2 corvettes of project 20385, 1 corvette of project 20386, 4 missiles of the project 21631, 13 missiles of the project 22800, 2 missile boats of the project 12418, 4 patrol ships of the project 22160, 3 BDK of the project 11711, 4 sea minesweepers of Project 12700, 5 RPKSN of Project 955, 6 nuclear submarines of Project 885M, 2 diesel-electric submarines of Project 677, 4 nuclear-powered submarines of Project 636. This is what will go into service of our fleet in 2020 and later.
Will ships still be laid? I would like to believe that, despite the turbulence in the economy and the presence of many uncertainties, the country will still find funds for the construction of the fleet.
What is the modern Russian fleet? Right now, the Russian Navy’s permanent readiness forces include: 26 ships of 1-2 rank (from cruisers to corvettes), 40 small missile ships and boats, 26 small anti-submarine ships, 42 minesweepers, 16 diesel-electric submarines, 13 multi-purpose nuclear submarines. It is not necessary to list strategic missile carriers and landing ships here, since the SSBNs will be used in a military conflict at sea only in the most extreme case, and landing ships do not matter in naval combat. Also, ships for repair and modernization are not listed here.
Is it a lot or a little? For example, the Turkish Navy has 13 DEPLs and 26 surface ships from frigate to corvette, the Japanese Navy - 20 DEPLs and 49 large surface ships. Of course, it is naive to believe that all these ships are now ready for battle, some of them are probably under repair. However, the above countries can assemble their fleets in a single fist, our ships are scattered across separate waters and practically cannot come to the aid of each other in case of war. Our isolated fleets are not able to defeat either the Baltic over the German Navy, the Black Sea over the Turkish Navy, or the Far East over the Japanese Navy. There is no need to talk about the huge fleets of the USA and China, they are now inaccessible to us. Therefore, the author, in no way calling for war with any of these countries, believes that a strong fleet is a reliable means against military conflicts. For example, if we had a fleet in the Far East comparable with the Japanese, the issue of the Kuril Islands membership would hardly have been raised. A strong fleet in the Black Sea would be a weighty argument in negotiations with Turkey over Syria.
The need for a clear concept of naval construction
Now let's talk about the problems of our fleet, which must be solved as soon as possible so that the Russian Navy is a reliable tool for protecting the integrity and independence of our country.
Patrol ship project 22160
1. We need a clear concept of naval construction. We need an answer to the questions: which fleet we need, which fleet we can build, in which regions of the country the most powerful naval groups should be located, and where there are enough coastal troops.
Why does the author ask such questions? Indeed, there are probably people in the Ministry of Defense who are responsible for such tasks. I would like to believe that such people really are there, but the author also has concerns. They are associated with the construction of two series of ships: patrol ships of project 22160 for the Black Sea Fleet and patrol ice-ships of the project 23550 "Arctic" for the Northern Fleet.
The ships of the project 22160 would be good corvettes if they had at least some weapons. In reality, these are almost unarmed ships. They talk about the possibility of placing containers on them with the Caliber RK or X-35 Uran missiles, but there are no such containers in the fleet (according to data from open sources). Moreover, even if such containers appear, these ships still have neither air defense systems nor anti-aircraft defense systems and remain mediocre “fighters”. With the ships of project 23550 the same story, with the only difference being that the "Caliber" will definitely be there, but that’s the list of their weapons practically ends - despite the fact that their displacement is about 9000 tons, the displacement of the destroyer! Why do the Northern Fleet need such ships when there is an acute shortage of warships of 1-2 ranks? Thus, for the Navy, 8 (!) Ships are being built with unclear prospects for their use.
2. The problem with propulsion systems for new ships. At present, we cannot build ships larger than a corvette, since there simply are no engines for them. According to media reports, Chinese engines are used for RTOs of project 21631, Russian engines are used for RTOs of project 22800, but St. Petersburg Zvezda can’t cope with deadlines, so delivery of ships of project 22800 to the fleet is delayed. The problem with engines for frigates is solved by the Rybinsk Saturn, there is success, but it will be possible to talk about solving the problem only when the frigates of project 22350 finally receive Russian engines.
3. Torpedo armament caliber 533 mm. Our submarines are armed with a USET-80 torpedo, which was adopted in 1980. And even then, its characteristics did not strike the imagination. USET-80 has a range of 18 km, the range of the American Mark-48 torpedo is more than 50 km. Moreover, according to media reports, USET-80 cannot operate in the Baltic Sea, since the electricity in the batteries begins to be generated when interacting with sea water, and in the Baltic there is an insufficient concentration of salts in the water. Whether this is true or not is unknown, but on the BF we have only one submarine, which is quite indicative.
This is not to say that our military problems do not see. In 2015, the UGST “Physicist” was adopted by the Navy with a range of 50 km. According to data for 2018, the torpedo entered service with all fleets in an amount of at least ... 20 pieces. Just one for each combat-capable submarine! I would like to hope that the “Physicist” torpedoes continue to enter service and now there are already noticeably more of them. In parallel with this, the Navy will purchase 2023 UET-73 torpedoes of 1 mm caliber with a range of 533 km until 25, which, of course, is very small, but undeniable progress compared to the 18-km USET-80. In addition, the nuclear submarines of projects 949A and 971B seem to still have torpedoes of project 65-76A "Kit" with a caliber of 650 mm with a range of about 100 km.
4. The need to update anti-submarine aviation. Aviation of the Russian Navy has 15 IL-38 anti-submarine aircraft and 7 modernized IL-38N and 12 Tu-142MK / M3. For comparison: Japanese naval aviation has 78 P-3 Orion anti-submarine aircraft and 13 Kawasaki P-1 aircraft. A ratio of more than 1 to 3 in favor of Japan.
After identifying the list of problems, it seems correct to consider possible solutions. The main task is a victory at sea over a potential adversary. We will not consider the likely conflict between the Russian Federation - NATO or the Russian Federation - the United States, or the Russian Federation - the PRC, since here we can only rely on the strategic nuclear forces. We will proceed from the premises of a local conflict with countries like Turkey or Japan, with which we have difficult relations.
1. In the new “State Arms Program 2018-2027”, the shipbuilding program should be continued to the extent comparable to the previous state program. The emphasis should be placed on projects already successfully mastered by industry: corvettes of project 20380, MRK 22800, diesel-electric submarine 636, nuclear submarine 885M; if the problem with the engines is successfully resolved, then the frigates of project 22350 will also be justified. The development of a new small anti-submarine ship seems justified.
2. Obviously, in the next 10 years we will not be able to cover the shortage of large surface ships, so we could consider expanding military cooperation with China with the possible purchase of frigate class ships in China. According to media reports, by the way, China is ready to sell us warships. Of course, this is an unpopular decision, but it will do for operational replenishment of the Navy.
3. It is necessary to develop a new anti-submarine aircraft and its speedy serial production. Perhaps this could be the resumption of the production of IL-38 on a new elemental base.
4. The solution to the “torpedo problem” is the speedy entry into the fleet of the UGST “Physicist” in significant quantities.
5. The revival of naval missile aircraft. This applies not only to Tu-22M3 bombers with X-22 missiles, but also to Su-30 SM fighters and Su-34 fighter-bombers. Su-30 SM and Su-34, according to data from open sources, can use anti-ship missiles X-35 "Uranus" with a range of up to 260 km. In addition, integration into the weapon system of the Su-30 SM and Su-34 anti-ship missiles P-800 Onyx, our best anti-ship missile today, with a range of up to 600 km, would be justified. An early armament of the Tu-22 M3 with the X-32 missile, which seems to have passed the tests, is also necessary. Consideration should be given to the arming of anti-ship missiles of the Tu-160 missile carriers. Separately, it should be said about the dagger hypersonic missile used with the MiG-31K. In this case, you should consider basing aviation on a possible theater of operations. This primarily concerns the Far East, where the distances are especially large, and the infrastructure is underdeveloped. Here it is necessary to create new airfields and reconstruct hundreds of combat aircraft available for acceptance.
Tu 22M3 with X-22 missiles
6. Continuation of the deployment of DBK “Ball” and “Bastion” with missiles “Uranus” and “Onyx”. These missiles can be used against ground targets, so their purchase increases not only the combat effectiveness of coastal forces, but also ground forces.
DBK "Bastion" with the P-800 Onyx missile
7. You can consider the development of a ballistic anti-ship missile, following the example of China. It is known that in the USSR there were similar developments. If earlier the development of such a missile was impossible due to Russia's obligations under the INF Treaty, now our hands are untied. A similar missile can be used for ground targets, which is by no means superfluous.
Summing up the problem raised in the article, it should be said that our Navy is not ready for a serious confrontation at sea today.
There is a very acute shortage of surface ships of 1-2 ranks, our submarines do not have modern torpedo weapons and are therefore very vulnerable, our anti-submarine aviation is in decline and needs to be replenished as soon as possible.
In the event of a conflict with a major naval power, our fleet has two ways: to die heroically on the high seas or to defend near their bases under the cover of aviation and DBK.
In the next ten years, the main ships of our Navy will be Project 885M Yasen submarines, Project 636 Varshavyanka missile submarines, Project 22800 Karakurt RTOs, project Alexandrits 12700 minesweepers, maybe Project 22350 frigates. Even if the series of these ships will be continued, it’s still very little, especially considering that all this will be “spread out” in four fleets.
There are also “growth points,” opportunities for an asymmetric response. This is the use of naval missile aircraft armed with X-35, Onyx, X-22 and X-32 missiles, the Dagger hypersonic missile against the ships of a potential enemy; widespread use of DBK “Ball” and “Bastion”; possible development of a ballistic anti-ship missile.
If the new state armament program will have the Navy and MRA as its priority, then, provided that it is implemented, by the 2030s Russia will have the Navy, coastal troops and MRA capable of repelling a serious enemy at sea near our coasts. But this requires political will, determination to solve the problem, readiness to go even to unpopular measures like raising military spending.
It is necessary and urgent to solve the problem of protecting the country from threats from the sea, because the sea is the first line of defense of Russia, our Russian land lies further.