Some thoughts on our nuclear-powered submarines with cruise missiles of projects 885 "Ash" and 885M "Ash M".
About MAPL Tasks
Unlike SSBNs, they are not so easy to identify. Everything is simple with the naval component of strategic nuclear forces: its main task in peacetime is nuclear deterrence, and in warfare is a full-scale nuclear retaliation for anyone who encroaches. But with multipurpose nuclear submarines, everything is much more complicated for the simple reason that there is a very wide range of tasks that you want to assign to this class of ships.
Destroy enemy submarines that are targeting our SSBNs, preparing to strike Tomahawk SLCMs, or covering enemy AUGs? Without any doubt! Thunder enemy surface warships - both single and acting as part of the KMG, AUG or amphibious formations? By all means and without fail! To stop hostile sea lanes by drowning military transports carrying something that is plowing and thumping to our mainland? Sure! Strike land targets, enemy infrastructure? How else!
But is it possible to create a MAPL that could equally effectively solve such diverse problems? Technically, yes. But, as practice shows, the cost of such a solution will exceed all conceivable limits and rely on some kind of mass equipment with such ships fleet - the perfect utopia.
About atomic supercrafts
Interestingly, attempts to create MAPL of extremely high performance characteristics were made twice, in the USA and the USSR / RF. The Americans built the greatest death machine of their time, the Sivulf. But even in the most optimistic plans, they did not anticipate the complete transfer of their Navy to MAPLs of this type - the maximum construction program for the Sivulfs involved the commissioning of only 29 submarines. In fact, this turned out to be too much, so in the end the series “dried up” to only 3 units. The choice was made in favor of the less “militant” submarines of the Virginia type, which had more modest performance characteristics, but at the same time, a significantly lower price.
As for the USSR, in it work on the creation of a universal MAPL was carried out since 1977, and finally embodied in metal in the project 885M or Yasen-M. Kazan became the lead ship of this project, and I really hope that it will replenish the Russian Navy in 2020. As for the “initial” Yasen, unfortunately, Severodvinsk, due to a number of compromises between the wishes of sailors and the Navy’s budget turned out, to a certain extent, an “intermediate” ship, in which it was not possible to realize all the technologies we could and needed.
But what in the end will the Russian Navy receive “in the face” of “Kazan”? In fact, it is the largest multi-purpose nuclear submarine in the world, whose surface displacement most likely exceeds 8 tons, although it probably does not reach 000 tons of Severodvinsk. The similar indicator of Sivulf is 8 tons, Virginia - depending on the modification and according to various sources from 600 to 7 tons, the British Astyut - 460 tons. Why is this?
Of course, TTX "Ash-M" are secret, but they, apparently, differ from those of "Ash-tree". It is known, for example, that the 885M project’s hull is 9 meters shorter, which suggests a slightly lower displacement compared to the “original” Ashen of Project 885. In addition, the composition of the weapons has probably changed. If Ash has 10 torpedo tubes and 8 vertical launchers (VPU) for missiles, then Ash is supposed to have 8 torpedo tubes and 10 VPU. The total ammunition of the “Ash” consists of 30 torpedoes / missile torpedoes or missiles used from torpedo tubes and 32 missiles in the VPU. Accordingly, it can be assumed that the Yasenya-M ammunition will be 24 torpedoes or the same number of other ammunition for torpedo tubes and 40 missiles.
So, the first answer to the reasons for the large displacement of the most modern domestic MAPL is the composition of its weapons. Sivulf and Astyut do not carry VPU at all, and Virginia, depending on the modification, has VPU at 12, and Block V even has 40 Tomahawk cruise missiles. And it is this modification of Virginia that is approaching our Ash-M in terms of its surface displacement. But keep in mind that American VPUs are more compact - simply because the American Tomahawks are significantly lighter than the domestic Caliber and, moreover, Onyx.
In addition, we should not forget that the British and American nuclear submarines are single-hull, but the Yasen-M is a half-hull ship, which, obviously, makes the hull of our submarine somewhat heavier.
Be that as it may, in the person of Kazan, our Navy will receive a very formidable underwater universal cruiser, capable of effectively solving the above tasks. In theory, Ash-M should get all the best that we could come up with for our submariners. It is possible, of course, that this is not so, and that our science and industry was able to give even better torpedoes, hulls and other units and equipment (yes these are the same water cannons, for example) than what is actually installed on the "Ash Tree - M ". But such things should be attributed to our internal oversights and undercover games, and not to “punctures” of the concept of the ship. Say, nothing prevents equipping the Yasen-M with high-quality anti-torpedoes and traps-simulators of a submarine - would these very torpedoes / traps and desire.
In other words, in the person of "Ash-M" we really can get (and, I want to believe, get) a universal multi-purpose nuclear submarine of ultimate characteristics ... only its cost, according to various estimates, is 1,5-2 times higher than that of Project 955 SSBN " Northwind. " Which, incidentally, is in good agreement with the results obtained in the USA. Their serial "Ohio", which went into operation in the 90s, cost 1,3-1,5 billion dollars, while the cost of a serial nuclear submarine of the Sivulf type - Connecticut - was estimated at 2,4 billion. dollars, but in fact most likely it came out even more expensive.
Connecticut seems to be on the left ...
But the cost of building serial Virginia at some point fell to as much as $ 1,8 billion, despite the fact that they were built much later, already in the 2016st century, and the dollar has since noticeably “relieved” it - by the size of inflation . Then, of course, inflation took its toll, the cost of the same Illinois transferred to the fleet in 2,7 reached $ 1998 billion. But let's not forget that Connecticut went into operation in December 2016, and Illinois - in October 47,4, dollar inflation during this time was 1998%, that is, in 1,83 prices, Illinois would cost only 1,3 billion dollars, that is, at least XNUMX times cheaper than the serial ship type "Sivulf".
In other words, the United States, having won the Cold War and at the peak of its economic power, nevertheless curtailed the construction of the Super Sivulfs in favor of mass production of cheaper MAPLs. But the Russian Federation, having completely incomparable economic opportunities with the United States, has begun the serial construction of Yasenei-M with ultimate performance characteristics.
Another planning mistake?
After reading these lines, dear reader, I am probably quite sure that the author will once again criticize the Russian Defense Ministry. But ... not in this case.
First of all, we, apparently, had no choice. As already mentioned, the universal MAPL began to be developed in the USSR and by the time of its collapse it was the most modern project available. The creation of a new project in the 2000s promised to drag out, if not indefinitely, then for a very long time, while the “wild 90s” and the financing of the fleet “per year on a teaspoon” in the period 2000-2010. led to a landslide reduction in MAPL as part of the Russian Navy. It was simply impossible to wait and do nothing until the development of an optimal project for the Navy, and bordered on crime. We have already “reformed” to the point where, at some point, the entire Pacific Fleet only had 1 (ONE) multipurpose submarine of the Schuka-B type.
Secondly, many of the new items that Yasen-M received should be tested in metal before undertaking the creation of more advanced analogues for the latest MAPL.
Thirdly, in 2011-2020. The Russian Federation was to reanimate the production facilities for the construction of a submarine fleet. If we even wanted (and we wanted) to keep this industry, it was necessary to order multipurpose nuclear submarines, moreover, urgently. And the only project that could be quickly “brought to mind” and to bookmark was “Ash-M”.
Fourth, the appearance of the "white elephants" - that is, the construction of a limited series of nuclear submarine "super-cruisers" of ultimate characteristics, at least in theory, fits well with the concept of the Russian Navy.
About the usefulness of MAPL ultimate characteristics
In a full-fledged conflict with the United States, even a relatively small number of such MAPLs can have a deterrent effect on the operations of the surface forces of the Americans. Not a single American admiral wants to become a target for a missile salvo at 40 Zircons, so the enemy AUG and KUG will have to act much more carefully than they could. But it should be understood that in the foreseeable future the Russian Federation may be threatened not only by the total nuclear-missile Armageddon, but also by conflicts of a lower rank, using only the conventional weapons.
You can say as much as you like that “we are a nuclear power” and “if that - the whole world is in ruin!”, But the fact is that China, having attacked Damansky, for some reason ignored all our Soviet “nuclear power”. The USSR, on the other hand, resolved the Chinese question, albeit radically, but quite conventionally. And in the newest stories even the former Georgia, present Georgia, which cannot be found without a magnifying glass on the world map, managed to attack Tskhinval, killing our peacekeepers. And again, the issue was decided by us strictly by conventional means. One can recall the foreign experience - in 1982 England was also in no hurry to clutch at the "nuclear club", preferring to resolve the issue of whether the Falkland Islands belonged "on fists". Moreover, taking into account the noticeable number of British marines killed and wounded in bayonet battles with the Argentine infantry, one could write on the fists without quotes.
In general, peace is still very, very far away. There are plenty of territorial claims against our country - take at least the same Kuril Islands. Moreover, the United States, with its “Arab springs” and “revolutions of orange dignity”, is striving to create military-political chaos on our borders. In order to effectively counter all this, the Russian Federation absolutely needs to have powerful armed forces of general purpose - ground, space, air, and, without a doubt, naval. That's just because of the geographical factor, we are forced to split our ships between 5 theaters: the Baltic, Black and Caspian seas, the North and the Far East.
It turns out interesting. If we add up the size of all our fleets, the Russian Navy has every right to claim third place in the world after the US and China Navy. In terms of combat potential, taking into account the quality of our submarines, we can perhaps talk about parity with China - they, of course, tuned the destroyers and corvettes, as we never dreamed of, but in terms of the submarine fusion, the Yellow Dragon is not so clear . Thus, the Russian Navy, even despite a landslide reduction in its composition, is still a significant force, providing the Russian Federation with a worthy place among the great sea powers. But this is if we consider the total number of the fleet.
But if you look at each maritime theater separately, the picture turns out to be completely not rosy. Today, we are simply unable to saturate our fleet with so many ships, in which each individual fleet surpassed, or at least stood on a par with the strongest Navy of the powers present there. The Pacific Fleet is inferior to the Japanese Navy in the Far East, the Northern Fleet hardly has parity with the fleet of His Majesty, the Baltic is weaker than the German Navy, and the Black Sea has much smaller naval composition than the Turkish Navy.
Accordingly, in order to effectively prevent possible non-nuclear conflicts with serious naval powers, or, if it was not possible to prevent it, then win them, an inter-theater maneuver of the forces of our Navy is necessary. Yes, it will take some time, but in the modern world such conflicts usually do not arise from scratch - they are preceded by a certain period of political tension, during which it is quite possible to make the necessary “castling”. And our Yaseni-M, being extremely powerful and versatile warships, are the best suited for the role of the very “cavalry” that can quickly strengthen our naval presence at the right time at the right theater.
It is clear that MAPLs will not go to the Baltic or Black Seas, but other means of amplification are possible there. But the entire oceans, including our northern and Far Eastern borders, as well as the Mediterranean Sea, are easily accessible to Project 885M ships.
Initially, the GPV 2011-2020. included too few Ash-trees - only 7 units, of which only six were really modern Ash-M. This was categorically insufficient for the Russian Navy, and the author rejoiced with all his heart news on laying two more ships of Project 885M, which was supposed to bring the total number of Yasenei-M to 8. Ideally, at least 3 more Yasenya-M should be built to form a division of 6 ships (including Severodvinsk) in the North and Pacific Fleets.
Despite the high cost of the Ash-M, the budget of the Russian Federation is quite capable of withstanding the construction of 3 more ships of this type. Of course, not immediately, but as the Boreev-A and Yaseney-M are now under construction, the stocks and production facilities will be released, so why not? But even in this case, the total number of MAPL projects of 885 and 885M will be only 12 units, which the fleet will receive no sooner than by 2030. And this, of course, is absolutely not on a par with the threats facing us.
We will try to make an optimistic forecast of what general fleet the Northern Fleet will have in 2030, provided that bookmark 3 is Ash-M in addition to those already ordered. In this case, the Northern Fleet will receive, in addition to Severodvinsk, another 5 Yaseney-M, and in addition, most likely, the fleet will have 2 or even 3 modernized Anteys (Voronezh, Smolensk and Eagle "), which will allow the formation of a full-fledged anti-aircraft division according to the Soviet model of 8-9 ships.
In addition, currently in the composition of the Federation Council there are 6 MAPLs of the project 971 of various modifications. It is hoped that 5 of them will still be operational by 2030. But Panther, which was commissioned to the fleet in 1990, has “hit” exactly 40 years, despite the fact that the last repair, to date, it completed in 2008, the chances that in the period 2020-2030. it will receive a major upgrade with a longer service life, which is relatively small, so that, most likely, if by 2030 it will also be part of the fleet, then it is already ready for “retirement”. As for the MAPL of earlier projects, even if by some miracle they remain in the Northern Fleet, they will already have a minimum combat value.
With DEPL, the situation is as follows: all 7 "Halibut" of the project 877, obviously, will go on a well-deserved rest, since their service life will reach or exceed 40 years. In addition to them, there is also the lead ship of project 677 "St. Petersburg". It is also assumed that of the 4 LEPs of the Lada type, which are currently under construction, or ordered to such, one (Velikie Luki) will also leave for the Northern Fleet. In general, in an optimistic scenario, in which everything will work out with project 667, and we will manage to launch their serial construction in the current decade, the Northern Fleet will be able to include up to 2030 diesel-electric submarines of project 8 by 677.
And in total, 22 submarines are obtained on the SF, including: 14 MAPLs, of which six are of the 4th generation, eight are of the 3rd generation and 8 diesel-electric submarines. I repeat, in an optimistic scenario. Now let's see what our “sworn friends” have.
The US Navy currently has at least 28 Los Angeles-type MAPLs (the status of Olympia and Louisville is unclear - perhaps they are preparing for disposal, if not then 30), 3 Sivulf ships and 19 -type "Virginia." That is, at least 50 MAPLs, not counting the four transformed into carriers of cruise missiles SSBNs of the Ohio type. It is possible, of course, that this number may be reduced even more, since the Americans are very energetically writing off their Los Angeles and there may be a situation where the arrival of the latest Virginia will not compensate for the failure of the ships of the previous generation. But the United States has 9 Virginia under construction, and there is an order for another 10 ships. Thus, even if new orders do not follow, which is extremely doubtful, the total number of Virginia in the US Navy will reach 38 units, and the total number of 4th generation MAPLs will reach 41 units. (plus 3 Sivulfa). Considering that the Americans are striving to lay 2 MAPLs a year today, the construction of the 38th Virginia will be completed no later than 2031. This is the minimum below which the US Navy will not fall, and it can be assumed that the Americans will strive to maintain their submarine fleet MAPL at a level not less than 50 units. But, since here we have an optimistic scenario for Russia, suppose that by 2030 the US Navy will have 40 MAPLs. Of which, without a doubt, they will be able to allocate 15-18 ships for operations in the northern seas. They will be supported by 8 MAPLs of the Astyut type of the British Navy (today - 3 in service, 4 in construction, 1 signed a contract) and 6 French type Barracuda.
Submarine type Astyut. Terrible on the face, and not that kind inside ...
And, of course, Norway’s 6 diesel-electric submarines, although it’s not possible to predict exactly which boats this will be. The Norwegians were planning to build new ships to replace their 6 diesel submarines “Ula”, but delayed with the contract, and it is possible that by 2030 it was the “Ula” (the same age as our “Halibuts”) that would still form the basis of the submarine forces of this northern country .
And in all, by the year 2030, NATO has obtained 35-38 submarines in the northern theater, including 29-32 4th generation MAPLs and 6 diesel-electric submarines.
Thus, we get more than a double superiority of NATO in the MAPL, while we have only 4 fully-fledged 5th generation ships (Severodvinsk is still intermediate) against 29-32 American and European ones. That is, for equivalent ships, the ratio will be approximately 1: 6 not in our favor. And 8 of our MAPL projects 945A, 971 and 971M, even if modernized, will nevertheless be inferior to their foreign counterparts in a number of parameters. In other words, even in the optimistic scenario, as regards the MAPL, by 2030 there is an overwhelming quantitative and qualitative superiority of the NATO countries, while the small advantage in the DEPL, of course, cannot compensate for it.
Having received this situation in an optimistic scenario, I no longer want to talk about pessimistic.
According to the author, who, however, he does not impose on anyone, the construction of multi-purpose nuclear submarines of projects 885 and 885M in the amount of 9 units is fully justified, and meets the urgent needs of the Navy. One can criticize here only for the small size of the series: I would very much like to bring the number of Ashenes and Ashen-M in our fleet to 12 units to form 2 divisions of such ships - one each for the Northern and Pacific Fleets.
However, the further construction of ultimate in its characteristics, highly efficient, universal (and therefore extremely expensive) submarines will not allow us to create an underwater fleet of the size we need. In the future we will need other submarines.
To be continued ...