Corvettes 20380 were conceived as the basis of the naval surface forces in the near sea zone
On August 12, 2020, an event happened, which a huge number of sailors and simply not indifferent people have been waiting for for many years. At first without any hope, then with hope, albeit timid ... and so it happened.
Russian Defense Minister S.K. Shoigu, having visited the Amur shipyard, announced the construction of six more corvettes on it.
This is a landmark turn. And that's why.
Forgotten anti-submarine defense and corvettes
The main striking power of the Russian Navy is submarines. They are also a critical part of the nuclear deterrence system. Much has been written about this. But submarines cannot operate on their own. In order to leave the bases, and in the case of SSBNs, to make transitions to the areas designated for them to perform combat missions, they need various types of support. In particular, anti-submarine. And it is unthinkable without ships capable of fighting submarines.
In the old days, up to two brigades of small anti-submarine ships, several BODs (later retrained in the TFR) of Project 1135, a consolidated anti-submarine regiment could be involved in the output of one SSBN as a support force. aviation, diesel-electric submarines and one (occasionally two) multipurpose nuclear submarines. Such a large detachment of forces gave the chance that the "strategist" boat could safely move into the designated area of combat patrol.
Disintegration fleet made the attraction of such forces impossible, but the more the importance of those forces that could still be attracted to PLO tasks grew. No less important is their significance after, in the course of carrying out operational-tactical tasks that are no longer related to the support of submarine operations. At the same time, small anti-submarine ships, which were the main class of PLO ships in the near sea zone, were aging, and they needed replacement.
In December 2001, a ship was laid down, which under other circumstances could have replaced the aging IPC - a corvette of the new project 20380. This ship was born hard. Instead of the minimum number of various experimental design developments, as originally planned, there were a lot of them in this project. Funding was volatile. The ship took a long time to build, and when the series was discussed, it turned out that the anti-aircraft missile and artillery system, which is the main air defense system on the lead ship of the Guarding project, is no longer produced.
The lead ship of the project, "Guarding", is distinguished by an anti-aircraft missile and artillery system. All serial ships have the Redut air defense system
The project of the ship was reworked several times, first under the Redut air defense system, then under the new radar complex, the corvettes being handed over to the fleet had huge quality problems and a lack of speed. Bringing the already built ships into a combat-ready state took years. It was a really tough project. Later, on the basis of 20380, project 20385 appeared, which was also born with problems, albeit of a different nature. This ship was originally supposed to be equipped with a German power plant, which subsequently came under sanctions. A ship with Kolomna diesels was being completed, as was the case with 20380. But - an important point - the decision that such ships will no longer be built was made even before the sanctions. The same decision was made for 20380.
"Thundering" of the project 20385. The decision to abandon the series was made even before the sanctions, officials say a lie. But the project really suffered from the sanctions
It was announced that instead of them construction of a series of other ships - project 20386 corvettes - would begin. Expensive, technically complex, overflowing with strange design solutions and having no superiority over 20380 in any weaponsnor in anti-submarine capabilities.
2016 was a milestone year in the Navy's approach to anti-submarine defense. This year, the last diesel corvettes 20380 and the lead corvettes 20386 were laid down. Since then, no other BMZ ANTI-WATER SHIP has been laid down in Russia. Four years later, in Russia, three (!) Corvette vital for the fleet remained in the construction, except for 20386, namely "Strict" project 20380, "Agile" project 20385 at "Severnaya Verf" and "Sharp" project 20380 at the ASZ. And that's it! And this is in a country whose potential adversary's power is based on nuclear submarines of outstanding combat qualities. It's just unthinkable. 6 units of 20380 were delivered to the fleet, two more corvettes of project 20380 are being prepared for mooring ("Zealous" at "Severnaya Verf" and "Aldar Tsydenzhapov" in the Pacific Ocean).
At the same time, the money for shipbuilding was quite allocated. "Monument to project 20386" has already spent huge amounts of money on itself, and, perhaps, "will ask for more." At the same time, the time of the ship's readiness is unknown and cannot be predicted, but the budgets for it have been mastered.
A series of "suitcases without handles" is under construction - patrol ships of Project 22160. They are under construction with very limited combat capabilities of MRK. In general, these three undertakings were very expensive for the country: they could completely upgrade the surface fleet at BMZ with multipurpose ships. These expenses cannot be called rational. But the fleet developed without any intelligible strategy, and what happened was happening. The anti-submarine defense was weak before our eyes, but there was a feeling that this did not bother anyone.
The basis of the future surface forces of the near sea zone in our country was announced project 20386. Which is still not a fact that it will work out, but then, in 2016, despite the formal foundation, it had not yet begun to be built.
I must say that such a strange approach, in which a series of ships seemingly brought to a living state is sacrificed to an incomprehensible and strange project with a huge price, with a huge list of shortcomings and technical risks, caused quite a lot of bewilderment. And this perplexity began to grow even more when the fleets realized that after the construction of the already laid down 20380 and 20385, there would be no more new ships. While Moscow was happily counting the missile cells on the new MRKs being laid, the old IPCs were put on hold in the fleets, and there was no replacement for them. It is not hard to guess that awkward questions were asked somewhere “up the team”.
The Pacific Fleet was particularly affected by the decision to stop the 20380 and 20385 series. For all the time that has passed since the collapse of the USSR, the Pacific Fleet has received fewer new ships and boats than a man has fingers on his hands. And if we talk about the time after 2000, then in general there are three units: a missile boat and two corvettes 20380 - "Perfect" and "Loud".
At the same time, the military power of the Japanese neighbors, who have serious territorial claims to our country, is constantly growing, according to a number of parameters, their navy is already stronger than all our fleets put together. In such conditions, the renewal of the ship's composition was vital. Read more about this in the article "A serious military threat is latently ripening close to Russia".
But it didn't happen. Took place re-bookmark 20386, after its alleged processing, "patrolmen" were built, but nothing changed with the PLO. With the delivery of new ships to the Pacific Fleet too.
Rumors that the series of corvettes will nevertheless be resumed have begun to actively break into public space since 2019. At the end of 2019, in December, Rear Admiral Igor Korolev, Deputy Commander of the Pacific Fleet for Armaments, said during a speech at the ASZ:
“This plant is capable of fulfilling any series of orders. Including ten project 20380 corvettes, which are so necessary for our fleet in the Pacific Ocean. "
It was in some way a sign that there was a chance of a return to common sense. However, 10 units did not coincide with what can be built at the NEA for the state armaments program-2027. As a result, they will order, apparently, six - the same ones announced by the Minister of Defense.
The importance of the renewal of this series can hardly be overestimated. For a long time, the High Command denied any possibility of returning to "completed" projects. The new and supposedly advanced 20386 hung over the prospects of the domestic fleet, making the prospects for anti-submarine defense simply ephemeral. For "political" reasons, it was simply impossible to just pick up and return to the construction of a more or less worked out series - it would have to explain what the problem is with such an advertised supership 20386.
Project 20386 could become the gravedigger of the domestic anti-submarine defense. But he was unable even to do that. The future of the project is still in question. But its authors stole five years from the Navy
The restart of a series of corvettes means that the Ministry of Defense was able to overstep this issue. It doesn't exist anymore, doesn't matter. Now, after 20380, the chances are much higher that erroneous decisions in our military development will begin to be canceled in time, because since it happened with corvettes, then it can happen with anything else.
The second importance of restarting a series of corvettes is that it was in the Pacific that a powerful renewal of the ship's composition began: as many ships for the Pacific Fleet, as announced now, have never been built for this association in post-Soviet Russia.
Well, and third, already understandable: at last we remembered about anti-submarine defense. Better late than never…
Of course, all of the above does not mean that common sense has won finally. But this is definitely a claim that the victory of common sense is far from zero chances. And yes, this is a victory. Victory over stupidity and senseless dispersal of our not very large budgets.
The author is pleased to know that he also made his minimum feasible contribution to this event.
Even before any work began on the allegedly laid 20386 (they began only at the end of 2018), the author wrote an article that simultaneously became both his first and his most resonant material in his career. This is an article “Worse than a crime. Construction of project 20386 corvettes - error "... This article highlighted in more or less detail the disadvantages of abandoning the 20380 series and starting the construction of the 20386 series and voiced a recommendation to abandon the expensive and pointless corvettes of the 20386 project, returning to the proven 20380 or 20385 series. As a more or less acceptable option, it was proposed to complete one 20386 and do not return to this series anymore, making ships based on project 20380 the basis of forces in the near sea zone.
The article received a huge distribution and, in general, on all the resources where it was published, its total number of views was close to a million. This is a lot for Russia, where the population's interest in naval issues is traditionally rather low.
Then the text of the article was revised by the author into a circulation sent to the presidential administration of the Russian Federation. From there it was forwarded to the Main Command of the Navy. After a while, in response to this appeal, a response was received.
In response to the letter of Vice-Admiral Bursuk, the author sent another appeal to his name, where he assessed the arguments against the construction of corvettes of old projects. It remained unanswered for three times longer than allowed by law, and, apparently, it would have remained so further.
However, at the end of 2018, another article was written, this time together with M. Klimov, in which the question of the need for a sound approach to ships in the near sea zone was once again raised in an acute form. This article was approved for publication in one major federal publication, but one day before its publication, information about the upcoming material reached the Ministry of Defense. As a result of a number of events, the material was removed from the press, and the officials responded to the author and the second appeal too, and the response with a significantly overdue date came early in the morning on the first working day of the new 2019 year.
The article, however, was published anyway, but already on the Military Review, in a slightly revised form under the title “Corvette 20386. Continuation of the scam »... And, apparently, she again caused some reaction.
In the future, seeing the futility of repeated appeals, the author tried to bring into the mass consciousness of readers interested in naval issues the idea that, firstly, anti-submarine defense for our country is vitally important, and secondly, that warships that are being built for the Navy, must be multipurpose.
These theses were consistently voiced in articles "The most important ships for Russia need updating" in the business newspaper "Vzglyad" and in an article published in the newspaper "VPK-Courier" under the title "Defenseless Strategists" and dedicated to the need to upgrade ASW ships and their importance in ensuring the combat stability of NSNF. Due to the mass of strange editorial changes in places, the author considers it necessary to provide a link to the original text under the original title: Anti-submarine ships and nuclear deterrence.
Also, questions about the importance of anti-submarine defense and ships capable of performing ASW missions were raised in articles on Voennoye Obozreniye: "A step in the right direction: the project of the multipurpose" Karakurt " (PLO) " и “The light forces of the Navy. Their significance, tasks and ship structure ”.
Bearing in mind that a false thesis has been thrown into society about the impossibility of domestic industry to provide the required number of engines and gearboxes for new corvettes, the author published in the newspaper "VPK-Courier" material about the real possibilities of the domestic industry for the supply of main power plants (GEM) for ships of the near sea zone. It also raised the issue of the tasks of warships in BMZ.
It must be admitted that the thesis about the need to build at least some kind of anti-submarine forces and ensure the actions of SSBNs at the stage of deployment, in general, penetrated into society. Today he is present in public opinion.
Of course, the author is far from attributing to himself any single merits. Even in the press, there were other materials defending a similar point of view. In the Navy and the defense industry structures, the opposition to the idea of "covering up" the construction of multipurpose BMZ ships for the sake of a technical adventure under number 20386 was, apparently, much more important. Nevertheless, the role of public opinion in our observed turn towards common sense was apparently nonzero, as were those who shaped this public opinion to the best of their ability.
Now we must not retreat.
The same visit to S.K. Shoigu Amur Shipyard sheds some light on what the new ASZ corvettes will be like. In the proposed video (at the very beginning) there is a dialogue between the head of the United Shipbuilding Corporation A. Rakhmanov and S. Shoigu.
As you can see, the Minister of Defense promises the head of the USC that there will be no new ROC, which, according to A. Rakhmanov, will allow the corvettes to be built on time. That is, we are talking about what we so chronically lacked: serial production. The ships will be the same. This will certainly speed up their construction and help raise the quality.
The question arises: if the ships will be without ROC, then to which "sub-series" will they belong - to the analogues of "Perfect" and "Loud" or analogs of "Aldar Tsydenzhapov" with a multifunctional radar system? In truth, both are bad, and the latter is also very expensive. It would be logical to unify the corvette in terms of the radar system with the first series Karakurt MRK. This would make it possible to seriously reduce the cost of corvettes and, oddly enough, to strengthen (!) Their air defense. Does such a decision fall under the definition of “no OCD”? Strictly formally yes, because the complex has already been developed and is in the series.
But it may also be such that the customer will go for the most expensive option. This is not very good, but let's not criticize him in advance, so as not to frighten off such luck ...
As for the rest, it will probably be ordinary and familiar 20380 with all their disadvantages and advantages. At the NEA, these ships can turn out better than at the Severnaya Verf, at least, the Loud turned out.
It is also very unlikely that some version of 20385 with "Caliber" will be built at the ASZ. A similar ship with a simplified radar would be an ideal option, but the ASZ had not previously built 20385.
Of course, neither S. Shoigu nor anyone else directly said that 20380 would be built. But the fact that these corvettes were built there earlier, and the dialogue with A. Rakhmanov about ROC make the most probable that it will be 20380 with minimal changes. This is the most logical option.
"Aldar Tsydenzhapov" with a multifunctional radar. Most likely, the new corvettes will be the same
Corvette project 20380 in any of its options is not at all ideal. He has a lot of shortcomings. But today we have a choice between "nothing" and 20380. In such conditions, the renewal of the 20380 series is absolutely correct and uncontested.
However, the question of what the corvette should actually be for the forces of the near sea zone, what weapons and capabilities it should have, has not lost its importance. And in the near future, an analysis of the possibilities of building such ships in the form in which they are needed will be done.
In the meantime, let us congratulate the Navy on returning to the right path. Let's hope that this victory of common sense will be far from the only one.