The French remote-controlled unmanned underwater vehicle (ROV) RAR-104 has become the most massive and effective "mine killer" of our time, however, the experience of its creation, development and application has been practically forgotten today, not only in our country, but also abroad. Now it has become the norm when not only household products, but also military products are made under the motto "products should first of all sell well and bring maximum profit", while the issues of real usefulness and efficiency are often forgotten.
In contrast to this, TNPA RAR-104 is an example of a rational and brilliant in its simplicity (even "primitiveness") effective product, a kind of anti-mine "thirty-four".
It is of interest that the TNLA RAR-104 (including the prototype, the entire complex and the concept of its use) was developed within the organizations of the French Naval Forces (Navy). It was transferred to the ECA firm in the early 70s of the last century for the organization and maintenance (including the development of new modifications) of its serial production.
At the time of development (late 60s - early 70s), the French Navy had the following requirements for an anti-mine TNLA:
- significantly greater speed and range of application than that of combat pilafs-miners: range of up to 500 m and depth of work 10-100 m;
- action at sea state up to 4 points and current speed up to 3-4 knots;
- the most simple design, no complicated maintenance between operations;
- availability of means of identification of mines and transmission of information to the ship (TV camera and coaxial communication cable);
- the possibility of dropping an explosive charge sufficient for reliable destruction of a mine (including in conditions of zero visibility);
- placement on minesweepers of combat strength without their re-equipment and performing serious work;
- low level of physical fields (acoustic and magnetic);
- working time not less than 20 minutes.
The key idea of the RAP-104, which made it possible to create an effective and simple TNLA at the turn of the 70s, was to use a guideroot for movement above the bottom (at a height of about 2 m). Those. the underwater vehicle did not generally have the means and the depth control channel, which made it possible to dramatically simplify the design (as it turned out later, this also turned out to be a very effective solution for the combat use of TNLA in especially difficult conditions).
The solution to the use of a close to axisymmetric streamlined (with moderate elongation) shape of the ROV body turned out to be very effective. This gave not only a decrease in resistance to movement, but also stability and controllability along the course.
Since the beginning of the 70s, the complex with TNPA RAR-104 was installed on the newest (then) minesweepers - mine finders (TSCHIM) Circe.
When a mine-like underwater object is detected by a hydroacoustic station (GAS) of mine detection DUBM-20A, a ROV RAR-104 is sent for its further examination and classification, the TNPA gyrocompass is launched on the carrier, it is lowered by a crane into the water and immersed (with simultaneous removal from the board from the auxiliary control panel on the running bridge) to the ground (contact of the guiderope with the ground), then control is transferred to the main console in the navigator's cabin.
Its operator controlled the guidance of the TNPA at the mine-like object. If this is a mine, then the explosive charge and the guide drop are dropped, the TNPA floats up, approaches (control from the auxiliary console on the undercarriage) to the TCHM, climbs on board with a crane.
Scheme of the use of TNPA RAR-104 with its "combination" with the target mark and movement over the ground with a guide
If the object is not a mine, then only the guide drop is dropped, the TNLA with ammunition is suitable at the side for reuse.
Note: usually on board the TSCHIM NATO navy, the ammunition load of mine-action ammunition was about 50 pieces. Taking into account their mass (140 kg, of which 100 kg is an explosive charge), placing a larger ammunition load was difficult and had to be protected. The detonation of the ammunition put on the mine was carried out through the hydroacoustic channel, taking into account the "temporary blocking" for a guaranteed withdrawal of the TNLA (and TSCHIM itself) for more than 15 minutes. In the absence of a command to detonate for 30 minutes, the ammunition was brought into an inactive (“safe”) state by the safety circuit.
In conditions of very poor visibility, the large mass of the discharged charge ensured the destruction of mines even without its visual detection and "aiming", simply by combining the TNLA mark and the mine on the GAS screen (after which the ammunition was dropped).
After boarding the ROV, the time to prepare it for reuse (replacing the explosive charge and the guide drop, installing a new coil with cable, and (if necessary) replacing the lead-acid battery (initially 145 A * h) was about 15 minutes.
The horizontal speed of the RAR-104 was originally 5 knots. (later increased to 6), motion control was carried out by changing the engine speed. At the same time, the scheme with a guideline provided a very high maneuverability of the ROV.
The mass of the TNLA fully prepared for use (with ammunition and a guide drop) was 700 kg.
Launching of TNPA RAR-104 with a guideline
TNLA RAR-104 turned out to be quite simple, with a moderate cost (taking into account the low level of its physical fields, this was a serious achievement) and very well balanced in terms of characteristics (range of use, guidance errors and ammunition mass), therefore, its enormous popularity in a large number of countries is not surprising , which arose almost immediately after its appearance.
Here it is worth noting that France has always been able to sell and effectively serve weapon, and the RAR-104 has become a very worthy representative of the showcase of its military export, along with the Exoset anti-ship missile system, the Combatant missile boats, the Mirage fighter and other well-known models.
The first carriers of TNPA RAR-104 were TSCHIM Circe. It is interesting that they have survived to this day (already as part of the Turkish Navy), moreover, despite the replacement of the GAS with more modern ones (for example, TSCHIM Edincik, the installation of a new GAS MATESS of the Turkish design) TNPA, these TSCHIM retained the PAR-104. They performed their tasks quite effectively.
SWEEP Edincik type Circe (photo 2018)
In the mid-80s, the French, Dutch and Belgian navies launched a massive Tripartite program to upgrade their mine action forces. TNPA RAR-104 (in new modifications), the development of GAS DUBM-20A, GAS DUBM-21, were adopted as the main anti-mine weapons of the new TSCHIM, and an automated mine action control system (ACS PMD) to improve efficiency and mine action.
The first modification of the PAP-104 mod.2 appeared in 1975 and did not carry any fundamental design changes, some modifications were made taking into account the experience of use and to ensure mass serial production.
In 1983 (modification mod.4), the depth of application was increased to 300 m.
But model 5 became the most effective and widespread. The TNLA received a modular design with the ability to replace components:
- nasal: with a TV camera (conventional), sound imager and long-range search engine;
- tail: conventional and version with a vertical engine;
- onboard electric motors: conventional (horizontal) and with additional vertical motors;
- several options for guides;
- several cable options, incl. disposable fiber optic with a diameter of 1,5 mm.
ROV PAP-104 mod.5
Despite a number of other anti-mine TNLA, RAR-104 became the most massive TNLA PMO in the world in the 80s.
Then there was the war.
Persian Gulf, 1991-1992 Triumph RAR-104
The epilogue of the Cold War was the Iraqi war with the forces of the international coalition led by the United States in 1991.
Along with the massive obsolete bottom and anchor mines (in a significant part of the production of the USSR), the Iraqi Navy also possessed the latest models of modern low-signature Manta mines (made in Italy).
Bottom mine Manta. Right - a short time after setting
The actions of the anti-mine forces made it extremely difficult for the high velocities of currents, extremely low visibility, drifts of mines with sand (with a high attenuation of sonar probes in it) and the massive use of mines by Iraq (about 2000 in total were exposed).
At the beginning of hostilities, mines blew up the helicopter carrier Tripoli (the flagship of the mine action forces) and the cruiser URO Princeton.
Helicopter carrier "Tripoli" after the blast in the dock
Further events became triumphant for the mine action forces of the coalition (composition: 4 TEAM US Navy, 5 TEACH UK Navy, 5 TEACH FRG Navy, 4 TEACH French Navy, 1 TEACH Italian Navy, 3 TEACH Dutch Navy, 1 TEACH Japanese Navy), destroyed 728 anchor , 285 bottom and 137 floating mines. The French TSCHIM "Eridan" in 242 hours destroyed 50 bottom and 50 anchor mines, 63 times were used TNPA RAR-104 (while the cycle of destruction of one mine was 15-20 minutes), 61 times - miner divers.
The presence of low-frequency GAS paths for mine detection DUBM-21 made it possible to detect even mines partially washed out by sand (including subtle MANTA). Yes, by modern standards this GAS was “rude” and did not give an accurate and beautiful “picture”. But she simply effectively solved (in conjunction with the RAR-104) a very complex real combat mission. The conditions of low transparency of water and high flow rates showed the effectiveness of the TNPA guiderope, which was then considered archaic. To classify a mine in such conditions, it is necessary to move the TNLA in the area of the mine in a few meters and decimeters.
The guiderope, which in this situation was a kind of "anchor", made it possible to do this very effectively (and with a minimum rise of turbidity from the bottom).
It should be noted that the Western media mentioned invitations to the Soviet leadership to join the mine action (after the end of the hostilities themselves). However, the USSR Navy, taking into account the installation of modern bottom mines in the Persian Gulf, could not imagine anything close to equivalent to the anti-mine forces of NATO.
The prevailing concept of walking on mines with trawls in that situation would have led to a massive undermining of minesweepers of the USSR Navy (with the corresponding political consequences).
And then effective managers came ...
By the early 90s, ESA was at its peak, being a trendsetter (and quite deservedly) in the subject of modern mine action. However, the Cold War ended, and in the wake of a sharp decline in military confrontation, cuts in military budgets, and diversification of production, “effective managers” began to come to the leadership of many structures and organizations (in fact, in all countries). “The main thing is profit”, “advertising is the engine of trade”, etc. "Innovation" and "optimization" started.
In the 90s, taking into account new conditions and threats (including the appearance of "defenders" mines to detonate a TNLA), ESA developed a TNLA Оlistеr with a powerful propulsion unit to ensure the use of a large-sized GAS search for mines. Taking into account the increased level of physical fields and the increased sensitivity of new mines, “nailing down” (destroying mines) was considered very risky for such expensive ROVs, and “small” RECA ROVs were planned to destroy them from the Olistе.
But the conditions changed, experienced specialists left, “managers” came, the RECA TNLA was, as they say, “optimized” until the topic was completely closed (along with the same “optimization” of the PAP-104 mod.5 series), after which Olister was “ castrated ”(with the deprivation of the“ big ”GAS and RECA destroyers) and became known as PAP-104 mod.6. The logic of this renaming is clear, the name RAP-104 itself became a brand, so it had to be used as a sticker for a new product. Especially if the product is downright questionable and sells very poorly.
ROV RAR-104 mod.6
In fact, having closed the line of the successful RAR-104 mod.5, the ESA company itself gave up the market for heavy and medium anti-mine TNLA for Italian manufacturers TNPA PLUTO (who also implemented the concept “simple but effective”, but already at the modern technical level, with a decrease in the size of the TNLA).
In general, the ESA firm did not do well in the late 2000s until it found a solvent but incompetent in modern mine action client - the Ministry of Defense and the Russian Navy. This is how the scam began (otherwise it is impossible to name the use of budgetary funds spent on practically non-combatable anti-mine weapons) with the "Russian" complex "Diamand" (in fact - the French DIAMAND).
Within the framework of this contract, it would be very nice to get a reliable and proven "classic" - RAP-104 mod.5, but it was already buried by the ESA company itself, and therefore the contract with the RF Ministry of Defense contained a complete "inadequate" of boats, AUV and small TNLA ... The best illustration of the juicy details (worthy of the pen of Agatha Christie) of this "cooperation" is that the boats planned to be installed on the ships of Project 12700 suddenly "grew" by 1,5 meters and 2 tons and did not physically fit on the Project 12700 (it turned out almost according to Marshak : "However, during the journey the dog could grow up").
When talking with domestic specialists who, on duty, supervised this contract, to simple questions like "where did you look" the answers were in the spirit of "the French did not show us this." Taking into account the fact that in the contract for the Mistrals our French side was completely turned out, this “girlish naivety” of our side in the mine countermeasures contract raises a lot of questions.
The export contract for the road minesweeper - mine finder (project 10750E: TsMKB "Rubin", built by JSC "SNSZ") for Kazakhstan also ended in actual failure. Having received the ship (with an ESA anti-mine complex), the foreign customer immediately canceled the plans for the second ship, and the Russian side was left with large losses.
Having finally got to know the "Diamand" closely, the Russian Navy was not at all an easy shock from the extremely poor real capabilities of the beautiful and advertised European technology, after which the question of further cooperation with the ESA firm was closed.
But the final (for today) act of this comedy with elements of drama should be noted.
In May 2019, the ministries of defense of Belgium and the Netherlands signed a formal contract with the consortium Belgium Naval & Robotics (representing the French companies Naval Group and ECA Group) worth about 2 billion euros to build 12 new generation mine-sweeping ships for the Belgian and Dutch navies to replace currently in service minesweepers-seekers of mines of the Tripartite type.
"Promising" large minesweeper-finder of the Belgium Naval & Robotics consortium (Naval Group and ECA Robotics)
They also wanted to "make happy" the Russian Navy with such an "anti-mine battleship".
To whom and how much did they bring in? This secret is great. But the French Navy (an active participant in the previous Tripartite program) unlocked such "happiness" as best they could and eventually fought back. The reason for such a categorical rejection of the "new" French Navy is that the beautiful new "mine action battleships" ("creative" and "innovative", with a displacement of almost 3000 tons, that is, 7 times more than ships of the Tripartite program) are physically incapable to perform the work that was brilliantly done by the YSHCHIM buildings of the 70s - 80s. in the Persian Gulf in 1991, for a number of reasons (including the rate on fashionable "autonomous systems", excluding the possibility of effective use of low-frequency sonars). Those. "Manty" slightly washed out with sand will certainly not be found and missed.
And the RAR-104? Of course, there are none on the new "creative" of the ECA firm. So to speak, out of fashion ...
But they continue to serve on many dozen anti-mine ships in the world, still remaining one of the most massive heavy anti-mine TNLA. Yes, today the RAR-104 was supplemented with small anti-mine TNLA. But they have their own "tactical niche" of use, medium and heavy ROVs have their own, and they effectively complement each other.
And now the conclusions. Hard
The RAR-104 lesson is very relevant for the Russian Navy precisely because of its simple rational approach to solving the task of destroying mines. If a simple TNLA can do a job, then why do a complex and expensive one? Yes, the industry wants to eat, but here the question is in the tough and correct formulation of the problem for it! Fleet NEEDS ANTI-MINE FORCES! It is an effective anti-mine FORCES, not a few minesweepers for parades.
In the event of real hostilities, the number of mines delivered to us will be measured in many thousands. And the mine action forces of the Navy must have the necessary combat capabilities. Those. industry needs to be firmly directed towards simple but effective products suitable for mass serial construction, providing the necessary ammunition for the Navy for real solution of tasks as intended.
These issues are covered in more detail in the articles:
"What is wrong with our minesweepers?"
“What's wrong with the 12700 project's newest PMK?”
"The issue of the non-combat capability of the Russian Navy against the modern mine threat must be resolved as soon as possible"
It is especially necessary to note the criteria for the effectiveness of mine action:
1. Search performance (for the search for mine-like objects).
2. Productivity for classification and destruction of mines.
3. Extremely small probability of missing and non-disposal of mines when conducting PMD.
4. Correspondence of the capabilities of anti-mine complexes to the real mine threat (primarily in terms of the number of mines and the possibility of their destruction within the required time frame).
As of today, the Russian Navy has 4 minesweepers and minesweepers and 4 (four) anti-mine TNLAs (and which have an outdated concept and will be blown up on the very first mine defender). Only 4 TNLA for the entire Navy. All over the country.
It is worth recalling that we now have 11 strategic submarines in the Navy (there is simply no anti-mine support due to the complete antiquity and non-combat capability of the anti-mine forces of the Northern and Pacific Fleets).
Today we are facing a real threat of war with Japan. At the Pacific Fleet, not a single modern anti-mine ship, now there along the Northern Sea Route urgently, even without carrying out factory sea trials, is being pulled on the Balyaev tug (project 12700). It will enter service next year, and there will be 1 (one) LONG in the entire Pacific Fleet.
At the same time, the senior military-political leadership is reported that everything is in order.
In June 2019, before the immersion of Russian President V.V. To the skeleton of the submarine Shch-1942, which was lost in 308, the newest minesweeper-finder of the Russian Navy "Alexander Obukhov" carried out a "cleanup" of the diving area from German bottom mines left over from the Great Patriotic War. The President was shown that the Navy "can fight" mines. The problem is that the French Circe (with TNPA RAR-104) and our base minesweeper of the early 70s, Project 1265 (with TNPA "Luch-1" of the KIU-1 complex), could have done such work with exactly the same efficiency. but with new types of mines the "newest" project 12700 has very serious problems ...
Anti-mine junk such as MTShch "Ivan Golubets" is still being used for military service. "Rubbish" not because the ship was built in 1973 (and thanks to the crew for cherishing and cherishing the old ship), but because with its antique armament, only the flag is displayed and remains, in battle and when performing tasks as intended it will become easy a mass grave. And here one cannot fail to recall the Polish minesweepers, moreover, of an even older construction, and the Turkish TSCHIM Circe, which received both mine-action TNLA and new (or modernized) GAS.
Today, a number of officials take the position of refusing to modernize the minesweepers of the combat strength, including in order not to interfere with the "development of budgetary funds" for a series of new ships of Project 12700. The problem is that Project 12700 has a number of very serious shortcomings, and its pace construction in no way provides, even by 2027, the creation of the necessary anti-mine forces of the Navy. The solution to this problem is impossible without the modernization of the minesweepers of the combat strength. And here the question of a simple and massive anti-mine TPNA inevitably arises. TNLA, which does not exist and which was not even ordered by the Navy.
The awe-inspiring state of work on domestic underwater vehicles is the subject of a separate (next) article. In the meantime - a short excerpt of pre-war documents (from a lecture by the historian of the Navy Miroslav Morozov on the Tactic Media channel).
Then the admirals had the courage to report the real situation and problems to the country's leadership. What is missing now?