In the material dedicated to the promising multipurpose nuclear submarine "Husky" ("Laika"), the author, analyzing information from open sources, came to the conclusion that this submarine would be a somewhat improved Yasen-M. In this case, the main direction of improving the ship, most likely, will be its integration into the network-centric space. V. Dorofeev, General Director of St. Petersburg Marine Machine-Building Bureau Malakhit (SPMBM Malakhit), spoke about this:
“The distinctive features of a promising submarine should be sought not in increased speed, deep diving, displacement, dimensions, but in completely other things that are invisible - the possibility of their integration into a single information space of the Ministry of Defense, interaction with surface ships and aviation in real time, that is, the possibility of their participation in network-centric wars. "
In addition, most likely, "Husky" will receive an updated "filling", created on the basis of "new structural materials, new technical solutions in the field of nuclear energy, radio electronics and others" (according to V. Dorofeev). And at the same time, it should be expected that the basic design solutions (propeller, one-and-a-half-body design, etc.) will be preserved. Alas, in this form, "Husky" will represent a "step in place", that is, a modernized "Ash-M", and by no means a next-generation combat ship, as the media say. But the author discussed this in the previous article. Today we will talk a little about something else - the place and role of diesel-electric submarines with VNEU in the domestic underwater navy.
How many Husky will we master?
Let's take another look at the size of the new nuclear submarine. In comparison with previous projects, they will decrease slightly: the underwater displacement of the Yasen, according to various data from open sources, is 12 or 600 tons. The Ash-M has less, and the Husky ...
If Laika-VMF is a Husky and it is, then its underwater displacement is “only” 11 340 tons. Taking into account that the Husky is designed as a carrier of Zircons, the result is far from the worst, which one would expect. Nevertheless, it turns out that the surface displacement of the Husky clearly exceeds 7000 tons, which makes this ship too large for large-scale construction. Will "Husky" be cheaper than "Ash-M", as they say now? This is highly doubtful. Yes, it may take a little less metal to create it, which will give some savings, but that's all. Otherwise, the Husky will cost either the same (if some components and assemblies remain unchanged) or more, due to the use of new technologies, which V. Dorofeev spoke about.
Here, of course, you need to remember the idea of reducing costs by creating a universal ship that can be created in the MAPL and SSBN versions. But let's not forget that at the moment we have in the Navy, under construction and preparing for the laying of 10 SSBNs of projects 955 and 955A. In terms of their equipment, they are largely unified with multipurpose nuclear submarines of the Yasen and Yasen-M types. In other words, the cost of Yasen-M has already developed taking into account this unification, and in order to obtain a similar effect with the Husky, we will have to build a dozen more “strategists” on its basis.
But where do we need so much? According to the author of this article, the absolute maximum for the Russian Navy in the foreseeable future is 16 SSBNs in the fleet - one division each for the North and Pacific Oceans, and even that will be too much. We already have ten SSBNs of recent construction, so there is hardly a state defense order for strategic submarine missile carriers in 2030-2040. will be at least 6 buildings (in reality, hardly more than 2-4, if at all). The next ships of this class will be needed as the Boreyev is decommissioned, that is, not earlier than 2055-2060. By that time, of course, it will be necessary to think about creating a new project.
Thus, the potential reduction in the cost of "Husky" in the MAPL variant due to unification with SSBNs is unlikely to be significant. After all, we do not need a lot of SSBNs of this project, which means that the so-called economies of scale will not happen - due to the absence of this very scale. But the black humor of the situation lies in the fact that the idea of reducing the cost of "Husky" by building MAPLs and SSBNs on the basis of one project is not only false in its essence (limitation of performance characteristics and MAPLs and SSBNs), but, most likely, will not lead to a decrease, but to an increase in the costs of our shipbuilding programs for the submarine fleet as a whole.
Let us recall that, according to the data available in the open press, Borey is about one and a half times cheaper than Ash. But it is obvious that the SSBN based on the "Husky" will not differ so significantly in cost from its own multipurpose modification. Why is that? Let's set up a thought experiment: take the Ash-M and try to build it in a strategic version, replacing cruise missile launchers with intercontinental ballistic missiles. Obviously, it will not fall in price from this one and a half times! That is, having gained a little on the cost of the Husky submarine due to the "economies of scale", we can miserably lose in the price of the Husky submarine, and so much that instead of saving on the creation of the Husky submarine and submarine for one project, we will get a net cost overrun.
In view of the above, we can safely assume that nuclear submarines will not become cheaper in our country. What else can you expect? To increase the military budget? Alas, as follows even from official statistics, the RF GDP for some reason unclear for our leadership does not want to grow at the rates the country needs. And from here follows a simple and sad conclusion: the pace of construction of the Husky will not differ too much from those that we see at Boreyev-A and Ash-M. And what is this pace?
Over the past 10 years, from 2011 to 2020, we have laid down and plan to lay down 31 SSBNs "Borey-A" and the same amount of "Yasenei-M" by December 7 of this year, and only 14 buildings, while the last of them will enter build no earlier than 2028 Taking into account the one and a half difference in cost, it should be expected that in 2021-2030, with a military budget more or less equivalent to the current one, we will be able to lay barely 12 Husky - both in the modification of the SSBN and MAPL, the last of which will enter already in 2038.
Taking into account the fact that by the end of the 30s almost all nuclear-powered ships of projects 949A, 971, 667BDRM, etc. either they leave the system, or they will be on the verge of complete depletion of both the technical resource and the combat value, the really combat-ready nuclear submarine fleet of the Russian Federation by this time will be approximately:
12-14 SSBNs, including: 3 "Boreya", 7 "Boreyev-A" and 2-4 - "Husky".
17-19 MAPLs, including: 1 "Ash", 8 "Ash-M" and 8-10 "Husky".
This number of our multipurpose nuclear submarines will be enough to form one division of MPSS in the Northern and Pacific fleets. But it should be understood that in the case of a "big badabum" this very division will need to simultaneously fight against groups of enemy surface ships and cover the deployment of SSBNs, fighting enemy MAPLs in our near and middle sea zones. For which, of course, just one MAPL division will not be enough.
The problem is compounded by the collapse of the treaties to reduce the deployment of nuclear weapons. The Americans are already talking openly about the possible return of nuclear warheads to the cruise missiles of the fleet - and this means that our submariners will need not only to destroy the AUG and "catch" foreign hunter boats for our SSBNs, but also to destroy the MAPL - carriers of the Tomahawks "With nuclear warheads. Well, how do you order all this to be done, having less than two dozen nuclear submarines against at least 40-50 multipurpose atomarines of the United States, not counting the submarines of their allies? Moreover, in the conditions of NATO anti-submarine aviation domination ...
Here, of course, the question arises: what did our naval commanders rely on before and are counting on today, having abandoned the creation of nuclear torpedo boats (PLATs) of moderate displacement and cost in favor of huge and expensive submarine missile carriers (SSGNs) of the Ash and Husky projects ? And if we recall the shipbuilding program GPV 2011-2020, then there is some suspicion that the stake was made on diesel-electric submarines with VNEU, that is, air-independent engines. Indeed, in the initial iteration of GPV 2011-2020, 10 missile-carrying "Ash" should have accounted for 20 diesel-electric submarines, of which 6 were supposed to be built according to project 636.3, that is, an improved "Varshavyanka" with classical energy, and 14 "Lad" of project 677 with VNEU. Yes, and "Varshavyanka" were going to build only for the reason that our Chornomorians were almost completely left without submarines, and the development of VNEU was delayed: if we had a capable VNEU, all 20 boats would be planned to be made with it.
On the one hand
On the one hand, the solution seems to be perfectly sound and has many advantages.
Firstly, the Russian Federation has 2 closed maritime theaters, the Baltic and Black Seas, on which the basing of nuclear submarines is excessive, that is, for these seas, in any case, it will be necessary to create non-nuclear submarines. So why not use them in other theaters as well, reducing the cost of each unit due to large-scale construction and reducing the diversity of ships in the fleet?
Secondly, as you know, one of the most important, key factors in underwater naval combat is the distance of mutual detection. It is also known that for a number of reasons, both objective and subjective, we ... how to put it mildly ... did not win in this aspect of the confrontation of nuclear submarines. In order to detect the enemy first, it is not necessary to have the best sonar system and at the same time less noise. It is enough to have such a combination to notice the enemy before he notices us. As far as can be understood from open sources again, we usually conceded in this to the Americans, only in some cases achieving parity.
But with diesel-electric submarines, we did it. For a number of reasons, the nuclear submarine is still more noticeable than the diesel-electric submarine, and therefore our "Halibuts" at one time often found the "sworn friends" MPSs, but they themselves remained unnoticed. Then, with the advent of more modern nuclear submarines, this advantage was lost, but, of course, having created a modern non-nuclear submarine, it is quite possible to return it again.
Thirdly, diesel-electric submarines, even with VNEU, are significantly cheaper than nuclear submarines. If you look at the cost of foreign submarines, you get something like the following.
American Virginia. The cost of the ships that are being leased to the Navy has now exceeded $ 2,7 billion (this is the cost of the Illinois, transferred to the US Navy in 2016).
British "Estute". In 2007, the cost of the first three ships (the last of which entered service in 2016) was estimated at 1,22 billion British pounds, or almost 2,4 billion dollars apiece. In general, taking into account inflation, we can say that the American and British nuclear submarines differ very little in price.
French "Barracuda". The smallest multipurpose nuclear submarine in the world. Its surface displacement does not exceed 4 tons, while the Estyut has 765 tons, the Virginia, even before the increase in the number of TLUs - about 6 tons. Apparently, this had a very positive effect on the cost of French atomarines: the amount of the contract for 500 Barracudas does not exceed 7 billion euros, and the most common figure is even smaller - 090 billion euros. Depending on which of the figures is correct, the cost of the French MAPL ranges from approximately $ 6 to $ 8,6 billion. Taking into account that the first Barracuda will go into operation only in 7,9, and the rest - at intervals of 1,57-1,7 years, comparing them with the cost of American and British MAPLs that entered service several years ago is not entirely correct: in comparable figures, the price ratio will be even more positive for the French.
Nevertheless, we see that even the smallest foreign-built nuclear-powered submarines are now "deep" over a billion. At the same time, the last Japanese ships with VNEU, equipped with a Stirling engine ("Soryu"), had a cost of only $ 454 million, and with lithium-ion batteries installed instead of Stirling - 566 or, according to other sources, $ 611 million. The cost of the serial German diesel-electric submarine with VNEU project 212A was 510 million dollars, but it is not clear what time it is, perhaps 2007.
Norway intended to conclude a contract for 4 diesel-electric submarines (with an option for 2 more ships of the same type), created on the basis of the German project 212A, while the value of the contract was supposed to be 4 billion euros, or about 1,2 billion dollars per ship ... But here you need to understand that, firstly, we are talking about the future and one should take into account significant inflation from prices of the same 2016 at the time of the contract, and, secondly, it is very possible that the contract implies not only the construction of diesel-electric submarines, but and any other services like maintenance and scheduled repairs of these ships.
In general, only the Australian contract with the French for 12 non-nuclear submarines with a total value of over $ 3 billion per unit is out of the ordinary. But here, according to the author, something very, very unclean.
Of course, comparing different ships from different countries is a completely thankless task, but nevertheless, some conclusions (at least at the level of the order of numbers) can be drawn. If we take the cost of a large full-fledged MPS with a surface displacement of 6 - 500 tons as a sample, then a small MPS less than 7 tons may well cost about 100-5% of its cost, and diesel-electric submarines with VNEU - no more than 000-50%.
Therefore, it can be assumed that if everything "merged" with VNEU and other "stuffing" of our diesel-electric submarines of project 677 "Lada", then the fleet could get a division of 8 such ships at the price of two "Yasenei-M". But even if the author is accused of unrestrained optimism, and in reality this ratio will be 3: 1, then it makes you think very seriously.
Theoretically speaking, having deployed a large-scale construction of diesel-electric submarines with VNEU, we would have received a relatively cheap and therefore numerous fleet of submarines, each of which had an excellent chance of detecting an enemy atomarina faster than it would be detected itself. At the same time, the fundamental disadvantage of diesel-electric submarines - a short time in position, due to the capacity of batteries, was largely leveled out. The diesel-electric submarine could patrol under the VNEU, conserving the charge in the batteries to complete the combat mission, but even after its completion and the complete depletion of electricity, it could go under the VNEU again.
Everything seems to be fine, but ...
On the other hand
But on the other hand, diesel-electric submarines with VNEU are still far from a panacea. As far as the author knows, the main disadvantage of such a diesel-electric submarine is its low speed: today VNEU provides movement at speeds of no more than 3-5 knots. This was not very good even at a time when the 3rd generation nuclear submarines ruled in the seas and oceans with their silent speed of 5-7 knots. and even higher, and even more so today, when this indicator has grown to 20 knots. The second drawback is the relatively low-power hydroacoustic complex (GAK) diesel-electric submarines, in comparison with that which can be placed on a much larger nuclear submarine.
As mentioned above, in the case of direct confrontation with the enemy's submarine, it is not the characteristics of the SAC per se, but the combination of the capabilities of acoustics with its own stealth that matters. There are also a number of tasks for which a super-powerful SJC, in general, is not required. For example, if a diesel-electric submarine with VNEU is faced with the task of controlling some relatively narrow strait, then it is able to cope with this no worse than an MPS.
But if it is necessary to search for an enemy nuclear submarine in the vast water area of the adjacent sea, then the shortcomings of diesel-electric submarines begin to play a significant role. So, for example, if the detection range of the SSC MAPL exceeds the diesel-electric submarine by two times, and the speed of the low-noise cruise of the MPS is four times higher than the speed of the diesel-electric submarine under the VNEU (20 knots versus 5), then the “search performance” of the MPS will eightfold exceed the capabilities of the diesel-electric submarine with the VNEU.
Further. In combat conditions, there are often cases when it is necessary to concentrate forces to attack any unexpectedly discovered target. Obviously, an MPS with a high low-noise speed is much more mobile than a diesel-electric submarine with VNEU, which may simply not be in time at its 3-5 nodes to the "most interesting". And even if it succeeds, it will take much longer for diesel-electric submarines with VNEU to reach the line of attack than for MPSLs, which is dangerous by its early detection. Than? Yes, by the same ASW aviation using "non-traditional" means of searching for an underwater enemy. But after completing the task of diesel-electric submarines with VNEU, they also leave the area of operation ... And, of course, whatever one may say, the autonomy of MAPLs is still much higher than that of diesel-electric submarines, even if with VNEU.
Thus, we come to the conclusion that the construction of modern diesel-electric submarines with VNEU for our fleet is extremely important and extremely necessary: there are many tasks with which this class of ships will perfectly cope, successfully replacing more expensive MAPLs. But diesel-electric submarines with VNEU, even when equipped, in addition to an air-independent engine, also with high-capacity lithium-ion rechargeable batteries (LIAB), will still not replace, they will not be able to replace nuclear multipurpose submarines. Therefore, the concept of a general-purpose submarine force, consisting of a very limited number of SSGNs and diesel-electric submarines with VNEU, is, in the author's opinion, deeply erroneous.
Rather, it would be erroneous, provided that in our country they managed to create efficient and reliable VNEU and LIAB. We, unfortunately, have not yet done either one or the other; even worse, it's not at all clear when we'll do it. Accordingly, the fact that today, having failed the creation of VNEU, we are not designing a budget multipurpose torpedo nuclear submarine, but another wunderwaffe with blackjack and ... oh, sorry, with network-centric robots and Zircons. Such our actions cannot be classified as an error. Here completely different terms come to mind - "sabotage", for example.
About Dollezhal's eggs
Repeatedly in the discussion of topics related to promising types of submarines, the author came across the following position: they say that we are making a fence? We have very good diesel-electric submarines, we have the ability to create small-sized nuclear reactors, which are the best VNEU of all possible. To bring to mind the same Lada, to put a compact nuclear reactor there - voila, it will be cheap, efficient and cheerful.
Well, about “cheap” one could argue: nevertheless, miniaturization of any complex technique usually costs a pretty penny. The author has heard, for example, that the cost of a tactical nuclear weapon differs little from a strategic one, despite the fact that the power of the latter can be an order of magnitude or even orders of magnitude greater. And the example about a stationary computer and a laptop is generally classic.
But what about efficiency ... The whole question is that diesel-electric submarines running on electric motors, all other things being equal, will be much quieter than a nuclear submarine ship. A nuclear power plant is a rather complex energy conversion system: a reactor produces heat, it needs a coolant, water or metal, which will transfer the energy it receives to another unit. And he will already provide the conversion of heat into kinetic or electrical energy. Such a system is much more complicated than the "battery-powered" diesel-electric submarine or any VNEU, which means that it will make more noise. Thus, the installation of a nuclear reactor on the same "Lada" will lead to the fact that we will get a ship that has similar noise parameters to the MAPL, but a weaker SAC. And, most likely, such a ship will be much weaker than the classic MAPL, especially in terms of mutual detection distances.
Thus, according to the author, the installation of a reactor on a diesel-electric submarine cannot solve the existing problems. But the creation of a MAPL of the most moderate displacement like the French "Barracuda" is a completely different matter.
To be continued ...