We continue the topic of our submarine forces and the not very pleasant situation associated with them. On the one hand, it's nice to know that if something happens, our underwater monsters will tear down one continent from the face of the earth, seemingly completely inhabited by enemies. Even in revenge.
On the other hand, I would like to think that these are not fantastic dreams. That our boats really go fast, they dive deeply, they cannot be easily detected, and weapon they are guaranteed to us by everything that must guarantee. That is, security and the absence of even thoughts from a potential adversary that he will be able to become probable with impunity.
But the sensational incident with the Omsk submarine, which for some reason surfaced during the exercise near Alaska, makes one wonder if everything was so cloudless.
It is clear that our military department will not tell the truth under torture, but there are not many reasons that can drive a nuclear submarine to the surface. Therefore, it is clear why the Americans are so worried.
Experts knowledgeable in business naval, argue that a submarine can surface in three cases.
The first - if there is an accident, fire, emergency on board. This is clear.
The second - if there is a sick or wounded on board, who must be urgently picked up. Also understandable. The boat comes up and waits for the helicopter, which takes the person whose life is in danger.
The third is "if provided for in the exercise plan." Very vague wording.
It's hard to say what actually happened. The Omsk crew is very experienced, awarded with various prizes for performing various training tasks, but still some sediment remained. Yes, they did not surface in American territorial waters, it is. There are no reasons for concern, but the fact that our Ministry of Defense, usually very verbose in describing victories, has modestly kept silent, leaving the media to unwind the situation, already speaks volumes.
And God forbid that "Omsk" really surfaced, just to show off in front of the Americans. Put the sickle in the "window to America", so to speak.
Yesterday (that is, 10 years ago) we talked, and talked a lot, about the general rearmament of all nuclear submarines with Caliber cruise missiles. The idea, in fact, is a good one, if only not an excessive overestimation of the usefulness of such a decision in terms of the fact that "Caliber" is a good missile, but certainly not "Caliber" alone should strengthen the country's defense capability.
Nevertheless, many media outlets have published, at the suggestion of the Ministry of Defense, information that all upgraded Project 949A submarines will be equipped with Kalibr missile launchers. The ammunition load will be 72 units per boat.
For Anteev, this is a logical decision. Still, this is the most numerous type of nuclear-powered submarines capable of solving tasks of countering any grouping of enemy ships.
Of the 11 built boats ("Belgorod" does not count) 4 have already gone under the knife, 5 after repairs of varying complexity continue to serve, and two ("Irkutsk" and "Chelyabinsk") went for this very modernization, which will last until 2023.
With the rest, everything is still very unclear.
In fact, the requirements of our command for the fastest introduction of new types of weapons are understandable. Long ago, since the beginning of the new century, it became clear that the weapons systems that our fleet uses are not asking for, they require updating. Real, not for the press, "next year we will have a miracle weapon", but real things that will make potential opponents really think about it without quotation marks.
By the way, not only Antei, but also Project 971 and 945A submarines, decided to upgrade to the "X +" level. Quite justified.
Who should have done this? Naturally, manufacturers. For boats of project 949A, proposals for improvement were developed at Central Design Bureau "Rubin", work on boats of Project 945 was puzzled by Central Design Bureau "Lazurit", and the boats of Project 971 were to be modernized at SPMBM "Malachite".
The money was allocated by the budget, which the enterprises, of course, knew about. And with pleasure we were preparing to carry out the so-called "medium repair" for the boats in 2009, which is carried out in the middle of the estimated service life of the ship. It was supposed to repair all the systems of the boats, and replace the electronics as needed with more modern ones. And the pinnacle of the repair was to be the installation of the KR "Caliber" on the boats.
What's on the list?
Project 949A. 7 boats, of which 2 are in a state of repair, 2 are modernized.
Project 971 (9) boats, 10 (4) under repair, modernized 5.
The difference is one boat because of the K-331 Magadan, which is under repair, after which it is planned to be leased to India.
Project 945A. 2 boats, both in service, repair and modernization in the plans.
In general, over 11 years we received only 6 properly modernized submarines. This is not much considering how much money and businesses were involved.
"Caliber". Since we are talking about a total "calibration" of all possible ships, then this is the consideration. It is estimated that today the total salvo of all our surface ships will be about one and a half hundred "Caliber". A sad figure when compared with the capabilities of the US Navy in terms of Tomahawks.
Here, many experts openly oppose the construction of small missile ships of the Buyan-M type, since the ships cost money, there are many problems with them, and the real possibilities are so-so.
Here I agree on two points, because the capabilities of a cruise missile boat in the Caspian Sea is one thing, but a nuclear submarine with the same missiles 200 km from the coast of North (for example) America is completely different.
And there are more goals, and you can deliver without problems ...
A nuclear submarine with cruise missiles will definitely be more effective than an RTO near its coast. Although the MRK is also a very necessary thing, because it will not allow anyone to walk calmly off the coast.
That is, MRK is a purely defensive weapon (okay, almost), and a nuclear submarine is also almost defensive.
But nuclear submarines are like ours, which cannot be said about our small surface carriers of cruise missiles. They have one more negative place. These are Chinese engines. Alas, which are very far from ideal, but ours are even worse. Russian ship diesel engines are worse than Chinese ones in the sense that they simply do not exist. And this is a scrap, against which, unfortunately, there is no reception.
And if we disagree with the opinion of those who argue that it was possible not to spend money on the mosquito fleet for now, but to "do everything" to modernize submarines, then by the turn of 2023 (or a little later, as we usually do) we would have received a doubling of the theoretical salvo of "Caliber".
But you must admit that doubling is not zeroing. Doubling has tangible potential for both us and the enemy.
But somehow it so happened that the work did not go as we would like ideally. One can only guess why we went along two roads at once, and got stuck on both.
The construction of RTOs stopped at number 12. And 12 MRKs are just 96 launch cells for Calibers. That is, comparable to two submarines. Not enough.
And with submarines, too, not everything is beautiful. Modernization works are proceeding very slowly. Moreover, there is information that the modernization work was constantly being "refined". To say that all boats that are under repair will be properly modernized is somewhat ... imprudent.
The Ministry of Defense does not provide normal information, and it is also not very correct to believe rumors.
However, it is thanks to the information that leaks into the "open air" that many experts conclude that the repairs are going a little differently from what was presented earlier.
"Irkutsk" and "Chelyabinsk" will clearly not meet the deadline, we will be able to find out about this in the near future. Work with these boats has been going on since 2013, and for some reason there is no information about how close they are to completion.
Of the boats of Project 971 sent for repair, only K-328 and K-461 are undergoing normal medium repair, after which the service life of the ship is extended by 10 years. On the rest of the boats, the technical readiness is being restored and individual systems are being finalized.
But if the boats do not undergo proper repair and modernization, they will also remain at the level of the 90s of the last century, that is, thirty years ago. This is an unpleasant moment.
In fact, modernization, if done with direct hands and with proper financial support, as the experience of the same Americans shows, is a big deal. Indeed, the US Navy includes submarines of the Ohio and Los Angeles classes produced in the first half of the 80s. But no one would dare to call these ships floating misunderstandings. This is even nowadays quite real combat units.
And the whole point is solely in timely upgrades and the amounts spent on this matter.
We know how to build luxurious and scary submarines. This is an indisputable fact, and there is no point in discussing it. Our engineers and designers have created several families of simply magnificent submarines that will be able to hold our shield until new ships enter service. The same "Boreas".
But boats that last 20 years need to be up to date. Reduced noise, increased autonomy, more efficient combat systems and advanced weapons.
Isn't our design bureau able to reduce the noise level of the same boats of Project 945 and 949? Yes, Project 971 is already good in terms of silence, if you add "Caliber" - it will be really very serious.
We do not have as many submarines as the Americans.
The alignment is not at all in our favor, and we have only one way out - to take quality versus quantity. Our 36 nuclear submarines versus 70 American ones is not a very pleasant situation. And we just have to raise our boats (I hope everyone understands that building 30 new submarines in a short time is not about Russia) to such a level of superiority when the quality of characteristics and weapons levels out the quantity.
Our submariners have at their disposal long-range anti-submarine weapons in the form of the Answer anti-submarine missiles and the Lasta anti-torpedoes, which in battle can provide our boats with a noticeable advantage, since the Americans with such weapons are worse. More precisely, they do not have it in this quality even on the new Virginias.
If you look at what the developed ATT / Tripwire has been removed from ships at all, then you can breathe out for now. But this does not mean at all that you can relax. On the contrary, the Americans will not rest until they create a new anti-torpedo. After all, the US Navy is written and financed with a capital letter.
Therefore, with a share of regret, we have to admit that those astronomical amounts in dollars are much larger than in rubles, put the American submarine fleet one step higher than the Russian one.
Salvation, as already mentioned, is in modernizations. But here we again have a gap, because so far all plans cannot boast of fast and high-quality implementation. "Irkutsk", "Chelyabinsk", "Leopard", "Wolf" - that's all that is available today in terms of boats that have received due modernization.
At the Army-2020 forum (which for some reason serves precisely to declare such things), it was announced that two more boats of Project 971 would be modernized.
Of course, it’s good to hear such statements in January and not in August, but not to postpone the forum for this? Although it is still not entirely clear why such statements can be made only on the forum and documents must be signed without fail.
In any case, plus two more submarines. Okay, of course, but right now it is “only” 2020, as you can see. And almost 10 years have passed since the momentous decision to carry out modernizations was made. And the boats, one might say, are still there ... In the queue for repairs.
And 10 years is 10 years. The boats are 10 years older. Have aged by as much as 10 years. Mechanisms, pipelines, wires and cables. I generally want to cry about electronics ...
And at such a pace in some five years, we will observe the adoption of completely different decisions: on the expediency of further operation of the boats.
Some experts from among those caring for the state of the fleet believe that at such a pace there is no longer a question of average repair and modernization. And the boats of the project 971 will wait for the same maintenance of technical readiness at the same level, coupled with minor upgrades, as far as the budget allows.
This is a pretty logical statement, since the ruble has depreciated greatly since 2009. And for the same amount, it is simply unrealistic to carry out the volume of work in 2020 at the level of 2014.
Accordingly, we have a very unpleasant picture. The boats of Project 971 will be kept afloat, the same may apply to the boats of Project 949, which will serve indefinitely "as is".
It is unpleasant. The P-700 "Granite" anti-ship missile system, created in the 70s and 80s by the great Chelomey, was still a serious weapon at the beginning of this century. But now - excuse me, "Granite" is outdated both morally and physically. It's just an old missile that certainly poses some threat to the enemy, but ... But it's a very old missile. And it is not difficult to neutralize it with modern weapons.
It's unpleasant. And what's more unpleasant is that the ships of Project 949A have very good potential in terms of upgrades. Which will not be used, and the boats by the turn of 2030 will simply exhaust their resource and will be written off.
And nothing can be done about it, because the submarine is not a surface cruiser. This surface can hang around in the water area of some inland sea, frightening its backward neighbors with its appearance. Demonstrating the flag, so to speak.
The submarine, alas, is burdened with tasks of a somewhat different plan. And he, unlike his surface colleague, has to transfer loads of a slightly different plan.
And boat hulls that were not mentioned in the general list. They will also get tired and outdated by 10 years ...
What are the options? Well, yes, build new boats. Urgently, at Stakhanov's pace.
And here again, not everything is smooth. Russia today has one nuclear submarine, thank God, a universal one that can be built. Project 855M Yasen-M submarine missile cruiser.
Plus the project 955 strategic submarine Borey, which, in fact, is a very highly specialized ship.
Boats are expensive. Not just expensive, but insanely expensive. For 50 billion rubles of Ash is a lot. "Northwind" is half the price. But the most unpleasant thing is that Ash itself requires modernization.
And what do we have in the end?
As mentioned above, we have everything:
Project 949A. 7 boats, of which 2 are in a state of repair.
Project 971. 9 boats, of which 4 are under repair.
Project 945. 2 boats, 1 under repair.
Project 945A. 2 boats, both in service.
Project 671RTMK. 2 boats, 1 under repair.
A total of 22 boats, of which 14 are ready for missions.
And to replace all this rather motley company, Russia can build 9 "Ash" and 10 "Boreyev". In numbers, everything looks good, in terms of time - terrible. The construction period of one submarine cruiser is 7-8 years, and we may have "shifts to the right". That is, the "Voronezh" and "Vladivostok" pledged this year may just go out for testing, and some of the "old people" will have to be written off.
2030 will be the year of a certain Rubicon, when it turns out that old boats will go to the scrap, and new ones will not be built yet. And this year, unfortunately, is not far off.
If in 2010, according to the plans, the modernization of the third generation boats would begin, then this transition could be significantly smoothed, since the mid-life repair would extend the life of the boats, which could easily ensure the entry into service of new ships.
And it turns out that against the background of huge costs we will have a reduction in the fleet.
And the last thing. Whatever the modern "Ash" is, it is smaller than the predecessors of the third generation. And with all its advantages, the small-sized "Ash" (and "Ash-M" is even smaller) can take on board no more than 50 "Calibers", while the boat of Project 949A can carry 72.
Losing a volley is serious.
As a result, we can draw the following conclusion: not the best times await us. We cannot quickly and efficiently modernize old boats, we cannot quickly and efficiently build new ones to replace them, we can spend huge amounts of money and wait for the result.
It is clear that in the near future we do not have a full-fledged war in our plans. However, the weakening of our underwater shield and sword may instill illusions in some countries ... not necessary for us in the first place.
How to get out of this situation and who can take advantage of this situation? About this in the third (and last) part.