What tasks should the Russian Navy solve? And what should be its composition for solving these problems? Let's try to consider these issues in stages, based on the importance of the tasks to be solved.
Challenges and opportunities
Exactly so - tasks, taking into account the possibility of their solution. It makes no sense to pose a problem if its solution is obviously unattainable. For example, a symmetrical opposition to the American naval forces (Navy) with conventional weapons, and even at a distance from the borders of the Russian Federation - this task is obviously impossible due to the incomparable financial and technical capabilities, as well as the peculiarities of the geographical location of the United States and Russia.
There is no special sense in the task so beloved by many as "demonstration of the flag", if, of course, it means beautiful but useless trips of 3,5 ships to the other end of the world, and not a real force capable of influencing the situation in the area of its presence.
The use of NK for trips to "distant countries" in conditions when in fact they have practically no opportunity to carry out a real combat mission there, nothing more than "show off"
Then what tasks should the Russian Navy solve?
According to the author, the first and main (but not the only) task of the Russian Navy is strategic deterrence.
Challenge # 1 - Strategic Deterrence
Strategic missile submarine cruisers (SSBNs) are currently one of the most important elements of the nuclear triad, second only in combat power to the Strategic Missile Forces (Strategic Missile Forces). There is even an opinion that at present there is a serious bias towards the naval component of the strategic nuclear forces (SNF).
Given the actual dominance of the US Navy and NATO in the waters of the oceans, such an opinion may be well founded. Nevertheless, there are factors that justify the presence of a developed naval component of the strategic nuclear forces - "putting all the eggs in one basket" can lead to the enemy concentrating on the possibility of destroying the remaining component of the strategic nuclear forces (which the Strategic Missile Forces actually are) and find a way to destroy them by sudden disarming blow with a result acceptable to him.
In addition, there is an objective reality in which the newest SSBNs of project 955 (A) "Borey" are present. It hardly makes sense to consider sending the latest weapons, on which billions of rubles were spent, on needles? This means that the Russian Navy must, as a matter of priority, ensure their combat stability.
SSBN project 955 (A) "Borey" is an integral reality of our Navy, critically important for ensuring the strategic security of the Russian Federation
How can this be done and what is needed for this?
Taking into account the above thesis about the overwhelming dominance of the US Navy and NATO at the moment, these can only be the so-called "bastions" - the guarded patrol areas of Russian SSBNs. At the exit from the bases and in the "bastions" SSBNs will be threatened by the enemy's multipurpose nuclear submarines (PLA), in the "bastions" themselves - his anti-submarine aviation, and surface ships.
Again, taking into account the aforementioned thesis, the "bastions" of Russian SSBNs should be located in relative proximity to the Russian coast, therefore, aircraft carriers and even ships of the first rank are not required to protect them. More precisely, they can be used to solve this problem, and very effectively, but the price of such a solution for the Russian budget will be prohibitively high.
What resources do we need to solve the problem of ensuring the combat stability of SSBNs?
To combat enemy submarines, own submarines (submarines), anti-submarine surface ships (NK) and anti-submarine defense aviation (ASW) can be used.
At the same time, the use of submarines and NKs, not to mention PLO aviation, to combat surface ships, within the framework of solving the problem of defending the enemy's SSBN bastions, is inappropriate. Surface ships will not help either from enemy ASW aircraft. The destruction of enemy aircraft and surface ships, in the framework of solving the problem of protecting the "bastions" of SSBNs, in the author's opinion, it is advisable to assign to coastal aviation.
It should be borne in mind that the task of protecting the "bastions" can be divided into two parts - preventing a sudden disarming strike aimed at neutralizing the Russian strategic nuclear forces, and defending the "bastions" in the event of a full-scale attack that will be a continuation of the conventional conflict. Moreover, it is obvious that the second task will be limited in time, since a direct attack on elements of strategic nuclear forces will force the defending side to use SSBNs as intended until they are destroyed.
Given the relative geographic proximity of the "bastions", the question arises of the expediency of escorting SSBNs only with multipurpose nuclear submarines.
Perhaps diesel-electric submarines (diesel-electric submarines) or non-nuclear submarines (non-nuclear submarines) can cope with this task?
The advantage of diesel-electric submarines is its lower cost, however, its emergence can unmask the SSBN patrol area. On the other hand, the appearance of diesel-electric submarines in itself does not mean that it covers SSBNs; it may well solve other problems. Or, for example, it was specially used to distract the enemy from the real area where the SSBN is located. The non-submarine submarine is less vulnerable in this respect, since the period of its patrolling in a submerged position is much longer.
Diesel-electric submarines of project 677 "Lada" can supplement or even replace multipurpose submarines while protecting SSBNs in "bastions"
There is no doubt that multipurpose submarines will be more effective for covering SSBNs, but the problem is that we have very few of them. Project 971 submarines will become obsolete and gradually withdraw from the Navy, and many Yasen-class SSNs will not be built, and their capabilities are excessive to cover SSBNs. Also, both options - PLA and SSK / NAPL can be used together.
Perhaps the best and most optimal option would be the creation of inexpensive multifunctional submarines based on existing diesel-electric submarines and a block nuclear reactor. A similar option was considered by the author in the article Nuclear Reactor for NAPL. Will Poseidon lay Dollezhal's eggand also by Maxim Klimov in the article Does our fleet need a small multipurpose nuclear submarine.
At the same time, from diesel-electric submarines and submarines to the Russian the fleet not get rid of. At the very least, they are needed in the Black Sea and the Baltic, as well as technologies for building nuclear submarines (including for export). Consequently, building diesel-electric submarines / submarines in a relatively large series, it is possible to provide them with the Northern and Pacific fleets to solve the problems of covering SSBNs.
Of course, promising diesel-electric submarines and submarines should be provided with modern torpedo and anti-torpedo weapons, but this applies equally to submarines.
Corvettes optimized to counter submarines are the optimal solution here. An article was recently published on the Military Review What are we building - corvettes or flag demonstrators on the feasibility of creating a new corvette based on the complex and expensive project 20386 and abandoning the outdated project 20380 due to its weak air defense and the lack of technologies to reduce the visibility in it. According to the author, this is a wrong opinion.
Here we can rather agree with Alexander Timokhin and Maxim Klimov that the main task of the corvette should be anti-submarine warfare. And the corvette 20380 is quite suitable for solving this problem, including for covering the deployment of SSBNs, especially in combination with an anti-submarine helicopter. But the corvette of project 20386, especially after the modernization, will become more expensive than the frigate of project 22350, to which it will still be inferior in most parameters. You shouldn't make a cruiser out of a corvette.
The corvettes of project 20380 have been worked out in construction and may well solve the tasks of PLO while protecting the "bastions" of SSBNs, corvettes of project 20386 are redundant for solving this problem, their construction has not been worked out, which promises delays in construction and an increase in financial costs
Considering that the corvette should operate near its shores, its air defense should be provided by coastal aviation or other NKs. This also includes the technology for reducing the visibility. It is good when it is there, and if someday a new inexpensive and efficient corvette is created, then it is great if stealth technologies are implemented on it. But their absence is also uncritical in the light of the task being solved - to ensure the deployment of SSBNs. The very fact of an attack on the covering forces is already quite a reason for a nuclear strike, which the enemy is not at all interested in - he needs to suddenly and quickly destroy SSBNs before their SLBMs (submarine ballistic missiles) are launched.
The next component of the defense of "bastions" and the protection of SSBNs from submarines is ASW aviation, which includes anti-submarine aircraft and helicopters. PLO helicopters are deployed on Project 20380 corvettes, and one of the priority tasks is their modernization in order to increase the ability to combat modern submarines, which has been repeatedly mentioned on the pages of VO.
The second component of PLO aviation are anti-submarine aircraft, presented in the Russian Navy by Il-38 aircraft. As in the case with PLO helicopters, it is required to provide the Navy with a sufficient number of PLO aircraft equipped with modern means of detecting and destroying submarines. Whether these will be modernized Il-38 aircraft or the development of a fundamentally new model is required, the question is open. The important thing is that the demand for such machines is as high as possible.
IL-38N modernized anti-submarine aircraft of the Russian Navy
Potential risk should be noted - the possibility of equipping the latest modification of the American submarine "Virginia" with laser weapons with a capacity of about 300-500 kW is being consideredcapable of ensuring the destruction of PLO aircraft and helicopters when the PLA is at periscope depth. This could potentially create significant problems for ASW aviation. However, in the context of solving the problem of covering SSBNs, as in the case of the attack on corvettes, the destruction of ASW aircraft protecting the "bastions" can serve as a signal for the start of a nuclear war, as well as distract the PLA from its main goal - the destruction of SSBNs and make it a target for PLA / Diesel-electric submarine / submarine cover.
Why should coastal aviation be involved in solving the tasks of destroying NK and enemy aircraft, and not use, for example, surface ships?
First of all, because of its much greater versatility, in relation to the latter, and the possibility of an operational transfer and concentration of force.
Even in peacetime, fighter aircraft may well displace enemy ASW aircraft from the "bastions" zone, disrupt their work, and in a threatened period, more stringent measures can be applied.
If a surface ship is not equipped with a long-range anti-aircraft missile system (SAM), then it will not be able to create any serious threat to enemy ASW aircraft, since they will simply leave the affected area using the speed advantage. In addition, PLO aircraft can leave the affected area by dropping below the level of the radio horizon - when an PLO aircraft is flying at an altitude of 50 meters and an altitude of the ship's radar station up to 30 meters, the line-of-sight range will be about 50 kilometers. In peacetime, the NK will not interfere with the PLO aircraft in any way (unless it tries to interfere with the sonar buoys).
At the same time, fighter aircraft can easily destroy any PLO aircraft, no matter how it maneuvers.
If we are talking about a full-scale attack by an aircraft carrier strike group (AUG), then this task already goes beyond the protection of "bastions".
All of the above does not mean that the Russian Navy does not need ships larger than a corvette, by no means. Surface ships with modern air defense systems are necessary, and the Russian Navy has such ships - these are frigates of Project 20350. However, their role in terms of ensuring the stability of the naval component of the strategic nuclear forces will be minimal, and we will return to the tasks of ships of Project 20350 in the next article ...
What coastal aircraft are needed for the Navy from the point of view of ensuring the combat stability of SSBNs?
First of all, as in the case of the air force (air force) of coastal aviation, the navy needs "eyes". Based on the trends in aircraft construction, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are the most effective means for solving this problem.
To search for aircraft and NKs, two types of UAVs are needed - a specialized reconnaissance UAV and an early-range radar detection UAV (AWACS). Moreover, the UAV AWACS is also capable of detecting NK.
Previously, UAVs of AWACS, among other things, were considered in the article Ensuring the work of the air defense system on low-flying targets without involving Air Force aviation... Their creation is quite within the capabilities of the Russian aviation industry.
Prototype UAV DRLO JY-300 Chinese company CETC
Image of the turbojet engine AI-222-25 and the concept of the UAV AWACS "Zond-2" on this engine, developed by KB "Sukhoi"[/ Center]
It should be noted that an AWACS UAV will not replace a specialized AWACS manned aircraft. The key difference between an AWACS UAV is that it is designed for the primary detection of enemy aircraft and the issuance of target designation to missiles with an active radar homing head at targets located beyond the radio horizon, while a manned AWACS aircraft, in addition, provides combat control as an air command post. Therefore, both of these types of AWACS are urgently needed. The creation of aircraft and UAVs for AWACS is one of the most pressing tasks of the Russian Air Force and Navy.
The Air Force and the Russian Navy are in dire need of a relatively inexpensive modern AWACS aircraft, such as the American E-2 Hawkeye, the Swedish Saab 340 AEW & C, the Brazilian Embraer R-99 or the Yak-44 carrier-based AWACS aircraft developed in the USSR
However, within the framework of solving the problem of protecting the "bastions" from PLO aircraft, the capabilities of an AWACS UAV are more than enough - to detect and recognize an approaching PLO aircraft, to transmit information to the command post for sending fighters. When equipping an AWACS UAV with electronic warfare (EW) means, it can itself interfere with the operation of the PLO aircraft, drowning its communication with sonar buoys.
Despite the fact that the UAV AWACS is able to detect not only aircraft, but also NK, for this purpose it is more expedient to use specialized reconnaissance aircraft. This issue was discussed in detail in the article Find an aircraft carrier: to replace the Tu-95RTs... Sooner or later, the problems with the engines will be resolved, and medium and heavy UAVs will appear in service with the Air Force and the Navy of the Russian Federation, capable of carrying out reconnaissance of the NK at a considerable distance from the territory of the Russian Federation or providing long-term patrolling of a given area.
Su-35 fighters (or their possible future modification, for example, with a radar with an active phased antenna array - AFAR) or fifth-generation Su-57 fighters can be used as a strike force to protect "bastions" from enemy aircraft or PLO ships. Moreover, the Su-35 is seen as the preferred option in the context of the defense of "bastions", since it is cheaper, you can buy more of them, and they will quite cope with the task of destroying PLO aircraft and / or PLO ships.
The Su-35 is the optimal vehicle for coastal aviation if we are talking about ensuring the defense of "bastions" or naval bases. To solve shock missions, vehicles with a significantly greater range and payload are required.
Take cover in the crowd
There are several more methods that the Russian Navy can use to increase the survival rate of the naval component of the strategic nuclear forces.
One of them is the creation of autonomous unmanned underwater vehicles (AUVs) designed to simulate submarines. The capabilities of the AUV were considered by the author in the article ANPA vs AUG... Among other things, the project of the AUV "Surrogate" was mentioned, being developed by the Central Design Bureau of Marine Engineering "Rubin".
The length of the hull of the AUV "Surrogate" is 17 meters, the estimated displacement is 40 tons. Diving depth up to 600 meters, maximum speed 24 knots, cruising range over 600 nautical miles. The main task of the AUV "Surrogate" is to simulate the magnetoacoustic characteristics of various submarines.
Image of AUV "Surrogate"
AUVs of the "Surrogate" type can be used to solve tasks to divert the enemy's attention from real targets, primarily anti-submarine aircraft.
As a hypothesis, we can consider another option, when the AUV of the "Surrogate" type, connected to a fiber-optic cable with an SSBN, when leaving the base follows the carrier at a certain distance and maneuvers along the course and depth, creating a risk of collision for a potential pursuer - PLA- the enemy hunter, forcing her to intensively maneuver, revealing herself. If the enemy's submarine concentrates on the SSBN and uses it as an "SSBN identifier", then she may be disappointed when the SSBN after a certain time breaks contact with the SSBN and returns to its home base in autonomous mode. But this is, rather, a matter of tactics.
The second option is the continuation of the construction of the 955 project in the 955K modification - nuclear submarines with cruise missiles (SSGN). This issue was discussed in detail in the article Nuclear submarines - cruise missile carriers: reality and prospects, and such an opportunity considered by the Russian Navy.
Considering that the signatures of Project 955A SSBNs and Project 955K SSGNs will be practically indistinguishable, it is possible to organize a pair of SSBNs and SSGNs on patrol. In this case, the enemy will need twice as many PLA hunters in order to track all SSBNs. Relatively speaking, if tracking one SSBN requires 2-3 submarines (taking into account their rotation to ensure continuous watch at the Russian Navy bases), then tracking 10 SSBNs will require 20-30 submarines, respectively, if 6-8 more submarines are added to them. SSGN, you will need 32-54 PLA.
The possibility of using SSGN 955K to cover the deployment of SSBNs was previously considered in the article The evolution of the nuclear triad: prospects for the development of the marine component of the strategic nuclear forces of the Russian Federation.
The existing Project 949A SSGNs are becoming obsolete, some of them are being modernized, and they will serve for some more time, others will be recycled. In any case, they will need a replacement, and the "Ash" will not fully become one - for this they have too limited ammunition, and at the same time they are significantly more expensive, although, of course, they are more versatile. And the series of SSGN 955K will logically continue the series of SSBNs of project 955A, which will lead to a decrease in the average cost of one submarine of this type, and will ensure the utilization of the production capacities of the Sevmash shipyards.
Reducing the likelihood of SSBN escorting of enemy submarines is not the main goal of creating the 955K SSGN, but only an additional opportunity that can and should be used. We will talk in more detail about the main goals and objectives of the SSGN 955K in the next article.
It is worth noting that in the event of a serious aggravation of the situation and the withdrawal of the United States and the Russian Federation from the Treaty on the Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (START), cruise missiles (CR) with a nuclear warhead (YBCH) can be installed on the 955K SSGN. Considering that one Borei-K will be able to carry about 100-120 CD, 6-8 Project 955K SSGNs will be able to increase the strategic arsenal of the Russian Federation by 600-960 nuclear charges, which no air defense can intercept with a coordinated launch.
The Navy and Nuclear Deterrence "after Project 955A"
If now Project 955A SSBNs are among the most modern in their class, then over time they will inevitably become obsolete and replaced by new generation submarines. If we talk about the longer term and the role of the Navy in the context of nuclear deterrence, then this issue was also considered in the aforementioned article. The evolution of the nuclear triad: prospects for the development of the marine component of the strategic nuclear forces of the Russian Federation.
In particular, it is proposed to create a unified universal submarine, which can perform the functions of SSNS, SSGNs and SSBNs, depending on the installed weapons compartment.
This solution has several goals:
- to unify the manufactured submarines to reduce their cost;
- make it difficult for the enemy to detect and track carriers of strategic nuclear weapons;
- to ensure the possibility of a wide change in the ammunition load of submarines depending on the changing international situation and the tasks being solved;
- to guarantee sufficient survivability of universal submarines with SLBMs to get out of the "bastions", next to which the enemy can place missile defense ships intended to destroy SLBMs in the initial section of the trajectory;
- to increase the likelihood of a submarine reaching the enemy's shores at a distance of an SLBM strike along a flat trajectory with a short flight time to create a threat to the enemy of a sudden decapitation strike, which will require him to reorient significant resources to the defense of close lines
This task is quite real, it is discussed in more detail in the above article. In short, the possibility of creating unified submarines is supported by the fact that previously strategic missile carriers in the dimensions of multipurpose submarines, for example, the Benjamin Franklin submarine with an underwater displacement of 8 tons, have already been created. The Trident-250 SLBM used in the Benjamin Franklin SSBM had dimensions comparable to the Bulava SLBM. And currently, on the newest Virginia Block 1 multipurpose submarines, an additional VPM weapons bay is being installed, which, among other things, should house CPS hypersonic missiles, including a C-HGB hypersonic glider with a conventional warhead on a two-stage launch vehicle comparable in dimensions with SLBMs.
Comparative dimensions of the Benjamin Franklin SSBN with a submerged displacement of 8 tons and the Ohio SSBN with an underwater displacement of 250 tons. Comparative dimensions of the Trident-18 SLBM and the Bulava SLBM, the Virginia Block 750 submarine with the VPM module and the LRHW ground-based hypersonic complex, on the basis of which the CPS rocket is being created
When 4–6 SLBMs are deployed in the weapons compartment of a universal submarine, with 3–6 warheads on each, and the construction of universal submarines by a series of 60 units, 20 of which will be armed with SLBMs, the total number of operational-deployed nuclear warheads on the Russian Navy will be 240– 720 warheads, which is quite enough within the existing restrictions.
At the same time, there will be a technical possibility of placing SLBMs in the compartments of other universal submarines, which theoretically makes it possible to maximally deploy about 1440-2160 nuclear warheads.
In the next article, we will talk about the tasks of the Russian Navy that are not related to nuclear deterrence.