In the previous article "About the fleet that we need", I sketched in the most general terms the composition fleet, which would satisfy the requirements laid down in the Decree of the President of the Russian Federation of July 20, 2017 No. 327 "On the approval of the Fundamentals of the State Policy of the Russian Federation in the field of naval activities for the period up to 2030".
It turned out, of course, on a very large scale. We will need aircraft carriers, missile carriers, new types of submarines, and destroyers and all sorts of other things. And, of course, questions arise - are we capable of building such a fleet technically, and will we pull it economically?
Here you can answer right away - yes, we will definitely pull it.
From the point of view of submarines, we have not forgotten how to create SSBNs, nuclear submarine missile boats (SSGN), we are also making diesel (updated "Varshavyanka" project 636.3), that is, we are quite capable of all this. Yes, there are many problems with air-independent power plants and lithium-ion batteries, which either do not exist at all, or they are not suitable for use on warships. There are also problems with the once newest "Ladas" of project 677, which even in the usual diesel version do not want to "take off" in any way - instead of them all the same "Varshavyanki" are still being built.
But nothing prevents us from continuing the Yasenei-M series (say, up to 12 units), because these ships are quite formidable carriers of cruise missiles. Nothing prevents the creation of a "people's" nuclear torpedo submarine of moderate displacement for large-scale construction. Analogue of the French "Barracuda". Or the atomic Lada, if you like. As for the closed theaters, the Black Sea and the Baltic, for now, alas, we will have to make do with what has already been built, that is, the "Varshavyanka".
As for the construction of surface ships, no insurmountable problems are visible either. The transfer of Project 22350 frigates to domestic engines showed that we are quite capable and able to produce them. Although, of course, for some time the industry will not be able to supply the fleet with these engines in sufficient quantities, but, again, all this can be solved in the medium term. There would be a desire. Today we are already producing all the necessary range of main weapons - anti-ship and cruise missiles, anti-aircraft missile systems, naval artillery, etc. Yes, there are egregious situations when the fleet is supplied with deliberately weak, up to unusable, weapon (see M. Klimov's articles on torpedoes, PTZ, anti-mine weapons), but even there the problems are mostly not technical, but, let's say, of a departmental nature. And it is entirely within our power to eliminate them - there would be a desire.
On aviation - there are no problems in the part of multifunctional fighters and tactical strike aircraft - they are all mass-produced. In general, specialized electronic warfare and RTR aircraft are quite accessible to us - in recent decades, very powerful complexes of the same electronic warfare have been created, placed on tactical aircraft.
As for the PLO planes and helicopters, then, most likely, it will be more difficult - we have not been working on the creation of such equipment for a long time, with all due respect to the developers of Novella - this is already yesterday. Nevertheless, insurmountable problems are not visible here either. And the more we postpone the creation of such aircraft and complexes for them, the more difficult it will be for us to overcome the lag behind our "sworn friends" who are dealing with these issues quite seriously.
The same can be said about AWACS aircraft. There are problems there, because both the Russian Federation and the USSR were engaged almost exclusively in the ultimatum-giant AWACS aircraft of the A-50 and A-100 type, but work on relatively small aircraft of a similar purpose was practically not carried out. Yes, the carrier-based AWACS aircraft of moderate sizes - Yak-44, An-71, were being worked out, but they, especially in terms of the radar systems placed on them, remained at a very early stage of development. At the same time, aircraft of this type, in my opinion, would be extremely in demand, both by the Navy and the Aerospace Forces. Because the same A-100 "Premier" will be extremely expensive, and from this it will never be produced in a large series. While the plane, like the same Yak-44, is quite capable of becoming a "workhorse" of the Aerospace Forces and the Navy's aviation.
Currently, the Russian Federation is capable of creating very powerful and compact radars, both with passive and active phased array, installed on the Su-35 and Su-57. Taking into account certain successes in the development of CIUS and the experience gained in the design of the A-100, the creation of an AWACS aircraft of moderate size on the basis of, say, the "modernized" Yak-44 looks, although difficult and time-consuming, but quite feasible for us. In which, I repeat, not only the fleet is interested.
The same goes for aircraft carriers. The creation of "Vikramaditya" demonstrated that we did not lose our skills either in the part of special deck covering, or in the part of aerofinishers, or in the part of flight control systems that ensure the takeoff and landing of aircraft on the deck. The only thing we don't have today are catapults. But in both steam and electromagnetic catapults, a large backlog has been preserved since the times of the USSR, so there are no unsolvable problems here either. In the most extreme case, it would be possible to do with a springboard on an aircraft carrier, having reserved a place for catapults for their subsequent installation.
Using open sources, I have compiled a small table of prices for our various weapons. Everything in it is quite simple - I take the price of the product, "announced" in any given year, and multiply it by the amount of inflation that "accumulated" from the middle of the year to January 2021. The final figures, let's say, turned out with a fair amount of margin, even to the point of being illogical.
As regards our Borey and Ashes, everything is more or less clear - these are the numbers that were indicated for them in 2011, however, there is a nuance here. It is quite possible that 23,2 billion rubles for Borey is the cost of the parent Yuri Dolgoruky, which was pledged already in 1996. At the same time, there were reports that the ship itself cost 14 billion rubles, and the remaining 9 billion is the cost of R&D on it. In general, it is rather difficult to determine the cost of our SSBNs, but 23,2 billion rubles looks like a more or less sensible figure. The cost of serial "Ash-M" was indicated somewhere around 30 billion rubles, but much more often - 41 billion rubles. The latter is taken into account. The cost of the corvette is taken according to the manufacturer's official reporting.
The cost of the Su-35 in 2009 was obtained by dividing the value of the contract by the number of vehicles purchased under it. Interestingly, when inflation was added, it turned out that in January 2021, the Su-35 should cost 2,8 billion rubles per unit, which is even higher than the cost of the Su-57 under a contract for 76 aircraft of this type. In fact, the purchase price of the Su-35 is now tending to 2 billion rubles.
I did not rule the cost of the Tu-160M and Su-57 on inflation - the fact is that these contracts are designed to be executed in the 20s, so the inflationary component is already included in them. And in order to bring the price of aircraft under these contracts by January 2021, it is necessary not to increase, but to reduce the contract prices. But I will not do that. Let it remain as it is.
Alas, as follows from the above table, I simply could not find the costs of building ships of many classes. So I had to determine their value by calculation.
March 24, 2005 at the Naval Academy. Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union N.G. Kuznetsov, a scientific and practical conference "History, prospects for the development and combat use of aircraft carrier ships (aircraft carriers) of the Russian Navy ". On it, the leading researcher of the Central Research Institute named after V.I. Academician A.N. Krylova A.M. Vasiliev gave some very interesting figures.
According to him, the cost of building a TAVKR project 1143.5 ("Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union Kuznetsov") was approximately equal to the cost of three PLATs (nuclear torpedo submarine) of project 971. The nuclear aircraft carrier of project 1134.7 ("Ulyanovsk") was supposed to cost the country 4 such submarines ... Of course, we are talking only about the ship itself, without the air group based on it. How correct is this assessment? In principle, it is fully confirmed by foreign experience - the larger US aircraft carriers cost about as much as 4–5 of their multipurpose nuclear submarines. For example, "Illinois" (type "Virginia") cost US taxpayers $ 2,7 billion. And "Gerald R. Ford", transferred to the Navy in 2017, "pulled" about $ 13 billion. But let's not forget that Illinois is still a serial ship, and Ford is the lead ship.
If we estimate the cost of the promising nuclear-powered aircraft carrier of the Russian Navy in 4 "Yasenya-M", then, from the point of view of the price ratios given by A.M. Vasiliev, we will "re-lay with a reserve", because the submarines of project 885M are still not PLATs, but a much more expensive universal ship, which, according to the creators, was supposed to combine the functionality of PLAT and SSGN (nuclear missile submarine). Well, the resulting amount (290 billion rubles) coincides with the estimates expressed today. For this money, it is quite possible to get a nuclear-powered ejection ship capable of basing 36 heavy multifunctional fighters. 4 specialized AWACS aircraft, 4 electronic warfare aircraft and 10 helicopters.
As for the destroyer, I see it not at all as a nuclear "Leader", but as a much more modest ship, close in performance characteristics to the modernized frigate 22350M. This should be a ship with a total displacement of no more than 8-9 thousand tons, with a conventional power plant and main armament in the range of 80-96 launchers UKSK and Redut air defense missile systems in aggregate. I set the cost of such a destroyer within 85% of the Yasenya-M price, that is, 61,7 billion rubles. Which, again, is quite similar to the truth. Taking into account the fact that the much more expensive and large "Leader" (18 thousand tons of nuclear power plants), according to some estimates, should have "pulled out" 100 billion rubles.
I set the cost of the frigate at 75% of the cost of the destroyer, which will allow building ships that are close in their performance characteristics to the original "Gorshkov". I took the cost of the corvette very high - as much as 25,6 billion rubles. I am sure that the low-cost PLO corvette will cost the fleet much cheaper. With the minesweeper - he also did not waste time on trifles, having allocated as much as half of the corvette for him - 12,8 billion rubles. Well, I'm not greedy at all. And all because, for the purposes of my calculation, it is permissible to make mistakes upwards, but not downwards.
As for the submarines, the cost of SSBNs and SSGNs I take in the amount of "price in 2011 + inflation", it turned out 41 and 72,6 billion rubles. When determining prices for small nuclear-powered torpedo submarines and ships with air-independent installations or lithium-ion batteries, I proceeded from the calculations of the ratios of the costs of foreign boats given in the article “The future of the Russian submarine fleet. Is the bet on VNEU and LIAB correct?? ". According to my analysis of the costs of American, British, French submarines, as well as Japanese submarines, it turns out that a small PLAT of the French Barracuda level costs about 50-60% of the cost of a “large” nuclear submarine like Virginia or Astyut, and the diesel-electric submarine with VNEU - about 25-30%.
Again, I take the maximum - that a small PLAT will cost us 60% of the cost of Yasen-M (43,5 billion rubles), and diesel-electric submarines with VNEU - 30% (21,8 billion rubles). I'm sure we can make them cheaper, but ... so be it.
As a dear reader may notice, when assessing the cost of warships for the Russian Navy, I adhere to the principle of prudence, and I prefer to increase their cost than to underestimate it. This is exactly how I act in assessing the cost of combat aircraft.
I estimate the cost of a missile carrier for the Russian Navy in the amount of the cost of the Tu-160M. This does not mean that I propose using the Tu-160M, I just assume that a suitable naval missile-carrying aircraft will approach it in cost. The cost of the MFI (multifunctional fighter) today is in the range of 2–2,3 billion rubles per plane, but I charge 3 billion. The cost of the Su-34, adjusted for inflation, is 1,8 billion rubles, but I take the same 3 billion for a tactical aircraft of the same class.
The cost of a carrier-based AWACS aircraft from the Americans "pulls out" by about 1,5 the cost of MFIs, but I take it twice - 6 billion rubles. And at the same rate I regard the electronic warfare aircraft. But in general, nothing is impossible to say about the cost of helicopters. But there is evidence that combat helicopters such as the Mi-28 and Ka-52 cost about a billion rubles apiece. For the helicopters of the fleet, I took exactly one billion.
And what happened?
The final table showing the cost of ships and aircraft, as well as an approximate estimate of the required number for the four fleets of the Russian Federation is given below.
A very important caveat. I am not at all saying that the Russian Federation needs just such and no other fleet. I do not pretend that I have managed to perfectly balance the numbers and classes of ships and aircraft, and also to correctly distribute them among the fleets. It is possible that some classes (for example, strategic missile carriers) can and should be replaced with something else (for example, tactical aviation, etc.). My task was somewhat different - to determine the approximate cost of naval forces, numerous and powerful enough to operate both on their shores and, if necessary, in the ocean.
The fleet, which includes 12 SSBNs, 44 multipurpose nuclear submarines, and 16 diesel engines in VNEU or LIAB, with aircraft carriers for the Pacific Fleet and Northern Fleet, with 32 destroyers and frigates, 40 corvettes, 180 multifunctional fighters, etc. RUB 9 trillion 353 billion in January 2021 prices. It seems to be quite clear - a serious fleet of the Russian Federation is absolutely beyond the means to afford it.
But is it?
About the average annual cost of building a fleet
The thing is that the Navy is not created all at once. So, for example, if we want to have 2 aircraft carriers in the fleet with a service life of 50 years each, this means that every 50 years we need to build exactly 2 aircraft carriers. If we want to have four dozen corvettes with a service life of 40 years, then we should transfer to the Navy one corvette a year, and so on.
And now, if we recalculate the average annual expenditures on the construction of the Navy of the above-mentioned composition, then we will receive only 228 billion rubles in average annual expenditures!
Now let's think about what we did not take into account in our table. We did not count the supplies of equipment to the BRAV and the marines, did not take into account the landing ships, did not count the Caspian Flotilla, did not take into account the specific tasks of lighting the underwater situation, small OVR ships, and also did not take into account the auxiliary fleet - tugs, tankers, supply vessels, rescuers etc. Well, let's add another 15% of the previously calculated amounts to everything. Offhand, 1,429 trillion rubles is quite enough for all these needs.
But that's not all. The fact is that, probably, not in any case, the contract value of ships and aircraft will also include ammunition for them. Well, let's not waste time on trifles. And add another 20% for the specified needs. Will this be enough? The US destroyer Arleigh Burke, worth approximately $ 1,8 billion (relevant for about 2015), has 96 launch cells. If we count the double ammunition load - 192 missiles at an average price of $ 1,5 million each - it turns out to be about 16%, but in addition to missiles, it also has shells and torpedoes. So it will probably stretch by 20%. But the double ammunition load for the Virginia (24 Tomahawks and 52 torpedoes) will be substantially less than 20% of the ship's cost (I remind you that Illinois cost $ 2,7 billion).
With all these amendments, the average annual cost of building the fleet will amount to 321,3 billion rubles per year. What else have I missed?
Of course, the costs of repairs, the creation of infrastructure, R&D, but about them - a little later. And now let's remember about such an unpleasant thing as taxes, namely, value added tax, or in abbreviated form VAT.
So, unfortunately, it is completely unclear whether the price for "Ash", "Borei", Su-35, etc. was indicated in open sources. with or without VAT. It is reliably known that the price for the corvette (17 billion rubles) was indicated without VAT. Most likely, the cost of our aircraft, calculated from the contract price, still includes VAT, but this is not accurate. However, I will proceed from the fact that all the prices I have calculated are still without VAT. Well, I'll add it - that's another 20% on top. And in this case, the average annual expenses for the Russian Navy increase to 385,5 billion rubles.
Is it a lot, or a little?
On the budget of the RF Ministry of Defense
As can be seen from the presented infographics, the cost of purchasing weapons without taking into account R&D, equipment repairs, operating costs, excluding personnel costs, combat training, etc. etc. in 2019 it was supposed to be 1 billion rubles. Adjusted for inflation, this is equivalent to 022 billion rubles as of January 1. The 085,5 billion rubles we calculated make up only 2021% of the total expenditures of the RF Armed Forces under this item!
In principle, it would be logical to allocate financing for the purchase of weapons to the Russian Navy at the level of at least 30-33% from the "common pot", but we have got a little more here. But let's remember what serious assumptions I made in favor of increasing the cost of literally all types of military equipment. In addition, nothing prevents us from optimizing the program presented above in terms of the cost of ships of all classes, and the number can also be corrected.
The only caveat is that I would not start such construction right away, but initially I would take care of the bases and maintenance of the fleet. I would take a delay of several years, during which I would send less to ships, planes and missiles, but more to all the necessary infrastructure. Thus, within three to four years, at least 300-400 billion rubles could be spent on these purposes. Which, in principle, could be enough for a lot.
Conclusion from the above
It is extremely simple. Already today, with the existing funding of the armed forces, we can afford the construction of a powerful military fleet, including ships of all classes, including aircraft carriers, dozens of nuclear submarines, etc. etc. There are no insurmountable financial barriers here, there is no need to dress the entire population of the country in quilted jackets and make them starve.
But what needs to be done is to achieve effective distribution of the financial resources allocated to the fleet. The navy is a very “long-playing” branch of the armed forces, which has been under construction for decades. We need a concept, and not within the framework of the 10-year GPV program, but 40-50 years ahead. Reasonable centralized R&D management is needed. We need a shipbuilding program, unification of warship projects and much, much more. Simply put, we just need to rationally use the means at our disposal. We need order.
Which, unfortunately, does not exist in the Russian Federation. And it is not expected.