Article "On the oddities in setting tasks for the Russian Navy and a little about aircraft carriers" I reviewed the tasks set by the leadership of our country for the Russian Navy. There were three such tasks in total:
1) protection of the national interests of the Russian Federation and its allies in the World Ocean by military methods;
2) maintaining military-political stability at the global and regional levels;
3) reflection of aggression from sea and ocean directions.
Unfortunately, the publicly available regulatory legal acts, although they claim the need to build a powerful ocean fleet, but they do not explain exactly what our national interests in the world ocean are and from whom they are required to be protected. Of course, it is very important to understand that the expression “do not explain” is not at all synonymous with the concept of “absent”. If the documents do not clearly spell out the tasks for the ocean-going Russian Navy, this does not mean that there are no such tasks. But in the previous article I did not begin to formulate them myself and limited myself to presenting my personal views on some of the tasks of the Russian ocean-going fleet and aircraft carriers in its composition.
Now I suggest you, dear reader, to move on to the tasks of the Russian Navy in terms of ensuring stability at the global level.
Forms of future conflicts
They are actually a wagon and a small cart. But here it makes sense to "go over" how our main geopolitical adversary, the United States, saw the wars of the future.
In the first post-war years, the Americans relied on a strategy of massive retaliation and considered only one form of war against the USSR - a general nuclear one. But, as soon as the Soviet Union began to produce atomic weapon in "commercial" quantities, and even created more or less reliable means of delivering it to the United States (the first intercontinental ballistic missiles), the situation has radically changed. Since 1961, the United States switched to a “flexible response” or “metered use of force” strategy, allowing not only a full-scale nuclear but also a limited war with the USSR, both with and without the use of nuclear weapons.
Since that moment, the United States has repeatedly changed its strategies, but they all had one thing in common: never again did the Americans focus solely on total Armageddon. So, for example, the strategy of "direct confrontation", which operated in the last decade of the existence of the USSR, assumed the possibility of waging the following types of wars:
1) general nuclear;
2) general common;
3) nuclear in the theater of war;
4) usual in the theater of war;
Thus, the Americans assumed that an armed clash with the USSR (in the past) and the Russian Federation in the present and in the future could occur with conventional weapons. They also do not rule out a limited nuclear war. I must say that in this I fully agree with them. For example, some kind of conflict with a NATO member (yes, at least with Turkey), which has arisen for reasons for which the Europeans do not want to die, may well turn out to be local and non-nuclear. If the Europeans or Americans try to intervene, then perhaps they will be able to convince them of the seriousness of our intentions by using tactical nuclear weapons, without leading to a total atomic catastrophe.
I am deeply convinced that a global nuclear missile war can start in two scenarios.
I would call the first scenario "Big Mistake". It will look like this.
First, there will be some serious political crisis, like the Caribbean crisis, through which the USSR and the United States went through in 1962. In this case, to confirm the seriousness of the intentions of the Russian Federation and NATO, the deployment of armed forces will begin (without announcing a general mobilization). These forces, of course, will be brought out “into the fields” under the most plausible pretext. Well, here's how we, for example, conducted exercises near the Russian-Ukrainian border this year. The real meaning of such deployment will be to convince the “opponent” of the seriousness of his intentions and readiness to go to the end. Such actions fit well into the strategy of the Russian Federation (we, in general, love to conduct all kinds of exercises when someone starts to behave strangely) and the United States, with their "flexible response", that is, the willingness to wage conflicts of various levels.
And then, during a period of such an aggravation of relations and the accompanying severe stress of nerves, someone will be very much mistaken in something. And the demonstration of force will end with large-scale nuclear missile strikes against the enemy. For example, during the deployment of forces, there will be a "border incident" followed by an exchange of conventional weapons strikes. Or someone will risk attacking us in the expectation that we will not dare to use nuclear weapons. But, if a war starts, and everything goes very badly for one of the parties, tactical nuclear weapons may well be used. Such an escalation may well not be contained within a limited conflict. And everything will end with Armageddon.
The main features of this scenario are as follows:
1) in it, no one initially wants a general nuclear war, but it nevertheless becomes inevitable during the escalation of the conflict and / or as a result of a banal human error;
2) by the time the strategic nuclear forces are used, the armed forces of the conflicting countries are deployed and ready for war to the extent that it is possible without general mobilization, or are in the process of such preparation.
Is it possible to prevent such an outbreak of a general nuclear war?
Yes, but only in a political way. The world should not be brought to such serious crises. And if you have already brought it, then you need to be able to quickly find mutually acceptable ways out of them. But in times of crisis, when the parties, holding their hands on the triggers, look at each other through the sights - alas, anything is possible here.
Unfortunately, armed forces, however powerful, are unable to prevent nuclear conflicts of this kind. Nevertheless, it must be understood that the more powerful our general-purpose forces and the better protected our strategic nuclear forces (SNF), the more chances that the outbreak of conflict will be stopped without bringing the matter to the use of the "last argument of the kings." However, here we turn to the conduct of hostilities, while the topic of this article is the prevention of war.
The second scenario I would call "A Very Big Mistake". It consists in the fact that the US leadership at some point will decide that it is capable of annulling the strategic nuclear potential of the Russian Federation by means of a disarming counterforce strike. And he will deliver such a blow.
The main features of this option will be that:
1) a global nuclear missile war will be unleashed by the United States quite deliberately;
2) both ours and a significant part of the American armed forces will be located in places of permanent deployment in peacetime.
Someone may have a question - why am I excluding the scenario in which Russia is delivering a counterforce strike? The answer is very simple. The core of the United States' strategic nuclear forces is its naval component, that is, nuclear submarines - carriers of intercontinental ballistic missiles. Russia does not have today and will not have in the foreseeable future the possibility of destroying them in a counterforce strike. This means that the Americans, in any case, will retain at least 5-6 SSBNs (nuclear submarine with ballistic missiles) of the Ohio type, having 100-120 ICBMs Trident II (usually Americans go on combat duty with 20 such missiles) , on each of which there can be no less than 4 warheads, and at maximum load - up to 14. This is more than enough to inflict unacceptable damage to the Russian Federation.
Accordingly, a counterforce strike for Russia loses its meaning by definition - by starting a nuclear war, we will certainly not be able to achieve a peace for ourselves that would be better than the pre-war one. There is no point in starting.
But the Americans can try. And even with some chance of success.
About counterforce impact
The main feature of such a strike will be its surprise. Consequently, preparations for it will be carried out secretly, so that only those forces that can be deployed secretly from the Russian Federation will be involved in its application. Well, and the main means of waging a "secret" war in our country are, of course, submarines.
The Americans currently have 14 Ohio-class SSBNs. With the operational stress factor (KO) equal to 0,5, it will not be difficult for the United States to launch 7-8 such boats at the same time, even taking into account the fact that some of them may undergo major repairs. Again, this number of ships is unlikely to make us flustered if we fix their exit. And nothing will prevent these SSBNs from taking positions near our territory - in the Norwegian and Mediterranean seas, as well as in areas closer to the Far East. This will be necessary in order to reduce the flight time to the maximum, on the one hand, and in order to "stuff" the missiles with the maximum number of warheads, on the other.
Each SSBN can carry 24 Trident II SLBMs. Total for 8 SSBNs - 192 missiles. Each missile can carry up to 8 "heavy" W88 warheads with a capacity of 455-475 kt or up to 14 "light" W76 warheads with a capacity of 100 kt. It is clear that with such a load, the Trident II cannot be thrown at the maximum range. But, given the deployment in relative proximity to our borders, they do not need to fly far. Taking into account the fact that the Americans have 88 W400s, having loaded to the maximum, the Ohio is quite capable of "dragging" 2 warheads to our shores. And even if the ammunition load is reduced to 388-6 warheads per missile, then even then we will get more than an impressive figure of 10 warheads.
It is clear that all this will bypass the START III agreements, but, firstly, if the Americans decide to strike at us, no treaty will stop them. And they will be able to secretly equip the required number of missiles with warheads.
And if you take into account the American NATO allies? The same England is quite capable, if necessary, to put a pair of SSBNs into the sea, if this is agreed in advance with the United States.
But not all so simple.
Underwater missile launch is a daunting task. In order to complete it, the submarine must occupy the so-called "launch corridor" - move at a certain speed at a certain depth. During the launch of missiles, a lot of factors affect the submarine - these are physical effects during the launch of the rocket, and the change in the mass of SSBNs after the launch of the missiles, which, of course, is extinguished due to the intake of sea water, but not instantly, etc. Therefore, both our SSBNs, and American SSBNs, and in general, almost any submarines using underwater launch missile weapons, use them not in a salvo, but in "bursts": they fire several missiles, then interrupt, returning the ship to the launch corridor, and also conducting other necessary measures to organize further shooting. And all this takes a lot of time. Moreover, "Ohio" never fired more than 4 missiles in one salvo.
We conducted tests of firing with full volleys - Operation Begemot-2, when the K-407 Novomoskovsk launched all of its 16 missiles in one salvo. But this achievement should be seen as a record figure that can hardly be repeated by an SSBN with a conventional crew on normal combat duty. Suffice it to recall that the preparation for the "Begemot-2" took our sailors as much as 2 years.
Based on the foregoing, it can be assumed that the Americans can confidently shoot 4 missiles in one salvo, after which they will need time to prepare for the second and subsequent volleys (our submariners, although they did not give timing, spoke of it as essential). But in this case, there will be no question of any surprise - our missile attack warning system, in any case, will detect and report, "where necessary", about the first launches.
Thus, it would not be a big mistake to assume that the actual number of missiles and warheads that the Americans can use in a counterforce strike is significantly less than that calculated from a full load of SSBNs with warheads. If you count 4 missiles in a salvo, then 8 Ohio are capable of striking 32 missiles. And even if you load them with a maximum of 14 warheads, you get only 448 warheads. A pair of British SSBNs will bring this figure to 560. But French ballistic missiles from submarines with their circular probable deviation of 350 m are not suitable for counterforce strike. And it is doubtful that France, in general, will participate in all this.
Is this enough to destroy the Russian strategic nuclear forces?
No, not enough.
Our Strategic Missile Forces have approximately 122 silo and 198 mobile ICBM launchers. To destroy the mine plant with a probability of 0,95, you will need 2 warheads.
But with mobile complexes, everything is more complicated. On the one hand, at normal times, most of them stand in places of permanent deployment, where it is very easy to destroy them. On the other hand, identifying and destroying the complexes deployed "in the fields" will be a very, very difficult task. It is necessary to constantly track their movements, which is very difficult, even taking into account the capabilities of the American satellite constellation. Therefore, in order to more or less reliably defeat such complexes, the Americans will have to "look out" in advance for the positions to which our mobile complexes are usually deployed, and spend the warheads of their missiles to destroy all spare (and specially equipped false) positions.
If the American preemptive strike was preceded by a period of tension, during which our mobile Topoli and Yars were withdrawn from their bases and dispersed, or were in immediate readiness for such dispersal, then the destruction of at least half of them would become practically an unsolvable task, even when using hundreds of missiles and thousands of warheads. But, if we are attacked suddenly, and a blow is delivered to all identified positions, then it is probably still possible to destroy most of our mobile complexes.
Of course, the required outfit of forces should be considered by professionals, but even if, having simplified everything as much as possible (for the Americans), it is assumed that to destroy one of our complex, 2 combat units will be needed (with a probability of 0,95), then even then 320 Russian complexes you will need 640 warheads. But it should be borne in mind that the strategic missile forces are not the only component of the Russian strategic nuclear forces.
However, in order to eliminate our SSBNs in bases and strategic Aviation even less will be needed: for this it is necessary to destroy the airbases in Engels, Ryazan and Ukrainka (Amur Region) and the naval bases in Gadzhievo and Vilyuchinsk with a sudden nuclear strike. Having spent 4–5 warheads for each, we get a consumption of only 20–25 nuclear warheads. Another 20-30 pieces will be required for our over-the-horizon radars in order to "blind" our warning systems for a nuclear missile attack.
Thus, according to the most modest estimates, it turns out that for the success of a counterforce strike against the Russian Federation, the Americans will need no less than 700 combat units. But in reality, this figure, of course, will be higher. Indeed, in addition to ensuring the probability of at least one warhead falling at a distance necessary to hit the target, there is a nonzero probability that some combat units will be able to be shot down by the air defense systems on alert. To reduce this probability to a minimum, it is necessary to subject the positions of these air defense systems to a blow. And, in addition to the air defense system, there is a sufficient number of targets that need to be destroyed - command posts, supposed storage sites for non-deployed strategic and tactical nuclear weapons, etc.
Can the Americans put into the sea not 7-8 SSBNs, but a larger number of them, say, 10-12 units? This is possible if you prepare for such an exit in advance. But this will already be quite difficult to hide - satellite reconnaissance is still not only in the United States. And if we suddenly discover that the overwhelming majority of American SSBNs have left bases, this is a reason to be on the alert, announcing an increased level of readiness and starting to disperse the same mobile systems. In this case, an attempt to deprive us of our strategic nuclear forces will no longer have a chance of success.
The conclusion from the above is simple: the SSBNs at the disposal of the United States and its NATO allies are not enough to deliver a sudden disarming strike.
What else can the Americans use to defeat our strategic nuclear forces?
What else can the Americans hit?
Medium-range ballistic missiles deployed in Europe will pose an extremely serious threat - they do not need to maintain the "launch corridor", the salvo is limited only by the number of launchers. But there are two important nuances here. First, the Americans simply do not have such missiles today. Secondly, I strongly doubt that the Europeans in the foreseeable future would agree to host analogues of the Pershing-2, since this automatically makes them a priority target for our nuclear strike.
Aviation? Of course not. She will be discovered in advance. And there will be no surprise.
US land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles? Also no. Both our and the American early warning systems are precisely designed to detect the beginning of such a nuclear missile attack. And give a full-scale answer during the flight time.
Nuclear submarines remain. But not strategic, but multipurpose (MAPL).
In my opinion, a counterforce strike is completely impossible without the concentration of US MAPLs in the waters adjacent to us.
Their first task is to search for and destroy Russian strategic missile submarine cruisers (SSBNs). In the near future, the number of such ships in the Russian Navy will fluctuate between 10-12. Taking into account the realistic for us KOH within 0,25 (and it was even lower), this will give 2-3 SSBNs on duty at sea (or on the transition to the area of combat duty). In principle, the Americans are already constantly tracking our SSBNs. But, if the Americans decide to start a nuclear war, then, of course, an increased concentration of MAPLs should be expected.
Is it obligatory for the Americans to destroy our SSBNs at sea? Certainly. If the counterforce strike on our naval and air bases achieves complete success, and all SSBNs and strategic missile carriers are destroyed, and only 5% of the strategic missile forces will remain (such results can be considered a deafening success of the Americans), then even then we will have 6 heavy intercontinental ballistic missiles and up to 10 surviving Topol or Yars.
Counting 10 warheads for the first and 4 for the second, we get up to a hundred warheads in a retaliation salvo. Such a retaliation will certainly not overwhelm the United States. In theory, these combat units can kill up to 10 million people, striking at densely populated cities. But in practice, our missiles are launched with those flight missions that they will have at the time of detecting an attack. So some of the warheads may be aimed at any military facilities and not cause much damage to the economy and the population of America.
But even one surviving SSBN will add 16 missiles to this number. And even if each of them has 4 warheads agreed upon by the treaty, then even then it will already amount to 64 warheads. But what if the crafty Russians played dishonestly? And equipped their missiles with not 4, but 6 or 10 warheads? And they can. Ask Joe Biden if in doubt.
The second task of the US and NATO IALS is to deliver precision-guided strikes. That is, direct participation in the counterforce strike. Do not forget that the Americans currently have about 1 W400-80 warheads with a yield of up to 1 kt, which may well be deployed on Tomahawk cruise missiles of the corresponding modifications.
It seems that the "atomic" "Tomahawks" are now decommissioned, but it is far from the fact that the existing modifications cannot be equipped with nuclear warheads. And you need to understand that many targets of a counterforce strike can be hit by non-nuclear precision weapons. The latest versions of non-nuclear "Tomahawks", equipped with high-power penetrating charges, are close to tactical nuclear weapons in terms of their ability to defeat protected targets.
Of course, the use of "Tomahawks" in counterforce strike is limited. This is due to the low speed of the cruise missile. Priority targets, such as carriers of nuclear weapons, must be struck no more than 15 minutes from the start of the attack. And "Tomahawk" during this time will fly only 200 km. But nevertheless, the Tomahawks can be assigned the task of destroying objects located near the coastline: the same naval bases, for example. In addition, these cruise missiles may well be used to destroy a number of important stationary targets, so to speak, the "second stage" - parts of command posts, communication centers, etc., which may well "wait" 25-30 minutes or more from the start of the attack.
It is more than likely that MPSS carrying Tomahawks will also have some restrictions on the number of missiles in the first salvo - by analogy with SSBNs. That is, it is unlikely that a nuclear-powered ship of the Ohio type, converted into a carrier of 154 Tomahawks, will be able to fire them in one salvo. But it can be assumed that the number of missiles that a submarine is capable of launching without leaving the "launch corridor" nevertheless depends on the mass and dimensions of these missiles. The Tomahawk is much more modest than a ballistic missile. And it can be expected that in one salvo the US MPS will be able to fire significantly more than four cruise missiles.
1. No armed forces will insure us against Armageddon, which began as a result of the uncontrolled escalation of the local conflict. Therefore, our armed forces must be ready for an all-out nuclear war. I will consider the goals and objectives of the fleet in this development of events in the next article.
2. The preparation of the United States for a counterforce strike will be accompanied by a concentration of MPSS (Americans and their allies) in our near sea zone, as well as in the areas of SSBN deployment: some - in order to search for SSBNs, others - for direct participation in the first strike.
3. A prerequisite for a counterforce strike will be the provisional escort of all Russian SSBNs in the sea by the US and its allies. If this condition is not met, the Americans are most likely to abandon the strike.
Accordingly, the main task of our fleet to prevent an unprovoked nuclear attack, that is, a counterforce strike, will be to identify the increased activity of enemy submarines at least in the coastal and near sea zones, as well as in the areas of the combat services of our SSBNs and on the approaches to them.
Solving this problem will allow us:
1. Timely bring the strategic nuclear forces of the Russian Federation to heightened or even full combat readiness, which automatically removes the counterforce strike from the agenda. Since in this case it will not be possible to reduce our nuclear potential to values acceptable for the United States, even if only simply due to dispersal (readiness for immediate dispersal) of the Yars and Topol mobile complexes.
2. Control the movement of foreign submarines in the seas adjacent to our territory and thereby guarantee the disruption of their main combat mission - the search and escort of our SSBNs on alert.
Thus, solving the tasks of monitoring the underwater situation, we “kill” two birds with one stone: we not only identify preparations for a counterforce strike, but also ensure the combat stability of the naval component of our strategic nuclear forces.
Do we need aircraft carriers to detect US and NATO submarine submarines in the seas adjacent to our coastline?
No, not needed.
Here, other forces are needed - a satellite constellation of appropriate capabilities, a system for lighting the underwater situation, including both stationary hydrophones and specialized reconnaissance ships, modern and highly efficient patrol aircraft, minesweepers and corvettes and, of course, nuclear submarines - hunters.
Those dear readers who follow my publications will probably remember my calls to:
1) The Russian Navy stopped trying to create universal corvettes in favor of specialized PLO corvettes;
2) in the construction of non-strategic nuclear submarines, priority was given to torpedo submarines of the most moderate sizes.
Without a doubt, we also need a modern patrol aircraft. Conceptually, the IL-38N Novella turned out to be an excellent machine capable of not only anti-submarine warfare, but also to control the surface and air situation, including by means of electronic reconnaissance, and also provide target designation. He has only one problem - he is outdated, not having time to really be born, and today is seriously inferior to his foreign counterparts.
The creation of a modern aircraft capable of solving a similar range of tasks is a matter of paramount importance, as, indeed, of the new PLO helicopter.
In order to prevent an unprovoked nuclear attack, in addition to the SSBN itself, we urgently need anti-submarine and anti-mine forces of sufficient strength. And I urge everyone who is used to measuring the strength of warships in the number of "Caliber" or "Zircon" that can be piled on them, to understand one simple thing. To prevent an unprovoked nuclear attack on our country, a pair of torpedo submarines of, say, 5 tonnes of displacement, equipped with high-quality HAC, effective torpedo and anti-torpedo weapons, and also with a high low-noise speed, will be many times more useful than one giant Yasen- M "with its bunch of cruise missiles. And the deployment of stationary and mobile means of monitoring the underwater situation, capable of detecting the latest NATO nuclear-powered ships, will deter the United States much more effectively than the massive construction of Poseidons and their carriers.
Minesweepers, PLO corvettes, patrol aircraft, PLO helicopters, surface and underwater situation lighting system (EGSONPO), multipurpose nuclear torpedo submarines and, of course, strategic missile submarines - that's what, in my opinion, should have started the revival of the domestic military fleet ...
Does all of the above mean that the ships of the ocean-going fleet and aircraft carriers are of no use to us? Of course not.
It is absolutely impossible to limit the Russian Navy to the above-mentioned means of waging war at sea for one simple reason. Although all of the above will help prevent a counterforce strike and ensure the secrecy of our SSBNs, but only in peacetime.
Alas, a surprise nuclear attack is by no means the only possible form of conflict in which the Russian Federation could be drawn.
To be continued ...