1. General impression of the discussion
Recently, an intensive discussion of the need to build aircraft carriers has developed on the VO website. The intensity of the discussion is such that you are afraid that it would not come to hand-to-hand combat. But the opponents say almost the same thing. Supporters say: a great country needs an aircraft carrier. And the money for it, if you look, will be found. Opponents declare: the aircraft carrier would not damage us, but there is no money for it today, and in the foreseeable future it is not visible. And without money there will be no slipway, no workers, no AUG ships. Therefore, it is much more reliable to develop a naval missile-carrying Aviation (MRA), it will cost several times cheaper.
Both groups are well aware of each other's arguments. Consequently, the discussion boils down to questions of belief in a financial miracle "give / not give". Questions of faith do not lend themselves to rational analysis, therefore, instead of technical and economic issues, they begin to discuss globalist ones. For example, already now, it turns out, it is necessary to decide how, if something happens, we will bomb Sudan? One author claims that we cannot do without an aircraft carrier. Another says that there will be enough aviation - we will resume production of Tu-22m3. And from Khmeimim we will throw them with Calibers.
Such decisions are surprising - isn't there a lot of honor for Islamist groups? Waste Caliber on them, renew the long-range fleet and build aircraft carriers? That we have no cooks left who can solve issues without raising so much dust?
The largest volume is occupied by the political agenda - to what extent the influence of Russia should spread, etc. Do we really not have enough "politolukhov" on TV? The military solutions are impressive too. With one dashing throw we capture Svalbard, and from there we strike at the Greenland airbase Thule - and the North Atlantic is ours. Taking a breath, they begin their favorite pastime - develop an exchange of nuclear strikes.
We will have to disappoint such readers: this article does not cover nuclear scenarios. The author adheres to the point of view of A. Einstein: “I don’t know which weapon will be used in the third world war, but in the fourth there will be stones and sticks. " The Supreme Commander explained to us that we, as martyrs, would go to heaven, and they would simply die. Apparently, he knows the old way of winning a nuclear war - no missiles or a fleet are needed. We detonate all the warheads on our territory and immediately find ourselves in paradise, and they will die from nuclear winter and precipitation painfully and for several months.
Having left this brilliant performance, let's return to the boring specifics.
2. What aircraft carrier projects have already been announced? What are the budget requirements?
It is easier to discuss the question: by how much should the requests be reduced in order for the money to be given?
The requests turned out to be extremely varied. 3 projects appear: Varan, Manatee and Storm. Respectively 45, 80 and 100 thousand tons of displacement, carrying 24 + 16 UAVs, 60 and 90 aircraft.
The issue of the number of aircraft carriers has not been resolved either. First, should Kuznetsov be counted off or is it time to write him off? Most are inclined to believe that it resembles a suitcase without a handle. The initial amount for its repair of 60 billion rubles should increase due to the loss of the dock and the fire. However, MO is silent on how much it will increase. It's a pity for money - Kuzya is an obvious unlucky man. And even after repairs, it can only be used against militants or bantustans.
How many new aircraft carriers are needed? Most are in favor of two - for the Pacific Fleet and for the Northern Fleet. We build first one, and then on the same slipway - the second. Some require a third - to replace one of the two for the duration of the repair.
It remains to calculate the cost. Since the Ministry of Defense does not give figures, we will use the estimates of Andrey from Chelyabinsk “On the cost fleetthat Russia needs ”. Apparently, an estimate of 300 billion rubles is given for the medium aircraft carrier Manatee. What are the costs of the dock and infrastructure is unknown. Without serious costs for rebuilding the slipway, only Varan can be built, but its efficiency is also the lowest.
For any version of the aircraft carrier, you will have to build an AWACS aircraft, without which the aircraft carrier is blind. The helicopter AWACS Ka-31 cannot be seriously considered. Its airborne watch time (less than three hours, with longer flight preparation) and low flight speed with a rotating antenna make it too ineffective.
The Yak-44 was conceived in the USSR as a copy of the E2C Hawkeye. The development was not completed, and the prototype was never built. It is unrealistic to resume development - you cannot return those specialists. Who will make the engines is unknown. One cannot count on Motor Sich.
The radar situation is no better. A prototype in the 80s was developed and even installed on the An-71 aircraft. However, since then, 2 generations of radars have already changed on Hokai. The tube transmitter was abandoned. And the antenna, despite a similar appearance to the previous one, has become practically AFAR. The characteristics of detecting sea targets and noise immunity have increased significantly. From the element base used in the Soviet-designed radar, now there is nothing left. Therefore, the development of the radar also needs to start over.
The cost of development work and certification of the Yak-44 will probably be high. It is impossible to give an exact figure. But, taking into account the development of the engine, 100 billion rubles will not be an overestimate. For example, the Superjet cost much more. A batch of 10 Yak-44s will cost, according to Andrey's estimate, another 60 billion. We come to the sad conclusion - the price of each Yak-44 will be almost equal to the price of a corvette. It is undesirable to use the Yak-44 as a ground AWACS. First, it does not measure the elevation angle of the target. Secondly, the 7 ° * 21 ° radar beam width is too large. Because of this, the azimuth measurement error is also large. When tracking a non-maneuvering target, the error will be 0,35–0,5 °, and for a maneuvering target, 0,7–1 °. That is, you learn about the fact of a maneuver 20 seconds after it starts. In addition, the wide beam does not allow detecting small ground targets.
For jammers on the aircraft carrier, apparently, they will use ready-made carriers. For example, the Su-34. Then the cost of the R&D will be reduced to the cost of developing the REP (KREP) complex. Depending on the number of frequency letters, the price of OCD will vary. We will focus on 10-15 billion. The price of a serial producer is 6 billion. Andrey estimated Su-33 fighter-bombers (IB) at 3 billion apiece.
Summarize. Two manatees, together with air wings, but without ammunition and infrastructure, will cost no less than 1,1 trillion rubles. Now let's add the cost of the AUG escort. We do not have destroyers, frigates 22350 are inferior to Arlie Burke, so for AUGs we will have to use 3 frigates (40 billion each) and one torpedo nuclear submarine (40 billion), the price of auxiliary ships is unknown.
Operating costs are the hardest to estimate. In the 90s, the Americans published data that if Nimitz is not standing at the wall, but is actually being exploited, then the cost of AUG is $ 4 billion a year. Manatee is, of course, cheaper than Nimitz. And the maintenance of the crew does not cost us so much. But even if we spend 40 billion rubles on AUG per year, this will also impress the Ministry of Finance.
In GPV 2018–2027, the laying of an aircraft carrier is not provided. It is impossible to predict whether such a line will appear in the future GPV. When the final cost of the project approaches 1,5 trillion rubles, then you start to think that the opponents of the aircraft carriers are beginning to win. But what is their reasoning?
3. General conditions for the operation of naval missile-carrying aviation
The Tu-160m2 construction program is designed until 2035. Therefore, further we will consider the prospects for actions in the maritime theater of operations after this date. Then we assume that the initial conditions are as follows: Russia has no aircraft carriers, Tu-22m3, Tu-95 and Tu-142 have been written off due to their old age. 16 Tu-160s are still flying, but they are already close to the end of their service life. There are 50 TU160m2 and, probably, 10 new A-100 AWACS, and another 10 old A-50s are mothballed and are in reserve.
The fundamental disadvantage of the Tu-160, regardless of its novelty, is its increased visibility (see the article "Tu-160. Is it worth restarting production"). The visibility of the Tu-160 is almost an order of magnitude higher than the visibility of its prototype B-1b and approaches the B-52. Accordingly, he is not able to break through any air defense, including the AUG defense (see "The effectiveness of the air defense of an aircraft carrier strike group. Is a breakthrough possible?"). Its capabilities are the same as those of the B-52 - to bring missiles to a given safe area and launch them at an external control center. Who lobbied for the resumption of aircraft production 50 years after the start of its development? The Americans gave birth to the idea of an airplane with variable wing geometry, and they killed it. Should we continue to cling to it in the 98st century, if XNUMX% of the time we fly subsonic?
If someone in the United States declared that it was necessary to produce B-2035 or B-52b by 1, then they would immediately begin to check for sanity. We, as the hero of "Mimino", it turns out, "cannot eat" if we lack the third component of the triad. How do the French manage to sleep well without the triad? China, with its powerful economy, only started talking about the triad after it had built a full-fledged navy. Kim Jong-un does not even have one full-fledged component, and Trump was more afraid of him than of us. Let psychotherapists answer such questions better, the mind cannot understand Russia. And we finally get down to business.
3.1. What quality of control center can be considered acceptable?
It should not be expected that in 2035, the current level of reconnaissance means available to the Russian Federation will provide a control center of an acceptable level, the launch of an anti-ship missile system on which it will be quite effective. Reducing the weight and size characteristics of the REB equipment will allow the enemy to place it on light UAVs, which will divert the anti-ship missiles to the side.
Passive interference is also improving. The clouds of dipoles are a thing of the past - modern GOS anti-ship missiles can get rid of their influence due to the difference between the speeds of the ship and the dipoles. The ship goes in one direction, and the wind carries the dipoles in the other. If, for example, we take an inflatable balloon with a diameter of 1 m and a length of 3 m, which contains inside corner reflectors made of metallized film, then it will be able to simulate a target with an RCS of up to 1000 sq. m.
If 3-4 such balloons are connected in a bundle (“sausage”) with a step of 10–30 m and the bundle is towed using a UAV at a distance of 400–600 m in front of the ship, the RCS of which is much less than the RCS of the bundle, then the seeker will retarget to the bundle. If there is a second bundle, it is advisable to carry it forward a few kilometers. These bundles can be offered for our corvettes and frigates. For ships "Stealth" the size of the balloons can be reduced by 3 times. You can do without the UAV and tow the bundle behind the ship, but the seeker is easier to recognize towed decoys located behind the ship than in front of it. The simultaneous action of active and passive interference leaves the radar seeker with little chance of choosing the right target.
Unfortunately, some experts do not take into account the interference and believe that for the launch of the anti-ship missile system it is enough that the target during the approach of the anti-ship missile system does not go beyond the search zone of its seeker. The typical width of the search area of the seeker, depending on the RCS of the target, is 10–30 km. If the seeker is allowed to search for a target in such a strip, then it will capture any of the decoys in this strip, as long as the false target imitates a larger one than the EPR ships.
Hence, the conclusion follows - the anti-ship missile system should receive radio correction after turning on the seeker and with an error of no more than 0,5 km. It is desirable that the RK line would work in the opposite direction - it would transmit information about the detected targets to the carrier.
3.2. Possibilities of using Tu-160 against AUG
When attacking the AUG, the Tu-160 will be detected by the Hokai or IS officers on duty at a distance of 600-800 km from the AUG. And he will be able to get out of the horizon and detect the AUG only at a distance of 400-420 km. At this time, the security officers on duty will already go out into the attack.
Suppose that the Tu-160 has nevertheless reached the horizon and is trying to issue a control center for an anti-ship missile. At such a long range, it is already difficult to detect ships without interference, and the AUG will definitely turn on the interference. If the jammers have not yet been lifted into the air, then the ship's KREPs will turn on and create an illumination sector with a width of about 160 km on the Tu-20 radar indicator. If a couple of directors also act, then the zone in which the true targets are hidden by interference, and the false ones are visible, will expand to 50 km. Welcome! Start up your RCCs!
As an example, consider only the aviation version of the Onyx anti-ship missile system. Its weight has been reduced, compared to the ship's, from 3 tons to 2,5 tons, and its length - from 8 m to 6 m. In fact, this is Yakhont, the range of which has been increased due to the launch from high altitudes. GOS Onyx is capable of detecting large targets at ranges of more than 50 km. If you do not give the anti-ship missile high-precision radio correction and allow it to freely search for a target, then it will grab, for example, the signal from a remote jamming transmitter - a repeater installed on a UAV located at a distance of 10–20 km from the AUG. Passive decoys can also be caught. Then the anti-ship missile will not target, in general, any AUG ship. Not to mention correctly aiming at the main target. The only way to overcome the effect of interference and give an accurate control command to the anti-ship missile system is to reach the Tu-160 at a range of less than 100-150 km and open the situation with two planes at once, separated by tens of kilometers. Obviously, this scenario is unrealizable in the case of an AUG attack.
Only desperate optimists can hope that the anti-ship missile system will be able to not only highlight the aircraft carrier in the interference, but also, having flown past Arlie Burkes, at the end also overcome its air defense system.
Other RCCs are even less likely. The X-35 has a range of less than 300 km, that is, it will not reach the AUG. Zircon needs an accurate control center, since it must lock the target while still on the march, that is, at altitudes of 30–40 km. To descend to a lower altitude, for example, 10 km, and continue to search for a target, he will not be able to because of overheating. Let us also take into account the fact that it is difficult to detect a target at steep angles due to an increase in the reflections of the sounding signal from the sea surface. The plasma cloud around Zircon further complicates detection. When independently searching for a target, Zircon's high speed becomes a disadvantage, since it takes 5-10 seconds to make a decision to start a dive at the target.
3.3. Possibilities of using Tu-160 against KUG
The absence of Hawkeye AWACS in the KUG makes it easier for the Tu-160 to reach the horizon, but the amount of interference will not be much less than in the case of the AUG. Only jamming planes will be absent, but less powerful UAVs will be present.
The main danger for the Tu-160 is the Aegis air defense missile system. The firing range of the SM6 is estimated at 400 km, so it is dangerous to approach the KUG at a shorter distance to get a more accurate target control. Theoretically, it is possible to place a powerful KREP on the Tu-160 and, by organizing a flickering interference from two sides, swing the missile guidance loop, but given the increased visibility of the Tu-160 and its low maneuverability, it is better not to take such a risk.
What kind of radar is installed on the Tu160m2 was not reported, but the dimensions of the fairing make it possible to obtain a rather narrow beam with a width of 1,5 °, which corresponds to a search zone width of 10 km with a range of 400 km. Thus, interference located outside this width will be attenuated tens or hundreds of times. Since the KUG has no production planes, it can be assumed that the area covered by interference will be ± 5 km. Of course, it is easier for anti-ship missiles to search for a target in such a zone than in the AUG zone, but the destroyer's RCS is an order of magnitude smaller than that of an aircraft carrier, and it is easier to create false targets for camouflaging it.
The formation of the control center could be significantly simplified with the use of the A-100 AWACS aircraft, which, from a range of 450 km, would receive a significantly more detailed picture than the Tu-160. The AWACS radar beam has a width of only 1 °, which narrows the width of the search area to 7 km. A100 radar uses a range of 10 cm, in which shipboard KREPs do not work. The KREP of this range, placed on the UAV, has a much lower power than the shipborne one and it will be difficult for it to suppress the powerful AWACS radar. The main disadvantage of the A-100 AWACS is a small combat radius - 2000 km. It is extremely difficult to organize its refueling due to the huge fuel consumption - 6 t / h.
The result here is disappointing - the Tu-160 attack on the KUG will be ineffective.
3.4. Use of tactical aviation (TA)
It makes sense to use TA where the coastal complexes Bal and Bastion are missing. Let's assume that this is the first 500 km from the coast. On the other hand, the range of a TA usually does not exceed 1000 km from the airfield. Of course, refueling can also be used, but we still do not have enough Il-78, but how many will there be in 2035?
Let's look at a specific example.
3.4.1. TA actions against AUG
Suppose that the AUG approached our territory and is located 800 km from the TA airfield. We will assume that the question of the suspension of an anti-ship missile with a mass of 2,5 tons on Su aircraft has already been resolved. Then one Su can carry 2 aviation Onyxes. It remains to figure out how to give them a control center? For the commander of the AUG, the location of our airfield is known, so the AWACS Hokai will be moved 300 km towards the airfield and will be able to detect the Su at a distance of more than 600 km from the AUG. Therefore, it will be about gaining air superiority. It is advantageous for the AUG to engage in battles when our IS approach a range of 250-400 km. In this case, they will have the support of their own air defense systems, radars and jammers. The advantages include the ability for the AUG IS to take off with half the fuel supply. Consequently, winning aerial battles is possible only due to a large numerical advantage and is associated with large losses. If the battles took place at a distance of 500-600 km from the AUG, then the advantage would be on our side.
The beam width of the radar on Su aircraft exceeds 2 °, therefore, the quality of the control unit delivery, even from a range of 300 km, is no better than that of the Tu-160 with a range of 400.
The situation can be improved by using a pair of AWACS A-100. They should be located at a distance of 450 km from the AUG at an altitude of 12 km, which corresponds to the horizon range. The distance between the A-100 pair along the front should be 150-200 km. This will make it possible to determine with high accuracy the position of the placed jammers. The range of 450 km ensures the non-defeat of the SM6 missiles. But to protect against the enemy's IS, you will have to use a pair of IS, which will ensure the protection of AWACS from UR AMRAAM. AWACS is capable of detecting these URs immediately after starting with IS.
Since light UAV directors usually emit interference in only one wavelength range, the interference for IS and for AWACS will be emitted by different directors. Joint processing of signals received by AWACS and IS will make it possible to separate the issued directors from the true targets. The effectiveness of air combat between IS when controlled from AWACS will also increase significantly.
If we assume that, as a result of the battle, it will be possible to bring our IS to the line of 300 km and get a control center, then the quality of such a control center from an information security system will not be better than a control center from an AWACS, therefore it is easier to provide security for AWACS and get a control center from them, unfavorable conditions. In the event of a massive IS attack specifically against AWACS, the A-100, having noticed the attack, can simply step back under the cover of its IS. The IS officers on duty from the airfield or coastal air defense systems will help to finally repel the attack. Then the AWACS returns to a range of 450 km, and the number of available sorties on the aircraft carrier is reduced. Since the accuracy of the control center will be approximately ± 4 km, a lot depends on the availability of the GOS RCC's ability to dump a picture of signals and interference on the IS.
3.4.2. Using TA against KUG
The absence of AWACS and IS of the enemy allows you to get a more accurate control center using IS. The main danger to IS is the Aegis air defense missile system, which is capable of intercepting IS flying below the horizon. Therefore, it is possible to approach the KUG, for example, at a distance of 150 km, only at low altitude, when the KUG's radar does not yet detect the target.
To obtain such a more accurate control center, you will have to form a reconnaissance group of 4 information security, armed with the R-77-1 missile defense system. The first two ISs follow at an altitude of no more than 1 km, with the task of reaching the line of 150 km and, having made a "slide", reconnoitre the IBM. The distance between the IS along the front should be 30-50 km. Aegis radar will detect the first IS and launch missiles at them. Having completed reconnaissance in 5–10 s, the first IS descend below the horizon and fly to the side. Having lost the target, the Aegis radar switches the missiles into over-the-horizon mode and turns on their seeker. Then the second IS, located 15-20 km further than the first, turn on the radar and detect the missile defense at a distance of 60-70 km. Further, the second IS tie the trajectory of the missile defense system and determine whether the missile defense system can intercept the first IS or whether it is directed towards the place where the slide took place. In case of danger, Ur R-77-1 are launched in the direction of the missile defense system, and the IS return back.
Due to the lack of a series, the construction of aircraft carriers will be very expensive. The French also failed to bring the reliability of a single aircraft carrier to the required level. Looking at Kuzya, do you think we will somehow succeed? Two medium-sized aircraft carriers, taking into account the cost of development and infrastructure, will cost 1,5 trillion rubles. The actual operation of two AUGs costs at least 80 billion rubles a year. Even if the construction of AUGs takes 20 years, then instead of that, you can build a full-fledged destroyer per year.
The rejection of aircraft carriers in favor of naval missile-carrying aviation also does not solve the problem of the far sea zone. When attacking AUG Tu-160m2, due to increased visibility, it will not be able to reach the horizon and issue a control center, without which an anti-ship missile attack is ineffective in conditions of interference. When attacking the KUG, Tu160 will be able to reach a safe range of 450 km and form a control center. But a detailed picture of the KUG, due to interference, cannot be obtained at such a distance. Therefore, the effectiveness of launching anti-ship missiles, although it will be higher than with the attack of the AUG, will still be small.
In the near sea zone, it is much safer to use TA instead of Tu-160. When attacking the AUG TA, it can receive an inaccurate CO on its own, but it is much safer to use a pair of A-100 AWACS for reconnaissance. When attacking a KUG, AWACS is not required. Conventional IS are capable of reaching a range of 150 km and forming a more accurate CU than AWACS.
It follows that the tasks of the MPA will be very limited, and the cost of 50 Tu-160 plus the cost of 10 A-100 will be at least 900 billion rubles.
As a result, you don’t understand what to choose: two aircraft carriers will perform some tasks, but they are very expensive, the MPA is cheaper, but it has little combat capability, and the tasks for it need to be tortured. In BMZ it is much more efficient to use TA.
The leader of the peoples to the question "left or right deviation is worse" - answered: both are worse. Apparently, we will also have to resolve the issue of AUG or MRA. A third way is needed.
The author has already proposed one of the options in articles about the concept of an aircraft-carrying cruiser and AWACS aircraft. But these questions are not the subject of this article, since it is necessary to put forward the concept of increasing the combat effectiveness of the entire surface fleet. At the same time, we will have to take into account that the surface fleet is clearly not a favorite among our leadership.