Perhaps there is no topic that causes more controversy than the advisability of creating aircraft carriers for the Russian naval fleet (Navy).
In general, three groups of opinions can be distinguished on aircraft carrier issues.
1.Russia is a continental power, it does not need a powerful ocean fleet, there are enough coastal ships, no larger than the corvette class, and a powerful coastal aviation.
2. Russia needs full-fledged aircraft carriers, nuclear or non-nuclear, but with horizontal take-off and landing aircraft, preferably with catapults.
3. It is enough for Russia to create light aircraft carriers, with a springboard and horizontal take-off and landing aircraft or with vertical take-off and landing aircraft (VTOL).
All adherents of this or that opinion have their own argumentation. To begin with, let's try to consider the goals and objectives of a certain "spherical" Russian aircraft carrier, based on the concept of a superspecific classification of the armed forces (AF), considered by the author in the relevant material.
So, to solve the entire spectrum of tasks by the Russian armed forces (AF), the weapons and military equipment used can belong to four segments:
- Strategic Nuclear Forces (SNF);
- Strategic conventional forces (SCS);
- General Purpose Forces (SON);
- Expeditionary Force (ES).
The superspecific structure of the armed forces
Strategic nuclear forces
As part of the activities of the Strategic Nuclear Forces, the aircraft carrier must solve the tasks of ensuring the safe deployment of the naval component of the strategic nuclear forces - to cover strategic missile submarine cruisers (SSBNs) from enemy anti-submarine aircraft, and to detect and displace enemy submarines.
SSBNs in many ways have imaginary invulnerability - if it is not possible to ensure their secrecy, then they are just easy targets for the enemy.
The advantage of an aircraft carrier over coastal aviation is that it can operate at a greater distance than the latter. For example, if we decide to drive SSBNs closer to the shores of a potential enemy. It is necessary to understand that “closer” means at a distance of 2000–3000 kilometers - from such a distance a sudden decapitation strike can be delivered to which the enemy may not have time to react. This does not mean that we are going to do this, but sometimes demonstrating the possibility of implementing this scenario can cool someone's brazen, star-striped heads.
One of the advantages of SSBNs is the ability to approach the distance from which ballistic missiles of submarines (SLBMs) you can strike the enemy with a minimum flight time, along a flat trajectory
And from the point of view of organizing the protection of the deployment areas and patrolling SSBNs, the aircraft carrier will more quickly solve the tasks of displacing the enemy, since it will be located between the enemy and the patrol deployment zones, and not behind them.
In this case, the anti-submarine capabilities of the aircraft carrier will play a large role - the helicopters have less range and speed, while they fly from the coast to the patrol area, you see, it's time to go back. And on surface ships of the class corvette, frigate, destroyer (if it is not a Japanese "destroyer") and even a cruiser anti-submarine helicopters are few.
The aircraft carrier can cover SSBNs not only from anti-submarine aircraft and enemy helicopters, but also from submarines
Potentially, the deck wing of an aircraft carrier can carry tactical nuclear weapon, but the use of this opportunity can hardly be attributed to the tasks of the strategic nuclear forces. Although it is hardly worth giving up such an opportunity completely.
Strategic conventional forces
Here the situation is similar to what is written about the strategic nuclear forces, since the marine component of the SCS - nuclear submarines with cruise missiles (SSGN) cover is also needed when deploying. At the same time, since the range of cruise missiles (CR) is much less than the flight range of SLBMs, they will have to move closer to the enemy, which may require their cover somewhere in the straits or other nodal points of the world's oceans.
It is ineffective to use the aircraft carrier itself as an element of the SCS, its carrier-based aircraft will not be able to carry long-range precision weapons, and the essence of the SCS is to attack the enemy from a distance that minimizes or excludes the likelihood of a direct combat collision with his armed forces.
On the other hand, as with tactical nuclear weapons, there are nuances. For example, the US armed forces have adopted the JASSM-ER KR with a range of about 1 kilometers. This missile can be carried by tactical aircraft, including carrier-based aircraft. Also in the USA, a modification of the JASSM-XR with a range of 000 kilometers is being developed.
The stealthy cruise missile JASSM-ER and its anti-ship variant LRASM will be able to carry most of the US tactical and carrier-based aircraft
Russia desperately needs an analogue of this missile - the existing Russian long-range missile systems can only be carried by strategic aircraft. According to some reports, a range of about 1 kilometers will have one of the options for the upgraded Kh-000MK59 missile, but this information has not yet been confirmed, most sources indicate a range of the Kh-2MK59 of about 2 kilometers. The Kh-400 cruise missiles can be carried by almost all Russian tactical combat aircraft. If this information is confirmed, then carrier-based aircraft from the aircraft carrier will be able to act in the interests of the SCS.
General purpose forces
It is believed that it is in this role that the aircraft carrier is especially good - as the main strike force of the fleet.
This point of view has been popular since the Second World War, when aircraft carriers clearly showed that the time of battleships is over. At the same time, the emergence of anti-ship missiles (ASM) has cast doubt on the role of aircraft carriers as the main strike force of the fleet.
Yes, sometimes they talk about the problem of target designation, about the possibility of countering anti-ship missiles with electronic warfare (EW) and means of setting protective curtains, but the improvement of multispectral, combined homing heads (GOS), as well as revolutionary improvement of space reconnaissance assets, will make these problems irrelevant.
Aircraft carriers have seriously lost their advantages after the appearance of anti-ship missiles, and in the future the situation will only get worse
What does this mean in practice?
The fact that the creation of countermeasures for air strike groups (AUG) will always be easier than deploying your own symmetrical AUG. Moreover, it will be necessary to ensure parity, that is, an approximately comparable number of AUGs with approximately similar weapons in terms of characteristics. And this means that the economies, production and technological capabilities of the opposing states should be comparable, whereas with asymmetric solutions this is not required.
In other words, we can find a way to deal with AUG USA, especially near our borders, but we cannot create our own AUGs capable of withstanding the US AUG, at least for financial reasons.
Even if we build four full-fledged AUGs, comparable to the US AUG, precisely with the aim of opposing them, then the United States, or, for example, China, will always be able to do even more AUG in order to neutralize our efforts.
No, direct confrontation is possible, albeit meaningless, only with comparable financial and technological capabilities. Economically and technologically stronger opponents can be opposed only by asymmetric methods, including the use of nuclear and strategic conventional weapons.
The massive use of long-range anti-ship missiles, including hypersonic ones, in combination with advanced space reconnaissance assets, casts doubt on the viability of the AUG in military conflicts between highly developed powers
Moreover, the United States will never throw its AUG into direct confrontation with a strong enemy AUG, using the same asymmetric methods - delivering a massive LRASM anti-ship missile strike from a distance of about 1 kilometers.
Of course, at least carrier-based aircraft, at least tactical aircraft of the Air Force, can act as carriers of the LRASM anti-ship missiles, but, most likely, it will be upgraded B-1B bombers or promising B-21 Raider - only they can create the necessary density of the salvo.
On the other hand, threats to the national security of the Russian Federation are not limited to the likelihood of a war with the United States or China. There are opponents like Turkey or Japan.
At present, the RF Armed Forces are unlikely to be able to inflict a decisive defeat even on these countries; to defeat them, developed Strategic Conventional Forces are needed, that is, the ability to strike the entire depth of the territory of these countries without direct combat contact.
At the same time, as a means of the second echelon, aircraft carriers in solving this problem may well be in demand, although their role will not be critical - these countries are too close, it is easier to work on them with coastal-based aviation.
But even with countries like Turkey and Japan, the list of potential enemies of our country is not exhausted.
When pursuing an active foreign policy and economic expansion countries with rather limited military capabilities can become opponents of the Russian Federation, and the more unpleasant can be defeat from them in a military conflict, which can happen due to the geographical remoteness of these countries from our territory. Such countries will in no way be able to attack the territory of our country, but they can oppose the economic and political interests of the Russian Federation in their region, therefore actions against them must be attributed to expeditionary operations.
A good example of how difficult it is to resist even weak countries far from their territory is the Falklands conflict between Great Britain and Argentina.
The level of development of the British armed forces significantly exceeded the level of the armed forces of Argentina, not to mention the fact that the UK is a nuclear power.
Nevertheless, the British could well have lost the battle for the Falkland Islands - what would have been the damage to national prestige?
Yes, of course, Great Britain could go and complain to the United States, whose expeditionary capabilities are enough to "roll into a pancake" a dozen Argentines, but that would be a serious national humiliation.
Aircraft carriers, even primitive ones, with primitive VTOL aircraft of that time, played an important role in this conflict, it can be assumed that without them Great Britain would most likely lose
Imagine a situation where we have a similar problem.
How are we going to solve it?
Who are we going to complain to?
Shall we ask China for help?
Strategic conventional forces, which we, as a single organizational structure, do not yet have, may not help. Even if we form them, that is, there is one nuance: the lower the level of development of the enemy, the less effective the Strategic conventional forces will be against him - what is there to spread with precision weapons?
They may not understand that they have been "smashed" - suffice it to recall Afghanistan, how many cruise missiles are needed to inflict unacceptable damage on this country?
By the way, this rule also applies to nuclear weapons.
And then you will have to act as an expeditionary force, in the ranks of which the aircraft carrier will play a rather important role.
If the potential enemy of the Russian Federation is not Somalia, where there are no normal armed forces at all, let alone aviation, then you can still do without aircraft carriers.
But what if the enemy is a little more advanced militarily, much like Argentina in the conflict with Great Britain?
For example, we give a loan to Venezuela, we supply weapons (which has already happened), as a payment we are given a concession for oil production. And then The United States will organize a color revolution in Venezuela or change the regime there by force to hostile to us, who will say that the previous agreements are no longer valid.
What are we going to do, let's sleep?
The presence of a powerful expeditionary force could force the new government to be more sympathetic to Russian interests, or it could also be “changed”. And aircraft carriers will play an important role in this.
Today Venezuela and I are friends and partners, but what will happen tomorrow?
Do not think that the United States is attacking the Russian expeditionary forces because of its “own” regime. No one will unleash a nuclear war because of some kind of backwater, in the end, it's just a business.
Perhaps the most priority task for aircraft carriers is the promotion of the economic and political interests of the Russian Federation in remote regions of the world, that is, participation in the work of the Expeditionary Force - after all, it was not for nothing that aircraft carriers were called weapons of aggression in the USSR.
The second priority task for a promising Russian aircraft carrier is solving problems as part of general-purpose forces, for example, when confronting countries such as Turkey or Japan. In this case, the aircraft carrier will act as part of the forces of the second echelon, after delivering a massive strike against the enemy by Strategic Conventional Forces.
An aircraft carrier can also be involved at the first stage, to strike with long-range precision weapons, without direct contact with the enemy, as part of the Strategic Conventional Forces (if there is appropriate armament for carrier-based aircraft).
And finally - the task of ensuring the deployment of Russian SSBNs.
With her, everything is not easy. On the one hand, Russia has created a powerful naval component of strategic nuclear forces, which must be protected by all available means. On the other hand, this maritime component is like “spending a lot of money in order to spend even more money later, so as not to lose money previously spent”.
The author has repeatedly considered the problem of the stability of the Russian strategic nuclear forces to a sudden disarming strike, and the most effective solution is the massive construction of protected missile silo launchers (silos) for intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) with one or two nuclear warheads (nuclear warheads), which, apparently, has already been realized in the PRC, and not at all the construction of SSBNs, mobile ground missile systems (PGRK) and heavy ICBMs with dozens of nuclear warheads on board.
China is building silos for ICBMs in a "square-nested" way - no aircraft carrier is needed for their defense
When the bias towards the naval component of the strategic nuclear forces is eliminated, and a limited number of SSBNs will be used only to create a threat to the enemy of inflicting a sudden decapitation strike, the involvement of aircraft carriers to ensure their safety will be required rather sporadically.
In the meantime, this task cannot be removed from the agenda of the Russian Navy.
Aircraft carriers are by no means the highest priority target of the RF Armed Forces in general and the RF Navy in particular. At the same time, the Russian Navy has a certain need for this class of ships, primarily for using them in expeditionary operations, as well as for demonstrating strength, which nowadays is sometimes more important than performing real combat missions - this is our information age. ...
The appearance of a promising Russian aircraft carrier should be formed based on the real tasks that can be assigned to it, as well as based on the objective economic and technological capabilities of our country.