Recently, two interesting articles on a similar topic were published on the Military Review website: "The Battle for Serpent Island and the Mosquito Fleet" by A. Timokhin and "The death of the missile cruiser "Moskva" as a verdict on the concept of the" mosquito "fleet" Andrey from Chelyabinsk. In my opinion, in them the authors continued to persist in exactly the very approaches that provided our the fleet unpreparedness for a special military operation.
In this regard, I propose to look at the old postulates in the light of new events.
In one of his articles, A. Timokhin formulated a very correct approach. The article “Intellectual impasse of the Russian fleet? No, Russian society” raised the question that society would like to receive from the Navy. We will start from this – I, as a part of society, will try to formulate my expectations.
The fleet must be combat-ready, and in order to ensure this very combat readiness, it is paramount that in peacetime the command regularly assesses changes in the geopolitical situation, technical trends, methods of warfare, and prioritizes risks. As a result of the analysis, the fleet should receive the technical means necessary for effective participation in the expected conflicts, and also begin to improve the tactics of using these same means.
The result should be a state of affairs in which the fleet's contribution will be comparable to its share in the financing of the Armed Forces. But when I open the table below, I understand that something is wrong in the Kingdom of Denmark. Well, our fleet is not fighting even by 5%, not to mention 25%.
Let's think about why this happened?
The military operation of the Russian Federation in Syria, among other things, was remembered for the fact that our fleet used Caliber for the first time. The launches were made by small missile ships of the Caspian flotilla. This event in the media space was a huge success. The footage of the launches was broadcast and repeated many times on the air of all major channels, and domestic propagandists competed in inventing loud slogans for their stories.
It was at this point that certain people realized that they now had their own naval media franchise called "Caliber", which could be "sold" to the public an infinite number of times as irrefutable proof of the power of the Navy.
At the same time, a strike with cruise missiles is, to put it mildly, the most primitive thing that a fleet should be able to do.
However, in the media space, the situation is diametrically opposite - cruise missile strikes look very impressive: both the launch itself and the subsequent videos of eyewitnesses with missiles flying at low altitude, and directly hitting targets.
Only an aircraft carrier could compete with Caliber in the media space, but we all remember very well how the attempt to take this “height” ended for our fleet.
In the bottom line, the launches of the Caliber, due to their powerful impact on society (and not only), served as an excellent screen behind which real combat capability could be hidden. And as a result of this practice, our fleet does not really know how to do anything else.
Well, almost nothing.
In other words, all 25% of the budget is "spent" on what 4 small rocket ships can do. The situation is extremely deplorable. Moreover, it was updated a long time ago, in particular, Roman Skomorokhov in the article "Does it make sense for Russia to wage war at sea" wrote about the fleet in general:
And the result is not a very beautiful thing: we can definitely perform only one operation. Demolish the entire world with strategic submarine cruisers. The rest of the tasks such as local non-nuclear wars, counteraction, coastal defense - alas.
And about "Moscow", in particular:
He deliberately kept silent about "Moscow", this veteran as a cover / counteraction to the submarine is completely useless.
Preparing Russia for Failure at the Strategic Level
It is no secret to anyone that it is impossible at the tactical level to correct mistakes made at a higher, strategic level of planning. Understanding this, I propose to reconsider all the arguments that have been voiced by supporters of the fleet over the years.
I note that in none of the articles by the "flotophiles" was the scenario of a special military operation in Ukraine considered. Moreover, even direct questions about him were simply ignored.
But many other interesting ideas were discussed, under which it was planned to “build a fleet”.
Shown here are the areas our fleet is supposed to control.
If we accumulate the whole essence of the articles of supporters of the fleet, we get something like the following.
Land thinking is poor. In contrast to the wretched land thinking, there is advanced naval thinking, which boils down to the fact that the fleet is a global force and affects wars globally. And for this global influence, it is necessary to sail somewhere far away and perform certain sea rituals there, for example, “waving handkerchiefs”.
By the way, a question to the authors, which is cheaper: to build 50 Tu-160Ms or to drive the Grigorovich and Essen to the Persian Gulf and wave handkerchiefs to the Japanese tanker captains from the bridge even before it all started? Interesting question, huh?
And in the same article about global influence.
The question is: what will be the result of bringing to the attention of Japanese decision makers that at the first aggravation of the military situation around the Kuriles, tankers with Japanese oil from the Persian Gulf will stop reaching Japan?..
Fleets are a global force, they affect the situation globally.
Fleets are a global force, they affect the situation globally.
On the basis of such revelations, the rationale for the need for large ships in the far sea zone was based - aircraft carriers of 300 billion rubles each, the Nakhimovs, whose modernization was estimated at 70 billion rubles, and the Moskva cruisers. i.e. the most expensive fleet projects. All that is very expensive and in fact absolutely useless in the scenario that we have today.
At the same time, both I and other “opponents of the large fleet” (quite conditionally) not only did not consider such scenarios the most likely, but also directly asked questions about the scenario for a land operation in Ukraine.
Among other arguments, the problem of fleets being locked up in narrow water areas and the unsuitability of these water areas for large ships due to the fact that the latter become ordinary targets there was repeatedly voiced. For example, here:
But the aircraft carrier, at the first sign of a threatened period, moved from Tartus to the Red Sea ...
There will be a target hanging in the Red Sea.
There will be a target hanging in the Red Sea.
But what about the supporters of the fleet? Against this background, respected Timokhin in one of his last articles writes the following:
First, a little about what our ships would have to face. There is an opinion about the fact that subsonic anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCs) ... are some kind of nonsense, a worthless target, which the air defense (air defense) of our ships can easily deal with.
In fact it is not.
In fact it is not.
It is surprising that the “opponents of the fleet” have been talking for years about the danger of anti-ship missiles for ships locked in shallow waters. But Timokhin is not embarrassed and in front of everyone changes black and white in places, and then expertly begins to explain to people exactly what he was told for years and what he so diligently ignored.
Moreover, the article proposes to listen to the reasoning of Maxim Klimov. The suggested video (2:34:00) shows the following image.
It displays infographically a list of our warships in the Mediterranean, given that all entry and exits are not controlled by us. And, as a result, this entire list is called by Maxim "a fleet to the slaughter." With regard to their combat effectiveness, the following characteristic is used - "they will be drowned like kittens." But wasn’t this talked about hundreds of times in articles and comments?
Against all this background, it is extremely curious what Timokhin wrote in another article lobbying the aircraft carrier:
So the US allies may well not come to war, this is a fact. And without them, it is not easy to deal with our ships even in the Mediterranean.
How do these assumptions differ from the failure of our intelligence regarding the situation in Ukraine?
How did it come to be realized that our ships in the Mediterranean are a fleet to be slaughtered, and anti-ship missile attacks in such waters pose a great danger to ships?
And most importantly, dear flotophiles, where do you need to sail? Who and what to wave?
To see this global fleet impact in reality?
Isn't this approach the cause of the death of "Moscow"? When another "symbol" of power, driven forward by the confidence that "the allies will not intervene, and without them it is not easy to deal with our ships", in the hope globally influence the situation, suddenly received 2 missiles on board in a simple and non-global way?
All these questions are rhetorical.
What could be done?
First of all, it was necessary to realize that our fleet is completely toothless in relation to the projection of its power on the coast.
The second logical step is the understanding that since 2014, the probability of a “land” scenario in Ukraine has increased every year. And consequently, the importance for the fleet to be able to project its power onto the shore also grew.
In addition, the problem of Transnistria has also existed all this time, as well as the Georgian-Ossetian "question".
The fact that such thoughts visited the command of the fleet is evidenced by the interest in the UDC of the French project. However, a curious thing happened to him. история - The United States "for some reason" forbade France to fulfill its obligations to Russia. It is possible to assume that they went for it because they saw something in the UDC that could interfere with their plans in this region? Back then it was just a plan.
Nevertheless, the story with the UDC repeats the oddities with the Tu-160. Let me remind you that the United States openly brought money to Ukraine so that it would destroy brand new Tu-160s. And all of a sudden, Timokhin and other flotophiles also came up with 1001 explanations why Russia shouldn't have these planes.
The Americans are doing everything to keep the Russian fleet without helicopter carriers, and our flotophiles agree with the Americans.
Against this background, the broadcast in society of ideas about the importance of building or modernizing huge and expensive ships in piece quantities, and (the most expensive in the fleet) of the ocean zone, also looks like outright sabotage. An example of such propaganda is the article "Point of support. What is more useful for the fleet: one nuclear cruiser or three frigates??
I want to note right away that I am not an opponent of large ships in principle. But I consider it a big mistake to ignore priorities - spending huge money on such huge ships in a situation where we have not solved more priority tasks.
Now let's move on to the consideration of the arguments of A. Timokhin, set out in the last article "The Battle for Serpent Island and the Mosquito Fleet".
Serpentine and the fleet of the Russian Federation
The first thing that catches your eye is that even today there is a complete lack of understanding of the need for the fleet to increase its capabilities in projecting force onto the shore. Instead, the article discusses some ideal "ship" that our fleet needs, based on an analysis of all the ups and downs around the Serpentine. This ship must have strong air defense. For what? To protect themselves from Bayraktars and anti-ship missiles.
Okay, but these are protective functions. What about "attack"? How will he destroy the enemy?
And if the enemy quickly landed on Serpentine? For this need a gun, drones for its guidance on board the ship. So - some kind of hangar for them.
And if the enemy tries to attack the ship with his small boats? For example, by installing some small-sized missiles on them (the same Brimstone)? Again a gun.
That is, the meaning of the ship, whose cost is 40 billion rubles, is to, at the risk of being fired upon by anti-ship missiles and Brimstone missiles, fire from ... a cannon itself. By ... boats ?!
Calibers? We have already found out that the Caspian flotilla from much cheaper ships can shoot them. About what aviation can do this, I generally keep quiet, because this will take away the last "bread" from the fleet.
However, this is not the only oddity in the text. Somehow, the logic of the article suggests that we consider the battle for Serpentine as the main task for the fleet. Only this can explain the fact that based on the analysis of this battle, arguments about the "ideal ship" are built.
And let's think about what will happen if we have this ship, and the enemy completely ignores Fr. Serpentine? Neither "Bayraktars", nor planes, nor helicopters will fly there. After all, there is nothing on the island, and therefore it does not pose any threat, unlike the entire land front, where battles go on every day. This means that the same Bayraktars, helicopters and aircraft will be used against the ground forces.
That is, it turns out, and the "ideal ship" will again turn into a fifth wheel. That is, it will not bring absolutely nothing to the theater. Personally, as a part of society, against the background of such toothlessness, it is difficult for me to perceive fairy tales about the “global influence” of the fleet.
Specifically, I believe that for the announced price tag, the fleet should have multiples бо Greater opportunities for projecting your strength onto the shore. This should be expressed in the fact that 200 km of the western coast of Ukraine, to a depth of 20 to 100 km, should become a “front” for the fleet.
Actively using helicopters and boats (and reconnaissance drones and kamikaze drones launched from them), the fleet must secure the zone constant control in the specified area.
The same Odessa Oil Refinery was supposed to be destroyed not by expensive Calibers, but by cheap kamikaze drones. As I wrote in my last article, our fleet, with its funding, should be able to do what, at least, the Houthis can do. In this regard, I would like to note that financially it is much cheaper than firing Caliber. But organizationally it is more difficult. In this connection, the attitude becomes clear - why bother and work on real coordination and development of complex tactics, if you can do what you have been doing for many years - shoot Caliber.
The country will pay, and the people will be delighted. Only now the refineries will run out. And then what? And then, the fleet, which can do nothing else, turns into ballast, on the maintenance of which 25% of the budget is spent.
But Timokhin sees no problem in this.
Well, since our fleet is traditionally used for strikes along the coast with cruise missiles ...
Klimov did not see her either.
He does not see the command either. So, it probably doesn't exist. Problems of this. And we, indeed, have not left such a future, when, during the most important special operation for Russia, the real participation of the fleet comes down to the contribution of several RTOs.
It remains a mystery why flotophiles for the future accept exclusively the concepts of the times of the Gorshkov fleet, including the monstrous ships of the ocean zone. And they completely ignore the truly modern trends in the development of the US Navy, which can be illustrated by the photograph below.
Fleet actions in an ideal situation
Consider the most ideal scenario of how our fleet could prepare for a special operation.
First of all, these are Mistrals or ships of similar functionality, domestically built. AWACS helicopters and Ka-52 attack helicopters should have been based on them. Landing ships would pose a threat of amphibious landings, which would force the Kyiv regime to concentrate forces along the coast.
You could also try to master the launch from the deck of a helicopter carrier of not light Orlans, but more complex Forpost-R medium reconnaissance and strike drones.
During raids to the coast, fast boats would launch reconnaissance drones, reveal the positions of the defenders and strike with kamikaze drones. Helicopters would also be involved for these tasks. Drawing analogies, we can say that the fleet would hold the enemy with one hand (creating a landing threat), and with the other it would strike at the enemy’s equipment.
Attack helicopters could carry out (or at least threaten to do so) low-altitude breakthroughs deep into the territory of Ukraine from the Black Sea.
This means that the front for Ukraine would be longer. On its land sector there would be less enemy equipment, fewer people, fewer Stingers and anti-tank systems. This means that it would be easier for the ground forces and aviation in these areas, the losses would be less. And the role of the fleet in this special operation would have increased many times over.
In addition, trying to defend the coast, the enemy could not afford to create long-term fortifications, since if the fleet had a large number of reconnaissance and strike assets, such positions would be simple targets.
Of course, with regard to AWACS, the most ideal option would be to create a light AWACS aircraft, and not necessarily a carrier-based one. Such planes are needed literally everywhere. However, we do not have a project of such an aircraft ready for serial production. But there is a helicopter. And under the circumstances, it is foolish not to use it.
Now, from the standpoint of participation in the operation of UDC-helicopter carriers, let's consider some of the arguments of the flotophiles.
And if the enemy tries to attack the ship with his small boats?
The experience of military operations shows that the easiest way to pull out a boat at sea is by helicopter. AWACS detects the boat long before it approaches the ship, and the attack helicopter catches up and destroys the ATGM.
Bayraktar, on the other hand, can be detected by a helicopter long before it is detected and hit by the frigate itself. And the Ka-52 flying out to intercept may well attack such an air target. But, firstly, this will happen at a distance that excludes visual contact between the Bayraktar and the ships. Secondly, the frigate will not waste its longer-range missiles on this target and will keep the ammo, which is difficult to replenish at sea (impossible in some cases).
But the most important thing to remember is that this entire "mosquito" fleet will under no circumstances become the basis of the Navy's combat power. The idea to bet on it or be limited to small ships is inoperative and unable to lead to anything but heavy and insulting losses.
Any other statement is no more than another myth.
Any other statement is no more than another myth.
By writing this argument, Alexander is implying that the fleet should abandon the idea of limiting itself to small ships.
And here we must pay tribute - such an idea is really bad. However, we are not talking about limiting ourselves, but about supplementing the fleet with both helicopter carriers (which by no means can be called small ships) and really small ships and boats.
In the “defense” mode, such boats, being combined into one information network, in the event of a missile salvo at the ship, can be sources of interference, taking the missiles towards themselves.
They can also fire off floating corner reflectors, which also increases the chance of the missile moving away from the main target. They can be placed equipment for anti-aircraft defense or air defense systems.
In the modern world, the creation of unmanned boats is a trend. The ideas voiced in the articles by Timokhin and Andrey from Chelyabinsk look very alarming against the backdrop of News that "Turkey is testing an unmanned boat". One gets the feeling that we want to again step on the same rake as with strike drones - to lag behind Turkey and the whole world for 10 years, and then frantically catch up.
And to lag behind, first of all, conceptually. At the level of approaches to combat operations.
Respected authors were not embarrassed that the Russian fleet could not sink the Georgian boats a couple of hundred kilometers from their base. And the helicopter carriers were supposed to appear in the fleet after the analysis of that war with Georgia.
But why bother with real combat effectiveness when you can fantasize about how our mighty fleet will globally influence events somewhere in the Persian Gulf?
What is good, what is bad?
Readers may have a question - why do you need to fence the garden around the mosquito fleet and attack helicopters in the Black Sea (and not only). To answer it, it is necessary to clearly understand what any hostilities boil down to.
In an effort to inflict damage on the enemy, we risk receiving damage in return. If trying to inflict damage on the enemy by 100 million, we put our combat unit, which costs 1 billion, at high risk, other things being equal, we will lose such a war.
And vice versa - if we use a cheaper means to destroy a combat unit for 1 billion, this brings us closer to victory.
Through this prism, I propose to look at what happened on Fr. Zmein, when the cruiser "Moskva" approached the island at a very close distance.
On one side of the scale was such an important military goal as "shouting through the loudspeaker" and scaring the people on the island with their formidable appearance. On the other side of the scale is the risk of getting an ATGM directly into one of the missiles. Is this benefit/risk ratio adequate? In my opinion, no.
It is assumed that the fleet should be able to destroy the means that the enemy has allocated to protect against the landing. Let's say the enemy has placed howitzers 20 km from the coastline. And at a distance of 30 km, an armored group was formed, which dispersed throughout a residential area. Several MLRS installations were also located there. Conducting a landing operation in such conditions is suicide.
However, what weapons does our fleet have in order to carry out a sweep? The frigate should come ashore and engage in an artillery duel with towed howitzers? Our fleet has no adequate instruments of influence. And without clearing the coast, what was the point of driving all this armada of landing ships? In addition to "window dressing"?
Any sane person understands that the entire threat of a landing operation from the very beginning was nothing more than a performance focused solely on creating the appearance of the participation of the fleet. After all, if they really decided to carry out a landing, most of these ships would have been destroyed. How the BDK burns, we have already observed during this special operation.
At the same time, the enemy fends off all our landing ships with very simple and cheap means - towed artillery and not the most long-range MLRS.
It is precisely due to the absence of such tools in the fleet that we get a situation where 25% of our defense spending is actually simply not able to take part in the war. Except for the contribution, as already mentioned, equivalent to the contribution of several RTOs, which may well strike from the Caspian Sea, and they do not need any air defense for this.
Small-tonnage boats, with the ability to launch UAVs and kamikaze drones, as well as attack helicopters, should be the means by which the fleet will be able to clean up the coast. At the same time, the risk of losing a boat is not comparable with the risk of damage to a large ship (even a corvette).
In conclusion, I would like to recall the article "A blow against reality or about the fleet, Tu-160 and the cost of human error" and assess who hit what.
The fleet collected all the "rake" that was warned about.
The most expensive "toys" again "slept through" this war - we do not see either an aircraft carrier or "Nakhimov" - we could not ensure their rotation (which we warned about). We also could not ensure the readiness of those "large ships of the Gorshkov era", which could at least make them swim (an example with the cruiser "Moskva"). Even being in perfect condition, these gigantic ships would not be able to bring anything to this special operation.
We saw a characteristic of the combat stability of our flotilla in the Mediterranean Sea from Maxim Klimov, which turned out to be far from complimentary. The expectation that the "allies" would not appear did not materialize - they appeared in the format in which they had planned.
The calculation that "it is not so easy to sink our ships" also did not materialize. At the same time, we did not see any handkerchiefs waving to anyone and did not see the "global" influence of the fleet.
So who ended up hitting reality?
Against the background of all this, Andrey from Chelyabinsk wrote an article with a telling title "The death of the missile cruiser "Moskva" as a verdict on the concept of the" mosquito "fleet". The logic is this. All the concepts of the ocean fleet failed. Our largest ships are locked in the Mediterranean and are at risk of being "sunk like kittens."
But as a result, the mosquito fleet failed (which, by the way, was not created, since the presence of boats is not a fleet).