The visit of the French ship became a real "information bomb" that blew up news space - naval experts, analysts and ordinary people agreed that the Mistral’s entry into St. Petersburg was timed to coincide with a new round of Russian-French relations. In the near future, the purchase of a French helicopter carrier for the needs of the Russian Navy is expected.
Mistral for domestic fleet? How justified is the purchase of a ship of this class? How does French technology take root in Russian conditions? In what conflict is it possible to use a universal landing helicopter carrier with a docking chamber?
Perhaps the meaning of the Mistral deal should be searched deeper? Access to modern Western technologies, which are so in need of domestic shipbuilding. The latest construction materials and unique layout solutions, modular design, unique electronics and new personnel accommodation standards. It sounds convincing ... Or, as always, the interests of the sailors were sacrificed to the goals of the Big Politics?
There is still no clear answer - история with the purchase of "Mistral" became a rich ground for controversy and speculation. Estimates vary from vulgar Russophobic jokes in the style of "Russians, wipe the dirt from their bast shoes, stepping onto the deck of a democratic French ship." What would you do without French help? You cannot build a ship of this level on your own.
According to the opposite opinion, "the admirals bought themselves" foreign cars "of a billion euros each." Completely useless ships - "pink elephants" that do not fit into the concept of the use of the Russian Navy.
The Defense Ministry adds fuel to the fire of disputes, occasionally making unexpected statements: “the domestic diesel fuel is not suitable for French diesels”, “complete with a French ship, we will have to buy French landing gear — our boats do not fit in the Mistral docking chamber.
Who would doubt that the ship created according to NATO standards is poorly compatible with the infrastructure of the Russian Navy. It will be especially interesting when the combat information and control system Zenit-9 fails at the most crucial moment. If he simply refuses! - Overseas electronics can “dump” on the satellite all the information stored in its memory: combat squadron warrant, number, type and location of ships and aircraft, data on the operation of shipborne systems, information on combat damage, plans and tasks of the squadron (all this is stored in memory BIUS).
However, I need to exaggerate in vain - sabotage “bookmarks” are extremely rare: in marine history there are hardly a few cases in which foreign equipment carried such “surprises” in itself. The French are honest and responsible guys who care about their reputation. French weapons armed with a good half of the world. However…
Thousands of publications have already been written about the situation around the Russian Mistral and it makes no sense to plot another futile dispute, but indomitable in its rage, repeat hackneyed truths and give questionable assessments. Today I would like to talk about more simple and obvious things.
The event, which will be discussed, took place directly during the visit of “Mistral” to St. Petersburg: the French ship successfully “parked” on the embankment of Lieutenant Schmidt - directly opposite the 16-17 alignment of the Vasilyevsky Island lines. Here, the Frenchman was in the company of the Soviet submarine C-189 (diesel-electric submarines Ave 613, a floating museum from the year 2010). A panorama with a moored Mistral and a submarine standing nearby hit all the photo footage of the visit of the French helicopter carrier to Russia.
Take a close look at the Mistral, now translate a glance at the C-189. Again on the "Mistral" - and the submarine. I don’t know what kind of emotions this picture will have in the reader, but every time I look at the helicopter carrier and dizeluha, the same thought comes to me: the C-189 is just a sliver against the background of the Pink Elephant. The colossal contrast of size and cost, while the submarine is not as simple as it seems at first glance.
What is Mistral? A huge low-speed “steam” with a full displacement of 21 000 tons, built according to the standards of civil shipbuilding. Strictly speaking, "smoke of sea battles" is contraindicated to "Mistral" - it has neither the proper speed, nor armament, nor armor protection. Minimal fire contact with the enemy is destructive for a huge ship. The French paratrooper dock is only a vehicle capable of delivering a battalion of marines to the other end of the world along with their equipment and light armored vehicles. Fantasies about equipping the Mistral with cruise missiles and the C-400 anti-aircraft missile system look simply ridiculous - the ship is NOT INTENDED for conducting combat operations on the sea. The main function of "Mistral" - transportation equipment and personnel of the armed forces.
What is C-189? Former Soviet diesel-electric submarine of the 613 project ("Whiskey", according to NATO classification).
What is the 613 project? The most massive series of submarines of the USSR Navy - 215 built ships + another 21 boat was assembled in China from Soviet components. Simple as a bucket, cheap, like a Chinese tape recorder and ubiquitous, like air molecules - "Whiskey" became a real "scourge" of marine expanses.
An excellent pedigree - the Soviet "Whiskey" was a deep modernization of the German project XXI "Electrobot", the most advanced submarines, which were in service with Kriegsmarine. Surface displacement ~ 1000 tons, underwater ~ 1350 tons. The speed in the surface position of 18 nodes, in the underwater position - 13 nodes. Extreme depth of immersion 200 meters. Autonomy 30 day. Crew ~ 50 people.
Boat armament: 4 fore and 2 stern torpedo tubes, 12 torpedoes (standard). Until the middle of the 50, 57 and 25 mm anti-aircraft artillery were installed on boats. From 1960, some of the boats were equipped with the P-5 anti-ship complex (four cruise missiles in external containers, a nuclear or conventional warhead weighing 1000 kg).
Look again at the Mistral and the old Soviet submarine. If necessary, a flock of such submarines will deal with the Mistral, as with a helpless calf. "Pink Elephant" completely defenseless from attacks from under the water. Subsequently, even the destruction of 10 enemy submarines does not pay for the loss of the helicopter carrier and the equipment, helicopters and hundreds of marines on board. The submarine is the most deadly and effective naval weapon (once again look at the size of the C-189).
Unlike the Mistral, which poses a threat only to itself, even the smallest and oldest submarine poses a real danger to any enemy surface ship.
"Whiskey" and C-189 - passed stage. Currently, much more formidable and sophisticated boats of similar purpose have appeared (non-nuclear submarines with a small displacement - less than 2000 tons): the promising Russian project 677 "Lada", French-Spanish boats Scorpene, the legendary German "Type 209" and "Type 212", in service with 14 countries of the world ...
If the budget allows, you can make a higher bid - the Soviet-Russian diesel-electric submarines Varshavyanka (approximately 2 times larger than Whiskey-613), Japanese Soryu submarines with an air-independent Stirling engine, etc. invisible sea killers.
As for my beloved atomic ships, everything is fairly obvious here - the nuclear underwater killer has a high cost (comparable to the cost of the “Mistral”), at the same time, it has absolutely fantastic capabilities. The nuclear submarine is ideal for waging a sea war and terrorizing enemy communications.
Extreme secrecy allows the boat to “get” any naval target and crawl to where ordinary ships do not have access. The boat is able to open fire with cruise missiles at targets in the depths of the continent, carry out covert mining of communications, secretly deliver a special forces group to the enemy’s shore, provide covert surveillance of the enemy’s coast, install spy equipment in the territorial waters of another state, conduct a bottom survey in search of objects of interest ( fragments of enemy vehicles, search for shipwrecks, oceanographic surveys in the interests of the Navy, etc.). Finally, it is the boats entrusted with the honorable “honor” of being the grave-diggers of mankind - a strategic submarine can destroy life all over the continent (an exotic and unlikely variant, however, such strategic nuclear weapons are deployed only on submarines - a fact proving the highest secrecy and military stability of submarines nuclear ships).
The nuclear submarine is capable of operating anywhere in the world's oceans, the unquenchable flame of a nuclear reactor allows it to move even under multi-meter armor of Arctic ice and provides the NPS with complete independence from weather conditions on the ocean surface.
This axiom has been repeatedly proved by history:
In conditions when the budget and industry opportunities are limited - for causing maximum damage to the enemy, it is preferable to build boats. Of particular value are atomic "pikes" with exceptional combat capabilities. The boat has no equal by the criterion of cost / damage.
Sometimes, as evidence of the powerlessness of the submarine fleet, the Battle for the Atlantic is cited as an example. 783 German submarines did not return to the base, 28 of thousands of seamen were locked up in their “steel coffins”. Awful, isn't it?
During the same time, German submarines sank 2789 ships and ships of the Allies, the total tonnage of more than 14 MILLION tons !! The loss of Allied personnel exceeded 60 Thousands of people.
The pogrom on the naval base of Scapa Flow, the overturned strike aircraft carrier Ark Royal, the exploded battleship Barham, the cruiser Edinburgh with a cargo of gold — small angry fish “bitten down” on everyone who met on their way.
And these are flimsy, imperfect "pelvis" that spent 90% of their time on the surface! With the complete domination of the Allied aviation in the air, with regular bombing of the basing places, in the presence of hundreds of anti-submarine ships and frigates thrown to neutralize the "underwater threat" and the decrypted Enigma code - even in such unfavorable conditions, the omnipresent boats continued to pack bundles of ships and ships of the Allies.
Once again about the "Pink Elephant" and submarines
Now it’s time to return to our time and take another look at the Mistral ship. As noted above, the universal amphibious assault landing ship is no more than a vehicle. Ferry. Self-propelled barge for the delivery of expeditionary forces. But what is a marine battalion? 500 man and several dozen armored personnel carriers - these forces are enough to resolve the point of "colonial" conflicts. Conducting police special operations in the third world countries, pacifying the revolts of savages in the capital of the next "Zimbabwe". Convenient, comfortable "colonial" ship. Everything. For other tasks "Mistral" is not suitable.
For serious conflicts on foreign shores (invasion of Iraq, etc.) a completely different scale of forces and means is required: hundreds of tank landing ships, rocket ships and container ships. We need advanced air bases and seaports, destroyers and submarines with thousands of tactical cruise missiles, dozens of naval tankers, thousands of armored vehicles and the army, numbering a million people (compare this with the capacity of the Mistral premises).
Those. the presence of even four (even forty) Mistrals does not give any grounds for “global dominance” and operations far from home shores - this requires a giant fleet of many hundreds of modern warships + command of maritime transport with its high-speed container ships.
It is quite obvious that in the event of an acute shortage of the ship’s personnel, an attempt to “strengthen” the fleet with the help of Mistral-type assault helicopter carriers looks like inappropriate spending. The second plausible version - the interests of the sailors were in the tenth place after any foreign policy interests of Russia.
From the point of view of the existing economic and geopolitical conditions, it is obvious that the most realistic and effective way to strengthen the domestic fleet is the development, replenishment and modernization of the submarine component of the Russian Navy.
A small photo gallery. Mistral
Steel coffin. Submarine C-189
The boat C-189 was launched in the 1954 year. She regularly went on combat patrols, took part in combat training work of the fleet and testing new types of weapons. Before 1988 year it passed a diving school thousands of sailors, sergeants and officers. After serving almost 35 years, was withdrawn from the fleet in 1990 year. In 1999, the boat sank directly at the pier of the Merchant Harbor in Kronstadt, plunging into the ground due to loss of buoyancy.
In 2005, at the expense of the businessman and former submariner Andrey Artyushin, the C-189 submarine was raised and restored. 18 March 2010, a private museum of the submarine fleet opened near the Lieutenant Schmidt Embankment in St. Petersburg, in which the role of the main exhibit is played by C-189
The interior of the submarine, in comparison with the Mistral, can cause horror and bewilderment: "Are they rotting alive in a steel coffin?" Alas, the extremely dense layout is a tribute to the combat capabilities and safety of the boat: the smaller the dimensions (and, consequently, the wetted surface area), the less noise the submarine makes when it moves. A small boat requires a less powerful (and, therefore, quieter) power plant, smaller sizes provide a reduction of the magnetic field and other unmasking factors. In the end, this is not an entertainment cruise - this ship was created for the war, where it is important to complete the task and return safely to the home base. Everything else is of little importance.
It is worth noting that the C-189 DEPT was built 60 years ago - modern submarines have a much higher level of comfort for deploying personnel.