Historically, the northern strategic direction was considered the least dangerous for Russia. Of course, American intercontinental ballistic missiles would have flown across the North Pole in the event of an attack on our country. But their goal would not be the Arctic, but above all the administrative centers and industrial regions of the European part and the Urals. Everything changed after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
South and west are the main directions, traditionally carrying military danger for Russia. With Turkey alone, we fought about ten times, the last - less than a century ago. And from the west, waves of various interventionists continually came to us for many centuries. All this forced to pay particularly close attention to these areas, determined the defense strategy of Russia and the Soviet Union, aimed at repelling threats primarily from the west and south.
Eastern vector of threats was designated in the twentieth century. Industrialized Japan became a tough rival of Russia in the Far East. The Russian-Japanese war at the beginning of the century, the conflicts on Hassan and Khalkhin-Gol in 30-s, the Kwantung Army, which hung over our borders in 1941 – 1945-m, the current territorial claims on Russia, as well as the powerful US military potential Japan, all this clearly indicates the existence of a military danger for Russia and from the east. Let's not forget about the once complicated relations with China, which several times resulted in border clashes.
The destruction of the Soviet Union corrected the list of possible threats to Russia, adding to its northern strategic direction. This was the result of certain new circumstances for our country.
Three components of change
First of all, the updating of the northern strategic direction is connected with the actual destruction of the industrial potential of our country, and moreover without any efforts on the part of probable opponents. In the first place in the structure of the Russian economy came the fuel and energy complex, that is, the extraction and sale abroad of raw materials - oil and gas.
In geostrategic terms, this meant moving the center of gravity of the Russian economic system from the industrial regions of the European part and the Urals to the northern oil and gas producing regions of Western Siberia. More precisely - in the Khanty-Mansiysk and Yamalo-Nenets autonomous districts.
Another reason is a significant change in the forms and methods of warfare. In past centuries, foreign intervention meant the invasion of huge masses of troops. In the twentieth century - the masses of troops and armored vehicles. The Russian North was reliably protected from these dangers by colossal impassable spaces.
However, the appearance at the end of the 90-s high-precision weapons - guided bombs, cruise missiles, sea and air-based led to the fact that the destruction of any state eliminated the need for a land operation. This was demonstrated for the first time by the NATO war against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY). Not a single NATO soldier entered the territory of Yugoslavia, but in 78 days, the country was able to bring massive air strikes to its knees.
Finally, the third circumstance that influenced the change in the value of the northern strategic direction in the balance of possible threats to Russia was the change in the objects of the attacks. This was most clearly manifested in the course of the same NATO aggression against Yugoslavia. The objectives of the alliance were not the armed forces of the FRY, but above all the industry and transport infrastructure of the country, and often purely civilian objects such as residential neighborhoods, hospitals and kindergartens. That is the life support system of the state.
Objects and features
So, the basis of the economic system of Russia today is the northern oil and gas producing regions. The Yamalo-Nenets and Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Districts provide the lion's share of oil and gas, the proceeds from the sale of which ensure the filling of the budget of the country, including the military.
The largest promising oil fields have been explored on the Arctic shelf of Russia, for which several countries are fighting for access. Huge deposits of gold, diamonds, coal and other minerals are concentrated in the Russian North. All this increases the importance of this region in the context of Russia's defense.
The main targets of strikes of a potential enemy can be thermal power plants (especially the powerful Surgut and Nizhnevartovsk GRES), oil and gas transfer stations, and also trunk pipelines. All these objects are practically not protected from the impact of aerospace attacks. Surgut State District Power Plant is listed by leading American scientists in the 12 list of life-support objects in Russia, the destruction of which will lead to complete paralysis of life in our country.
Undoubtedly, cruise missiles of sea and air basing will be the strike force of a probable enemy. The Tactical Tomahawk SLCM, which is in service with US Navy submarines, has the following characteristics: maximum range - 2500 – 3000 kilometers, firing accuracy - five meters, launch weight of the missile - 1450 kilograms, flight height - 320 kilograms, flight height - 10 –200 meters. The rocket is capable of maneuvering within two hours in the target area for its search and supplementary exploration, and can also be re-targeted.
The carriers of these missiles in the US Navy are multipurpose Los Angeles-class submarines and Ohio-type SSGNs (the maximum load is 154 missiles).
Strategic bombers are also equipped with long-range cruise missiles with similar characteristics. Currently, the US Air Force has about 60 B-52Ns capable of carrying up to 20 air-based cruise missiles (ALCM). Total strategic grouping aviation The United States can use about 1200 ALCMs for a departure.
Tactics of the parties
The likely launching lines of the ALCM are located outside the zone of operation of the Russian Air Defense Fighter Aviation, from 78 to 80, northern latitude, in the archipelago region of Franz Josef Land and Severnaya Zemlya. The most probable lines for launching the SLCM, taking into account the reach of the most important strategic objects of Russia, including fuel and energy, from the northern direction are located within 73 – 75-th degrees of northern latitude. In the case of organizing combat patrols of the US SSGNs in the waters of the Barents and Kara Seas, all positional locations of the Strategic Missile Forces, base stations for SSBNs, as well as almost all key energy supply facilities of Russia, are within the range of SLCMs.
It is highly likely that the United States plans to deploy four strike groups of nuclear submarines (UG APS) equipped with cruise missiles (CD) off the Arctic coast of Russia.
The first group - in the Barents Sea - consists of three Virginia-type submarines (36 KR) and two Los Angeles-type PLA (24 KR), in total 60 KR.
The second, in the Kara Sea, consists of two Virginia-type submarines (24 KR) and one Ohio-type PLA (154 KR), in total 178 CR.
The third - in the western part of the Laptev Sea - consists of two Virginia-type PLA (24 KR) and one Ohio-type PLA (154 KR), in total 178 CR.
The fourth, in the eastern part of the Laptev Sea or in the western part of the East Siberian Sea, consists of two Virginia-type PLA (24 KR) and one Ohio-type PLA (154 KR), total 178 CR.
Thus, from the northern arctic direction it is possible to fire the following targets:
Ohio-class submarines deployed in waiting areas are deployed in areas of firing positions. Four to six Los Angeles-type submarines ensure the combat stability of the Ohio submarines at deployment lines, and prevent the Russian anti-submarine forces (PLS) from entering the submarines.
At the same time, false war zones of submarines are being created to divert Russian PLS. It simulates the work of the PLA radio transmitters, their noises with the help of PLA simulators, demonstrative actions of specially selected forces are carried out.
In the threatened period, the Air Force and Air Defense forces, together with the forces fleet (aviation and ship component), as well as aerospace defense forces must monitor and prevent the entry of SSBNs and aircraft carriers to the launch lines. It is easier to destroy the carrier itself - a boat or an airplane, than a cruise missile launched.
However, the possibility of interception is complicated by the fact that almost the entire north and north-east of Russia do not have a solid radar field at altitudes below 8000 meters. The existing missile attack warning system (SPRN) of the type “Voronezh” or “Pechora” in a massive strike of SLCM and ALCM will be useless for organizing reciprocal actions, since it is capable of providing information exclusively on the impact of ballistic missiles. The extremely small effective reflecting surface (EOP of the order of 0,05 sq. M), the complex trajectory of flight at extremely low altitudes (10 – 200 m) with the ability to maneuver in the target area make the CU almost invulnerable for C-300 / 400 complexes.
One of the few air defense systems capable of really fighting with A-52H type ALCM carriers at planned launch lines, as well as with the SLCMs and ALCMs themselves, is a high-speed long-range intercept MiG-31. However, according to the parliamentary hearings held in the State Duma of the Russian Federation in April 2013, only the 122 machine now remains in the Air Force combat squad. At the same time, literally in recent years, almost 130 unique MiG-31 vehicles have been withdrawn from service, and no more than 31 aircraft are supposed to upgrade (version MiG-60BM). And it is all over the country. Thus, one of the most dangerous areas - the north remains almost without air cover.
It is necessary to urgently upgrade all the remaining MiG-31 and equip them with operating air units in the indicated areas. The productive use of MiG-31 fighters to combat the Kyrgyz Republic is possible only in advance of the predicted rocket-threatening directions with proactive dispersal to operational airfields, which ensures a high probability of destruction of the cruise missile at the turn of launch. The outfit of MiG-31 fighters should be in line with the projected number of personnel deployed from this direction, and not to the current staff.
The problem requires a systematic approach. The creation of a warning system, providing control of the main rocket-dangerous areas and testing the signal, warning of a massive strike of the SLCM and conducting retaliatory and counter actions, is seen as the first priority measure. Along with this, an effective air defense system should be deployed in the basing areas of the Russian Strategic Nuclear Forces and strategic energy facilities of Russia (object defense) capable of repulsing a massive SLCM strike.
Meanwhile, almost the only military unit on the territory of the Khanty-Mansiysk and Yamalo-Nenetsky districts - the company of radio engineering troops in Khanty-Mansiysk is physically unable to fully perform the task of covering the airspace of the region. Yes, and this company gradually survived local developers.
No less dismal was the situation with regard to the basing of air defense fighter aircraft. At present, almost all military airfields are closed in the northern and arctic zones of Russia and the air defense aviation regiments based on them are disbanded.
The number of closed and active military, as well as some civilian airfields and co-based airfields (can be used as operational air defense aircraft for a period of threat) include the following.
In the Arkhangelsk region:
In the Nenets Autonomous District:
Naryan-Mar is now mainly used by civil aviation (GA).
In the Murmansk region:
In the Chukotka Autonomous Region:
The most suitable airports to effectively intercept IA defense on starting borders ALCM in the far zone to the north of the strategic direction during the attack B-52 are airports located near 70-degrees north latitude: military airfields Monchegorsk, Amderma, Rogachevo, Tiksi, Cape Schmidt and civilians Norilsk, Pevek, Khatanga. In this regard, the airfields of Amderma, Rogachevo, Tiksi and Cape Schmidt must be urgently brought into service.
PLC Northern Fleet
According to a number of experts, at present Russia does not have PLS capable of controlling the situation and conducting active anti-submarine operations in the areas of the Kara, East Siberian seas and the Laptev seas. The system of stationary hydroacoustic posts is almost destroyed.
The fleet of naval anti-submarine aviation of the Northern Fleet consists of three long-range anti-submarine aircraft Tu-142M (Kipelovo Airport), ten anti-submarine IL-38 aircraft (Severomorsk-1 airport) and four Tu-142MR, 20 repeaters of naval anti-submarine helicopters Ka -27PL (Severomorsk-1 airport), two helicopters of the radar patrol Ka-31, 16 of transport-combat helicopters Ka-29 and 24 of multi-purpose helicopters Mi-8. However, the real combat readiness of these aircraft and helicopters raises deep doubts.
Up to three small anti-submarine ships can be in the near sea zone. With the outbreak of hostilities, the Northern Fleet (taking into account the partial commissioning of ships, submarines, airplanes and helicopters requiring repair) will be able to form a grouping of anti-submarine forces of the near-sea zone, including up to two naval search and strike groups, up to five non-nuclear submarines and up to eight anti-submarine aircraft.
A radical increase in the number of combat-ready ships and aircraft of the Northern Fleet is necessary. First of all, due to the repair and modernization of the ship personnel, bringing it up to 85 – 95 in the percentage of its combat readiness. At the same time, the number of surface ships, primarily the near-sea zone, should be increased by specialized and universal military ships (corvettes, small rocket ships, rocket boats, small anti-submarine ships and minesweepers of various classes) to 50 – 60 units and non-nuclear submarines to 20 –25 units. Not less than twice the need to increase the number of naval aviation and three - anti-submarine.
Taking into account the growing confrontation over providing access to mineral deposits that are rich in the Arctic region, special attention should be paid to strengthening the security of the northern strategic direction.
In this regard, when implementing the modernization program of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, it is necessary to give priority to strengthening the group of troops in this area, especially to protect the main oil and gas production centers in the Yamalo-Nenets and Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug. First of all, it is advisable to take measures to restore the anti-submarine defense system, air defense fighter units and their airfield bases as well as the airspace control system. Without this, we risk getting a repetition of the scenarios already played by the “friends” of Russia in Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.