Some classes and types of warships cause society to overstate expectations, and the allegedly enormous combat potential attributed to them is reflected in high-profile nicknames, such as the “aircraft carrier killer,” as 1164 missile cruisers call it in the press. How does this correspond to their real capabilities? Are they able to destroy the most powerful warships of our time - American heavy aircraft carriers (AVT)?
The heavy nuclear missile cruisers of the 1144 project (the most famous of which is “Peter the Great”), the 1164 missile cruisers and the submarines of the 949 project (became famous “thanks to” the tragedy of the Kursk submarine) are really high hopes. But are they capable, acting as part of a group of two or three ships (as is the case today when our Navy performs various tasks of supporting Russian diplomacy and displaying the flag), to destroy or at least disable the American aircraft carrier?
Let us turn to the main tactical and technical characteristics of these ships.
The 1164 missile cruiser with a displacement of more than 11 000 tons has as its main armament a missile strike complex weapons P-1000 "Volcano" with 16 ammunition anti-ship missiles. The maximum firing range is 550 kilometers.
The main anti-aircraft armament of the ship is represented by the multichannel complex "Fort" (C-300F) with a firing range of up to 90 kilometers.
The 1144 heavy missile cruiser with a displacement of more than 25 000 tons equipped with anti-ship missiles "Granit" with a firing range of about 500 kilometers. The ship has on board 20 such missiles.
As the main anti-aircraft weapon, the ship has two multichannel complexes "Fort", similar to those installed on the cruisers of the 1164 project.
On both ships, the Ka-27 helicopters are based, which can be used for issuing target designation to the main missile system at a distance of kilometers to 300 – 400.
According to Western experts, the destruction of or the decommissioning of such ships requires the entry of four to six Harpoon anti-ship missiles or two or three Tomahawks.
The submarine of the 949A project has as its main armament the Granit missile system, similar to that installed on the 1144 cruisers.
The main means of searching for connections of surface ships on this submarine is a hydroacoustic complex.
Unified combat system
American aircraft carriers almost always operate as part of carrier strike groups or carrier strike compounds. The typical composition of such a group includes one aircraft carrier, six to eight surface covering ships, including two or three Ticonderog type missile cruisers and the same number of Orly Burk destroyers as well as two or three nuclear submarines, mainly "Los Angeles".
An aircraft carrier may include up to two to four carrier strike groups operating in a single battle formation.
Currently, the foundation of the American aircraft carrier fleet are ships of the Nimitz type of various modifications. With a displacement of about 95 tons, they have as their main weapon an airborne group aviation a total of up to 100 units of various aircraft.
The standard composition of the aircraft wing of the aircraft carrier includes the F / A-48C, E, F and D 18, the Viking planes, four - six tankers, the same number of EW planes, four reconnaissance planes, four - radar patrol and E-10 “Hokai”, 2 – 10 control units for anti-submarine and search and rescue helicopters.
The aircraft carrier wing constitutes the basis of the strike power of an aircraft carrier strike group and provides all types of its defense.
Missile cruisers and destroyers of URO are the basis of the defense system of the aircraft carrier group.
Tikonderoga type missile cruisers with a displacement of about 9600 tons as the main armament have different types of missile weapons, located in two universal vertical underdeck launchers Mk-41 with a total capacity of 122 cells.
Typical missile loading includes Tomahawk 26 cruise missiles, ASROC 16 PLUR and Standard-80 2 SAMs.
In addition, the ship has XGNUMX missiles "Harpoon" in the deck launchers.
The destroyers of the ORO-type "Orly Burk" in terms of composition and nomenclature of weapons are similar to Ticonderoga-type cruisers, differing from them only in a reduced amount of ammunition. So, these ships have 96 cells of universal vertical launchers.
Both types of ship are equipped with the Aegis combat information management system.
Carriers, cruisers and destroyers have a developed system of electronic suppression, allowing them to significantly reduce the likelihood of destruction of anti-ship missiles.
It can be assumed that four or seven heavy Russian anti-ship missiles will be required to destroy or destroy an American aircraft carrier. A similar figure for cruisers and destroyers will be from one to three units.
Multipurpose nuclear submarines of the Los Angeles type have 12 launchers that can accommodate Tomahawk anti-ship missiles and four torpedo tubes with 24 torpedo ammunition.
Solving the task of fighting enemy surface ships, the carrier strike group is capable of striking carrier-based aircraft comprising up to 40 aircraft at a distance of 600 – 800 kilometers and Tomahawk missiles to 500 – 600 kilometers from the center of the warrant, having a few dozen such missiles .
Anti-submarine defense carrier strike group is built to a depth of 600 and more kilometers from the aircraft carrier. Anti-aircraft - to 700 kilometers from the center of the order. Its basis in the far and middle zones is deck fighter aircraft, capable of fighting with supersonic cruise missiles. In the near zone, the base of the air defense system consists of the multichannel anti-aircraft fire weapons of the ships guarding collective defense.
In general, the US carrier strike group is a unified combat system in which dissimilar forces and assets operate under the control of a unified automated control system for a naval compound, solving all the defense and offensive tasks assigned to it in a single complex.
In order to hit an aircraft carrier from an aircraft carrier strike group, our ship group led by a missile cruiser or a missile submarine must ensure timely detection of the aircraft carrier group and classify it, approach the distance of use of missile weapons, retain combat capability, get target designation with determining the location of the aircraft carrier in warrant and launch missiles, which, having overcome the opposition of air defense and EW, must hit the aircraft carrier.
Consider the possibility of implementing this complex of events.
Own capabilities of the ship group in the composition of the missile cruiser and of one or three escort ships and reconnaissance support are actually limited to the limits of the radio horizon, that is, several dozen kilometers.
Helicopters available onboard ships for use in the interests of searching for enemy ship formations in large areas are unsuitable due to the insufficient number of these machines onboard the formation ships (maximum two helicopters on the largest ship) and a small radius of action. They can be effectively used only in the interests of issuing target designation and then to the incomplete range of the use of rocket weapons.
The capabilities of the 949A missile submarines of the reconnaissance project are much broader. With the help of their underwater acoustics, they can detect noises from aircraft carrier groups more than one hundred nautical miles away. That is, when the submarine is in the far zone of the anti-submarine defense of an aircraft carrier group, where there is a certain (albeit small) probability of its destruction.
However, it is impossible to classify and, moreover, determine the combat order of enemy connections with the identification of the main order from such a distance. It will be necessary to get close to the enemy up to several dozen nautical miles. That is, to enter the middle anti-submarine defense zone of an enemy compound, where the probability of its destruction is already quite substantial.
When these cruisers were created, that is, under the Soviet Navy, their activities were supposed to be carried out with the support of the naval intelligence system in the ocean (sea) theater of operations. It was based on a developed radio and electronic intelligence system, which was based on ground centers located in the territory of not only the USSR, but also other countries. She also had an effective naval space reconnaissance system, which allows not only to detect and monitor enemy enemy ship formations, but also to target missiles to target virtually the entire ocean area.
Each of the ocean fleets had one or two reconnaissance aviation regiments, based on aircraft that could conduct reconnaissance in the far sea and ocean zones — the Tu-95РЦ and Tu-16Р.
Finally, a numerous and combat-ready atomic submarine fleet allowed to keep in the sea from 10 to 30 and more nuclear submarines, which also solved the tasks of reconnaissance of enemy ship connections.
Such an intelligence system made it possible to detect and track US aircraft carrier connections from the moment they left the base.
Today, of all this power, there are actually only a limited number of nuclear submarines and a substantially reduced system of radio and radio intelligence, which, moreover, has lost all of its overseas centers (in particular, Lourdes in Cuba and Cam Ranh in Vietnam). From the reconnaissance aviation of the ocean zone remained single aircraft. These forces do not allow conducting effective reconnaissance of important areas of the seas and oceans, all the more so as to ensure, in the required volume, with reconnaissance data our compound for an effective strike on an aircraft carrier.
A different picture emerges for an aircraft carrier, which is only capable of controlling air and surface space to a depth of 800 kilometers and more by its own efforts.
With such superiority, a carrier-based compound will be able to prevent our missile cruisers to the distance of the rocket volley, with impunity (even without being detected) striking it with deck aircraft and long-range missiles.
In this respect, the position of the missile submarine is much better. It is able to detect and secretly get close to the enemy aircraft carrier. However, the probability of its detection and destruction is very high.
But even in the case of providing the proper intelligence information, our small ship connection will need to get close to the aircraft carrier connection to the firing distance with rocket weapons.
Having the superiority in the range of use of carrier-based aviation, the enemy will inflict on our compound airstrikes of up to 40 vehicles, of which around 25 are equipped with two “Harpoon” missiles. Attack aircraft and missiles will be covered by EW aircraft.
A volley in 40 – 50 cruise missiles will not be able to repel our ship mix.
Under these conditions, the most powerful air defense missile systems of our shipborne compound "Fort" will be able to destroy only a few missiles each. The means of self-defense of each of the ships in the best case will destroy one or two missiles, some will lead to interference. As a result, more than two dozen missiles hit their targets. We can confidently say that in the end our ships, including the missile cruiser, will be sunk with a high probability.
If this is not enough, the strike can be repeated.
That is, our ship's connection will not even be able to approach the distance of rocket firing.
The conditions for overcoming the opposition of the enemy for the 949A missile submarine are much better. However, in this case, the probability of her death before reaching the position of the use of weapons is essential.
If we assume that our missile cruiser or missile submarine reached the position of a volley and fired it, then the chances of hitting an aircraft carrier are still small.
A volley of 16, 20 or 24 missiles against a naval connection, saturated with multi-channel air defense systems, covered with fighters of a combat air patrol that has powerful EW tools, is unlikely to achieve the goal.
Two or three missiles can be destroyed by fighters. Each of the missile cruisers and destroyers of URO is capable of hitting several missiles. If we take into account that the number of ships that are able to take part in repelling a missile strike can be three-four or even more, it becomes clear that literally units of rockets will remain unaffected. They will be destroyed by self-defense anti-aircraft weapons or they will divert radio-electronic interference from the target.
Chances to achieve hitting at least one rocket are very small.
Thus, it can be stated that even with the successful launch of its missiles along the American aircraft carrier, the chances of a Russian missile cruiser to hit him are negligible. And taking into account other factors, they are practically reduced to zero.
How to equalize forces
So, the powerful balanced enemy grouping, which has about a dozen warships, several submarines and about 100 planes, is opposed by only two or three Russian warships.
Comparison of the performance characteristics of the American Ticondeurogue cruisers and destroyers of the Orly Burk-type URO with our ships shows that they are at least as good as the Russian 1164 cruiser and, if they are inferior, then slightly the 1144 cruiser.
At the same time, against the six cruisers of the Russian Navy, half of which are not capable of operation, the United States is capable of putting around 50 warships of equal value to them.
Therefore, the raids of small Russian groups of warships sent to remote areas of the oceans and hot spots have almost exclusively political significance. Their military influence is negligible.
In order to successfully confront the US carrier group, our fleet is obliged to counter it with an adequate operational force.
Its strength should be comparable to the carrier group: one to three 1164 and 1144 missile cruisers in the security of five to eight destroyer-class surface ships, a large anti-submarine ship, a frigate, a 949A project, four to five multipurpose submarines with the support of a two-three-regimental composition of naval rocket-carrying or long-range aviation, at least a squadron of reconnaissance aircraft of the ocean zone. In the Northern Fleet, the aircraft carrier of the 1143.5 project may be included in the strike group. With its introduction, the combat strength of the strike force of surface ships can be reduced by 20 – 30 percent.
Such a group is able to form a missile salvo equivalent to the American: 40 – 50 missiles and more. In a battle with an American aircraft carrier, our group is capable of destroying it and destroying an aircraft carrier. However, it will itself suffer very tangible losses and will need to restore its combat capability.
Each of our ocean fleets will be able to create only one such compound (if the combat effectiveness of the ships is restored). The Americans are able to put at least four carrier groups against each of them.
The USSR shipbuilding program allowed maintaining parity of naval armaments with the United States at an acceptable level. The cruisers mentioned above were introduced into our fleet almost synchronously with the American Ticonderogues.
Our fleet had five aircraft-carrying cruisers by 1991, one of which was a full-fledged aircraft carrier. Planned to build to 2000-th another three nuclear aircraft carriers such as "Ulyanovsk".
Russia could, with its powerful fleet, be guaranteed to defend its interests practically on a global scale. Today she is deprived of this opportunity. Such is the price of market reforms.