Russia is a maritime power, and therefore issues of naval construction and everything related to military and civil shipbuilding, invariably arouse great interest from the expert community. That is why the recent briefing by the United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC), held for the first time with the participation of four of its vice-presidents at once, was the occasion to once again discuss a number of problematic issues related to the implementation of the domestic shipbuilding program.
LOOKING FOR THE HORIZON
Naval construction, the creation of a modern ocean fleet - the process is not only technically complex and costly in material and financial terms. First of all, this is a strategic issue, designed for more than a dozen years. For a more popular presentation of this thesis, you can recall the saying about how to get a first-class English lawn - plant grass and cut it for 100 years. So it is with the fleet: they intend to get a modern ocean fleet that can solve a wide range of tasks and is a powerful force factor for the country, and not a burden - start building it at least 30-50 years before.
At the same time, it does not seem necessary to look “beyond the horizon”, trying to predict the development of naval science and technology a century ahead. Imagine what happens if you choose the wrong 100 development path?
But to plan the development of the military fleet and national shipbuilding with a horizon of 30 – 50 years, constantly - every 3 – 5 years - adjusting plans in accordance with the changing military-political situation and the development of science and technology, should certainly be.
However, in the post-Soviet period stories In our country, representatives of the domestic military-political leadership tried not to specifically mention such plans. A more or less intelligible program for the development of the Navy was adopted and implemented in practice only with respect to naval strategic nuclear forces. Everything else was financed as far as possible, and the state weapons programs adopted were regularly disrupted. As a result, the fleet actually “devoured” the groundwork that was created during the Soviet Union. And now, finally, in the past few years, things have started to move from the dead center.
However, the main step has yet to be done. As we learned at the event, the leadership of the Russian shipbuilding industry and the command of the Navy finalize an ambitious 50-summer shipbuilding program, which will identify the main types and “platforms” of surface ships and submarines near and far sea and ocean zones to be designed and build on time. However, in the final version, this program, according to the USC manual, can only be accepted after the State Armaments Program for the 2016 – 2025 years has been adopted, with which it should naturally correlate.
If approved, this program will allow national naval construction to be carried out more systematically and efficiently, but only in the case of its unconditional fulfillment by all departments and adequate funding. On the latter, a special emphasis needs to be made - due to insufficient funding, many of the military construction programs that Moscow tried to implement after the 1991 year failed. In addition, the success of such a difficult program will depend on the readiness of the shipbuilding industry itself. Both in technical and technological terms, and in terms of the availability of a sufficient number of highly skilled workers and engineers.
For example, already today, companies are loaded “at almost 100%” in USC, and appropriate efforts should be made to increase production. On the other hand, as Russian President Vladimir Putin noted at a meeting last July, the problem of delaying the delivery of ships and weapons for the Navy is still relevant. “The reasons are different. But the main ones are the inefficiency of interaction between the state customer and the defense industrial complex organizations, disruptions in the supply of components by related companies, the lack of proper cooperation between production and design organizations, as well as the poor quality of the equipment supplied, ”Vladimir Putin stressed at the time.
However, today the most acute problem for enterprises of the Russian shipbuilding industry seems to be a personnel problem. The shortage of highly professional specialists, especially working specialties, is felt in virtually all regional shipbuilding clusters of Russia. So, only in USC enterprises in the Far East region there is a shortage of workers - about 4000 people, and throughout the corporation - almost 10 000 people (with the current number of USCs around 80 000 people). Plus enterprises of the shipbuilding industry outside the corporation and enterprises operating in related industries with shipbuilding. This was especially noticeable during the implementation by the Russian shipyards of recent major shipbuilding contracts, including the repair and refurbishment of the former TAVKR Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union Gorshkov. Workers had to be recruited to work in shipyards located in other regions, and also to hire specialists from other countries. In particular, according to estimates, workers from 50 countries are employed in industry in the Khabarovsk Territory.
However, as acknowledged by top managers of the domestic shipbuilding industry, the shift method has now completely exhausted itself. And foreigners do not plug this gap. In addition, some programs related to military shipbuilding, it is inappropriate to put them at all. That is why it is necessary to purposefully attract labor resources to one or another regional shipbuilding clusters, but for this the efforts of shipbuilders alone are not enough - a comprehensive program based on public-private partnership is necessary. It is on the public-private, since neither the state nor the business alone will pull such a program. Especially in the conditions of a worsening financial and economic situation, which has been especially noticeable recently.
FRIENDLY ABOUT AIRS
An important element of the national shipbuilding program of Russia can be the program of building an aircraft carrier fleet, during the discussion of which many copies have already been broken in the domestic expert community and the media. At least, representatives of USC did not rule out the possibility that the issue - the construction of a new aircraft carrier - by the time of the approval of the 50-year shipbuilding program will be resolved in a positive way.
Recall that, on the one hand, in the “Strategy for the development of the maritime activities of the Russian Federation until 2030 of the year”, approved by the Government of the Russian Federation No. 2205-r from 8 in December and 2010, in the section “Naval activities” types of maritime activities of the Russian Federation was designated: "Formation of shipboard strike groups based on aircraft-carrying cruisers as part of the Northern and Pacific Fleets ..." However, on the other hand, there are a number of unsolved problems in this matter, and same circumstances exist which cast doubt on the possibility and even the advisability of launching aircraft carrier fleet construction program.
First, the military-political leadership of Russia, including the leadership of the Ministry of Defense and the command of the Navy, have not yet explained to the Russian citizens what fleet they intend to build in the long run and what place in it should be taken by aircraft-carrying forces. Moreover, after the July 29 2013 meeting on the prospects for the development of the Russian Navy and the formation of the next state armament program, conducted under the direction of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin in response to the question of whether Russia plans to build aircraft carriers in the future He told reporters: “In the next state armament program, the inclusion of aircraft carrier construction will depend on the decision of the president. This is not a military-technical question, but a geopolitical one. ” At the same time, he added that for the security of the state from the sea directions there may be enough ships of a different purpose: nuclear and non-nuclear submarines, ships of the near and far sea zones.
Secondly, with a cursory assessment of the capacities available today at the disposal of Russian shipbuilders, it is highly likely that the only real place for aircraft carrier construction can only be Sevmash from Severodvinsk, which has gained tremendous experience in this field in recent years. However, here it is necessary to understand that, due to the geographical features of the location of the enterprise, a ship at sea will not be released almost half of the calendar year, which, even with the most successful work planning, will inevitably lead to temporary losses. And accordingly to additional financial costs of the enterprise and the customer. And the cost of building a ship of this class will be significantly higher than at shipyards located in more southerly and transport-accessible areas. Simply put, with the loss due to the collapse of the Soviet Union, the shipyards in Nikolaev under the potential program of creating a domestic aircraft carrier fleet suffered a huge blow, the consequences of which have not yet been eliminated.
Thirdly, it should be borne in mind that as the practical phase of such a program begins to shift to the right, those competencies in the design and construction of aircraft carrier-class ships that Russia received in the framework of the repair and re-equipment program of the Vikramaditya AB, and the cooperation that was formed under this program will be lost again. Plus, the creation of an aircraft carrier fleet is not only and not so much the construction of the aircraft carriers themselves, but also the creation of an appropriate basing system and the construction of the necessary number of escort and support ships. And with the latter, we somehow, frankly, did not work out.
For example, the head frigate of project 22350 has not yet been handed over to the fleet. It was planned to do this initially in 2012, but for a number of reasons, only this year the ship will go to factory sea trials. In fact, there is no modern basic patrol in the Russian fleet aviationnecessary for effective operations in the far sea and ocean zones of any ship groups, including aircraft carriers. There are questions about multipurpose nuclear submarines, which must be included in aircraft carrier groups: nuclear submarines of the 971 family are gradually approaching the “retirement age”, and of the ships of the project 885 the main one only went into trial operation (the ship will finally be put into operation closer by the end of 2015). The use of diesel-electric submarines - at least the 877/636 family, at least the new Project 677 submarines - is inappropriate in this role due to the lower combat capabilities, stealth and autonomy compared to multipurpose nuclear submarines.
Taking into account the fact that the cost of the program to create a full-fledged aircraft carrier fleet will be enormous, before making a decision on the fate of the Russian aircraft carrier, it is necessary to measure not even seven times, but twenty-seven. If we take as a basis the cost of work on the Vikramaditya AB, we can assume that only the cost of building an aircraft carrier will be at least 3 billion dollars, which at the current rate exceeds 105 billion rubles. Add to this the cost of designing a ship and related equipment, forming a ship air group, creating a base system and training personnel and technical specialists, etc. Moreover, the economic situation in Russia today can in no way be called stable, and a sharp weakening of the national currency can already be negative way to affect the further development of domestic shipbuilding.
In particular, the growth of the dollar and the euro will inevitably lead to an increase in the cost of industrial equipment and technologies that are purchased as part of the modernization programs of Russian shipbuilding enterprises, as well as cause an increase in the cost of production for the production of which used imported components or materials. Representatives of the USC did not name the specific share of imports provided for under such modernization programs of enterprises that are part of the corporation, but reported that such imports certainly take place.
However, if we take the statistics of the Federal Customs Service of Russia on national imports for January – August 2013 (205,2 billion dollars), we will see that more than half of the imports from foreign countries, paid in dollars and euros, and reached 86,8 in the reporting period % of total imports accounted for machinery and equipment (50,7%, or 90,3 billion dollars). This includes equipment supplied for the shipbuilding industry. To a certain extent, the shipbuilding programs can also include the import of a part of the chemical industry, whose share in the reporting period from non-CIS countries was 16,7%. To this we need to add imports of machinery and equipment, as well as chemical products from the CIS countries - during the reporting period, they accounted for 35,8% and 9,8% of total imports, respectively. At the same time, the cost of machinery and equipment imported from the CIS countries amounted to 9,7 billion.
It is safe to say that with the current rate of the ruble or, even worse, with its further decline, with the implementation of the planned modernization of domestic shipbuilding enterprises, problems may arise. Modernization for them, according to the Russian shipbuilders themselves, is vital, and its delay significantly undermines the competitiveness of the Russian shipbuilding industry on the world market. In particular, according to the USC development strategy for the period up to 2030, capital investments are envisaged in the amount of more than 1 trillion rubles.
As part of the event conducted by USC, the question was raised about the fate of two important for the Russian Navy programs in the field of submarine shipbuilding: the serial construction of diesel-electric submarines of the 677 project and the development of a promising non-nuclear submarine. The current year for both programs should be decisive.
First, it is planned to finally finally hand over to the fleet and introduce into the combat personnel the head submarine of the 677 project - after 10 years (!) After its launching. Recall that the representatives of the customer have repeatedly pointed out the presence of problem points identified during the testing of diesel-electric submarines "St. Petersburg". According to representatives of the USC, the main issues concerned hydroacoustics and electric movement. As a result, the completion of the submarine dragged on so much that it threatened both the 677 project itself (some “hotheads” even stated that these ships were not needed by the fleet) and the program for the development of submarine forces of the Russian Navy as a whole. We had to urgently order a batch of “time-tested” diesel-electric submarines of a modified 636 project, which was created in due time to the requirements of an export customer. In addition, problems with the "St. Petersburg" rebound hit the prospects of the export version of the submarine: which customer will purchase weapon, whose acceptance into service in the manufacturing country is thus “stalled”? According to experts, this was one of the reasons that the Russians in the tender of the Indian Navy were rounded up by the French with Skorpena.
However, in the latter case, the presence of an air-independent power installation (VNEU) of the MESMA type, which makes it quite easy to turn a diesel-electric submarine into a full-fledged non-nuclear one, was in the hands of the French shipbuilders. There is still no such proposal in the Russian “price list”. But the development trends of the world submarine shipbuilding, of course, require the creation of a boat power plant of this class, if a country intends to remain in a limited list of countries - leaders in the design and construction of submarines.
In particular, German and French shipbuilders - our direct competitors in the market of submarines not equipped with nuclear power plants - have air-independent power plants that have already been well developed and have proven their high efficiency. The latter are also offered as an option to contracts for diesel-electric submarines: they say, if you like, we can increase the combat potential of your purchase by “inserting” the unit with the VNEU. For example, the Pakistani Navy received from the French the first two submarines of the type “Agosta-90B” in a simple variant, that is, diesel-electric submarines, and the third submarine - in the variant of naval submarines, that is, with the VNEU. However, later the command of the Pakistan Navy decided to upgrade the first two submarines with the installation of a MESMA-type VNEU.
Russian shipbuilders still have not had such an opportunity, but soon the situation may change for the better. In particular, as indicated by representatives of the United Shipbuilding Corporation, during 2014, it is planned to complete development work on the subject of naval nuclear submarines, carried out in the interests of the Russian Navy, and hand it over to the customer. However, it is not entirely clear yet when this project will move to the stage of the serial construction of submarines from the VNEU for the domestic fleet, which so far has to rely on the submarines of the 636.3 project.
FRENCH WIND DIDN'T SUPPLY SAIL
In conclusion, about one of the most controversial and problematic purchases of naval armaments undertaken by Moscow recently. This is about the French paratrooper-helicopter ships-docks (MKDD) of the Mistral type, the contract for which provides for the delivery of two ships under a firm order and two more under option.
Recall that at one time we were convinced that the acquisition of the Mistral-type DKKD, which Russian shipbuilders were also involved in, would enrich not only the domestic Navy, which would be the direct recipient of the ships, but also the Russian shipbuilders expressing the order and “joining” to some high technologies of foreign civil shipbuilding, which were actively used in the design and construction of ships of this type for the French Navy. In addition, it was argued that not only modern systems, in particular, the SENIT-9 BISS and the SIC-21 command and control system, but also the related technologies would be transferred to Russia. However, it turned out that all these promises turned into soap bubbles.
Firstly, the representatives of the French side stated that the transfer of technology through these systems is provided, it turns out, only if Russia transfers into the firm contract two more ships stipulated by the option. And this, apparently, is still around 1 billion euros, which in ruble terms today is at least 20% higher than a year earlier.
Secondly, as Russian shipbuilders emphasize, participation in the Mistral contract, according to which Russians build the stern part of the ship, turned out to be positive only in terms of gaining practical experience in implementing clear planning and strict execution of all phases of the project. All other expectations were unfounded. There was no “new unique technology” of civil shipbuilding, or anything else. In addition, the quality of work performed by the Baltiysky Plant turned out to be without any foreign assistance, such that when the bow and aft sections docked in Saint-Nazaire, the gap size was about 2 mm - in fact, the width of the weld. On the other hand, Russian shipbuilders had to redo a part of the drawings submitted by the French side, after which the Russian experts concluded that at least the domestic design and engineering organizations work better and better than their French counterparts.
Ultimately, taking into account the very high price paid by Moscow for the first two ships, and even at the time of a serious crisis in Europe, when the customer usually literally “ropes the rope” from the contractor, I would like to know in more detail how a decision was made to procure the Mistral-type DVKD for the Russian Navy, and the rationale behind the relatively uncomfortable for the Russian side conditions laid down in the contract.
Touching upon the head DVKD Vladivostok, after the ship arrives in Russia, it is planned to ship it to Kronstadt, where the Russian armament and equipment will be assembled with the involvement of specialists from the Northern Shipyard and other cooperation enterprises of the North-West region. At the same time the ship will pass all the required tests. At the same time, it is necessary to carry out these steps as expeditiously as possible - the French side gives a guarantee for one-year DCCD, and it is necessary to “check” the ship within this period. But whether it is worth transferring the remaining two ships from an option to a firm contract is a question more controversial than even the need to build an aircraft carrier for the domestic fleet.