Prospects for Russian naval aviation
The Navy has historically been distinguished by a higher political importance in comparison with other types of the Armed Forces, approaching in this indicator to the generation of modern times - the strategic nuclear forces. For rearmament processes fleet and its reorganization in this regard are closely monitored in all major powers - and Russia is no exception. Marine development aviation, the most important component of fleets all over the world, can say much more about the state’s military plans than many other processes.
In the post-Soviet period, Russian naval aviation experienced one of the most difficult periods of its existence, when only a few dozen vehicles left separate forces with an obscure future from the formidable force of several hundred planes and helicopters of various classes. The revival of naval aviation today begins largely from scratch, and there is still a long way to go before bringing it back to normal.
In 2011, Russian naval aviation almost completely lost its strike component - its Tu-22М3 missile bombers, MiG-31, Su-27 fighters, Su-24 front-line bombers, and part of the transport aircraft were transferred to the Air Force. The only exceptions were the Su-24 bombers from the Black Sea Fleet aviation, which remained subordinate to the Navy due to the fact that agreements between Russia and Ukraine allowed only Naval Aviation to be based in the Crimea, but not the Russian Air Force.
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In addition to the squadron of the Black Sea Su-24 in the fleet aircraft were anti-aircraft IL-38 and Tu-142, seaplanes Baie-12, carrier-based Su-33, Su-25, carrier-based helicopters Ka-27 and a number of transport aircraft and helicopters.
The removal of strike forces from naval aviation was caused by the desire to simplify the management and maintenance of the relevant parts and formations, as well as their very poor condition due to chronic underfunding - out of several dozen missile carriers Tu-22М3, no more than ten machines could perform combat missions.
The carrier-based aviation was also in a deplorable state: the only Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov with an air group of about a dozen Soviet-built Su-33s, several Su-25UTG training aircraft and helicopters went to sea quite rarely, and the prospects for upgrading the deck aviation fleet were more than foggy. In this state, we could talk more about the elimination of naval aviation as a kind of naval forces, than about any prospects.
Russian fighter 5 generation
Deck Aviation: New Hope
Prospects for major changes began to emerge after the contract for the construction of universal Mistral-class amphibious assault ships for the Russian Navy was signed in 2011. Receiving even two such ships implies a major modernization of the fleet of helicopters and the construction of new cars. The main novelty was the carrier attack helicopters Ka-52K, designed to support the marine corps and special forces units during operations on the coast. In addition, they will be able to hit and surface targets. Currently undergoing tests of this type of helicopter. 8 February 2014 was signed a supply contract for the Russian Navy 16 Ka-52K.
Following the renewal of the fleet of helicopters (expressed, among other things, in the entry of modernized anti-submarine Ka-27M with digital equipment into the fleet), it was the turn of modernization of the wing of the only Russian aircraft carrier. In addition to the overhaul of the remaining Su-33, which can then be operated until the mid-to-late 2020-s, the Admiral Kuznetsov should receive new deck fighters MiG-29K. As a result, his air wing will include 12-16 Su-33 and 24 MiG-29K fighters, which will significantly increase the capabilities of an aircraft carrier, bringing its air group composition closer to the originally planned 1980-s.
As a more distant prospect, a promising fifth-generation carrier-based fighter aircraft is being considered, which is being created as part of the PAC KA program, a promising aviation naval aviation complex. It is assumed that this machine will be a fleet version of the "ground" fighter of the fifth generation T-50, first lifted into the air in the 2010 year, and is currently undergoing testing. The appearance of a new batcher is possible in the first half of the 2020-ies, and it will have to replace the Su-33 on the capitally repaired Admiral Kuznetsov, as well as form the basis of the new Russian aircraft carrier's wing, the project of which is currently being developed.
Su-30CM multipurpose fighter
After the Crimea: the return of shock power
In 2014, the development plans of the armed forces in general and the Navy in particular had to be seriously adjusted to reflect the changing situation: reunification with the Crimea greatly changed the situation not only in the south-western borders of Russia, but in the world. The changes affected the naval aviation. In particular, shock forces will return to its structure. These plans were discussed even before the Crimean events, but they became a catalyst for the process.
In the next few years, the fleet will receive multipurpose Su-30CM fighters that can provide effective support to warships both at sea theaters (in the Black, Japan, Baltic Seas) and increase the radius of aviation support in oceanic theaters, operating from bases on the Kola Peninsula, Sakhalin and Kamchatka.
It is expected that by the end of 2015, a contract will be signed for the supply of 50 fighters of this type for the Russian Navy, an increase in this number is possible in the future. Su-30CM also available for the Air Force (60 aircraft for two existing contracts).
The update will also affect anti-submarine aircraft, the scope of which will significantly expand. In the majority of developed countries, as the development of onboard radio-electronic equipment, anti-submarine aircraft, during upgrades, began to turn into multi-purpose marine patrol vehicles. A striking example is the upgraded P-3 Orion US Navy, the same age and classmates of the Russian Il-38.
In the course of evolution over the past 30 years, Orions learned how to attack surface ships with anti-ship missiles, work as an early-warning radar detection and control aircraft, patrol the exclusive economic zone and territorial waters, searching for smugglers and poachers.
A similar modernization is already under way on Russian anti-submarine vehicles - the first Il-38H was transferred to the 15 fleet in July 2014. But for the whole range of tasks that Russia’s longest sea border in the world, combined with the steady melting of polar ice, puts 28 IL-38, which are planned to upgrade, is not enough - for example, the US has 130 machines of this class. At the same time, many American experts also believe that this number is insufficient.
A-42PE Seaplane Project
Russia cannot compete with the United States, catching up with the number of naval aviation, but there is room for substantial gain in naval aviation by purchasing new cars.
First of all, we are talking about the seaplane A-42, which was created on the basis of the A-80 "Albatross" developed in the 40 of the last century. These machines, capable of boating, in addition to all other tasks of sea patrol aircraft, can be used in rescue operations.
The plans for the purchase of A-42 military department has already announced. In particular, in the 2008 year, it was announced that it intended to purchase four such airplanes in the search and rescue variant by 2010, and then proceed to the procurement of multi-purpose vehicles capable of carrying weapons. However, while these plans are not implemented. According to the ex-commander of the Air Force and Air Defense of the Navy, Lieutenant General Valery Uvarov, the Russian Navy would have enough 15-20 new seaplanes to cover the needs of search and rescue vehicles and significantly strengthen the anti-aircraft fleet. It is hardly possible to talk about the complete replacement of old machines with А-42 - taking into account the condition of the Taganrog plant where these machines are manufactured, as well as the smaller Be-200 purchased by the Emergencies Ministry, it may take about 40 years to complete an order for 20 .
Another option that would allow completely replacing the fleet of old aircraft in a reasonable time frame is the purchase of Tu-214P aircraft. This machine, created on the basis of the Tu-204 / 214 liner, according to ideology, approximately corresponds to the newest American patrol aircraft P-8 Poseidon, created on the basis of the B-737 liner.
Landing ship "Mistral"
Deploying serial production of such machines on order of the Navy is a more realistic task than launching into the large A-42 series, and, among other things, it will support the production of Tu-204 aircraft for which there are practically no commercial orders. Production of 50-60 of such machines for ten years, combined with a small series A-42, focused primarily on rescue tasks, could generally alleviate the problem and lay the foundation for the further development of naval aviation. Finally, the aviation grouping in the near zone can be maintained by ordering Il-114 aircraft in patrol modification. Such vehicles can quite effectively provide patrols on closed sea theaters, freeing up modernized IL-38Н and, if ordered, the Tu-214П, for oceanic theaters.
Assessing the prospects for changes in naval aviation as a whole, one can say that the key task of this kind of naval forces remains to ensure the fleet’s ability to protect its own sea frontiers. Nevertheless, some attention is also paid to the projection capabilities of the force - the modernization of the Admiral Kuznetsov air wing, the planned overhaul of the aircraft carrier itself, and the construction of two Mistral landing ships will allow the Navy to form a core of forces capable of conducting local operations at a great distance from the bases with full-fledged aviation support. A further increase in such opportunities depends primarily on the prospects for the economic development of the country.
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