The Navy is considered to be the most expensive type of armed forces, requiring constant and serious attention from the national military-political leadership and society as a whole. The Soviet Union and Russia are no exception. In the article “We are ours, we will build the old fleet”, published in NVO No. 38 for 2014, the author has already briefly reviewed the views on construction fleet such representatives of the Soviet military-political leadership as Khrushchev, Gorshkov and Ustinov, and also tried to uncover the reason for the high accident rate of the domestic fleet as a result of the implementation of the "Gorshkov and Ustinov doctrine."
In this article, we consider another important issue - the ability of the Soviet Navy to solve those basic tasks that were assigned to it. As already mentioned in the previous article, the three main tasks of the USSR Navy were set forth in the closed book of the Commander-in-Chief of the USSR Navy Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union Sergei Gorshkov “The USSR Navy” and in the closed version of the Sea Collection journal. The main task is the retaliatory strike by nuclear ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs), the second most important task is the destruction of enemy SSBNs, and finally the third most important task is the defeat of enemy surface groups by striking anti-ship missiles (RCC) with nuclear warheads (nuclear warheads) from nuclear submarine missile cruisers (APRK) in conjunction with the forces of the marine missile aviation (MPA). Moreover, the fleet’s participation in local conflicts was not considered at all, therefore the fleet did not prepare for them.
THE MAIN TASK
The task of the Soviet SSBNs was similar to that in foreign fleets and was to guarantee a nuclear missile strike. Therefore, the main requirement that they had to meet was the possibility of a long imperceptible patrol in remote corners of the ocean with the readiness to deliver a “retaliation” every minute.
The Soviet Union began to compete with the United States in the obviously unfavorable conditions of the general post-war scientific and technical gap. Our first SSBN of the 658 project with three ballistic missiles (BR) P-21 in all respects was significantly inferior to the first American SSBN of the type George Washington with the 16 MRSB Polaris A-1 that were being built at the same time. And only seven years later, in 1967, we got the SSBN of the 667 project with the 16 MRBP P-27, equal to the first American underwater strategic rocket carriers. But by this time the Americans already had Polaris A-3, which again made our SSBNs an outsider. Only seven years later, we had an intercontinental ballistic missile P-29, outnumbered by the latest American MRSD Poseidon C-3, and a new carrier - SSBN project 667B (BD) with 12 (16) missiles P-29. From this point on, the Soviet SSBNs went head to head with the American nostrils.
Assessing in general the capabilities of the Soviet naval strategic nuclear forces (NSNS), it is necessary to recognize a number of technical flaws, which, however, were not decisive, because the flaws in one were filled with superiority in the other. So, before the launch of the 941 project missile carriers and the 667BDRM project, our SSBNs were inferior to the US in such an important indicator as noise. But our adoption in 1974 of the year, five years earlier than the Americans, using naval intercontinental ballistic missiles, freed our SSBNs from the need to break through NATO’s anti-submarine frontiers and allowed them to carry combat service under the Arctic ice or in close proximity to our coast under the cover of coastal aviation, which eased noise requirements.
Yielding to the accuracy of the guidance, the Soviet designers were forced to place more powerful YBCh on the rockets, which reduced their number on each individual rocket. For example, in the 1980 year, the United States USSL had about 4800 YABCh, of which around 2800 - on duty, and the USSYA of the USSR only on intercontinental ballistic missiles - YABCH, respectively. However, according to the calculations, the US needed 1400 BU to cause “irreparable damage”, therefore the available 420 BL was enough for a retaliatory strike.
Thus, it should be recognized that the Soviet NSNS fully fulfilled the task set before them to strike back.
Another question is how this was achieved? The answer is expensive.
By the 1985 year (S. Gorshkov’s resignation), the Soviet NSNF included the 72 SSBNs, of which up to 22 were on duty, while the USNEWS had 40 SSBNs, of which on duty — up to 24. The reason for the lower operating voltage ratio (KOH) of the Soviet SSBNs is a weak coastal infrastructure. But, maybe, having extra boats is cheaper than developing bases?
With respect to the USSR, such analyzes can be done by no means always. The fact is that we only reliably know the cost of the finished products (aircraft, tank, ship, etc.), but we often simply did not exist such a thing as a “program of something”. So even the first, the last one, the president of the USSR could not understand how much we spend on defense. Therefore, let us turn to the American experience, since they know how to count their own money.
Creating the SSBN, the Americans conducted such an analysis and determined the optimal KOH = 0,6. A larger KOH will shorten the service life of a SSBN, a smaller one will increase the cost of the entire program. And now - the same in numbers. A year of operation of US SSBNs costs about 2,5% of its sales price, with an average lifetime of the first SSBNs - 30 years. If you save, as it did in the USSR, on the coastal crew and repairs, then the costs will be 1,5%. In this case, the operation of “Soviet-style” 72 SSBNs will be 49% more expensive than the operation of 40 SSBNs “American-style”. If we consider that the SSBN in the USSR cost an average of about 250 million rubles, then we get an overrun of the order of 8,6 billion rubles.
But that's not all. By 1985, the YSLR of the USSR consisted of 31 SSBNs with MR-R-27 (projects 658М and 667А). Lacking proper secrecy, they were also forced to act in the areas of anti-submarine defense (ASW) of NATO. Each such SSBN constantly passes its Los Angeles, ready to destroy it on the first team. Therefore, these boats and were not intended to retaliate. Then why were they kept as part of the NSNF? I do not know, perhaps, to save the admiral's posts or something else, but I know for sure that it was possible to save on this twice. First, simply write off the 658M submarines, and second, upgrade the 667A project by hitting a new missile bay to the level of the 667Б / БД project, instead of building new (22 units) SSBNs of these projects.
Although the modernization of ships in our Navy was not honored, as was already mentioned in the previous article of the author, the first Central Research Institute on the automatic design system (CAD) carried out such calculations and ultimately determined that if the power industry and the ship-wise system of the surface ship were not seriously affected ( NK), and on the submarine (PL) only the new missile compartment crashes and provided that the NC is not older than 15, and the PL is not older than 10 years, then upgrading is still cheaper than building a new ship. At the time of the construction of the 667B / BD project, all submarines of the 667A project were younger than 10 years, and if instead of building the 22 submarine of the 667B / DB project, we would upgrade the 22 of the 667A ship to the B / BD level, we would save approximately 1,65 billion rubles.
But that's not all. It is necessary to recall here the unjustified expenditure on heavy submarine strategic rocket carriers of the 941 project with the P-39 rocket, and, as a result, the modernization of Sevmash. The whole of this epic was in 2,5 times more expensive than the construction of an additional nine SSBNs of the 667BDRM project, that is, the overrun amounted to approximately 4,72 billion rubles.
In total, the Soviet taxpayer overpaid about 14,97 billion rubles to the NSLR. Is it a lot or a little? Well, in order to make it clearer, these are about four “cotton cases” or 20 ships of the 1143.7 project. Who is closer. Of course, the calculation is quite conditional, but the order of numbers is as follows.
WHY IS THE SAME IS OUT?
The commander-in-chief of the USSR Navy, Sergey Gorshkov, loved to build all new types and even classes of ships: SSNR, MPLATRK, PLAT, APKRRK, TRPKSN (TAPKR), TAAVKR, TAKR, TARK, etc. In this diversity, we are far ahead of the United States. For example, in the 1985 year, we built five types of submarines, while the Americans at the same time - only two, we - seven types of large combat NK, and they - only four. At the same time, the repair was almost, and the modernization was not at all interested in it, as already mentioned in the previous article. The industry is more than satisfied. For repairs, you will not receive anything other than quarterly and 13 premiums, but for implementation, construction of the lead ship, etc. Real rain poured in the form of Lenin prizes, orders, the Volga and secretaries.
What did the officers think about this? I’ll not say for everyone, but the officers of the first Central Research Institute, according to the recollections of my father, the retired rank of captain 1, Vladislav Ivanovich Nikolsky, a former employee of the first Central Research Institute of Defense and a leading expert on the CAD system of surface ships, in the smoking rooms only spoke with this language. But by letting off steam and returning to the workplace, they obligingly justified the fact that they were vilified in the kitchen. Commander, reading these rationales, was strengthened in the opinion of his own infallibility. Doesn't this remind you of anything?
LOVE, PLARB LARGE AND SMALL
The Soviet Navy began to monitor the American SSBNs from the very beginning, but nothing really came of it. This is not surprising. Our lag in PLO was neither in a fairy tale to say nor a pen to describe. Back in the late 1950s, the US and NATO surface ships began to be equipped with a new generation of hydroacoustic stations (GUS) —powerful, low-frequency, with a detection range of up to 25 km. Until the end of 70, we could only do high-frequency power systems with a detection range of up to 10 km. Our passive power stations for submarines and radio-acoustic buoys (RGAB) were an order of magnitude worse. And if we add to this the high noise level of our nuclear submarines (APL), then it becomes clear why the American SSBNs evaded tracking.
In order to at least somehow rectify the situation, we took up “surrogate” methods of searching for submarines, in particular, following the wake trail, and subsequently succeeded in doing so that we would not even call it “surrogate”. The situation changed only at the beginning of the 80-s, when we reached, and in some ways exceeded the US PLO level. But by this time, the United States already had Trident I, and their SSBNs went to the equator. Now, the task of detecting and subsequently tracking the enemy SSBNs could be carried out only by the nuclear submarine, and it was at this time that the navy began to receive submarines, which for the first time were not only equal in concealment with the American ones, but also surpassed them. I mean the submarines of the 971 and 945 projects. Theoretically, these boats could, using GAS Skat-3, detect Ohio at the exit from its base and, remaining unnoticed, “hang” on its wake through the use of the Tukan-2 system. But in order to track all the 24 submarines of the Ohio type, which were supposed to be built for the US Navy, the submarine of the 31 project and the 971A (AB) project was planned to be built for the Soviet 945 fleet. And the Americans were preparing new ways to protect their SSBNs.
Therefore, we have to admit that, despite all the resources spent, the Navy could never be guaranteed to track down and destroy American SSBNs, and the reason for this was not even the initial technical backwardness (after all, the Americans also could not overfill all our SSBNs) comparable to the construction of communism in a single country.
THE MOST "TASTY" TASK
The defeat of the enemy’s surface groups, namely the US Navy’s carrier strike groups (AUG), is indeed the most interesting task, since, unlike the first two, it breathes the spirit of a naval battle. And therefore she was the most beloved for Gorshkov and remains so for the majority of Russians interested in the fleet. That our “patriotic” websites and media outlets feel sensitively, rewarding more and more weapons with the term “aircraft carrier killer”. If it goes on like this, then soon this term will be awarded to army self-propelled artillery systems. And what, really, if an aircraft carrier approaches Kronstadt, then we will kill it with a cannon, so why not a “murderer”? But unlike the modern rulers, the Soviet leadership did not think of using the army as a clever PR and was therefore going to really fight AUG.
American strategic missile-carriers of the type “George Washington” allowed the US Navy to make a qualitative leap in the development of strategic nuclear forces. Illustration from the site www.navylive.dodlive.mil
The fact is that an aircraft carrier is a floating airfield, moving at a speed of up to 60 km / h or long - up to 52 km / h, and therefore, unlike a stationary airfield, it is not afraid of ICBMs and BRSD. As for the flight time, he will have time to go to a safe distance, especially considering the accuracy of the then ICBMs and MRBDs. Therefore, even in the event of a preemptive nuclear-missile strike on NATO airfields, aircraft carriers could launch a sensitive nuclear response. That is why the destruction of AUG from the very beginning gave great importance.
The fight against AUG acquired even greater significance after the signing of SALT-I, when the concept of limited war was adopted by the leadership of the USSR at the suggestion of Dmitry Ustinov. Now, the Navy was tasked with preserving the NSNF in conditions of limited use of nuclear and unrestricted use of conventional weapons.
Even with less sophisticated PLO weapons, the Soviet Navy could quite effectively prevent American submarines from tracking our SSBNs armed with intercontinental ballistic missiles. But it is in peacetime, and if the war and the Americans hit first? Then everything collapsed like a house of cards. And the matter is that the deck aircraft of the enemy.
For our part, the fighters of the air defense forces, who did not want to develop refueling in the air, limited the radius of their operation to approximately 500 km (until the middle of the 80-s). As a result, the E-2A Hawkeye DRL aircraft could be on duty in 300 miles from our coast, seeing everything on 200 miles. Since we did not have “our E-2”, our fighters, deprived of guidance over the sea, would be ambushed, like American pilots in the skies of Vietnam, with all the ensuing consequences. What almost excluded the use of our PLO aircraft and, on the contrary, American PLO and NPS aircraft could operate freely, dangerously reducing the patrol zone of our SSBNs.
The situation began to improve only in the second half of the 80-ies with the arrival of the serial Su-27 and MiG-29 fighters, which had a large combat radius and more long-range missiles. But by this time, aircraft carriers began to receive universal F / A-18, which doubled the number of fighters on the aircraft carrier (from 24 to 48). And if we add to this the inadequate production of the Soviet aircraft RLDN A-50 and the improvement of Hawkeye, then it becomes clear that the AUG were still dangerous and were subject to early destruction.
And the Navy, creating anti-aircraft forces (PAS), was preparing to solve this problem. However, there were many problems with its implementation, and we will start with the main, if I may say so, Achilles heel of the Soviet Navy.
I mean targeting (DD).
To begin with, the requirements for the control center in the Navy were always stricter than in the US Navy. The American admiral had the right to make a mistake, his planes, in the event of an incorrect CC, could return to the decks, refuel, replace the ammunition and strike again according to the new CC. The Soviet admiral was deprived of this possibility, reloading of the APRK was possible only in the database, and the number of very complex and therefore very expensive Soviet anti-ship missiles was limited. Therefore, for the Navy of the USSR, correct target designation was required for all 100%.
Initially, this was not a problem for the Navy. AUG was constantly monitored, Tu-95RC was hanging over it, a BOD duty officer was walking alongside, and the APRK was in full swing under water. And each of them independently followed the aircraft carrier. All this provided the very coveted 100%, true to the control center for a preemptive nuclear strike. But that all changed when the concept of limited war was adopted at the beginning of 70's in the USSR. Now the Navy had to withstand the preemptive strike of the NATO Navy, and the counterattack was mostly non-nuclear weapons, defeat the enemy. And immediately there was a problem for the CO. The low-noise course of the APRK of that time did not exceed 8 – 12 nodes, while the minimum stroke of the AUG did not exceed 20 nodes, and the normal course of the AUG was 24 – 26 nodes. Therefore, following the AUG with the 20 – 26 nodes, the APRK was always monitored by the PLO AUG, which was tolerable earlier and became intolerable under the conditions of the new concept. This immediately brought the 661 project and the 670 (M) project to APRK, armed with not long-range anti-ship missiles. There remained the APRK of the 675 project, which could strike from outside the PLO AUG, but at such a distance they could not independently detect the AUG, someone had to give out the command center. But who? Nothing prevented the US Navy, in anticipation of aggression, with the 30 hub move getting out of the PAS coverage area, cracking down on defenseless tracking and returning to strike on Soviet territory. In this case, it was guaranteed that there was nothing to detect the approaching AUG.
The Tu-95РЦ could “see” the AUG up to the radio horizon line - around 400 km, but the single-target interception line of the E-2A / F-4 bundle reached 500 km, which excluded the use of the Tu-95РЦ. That is why the mass production of the Tu-95РЦ, started in 1963, lasted only until 1969, and was limited to 52 machines. APRK alone could detect AUG only by chance - if the AUG itself stumbled upon a hidden APRK, which was unlikely. Therefore, I had to invent something, and invented the space system of the CO (MKRTS).
The MKRTS system consisted of two US-A radar satellites and a US-P with RTR, the first of which was a nuclear power plant. The US-A radar has a detection range comparable to that of the Tu-95РЦ radar, but it weighs three times less and consumes ten times less energy. Since engineering is the science of the possible, it was possible to achieve this by switching to the meter band, used at the dawn of radar, with all the ensuing consequences. Therefore, with all the other problems, US-A was guaranteed to "see" only a target the size of an aircraft carrier, but it could not classify whether it was an aircraft carrier or a container ship.
But that's not all. Americans constantly practiced the creation of false AUG. To do this, AUG was divided into three groups: led by an aircraft carrier, led by universal supply transport, and led by a squadron tanker. And there was also the option of installing corner reflectors on cruisers, after which their EPR reached the aircraft carrier. The US-P was supposed to understand this puzzle, but there was a problem here too. The aircraft carrier was able not only to “multiply”, but also to play “silent”. Following as part of AUG, he could not use his radio equipment for a long time. And the level of the then satellites of the RTR was far from the current perfection. To this we must add the high cost and unreliability of the entire MKRTS, with the result that even in the best periods there were no more than four MKRTS satellites in space at the same time, which provided coverage of the same area no more than once every two days and no longer than a minute and a half! And US-A regularly fell, fertilizing the ground, including Canadian, with uranium-235. Therefore, when the main ideologists of the project of Ustinov and Gorshkov did not, the MKRTS quietly turned off - only US-P remained in orbit. What, then, did Gorshkov hope for? Yes, the fact that the Soviet engineer is smarter than the capitalist by definition, and he is able to create a miracle. In the meantime, a miracle, like communism, did not work at all, Gorshkov relied on the main striking force of the fleet.
IF IF NOT ...
Do you think I'm about APRK? Indeed, including in my school on the walls hung photos of APRC with the caption: "the main shock force." However, even Gorshkov did not think so. Judge for yourself. In the 1980, the Northern and Pacific fleets included 42 submarines capable of launching 284 long-range anti-ship missiles. At the same time, the MPA had 380 rocket carriers capable of producing, depending on the range and flight profile, 450-850 long-range anti-ship missiles. But that's not all. The boats were armed with extremely unsuccessful P-6 missiles, while the Tu-16, Tu-22 and Tu-22M carried terrible for the Americans the DAC-5 and still in service with the X-22. Unlike the boats distributed between the two theaters, the MRA could overwhelm the entire 2 fleet of the US Navy, and the next day, having flown to the Far East, hit the 3 fleet. But the main thing was that the MRA, like the American carrier-based aircraft, did not need “one-hundred-percent target designation,” MKRTS and Tu-95РЦ. The tactic of using the MPA implied the formation of search and attack groups that themselves conducted reconnaissance and, using their own DD, delivered a strike, that is, just like the American carrier-based aircraft.
Now, I hope, it is clear who was the main striking force of the fleet. It was precisely this force that Gorshkov hoped for, and everything would be fine if it were not for ... Tomcat!
To his cursed. When the Americans began developing the fighter F14, our specialists thought that the US would not succeed. When the Grumman experts conducted tests, we decided that their statements were empty chatter. But the GRU finally got a closed report - and what began here! My father, while studying at the Naval Academy (1976 year), became an unwitting witness to this drama. It turned out that the US Navy conducted large-scale tests in 1973 year, during which F14 with a probability of 88% at a distance of up to 134 km hit targets at altitudes from 15 to 22 000 m and target speeds from 0,6 to 4M.
The calculations carried out at 24 NII Navy were depressing. The two F14 air patrol together with the AUG cruisers managed to knock down the 15-20 of the Amethyst / Malachite PKR, which made it impossible to use single APRKs of the 661 project and the 670 project. In 13 flight time minutes, the anti-ship missiles P-6 (distance 350 km, flight altitude 7 km) had time to rise up to twenty F14 into the air, two more - this is an air patrol. And these 22 fighter F14 shot down to 110 missiles P-6, plus 20 missiles P-6 shot down cruisers, a total of 130 shot down by P-6. It turned out that 17 from 29 of existing XRUMX APRKs with “atomic” П-675 or 6 - with usual П-18 should be aimed at one AUG!
But most of all the nuts went to the MRA. AUG did not go one by one. As a rule, at a distance of several tens of miles, up to five AUGs could maneuver, which allowed them to push air patrols in the E-2A and two F14 to the dangerous directions. Usually such a patrol was located in 320 km from the aircraft carrier and could detect the Tu-16 at a distance of about 370 km, that is, in 690 km from AUG. In order to detect the AUG and launch the KSR-5, the Tu-16K had to fly another 310 km, which took more than 19 minutes. During this time, all 24 F14s rose into the air, and 18 of them managed to knock down the 70 – 90 of the Tu-16 planes before launching their DAC-5. The remaining six F14 30 knocked down the DAC-5 missiles, another 10 missiles hit the cruisers. It turned out that one AUG required 100 – 120 of Tu-16 rocket carriers, two thirds of which died during the attack! The Tu-22K also did not save the situation - they needed 12,5 minutes to launch their X-22, but during that time they also managed to take off all the 24 of the F14 fighter, and 10 of them managed to knock down the 40-50 of the Tu-22K fighters, which were in the composition of the MPA was less than 80 units.
The presence of EW aircraft such as the Tu-16P and Tu-22PP somewhat alleviated the situation, but it was unclear if they could cover the missile carriers. And finally, there was no doubt that if the actions of the Tu-16P and Tu-22PP were effective, then F14 would be engaged exclusively in our anti-ship missiles and, together with the cruisers, shot down the 130 KCR-5 / X-22 missiles. Since, in the event of war, at least five AUGs would cover each other in the Norwegian Sea, it turned out that a simultaneous strike at a distance of more than 1000 km required at least 700 rocket carriers, not counting EW aircraft. But that amount was not in the entire MRA! Of course, you could catch a carrier when he did not have all the F14 in 5-minute readiness. But, firstly, it was difficult to guess such a moment, and secondly, the AUG was required to be destroyed in any tactical situation.
So it was something to get used to, but the pilots encouraged the Commander-in-Chief, saying that the Tu-22М3, which can break through to the launch line before the F14 attack, began to enter the MRA. But it was not long to indulge in this thought, for it appeared above the sea ... AWACS!
And again repeated история with tomcat. Well, because they warned - and again they did not believe. And when they believed, it was too late. Having a long flight duration and operating from coastal airfields of NATO and Japan, the E-3 Sentry aircraft, starting from 80-s, often began to “light up” the Soviet coast. And it was absolutely clear that in the event of a third world war, E-3 would also be covered by carrier-assault groups. The E-3 was “seen” by the bomber up to the radio horizon line (but not further than 600 km), against 370 km at E-2A, which made impossible the unpunished supersonic breakthrough of the Tu-22М3.
A joint meeting of representatives of 1, 24 and 30-th scientific research institute, in which my father took part, was enlightened to this urgent problem. During this memorable meeting, the pilots (30 th Scientific Research Institute) demanded the construction of aircraft carriers so that deck fighters would cover the MRA. The sailors (1 and 24 research institutes) reasonably stated that if deck aircraft can overcome all F14, then it can cope with AUG without an MRA, so why waste resources on MRAs, let's build aircraft carriers. The discussion turned into a scream, a dispute - into a battle.