The US submarine fleet feels superior even off our shores.
The Russian Navy does not have effective stationary and positional systems for monitoring underwater conditions, especially in the far sea zone, and also lacks maneuverable anti-submarine forces. But the US Navy, having such, were able to track our submarines in most of the ocean and sea theaters.
Fighting submarines of a potential enemy is one of the key areas of activity of the Russian Navy. It consists of solving a number of important tasks. In wartime, the first of these is the destruction of enemy nuclear-powered submarines with ballistic missiles (SSBNs). The second is to ensure the protection of their strategic missile submarines (SSBN) from enemy submarines. In connection with the equipping of multi-purpose submarines of foreign states with strategic long-range strategic missiles in nuclear and conventional equipment with the onset of hostilities, their destruction in areas of use of missiles and on deployment routes is necessary. The most important task remains the destruction of submarines in the areas of their combat use against the formations of surface ships of the Russian Navy, as well as sea and ocean communications. No one will cancel the fight against enemy submarines in the operational zones of naval bases and bases. Finally, it is necessary to solve the whole range of tasks of the direct anti-submarine security of the formations of surface ships, transport and other ships, as well as our submarines, both on deployment routes (zones of sea and ocean communications) and in combat areas.
In peacetime, the main anti-submarine missions are reconnaissance. First of all, it is the identification of areas of combat patrols, the detection of SSBNs of foreign states, primarily American ones, and their tracking, as well as the definition of a system for the operational support of their activities. Another important task of our fleet in peacetime is the identification of areas of combat use of enemy multipurpose submarines. This is important for organizing their destruction with the outbreak of war and ensuring the combat stability of our strategic missile carriers, as well as submarines of other classes and formations of surface ships that are not related to the solution of anti-submarine missions.
Potentially, the submarines of those states that are part of the blocks competing with Russia, having certain claims to our country, as well as their allies, can be objects of anti-submarine actions of our Navy. These are primarily NATO countries, as well as US allies in the Pacific, primarily Japan. The total submarine fleet of these countries has about 20 SSBNs and more 150 units of multi-purpose nuclear and non-nuclear submarines.
The 14 American Ohio-class SSBNs pose the greatest threat. Despite its venerable age, these are quite modern warships with decent electronic weapons (especially AN / BQQ-5) and very low noise, surpassing the rest of the submarines of the Western world by this indicator. Having Trident-2 missiles with a range of about 12 000 kilometers, these submarines solve the problem of creating a nuclear missile threat to Russia, operating near its coast. Their probable combat patrol areas are located, judging by the materials of the open press and analysis of the geography of possible combat areas, in the northwestern Atlantic and northeastern Pacific. Most likely, they will operate in areas controlled by the SOSUS system. Although its individual stations are currently mothballed, with the start of hostilities, they will also be activated. Airspace over combat patrol areas and on routes will probably be controlled by AWACS aircraft. Protection of these ships, as it can be assumed, will be built on the zonal principle with priority of anti-submarine and anti-aircraft defense. The total area of possible combat patrol areas on each of the ocean theaters will exceed 300 or even 500 thousands of square miles.
Of the multipurpose nuclear submarines, the main threat to Russia will also be American. Today it is the Los Angeles-type 44, the Sivulf 3 and the Virginia 11. In the future, the number of the first can be reduced to 22, and the third - to increase to 22 – 23 units. Possessing the Tomahawk type 12 KR, they are capable of delivering strikes to the depth of 1000 kilometers from the coast with rockets in conventional equipment, and in nuclear weapons - up to 2000 kilometers and more. The presence of missile weapons (in addition to Tomahawks, these ships have 4 – 8 PKR “Harpoon” launched from torpedo tubes) and effective long-range Mk-48 long-range torpedoes make these boats a very dangerous enemy for the surface forces of the Russian fleet. The areas of their military mission in actions against Russia will obviously be the Norwegian, Barents and Kara, Bering, Okhotsk and Japan seas, as well as the eastern part of the Pacific Ocean adjacent to Japan. The total area of the combat use areas of American multipurpose submarines (based on an analysis of their tasks and geophysical features) can be estimated in the Barents and Kara Seas in 120 – 180 thousand square miles, in the Norwegian - in 200 – 250 thousand, in the Bering - in 120 –170 thousand, in Okhotsk - 80 – 100 thousand, in Japanese - 60 – 70 thousand and up to 250 thousand square miles in the above-mentioned part of the Pacific Ocean.
British and French multipurpose submarines can be used in the sea zone of the Atlantic Ocean against Russia. However, their combat capabilities are significantly inferior to their American counterparts, both in terms of secrecy, and in search and shock capabilities.
In the Barents, Kara, and Okhotsk seas, these submarine forces will operate outside the zones of effective support for ground-based reconnaissance systems (primarily SOSUS) and other forces of their naval forces. In other areas that are to some extent controlled by the SOSUS system and the air defense radar field, they will obviously work in close cooperation with other branches of their fleets and types of armed forces that can effectively counteract the anti-submarine forces of our Navy.
We are in vests, but we are few
What can oppose our fleet to a possible underwater enemy? First of all, these are the multipurpose PLN of the 885 project, the 11 PLN of the 971 project and four PLA of the 945 and 945 projects. Four submarines of the 671РТМК project are considered obsolete and their withdrawal from the Navy is planned in the near future. Therefore, their consideration does not make sense. The newest multipurpose submarine of the 885 project possesses the highest capabilities to combat enemy boats. Of the 16 modern submarines, the 12 are part of the Northern Fleet, and the rest are in the Pacific. However, not all of these ships will be involved in solving anti-submarine missions. Part of the forces must be allocated for actions in the composition of the groups of shock forces to defeat large enemy surface formations - at least two (or even three) on each of the fleets. The submarine of the 885 project is unlikely to be involved in solving anti-submarine missions, given its high combat value as a strike ship.
The NPL in our fleet consists of 20 units, the main part of which (16) are the ships of the 877 project, which fully meet modern requirements. Of these, the Pacific Fleet includes 8 units, the Northern - 7, the Black Sea - 3 and the Baltic - 2. Presumably all of them will be used to solve antisubmarine tasks in the system of defense of the SSBN, the basing areas of naval forces and sea communications in the areas adjacent to our coast.
Up to three (in the long term, up to eight) corvettes of the 20380 project, near the 25 IPC of the 1124 project and its modifications, can be attracted from the surface ships to solve anti-submarine tasks in the near-sea zone. In the offshore zone, it is possible to use no more than four BODs of the 1155 project (1155.1) and two or three frigates of the 22350 project to combat submarines. Of these, four corvettes and three IPCs are on the Baltic Fleet, eight are on the Black Sea, two are on BOD and six are on the Black Sea, and two are on PPC and eight are on IPC.
Of the marine aviation In the Northern Fleet, three Tu-142M aircraft and about 10 Il-38 aircraft will be able to fight against an underwater enemy, about 20 ship-based Ka-27 PLO helicopters will solve the tasks of defending an aircraft carrier. The Pacific Fleet consists of seven or eight Tu-142Ms, up to 10 Il-38 and about 20 Ka-27pl. Only Tu-142M aircraft and modernized Il-38N aircraft are capable of independently searching for modern low-noise submarines in remote areas. In the coastal zone - Ka-27 helicopters using OGAS.
What can be done by the available forces in the fight against underwater danger? First, let us pay attention to the most serious threat - the SSBNs of the likely enemy, primarily the American ones. To combat them, the Federation Council can deploy three Tu-142M aircraft and a maximum of six to seven submarines of 971 and 945 projects. At the same time, daily performance of no more than one or two Tu-142М aircraft departures when staying in the search area within two to three hours. If we take into account that American SSBNs, as a rule, operate in the SOSUS observation zone, despite the significantly reduced detection range of our new SSNs with this system, if zone maneuver forces exist in areas of maneuverable zones (especially the base patrol aviation), their long stay in the search area ultimately lead to the detection and removal of SSBNs from their area of operations. Based on this, even in peacetime, within a few days of searching actions, the whole group will be able to detect at least one SSBN out of four or five who are on patrol with a probability of no more than five percent. In wartime, aviation is simply excluded — the SSBN maneuvering area is controlled by the AWACS and anti-submarine aircraft will be destroyed by the IA forces even before approaching the search area. And our submarines will have to act under the conditions of powerful opposition from the forces of the zonal submarine missiles. Under these conditions, in the first six to seven days of combat, practically all the submarines assigned to search will be destroyed, and the probability of hitting at least one SSBN will not exceed two to three percent. In the Pacific, the situation is similar. That is, our fleet is absolutely incapable of solving the task of fighting against SSBNs. So, it is generally inappropriate to allocate power to this task.
So what can be done with multipurpose PLA of a potential enemy? If we consider the areas of the far sea zone, controlled by the SOSUS system and other means of the zone PLO and air defense (these are the Norwegian, Bering, Sea of Japan and Pacific regions adjacent to Japan from the east), then just like in the situation with SSBNs, practically nothing.
In the areas of the Barents, Kara, and Okhotsk seas outside the 150 – 200-mile zone from the coast, the possibility of fighting enemy enemy submarines increases significantly. Here, the main tasks of the anti-submarine forces will be the destruction of the submarines in the launch areas of the KFBD on our ground targets. Based on the disposable resource, it is possible to create a grouping of anti-submarine forces on the SF as part of two or three PLNs of the 971 project (945), three Tu-142Ms and one RPGT of two BODs of the 1155 project operating with the support of five to eight IL-38. The search capabilities of such a group in peacetime provide detection within three to five days of the order of one or two American submarines from several deployed in the area. Judging by the open data, the group will be able to track them for up to four or five hours (at least, that’s how, according to the media, our anti-submarine forces conducted the American submarine detected in the 2013 year near our territorial waters). Accordingly, with the outbreak of hostilities, the probability of destroying at least one of the enemy's PLA deployed in this area will not exceed 10 – 15 percent. The main part of the existing KDB in the usual equipment of US submarines will be consumed during the first day or two during the air offensive operation. During this time, the grouping of our anti-submarine forces will be able to destroy no more than one submarine of the 8 – 10 deployed in the area.
That is, our anti-submarine forces will not be able to prevent a missile strike on our territory from enemy submarines. In general, over the course of 4 – 5 days, such a group will destroy one or two enemy SSNs (10 – 25%), losing up to half of its ship structure and almost losing its combat capability. That is, the task of defeating the enemy group will not be solved.
In the 150 – 200-mile zone, it is possible to increase the number of anti-submarine forces to a level where they can, albeit to a very limited extent, solve the tasks of fighting enemy submarines. In this case, the losses can be very significant. After 10 – 12 days of warfare, they are likely to lose their fighting ability. From the analysis it follows that at the present time our Navy is unable to combat the underwater threat with the necessary efficiency. The main reason for this is the lack of effective stationary and positional systems for monitoring underwater conditions, especially in the far sea zone, as well as the lack of maneuverable anti-submarine forces. With such, the US Navy has the ability to effectively control the submarines of our fleet in most of the ocean and sea theaters.