The Russian fleet demonstrated a high level of combat readiness in Syria, not only having managed to create a fairly large grouping of ships in the Mediterranean, but also launched an effective missile attack on ground targets from 1500 kilometers, unexpectedly using small and relatively inexpensive ships of the near sea zone.
The first information about the beginning of the active operations of the Russian Navy was received on October 7, when it became known that a group of ships of the Caspian launched a missile strike flotilla Russian Navy on the objects of the "Islamic State". In the salvo, 26 Caliber-NK-type missiles were fired, which hit 11 targets in Syria controlled by the Islamic State armed forces.
Small but strong
It is worth a bit to dwell on which ships took part in this strike. Judging by the military composition of the Caspian Flotilla, it is the guard (rocket) ship “Dagestan” of the 11661 project (type “Cheetah”) and three small rocket ships of the 21631 project - “Grad Sviyazhsk”, “Uglich” and “Veliky Ustyug” (of the “Buyan- M ”). All of these ships each have an eight-cell DPS allowing the use of Caliber and Onyx missiles. There are no other ships in the Caspian flotilla that are armed with such a missile system. The launch of the 26 missiles means that the entire available shipboard personnel of the Caspian flotilla, armed with long-range cruise missiles of the Caliber-NK type (the largest ammunition load available on these four ships of the flotilla, is 32 missiles) was involved. This indicates a sufficiently high level of technical condition of the ship composition of the Caspian flotilla, at least that part of it, which is represented by new ships.
In total, there are four units of guard (rocket) ships of the "Cheetah" type in the Russian Navy, two of which are part of the Caspian Flotilla. This is a multipurpose ship, which, with the full displacement of 1930 tons, has quite powerful armament. In addition to the above-mentioned eight-cell TLU for the Kalibr-NK CRDB, it has powerful electronic weapons, including highly efficient SIGMA ICS, Monolith RLC, which allows for the scouting of surface targets by means of active radar and radio intelligence, anti-aircraft weapons and anti-submarine weapons. In the Caspian Sea, this ship has no equivalent enemy. True, its anti-submarine capabilities in this theater of operations are hardly required, the shallow depths in most of the Caspian Sea do not allow the use of submarines.
Small missile ships of the “Buyan-M” type are more in tune with the peculiarities of the Caspian MTVD. With a significantly smaller displacement (949 tons) and draft, they carry the same strike armament as the Gepard-type ships, the TLV on eight cells for the Kalibr-NK missile defense system, have powerful 100-mm single-barrel AU A-190, allowing solve the problem of fire support troops on the coastal direction.
The flight trajectories of the rocket salvo they executed ran across Iran and Iraq. Moreover, the Iraqi sector took place for the most part over the territory controlled by the Islamic State. The missile overflight was agreed with the governments of Iraq and Iran through the newly created coalition focal point in Baghdad.
Consumption weapons to hit one target made up two or three missiles (on 11 targets 26 missiles). The flight time of missiles to targets could range from an hour to one and a half depending on the distance of the target and the chosen flight path, which was set individually for each missile, bypassing the air defense zones and areas of dense location of the armed forces of the Islamic State. With a high-explosive type warhead weighing 400 kilograms and an accuracy of five to seven meters, we can conclude that the targets were relatively small objects of the type of compactly located groups of buildings or reinforced concrete structures. Most likely, it could be the operational and strategic management points of the Islamic State, weapons and ammunition depots of central subordination, or military equipment repair companies. The fact that such a large number of objects was able to hit such a large number of weapons (as confirmed by objective control) testifies to the high technical reliability of the missiles themselves.
The missile salvo area was located in the southern part of the Caspian Sea. The time it takes for the ship strike group to advance to the area at the economic speed of 14 – 18 knots is 12 – 16 hours. Taking into account the time to return to the base, the preparation of flight missions for new missiles, the replenishment of ammunition and the return to the launch point, a re-salvo can take place in two to three days upon receipt of a relevant order and if there are enough such missiles in place doubt. It is absolutely clear that ships of the Caspian flotilla cannot exert fire influence on the militants of the “Islamic state” with other weapons.
Black Sea in readiness
In addition to the ships of the Caspian Flotilla, the formation of the Black Sea Fleet also takes part in hostilities against the Islamic State. True, while the Black Sea community did not enter into fire contact with the enemy, participating in these hostilities in a different way. Currently, there are five Russian warships in the northwestern part of the Mediterranean. However, in the first days of combat operations by the Russian group in Syria, their numbers were 15 units. The main part arrived in the area shortly before the start of the active phase of the fighting. The core is the shipboard shock group led by the 1164 project “Moscow” missile cruiser and including three escort ships - Ladny (1135 Ave), Pytlivy (1135M Ave) and Sharpy (01090 Ave).
In addition to this strike group in the Russian fleet near the coast of Syria, there was a combination of amphibious and support ships. Among them are four large amphibious ships (BDK): two 1171 projects (Saratov and Nikolai Filchenkov) and two 775 projects (Azov and Caesar Kunikov), a large naval tanker Ivan Bubnov, a shipmaster PM -56 "and auxiliary ship-keeper" KIL-158 ". In addition, in the Eastern Mediterranean zone deployed reconnaissance ship "Tatishchev."
The capabilities of the ship strike group are determined by the ship of its core - the missile cruiser “Moscow”. From the composition of its very diverse armaments, it is worthwhile to single out those systems that are most relevant for the solution of the tasks that were set for the shipboard strike group headed by them. This is primarily an anti-ship missile system "Vulkan", the missiles of which allow strikes against large enemy surface ships at a distance of 700 kilometers. With this weapon, the RKR "Moscow" is capable of crushing the NATO naval strike group consisting of a cruiser and two destroyers of URO. He is also capable of disabling an average aircraft carrier from a small-sized carrier group, such as, for example, the United Kingdom or France.
Other ships from the strike group cannot make a significant contribution to countering large surface forces or the defense of the Russian base due to the lack of appropriate weapons, without having long-range missile systems and having anti-aircraft fire to ensure only self-defense ship strike.
It should be particularly noted that in fact the entire ship structure of the Black Sea Fleet, capable of operating in the far sea zone, is sent to the Mediterranean Sea, which indicates that the level of technical serviceability of the ships is quite high. That is, over the previous two years, it was possible to carry out all the necessary repairs to restore the combat capability of the Black Sea Fleet.
The composition of the naval connection of Russia off the coast of Syria is changing regularly. So, part of the ship group, mainly landing ships, as well as the tanker left the Eastern Mediterranean. And on October 8 it became known that two ISCs - “Musson” and “Samum” passed the Bosphorus Strait, moving to the shores of Syria.
It is known from reliable sources that, in the future, the ship group from the Northern Fleet may also be sent to this area according to the plan of rotation of the ship. Thus, the Russian fleet takes a very active part in the hostilities in Syria, playing a key role in the logistics of the hostilities.