Ankara continues the policy of aggravating the political situation with both military-technical assistance to Kiev and active operations on the Syrian border. American analytical agencies believe that the likelihood of a Russian-Turkish armed conflict is quite large or even inevitable.
Discussion of the confrontation between Moscow and Ankara became one of the favorite topics not only in the media, but also among experts of varying degrees of awareness and engagement. Let us try to figure out how a conflict may develop in the air over the Black Sea, what are the advantages and weaknesses of the parties.
Turkey is among the NATO leaders in terms of both the number and quality of the air force. The basis of the fleet of combat aircraft are 260 light fighter F-16C / D, combined in ten combat and one training squadron (each in number corresponds to our air regiment).
Eight out of ten combat squadrons train primarily as fighter-bombers for strikes against ground targets. But if necessary, they can be used without restrictions as fighters using the most modern aviation means of destruction.
Three more squadrons of the Turkish Air Force, one of which is a fighter, are equipped with much older F-4E, whose life, despite the modernization, is coming to an end. In modern air combat, these machines do not have a serious combat value.
Pending the delivery of the ordered F-35, Turkey pays great attention to extending the life of its F-16. In April, the 2015 of the year was completed the upgrade of the 163 fighters built at the beginning - the middle of the 90-s to the Block 50 variant of the United States Common Configuration Implementation Program. In addition, the Air Force has 30 F-16C / D, assembled in 2011 – 2012-m in Turkey itself according to the option Block 50 +. More than 30 F-80C / D Block 16 produced at the end of 30-s are preserved, which are also planned to be modernized.
The main change in Block 50 was the updated AN / APG-68 (V) 9 radar with a detection range increased by 30 percent compared to earlier versions. The new radar allows you to capture the targets of a heavy fighter class at a distance of 105 kilometers, and detect them at least 150 kilometers.
Being a radar with an active phased array, the AN / APG-68 (V) 9 has new modes of operation - from synthesis of a high resolution radar image of the earth to an extremely useful adaptive power mode in air combat, which sharply reduces the probability of radar detection by the enemy.
Upgraded to Block 50, the vehicles also gained the ability to use the latest AIM-9X Sidewinder melee rockets, coupled with a helmet-mounted target designation system and equipped with new onboard self-defense complexes.
The strengths of the Turkish Air Force decided to attribute the quality training of pilots, the average annual flight time of which is 180 hours. The Turkish Air Force is constantly participating in major international exercises of NATO fighters, where they adopt the techniques of the American long-range and close-range air combat. Pilots have combat experience in strikes against ground targets, as well as power, albeit without real use. weapons, confrontation with the fighters of Greece. They were repeatedly conducted group maneuverable near air battles. The most modern American air-to-air missiles of medium (AIM-120C-7) and short (AIM-9X-2) range are in service.
As only part of the NATO mechanism, Turkey cannot boast of universality. In the event of a large-scale air war, Ankara must rely on the support of other members of the bloc, primarily the United States. When conducting an air campaign on its own, it will face a lack of competencies. First of all, this refers to the problem of control and management of the Air Force far from its land borders. This task should be solved by AWACS aircraft. Turkey now has only three full-fledged Boeing 737 AEW & C air control stations and two more CN-235M EW radar aircraft.
Another weak point is the acute shortage of tanker aircraft: there are only seven KC-135R Stratotanker. This is especially important for light F-16, having a limited range in flight without refueling.
Extremely weak and reconnaissance capabilities of the country's Air Force: only one of its own optical reconnaissance satellite with a resolution of 0,8 meter and one squadron of reconnaissance aircraft RF-4E. This is another competency that should be provided to the country by the allies. Such restrictions not only reduce Turkey’s ability to independently project forces far from its borders, but also serve as part of the NATO’s “safety valve” designed to deter Ankara from an overly independent military policy.
Turkey’s air defense is completely inadequate to protect even home-based airfields. After the disruption of the tender for the supply of modern long-range systems, the Turkish Air Force, which began back in 2006, has only eight outdated shelves of Nike Hercules stationary MIM-14 and mobile MIM-23 HAWK, relics of the Cold War. This makes the airbase almost defenseless for strikes with cruise and ballistic missiles.
In order to protect the airspace of the country from external threats, Turkey has six batteries provided by NATO allies with more modern MIM-104 Patriot air defense systems, both in anti-aircraft and anti-missile configurations. Whether they are ready to immediately come to the rescue in the event of a conflict in question is a moot point.
Who are we on the lines?
If, in the event of a possible conflict, Ankara will have to use all its air forces, then at the first stage they will be opposed by the 4th Air Force and Air Defense Army, which is part of the Southern Military District, and the Black Sea Aviation. fleetreinforced by long-range aviation.
In recent years, the 4 Air Army has been intensively re-armed with new fighters and bombers, and now includes the 566 th Bomber Aviation Regiment in Morozovsk (Rostov Region), which has a trio of Su-34 bomber squadrons (36 airplanes), 11 th amicable personnel air regiment in Marinovka (Volgograd region) as part of a bomber and reconnaissance squadron, 37-th mixed air regiment in the Crimean Guards (bomber and assault squadron), 19-th aviation regiment in Millerovo Rostov region (4 eska drills) with Su-30СМ and MiG-29 fighters, 3 guards pr-ps in Krymsk (Krasnodar Territory) - two squadrons of Su-27M3 fighters, Su-30М2, 38-th fighter squadrons and aprons-to-prints Also, the 27 Army has two assault aviation regiments in Primorsk-Akhtarsk and Budennovsk, all in all are five squadrons of Su-3.
The naval aviation of the Black Sea Fleet is represented by the 43-m naval assault aviation regiment based in the village of Saki. There are two squadrons of Su-30CM multifunctional fighters and Su-24 front-line bombers (8 Su-30CM and 15 order Su-24) in the regiment.
In total, as part of the VKS, Russia in the southwestern direction can oppose to the probable enemy nine bomber and fighter squadrons equipped with both the newest Su-34 and Su-30CM, as well as the older front-line bombers Su-24. Five fighter squadrons armed with Su-27M3 and Su-30М2, as many assault squadrons at Su-25. Separately, it should be noted the Russian contingent in Armenia, represented by the air base in Erebuni, where it is deployed near the squadron of MiG-29 fighter jets.
The 4 Army of the Air Force and Air Defense include two air defense divisions - 31 and 51. 51-I, recently deployed in the Crimea, is one of the youngest units of the Russian HVS, armed with C-300PM and ZRPK Pantsir.
Although the headquarters of the 31 Division is located in Rostov-on-Don, two anti-aircraft missile regiments of this compound are deployed on the Black Sea. The 1537 th SRP, equipped with C-300 and more modern C-400, covers the potential enemy Novorossiysk from strikes, and the two divisions of the 1721 regiment are protected by Buk-M1 and Pantsir complexes on the Black Sea coast from Tuapse to Sochi.
A few years ago, the modified Turkish F-16 had a clear advantage over all Russian fighters of the old building, which were in service with the Southern Military District. Especially great was Ankara’s superiority in long-range air combat, for which the combination of an effective radar, its own low radar visibility, an effective self-defense complex and EW, as well as armament, are crucial. With the start of mass deliveries of new aircraft in the Russian Aerospace System, the situation is changing, but not as quickly as we would like.
Even the Su-27CM and the Su-30М2 of the new construction are inferior to the modernized Turkish F-16 in both long-range and melee air combat. Their weakest point is outdated, despite all the modifications, radar Н001. At the same time, the Su-30CM, equipped with the powerful H011М Bars-R, has some superiority over the inconspicuous F-16 of modern modifications, and the controlled thrust vector gives the “thirty” an indisputable advantage in short-range maneuvering combat.
Indisputable dominance over the latest modifications of the Turkish F-16 in dueling situations, especially in long-range air combat, can only be provided by Su-35, equipped with a much more power-armed and intelligent radar of the H035 "Irbis" and modern RVV-MD and RVV-SD missiles. The stated performance of the "thirty-fifth" should provide a significant advantage over any modifications to the F-16.
Unfortunately, the Su-35 is not in the Southern Military District yet, so we have to admit that today Russia still does not have a qualitative advantage in fighter aircraft over Turkey. The strength of the Russian Aerospace Forces is self-sufficiency and the ability to mobilize numerous auxiliary resources to solve the air supremacy task - from developed air defense, electronic warfare and reconnaissance systems to strikes directly on enemy-based airfields, but also by the fleet and even Land Forces that have missile brigades capable of striking the enemy with cruise and ballistic missiles.
If you simulate the possible actions of the parties in the event of a conflict, then, oddly enough, the most critical for Turkey will be the flight range and armament of F-16 fighter jets, which are not characterized by a large amount of fuel. In fact, the only option for Ankara, even if you raise all the tankers, is a massive attack on the Crimea with the aim of causing maximum damage to the Russian units and formations there, destroying the airfield infrastructure, paralyzing the Black Sea Fleet and neutralizing the military authorities. But the success of the airstrike will depend on whether it will be possible in the first minutes to suppress the positions of the Russian C-300, covered by the "armor". The task is rather nontrivial, given that it is necessary to destroy not only the anti-aircraft missile regiments of the 51 th air defense division on the peninsula, but also C-400 in Novorossiysk. Moreover, it is necessary not only to approach a safe range and launch anti-radar missiles, but also to effectively defeat the radar operation of Russian anti-aircraft missile systems with powerful interference. And if there are PR missiles in the Turkish Air Force arsenal, the An-130BK-PPS and Mi-12 MTPR-8 Russian An-1ББ-ППС and Mi-16 MTPR-18 complexes have no electronic warfare complexes. Nor can the Turkish Air Force boast the presence of F-XNUMXCJ and EF-XNUMX Growler fighter-bomber specially modified to break through and destroy enemy air defenses.
At the same time, using cruise missiles of both sea and air-based, as well as ground "Iskander", the Russian Armed Forces can hit stationary and sedentary targets almost throughout Turkey. Of course, the CD is of little use against moving targets, but it will easily destroy warehouses, control points, various infrastructure facilities and other objects that are no less important for Turkey. And the most serious problem for Ankara will be the loss of radar stations, opening up the possibility for Russian aircraft to penetrate unnoticed into the depths of its airspace.
Provide three DRLOI machines with round-the-clock duty, covering the entire territory of the country, alas, will fail. And the threat from the Russian long-range C-300 and C-400 will force the command of the Turkish Air Force to move the "flying radar" as far as possible into the depths of its territory.
Despite the frequent criticism of the Su-34 front-line bombers ("The best aircraft of the failed war"), it is the ability to make a low-altitude supersonic rush to the target under the cover of powerful interference put up by the Khibiny electronic warfare system, which will make these machines super effective for striking the Turkish territory.
In the arsenal of enemy air defenses, there are not enough modern means to intercept the “thirty-fourths” at low altitude, and the combination of high-speed interference will make it difficult to detect the latest front-line bombers by DRLOU planes, as well as their interception of F-16 using medium-to-air missiles range.
It is not excluded that Armenia, without giving permission to use the Erebuni airbase for basing Russian attack aircraft striking the territory of Turkey, will still close its eyes on the transfer of EW helicopters, in particular Mi-8MTPR-1, which will act against Ankara, not flying into enemy airspace.
The first strike of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation will be inflicted by the Black Sea Fleet (two submarines of the 06363 project and two IRCs of the 21631 project), which is armed with Caliber missile systems. Will support the sailors and long-range aviation, striking cruise missiles launched by strategic bombers Tu-160 and Tu-95MS.
It is important to note that if necessary, all forces YES can be used to strike. The group of “strategists” from the Engels airbase will strike from the European part of Russia, and vehicles from the Far East (Ukrainka) will launch the Kyrgyz Republic from the region of the Southern Urals or Northern Kazakhstan.
The Russian grouping of EW funds depends on whether the strikes on Turkey are sudden or prepared in advance. In the latter case, in addition to the “Levers” deployed in Armenia, the recently upgraded An-12BK-PPS can cover the Russian HQS.
At the second stage, attacks on objects in Turkey will be carried out by Su-34 front-line bombers under the cover of Su-30CM, М2 and Su-27СМ3 fighters. Despite the fact that in combat the “fighter against the fighter” of the Russian Aerospace Forces, especially without the newest Su-35, are losing somewhat, in the case of massive use of EW tools, the advantage of Turkish F-16 will be leveled. With excellent training of Turkish pilots, losses from our side, alas, are inevitable. However, only two squadrons were trained to conduct air combat in the Turkish Air Force, which will not only have to repel the strikes of Russian front-line bombers, but also fight with the fighters covering them.