Wars have always been the “engine of progress”! Funny paradox - all the scientific potential was used to create the means of their own destruction, which ultimately contributed to a giant leap in human development.
Sometimes people invent another kind weapons, tactically and strategically correctly used which could only after years. For example, this was the case with a tank, by plane, by submarine and ... with an aircraft carrier.
Someone thinks that "история aircraft carriers "began with the legendary flight of Eugene Eli, when he landed on the warship" Pennsylvania ". And someone from the day when ArkRoyyal took part in the Dardanelles operation. And although there were only seaplanes on board, historians consider this ship to be the first aircraft carrier in the world to take part in hostilities.
In any case, mankind has received a completely new military tool, which he really had to use in decades.
At the very beginning of its appearance, aircraft carriers were not actively used. After all, the combat potential of the aircraft as the main carrier of weapons has not yet been fully disclosed. The First World War, it seemed, had forever buried the still not strong child. And although between the two world wars this class of ships continued to develop, not one of the states even thought about giving the palm to the sea to the aircraft carrier. Ball ruled battleships and battle cruisers. Having powerful artillery, the caliber of which could exceed 400 mm, they were the most powerful means of destruction.
During the Second World War, such giants as Bismarck and Richelieu, Yamato and Iowa were launched.
The first alarming calls for battleships were November 1940 and December 1941. In the first case, a British deck attack aviation Italy's linear fleet allowed Britain to seize the initiative in the Mediterranean. In the second, the devastating raid of Japanese aircraft at Pearl Harbor completely destroyed the linear fleet of Americans. After the Battle of Midway ended in June 1942, it became clear that only aircraft carriers could provide supremacy on the high seas. Finally, the nail in the lid of the tomb of the battleships was hammered on April 7, 1945, when the US carrier-based aircraft simply torn apart the largest battleship Yamato in history. Two hundred planes in two hours inflicted mortal wounds of "pride of the Japanese fleet". Having received hits of 10 torpedoes and 13 bombs, the battleship took with him more than 3000 sailors to the bottom.
In the Second World War, aircraft carriers received rapid development, performing the widest range of tasks. Separate classes of aircraft carriers appeared: heavy, light, escort, auxiliary, training, etc.
The escort aircraft carrier was intended for air defense and anti-submarine defense of convoys and reconnaissance. It had a displacement of up to 24 KT and a speed of up to 20 knots (37 km / h). Armament: 25 – 30 aircraft, up to 50 anti-aircraft guns. Crew to 1000 people. Most escort carriers were converted from transport ships that did not have a reservation.
A light aircraft carrier was designed for air defense of formations of warships, convoys, amphibious units, the destruction of enemy ships (ships) at sea, and the air support of amphibious assault forces. It had a displacement of up to 20 KT and a speed of up to 32 knots (59 km / h). Armament: up to 50 aircraft, around 70 anti-aircraft guns. Crew to 1400 people.
The heavy aircraft carrier was designed to destroy (destroy) the formations of warships, transports and landing craft of the enemy, to gain air supremacy in the combat area. It had a displacement of up to 55 KT and a speed of up to 33 knots (61 km / h). Armament: up to 100 aircraft, up to 12 guns of caliber up to 200 mm and up to 120 small-caliber anti-aircraft guns. Crew to 4000 people.
During the war, the 194 aircraft carrier was built, much of which was converted from the previously laid down battleships, cruisers and transport ships. Almost every fifth was sunk.
In the postwar period, most naval powers began to massively write off their warships, getting rid of battleships, aircraft carriers and cruisers. Britain finally lost the status of a great maritime power, and Japan could not even dream of its former greatness. Only the Americans remained a powerful carrier fleet; they were not in a hurry to destroy it. Moreover, strategists at the Pentagon continued to actively develop this type of ships.
The launch of the aircraft carrier Enterprise with a nuclear power plant in 1961 opened a new era in the development of aircraft carriers. At that time, it was the largest surface ship in the history of the fleet with almost unlimited autonomy of navigation. This year can be safely considered the birth year of the US aircraft carrier fleet.
Over the past seventy years, aircraft carriers have actively participated in many local wars. These are the wars in Korea and Vietnam, the Falklands crisis, the operation “Desert Storm”, the bombardment of Belgrade and others.
The aircraft carrier evolved and became a universal combat platform, deadly for a potential enemy. The presence on board of various types of aircraft allows the aircraft carrier to perform many combat missions. This is the search and destruction of aviation, submarines and ships of the enemy, the landing of troops on the coast and the application of rocket-bombing attacks on coastal targets and in depth. Before the advent of strategic nuclear submarines, even nuclear bombers were stationed on aircraft carriers. Carriers were an essential tool in the US strategy for the destruction of the USSR.
A modern aircraft carrier is, in my opinion, the most sophisticated type of armament to date.
Carriers - the largest in the world and technically very complex warships in the history of mankind.
To present the grandeur and uniqueness of such a "technical monster", we give a few figures (the Nimitz aircraft carrier is taken as an example):
60 000 t of steel and 1360 t of filler materials are being spent on aircraft carrier construction;
on the ship more than 4000 premises for various purposes;
A nuclear power plant of two water-cooled reactors of the type A4W / A1G powers four steam turbines with a total power of 280 000 hp;
the mass of the propeller (there are four of them on the ship) is almost 3 t, and each of the two anchors is 30 t;
flight deck area 18 200 square. m;
the ship has four steam catapults weighing 180 t, which ensure the smooth take-off of combat aircraft, whose weight reaches 40 – 43 t, with an acceleration speed of up to 300 km / h;
total mass of ammunition 2000 t;
6000 crew of people (including staffing, wing service and marching headquarters).
The creation of such a ship requires huge financial and labor costs.
The cost of the US Navy aircraft carrier George Bush (the last in the Nimitz class series) is estimated at 6,5 billion US dollars (at 2009 prices of the year), and the French Charles de Gaulle - 3,3 billion (at prices of 2001 a year). The new aircraft carrier "Gerald Ford" will cost US taxpayers 14 billion dollars, and Queen Elizabeth English - in 6,5 billion pounds. And this is without the cost of the wing. The lead aircraft carrier, as a rule, is built 6 – 7 years. This is the optimal time, provided that the shipbuilder receives the final approved project documentation and has extensive experience in building such ships.
The last condition is very important. For example, Northrop Grumman, founded in 1886, is one of the largest shipbuilding companies in the USA and one of two (General Dynamics) companies producing nuclear-powered ships. The first CV-4 Ranger aircraft carrier was built at this shipyard in the 1934 year. In total, the shipyard built 30 aircraft carriers, including all 11 US nuclear aircraft carriers, starting with the CVN-65 Enterprise in the 1961 year.
Advantages and disadvantages
The main obvious advantages of aircraft carriers: high combat potential, versatility and high mobility.
High combat potential is expressed in a large and diverse amount of weapons. AUGs are capable of striking deep: on naval targets - up to 1000 km, on coastal up to 1600 km.
The versatility of the ship lies in the ability of an aircraft carrier to perform a wide range of tasks. Let us list the main ones: the destruction of enemy ship groups in the maritime theaters of military operations; strikes against targets located on the sea coast and in the depth of the enemy’s territory; air cover and support for airborne forces and ground forces operating in the coastal zone; winning and maintaining air superiority in the area of operation; providing air defense of ships, airborne troops, large convoys at sea crossings, blockade of the enemy’s coast; aviation tactical intelligence; landing on the coast.
The mobility of aircraft carriers is the ability to deploy in the shortest possible time a large aviation group. The ability to make daily throws on 1000 km is impressive.
The obvious minus of an aircraft carrier is its low degree of secrecy. The exclusivity of this ship is not only its blessing, but also a curse. When attacking torpedo missiles, an aircraft carrier will always be a priority target for the enemy. The times when an aircraft carrier performed a single voyage, forever sunk into oblivion, it should always be guarded by escort ships.
The versatility of the aircraft carrier has a negative side. On board are thousands of tons of fuel and ammunition. In fact, it is a powder keg, going with the speed of 30 nodes. And although experts say that on modern aircraft carriers, the system for fighting for survivability is very reliable, this can only be verified in the case of real combat operations.
The accident rate of aircraft carriers
The USS Forrestal crash aircraft carrier Forrestal (CV-59), which occurred in the Gulf of Tonkin in 1967, was the largest accident in the US Navy in the last fifty years. According to the official conclusion, the fire began after a spontaneous launch of an unguided rocket under the effect of an accidental surge of voltage in the circuits of one of the planes on the deck. Result: The 17 th fire engulfed the six decks of the ship, the detonation of nine bombs on the flight deck, killed the 134 man (161 was wounded). The ship and its aircraft completely lost their combat capability, the 21 burned down aircraft was thrown overboard (not counting aircraft damaged by fire).
Approximately 70 miles from Honolulu, during the preparation of one of the fighter-bombers for a combat mission, a combat unit of an unguided missile suspended under its wing exploded. The explosion occurred as a result of overheating of the missile warhead caused by a rather long exposure to the jet of the engine of another aircraft that was on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier and was also preparing for departure. Within only 20 minutes, 18 powerful explosions occurred on the flight deck of the nuclear-powered ship, including eight 500 pounds caliber bombs (227 kg) detonated. Later there was a series of explosions. In total, 28 people were killed as a result of the accident, injuries of varying degrees of severity of 343 people from the crew and the ship's wing of the Enterprise and the destroyers Benjamin Stodert and Rogers were injured. 15 combat aircraft were completely destroyed. On the various equipment that was destroyed and say no. The combat service of an aircraft carrier in the Vietnam region had to be postponed.
Above are the sign accident. More small happened more than a hundred. For example, on the aircraft carrier "Nimitz":
1981 year. The landing plane crashed into an unsuccessfully parked helicopter on the deck of an aircraft carrier. Fire. Explosions. Result: 18 aircraft units destroyed, 14 dead and 39 injured.
1988 year. At the attack aircraft jammed electric launch speed artillery cannon. The tanker truck caught fire. Losses: 8 units of aircraft.
1991 year. Aircraft crash during landing. The burning car, abandoned by the crew, caught on to the aero-finisher and froze in the middle of the deck. But her engines roared in afterburner. If it were not for the actions of the brave technician (who turned off the engines), the situation would have gotten out of control.
There were accidents in the navy and in the USSR ...
The antisubmarine cruiser “Moscow” is an aircraft carrier, more precisely, a helicopter carrier. As a result of a short circuit on the switchboard of the diesel generator, a fire broke out that put out the 6 hours. Three dead and injured 26 people.
The aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov was also on fire. One example is the January 6 2009, when the aircraft carrier was heading the group of ships of the Northern Fleet in the southeastern Mediterranean. There was a fire in the engine room. The fire was extinguished for two hours. One sailor died.
Summing up, I want to note that these are only a few examples of accidents that occurred in peacetime. In terms of hostilities accident rate increases significantly.
To date, the most effective means of destroying aircraft carriers are: anti-ship cruise missile and torpedo. And the main carriers of these means of destruction are ships, submarines and aircraft.
For the effective defense of the aircraft carrier created a group of ships. This group, including the aircraft carrier, is called the carrier strike group (AUG). The AUG, as a rule, includes cruisers, destroyers, frigates, multi-purpose submarines and supply vessels. Their number depends on the number of aircraft carrying ships of the group and the mobility requirements of the group. Of course, this greatly distracts resources, but the ship group gathered into a single fist has a very large combat potential.
AUG ships create defense lines providing anti-missile, anti-aircraft and anti-submarine defense. Thus, a multi-layered defense system emerges, which is rather difficult to overcome. Do not forget that the aircraft carrier wing is the main shock power of the AUG and also provides all kinds of its (group) defense!
Against the cruise missiles, which will launch air attack weapons, submarines and surface ships of the enemy, the defense forces of the ship group create a deep echeloned defense to a depth of 700 km. For the fullest use of the combat capabilities of the air defense systems, their multi-level construction by zones is envisaged - three air defense zones are being formed: long-range (long-range radar detection aircraft (DRLO), radar patrol ships, combat air patrol fighters, anti-aircraft missile systems ) medium-range escort ships), medium (ships and helicopters of the closest RLD, electronic warfare aircraft (EW), air defense ships using air defense systems, EW facilities of the main forces and air defense ships) and b lizhnyaya (ZRK, artillery and electronic warfare of all ships).
Anti-submarine defense is organized to search for and destroy submarines. The depth of such a defense today reaches 600 km. The ship group in this case also has the widest range of possibilities for the search and destruction of enemy submarines. Anti-submarine guards of the AUG are carried out by anti-submarine aircraft by patrols, making shuttle flights from the center of the AUG and back towards the likely appearance of the enemy. In addition to aircraft, anti-submarine protection is provided by submarines that are part of the AUG and are equipped with hydroacoustic stations (GAS). The close guard forces of the AUG include helicopters and surface ships. Their main task - to prevent the torpedo attack of enemy submarines. GAS surface ships are used in active mode. Surface ships are positioned in such a way as to create a continuous ring of sonar surveillance. Helicopters are also used, which use lowered gas, magnetic detector and radio acoustic buoys to detect enemy submarines.
In 1983, a new warship appeared on the ocean expanses. At the stern a huge banner fluttered in the wind: “Stand by, Admiral Gorshkov:“ Aegis ”at sea!” (Watch out, Admiral Gorshkov! “Aegis” in the sea!). Thus, the USS Ticonderoga (CG-47) missile cruiser began its service. And so began the combat service of the ship's multi-functional combat information and control system Aegis combat system. This is an integrated network of ship means of lighting the situation, means of destruction and controls. The system allows you to receive and process information from sensors of other ships and aircraft of the connection and to issue target designation to their launchers. In simple terms, this is an electronic brain center.
Thus, AUG has a system that provides for the collective defense of ships, allowing it to intercept almost all modern means of air attack, including ballistic missiles. The Aegis system detects and accompanies simultaneously up to 300 targets and leads up to 18 SAMs on the most dangerous of them. Deck fighters and early warning aircraft can also be used to repel a strike. The decision to hit targets can be made automatically.
US admirals consider their aircraft carrier invulnerable. In part, they are right. With such a multi-layered and versatile defense, you can really feel completely safe. Destroy AUG possible only mass rocket salvo. At one time in the USSR, it was calculated that in order to ensure the destruction of AUG, it is necessary to use 70 – 100 anti-ship missiles in one strike. A cruise missile must have a warhead of 500 kg and a flight speed exceeding the speed of sound 2,5 times. These missiles today are P-700 ("Granit") and P-1000 ("Vulcan") / P-500 ("Basalt").
To deliver such a strike, it is necessary to approach the AUG at the launch range of its missiles. And here the problems begin. AUG's reconnaissance assets make it possible to detect the enemy several hundred kilometers from the point of the missile strike. Let me remind you that the main factor that influenced the victory of the Americans in the Battle of Midway Atoll was that they were ahead of the enemy in deployment. The enemy AUG nothing left, as with the battle to break through to the starting point. And still it is necessary to issue target designation to submarines, synchronize the launch of cruise missiles with other carriers. In general, AUG is in a deliberately advantageous situation. A break through the defense of AUG will be fraught with large losses. There is another way: striking an AUG with cruise missiles (torpedoes) with a special warhead (SBS). But this will go only as a last resort.
And what about us?
In the Soviet Union aircraft carriers began to be built only from the 1960-s. These are anti-submarine cruisers of the 1123 project, i.e. full helicopter. It was built two buildings: "Moscow" and "Leningrad." In the 1970-s began construction of aircraft-carrying cruisers of the 1143 Ave. “Kiev”, “Minsk”, “Novorossiysk” and “Baku” entered into operation. And in 1991, the Admiral Kuznetsov (1143.5 Ave, in the photo above) came into operation. The main difference between our aircraft-carrying cruisers of the 1143 Ave. and aircraft carriers of western construction is the presence of the Basalt and Granit cruise missiles on board.
It is difficult to say whether our constructors went the right way or on a dead-end branch. Then (as now), our shipbuilding industry could not build such giants as Enterprise. There was only one plant in Nikolaev, therefore, not very large (relative to American aircraft carriers) displacement. And why do we need such giants? Admirals of the USSR did not plan to fight with the United States at sea. Then the policy of containment was pursued. The main tasks that were assigned to our aircraft carriers were defensive. Our aircraft carriers came out of the Black Sea as "anti-submarine cruisers" (which was partly true).
Are our aircraft carriers much inferior to the US? In 1970's, definitely not. These ships had a lot of advanced technology. As a matter of fact, we went our own way in everything. The cruise missile P-500 with a range of 550 km then represented a very formidable weapon. And the deck aircraft of the USA was not so technically developed to guarantee the destruction of our cruisers before approaching the launch point of cruise missiles.
Was it a dead end? I think yes. The ship is the most complex combat mechanism. And attempts to create “something universal” can lead to a “monstrous hybrid”. A vivid example today is the heavy aircraft-carrying cruiser Admiral Kuznetsov. With a full displacement of 65 000 t to have deck aircraft, not exceeding 30 aircraft, this is a clear dead end. And when did this cruiser perform missile firing for the last time? A long time ago. Because he no longer performs the shooting. Can not technically. Ruined material part.
Will we build or not?
To try to figure out, take a neutral position between opponents and allies of the construction of aircraft carriers.
Do we plan to control the largest trade routes? No.
Do we plan to blockade any coastal state? No.
Or maybe we have to capture the archipelago X? Not. But this is no today. And who knows what will happen tomorrow?
Carriers is a very expensive toy. Build and maintain them very expensive. Absolutely nothing to argue. But the fleet itself is “very expensive.” And it’s not necessary to build monsters like “Gerald Ford”, whose daily maintenance costs 7 million dollars. In the Soviet Union, they understood this.
Carriers, like the entire navy - is an extra costly item and a hole in the budget! And how do you calculate the dividends? In Norway at the end of the 1930-x also thought so. Said to adhere to the policy of neutrality. Their military budget was almost zero, which Hitler took advantage of in 1940.
Carriers are cardboard ships. It is heated very easily. Maybe, but who checked it? Only real hostilities show the effectiveness of weapons. The Second World War showed a fairly high survivability of aircraft carriers.
Carriers are explosive ships. Accidents happen to them quite often. Right. But all the ships are burning and exploding. As practice shows, most accidents occur due to elementary carelessness of personnel. The problem is not in "iron", but in people.
We are all enemy aircraft carriers peretopim cruise missiles. We have a complex "Bastion"! The Bastion complex is a coastal missile system. It is designed to protect the coast. The range of cruise missiles in the 300 km. An aircraft carrier never dares to come so close to the shore. In general, the further the AUG from the coast, the more secure the aircraft carrier will be. We currently do not have cruise missiles capable of destroying an aircraft carrier at long range.
It seems this debate will last forever. On opposite sides of the barricades are opponents and supporters of aircraft carriers. Some claim that aircraft carriers are expensive and morally obsolete weapons. Others that this is the most powerful tool of war at sea.
My subjective opinion is the following.
Hurry with the construction of a new aircraft carrier is not worth it. Do design work? Yes. Urgent mortgage? Not. There are big problems in the Navy with ships of 2, 3 and 4. It is necessary to update the coast guard. It is now extremely important for us to close our inland seas for the “foe”. And so, step by step, go to the seas and oceans. I repeat, step by step.
What is the point of straining the shipbuilding facilities with the “construction of the century,” when we now have ships and boats waiting in line for repairs and upgrades? It is necessary to produce (and it is underway) the renewal of shipbuilding capacities and the increase in the workforce (and this is the biggest problem today). It’s impossible to build today. But this does not mean that we should not build tomorrow. For this, it is extremely important for us not to lose the last half-dead aircraft carrier, in order to preserve the flight personnel and operating experience of this sophisticated technology. It is necessary to maximize the life of the Admiral Kuznetsov TAKR by completing its deep modernization.
No one invested so much power in the appearance of aircraft carriers in our fleet, like Admiral Gorshkov. But there is an opinion that by the end of his activity he came to the conclusion that aircraft carriers are hopeless because of their great vulnerability. He proposed the use of "sea airfield platforms" on the basis of ships with a small waterline area, proposed at the time by the inventor from Canada Frederick Creed.
Very logical. Cheap and practical. The Chinese also realized that there was a partial replacement for aircraft carriers, and began to build "unsinkable aircraft carriers." The appearance of artificial islands in the South China Sea today is very annoying to Japan and the United States.
In defense of aircraft carriers I want to bring one indisputable fact. To date, 12 countries have aircraft carriers in their fleets. Many of them not only do not refuse these ships, but also continue to build them. And if we add to this number of countries the owners of universal landing ships (and this is the same, to some extent, aircraft carrying ships), the question arises ... So is it worth bury aircraft carriers?
Finally, I want to say that the fleet must be balanced. Therefore, aircraft carriers will always find a place in it. The ideal option for us would be a ship with a displacement of up to 50 000 t with a nuclear power plant. But as they say, everything has its time.
Personally, I really want these beauties to please us with power only at parades and never fight with each other.
Shunkov V.N. Aircraft carriers and naval aviation. - Minsk, Publisher: “Popurri”, 2003
Belavin N.I. Aircraft ships. - Moscow, Publisher: "Patriot", 1990
Katorin Yu. Carriers. - Moscow, Publisher: Galeya Print, 2010 g.