New wave frigates
Southeast Asian shipbuilding schools are very interesting. The choice of types of ships compared naturally fell on those developed in the countries of the region, rather than those purchased in other states. The second important criterion is novelty, modernity of samples. It is also necessary to take into account the role of developing countries in regional policy, and their fleets in the formation of trends.
From these considerations, the most modern frigates of Japan, China, the Republic of Korea and Australia were selected for analysis. These are, respectively, the ships of the types "Abukum", the project 054А, "Ulsan-1" and "Anzac".
We will rely on the same methodology as when comparing the Russian and NATO frigates. Let's start with the analysis of tactical and technical characteristics of the ships.
Find ten differences
The Japanese frigate "Abukuma" differs very modest size. Its total displacement is only about 2500 tons - more than twice less than that of European ships of the same class, and the fleet cannot be called outstanding - the maximum of 27 nodes. This guarantees problems when operating as part of large impact connections. Obviously, the "Abukuma" was created primarily to combat submarines (of course, Soviet / Russian).
His strike weapons presented 8 PKR "Harpoon". Recall: the range of the latest modification to 280 kilometers, but the most common - within 150 – 180 kilometers. The presence on board of the KR “Harpoon” AGM-84E allows the frigate to strike at ground targets at a distance of 150 kilometers. The air defense of the ship is represented only by artillery systems - single-barreled 76-mm AU "OTO Melara" and six-barrel 20-mm AU "Vulcan Falans".
To destroy submarines, the frigate has ASROC anti-submarine missile system (one Mk112 launcher on 8 PLUR) and two three-tube torpedo tubes of millimeter 324. Aircraft no. Hydroacoustic equipment is represented by GUS OQS-8 (Reytheon DE-1167) with a hook antenna. Airspace control and the use of air defense systems are provided by the Melco OPS-14C radar and firing stations of artillery complexes. There is a OYQ-6 BIUS.
In general, shock and anti-submarine capabilities are not bad for such a displacement. However, the frigate’s air defense systems are capable of acting exclusively in the interests of self-defense. A 76-mm anti-aircraft missile system can participate in a collective air defense system, but its contribution will be insignificant compared to an air defense system. With sufficiently powerful anti-submarine weapons, search capabilities are mediocre. Thus, the frigate should be considered as a predominantly anti-submarine and partly strike ship, focused on actions off its coast in the cover zone by fighter forces aviation. This corresponds to its relatively short range.
The Chinese frigate project 054A significantly exceeds the Japanese opponent in all indicators. Its total displacement exceeds 4000 tons. Travel range - 3800 miles. A sufficiently powerful power plant allows you to have a decent full speed - 29 nodes and operate in the ocean zone at significant distances from its coast. The strike armament of the ship is represented by 8 RCC YJ-83. These missiles have a range of about 160 kilometers and are equipped with relatively low-power warheads weighing 165 kilograms. The air defense of the ship is provided by the HQ-16 ADMS with 32-cell TLUs (on 32 medium-range missiles with a firing range of about 38 km). This is a Russian-Chinese development based on the Shtil air defense system. The ship’s artillery is represented by one 100-mm AU and four six-barrel 30-mm AU AK-630 Russian-made. To destroy submarines, the frigate has two three-tube TA caliber 324 mm for torpedoes Yu-8 (created on the basis of the American Mk46). The ship also has two six-barrel anti-submarine rocket launchers Type 87 with a maximum range of 1200 meters. The 36 ammunition rocket depth bombs.
Airspace control, target designation of air defense systems and air defense missile guidance is carried out by advanced electronic weapons, including the Russian Fregat-MAE-5 Russian-made surveillance radar and two HQ-16 - MR90 two-channel radar of the radar (each provides two missiles for one target) . Firing of anti-ship missiles is provided by our own Mineral-ME radar. To search for submarines, the ship has a GAS of Russian production MGK-335 with an under-acoustic sonar antenna. There are two 18-barreled launchers for setting passive interference and an active EW station. Aviation armament is represented by an anti-submarine Z-9 helicopter, similar in performance characteristics to the Russian Ka-25PL.
The composition of the armament of the frigate shows that it has very serious capabilities for solving air defense tasks, including as a ship of escort in the interests of the entire warrant. However, the ammunition does not allow you to repel multiple strikes of air tanks. Anti-submarine weapons and search tools for submarines can not be considered sufficient. Limited and opportunities in the fight against ships. A subsonic missile has a decent range of fire, a supersonic flight mode near a target at low altitude increases its ability to overcome enemy air defenses, but its warhead is not sufficient to disable with one hit large surface ships or even classmates. The absence in the ammunition of missiles capable of hitting ground targets, significantly reduces the impact capabilities of the "Chinese."
The 054A project can be considered as a multi-purpose ship, capable of independently solving tasks mainly in the protection zone by fighter aircraft, although not all with sufficient efficiency.
Korean "Ulsan-1" - the undisputed breakthrough of the Navy and the country's shipbuilders in the development of the frigate class. It significantly surpasses other specimens previously produced in Korea and in many countries, including European ones. Korean shipbuilders managed to build in full-fledged weapons in a very small displacement - only 3100 tons. Powerful power plant provides an unprecedented for this class of maximum speed - 35 nodes, with a decent range of economic course (18 nodes) - 4500 miles.
The strike armament is represented by the 8 RCC of its own design - SSM-700K Hae Sung, in two four-container PU. The firing range of this subsonic rocket is about 180 kilometers. There is no exact data on the weight of the warhead, but it can be estimated in 180 – 200 kilograms. The air defense of the ship is provided by an air defense missile system with TLU Mk49 GMLS on 24. The RIM-116 SAMs are equipped with an IG GOS, ensuring the destruction of the air defense system in the ship’s self-defense zone at a distance of up to 10 kilometers. In addition, VOLKAN-FALANKS with 20-mm six-barrel AU is part of the air defense system. Universal artillery is represented by 127-mm AU Mk-45 mod 4. To combat submarines, the frigate has two three-pipe TA caliber 324 mm for torpedoes of its own production K745. The ship has a sufficiently effective BIUS, the data for which is fed into a single control loop, in particular from the radar of the review of the mid-range airspace LIG Next and GUS with a hook antenna. The aircraft armament of the ship is represented by the SH-60 helicopter.
The analysis of the ship’s armament shows that this is a fairly multi-purpose ship, oriented mainly for independent actions in solving antisubmarine and strike missions. Limited ammunition SAM, determines the feasibility of limiting its zone of combat use areas covered by fighter aircraft. The advantageous difference of the Korean ship is the 127-mm AU, which allows it to be used to support the actions of troops in the coastal zone, as well as to deliver artillery strikes on surface targets.
The Australian frigate is slightly larger than the Korean one - 3600 tons. But the power plant of the ship is weaker, which limits the speed of 27 nodes. But the range at economic speed is much longer - 6000 miles. This is obviously due to the desire to ensure that the frigate can be used to the full depth of the Pacific theater of operations (what are the interests of the United States considering Australia as one of its main allies in this region).
Impact armament standard - 8 PU for RCC "Harpoon". This allows you to strike at ground targets in the presence of an appropriate modification of missiles and equipment of the ship RES for their use. The air defense system is provided with an air defense missile system from TLU to 32. The RIM-162 SAMs have a range of up to 50 kilometers. Anti-aircraft artillery, represented by four 12,7-mm machine guns, obviously can not significantly increase the combat stability of the ship from EIT strikes. For ZAK "Vulkan-Falanx" reserved space, but as long as its installation is not planned. Anti-submarine armament standard - two three-pipe TA caliber 324 mm and helicopter S-70 "X Hawk." Universal artillery, like the Korean frigate, is represented by 127-mm AU Mk-45. The airspace review is carried out using US-made SPS 49 (V) ANZ medium-range radar. To detect submarines, there is a Thomson Sintra Spherion B Mod 5 GAS with an under-acoustic sonar antenna.
The armament of the "Australian" and its driving characteristics indicate that it is focused on actions as part of the escort ships of the core of the order. Its shock, anti-submarine and anti-aircraft capabilities make it possible to solve the corresponding tasks as part of the security forces of large formations with an acceptable level. The disadvantage of the frigate is the lack of effective means of self-defense in the air defense system, which can adversely affect its combat stability when repelling massive or sudden limited attacks of an EAS. 127-mm universal AU allows you to work on ground objects in the coastal zone.
Truth is born in battle
A simple comparison of the characteristics is not enough for a correct comparison of the types of ships. It is necessary to evaluate their capabilities in the likely conditions of combat use, taking into account their purpose. Consider two options: the actions of the compared ships in an armed conflict against a weak naval enemy and in a war with high-tech and powerful naval forces.
In the general case, the frigates will have to solve the following main tasks, according to which we will compare them: the destruction of groups of surface ships and submarines, the reflection of UHV strikes, the work on ground targets.
In a local war, the weighting coefficients of significance of tasks (taking into account the probability of their occurrence) for all ships under consideration, based on the proximity of the nature of warfare on sea and oceanic theaters in such conflicts, can be assessed as in the case of NATO frigates: the destruction of groups of surface ships and boats - 0,3, submarines - 0,15, reflection of SVN - 0,4, strikes against the coastal infrastructure of the enemy in the operational depth - 0,1, and against objects of antiamphibious defense - 0,05.
In the war against high-tech and powerful naval ships, they will have to solve significantly different tasks and, accordingly, the weight coefficients of significance will differ. So, for the Japanese frigates, the main enemy is the Chinese and Russian fleets. At the same time, combat operations against our naval forces “Abukums” will be involved mainly in the zones of responsibility of the bases and as part of the guard forces of the amphibious detachments, possibly as part of the escort ships of the Japanese light aircraft carrier — as destroyer-helicopter carriers classify in Japan.
For Chinese frigates, the main adversary is the Japanese and American fleets. In actions against the first, project 054A is likely to be used mainly for striking at “classmates” and conducting anti-submarine warfare. In clashes with the American fleet the most significant for Chinese frigates are anti-submarine warfare and participation in the protection of larger ships.
The main adversary for the Ulsan-1 is the DPRK fleet, as well as, presumably, the Chinese, if the latter sided with its ally in escalating the military conflict on the Korean Peninsula. Accordingly, the main tasks for frigates can be the fight against submarines and light forces of the opposing fleet.
As for the Australian frigates, their participation in a large-scale war is likely in the composition of the coalition group of the Navy, where they will solve the tasks mainly of escorting and fighting submarines.
The weighting factors presented in the table are derived taking into account the particular combat missions of the frigates.
Now we estimate the capabilities of the compared samples in solving typical problems. For a correct comparison with the already reviewed frigates of Russia and NATO (MIC, No. 25, 27, 2016), the conditions and targets of destruction are assumed to be the same as before.
The first of the typical combat missions is the destruction of groups of surface ships and boats. A typical ship search and strike group (KPUG) of anti-submarine ships or a strike group (KUG) of MRKs (corvettes) and missile boats consisting of three to four units is considered as the object of the strike.
The Australian and Japanese frigates that have the Harpoon RCC complex, if equipped with the most long-range modifications, can, with other things being equal, go into a salvo position without getting into the enemy’s firing area (for example, the KPUG of Chinese frigates or KUG of North Korean boats).
Chinese and Korean frigates that have their own designed anti-ship missiles with a range equal to or even inferior to the enemy must be within reach weapons. In this case, you need to consider that he can preempt in a volley.
Missile strikes on ground targets are capable of inflicting "Australian" and "Japanese" if they are equipped with appropriate modifications of the Harpoon missiles. Naturally, for the frigate, tasks of a tactical scale will be set, that is, the destruction of one important object or group of three or four small ones. KR “Harpoon” allows you to hit ground targets within the effective range of shooting - up to 120 – 130 kilometers from the water's edge, where a relatively small part of the operational-important objects can be located. As already mentioned, with the combat unit "Harpoon" in 227 kilograms will require an increase in the number of weapons to solve problems in comparison with the Russian "Caliber" or the US "Tomahawk."
In actions against the antiamphibious defense system, as before, we consider the possibilities of frigates for suppressing one company strong point.
Australian and Korean frigates, having 127-mm AU, can cause serious damage to the facility at a distance of up to 12 – 15 kilometers from the water's edge. A bit behind them is the Chinese "classmate" with its 100-mm AU. The capabilities of the Japanese ship with its 76-mm AU are significantly lower and limited to the zone directly at the water's edge. But for Abukums, such a task would be uncharacteristic.
An assessment of the capabilities of frigates to combat submarines is given by the criterion of the probability of their detection and destruction in a given area as part of a typical KSUG of three frigates. This indicator depends on many factors, in particular on hydrology. For comparability of the estimates, we will put the frigates in the same conditions, when the search performance of the KPUG is determined by the energy range of detection of the submarine GAK ship.
If we talk about the appropriate weapons, it is almost identical. The superiority of the Japanese frigate at the expense of the ASROC anti-submarine missile system is offset by its lack of aircraft.
Assessment of the capabilities of ships for defeating air targets for comparability of results is given by the ability of an order from three escort frigates and a nuclear ship (for example, a five-unit cruiser with an air defense attack potential) to repel the impact of an EHV model 24 RCC with a salvo of three minutes. As an indicator of effectiveness, the probability of preserving the ship’s nuclear combat capability is taken.
The results of the estimated calculation of combat capabilities are given in the table.
The analysis carried out allows us to derive the integral indicator of compliance of ships. The Japanese frigate "Abukum" it is applied to both local and large-scale wars the same - 0,27. The level of compliance with the tasks in the local war of the Chinese project 054А is 0,34, and in the large-scale war 0,4. Indicators of the Korean "Ulsan-1": 0,28 and 0,38, respectively. The degree of compliance with the tasks of the Australian Anzac is estimated at 0,49 and 0,52.
From this it follows that the latter most closely matches the probable tasks in local conflicts and large-scale wars. It greatly exceeds the other ships in question. Next comes the Chinese project 054A. The decline in its compliance indicators is largely due to the fact that it has a less effective anti-ship complex and less sophisticated radio-electronic devices. The Korean Ulsan-1 is slightly behind the Chinese competitor. One of the main factors that determined the lower indicators of compliance with combat missions is the presence of only self-defense weapons in his weapon system. Meanwhile, in a real combat situation, it will be necessary to quite often solve the tasks of the escort ship, for which collective air defense systems are necessary. The Japanese frigate is the least suited for combat mission, although the gap with the Korean “classmate” in relation to the conditions of a local conflict is small. To a large extent this is due to the extremely weak air defense of the “Japanese”, who does not even have a self-defense missile system. It can be assumed that this is determined by the general strategy of the development of the Japanese fleet, which is oriented like the US Navy towards destroyers of URO.
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