Recently, on the electronic pages of "VO" a serious "battle" has been played out on the topic of the future of the Russian navy . The discussion came respected authors Skomorokhov R. and A. Vorontsov, on the one hand ( " Does Russia need a strong navy "), and at least respected my Timohin A. - with another " blow about reality or about the fleet of Tu-160 and the price human errors ”.
Not wanting to become a third opposing party, I will nevertheless allow myself to speak on the merits of the issue: to state my point of view, which, perhaps, will be somewhat different from the positions of the above-mentioned respected authors. So what kind of fleet do we need?
On the tasks of the Russian Navy
This is quite clearly and clearly stated in the Decree of the President of the Russian Federation of July 20, 2017 No. 327 "On the approval of the Fundamentals of the State Policy of the Russian Federation in the field of naval activities for the period up to 2030" (hereinafter referred to as the "Decree"). Clause 8 of the first section of the document defines the status of our fleet:
“The Russian Federation still retains the status of a great maritime power, the maritime potential of which ensures the realization and protection of its national interests in any area of the World Ocean, is an important factor in international stability and strategic deterrence and allows an independent national maritime policy to be pursued as an equal participant in international maritime activities. ".
In other words, the country's leadership, at least at the level of setting common goals, wants to have a fleet that will retain the status of a great maritime power for the Russian Federation.
Of course, with the implementation of these good undertakings in our country, according to the immortal statement of Mr. Chernomyrdin:
"I wanted the best, but it turned out as always",
but this is not the point now.
And about the answer to a simple question:
Can the "coastal fleet", for which many authors and readers of "VO" stand up, meet the wishes of our leadership?
The answer is an unequivocal no. And that's why.
The same “Decree” clearly defines the purpose of our Navy:
"The Navy as a service of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation is intended to ensure the protection of the national interests of the Russian Federation and its allies in the World Ocean by military methods, to maintain military-political stability at the global and regional levels, and to repel aggression against the Russian Federation from ocean and sea directions." ...
According to the "Decree", the main goals of the state policy in the field of naval activities are:
a) maintaining the naval potential at a level that ensures guaranteed deterrence of aggression against the Russian Federation from ocean and sea directions and the possibility of inflicting unacceptable damage to any potential adversary;
b) maintaining strategic stability and international law and order in the World Ocean, including through the effective use of the Navy as one of the main instruments of the foreign policy of the Russian Federation;
c) ensuring favorable conditions for the development and rational use of the natural resources of the World Ocean in the interests of the country's socio-economic development.
In fact, from this point, the duality of the tasks assigned to the Russian Navy is quite obvious.
On the one hand, it is a recognition of the need to have highly effective naval strategic nuclear forces (NSNF) that will provide guaranteed nuclear retaliation to anyone who encroaches on it.
On the other hand, the leadership of the Russian Federation considers it imperative to have sufficiently powerful non-strategic general-purpose forces capable of operating in the World Ocean for a long time.
This is directly indicated by a number of strategic requirements for the Navy (listed in the section of the same name of the "Decree"), including:
1) Ability to quickly and covertly deploy forces (troops) in remote areas of the World Ocean;
2) The ability to successfully confront the enemy with high-tech naval potential (including those armed with high-precision weapons ), with the groupings of its naval forces in the near, distant sea zones and ocean areas;
3) Ability for long-term autonomous activity, including independent replenishment of supplies of material and technical means and weapons in remote areas of the World Ocean from logistics support vessels of new projects.
In general, the "Decree" quite unequivocally divides strategic deterrence into nuclear and non-nuclear. At the same time, the endowment of general-purpose naval groupings with non-nuclear deterrent functionality is one of the priorities for the development of the fleet (point "b" of Article 47 of the "Decree").
Finally, the "Decree" directly sets the task of a permanent naval presence
"In the Mediterranean Sea and other strategically important areas of the World Ocean, including in the areas where the main sea transport communications pass."
You can agree with these tasks or not. And one can argue about whether they are achievable given the plight of the domestic economy. But nevertheless, I urge you to take into account that the above tasks are not my personal fantasies, but the position of the leadership of our country. Moreover, it is stated in the document from 2017.
That is, after the crisis of 2014, when it was quite obvious that the plans of the GPV 2011–2020 failed miserably, including due to the impossibility of financing them by the budget of the Russian Federation.
Strategic nuclear deterrence
In the coming decades, it will, of course, be based on the Project 955 and 955A Strategic Missile Submarine Cruisers (SSBNs), of which there are now 10 units in the fleet and at different stages of construction (including preparation for it).
Other ships of this type are likely to be built. And also (in addition to them) also specialized carriers of "Poseidons" - "Belgorod" and Co. We will not discuss the usefulness of the latter in matters of strategic nuclear deterrence, but note that SSBNs are transferred to two fleets, the North and the Pacific.
What do we need to ensure the operation of SSBNs?
The main threats to our SSBNs are:
1) minefields deployed at the exit of our naval bases;
2) multipurpose nuclear (and non-nuclear) submarines;
3) anti-submarine aviation .
As for surface ships, they, of course, also pose a serious potential threat to SSBNs. But only in the distant sea and ocean zones.
Of course, today the capabilities of the Russian Navy are infinitely far from the desired ones. But nevertheless, an attempt to deploy a "network" of US surface ships in our near sea zone, in the immediate vicinity of land-based airfields and coastal missile systems, would be an extremely unreasonable form of mass suicide for them. And so it should remain in the future. In addition, in the north, the actions of the surface forces of our "sworn friends" are strongly hindered by nature itself.
Therefore, it is quite obvious that the combat stability of our NSNF in this case can be ensured by the formation of A2 / AD zones in the areas of the SSBN bases. That is, our Navy should be able to provide zones in which enemy submarines and ASW aircraft will be detected and destroyed with a probability that excludes the effective "hunt" of these submarines and aircraft for our SSBNs. At the same time, the size of these zones should be large enough to prevent our opponents from having a chance with acceptable admissibility to “watch for” and intercept our SSBNs outside its borders.
From the above, it does not at all follow that our SSBNs should occupy positions exclusively in areas A2 / AD. Simply with their help, the task of bringing the most modern SSBNs into the ocean, capable of operating in it, is solved. In other words, provided that the technical capabilities and skills of the crews of our ships will allow them to get lost in the ocean. Older submarines, which would be too risky to send to the ocean, can, of course, remain in relative safety of the A2 / AD. And they will be ready to strike retaliation right from there.
From my point of view, the Barents and Okhotsk Seas should become such areas for us.
In addition, it is necessary to provide a significant area A2 / AD around Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. But here, of course, other opinions are possible.
How to secure A2 / AD?
This requires quite a bit.
First of all, it is a system of naval reconnaissance and target designation, which makes it possible to identify enemy submarines and aircraft, and at the same time, of course, his surface ships. Accordingly, we are talking about the means of monitoring the air, surface and underwater situation.
More specifically, air control is provided by radar, radio-technical and optical-electronic reconnaissance. For what you need:
1. Orbital group (appropriate purpose).
2. Coastal radar stations (including over-the-horizon) and RTR (electronic intelligence).
3. Manned and unmanned aerial vehicles, including AWACS and RTR aircraft.
Unfortunately, many today are inclined to exaggerate the importance of satellites and ZGRLS, believing that they will be completely sufficient for detecting and classifying the enemy, as well as for developing target designation. But this, alas, is not so.
Satellites and ZGRLS are, of course, very important components of the maritime reconnaissance and target designation system. But on their own they cannot solve the entire spectrum of tasks in the field of surface and air situation control.
In reality, the capabilities of our satellite constellation are insufficient. The provision of ZGRLS is at a more or less acceptable level. But in the part of AWACS and RTR aircraft, as well as reconnaissance drones for operations over the sea, there is a large black hole.
To control the underwater situation, we need:
1. Satellites capable of searching for submarines by the heat trail (and, possibly, by other methods).
2. PLO aircraft and helicopters armed with specialized means of searching for submarines.
3. Networks of stationary hydrophones and other passive and active means of detecting the enemy. It is also possible to use mobile means, such as specialized hydroacoustic reconnaissance ships.
What do we have?
The satellite constellation, as mentioned earlier, is insufficient. The most modern "air" forces of PLO - Il-38N in their capabilities are very much inferior to modern PLO aircraft of NATO countries. And there are deliberately insufficient quantities.
The rest - IL-38, Tu-142, Ka-27, are outdated, up to a complete loss of combat effectiveness. The current Ka-27 modernization program, alas, can hardly solve this problem. The deployment of a network of active and passive hydroacoustic stations has been disrupted.
Of course, warships are also integrated into the naval reconnaissance and target designation system.
Fleet and Aviation for A2 / AD
General purpose naval forces for the formation of A2 / AD should consist of:
1. Highly effective mine-sweeping forces capable of bringing our surface and submarine ships out of the naval base "to clean water."
2. PLO corvettes for operations in the coastal and near sea zones (0-500 miles from the coastline).
3. Multipurpose submarines to counter multipurpose nuclear and non-nuclear submarines of a potential enemy.
4. Naval aviation for solving the problems of anti-aircraft defense, gaining air supremacy and destroying enemy surface forces.
On the first point, I think, the dear reader will be clear without my comments.
I will only say that mine-sweeping operations in the Russian Navy are in a terrible state, which does not allow fighting modern types of foreign mines.
The respected M. Klimov described the problem many times and in detail. And I see no reason to repeat myself. If some minesweepers are still under construction ("Alexandrite"), then they simply do not have modern and effective means of mine detection and neutralization, which is a gaping gap in our naval defense.
On the second point, it is also more or less clear.
In the near sea zone, we are threatened, first of all, by enemy aircraft and submarines. It is simply impossible to create a corvette capable of repelling an air raid by specialized naval aviation on its own. This is difficult even for ships of much larger displacement.
Likewise, there is no point in trying to stuff the corvette with anti-ship missiles up to and including the Zircon. The task of fighting the enemy's surface forces is not his target. It should be dealt with by aviation. Therefore, in the part of air defense, the emphasis should be on the destruction of guided munitions. And the main specialization of the corvette is to make anti-submarine warfare.
In other words, the corvette should be a cheap and massive ship, focused primarily on anti-submarine activities. We, alas, do everything the other way around, trying to shove the frigate's weapons into the corvette. Well, we get a corvette at the price of a frigate, of course. That reduces its basic (PLO) capabilities. And it makes impossible the massive construction of these very necessary ships of the Russian Navy.
On the third point, it is already more difficult.
As part of the creation of A2 / AD, we need, again, numerous submarines capable of fighting the latest nuclear and non-nuclear foreign ships.
What should they be?
It is impossible to answer this question in a nutshell. Of course, some of the requirements are obvious. We need specialized ships to deal with enemy submarines. What will require:
1. Such a ratio of the capabilities of the SAC and the visibility of our ship, which will allow us to detect modern and promising enemy submarines before they spot our ship. The usefulness of this is obvious - the one who detects the enemy first gets a great advantage in battle.
2. Effective complexes of torpedo and anti-torpedo weapons. It is not enough to reveal the enemy; And at the same time not to be liquidated yourself.
3. High speed low noise running. The main task of such multipurpose submarines is to search for an underwater enemy in the A2 / AD zones. And the higher the speed, the more space the submarine can “scan” in a day.
4. Reasonable price, allowing to deploy large-scale construction of such submarines.
Once again, I would like to draw the attention of the dear reader - we are not talking about submarines for escorting our SSBNs. This refers to submarines capable of searching for and destroying enemy submarines in specified areas.
Personally, I (at one time) believed that the creation of a PLAT (nuclear torpedo submarine), in its ideology close to our "Shchuke-B", would be optimal for solving such problems. Or rather, even to the British "Astute". That is, not more than 7 thousand surface and 8.5 thousand underwater displacement (maximum, but better - less).
But other options can also be considered.
For example, the French "baby" "Barracuda", with its underwater displacement of about 5300 tons.
Or the proposal of the respected M. Klimov, which boils down to creating a nuclear ship based on diesel-electric submarines of project 677. In essence, the “cost / efficiency” criterion is the determining factor here.
Does our fleet need non-nuclear submarines?
Generally speaking, yes. Needed.
Since they are quite suitable for operations in the Black and Baltic Seas. Nuclear ships are useless there.
It is also possible that a certain number of such submarines will be in demand for A2 / AD, formed by the Northern and Pacific Fleets within the near sea zone. But here, again, one should look from the “cost / efficiency” position in relation to the tasks being solved.
For example, if we want to patrol a certain coastal sea space with an area of "X" and this requires either "Y" pieces of boards, or "Z" pieces of diesel-electric submarines with air-independent installations or lithium-ion batteries. And at the same time "Z" pieces of diesel-electric submarines will cost less than "Y" PLATS. Why not?
There is already a clean economy. Taking into account the number of crews, cost of life cycles, required infrastructure, etc. etc.
What do we have at the moment?
We do not build or develop PLATs at all. Instead, we create universal "mastodons" of the 885M project.
I do not at all consider Yaseni-M to be bad ships.
And they certainly have their own tactical niche. But for solving A2 / AD problems, they are completely sub-optimal. Due to the extremely high cost.
That is, we simply cannot build a sufficient number of Ash-Ms to form A2 / AD.
And if we also take into account that equipping them with a propeller instead of a water cannon does not allow relying on a high speed of low-noise travel, and also the disastrous situation in terms of anti-submarine weapons (problems with both torpedoes and anti-torpedo protection, lack of experience in ice torpedo firing, etc.) etc., again, all this is perfectly described by M. Klimov), then it becomes quite sad.
With diesel-electric submarines, the situation is very bad.
We developed and developed VNEU, but we never did. And it is unclear whether we will be able to create an air-independent installation in the foreseeable future.
A possible alternative could be the transition to high-capacity batteries (lithium-ion batteries, that is, LIAB). But - only on condition of increasing the reliability of these same LIAB, which today can explode at the most inopportune moment. Which is completely unacceptable for a warship in general and for a submarine in particular.
But even with diesel-electric submarines, not all is well.
The ship of the new generation ("Lada") did not "take off" even without any VNEU and LIAB.
As a result, obsolete Project 636.3 Varshavyankas are going to the fleet. Yes, they were once called "black holes". Yes, until about the beginning of the 90s, their "progenitor" (Project 877 "Halibut") really discovered the enemy "Elks" first. But 30 years have passed since then.
Of course, project 636.3 has been seriously improved. But, for example, such an important means of searching for the enemy as a towed GAS was not “delivered” to it. And the problems with torpedo armament and PTZ have already been mentioned above.
In other words, there is great doubt that the 636.3 is capable of effectively dealing with the latest enemy submarines right now.
But progress does not stand still ...
Everything is very complicated here.
That is, everything is clear about the tasks. Apart from the PLO tasks mentioned above, in A2 / AD zones we must be able to:
1. Establish zonal air supremacy.
This is obviously necessary to ensure the actions of our own anti-aircraft defense aircraft, prevent flights of enemy aircraft of a similar purpose, cover the elements of the naval reconnaissance and target designation system, which are our own aircraft and UAVs of AWACS and RTR, as well as to protect our corvettes from attacks by enemy strike aircraft.
2. Destroy enemy surface ships and their formations, including those outside the A2 / AD zones.
The difficulties here are as follows. The fact is that the American AUG does not have to break into the same Okhotsk Sea in order to solve the problem of destroying our aviation over its waters. AUG or AUS may well maneuver even hundreds of kilometers from the Big (or Small) Kuril ridge.
The US Navy's deck-based AWACS and RTR aircraft are quite capable of being on duty even 600 km from the "home deck" and intercepting our aircraft (and the same Il-38N, for example) with the same Super Hornets. It is also necessary to take into account the capabilities of the Japanese Air Force, based in Hokkaido.
To a certain extent, the neutralization of this enemy aircraft can be solved by deploying strong Russian air formations in Kamchatka and Sakhalin. But here the well-known difficulties begin.
Stationary airfields both there and there will become, perhaps, the primary targets of the Japanese Air Force and the American Navy. And it will be so difficult to withstand the blow there.
In addition, the length of the Great Kuril Ridge is about 1200 km. And it will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to intercept enemy multifunctional fighters over such a distance, simply because of the long flight time.
To build a "full profile" airbase for at least a regiment of fighters with AWACS and RTR aviation on the Kuril Islands?
In principle, a possible case. But it will cost a lot. And, again, the vulnerability of such a base to cruise missiles will be very high. And for such a goal, the US Navy will not be stingy.
That is why, according to the author, an aircraft carrier would be very useful to us at the Pacific Fleet.
Our "mobile airfield", maneuvering somewhere in the same Okhotsk, will not be so easy to find. And the presence of a "deck at sea" will greatly facilitate and simplify reconnaissance by RTR and AWACS aircraft. It will allow more active use of PLO helicopters. And, of course, intercepting American or Japanese air patrols from an aircraft carrier will be much faster and easier.
At the same time, it is quite possible that if we take into account all the costs of an alternative solution to the problem - that is, numerous air bases in the Kuril Islands, Kamchatka, Sakhalin with powerful air defense and missile defense, focused on the destruction of cruise missiles - the aircraft carrier will be even cheaper.
From here, the composition of the air group of a promising aircraft carrier for the Russian Navy is also visible.
These are, first of all, heavy multifunctional fighters, the most effective for gaining air superiority. In the second stage - RDLO and RTR aircraft. In the third - helicopters (or even carrier-based aircraft) PLO. That is, our aircraft carrier should be "sharpened", first of all, for solving air defense / anti-aircraft defense missions, and not for strike functions.
Of course, an aircraft carrier will need proper escort - no less than three or four destroyers.
All of the above is also true for the Northern Fleet, taking into account its geographical features, of course.
But strike aircraft ...
Here, in my opinion, one cannot do without the revival of naval missile-carrying aircraft in all its splendor.
As mentioned above, the American ADS does not have to go to the Barents or the Sea of Okhotsk in order to establish air supremacy there. They can do this from the coast of Norway or beyond the Kuril ridge. And even the Su-34 will not have enough combat radius to reach them there from continental airfields.
And it will be somewhat presumptuous to pin all hopes on the airfield base of the same Kamchatka - it turns out that it should be able to repel cruise missile attacks, and provide its own air defense, and even cover large sectors of the Sea of Okhotsk and the A2 / AD zone near Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky ... and ensure the basing of a sufficient number of Su-34s? And duplicate such opportunities for Sakhalin?
At the same time, the availability of aircraft (with the capabilities of the Tu-22M3 or better) in conjunction with the aircraft carrier will allow (with very good chances of success) to carry out an operation to destroy the enemy AUS operating outside the A2 / AD zones of the Northern or Pacific Fleet. And when planning their operations, US admirals will have to take into account such a possibility, which, of course, will force them to be more careful.
By the way, if someone wants to argue about aircraft carriers - in the "Decree", which was signed by V.V. Putin in 2017 in the chapter "Strategic requirements for the Navy, tasks and priorities in the field of its construction and development" has an interesting phrase:
"It is planned to create a naval aircraft carrier complex."
It is clear that to promise does not mean to marry. But, at least, such was the intention.
Is it possible to resolve the issue of destroying the enemy AUS behind the same Kuril ridge by the forces of our missile-carrying "Ash"?
In theory, yes.
In practice, for this, it will be extremely important to provide air cover along the Great Kuril Ridge. And compulsory additional reconnaissance of AUS according to satellites and (or) ZGRLS. With which, again, carrier-based aviation will cope much better than aircraft from Kamchatka or Sakhalin airfields.
In the north of our missile-carrying aviation, it would be much more correct not to "break" to the location of the AUS through half of Norway, but, having flown straight to the north and making a corresponding "detour", from the north and attack. And here, only carrier-based aircraft can provide cover for missile carriers - aircraft from land airfields will not have enough combat radius.
But this does not mean that aircraft such as the Su-30 or Su-34 have nothing to do in naval aviation. They will be more than appropriate over the Black and Baltic Seas.
Now let's see what we need to solve the tasks of strategic non-nuclear deterrence, to ensure the presence of the Russian Navy in the distant sea and ocean zones.
General Marine Forces
Everything is very simple here.
Submarines and aircraft are very well suited for projection of force from the sea, for conducting combat operations against the fleet and the coast - especially if they act together. Accordingly, an air defense / anti-aircraft defense aircraft carrier and three or four destroyers of its direct cover. In combination with the "anti-aircraft" submarine division, which is based on the same "Yaseni-M". With the support of a couple of the above-described PAYMENTS. Together they represent a formidable naval force capable of inflicting a decisive defeat in the ocean on almost any fleet in the world except the American one.
The problem with such a connection is that the absolute maximum, which we can dream of, at least in theory, is three aircraft carrier multipurpose groups (AMG), of which one is based in the north, the second is part of the Pacific Fleet, and the third passes the current and / or capital repairs.
At the same time, there are many more places in the sea-ocean where the Russian fleet should be present.
Therefore, it makes sense to attend to the construction of frigates that have sufficient seaworthiness for walking in the ocean and universal weapons for all occasions (like the frigates of Project 22350). Which in peacetime will walk on the seas, oceans, showing the flag of the Russian Federation where it is needed. And in the case of the approach of Armageddon, they will reinforce our forces in the A2 / AD zones.
As for the destroyers to accompany the aircraft carrier, then larger ships are needed here. Something like a modernized version of the "Gorshkovs" - project 22350M.
To all of the above, of course, it is necessary to add a certain number of landing ships. And a significant auxiliary fleet capable of supporting the actions of the Russian Navy in the distant sea and ocean zones.
In the end, only two questions remain.
Can we create such a fleet technically? And is our economy able to “pull out” such expenses?
But this article has already turned out to be very long - let's talk about it next time ...