"Glory to Russian weapons and the valiant sons of the Fatherland who defended Odessa!" - reads the inscription under an old cannon from the Crimean War near the Odessa City Council. Someone has crossed out the word "Russian". Since 2014, Odessa has been the main base of the Ukrainian Navy, the remnants of its fleet have moved here from Crimea annexed (according to Ukraine) by Russia. And also the sailors who did not go over to the side of Moscow.
The only trouble is that the Ukrainian fleet as such does not exist. This is the case with most non-states - there are fleet commanders, but the fleets themselves are not. In fact, there are separate combat units, the number of fingers of one hand, which cannot be called a fleet. More precisely, one combat unit - the flagship of the fleet, the frigate Getman Sagaidachny (more precisely, the SKR - the Soviet patrol ship of project 1135.1 Nereus, which was put on the slipway in 1990 and completed by the Ukrainians in 1993, after which it became proudly called a frigate), the only ship of the 2nd rank. The rest of the ships cannot be called combat ships - they are the Vinnitsa corvette (more precisely, the MPK is a small anti-submarine ship of project 1124P Albatros, built in 1976), the medium landing ship Yuri Olefirenko (former SDK Kirovograd of project 773, built in 1971 ) and the road river minesweeper "Genichesk" (project 1258 "Korund", built in 1985). And it's all!
MPK "Vinnitsa" and SDK "Olefirenko" - ships of the 3rd rank, the minesweeper is generally a river one, the maximum that can be done is to work in the roadstead, all the rest of the floating debris are ships of the 4th rank, they, like auxiliary vessels, are by the fleet can be called only with a stretch, and to talk about their military use only under torture or sniffing hallucinogenic mushrooms. Six years after the hydrological revolution, Ukraine wondered how it could withstand the “Russian aggressor” at sea with this floating garbage? And finally, I decided.
All hope is in the West. Britain will help us
In mid-August, British Defense Secretary Robert Ben Lobban Wallace visited the Ukrainian capital. The time of the visit could surprise - mid-August, the height of vacations for diplomats and officials. But there were reasons for haste. The representative of Foggy Albion was in a hurry on the eve of Zelensky's planned official visit to London to initial a document aimed at reviving the Ukrainian Navy with the participation of the British side. Why he met with his colleague, the head of the Ukrainian military department Andriy Taran and the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Ruslan Khomchak, at which they discussed steps to ensure security in eastern Ukraine and the Azov-Black Sea region, as well as issues of Euro-Atlantic integration and “the maximum use of new tools of defense and military cooperation, which Ukraine received with the acquisition of NATO partner status with expanded capabilities ”.
The result of this visit was the signing on October 7 in London by the Minister of Defense of Ukraine and the Secretary of State for Defense of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (this is the official title of Wallace) in the presence of President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy of the Memorandum on strengthening cooperation in military and militarytechnical spheres between Ukraine and UK. According to which Britain undertakes to re-equip the Ukrainian Navy with modern missile boats of its own design in the amount of 8 pieces, and 6 out of 8 boats will be produced at Ukrainian production facilities with the involvement of British specialists. The boats will be equipped with 8 cruise anti-ship missiles, compatible with NATO standards (later they can be replaced with the Ukrainian-made Neptune anti-ship missiles). These boats, upon receipt, will have to cover all the needs of the Ukrainian Navy for ships of this class in the Black and Azov Seas.
At the same time, the first two hulls will be manufactured at a British shipyard with the participation of specialists from a Ukrainian manufacturing enterprise (it must be determined by the government), during which the Ukrainians will learn from the experience of their British colleagues. In the future, all production - from assembling hulls to equipping ships with weapons, will take place in Ukraine, at a shipyard that the government will choose and agree with the British side. For this project, the British Export Credit Agency opens a credit line in the amount of 1,25 billion pounds sterling ($ 1,6 billion at the current exchange rate) with a maturity of 10 years. The funds will also go to the construction of port infrastructure for basing these ships in Ochakov and Berdyansk.
In this whole story, two points are most revealing. First, this is the amount of the contract, the maximum possible under British law to provide third countries - 1,25 billion pounds, with a grace period of 10 years. To understand the significance of these funds, this is almost half the cost of the newest English aircraft carrier of Her Royal Majesty's Fleet "Prince of Wales" (HMS "Prince of Wales"), launched in 2019. Given the unsatisfactory state of its own navy, this money for Britain would not be superfluous, but it allocates it for the military needs of Ukraine. What is it for? The British have never suffered from charity. The answer is simple - this money is simply passed through another department. It was not for nothing that Vova wiped his pants in the office of the MI6 director. You can see the results with your own eyes. For comparison, the United States has allocated a similar amount ($ 1,5 billion) to Ukraine for military needs in all the years since the hydrological revolution, starting in 2014.
И second the moment to which you need to pay attention is the localization of the project. Our mass media have already hurried to tell that the cunning British, allocating this money, actually finance themselves, paying for the construction of these ships by their workers. However, it is not. These cunning Americans, allocating money for military needs for the 404 country, financed themselves, while the money did not even leave American jurisdiction, and the non-brothers, receiving outdated weapons, also fell on interest on the loan. The British, on the other hand, are doing a noble thing: 6 out of 8 missile boats will be built at Ukrainian shipbuilding facilities by local forces with the involvement of British specialists. Localization of the project 75%.
For comparison, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine recently concluded a similar agreement with France on the supply of patrol boats for the Border Service, and according to which 25% of the ships from the order package will be built in Ukraine. And here we are talking about 75% of the ships of localized production! Part of the money is provided for the development of the infrastructure of two naval bases for these ships (in Ochakov on the Black Sea and in Berdyansk on the Azov Sea), because the Odessa Southern Naval Base of the Ukrainian Navy cannot accept such a number of ships physically. The built bases, equipped according to all NATO standards, will also be able to receive allied ships (for which, in fact, they are being built). A British loan makes it possible to cover these costs, because the cost of the missile boats themselves fluctuates between $ 60-80 million per unit. In addition, "Britain will lead the Naval Training Initiative for the Ukrainian Navy, which kicks off in September." This will be a multinational effort to empower Ukrainian sailors, ”the UK embassy said, commenting on the visit of its minister to Kiev.
RTOs and corvettes
The boats are available in several configurations - depending on size, tonnage, weapons, etc. The British are waiting for the details of these parameters from Ukraine. Ukraine expects, from the mouth of its authorized representative, for a boat 50 meters long, speed 30-50 knots, tonnage up to 400 tons with weapons and basic ammunition of 8 cruise anti-ship missiles (British or Swedish production), which can later be replaced with Ukrainian sea-based "Neptunes" (which do not exist yet!).
The degree of corruption of the 404 country can only be judged by the fact that their own missile boats, which they planned to produce instead of the British, based on the 30-year-old Soviet MRK (small missile ship) of Project 1234 "Groza", which they were going to upgrade to modern standards, even without missile weapons, according to their calculations, should have exceeded the amount of $ 110 million. And with missiles, he would have cost half a corvette of Project 58250.
By the way, the idea of building corvettes of this class does not turn out for Ukraine, by 2023 it plans to complete and launch the head of them, "Vladimir the Great". The ships of the project 58250, although they are called corvettes, are closer in characteristics to light frigates.
With a length of 112 m, a width of 13,5 m and a draft of 5,6 m, their planned displacement is expected to be about 2650 tons. The crew will consist of 110 people, sailing autonomy - 30 days. The ship, thanks to the hull lines, hidden weapons and equipment, will be invisible to radars (such as "stealth"). It will be equipped with the latest Ukrainian radar, sonar system and communications complex. From weapons on it are planned anti-ship and anti-aircraft missiles (including the latest anti-ship systems "Neptune"), torpedoes and three gun mounts, which will allow it to perform a wide range of missions to combat surface, air and underwater targets. In total, until 2028, Ukraine plans to build 4 corvettes of this series, each worth $ 192 million (according to the Cabinet of Ministers decree No. 879 dated November 22.11.2019, 32, UAH 1,5 billion is provided for this). Moreover, the cost of Ukrainian corvettes will be 4 times cheaper than that of their partners in the Black Sea basin of Romania and Bulgaria, which also plan to build XNUMX such ships.
The existing status quo through the eyes of Ukrainian "colleagues"
But at the moment the situation through the eyes of the Ukrainian military department is not developing in the best way. "Russia's aggression against Ukraine in Donbass and the occupation of Crimea" sharply raised the issue of the fleet. In fact, the country was left without naval forces, because most of them were captured by the "aggressor" in the Crimea, the remaining ships are morally and physically obsolete. However, the crew, for all their importance, is only part of the problem. A significant part of the infrastructure, port and other facilities, including repair plants, remained in Crimea. Almost all of the Black Sea and Azov coasts of Ukraine, and this is about 1700 km, were left without naval cover.
A particularly difficult situation has developed in the Sea of Azov. Part of the Ukrainian coastline there is controlled by a puppet regime (this is the version of the Ukrainian side) in Donetsk. It comes close to important for economics Cities of Ukraine - Mariupol and Berdyansk. In addition, Russia transferred several dozen warships to the Sea of Azov, which allows it to violate with impunity the agreements on the division of the sea and the conduct of economic activities in it, concluded in the past. All this has sharply raised the question of the actual creation of a new fleet, coastal infrastructure and the supply of appropriate missile weapons systems. Both Ukrainian and imported.
Construction strategy and tasks of the Ukrainian Navy
But the issue of creating a fleet is connected not only with the financial and industrial capabilities of the state. First of all, there should be an understanding of what kind of fleet Ukraine needs. Unlike Moscow, Kiev has no imperial ambitions to enter the world ocean. For a regional state, it is necessary to have a fleet to ensure the inviolability of territorial waters, the economic zone within the contractual borders and protection from attack, as well as patrolling trade routes, combating the mine threat and destroying ships of the types that Russia has in the Black Sea.
In connection with the above, in the strategy of the Navy of the Armed Forces of Ukraine since 2019, the stake has been made on the creation of a "mosquito fleet". The advantage of these ships over large ships is the swiftness and surprise of action, the possibility of redeployment by land and the ability to operate on rivers. Such a fleet will be sufficient for coastal defense, control of territorial waters and economic zones. Sweden and Norway follow a similar strategy. It was obvious that Ukraine could not solve this problem on its own, even having the necessary shipbuilding capacities. Therefore, she had to rely only on the help of the West.
According to the developed "mosquito" strategy to ensure its own security, Ukraine needs to have three types of ships. First - these are ships that provide patrolling, protection and escort of ships. At least 6-8 of these boats are capable of protecting ports, Zmeiny Island and the Dzharylgach region. Second type - fast amphibious attack boats, capable of responding to the possibility of landing DRGs, adapted to operate on sandy spits with the delivery of 15-20 marines to the required area. You need 16 of them. The third type - these are missile boats capable of preventing a possible landing. They need about 8 units, with an ammunition load of up to 8 missiles.
The United States helped Ukraine to get the first two types of "mosquitoes". These are Island and Mark VI class boats. In 2018, the United States transferred two Island-class patrol boats to the Navy. Georgia received two similar ones two years earlier. And in the summer of this year, the US State Department approved the sale of 16 ultra-modern Mark VI patrol boats (developments in 2015, previously not supplied to anyone except Ukraine, were developed exclusively for their own needs). Initially, 14 such boats will be delivered and two more can be purchased if necessary.
Information: The Mark VI boats are a versatile platform that can be used to mount weapons and equipment in several directions, ranging from the patrol function to the landing of sabotage forces near the enemy's coast, equipment for searching and destroying mines, and short-range missile systems to destroy the enemy.
The agreement with the British on missile boats completely covers the "mosquito" needs of the fleet. It should be understood that the decision to manufacture weapons of this class (small missile corvettes) is political. For many years it determines the vector of development of the Ukrainian Naval Forces. The choice of an ally in the face of the Kingdom of Windsor holds great promise for Ukraine and will help to overcome many problems, including technical ones.
From the practice of countries whose threats and types of fleets are closer to us, such as Sweden and Norway, small missile boats are one of the best options for meeting existing needs. They allow not only to protect the coastal 12 miles, but also to advance further into the Black Sea.
- stated in the Ukrainian military department, which took the most direct part in the development of the strategy of the Ukrainian Navy.
The world today has entered another scientific and technological revolution, its direction is small unmanned systems, experts dream of "swarms" of drones that suddenly appear from all sides and beat traditional monsters. "Mosquito" fleet, albeit not unmanned yet, is one of this trend. In the end, our tasks at sea are not a global demonstration, but patrolling trade routes, combating the mine threat, and also destroying ships of the types that the Russian Federation has in the Black Sea. Moreover, it must be done quickly, cheaply and in large quantities. There is simply no other solution than "mosquitoes" for different purposes - neither technically nor financially
- Andrey Klimenko, editor-in-chief of Blackseanews, shared this conclusion.
From all of the above, it can be stated that, based on the adopted strategy of the Ukrainian Navy, Ukraine is more likely preparing to defend its own maritime borders than to attack the Russian Federation from the sea. This does not remove the problems of the Russian Federation in Azov, where it does not have a small-tonnage fleet to confront the Ukrainian Navy in shallow water.
And to all Ukrainians, raving about a military campaign against Russia, dreaming of reaching at least the Urals, I suggest already starting to stock up on breadcrumbs and warm clothes, because, of course, you can get there, but only in a column of prisoners of war.