UDC for the Russian Navy: Necessity or Blind Imitation?

Troika UDC of the Mistral type. The receipt of these French ships by Russia was prevented policy

The network community is seething: the unexpected laying of two new ships for our Navy caused a real storm of discussions, and, alas, they are rather negative - the leadership of the fleet is actively criticized for building "unarmed troughs", suitable, in the opinion of many, only "for colonial expeditions." ...

Of course, this point of view is absolutely unfair, and it was born largely due to banal illiteracy - here it is worth noting that the UDC as a class in our fleet was previously absent, and all "aircraft carrier" causes a sharp rejection and distrust - unfortunately, experience exploitation of "Admiral Kuznetsov" was not very successful, and all Soviet achievements in this area for many remain little more than little-known myths of the past.

In order to rectify the situation and show the readers exactly how the universal amphibious assault ships are useful for the Russian Navy, I propose to start with a brief explanation that will give us an understanding of what kind of beast we are dealing with; When opponents of any aircraft-carrying ships appeal to their "uselessness", they should ask themselves a reasonable question - do our armed forces generally need aviation, or can we get by with the notorious missiles of all shapes and sizes?

Of course, a proposal of this kind looks like an absurdity, but for some reason it looks quite logical in matters of the fleet - of course, only from the point of view of its opponents. When criticizing aircraft carriers and helicopter carriers, one should never forget that these are mobile take-off pads and airfields, which are vital for any naval operations - unfortunately, this simple fact remains beyond the understanding of all kinds of critics.

So, let us once again highlight the main thesis: an aircraft-carrying ship is the possibility of operational deployment of our fleet's aviation on a mobile take-off site, which is the universal amphibious assault ships laid down in Kerch.

From this we can draw the following conclusion: the combat power and combat value of such a ship depends entirely on its air group. The variation of based aircraft gives us the ability to vary the capabilities of the helicopter carrier itself: from anti-submarine to attack. In the case of the ships of the 23900 project, it is precisely this functionality that we are talking about: despite the embarrassing word "landing", we first of all have a combat unit capable of providing fire cover with assault helicopters or fighting enemy submarines, which, of course, can at times to expand the capabilities of our Navy.

At the moment, attack Ka-52K and anti-submarine Ka-27 in the amount of 16 pieces are declared as the main types of helicopters based on UDC; it was also repeatedly mentioned about the possible basing of the UAV - a similar news can not but rejoice, because the presence of unmanned aircraft will significantly expand the reconnaissance and patrol capabilities of the ship.

Ka-52K can serve as a carrier of both anti-ship and cruise missiles

Of course, the potential functionality of the UDC is even more extensive: here it is not worth both to sweep aside the Soviet experience of using the Ka-25Ts AWACS helicopters, and to forget about the presence of the Kh-52 cruise anti-ship missiles in the Ka-35K arsenal - all this dramatically expands the scope of the helicopter carrier's activities in the sea. , which is perfectly confirmed by the experience of the British-American forces in 1991, when a Coalition Navy helicopter detachment almost completely destroyed the retreating forces of the Iraqi Navy, using external target designation to guide anti-ship missiles.

Thus, having examined the capabilities of the UDC a little more closely, we will see that the ship is being transformed from an "unarmed trough" into an incredibly useful floating operational base. At a minimum, its functionality can be summarized with a similar list:

- operations to combat sea minefields.
- anti-submarine operations.
- provision of logistics.
- search and rescue operations.
- strikes by anti-ship missiles on surface targets.
- assault helicopter strikes against ground targets.
- providing support for the operations of special forces.
- evacuation and transportation of the wounded.
- evacuation of personnel.
- providing reconnaissance and target designation.
- providing an extensive patrol and control zone by UAV forces.

Thus, a helicopter carrier can become a powerful nucleus of any battle group - and this is especially useful in the light of the small size of the naval personnel of the Russian Navy. Moreover, a vessel of this type can eliminate a number of chronic problems of our fleet, such as, for example, the limited ability to issue target designations to enemy surface forces; close the gap in weak mine action equipment and reinforce anti-aircraft weapons in any potentially threatening direction.

Of course, a helicopter carrier cannot be viewed from the standpoint of "absolute weapon" - it is an extremely useful multifunctional ship, but not a superweapon that can dramatically change the strategic balance of forces. The UDC can be viewed as a symbol of the revival of our fleet, and the revival of a healthy one, devoid of meaningless concepts and excesses - we will finally see a large modern ship capable of ensuring the combat stability of the Russian Navy in any theater of naval combat operations; a ship capable of operating both in the near and in the far sea zone, which is critically important for the operational capabilities of the Navy: tactical landings, hunting for enemy SSBNs, providing special operations and displaying the flag off foreign shores - and this is only a small part of the functions that will be taken on our helicopter-carrying ships.

However, it is worth adding a fly in the ointment - unfortunately, at the moment Russia has serious difficulties associated with the creation of naval air groups; First of all, it is worth mentioning the very uncertain situation with domestic marine multipurpose helicopters: at the moment there is no modern helicopter platform in the country, similar, for example, to the American Sikorsky SH-60 Seahawk - the production of the Ka-27 was discontinued, and the existing machines need serious modernization ... The machines used by the army aviation are unsuitable for basing on the UDC (both size and a number of missing technical features, for example, folding blades, affect) - and without a multipurpose helicopter, the capabilities of the ship itself are seriously reduced. Separately, it is also worth mentioning that our naval pilots have extremely modest practice and flying time, and conceptually, the Russian naval aviation is in serious decline - all these are undoubtedly solvable problems, but their solution will take a lot of time - otherwise, they will be useful. from the presence of universal amphibious ships in the Navy, it will be possible to designate as extremely insignificant.

Certain questions are also raised by the statements about the presence of unmanned aircraft on board the helicopter carrier: unfortunately, we have no information about the type and tasks that will face these machines; conceptually, the use of UAVs is seen primarily as reconnaissance and patrol officers, but the probability of basing the promising S-70 Okhotnik significantly expands the range of use of this type of weapon - up to providing air support for special forces and striking enemy aircraft. However, these fabrications still remain a theory - it remains only to hope that the leadership of the Navy will be able to overcome the inertia of thinking and the traditional Russian distrust of UAVs, allowing the machines to take root on the decks of ships.

It should be noted that at the moment there are real projects of UAV carrier ships. For example, Turkey plans to equip its universal amphibious assault ship TCG "Anadolu" with exceptionally heavy attack drones - within the framework of this concept, the aircraft manufacturer Baykar Makina (famous in the light of recent events for its Bayraktar TB2 and Bayraktar AKINCI) has begun work on a promising vertical takeoff and landing vehicle ...

One way or another, but of completely ready for production and deployment of aircraft for the UDC, Russia has only the Ka-52K helicopter - a machine, of course, amazing, but extremely highly specialized; unfortunately, her outstanding, but exclusively percussion functions severely limit the capabilities of the ships themselves. However, "Katran" is absolutely indispensable for supporting tactical landings, fighting small enemy ships (for example, missile or patrol boats) and as a carrier of anti-ship missiles.

One cannot fail to mention the "highlight" of our military-industrial complex - the Ka-31 radar patrol helicopter. This machine has a positive operational experience both in the Russian Navy and in the naval forces of India and China; in addition, it is a ready-made and mass-produced sample that can incredibly expand the capabilities of our helicopter carriers in the absence of carrier-based AWACS aircraft and a serious shortage of their ground-based “colleagues”.

Helicopter AWACS Ka-31 - the future "sharp eye" of our helicopter formations

In the light of the data known to us, it remains to be hoped that by the time our helicopter carriers are put into operation, the problems with filling the air group will be resolved; As the most practical solution, the production of modernized Ka-27 helicopters literally suggests itself, which should form the backbone of Russian carrier-based aviation - otherwise, the range of useful functionality of Project 23900 ships will be seriously limited exclusively by strike missions and naval tactical assault forces.

For the rest, of course, the leadership of the Navy acted extremely wisely - it is impossible to create a powerful and functional navy without building its core; It is precisely such a core that the UDC of project 23900 will become - the key combat units around which it will be possible to form strike groups for operations in the far sea zone - our naval forces will be able to operate far from the sea borders and the coast of Russia, conducting not only defensive military operations, but and operating on the sea communications of a possible enemy.
  • Author:
  • Used photographs: French navy, Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation
Dear reader, to leave comments on the publication, you must sign in.
  1. The comment was deleted.
  2. Bulanov Offline Bulanov
    Bulanov (Vladimir) 11 March 2021 09: 17
    The Russian Federation needs helicopter carriers in the Black Sea, first of all, to pacify its neighbors in this sea. After completing this task, new ones will appear.
  3. wolf46 Offline wolf46
    wolf46 11 March 2021 10: 49
    For anyone following this topic a bit, the article is nothing new.
    1. Andrey V. Offline Andrey V.
      Andrey V. (Andrei) 11 March 2021 13: 10
      Undoubtedly, you are right - there are no revelations here for professionals and simply those who are well versed in naval topics.

      However, for the general public, the exact opposite is true - the information space is overflowing with false data about the capabilities and tasks of the UDC, and indeed of any aircraft carrying ships in general.

      This article is a short and accessible explanation for those who do not understand the topic, but want to isolate the truth from the "information noise" that reigns around project 23900 - unfortunately, he has a lot of critics (and sometimes illiterate ones), and this affects on public lighting of ships.
  4. Boa kaa Offline Boa kaa
    Boa kaa (Alexander) 11 March 2021 19: 15
    Quote: wolf46
    the article is nothing new.

    Well, don't tell me, my friend! bully
    Author ... damn it, - Manilov from the Navy!
    Well, you have to think about it: UDC (!) - the core of the fleet operating on foreign shores! on enemy communications !!!
    Where there are SSGNs before him! And the most important thing is that the author is not even embarrassed that, although it is a "universal", it is still a landing "ship"! And it is universal in terms of its amphibious landing capabilities, which is not the same in terms of anti-aircraft defense / air defense / anti-missile defense / against NK capabilities!
    Because the helicopter (no matter how Aligator / Katran it is!) Will be weak against a deck like FA-18E ... or the same Penguin. Therefore, dragging KUG on the enemy's communications with such a weight on his feet is tantamount to suicide! Here you will not have to think about cruising, but about how to protect this complex engineering hydraulic product called a HIGH-BOARD surface ship! (The dream of any PKR and PAB !!!)
    1. Andrey V. Offline Andrey V.
      Andrey V. (Andrei) 12 March 2021 15: 34
      I'm afraid, dear Boa, you are making the same logical mistake as most people who criticize the UDC)

      Firstly, you should not compare the functionality of a helicopter carrier and an aircraft carrier - respectively, opposing helicopters and airplanes in battle.

      The text quite specifically describes the tasks that a helicopter carrier's air wing is capable of performing - and, as you can see, air battles with fighters are not included in them.

      Secondly, unfortunately, you misunderstand the essence of the conceptual application of carrier-based aircraft carriers - whether consciously or not, but you "throw out" the UDC from the naval group, and begin to consider it in isolation from the escort, respectively, trying to load the ship of this class absolutely tasks unusual for him.

      In the case of performing tasks in the DMZ, the helicopter carrier will indeed play the role of the nucleus of the ship's group - it is its functionality (in particular, the provision of the control center, PLO and RLO) that will make it possible to organize the effective actions of the formation. Of course, the carrier of carrier-based helicopters in itself is not a vessel capable of providing strike missions - however, it can significantly expand and strengthen the capabilities of the group assigned to it.
  5. boriz Offline boriz
    boriz (boriz) 11 March 2021 23: 53
    The ship is very useful in anticipating future wars. There will be no global conflicts. The world will gradually be divided into zones of responsibility and the countries-heads of the zones will wage local conflicts with those countries within the zone who do not understand for good. They will "build relationships" by all available methods. If necessary, help the leaders of neighboring zones. Since the leader will have an overwhelming superiority inside the zone, the dull ones will first be subjected to precision weapon strikes, and then a "limited contingent" will be deployed for the final restoration of order. This is where these ships will come in handy.
  6. IMHO Offline IMHO
    IMHO (nikitoss) 13 March 2021 13: 35
    In my opinion, the presence of such ships in our Navy is better than their absence. The author is well done, he painted everything correctly. And the "smartest" may not read. It was interesting to me. Thank. Is there any Ka-29 in the right amount? It is not audible that the air group was preparing the corresponding landing.
    1. wolf46 Offline wolf46
      wolf46 13 March 2021 13: 55
      Quote: IMHO
      In my opinion, the presence of such ships in our Navy is better than their absence.

      Here I agree: the project UDC 23900 will include more technical innovations than frigates 22350 (25 ROC?). The construction of helicopter carriers can have a multiplier effect and get off the ground, for example, the project of the new shipborne "Lamprey" helicopter. Also today, there is no alternative to the tortured (more than 12 years old) "Gorshkov" in terms of DMZ ships, except for the repair of old Soviet ships.
    2. Andrey V. Offline Andrey V.
      Andrey V. (Andrei) 13 March 2021 13: 59
      Thank you for your praise!

      About the Ka-29: unfortunately, their production has been stopped, and the number in service with the Navy is extremely limited - less than 30 units. Taking into account the construction time of the UDC, the number of the aircraft fleet of these machines will probably decrease even more - in such conditions, it is no longer necessary to talk about their placement on the ships themselves.

      In the current circumstances, Russia has only one way out - to launch the production of new machines (let it be a modernized old model, but it will be!) - otherwise the air group of our UDC will have extremely limited capabilities.

      Moreover, it should be a modular and multifunctional deck helicopter, like the American Sea Hawk - with optoelectronic turrets, the ability to use trawls, anti-ship missiles and anti-submarine equipment. This will allow both to reduce the cost of their construction and expand the export potential - and it definitely exists, given the boom in the construction of carrier-based aircraft carriers.
  7. Boa kaa Offline Boa kaa
    Boa kaa (Alexander) 13 March 2021 14: 39
    Quote: Andrey V.
    You are making the same logical fallacy as most people who criticize UDC

    Andrey, I am not against the UDC. It's still better than nothing.
    I criticize the author's wrong view of the Flagship's place in the KUG.
    Yes, the UDC will be an excellent cabin carrier ... But to run along with ships of the order of 30,0 nodal passages ... well, he is unlikely to be able to. His swing. the opportunity to give a parade of 18,0 knots - and this is something! ... This is - in the first place.
    Second. This is a floating BIG SHIELD SHIELD for RCC firing ... Look at its BOARD! Yes, this is just a dream of any AGSN! A feast for the AGM-84E flock ... And its near zone AIS will repel such an attack ... Well, let's not talk about sad things.
    Thirdly, here you, personally, would take a FAT, who needs to be protected from the brothers, so that his face is not spoiled, because his dad is a big BOS !? And he won't even be able to run away from the hooligans ... well, and he can swing like a primary school student ...
    That's actually all the claims. Not remembering that the Ka-31 in the entire fleet is already (!) 02 units ... This is so, for a meeting with reality.
    1. Andrey V. Offline Andrey V.
      Andrey V. (Andrei) 13 March 2021 19: 19
      Alexander, I understand all your doubts and arguments - by the way, I am the author of the text.

      However, I cannot agree with you for a number of objective reasons.

      Firstly, it is worth noting that absolutely all over the world UDCs look exactly like this - it is a proven optimal design, which is excellent for performing, including combat missions.

      It is impossible to make an aircraft-carrying ship with the size and displacement of a frigate - I am sure you understand this perfectly well without me.

      However, I completely agree with you regarding the declared speed of the project 23900 - 22 knots look pretty bad, and we can only hope that this is false data. However, if you do not consider the UDC as a means of countering the AUG, then this speed is quite enough to perform the entire spectrum of combat missions - again, America's speed is absolutely the same, and this does not prevent the United States from considering its helicopter carriers as full-fledged combat ships ...

      Regarding the Ka-31 ... yes, you are right. Only 2 units - however, 25 of them were built. The finished deck vehicle, tested in production, was tested in the fleets of two extremely capricious countries - India and China. There are no objective problems in ordering a small batch for our UDCs.
  8. weddu Offline weddu
    weddu (Kolya) 16 March 2021 20: 35
    It is surprising that all the media and networks call the helicopter carriers under construction, significantly superior in size and displacement, never similar to the French, their copy or analogue ... That's what is funny and strange ...