I continue a series of articles devoted to the state of affairs of our fleet, in particular its surface part. Start here.
As of the current moment, three of the six Project 11356R ships ordered by the Navy are in service with the Russian Navy. The frigates "Admiral Grigorovich", "Admiral Essen" and "Admiral Makarov" managed to receive Ukrainian engines before the events of 2014 and become part of the Black Sea Fleet (and even check in in Syria). The three remaining frigates of the "Admiral's" series - "Butakov", "Istomin" and "Kornilov" are in various degrees of readiness in conservation at the Kaliningrad shipyard "Yantar". They were originally intended for the Baltic Fleet. But their construction was frozen due to Ukraine's refusal to supply the M7N power plants, previously paid for by Russia, made by the Nikolaev State Enterprise NPKG Zorya-Mashproekt (the unit consists of two DS71 gas turbine engines with a capacity of 8,45 thousand hp and two gas turbine engines DT59 with a capacity of 22 thousand hp, with a total total capacity of 60,9 thousand hp). In view of this, even their possible sale to the Indian Navy was considered.
And what was seen as an unwanted opportunity 7 years ago has come true in 2019. We sell unfinished frigates to India, although we originally built them for ourselves. For those who have forgotten, I will remind you that back in October 2016, during the visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin to India, a Russian-Indian intergovernmental agreement was signed providing for the construction of four Project 11356 frigates for the Indian Navy, two of which were to be built at JSC The Baltic shipyard "Yantar" in Kaliningrad, and the other two at the Indian shipyard (the most likely candidate was the state-owned Hindustan Shipyard Limited (HSL) in Vishakhapatnam). The total cost of the agreement was then estimated at $ 3 billion.However, negotiations on this issue were delayed due to price differences and political problems (which ones, you yourself know). In February 2017, it was reported that the price offer submitted by the Russian side, providing for $ 990 million for two Russian-built frigates, did not suit the customer, because the cost of two Indian-built frigates turned out to be much higher than this amount (although it provided for the transfer of technologies and training of local staff). As a result, as of October 2018, according to the Indian side, the price dropped to $ 2,2 billion (including $ 950 million for Russian-built ships), but the contract for the construction of two frigates in India was never signed.
The situation with Russian-built frigates got off the ground only on August 17, 2017, when the Defense Procurement Commission of the Government of India approved the purchase from Ukraine of two sets of M7N gas turbine units for Project 11356 frigates for $ 76 million, and Ukraine went for it. This greatly simplified the task for us. At that time, it was already finally clear that we would not receive Ukrainian engines (either directly or through gasket firms). The task was set for Rybinsk engine builders to master the production of power plants so necessary for the fleet. But it's easy to say - master the release. In fact, everything turned out to be much more complicated. Even the President of the Russian Federation was forced to admit this during the Direct Line with the Russians in June 2019:
We had to (and we did this as a result of the sanctions imposed on us) to turn on our brains about what and how we need to do in high-tech sectors economics... This forced us to develop even those areas where we previously did not have competence. I spoke about it, now I can repeat it. Suppose we in the RSFSR (in the Soviet Union) and in the new Russia never had a domestic marine engine building, we bought it abroad. It turned out that it is not enough to be able to produce engines in general, and marine engines are a special story, a separate science, a separate branch, a separate competence. We have done this in a few years. We have got our own engines, and not only are not inferior, but in some ways superior to the Western counterparts ...).
Trouble came from not having waited
If Putin himself has already started talking about this, then it is worth highlighting this topic in more detail. The power plant is the heart of the ship, without it it becomes a useless floating piece of metal, no matter what kind of weapon it is stuffed with, easy prey for enemy aircraft and missiles, and a potential mass grave for its crew members. Needless to say, by refusing to supply power plants for the needs of our Navy, our "partners" hit us not even in the back, but in the very heart. The result of this was the suspension of the construction of ships already launched into series (frigates of projects 11356 and 22350 and corvettes of project 20385/20386), which led to a shortage of attack ships equipped with Kalibr cruise missiles performing the assigned task in Syria.
So, in June 2018, there was a period when all that our military contingent had in the SAR was two Varshavyanka diesel-electric submarines, carrying four Caliber-PLs each. To plug this hole, the command had to drive to the Syrian shores even small missile ships (MRK), i.e. send ships of the near sea zone across several seas. This never happened in the days of the USSR, which testified to the most serious crisis that arose in our naval forces, which, as best they could, contributed to our sworn "friends" from Ukraine and "partners" in the West. The Yankees, looking at this, only blinked with happiness.
It got to the point that an extremely unpleasant event took place in November 2018, which the Russian Defense Ministry chose not to advertise, “smoothing the corners” with cautious statements. MRK "Vyshny Volochek" returned home from Syria through the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles in tow. And he received damage not in battle with the enemy. There were further problems with a Chinese-made diesel engine CHD622V20, which they began to put on Russian ships as part of import substitution instead of German MTU 16V4000M90 (the Germans refused us their diesels for the same reason as the Ukrainians). The Chinese comrades had a CHD622V20 engine that seemed to be "almost like a German" (they produced a copy of the outdated German Deutz TBD622 diesel engine under license), but in fact it turned out to be "truly Chinese" in the worst sense of the word. They proved to be more voracious and less reliable, unable to work in forced modes. A number of experts were against such "import substitution", since the "Chinese" had to "chicken" the design of the finished hulls, and also because of the impossibility of such a power plant to provide the speed necessary for a military vessel. There were doubts about their motor resource, which, unfortunately, were fully justified. The experts were not listened to and received 4 more accidents (this time on the ships of the FSB Border Service). As a result, the entire burden of import substitution fell on the Yaroslavl and Kolomna motor builders and the St. Petersburg PJSC "Zvezda".
A feat of constructors
Initially, the frigates of Project 11356 were regularly equipped with the Ukrainian M7N.1E gas turbine unit (gas turbine unit) produced by the Nikolaev GP NPKG Zorya-Mashproekt, consisting of four gas turbines and five gearboxes located in two engine rooms. The cruise compartment housed two turbines of economic progress DS-71 (with a capacity of 8,45 thousand hp) with two PO63 gearboxes and an auxiliary gearbox Р1063, allowing each turbine to work on both propellers at once. The afterburner housed two DT-59.1 full-speed turbines (22 hp each) and two RO58 single-speed gearboxes. At the same time, the entire power plant operated according to the COGOG scheme (with separate operation of the afterburner and main engines) through complex gearboxes on two shafts and two fixed pitch propellers (FPP). The total power of the main power plant (main power plant) was 2 x 30,45 thousand hp. (60,9 thousand hp).
You see how difficult it is. Yaroslavl engine builders have not done anything like this before. The situation was further complicated by the fact that the “admirals”, standing on the stocks of the “Yantar” in varying degrees of readiness, occupied them, thereby slowing down the plant and driving it into losses, which, against the background of the failure of the GPV (State Program of Armaments) 2011-2020 and non-receipt of the fleet of ocean-class ships that he so needed in Syria already looked like flowers. The non-brothers, looking at all this, could only rub their hands, especially since they had already received the money for the undelivered power plants as an advance payment and were not going to return it (let the Russian Federation return Crimea to them first!).
So that you understand the whole horror of the situation, I'll just give the data on the readiness of the ships. "Admiral Butakov", laid down in July 2013, construction frozen, 100% readiness, but no engine, mothballed at the wall. "Admiral Istomin", founded in November 2013, the situation is the same, except in an even less advanced state of construction. There, the installation of many units, especially those related to the engine room, did not even begin. The sixth frigate of the series, Admiral Kornilov, was laid down in December 2013, but the prepared units and structures were mothballed due to the inability to continue construction. No one was in a hurry anywhere - there is no power plant (main power plant) of the ship. The plant is idle. Ukraine rubs its hands gleefully. The Americans are also watching this with ill-concealed joy. Life is good!
The development of its own gas turbine power plants produced by Rybinsk PJSC "UEC-Saturn" as of 2014-15 was in the R&D stage. Yaroslavl engine builders promptly proposed for these purposes to use the all-mode gas turbine unit MA4, which they are developing, consisting of four gas turbine engines M70FRU, with a maximum power of 14 thousand hp, arranged according to the 2 + 2 scheme, with a total total capacity of 56 thousand hp. but taking into account the need for time for the development of gearboxes for it, the production and development of which were entrusted to PJSC "Zvezda" (St. Petersburg), as well as the time to fine-tune the aforementioned engines to the series (so far only bench tests are underway), the installation of Rybinsk power plants on unfinished frigates project 11356R could be expected no earlier than in 2021-22.
This was indirectly confirmed by the President of the United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC) Alexei Rakhmanov, when he said that
on gas turbine engines, we are working in accordance with the plan, the first engines produced by NPO Saturn will receive frigates of project 22350, then corvettes, vessels with a dynamic principle of support, and by mid-2018 they will go to frigates of project 11356.
He said this in December 2016. Those. I translate it to the public - the first domestic gas turbine engines from Rybinsky were to receive heavy frigates of project 22350, then corvettes of project 20386, and only then the turn would come to light frigates of project 11356R.
Therefore, it is sad for us, but the sale of ready-made admirals "Butakov" and "Istomin" to the Indian side was a salvation for us. They have already received their names - "Tushil" and "Tomala", respectively. The money was transferred in full to the USC accounts on September 25, 2019. The fate of the sixth admiral - "Kornilov" is still in question. The frigates, which had been launched before, were again raised on the stocks, work on them has been going on since last year, representatives of the Indian Navy have already visited Kaliningrad to inspect the state of affairs. The timing of the transfer of the finished frigates to the customer is stipulated in the first half of 2024. I am quoting FSMTS (Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation). She also informed about the Indian shipyard, which will master its own production of frigates with the help of our specialists. This is the shipyard of Goa Shipyard Ltd (they are waiting for technical documentation from Severny PKB). As a result, India will receive at least 4 more frigates of Project 11356. How much will we get, question? It is possible that work on them has been curtailed, giving preference to heavy frigates of project 22350M, corvettes of project 20386 and MRK of project 22800 "Karakurt".
In principle, it may not be the worst solution, given that a spoon is expensive for dinner. Light frigates of project 11356R were supposed to solve our problems that arose with the delay in launching heavy frigates of project 22350 into a series. Those, by the way, were also affected by the lack of Ukrainian gas turbine engines, and the Rybinsk engine builders have already solved these problems by creating and testing the M90FR gas turbine engine with a capacity of 27,5 , 10 thousand hp, which, together with the cruising Kolomna diesel engine 49D2018, was supposed to replace the Nikolaev products, which are regularly installed on heavy frigates. This allowed the Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Yuri Borisov to declare back in September XNUMX that Russia had completely overcome its dependence on the supply of Ukrainian engines for warships and this issue was “finally closed”.
Reference: M90FR together with 10D49 cruising diesel engine Kolomna makes up the M55R ship gas turbine unit (KGA). And the diesel-gas turbine power plant of frigates of the "Admiral Gorshkov" type includes two such KGA (ie, the M90FR needs two for the ship).
Let me remind you that the lead frigate of this series "Admiral Gorshkov", like the first serial "Admiral Kasatonov", received their propulsion systems from the Ukrainians even before the events of 2014. But the remaining "admirals" were not lucky, they had to wait for the products of the Rybinsk engine builders, and the first of them, "Admiral Golovko", has already received it (the first KGA was installed on the ship in December last year, the second - in January this year), now the frigate is being prepared to mooring tests.
Another M90FR engine (KGA - MA3), according to Mil.Press FlotProm, is being manufactured at Saturn for the head corvette Daring (later renamed Mercury, project 20386, displacement 3 tons), which is being built in the same place on "Severnaya Verf" (St. Petersburg). However, tests of Russian gas turbine engines on warships will not begin until 400-2021. While the bench tests of the M2022FR are underway. If everything goes according to plan, the third and fourth frigates of Project 90, Admiral Golovko and Admiral Isakov, will be handed over to the fleet in 22350-2022, respectively. Corvette "Daring" is planned to be handed over at the turn of 2023-2021 (laid down on September 22, 28).
Cheap and cheerful!
In connection with the above, the need to continue the series of light frigates becomes doubtful in the context of the tasks they solve in the far sea zone and given their technical backwardness already at the time of creation. The spoon was good for dinner, it was then (in 2010) that we revived our project, which was successful in all respects at the end of the 70s of the last century, the diesel-electric submarines of project 636.3 "Varshavyanka", launching a series of 13 submarines, 8 of which are already in service, having armed their cruise missiles "Caliber-PL" (with ammunition of 4 CR) - as well as the light frigate of Project 11356R with its "Caliber-NK" diesel-electric submarine of Project 636.3 cheaply and angrily conveyed our idea to a potential enemy. In the period from 2014 to 2016, six of them became part of the Separate submarine brigade of the Black Sea Fleet, two more replenished the Submarine Brigade of the Pacific Fleet, clearly identifying the range of our interests (the remaining five diesel-electric submarines will be transferred to the fleet, in particular, four Pacific Fleets and one BF, in the next three years, and the first two are already in 2021-2022, respectively). The light frigate of Project 11356R was called upon to serve the same tasks, but it did not work out - the enemies intervened. Now time is lost, these tasks are still cheap and cheerful, but project 20386 URO corvettes and Project 22350 URO heavy frigates will be solved on a modern technical base.
Therefore, the Indians, who hurried in advance with the purchase of our illiquid products, came in just the right way. Yes, and we have fewer problems, because it is much easier and cheaper to install a power plant in the designated place for it by the project than to “chuck” ready-made “admiral” buildings for new Russian-made power plant. By the way, the Indians have already signed a contract with the Ukrainians for the supply of a large volume of gas turbine equipment produced by Zorya-Mashproekt. The contracts were signed back in September 2019 in Delhi. The range of products supplied includes gas turbine engines, gearboxes and sets of spare parts for them. The equipment is designed for ships of various classes that are part of the Indian Navy. Also, the signed contracts provide for training of Indian specialists in the operation of gas turbines and the provision of engineering support. Let's leave it aside that the cunning Ukrainians actually sold the same engines twice (from the Russian Federation they received 2 billion rubles as an advance payment for them even before the Maidan, which the acting president Turchynov refused to give away, like this - neither GTU, no money and nothing, they can do anything!).
The appearance of these ships was supposed to expand the capabilities of the Russian Navy in the Mediterranean, Central and North Atlantic, as well as in the Arctic zone, and expand the capabilities of the Indian Navy in the Indian and adjacent oceans. These are the vicissitudes of fate.
I have to put an end to this. But the story doesn't end there. The end of the story is in the next article.