I continue a series of articles devoted to the state of affairs in our Navy (in particular, in its surface component). IN the first part we examined the claims of naval specialists to the breakthrough project of the Almaz Central Marine Design Bureau - a promising multipurpose attack corvette URO for the far sea zone of project 20386.
Here we will summarize and try to protect the Supreme Naval Leadership from undeserved attacks, as well as discuss some more interesting problems.
ASW problems, modernization and other global problems
We finished the last part on the problems of ASW (anti-submarine defense), and we will start with it. My opponents, as a reproach to the High Naval Command, put forward claims that the project 20386 they criticized was advancing to the detriment of the old project 20380, which could solve the long-standing problems with anti-submarines in all 4 of our fleets, caused by the exhaustion of the resource of the MPK park. (small anti-submarine ships), and this is not done for the sake of someone's selfish interests (whose exactly, I will say below), and this is, if not a crime, then a mistake.
My answer is that no one forgot the problem of ASW, and the 20380 series will be continued taking into account all the necessary upgrades and brought up to 20385 units, taking into account the project 20, which will cover the needs of ASW in the areas where our nuclear submarines are deployed. No one discounts the aging of the Project 1124M IPC fleet, which are responsible for covering the areas of alert for ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs), which are a critical component of the Nuclear Deterrence Forces (SNF), and in the event of a missed nuclear strike from the United States (which is impossible exclude), these submarines will be the only means of retaliation against the United States, since other components of the strategic nuclear forces risk not surviving a massive missile strike by the enemy.
Experts making claims to the Supreme Naval Command, apparently, from their captain's bridges do not see all the problems facing the Navy. They seem to forget that we are still reaping the fruits of the 90s of the last century, when we ruined and disposed of 55% of our surface fleet with our own hands, even before the end of the service life, retaining only the submarine (and even then partially). The naval design bureaus and the military shipbuilding industry only miraculously survived, thanks solely to Chinese, Indian, Vietnamese and Algerian contracts. Having succumbed to the charm and false promises of the West and lacking funds for the maintenance of the fleet (and the fleet is a very expensive pleasure!), We put ourselves in a position where every little pot-bellied thing began to talk to us through his lips, putting his dirty shoe on our throat and via policy the gunboat began to dictate their terms to us. The coming to power of Putin did not immediately, but radically changed this situation. The shoe was removed from the throat, but they still cannot believe that we are not joking. Russia has simply cyclopean difficulties in rebuilding its surface fleet (with a submarine, thank God, not everything is so bad). It was easy to fall apart, thanks to Boris Nikolayevich Yeltsin, it was incredibly difficult to restore. There is a sorely lack of money for everything. Therefore, we started with corvettes and RTOs, because even large numbers of frigates are beyond our means to build. But the turn will come to them, as well as to destroyers and heavy cruisers. Not immediately, of course (we cannot keep up with China in this matter).
Therefore, we are building our ships, taking into account their possible subsequent modernization. This can be seen already on a series of corvettes of projects 20380/20385/20386. The modular principle of their architecture allows, during the construction of new and modernization of existing ships, to install new systems of weapons and electronic weapons on them, which reduces production costs and provides a high modernization potential during the minimum 30-year life cycle of the ship (which is extended after overhaul). This principle was already implemented on the 20380 project, when, starting from the second building (the first serial and subsequent), changes were made to the project. Thus, the Kortik-M air defense missile system was replaced with a new medium-range Redut air defense missile system with vertical launch systems (12 cells - 3 modules of 4 cells each), and from the eighth building the 3S24 Uranus anti-ship complex will be replaced with Onyx "Or" Caliber "also with UVP - UKSK 3S14. Starting from the ninth hull, a new foremast is installed on the ships of project 20380, structurally similar to that installed on ships of project 20385. On the surface of such a structure, there will be three antenna blades of the air defense missile system. Project 20385 relative to the eighth corps of project 20380 also underwent changes that increased its armament, in addition to the UKSK 3S14 with its family of missiles for various purposes ("Caliber-NK", "Onyx", "Zircon"), it also received an additional module for 4 cells of the SAM " Redoubt ", now he has 16 of them (4 x 4 instead of 3 x 4 on the project 20380). As a result, the corvettes of this family have turned out to be the most innovative and technically advanced ships of our Navy. The modular principle has turned them into a kind of transformer ships, when each subsequent ship may differ from the previous one, depending on the tasks facing it.
If we summarize the claims of military experts to the ill-fated project 20386, which they characterize as a concentration of many absurdities with the prefixes "over-", "under-" and "over-", then they boil down to the following: 1) oversize (3400 tons full.) ; 2) under-equipment (standard anti-ship missile system - "Uranus", weak hydroacoustics); 3) "overload" of the precious impenetrable volume of the hull by the under-deck helicopter hangar; 4) overcomplicated main power plant ("with partial electromotion"); 5) excessive cost of construction (close to the cost of the frigate pr. 22350); 6) excessive cost and complexity of operation (associated with the maintenance of additional modules with service personnel); 7) extreme ugliness of appearance; 8) overload with innovations, the percentage of which makes the launch of the project in series before the completion of comprehensive tests and pilot operation of the lead ship a pure adventure.
I tried to partially answer all these questions and close some of the claims. Regarding the ugliness of the project 20386, you know, this is not for everybody (for me, the American new destroyer "Zumwalt" is a handsome man). The rest of the claims will be closed by the operation and service and combat activities of the prototype, which is now only preparing for launching (scheduled for May 2021), and will be able to join the Federation Council only by the end of 2022 (if all goes well, the transfer to the customer is scheduled for December) ... The fact that my personal private opinion coincides with the opinion of the Supreme leadership of the Russian Navy was directly confirmed by Rear Admiral Vladimir Tryapichnikov, Head of the Department of Shipbuilding, Armament and Operation of the Navy, who back in May 2019 at the ceremony of launching the minesweeper "Vladimir Yemelyanov" of the project 12700 (code "Alexandrite") officially announced that the corvettes of the project 20386 will be able to fully replace the frigates of the project 11356 as part of the Russian Navy.
Most of the military experts who criticize the Supreme Naval Leadership repeat the well-known mistake of the battalion commander criticizing the front commander for his erroneous and even criminal, from the battalion's point of view, actions, because the whole picture of the battle is not visible from their captain's bridges. From their point of view, the commander of a fleet or squadron makes a mistake, but they absolutely do not have control of the general situation, not only in the entire World geopolitical ocean, but even in one separate water area, in one single theater of operations (it is not always visible from the trench on the front end) what is visible from the command post of the front commander). Below we will talk about the theater, the very one - of military operations and analyze the "mistakes" of the Commander-in-Chief.
Revival of the domestic fleet
As I said above, in the 90s, our Navy (especially its surface part) was slowly dying. The ships were scrapped, without even waiting for the end of their service life, some of the mortgaged hulls were cut into metal right on the stocks. We reaped the fruits of the reign of the unforgettable Boris Nikolayevich and his flirtation with the West. Then the majority of naval design bureaus due to the lack of state. funding and government orders, so as not to starve to death, they were forced to reorient themselves to the foreign market and thanks to foreign orders they were able to survive and preserve the main thing - the design core of their labor collectives. Therefore, it was at that time that many projects of ships and boats appeared, specially designed for delivery outside the Russian Federation (mainly ships of the 2nd, 3rd and even 4th rank).
It was these promising developments that served as the basis for creating a corvette project, or then it was called a small patrol ship BMZ (near sea zone), a tender for which was announced by the Ministry of Defense for the needs of the Navy. This became the point of revival of our surface naval forces (we still somehow supported the strategic submarine during the EBN). It was 1999, you remember who came to power in the Kremlin.
The leading design bureaus of Russia took part in the competition. As a result of the competitive consideration of the works, the Almaz TsMKB (General Director / General Designer A. A. Shlyakhtenko) was recognized as the winner of the tender, which proposed 7 options for solving the task at once for consideration by the commission. So in 2001, our first surface ship appeared for the needs of the Russian Navy. It was the same corvette of Project 20380. The first ship specially designed and designed to meet the new tasks set for the Russian Navy by the new political leadership of the country, who replaced the tired Yeltsin. From that moment, according to experts, in fact, the revival of the Russian fleet began, and the corvette became the first ship of the 4th generation maritime zone. Now this is already a series of ships of 29 units, of which 8 are already in service, 5 are under construction and another 16 have been contracted for construction in the coming years by the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation. As a result, by 2028, the corvettes of Project 20380 and its logical continuation of Project 20385 will become the most massive Russian surface warships, the backbone around which our Navy will be built.
Construction wars for access to cut the budget
Therefore, when in 2013 the task of designing a new multipurpose attack corvette of the far sea zone for the needs of the fleet arose, the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation did not even announce an open tender, but immediately gave a solution to this issue to the Almaz Central Design Bureau in order to save money and unify the product with previously created corvettes of projects 20380/20385 (which “Almaz” and its competitors cannot forgive). We are talking, as you understand, about the ill-fated project 20386, about which so many copies have already been broken.
But the customer also presented the requirements for the product to the maximum. The combat functions assigned to it are impressive even for hardened Moremans. According to the prescribed TK, the corvette was supposed to successfully resist the enemy at close and distant approaches to the sea borders of our country, perform shock, escort, military-police and patrol functions, solve air defense and anti-aircraft defense missions, and also provide fire cover for the landing force when landing. We can say that the designers were tasked with integrating into one project the capabilities inherent in ships of different classes, namely: 1) protection of sea communications within a 200-mile economic zones; 2) counteraction to ships of a potential enemy at any distance from the bases of the fleet; 3) ensuring stable air defense of ship formations against strikes by air attack means; 4) search, detection and destruction of submarines in a given area; 5) providing air defense and fire support for amphibious operations.
The task was to create a combat ship with high striking power and at the same time capable of performing patrol and military-police functions. The developers completed the task and even exceeded it (more here). If until recently the Russian Navy maintained the tradition of building different types of ships designed to solve similar tasks, then the designers of the Almaz Central Marine Design Bureau this time went from the opposite - they created a universal ship that could solve diverse tasks on a single platform. Time will tell whether he will go beyond the small series.
And what did the offended competitors offer? And competitors who were late for the distribution of state orders, but did not accept this state of affairs, continued to overwhelm the Ministry of Defense with their proposals, doomedly realizing that if the decision had already been made and the palm had already been given to the Almaz Central Design Bureau, then, following the principles of unification of the production of manufactured products, they will most likely be refused. But he who does not take risks does not drink champagne! Moreover, the initiative is not punishable.
What exactly the competitors offered, and how it all ended for them, you will already find out in the next part. Do not miss. Not saying goodbye.