Naval aviation of the Russian Navy was on the verge of collapse

Recently, the military-political leadership of Russia has been making certain efforts to revive the power of the state in key naval theaters. Despite the serial construction of ships in the near and far sea zone, so far the results of these efforts are largely unclear: the Russian Navy is completely inferior in terms of the quantitative indicators of the ship's personnel to any of its potential adversaries (in isolated theaters of operations - Japan, China, Turkey outside the NATO bloc; the United States with satellites at all possible theaters).

Eliminating the acute shortage of large warships will require many years, if not decades, of rhythmic financing of the Navy and strict control of the implementation of shipbuilding programs by the state. However, the question arises: what if a potential adversary does not wait for the revival of the Russian Navy, but decides to take advantage of its current obvious weakness?

And the first thing that suggests itself is aviation. Clarification - Naval Aviation (MA) of the Navy. Despite the fact that in modern Russia the main strike force at sea is considered to be the submarine fleet (primarily multipurpose SSGNs), all major naval powers (as well as the USSR earlier) consider naval aviation, equipped with multifunctional fighters with weapons class "air-to-surface", as well as having very broad capabilities in the organization of air defense and anti-aircraft missile defense of ship formations and naval bases (naval base). Considering the problems with the construction of modern MPLARK ("Sevmash" over the past decade with great difficulty handed over only two submarines of project 885 / M, and the modernization programs of projects 971 and 949A have no doubt already failed), and the need to cover their deployment with surface ships, precisely for the expense of naval aviation could quickly and in many ways compensate for the critical shortcomings of the Russian Navy.

However, it is also no secret to anyone that the Russian Navy's MA for many years has had an extremely small number of aircraft of all types, an insufficient degree of pilot training and, for these reasons, can perform the tasks assigned to it only conditionally. When preparing the GPV for 2011-2020, it would seem that the country's leadership took into account the described situation and realized the need to urgently restore the potential of the Navy MA, planning to purchase 24 MiG-29K / KUB carrier-based fighters, more than 60 units. multipurpose fighters Su-30SM, as well as modernization of the entire fleet of anti-submarine aircraft (over 20 units of Tu-142, at least 30 units of Il-38 and up to 70 units of Ka-27PL). In addition, the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation announced plans to dramatically increase the flight rates among sea pilots, who were much inferior to those of their colleagues from the Air Force (VKS). The implementation of these plans, of course, would not have turned the Navy MA into a formidable combat force, but it would have made it possible to solve basic defensive tasks near the naval base at a satisfactory level. However, these were all just plans ...

Long-range anti-submarine aircraft Tu-142MK

What do we have in fact

And in fact, over a ten-year period of time, 24 MiG-29K / KUB fighters were transferred to the naval aviation (one of them was lost), 28 Su-30SM fighters, 7 units. modernized IL-38N Novella and a little less than 30 units. upgraded Ka-27M. Such an insignificant replenishment over a very long period of time in itself begins to raise doubts as to whether the country's leadership is at all interested at the moment in preserving the MA of the Navy as such. This question involuntarily arises when looking at the future: by 2025, under existing contracts, naval aviation will receive, at best, 21 Su-30SM2 fighters (if they are not transferred in whole or in part to the Aerospace Forces) and a number of upgraded Ka-27Ms. At the same time, there are absolutely no plans for the supply of new or modernization of old anti-submarine aircraft. In terms of auxiliary aviation, it is planned to supply 6 units. amphibians Be-200 in rescue and fire-fighting modifications (by the way, there are reasonable doubts about the implementation of these plans, taking into account the previous experience of Be-200 production). And that's it! Is it worth mentioning that such “generous gifts” will have to be “smeared” with a thin layer over four fleets ...

Hence, it will not be a great exaggeration to say that by 2025 the anti-submarine aviation of the MA of the Navy will actually remain entirely represented only by Ka-27M helicopters with very mediocre combat capabilities. The entire fleet of Soviet-built aircraft - Tu-142 and Il-38 will simply deplete (and in fact have already worked out) its resource, will exceed the maximum service life and will be subject to write-off. Several modernized Il-38Ns can be operated until the early 2030s, but their number and search capabilities will be simply ridiculous against the background of similar capabilities of NATO, China or Japan (and quite possibly Turkey alone) by that time.

The situation will be somewhat better in the land-based fighter component of the Navy's MA, which will probably include up to 50 modern Su-30SM / SM2 machines and a number of Su-27 and MiG-31s. In fact, even now Sukhoi fighters are acting as a "resuscitator" for the aviation of the fleet, allowing at least some degree of seriousness to treat this most important component of the Navy, and in general to believe that "the patient is rather alive than dead." At the same time, carrier-based aircraft will face the uncontested write-off of a small fleet of Su-33s, and the relatively new MiG-29K / KUB, most likely, will finally "go ashore" due to the very vague prospects of our only aircraft-carrying cruiser (this can be judged by the statement of the head of USC A. Rakhmanov dated May 25, 2021).

Pair of Su-30SM naval aviation of the Baltic Fleet

But most of all, it is not even the quantity and condition that causes anxiety. equipment, how much training of pilots MA Navy. The fact that the level of their training is by no means the highest has already been noted above and has never been a secret. However, the data published after the recent incident on May 21, 2021 with the Su-30SM MA fighter of the Black Sea Fleet (probably as an insider) about the raid of its pilots caused confusion in the expert community, if not shock. Pilot-instructor, Lieutenant Colonel O.A. Khomyakov, who is at the same time the chairman of the qualification commission of the flight personnel of the MA Black Sea Fleet, and Major S.V. Dodukh, who is the head of the air fire and tactical training of the 43rd Aviation Regiment of the MA Black Sea Fleet, has a flight time of 15 and 3 hours this year, respectively. For 1st class pilots with such serious ranks, these are frankly ridiculous numbers that are simply ashamed to compare with the raid of pilots of our potential opponents.

It will be especially appropriate to ask the question about the readiness of the Black Sea Fleet fighter aircraft to adequately respond to the threats that came this spring (and by the way, still come) from the Armed Forces of Ukraine with a similar level of training of our pilots. At one time, the published data on the flight of pilots of the Armed Forces of Ukraine for 2016 within 50 hours a year caused a lot of ridicule in the Russian press, but apparently, at least some Russian naval pilots can only envy such numbers.

It is difficult to fully understand why the problems of the Navy MA remain unresolved for such a long time, because they do not require any exorbitant investments: with estimated budget allocations in the range of 300-400 billion rubles and their rational distribution, the Navy could receive qualitatively different opportunities in the form of its own self-sufficient aviation. Under the current scenario of the development of events after 2025, the aviation of the fleet will have, perhaps, only one reasonable way out - the final disbandment (by analogy with the naval missile-carrying aviation) with the transfer of the remaining aircraft to the Aerospace Forces.
  • Author:
  • Photos used: Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation
Dear reader, to leave comments on the publication, you must sign in.
  1. Bulanov Offline Bulanov
    Bulanov (Vladimir) 26 May 2021 08: 29
    Is it like under Khrushchev, when they decided to replace aviation with missiles?
  2. sgrabik Offline sgrabik
    sgrabik (Sergei) 26 May 2021 09: 32
    All this is very sad !!!
  3. Sergey Latyshev (Serge) 26 May 2021 09: 49
    There are hurray-articles everywhere that we already have Poseidon, Dagger, NGOs, and in general, since we don't have aircraft carriers, then it's all bullshit ...

    Non-allocation of money and non-development of this confirms ...
  4. Sapsan136 Offline Sapsan136
    Sapsan136 (Sapsan136) 26 May 2021 10: 33
    If the fleet is a mess, you need to change the leadership of the fleet and remove frankly stupid or pests from their posts. For a long time, the activities of these (naval commanders) have raised a number of questions that the FSB should be interested in.
    1) So, for example, the newest and most modern MRK of the Gadfly type, armed with the Onik anti-ship missile system, was ditched and decommissioned, while older ships armed with the antediluvian anti-ship missile Malachite remained in service.
    2) Under the pretext of the lack of turbines, they refused to complete the construction of the Mirage frigate, which could greatly strengthen the Russian fleet in terms of ensuring the nuclear submarine is on alert. The ship was supposed to carry solid anti-submarine weapons, from missile-torpedoes Waterfall, Uranium anti-ship missiles and a decent air defense system. Refusing to complete it, they began construction of corvette 20386, and (naval commanders) were not embarrassed that there were no turbines for it, and the price was essentially equal to much more powerful frigates of the 22350 type.
    3) They shout that there is no money, and the money is spent on the construction of 6 useless patrolmen of the Bull type, which are not actually used in the fleet, due to their excessively ridiculous weapons. At the same time, they refused to complete the construction of 2 patrol boats of the Dagestan type, but they could not badly enhance the anti-submarine capabilities of the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Federation, since for Vietnam they were built with a towed GAS, on board there are quite combat-capable 533 mm torpedo tubes, with anti-submarine torpedoes, Uranium anti-ship missiles and anti-aircraft missile systems could be supplied from the naval version of the Pantsir ZRPK. Could have turned out to be quite useful ships, but alas, not with the current leadership of the fleet ... which does not deal with the fleet properly
    4) The issue of upgrading the anti-submarine aviation of the Russian Federation had to be resolved yesterday, especially since the domestic Tu-204 could be made quite a working analogue of the American anti-submarine Poseidon
    1. Alexey Bulin Offline Alexey Bulin
      Alexey Bulin (Alexey Bulin) 1 June 2021 12: 27
      You are absolutely right, but questions should be asked not to the leadership of the Navy, but to the Supreme Commander-in-Chief and the Minister of Defense.
  5. Dukhskrepny Offline Dukhskrepny
    Dukhskrepny (Vasya) 26 May 2021 16: 18
    Yachts of the Guarantor's cronies are more needed
  6. steelmaker Offline steelmaker
    steelmaker 26 May 2021 16: 46
    Great article! Everything is written with specific examples and the conclusions are correct. And the author is rather right, since Serdyukov was put in charge of aviation. By 2025, "horns and legs" will remain from it!
  7. Kofesan Offline Kofesan
    Kofesan (Valery) 26 May 2021 20: 30
    Respect and respect, Artemy Gromov! Against the background of absolutely puppy delight in the style of "Moscow, Kremlin, Putin", the article is like a ray of light in the kingdom of paid propaganda.

    They say that those who are constantly lying to themselves, or pretend to be at work, acquire real, characteristic and identical (or similar) diseases with age ...

    Good luck, Artemy!
  8. Gosha Smirnov Offline Gosha Smirnov
    Gosha Smirnov (Smirnov) 27 May 2021 00: 20
    For the last 120 years (or even more), the Russian-Soviet fleet has always been a lame horse and frankly defective in relation to any enemy, and the truth is that for a land country, not a sea, the fleet is not needed much and is not a priority. ALL the leadership has always danced from this, and therefore there is such a result.
    1. Artemy Gromov Offline Artemy Gromov
      Artemy Gromov (Artemy Gromov) 27 May 2021 08: 00
      As an author, I will comment: after all, by the mid-80s, with all its problems, the USSR Navy was a VERY powerful numerous force, generally balanced, capable of conducting major operations far from its shores. And resources at that time, the fleet received no less ground forces (if not more).
      1. Gosha Smirnov Offline Gosha Smirnov
        Gosha Smirnov (Smirnov) 27 May 2021 22: 20
        Well, yes, well, yes! Powerful in comparison with whom? And the large number does not mean either quality or power. In the USSR, theoretically, by the Second World War there was a very numerous Navy. But in general, with some exceptions, it was ineptly used in the Second World War and showed all its weak Storny in full glory. About half of the destroyed enemy ships were destroyed by the Air Force, and about 15% by minefields, but not by warships. Nothing bothers you? After the Second World War, the main rate was on the nuclear triad and dry troops. Hence, some Sufficiency in financing Yao carriers, including in the Navy.
        1. Artemy Gromov Offline Artemy Gromov
          Artemy Gromov (Artemy Gromov) 28 May 2021 07: 29
          Have you forgotten that the Soviet Navy has had its own air force since 1980? And five MRA divisions (13 missile-carrying regiments) in their composition on the Tu-22M2 / M3? And in terms of anti-submarine defense, for example - there was an entire anti-submarine division on the Northern Fleet. Own satellite constellation with operating ICRC in orbit. Even the US Navy could do little to counter such an armada. And to compare the fleet of the beginning of the Second World War with the Navy of the late USSR is absolutely unreasonable, these are incomparable things. Especially in terms of training, and this was the main problem during the Second World War. So I cannot agree with your assessments. The mere mass production of nuclear TARKRs in parallel with conventional RRC and TAVKRs already suggests that the fleet was allocated as much money as it needed and the Navy did not deny itself anything much. Neither during the Second World War, nor even more so now, the Navy cannot afford anything like this.
          1. Gosha Smirnov Offline Gosha Smirnov
            Gosha Smirnov (Smirnov) 29 May 2021 01: 47
            and you have not forgotten that, in general, I characterized the Ros.-Sov. the fleet for about 120 years and separately identified some periods, in particular the Second World War, during which all the weaknesses of the fleet very clearly emerged, as indicated that a certain conditional sufficiency in financing was achieved later? The air force attached to the fleet, in fact and basically confirms the weaknesses of the main ship composition in a number of moments and should have significantly supplemented the possibilities for: destroying aircraft carrier formations of a potential enemy, including with the use of nuclear weapons; conducting reconnaissance in wide areas with an extremely limited availability of AWACS aircraft (for carrier-based aircraft, such as the E-2 Hawkeye, I generally keep quiet); striking ground targets; air cover for attack ships and fleet transports, which is generally performed by aug, of which the Soviet Navy has never existed.
            It is also very appropriate for you to point out the construction of almost some kind of "supervunderwaffe" aircraft carrier, such as Minsk, etc. And this can be used both as a demonstration and an additional fact of a very ineffective attempt to actually replace a full-fledged aircraft carrier. Are these systems really limited? The verticals used on them, such as the Yak-38, in no way made them equal in terms of combat capabilities even with the approximately the same type of "light aircraft carrier" of the Invincible project. Neither the shock, nor the anti-submarine capabilities of the Yak-38, but Moreover, in terms of covering and conducting air fighter combat, they cannot be compared with the same vertical as the Harrier. In addition, I think you know about this, aircraft carriers with the Yak-38 served exclusively in northern latitudes due to the drop in engine power from the Yak -38 and its extremely difficult use in regions with hot climates, which made the already ineffective complex even weaker.
            In general, summing up, you in no way could change my and possibly some other readers' opinion about the existing fundamental weaknesses of the Russian-Soviet fleet due to the purposeful policy of the leadership due to the specific understanding and limited significance of the fleet for the country at different periods of time.
  9. SemVale Offline SemVale
    SemVale (Vale) 3 June 2021 11: 19
    And there is.
    The continuity is broken.

    The point of no return, or to say by air, the speed of decision-making has already been passed. In any case, if we talk about MRA.
    If today we set ourselves the goal of reviving the MPA, then it will be necessary to start from scratch, from scratch and according to textbooks. For the last living commander who served in the MPA has long been retired. And those who now remained in the ranks, in those days when the MRA was still there, were Pravak, at best, green, green commanders of ships.
    Dryers, which are in service in modern MA, are good machines, but they will never reach aircraft carriers. The "arms" are short. Well, in our time, there were only a few famous deck-ships, and now they are even more absent. Because Kuzya stood up for repairs forever. And that regiment was never ready for combat. The decks, as long as they existed, studied all the time and not a single day their regiment was considered combat-ready as part of the MA SF. Alas. Such is the vile reality.
    So, speaking of "on the brink of collapse" is not at all true. That line has long been passed. With MRA everything is clear, if we talk about submarines, then aircraft are still capable of taking off, probably in a ratio of one to ten submarines of the enemy block.