by Le Dahu for The Saker Blog
In the previous article “Part 1: Russian Navy frigates”, the downsizing of combat ships over the last 30 years is as a result of a huge leap forward in technology & design. Essentially, the modern Russian naval capability is to have an effective missile launch ‘standoff capability’ of around 600-1000kms, bolstered by an overlapping series of coastal early warning & integrated defensive systems, air-land and sea.
The Russian navy only started to deploy a limited number of ships on goodwill visits to the Caribbean, Indian Ocean and Mediterranean back in 2008 & 2009. Then this was followed by participation in the US-led international anti-piracy task force in the Horn of Africa, protecting sea lines of communication (SLOCs). Recently the trend is to send out one or a couple of Soviet-era medium sized ships out on long-distance ‘flag-waving’ deployments, whereas the modern fleet of frigates & corvettes increasingly play a more central combat focused role, many having a role in the Syrian campaign or forming the backbone for naval defence perimeter against NATO posturing.
With its lengthy coastline, numerous shallow bays, seas and estuaries, mostly accessed via maritime chokepoints, Russia is hardly a blue-sea oceanic maritime power, but does profit from having the ability to use a wide range of ships, near to the coast as well as on inland waterways. Suffice to say that 7million km2 of territorial seas alone, needs adequate protection by appropriate means. The Russian ‘State Weapons Program’ envisaged back in 2012 the following number of corvettes & frigates in service with the Russian Navy by 2020:(Sakaguchi 2014)[Y Sakaguchi, NIDS Journal of Defense and Security, 15, Dec. 2014]
15 Frigates such as Projects 22350 (x6), 11356M(x6) & 11661K, and also include frigates under development;
35 Corvettes such as Projects 20380 (x12) & 20385 (x16), & also include corvettes under development;
What we see from the State Weapons Program is that corvettes construction programs account for double that of frigates. Part of the Maritime Strategy doctrine,(first set out in 2001, updated in 2010 & 2014), highlighted the vital need for strengthening of naval capabilities & operational presence, in revitalising the practically moribund post-Soviet navy Fleets.
In essence, the main elements of Russian naval seapower rests on:
- Combat strike power and anti-ship combat capabilities,(territorial defence against attacks from the sea).
- Effective deployment of maritime strategic nuclear forces.
- Safeguarding of merchant shipping sea lanes & protection of marine resources.
- Protection of Russian national interests – regionally & globally, (in peace-time).
The naval component of the Russian military doctrine’s spirit is based on having a mixed element of mostly surface ships intended for green-water operations, (some of which capable of brown-water operations), with a few blue-water capable ships.
Protection of marine resources: Russia has recently developed significant offshore oil & gas infrastructure, which is located both in territorial waters and in the Exclusive Economic Zone, (EEZ). It is not therefore surprising that this is an important feature in the Maritime Doctrine. As such, appropriate naval resources are needed to secure these assets.
Although naval ship construction had been slowly progressing by 2012, an announcement was made by President Putin to have 51 ships within a decade, (Carnegie Feb 2012). This came at a time when the largest Russian Navy flotilla in decades had just been deployed off Syria.
A significant challenge is the ongoing modernisation of Russian defence capabilities, while at the same time moving ahead with the backlog of defence orders. There are serious obstacles to be overcome with inefficient production costs & equipment, as well as problems with burdensome Soviet-era management cultures & cost overruns in some state monopolies. Another hurdle is the need to modernise the production base & make it more efficient, over time with continued production of a type of equipment or ship. (The Motorship Dec 2013)
Additionally, the lack of sustained R&D in the naval defence sector, also handicapped meaningful progress in naval construction for a long time. Again, a legacy inherited from the Soviet-era suspension of many naval construction & projects.
One issue that can’t be overlooked is the fact that the 2014 Western sanctions slapped on Russia, particularly on defence-related equipment, did have a adverse impact, since they the supply of components and equipment was halted, significantly, German & Ukrainian marine engines for Russian Navy ships under construction.
A number of frigates and corvettes already laid down in shipyards a while back, are running significantly behind schedule. This is not to say that there is no good news, as it will completely remove Russian defence procurements reliance on European defence suppliers. The sanctions provoked serious impetus into giving import substitutions R&D a vital boost, and eventually kick starting domestic production of various equipment & fittings, (TASS April 2017). Deputy PM Dmitry Rogozin said: “We have never done this before. They [the Ukrainian side] thought that they had driven us into a corner and that we would be unable to finish the construction of frigates. But we have done this.”
Despite having considerable engineering expertise in the nuclear powerplants & steam turbines fields, Russian-made marine diesel & gas turbines were low in priority. Hence, a stop-gap measure has been the importation of Chinese marine engines, to continue with the delivery of some new warships.
This is an astonishing situation, that shows the reality on the ground is nothing quite like the ‘resurgent’, ‘revanchist’ or ‘aggressive’ Russia, that Western elite like to brandish in the media, because it shows how a significant part of the Russian defence sector had been hamstrung practically in a single action, and that no prior contingency planning or even weighty research had been put into place.
From the shipyard blocks to action at sea
The use of small, shallow-water corvettes in real-life combat missile strikes setting was a significantly historical event and also rattled the US & NATO top brass too. (The National Interest 7 April 2017). Of course, the US has a longstanding history of using much larger destroyers and submarines for Tomahawk launches, the Arleigh Burke class, being the mainstay of the US Fleet, (with around 59 currently in service), with a displacement of 6900 tons – the caveat being the much larger number of missiles carried onboard.
|Buyan-M class x 3, 1 Gepard class (Caspian Sea Flotilla)||07.10.15||26|
|Buyan-M class x 3, 1 Gepard class (Caspian Sea Flotilla)||20.11.15||18|
|Rostov-on-Don – Submarine (Black Sea Fleet)||08.12.15||4|
|Buyan-M class x 2 (Black Sea Fleet)||19.08.16||3|
|Admiral Grigorovich (Black Sea Fleet)||15.11.16||4|
|Krasnodar – Submarine, Admiral Essen
Black Sea Fleet
|30.05.17||4 in total|
|Admiral Essen, Admiral Grigorovich
Black Sea Fleet
|Krasnodar – Submarine||23.06.17||6 in total|
|Kolpino, Velikiy Novgorod – submarine||14.09.17||7|
|Kolpino, Velikiy Novgorod – submarine||05.10.17||10|
Table 1: Naval Kalibr missile launches during the Syrian campaign
Information derived from: Navy Korabel
Kalibr launches – Breakdown by type of ship:
8 x Buyan-Class, 2 x Guepard class, 5 x Admiral Grigorovich class,10 x submarines – Kilo
The numbers of Kalibrs launched show a consistent ‘proportional lethality’, just enough to do the job in a measured manner, when the need arises. All of which was carried out from within the Russian defence perimeter. As opposed to the 70+ Tomahawks launched into just 1 location, for forward-deployed US ships, in order to make a grandstand play for the world’s media & politicians.
As can be seen in the table, the largest proportion of Kalibr launches was carried out by improved-Kilo class submarines. [More so in 2017 due their ability to be unseen most of the time, hence giving NATO ASW a run for their money of late].
Indeed, the Mediterranean Sea has become a proving ground for the new generation of Russian submariners. The debut of modern-era Russian submarine combat operations took place on 9 December 2015, with Kalibr missiles launched from the “Rostov-on-Don” improved Kilo Class. The submarine variant, has probably played more of a role and had (excuse the pun), a bigger impact on the battlefield. Simply because submarines not only play ‘cat & mouse” with surface ships, but also have a huge element of surprise and tie up considerable amounts of ASW assets in the process, (Business Insider Oct 2017). This could be potentially seen in the correlation between Kalibr launches in the eastern Mediterranean and the US Navy’s visible response in sending over P-8 Poseidon flights over the area. (Defence News March 2017).
Widely distributed firepower across a range of ships and submarines ensures spreading out risks and minimising big potential combat losses, is called “distributed lethality“. Unlike a high profile target, such as an aircraft carrier, (*1), which entails a lot of protection, huge costs and also a lot of focus directed by an opponent,(The Saker 09 Nov 2017), the deployment of a corvette or small frigate is a lot less onerous. About half of Russian Navy warships are likely to be armed with Kalibr cruise missiles by late 2020.
(*1) just need to look at the incredible amount of resources/efforts expended by the Argentine air power, trying to sink one of the Royal Navy’s carriers during the South Atlantic conflict in 1982.
A long lethal reach can thus reached by Russia, with a multitude of ships and submarines, reinforcing the Naval A2/AD zone over a significant distance, across every coastal frontier. This alone possibly reduces some NATO planners to tears.
The Buyan-M class corvettes
It seems that the US & NATO ignored the Russian Navy’s small warships’ capabilities up to 7th October 2015, where several ships of the Caspian Sea Flotilla launched a volley of Kalibrs towards Syria, (Sputnik October 2015). The lethal combination of high-precision long-range missiles, combined with ships of small displacements, might have made some Western naval experts uneasy. The devil in the detail is when NATO was deeply unhappy when two Project 21631, Buyan-M class corvettes, (‘Zeleny Dol’ & ‘Serpukhov’), moved from the Black Sea to the Baltic last year. (Reuters 26 October 2016). Interestingly, they too participated in the Syrian campaign briefly before their deployment to the Baltic. This gave the Baltic Sea Fleet a huge boost, since it previously didn’t have a single Kalibr-carrying surface ship. This certainly shifted the focus of attention by NATO for a brief moment, with short-lived MSM arm-flapping as well.
There are 5 Buyan-M warships in service with the Baltic, Black Sea Fleets (for a short while) and Caspian Sea Flotilla. One more,‘Vyshniy Volochek’ is anticipated to go into service with either the Black Sea Fleet or the Baltic Fleet within the year. (Sputnik 20 Oct 2017).
Length: 75 m Full: 949 tons, Kalibr: 8 cells VLS, cost: US$ 140m (aprox)
Basically, 7 Buyan class ships can roughly match the size of a
Arleigh Burke class, with a total of 56 Kalibrs, a good example of ‘distributed lethality’. [Note: Cost of latest Arleigh Burke class is said to be US$1.843 billion per ship. + An estimated repair bill for the USS Fitzgerald is estimated to be $500-million alone].
The Zelenodolsk Shipyard is continuing to build the Buyan-M class ships. Several are on the blocks and 3 are on order. Yet again, a prime example of a potent force multiplier, based on a relatively cheap small ship.
A unique feature is that since this class is built on the Volga river, they have a shallow draft, which means they can potentially also move around the numerous inland waterways. Imagine, a ship under a 1000 tons with a missile-carrying strike range close to an US Arleigh Burke class destroyer of just under 7000 tons, moving on a river somewhere in Western Russia.
Steregushchy class corvettes
Length: 104.5 m, Full displacement: 2,200 tons,
Cost: US$120-150m (est. for Tigr export ordered by the Algerian Navy),
Video on Steregushchy class technical specifications.
In NATO parlance, this class would be classified as a frigate, the Russian Navy however, classify Project 20380 as a corvette. 5 are in service, 4 with the Baltic Sea Fleet and 1 currently with the Pacific Sea Fleet. Most of the future builds are intended for the Pacific Sea Fleet. Although considered as a green-water ship, it has shown to be be capable in a out-of-area role. Two of this class of warships recently left the Baltic, went through the Mediterranean, (Sputnik Oct 2017) & this week potentially heading down the Red Sea towards the Indian Ocean. Previously they have made forays into the North Atlantic as well, under NATO’s watchful eye of course.
The Steregushchy class is what is considered as multi-tasking stealth corvette, though it seems to be predominantly tasked for escort and anti-submarine warfare (ASW) operations, but it is a all-rounder for shore-support & air defence operations. The main weaknesses in this class is the limited 15-day endurance and no Kalibrs VLS onboard for the Project 20380 series, but it does have 12 × Redut VLS cells, the Kh-35 subsonic anti-ship missile with a 260km range.
As cited earlier in the article,16 of these were supposed to be in shipyards but only 1 other is nearing completion. The growing pains being experienced by the naval defence sector is certainly serious, concerning this warship class, notably due to the fact is a totally new design concept, (over 21 patented inventions), but there has been a fair bit of engineering ‘gremlins’ along the way.
Interestingly, both of this corvette and the Buyan-M feature in the world’s top 10 stealth corvettes by Naval technology.com.
Project 2038.5 and 2038.6 corvettes
2038.5 – displacement: 2,500 t length:103m
2038.6 – displacement: 3,400 t length: 109 m
Derived from the Steregushchiy class, they are larger stealth warships. The notable difference is that it will have a 1 × 8 UKSK Kalibr capability. The Project 2038.5, ‘Gremyashchy’ (New Inform 26 Oct 2017) is 65% completed.
Additionally, Project 2038.6, ‘Derzky’ was laid down in 2016. (Port News Oct 2016). The ‘Derzky’ is similar in size to the US Navy LCS class. Equally, it is intended to have a modular compartment at the stern, with interchangeable equipment depending on the mission role. This includes 8-Kalibr missile capacity, possibly as ISO-containerised modules, known as Transport-Launch Containers (TLCs).
Both these corvettes are intended to carry out multi-tasking naval operations with a longer range & endurance, (close to home & out-of-area), tasked with protecting the Economic Exclusive Zone.
Karakurt – Guided missile class corvettes
Displacement: 800t Length: 67m
Soon coming on line is the 1st Project 22800, Karakurt corvette ‘Uragan’, which is being currently outfitted at the Pella shipyard. Others are under construction in Morye & Zelenodolsk yards. 5 others are currently under construction, with a total of 18 expected to go into service by 2022. (TASS May 2016).
This is another littoral naval ship, (green-water operations), designed for anti-surface and anti-air warfare and intended for the Black Sea & Northern Sea Fleets. Yet, again, the navy will have state-of-the-art small, versatile warships with a 8-missile UKSK Kalibr VLS as part of the onboard armament.
It will be interesting to see how this class compares with the US Navy’s LCS frigate in terms of operational capability, yet again the contrast in displacement size is striking. Another Russian warship capable of packing a punch well above its size.
Lastly, despite the misgivings expressed earlier about the state of affairs in Russian naval shipbuilding, the Karakurt program shows that the pace of construction is improving steadily.
Project 22160 patrol, ‘Bykov’ ship series
Standard displacement: 1,550t Length: 94m(?) Endurance: 60 days
The lead ship of this class, ‘Vasily Bykov’, was launched and will be shortly fitted out in Kerch. Construction of other Project 22160 ships, ’Pavel Derhavin’ & ‘Sergey Kotov’ are underway at the Zalyv shipyard in Kerch, Crimea. The first was started in 2014 and another 2 are also being built at the moment for service with the Black Sea Fleet. The last one is expected to be delivered in 2020.
They are expected to carry out patrolling, monitoring and protection in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ), (green and potential brown-water operations). It will have ASW, air defence, shore support, anti-ship capabilities, with a flight deck. (Sputnik April 2016). The stealth design ships will have an extensive range of equipment and missiles for its intended multi-role, mostly stowed below deck space. Additionally, it is going to have “modular integrated bridge system which will allow the ships to be re-equipped for different tasks at short notice” according to one official.
As a result of the successful Buyan-M missile strikes during the Syrian campaign, it is stated that Project 22160 ships will have Shtil-1 Air Defense system & 8-Kalibr missile capacity, (both land & anti-shipping Kalibr variants?), onboard in TLC format. Yet photos of the riverine delivery of ‘Vasily Bykov’ do not give any indication that this will actually be the case.
Given the upgraded profile and outlined revised weapons suite carried on this class of ships, I regard them as blue-water capable corvettes rather than being designated as a patrol vessel. At first glance, the original version is rather a large patrol boat, with missions profiles that considerably overlap with that of the FSB’s Federal Border Guard Service. But, considering the ongoing anti-piracy role of the Russian Navy off the Horn of Africa, you get a glimpse of the likely role of these ships, both at home and far from base. Up to now, the Russian Navy did not have a dedicated ship to carry out these duties, but used much larger ships, largely unsuited for this specialist role, such as the ‘Pyotr Veliky’, deployments including the Horn of Africa in 2009 and the Syrian OPCW mission in 2014 (TASS Feb 2014).
These ships can also provide maritime support similarly to what took place during the Sochi Winter Olympics, where the navy made do with ships such as the cruiser ‘Moskva’ and the ASW Krivak class as part of the security measures.
It is also interesting to see how the State Weapons Program is actually being implemented, by bringing in other shipyards from the cold so to speak, such the ‘Zalyv’ yard in Kerch, maybe to spread the overall workload and probably also assess the ongoing operational effectiveness of the naval procurement program.
Gepard-class light frigates (Project 1166.1)
Length; 102.2m Full Displacement: 1930t Endurance: 15 days
Originally designed for the export market, this is another all-rounder warship type, designated as fast attack ship but including escort and patrol tasks. The first,’ Tatarstan’, entered into service in 2002, with the sister ship, ‘Dagestan’ entering into service in 2011, into the Caspian Sea Flotilla, both after very long periods in the shipyard. These are the oldest class of the ‘modern’ Russian warship series. The ‘Dagestan’ has 8 × Kalibr VLS, (multi-purpose), missiles onboard and was one of the first to fire them in anger in 2015. It is not know whether there will be any more built for the Russian Navy, despite several built & further ordered for the Vietnamese Navy.
When these new ‘patrol’ ships, light frigates & corvettes come fully into service, will mean the Russian Navy will able to redistribute mission-tasking orders widely and evenly, to the most suited ship, rather than using wholly unsuited ships, as well as potentially giving a window of opportunity for older ships to be refitted, without compromising overall fleet combat readiness & effectiveness.
In the long-run, it is likely to be more cost-effective as well, for crews and equipment due to the automatisation & also harmonisation of onboard systems. Professional crews will form the backbone of these ships. It is reported that an estimated 10% of the onboard naval crews are conscripts, (TV Zvezda Nov 2017). In fact, Admiral Korolev, head of the navy, recently said that the phasing in out of conscripts on ships is an objective necessity because of the high-tech nature of the modern navy.
It cannot be emphasised enough that these types of corvette types is what the US Navy had probably wanted when it commissioned the Littoral Combat Ship, (LCS) & ‘Freedom’, programs, (as discussed in Part 1), which turned out to be an eye-watering expensive ‘turkey’ (n. a failure; a sham) instead.
Paradoxically, the LCS program came about at a time in the 90s, where the US was smugly confident that it needed a different type of warship in its fleet, by including ships that could dominate in green-water operations, both at home & far flung places, to be able to ‘dominate’ shallow water seas & areas. Now the tables have turned, because most countries have missiles & ships designed to keep such encroachers well away from their coastlines, (what I call the buffer zone).
The combat proven Buyan-M has showed clearly the difference in capability & attitude between the US LCS with a displacement of 4,000t, 4 times as big as a Buyan-M, but with much weaker firepower too. (Checkpoint Asia Nov 2017).
|Development period||SWP-2020 goal||Status – 2017|
|Gorshkov-class (Project 22350)||2006 -2015||6||(3)|
|Grigorovich-class (Project 11356R)||2010-2015||6||2 (2)|
|Gremiashchiy-class+ (Project 2038.5 + .6)||2011 – present||16||1 +(1)
|Steregushchiy-class (Project 20380)||2001- 2007||12||5 (1)|
|Small missile + guard ships|
|• Buyan-class (Project 21630)||2004- 2006||0||3|
|• Buyan-M-class (Project 21631)||2008-2012||8-10||5 (5)|
|• Gepard-class (Project 1166.1/K)||1991-2002||1||1|
|Project 22800, Karakurt||2012? – present||–||(7)|
|Project 22160, ‘Bykov’ -class||2012? – present||–||(6)|
Table 2: Overview of in service + current building program (x) of Russian Navy corvettes, frigates & small missile ships.
Future corvette designs
A new generation of green-water trimaran warship concept is being developed, based on the successful Buyan-M hull profile, by the Zelenodolsk Design Bureau” (ZPKB) and is currently at the model testing stage. If the design is accepted, this would mean a naval platform with twice the missile capacity that of a Buyan-M. (Navy Recognition Jul 2015) Although it also a shallow-water hull profile, it is also likely to be sturdy & stable enough for blue-water operations.
Nimble, modern corvettes, nestled under cover of linked coastal surveillance radar and air defence units and near to base, will provide the Russian Navy with an formidable potent capability. These Russian warships, especially those with a modular armament onboard, have the advantage of being at the sharp end of a wide, multifaceted defence parameter.
Other naval ships
There is more to come as this article has just covered so far the ‘traditional’ warships, the corvettes and frigates. Russia has placed vital importance on not just flexibility in size, but versatility in choosing a range of platforms. So much so, that a limited ‘distributed lethality’ has just widened exponentially, and more importantly, broadened the vital defence perimeter in the Arctic. [This will be covered in PART 3]
The Saker article (May 2016) outlines some of the Kalibr’s versatility, in particular the use of ISO type containers, (TLCs), as modular missile launchers. This weapon package has not been fully exploited as a stand-alone unit by the Russian Navy, although it has been mooted as an option for some types of corvettes.
In other words, any ship that could theoretically carry ISO-type containers could have the capability to carry these. Take one possible example: an Armament Support Ship, Project 20360M, the ‘Gennady Dmitriev’,(Sputnik May 2017) was laid down earlier this year. It will be ice-strengthened, have two cargo holds, a platform for containerised cargo, a crane (lifting capacity of 20 tons) and a helipad. Ice-class hull. It is quite feasible that containerised cargo could actually be Kalibr missile TLC modules.
The US Navy had similar plans, called “Affordable Weapon System”,
using low cost “off the shelf” containerised cruise missile launchers. (Wikipedia) Similarly, the US Navy had originally envisaged its LCS program of ships, to be able to to based on this idea, however it did not work out as well as expected.
The Russian navy is re-asserting its regional naval footprint mostly through its core of corvettes & frigates. Its likely that this represents a transient period, prior to a possible construction phase of bigger ship types. The navy is getting sophisticated in developing a wider range of multi-mission naval platforms & armaments, but not in the numbers hoped for, (TASS Jan 2016). Its expansion is being held back by a decayed & flawed post-Soviet shipbuilding infrastructure, financial constraints.
The woeful situation with the shipbuilding sector needs to be gradually ironed out, and such improvements will become measurable with the construction of smaller vessels being the first necessary stage. It might even be seen as a blessing in disguise, because while there was principally a construction freeze up to 2012, the fact that Russia subsequently was able to develop a suite of high-precision weapons, the upshot of this was the development of relatively cheap, suitable & effective naval platforms.
The premise is sometimes made by Western naval commentators is that the global reach of Russian Navy is weak and will not improve, precisely because of just building of small corvettes. This ‘Western logic’ misses the point that Russia seeks to be a growing regional naval power, with concentrated credible combat power. Sumsky & Kanaev (2015) [Sumsky, V. & Kanaev, E, (2015) Russia’s Place in a Polycentric Naval Setup, Maritime Affairs: Journal of the National Maritime Foundation of India, 11:2, 9-15 ] states that “The development of a blue-water water, (excluding strategic nuclear submarines) is not a priority during the ongoing decade”.
More importantly, as clearly defined in its 2015 Military Doctrine, Russia does not need or wish to have a world-wide surge-ready naval component. Nor does Russia want a plethora of ships on a permanent forward-presence that can restrict sea-control in some far-off place. But it does have the capability to occasionally deploy the necessary units for some limited duration blue-water operations.
Freelance maritime writer & researcher
295-year Anniversary of the flotilla of the Russian Navy in the Caspian Sea
Сегодня Каспийская флотилия отмечает 295-ю годовщину со дня основания https://t.co/p4ZqbV5GPD pic.twitter.com/pCxDDKsIDm
— Минобороны России (@mod_russia) November 15, 2017
Thank you Le Dahu for this wonderful article, could you please comment on the following.
The range and endurance of the Russian Corvettes seems to be rather low, at least compared to what I’m used too. I could understand that with vessels built solely for the Caspian Flotilla, but not for the Fleets. For example the Buyan-M is listed at 2300 nm and 10 days, Karakurt at 2500 nm and 15 days. Gepard has a more respectable range of 4000 nm but again only 15 days. I’d be expecting ranges of 4-5000 nm and at least 20-25 days endurance to be proper multi-tasking workhorses. Even the considerably smaller Ton-class had a 2300 nm range and 21 days endurance.
Not what I’m used to either, but there again, I’m NATO formatted from my teenage years.
Anyhow, it’s the NATO mentality versus Russian.
You cited the RN’s Ton Class, it’s NATO role as minesweeper. It’s design was rooted in the RN at a time, the U.K. had vested interests in far flung places, hence the longer endurance.
But the Soviet- Russian philosophy is much closer to home, Black and Caspian Sea, not much need to permanently deploy to far-flung places. Mind you even Natya class minesweepers has gone to Syria and back, on deployments. So the range and endurance is sufficient for the needs of the Marine Doctrine.
I suspect that there is also some ‘fudging’ with official figures. Take the info given with a pinch of salt on the actual endurance and capability rather than what’s written on paper.
Also, the Russian Navy has a tendency to go out with accompanying Fleet oilers, and at times ocean going tugs. So again endurance of individual ships is subject to this too.
Thank you for commenting.
I`m no expert, but could one explanation be that Russia see’s its ships as staying local (defensive?!)
While the West requires the range as its enjoys projecting its violence globally!?
I think that I said that in both Part 1 and 2, hence the gist of the analyses, but your words are truly concise and well expressed.
Maybe they were supposed to be roam around Mistral mothership?..
Not their role, that would have the role of frigates of destroyers. Anyway the Mistral were criticised in Russian naval circles for wholly unsuitable for Russian naval Doctrine. One issue was lack of suitable warships to escort them. (Egypt does have on the other hand).
An off topic comment, are the electronic gadgets used by the Russian military and government still reliant on foreign (mainly American) chip makers like Intel, AMD, ARM and Qualcomm? These chip makers have incorporated hardware and software backdoors that could take control of the devices even when they are switched off. I know that the Russians have their own CPU makers like Elbrus, but is it on par with its foreign competitors? The Chinese have developed their own CPU like the longsoon/godson line of processors (GNU/RMS used to own a Lemote PC running this CPU, indicating that they are trustworthy), but it seems, even they are not capable enough. And what about the operating systems? I thing that they might be using a linux based OS with software backdoors removed. I have heard that microkernel based OSs offer more security and even the US defense establishment uses it.
Jolla’s Sailfish OS has been certified as the Russian government’s official OS but Sailfish is known to have proprietary parts.
They do have a line of MIPS and ARM based Baikal CPU, as well as a proprietary VLIW Elbrus CPU
….mostly manufactured abroad.
Well, even Intel server motherboards used to have Chinese spy programs within
Very informative article, thanks.
The state of Russian shipbuilding, post yeltsin disaster, reminds of what happened after the capitalists oligarchs isolated the young USSR after failing to subdue her with the injection of troops supporting the white freakshow. Russia, isolated, besieged and alone had to essentially start over from scratch. Not too much different now, though fortunately Putin & co. are taking a more practical approach than that of stalin and his “paper statistics” of “big numbers” over actually working items produced.
The problem with getting engines in production is a long-standing problem. Pre WW1 and during, the Russians had serious problems with diesel and petrol ic engines of all sorts. The domestic production was minimal and most of these were imported. With devastating consequences for naval applications, since Germany was their main source for naval diesels. This basically killed the then latest Russian sub designs, which had to rely upon cannibalizing low power diesels in river craft.
After the USSR formed, even the outdated and sparse industrial base that was slowly being built up was essentially gone, with the capitalists preferring profit over homeland, as usual. Older Russian ship’s were piecemeal rebuilt, as resources allowed, new construction had to begin again from the ground up. It took like 20 years to get naval construction back up to a modern level.
Modern Russia saw a similar situation in the 90s with the yeltsin disaster, though of a different nature. While the USSR faced isolation, yeltsin & co bled Russia dry for the same capitalist oligarchy that tried to kill the early USSR. Result wasn’t isolation, but total dependence. So rather than rebuilding from scratch due to no access, Russia now had to essentially rebuild again to regain lost control of their industry after yeltsin pissed it away to his zionazi handlers.
Rambling here, but to recap, Russia now is working small designs to gain working experience, and reindustrialise the base, much like they did in the 1920s-40s.
Top comments, and informative too. I didn’t know it went back that far.
While doing the research for this, I went through some papers on shipbuilding, and as you clearly identified… the 80s were an economic brake on any meaningful naval R&D. Naval R&D never took a significant chunk of defence budget anyhow, not over land (tanks) or aircraft. But there again, the resources, production line that’s required to build a naval platform is very different too.
The 90s were utterly catastrophic.
Which ‘makes this story of slow renaissance more remarkable.
In spite of
There are some serious lessons to be learned, more so after the sanctions.
> “paper statistics” of “big numbers” over actually working items produced
It was not “paper statistics”, it was laying out infrastructure
Free Market approach: let’s set the car building plant in the middle of the desert. Then those, who would buy our cars, would find their new property useless in sands and would invest into building roads.
Planned approach: lets decide which traffic we need, then build roads for that traffic, then build cars for those roads
Stalin was going with the former one. And despite its inflexibility and vulnerability to oversights, in general it worked surprisingly well
On that last note – last paragraph
I want to reiterate the point about occasional but necessary blue-water deployments.
Surprising- it’s a Steregushchy class this time, now in the Horn of Africa. This is a first for this supposedly green-water op ship. Soobrazitelny‘ Baltic Sea Fleet based.
Likely replacement for ‘Vice-Adm Kulakov’, previous Russian Navy ship in area.
Either on a mix of Anti-piracy ops/ SLOC protection or covertly monitoring what’s taking place off Yemen, air, sea and ASW
Boikiy is probably in the Med on ASW duties.
Now that’s a turn up for the books.
I wish Russia could enforce humanitarian cargo reaching Yemen ports.
Let Saudi do all cargo inspections they would wish, but make the cargo pass through, if neede dby force
Wishful thinking, of course
Very nice article. However, I would like to point out the following: Traditionally Russia has always given priority to the army over the navy, which is logical, as any potential enemy will always invade Russia by land, and not by sea, as has been proven historically. When it comes to building ships, Russians have played it smart, relying on smaller ships, which are easy to design cheap to build and cheap to maintain. They then installed high tech, like the Kalibr, which was a nasty shock to NATO (when Russia started the Syrian campaign, it’s corvettes fired cruise missiles against ISIS, after which the US pulled one of it’s aircraft carriers from the Mediterranean). When it comes to the future, i don’t see Russia building a large number of larger ships like cruisers. They will rely on smaller ships like corvettes, frigates and destroyers, perhaps building up one squadron of larger vessels. As for the US, I think it has grasped the fact that the days of the aircraft carrier are coming to an end, as now they are easy to destroy with high tech cruise missiles. In any potential war against Russia or China, those aircraft carriers would have to stay a long distance away from Russian and Chinese shores and ships, preventing US aircraft from operating efficiently, as the distance would be too great for intended targets. No doubt the US Navy and the Pentagon are appraising their future naval strategy. No doubt they will come to the conclusion that the aircraft carrier will pretty soon become part of history, as it can only be used efficiently against helpless third world countries.
Thank you for reiterating the main points that I covered in the article, as well as the same points made in comments in the Part 1 last week.
I think the aircraft carrier discussions have “gone round the buoy” a few times, there’s plenty of excellent articles including by The Saker last week. So no need for me to comment any further.
I wonder if anyone has told the US Congress and other US politicians about the passing of the aircraft carrier?
It seems that in US military procurement, whether or not a weapon system is militarily useful is of minimal concern. But making sure the money flows out to politically connected contractors is of highest concern. And the aircraft carriers are excellent at this latest role.
Crooked politicians take big donations from the contractors, then stand up and give speeches about how America MUST expand their carrier fleet. Of late its taken the tone of saying that the poor American navy can’t stand being at sea as much as half the time. You’ll hear words like ‘overdeployed’ used a lot when they want more money. Lately, we’ve even heard the silly notion that the reason why seamanship is apparently so lacking that they can’t dodge merchant ships cruising on auto-pilot is because the Navy spends too much time at sea. Funny notion of course, since one would logically conclude that the best way to improve seamanship would be to spend time at sea. But not when the high command and the congress wants to spend money on more ships.
So, while there might be a couple of bright people in the Pentagon who realize that the aircraft carrier now looks a lot like battleships did before WW2, there are two more multi-billion dollar carriers being build after the Gerald Ford. Info I found on wikipedia says the JFK is slated for about 2020 and another Enterprise slated for 2025. Of course, neither will be ready by those dates, and the shipyards will find ways to grab more than the estimated 13 billion for each and both will likely fail their initial sea trials.
But the flow of the money to the crooks is the most important thing for US politicians, and actual military usefulness is of secondary importance. The US Congress would probably be quite happy if these giant carriers ended up on the bottom of the ocean, because, OMG, they’d just have to replace every sunk carrier with two more which would guarantee their happy retirement on the money the shipyards would recycle into their Swiss bank accounts.
Thanks for your comments. Speaking of lengthy construction times, how many years does it take to build a US aircraft carrier nowdays? ? ? Thirteen billion for the ship itself, and how much for the aircraft, another $7 Bln?– these are such crazy amounts of money they make my eyes roll backwards…and if the shooting starts, they’ll probably become gigantic coffins for their crews….(ah, but they died for our freedom)… now if Eisenhower were alive to give us an updated version of his “humanity hanging from a cross of iron” speech we could see just how awfully we have been stolen from and crucified for each one of these horribly expensive ships. No worries, though, because I hear Tom Cruise is going to reprise his role as “Maverick” in a new “Top Gun” movie (groan!) which means Hollywood will concoct a plot where ‘Maverick” singlehandedly defeats the Russian navy and army and air force and and the brainwashed audiences will believe it really happened! ! !
Excellent work with this article. Well done!
I think the cruise missile attack from the Caspian Sea to Syria showed the power of smaller vessels. I am sure the US was not happy with that technological feat — and not happy with Iran and Iraq for giving Russia permission to fly the cruise missiles in their airspace.
Thanks for the great article
The PR team must have been a bit sarcastic when choosing The term “Affordable Weapon System” everyone knows it’s not true
Would these corvettes operate as packs (once they have enough of them)
They already have operated as packs in the Caspian.
With modern fast and secure communications systems, these smaller, yet highly effective vessels are a very useful development. Since like most modern naval vessels these will be “fly by wire”, the ability exists for an integrated defensive front, with full real-time communication between land, air / space and naval assets.
Another major advantage (as mentioned) is cost: Cheaper (faster) to build, cheaper (faster) to maintain, yet providing far more “firepower per dollar spent” than comparable US vessels. Combine this with a lower RCS, and superior power to weight ratios (so better acceleration and manoeuvrability), and Russia ends up with a VERY modern solution – with high survive-ability in a combat situation.
Against even a modestly-equipped Nation, it seems the “Carrier era” is going the way of the old Dreadnoughts – modern naval tactics need modern ships, and for Russia’s immediate future needs, “bigger is NOT necessarily Better!”
> With modern fast and secure communications systems
….close to the motherland shores, you mean.
But not across the oceans. If the Great War starts – there would be no any space satellites left after the first week. No satellites – no modern hi-speed communications in open seas.
“If the Great War starts – there would be no any space satellites left after the first week.”
Or perhaps after first few hours?
BTW: Battle of Marianas was in summer 1944. Most capital costly WW2 military operation. (even excluding that huge transport merchant vessel fleet chain from west coast to Marianas)
It’s obvious that aircraft carriers are now more and more symbols or glory past and partly propaganda show off. Their real battle value since days of Marianas has collapsed if thinking war between big powers. “Phony/proxy wars” against tribals is another thing.
In other words, air carriers are Char 2C of 21st century :)
And the two carriers the uk is finishing up are the 21st century’s T.O.G. :-D
When focusing how Eurasian supercontinent with 4.5 billion population is becoming real global powerhouse and when modern train/road cargo transport is treathening even maritime cargo transport hegemony this move to smaller vessels with immense long range firepower is natural. High tech missile technology doesn’t need past time battleships and sitting ducks of aircraft carriers in Euroasian reality. Enemy can’t circle it. It’s absolutely enormous giant for him.
During WW2 both UK and US used over 75% and almost 80% of their munition production targeting air and sea warfare. Japan almost 83%. The military power US Navy/Navy Air Force used in Marianas in summer 1943 had production value of more than $3 billion compared to less than $300 million German Army and Luftwaffe had in Kursk year earlier.
That was really the high point of navy and its air power. Since that era high tech long range missiles have really made navy huge vessels (and their immense logistic system) very vulnerable. Generally speaking this warfare is now totally subordinate to satellite system (unlike large part of land warfare).
A show of capabilitied against “DAESH weapons smugglers” in The Persian Gulf, would literally be a shot across the bow of U.S. Fifth Fleet, stationed in Qatar.
Sinking a “Simulated DAESH dingy” during joint maneuvers with Iranian Navy, via a Kaliber shot from the Caspian (not to confuse with Persian Gulf), will send a clear message. It will make them not only realize that they are sitting ducks but allows the Fifth Fleet to FEEL it.