Francois5 v2.1 Posted June 29, 2006 Share Posted June 29, 2006 Ce n'est meme pas l'ombre de ce qu'on en dit... Citation Survey of Russian Naval Forces: The Surface Fleet in Decline Mikhail Barabanov The surface forces of the Russian Navy have been downsized several times over since the collapse of the Soviet Union, reducing their battle readiness considerably. The fleet command has in turn responded to the sore lack of financing by maintaining the Strategic Nuclear Sea Forces as a top priority, leaving only a few budgetary leftovers to the conventional surface forces. Although the surface forces of the Northern and, to a lesser degree, the Pacific Ocean Fleet can still provide support to nuclear powered missile submarines in coastal areas, the Baltic and Black Sea Fleets have been reduced to mere squadrons over the past few years, and are barely able to meet even modest military objectives. In light of this, the leadership of Russia’s Navy is trying to remedy the situation. The press has recently reported on the Ministry of Defense’s "Plans for Naval Development to 2040-2050", which will allegedly expand the long-term construction of small displacement multi-purpose surface ships; in particular, those of the corvette and frigate classes. There is also the "Armaments Program to 2010" and the "Program for the Construction and Reequipping of the Fleet to 2015." Navy Commander in Chief Vladimir Kuroyedov said the latter provides for a near wholesale renewal of the fleet. This new stage of construction is focused on vessels for littoral zones, rather than for marine and oceanic zones. These programs have already produced tangible dividends, evident by the production (in 2001 and 2003) of two new Project 20380 corvettes. However, a severe shortage of funds, coupled with the absence of a clear military doctrine, and instability in the ranks of top management all strongly hint that the targets set in these plans may not entirely be reached. It is thus likely the mainstay of the Russian Navy will for many years to come consist of ships which were built or whose construction began in Soviet times. The collapse of the USSR in effect put an end to Soviet aircraft carrier programs. The sale to India of the heavy aircraft-carrier Admiral Gorshkov, which had long been under repairs, leaves the Project 11435 Admiral Kuznetsov as the only such vessel in the Russian Fleet. As the first and last Soviet ship built with a bow ski-jump for take-off and horizontal landing capability, the Kuznetsov is of crucial symbolic and practical importance and an invaluable source of training and experience for Russia’s naval aviation. The fleet command is keen on keeping this ship, which first set sail for tests in 1989, in good condition. It will be no small task, though, as it is long past due for even medium repairs. Mechanical deterioration and poor coastal support infrastructure (which explains the unusual step of basing the ship at the 35th Ship Repair Dockyard) together with the low reliability of the high-pressure main boilers and the lack of qualified personnel conspired to bring the ship to a ruinous state by the end of the 1990s. As a direct result, the poor condition of the propulsion plant prevent the ship from maintaining a pace of more than 16-18 knots. Navy management hesitated to initiate full medium repairs for fear that at current levels of financing they would not be able to see the repairs through to completion. Thus, in 2001, the cruiser underwent scheduled repairs at the 35th Ship Repair Dockyard – a low-cost measure to boost the power plant of the ship. The ship was finally released from repairs in August 2004 (a date which coincides with the 100th anniversary of the birth of Admiral Kuznetsov), and soon thereafter was put to sea to participate in exercises in both the Mediterranean and Atlantic. Russia’s carrier aviation is relatively well developed by today’s standards, with the 279th Ship borne Fighter Air Regiment at its core. The Su-33 (Su-27K) carrier variant was virtually the only type of fighter produced serially in Russia in the 1990s. Twenty-six have been released up to now, in addition to the nine prototypes of the T-10K series. Though two test and three serial aircraft have been lost, there are still, on the whole, enough planes to equip the 279th Ship borne Fighter Air Regiment. Two Su-27UBs and six of the twelve Su-25UTG trainers that are still in Russia are used for deck flight training. For regular practice, the NITKA ground-based simulator is leased in Ukraine. The complete air wing of the Kuznetsov is made up of 20 to 24 Su-33 fighters supplemented with 18 Ka-27 and Ka-31 helicopters. Several measures are in the works to raise the battle potential of Russia’s naval aviation. The Su-33 fighters are to be modernized and equipped with multifunctional radar and air to surface guided weaponry, including anti-ship missiles, giving the Kuznetsov’s aviation an offensive capability. The test flight of the prototype ship borne two-seat multifunctional fighter Su-33UB (Su-27KUB) in 1999 was an important event as this aircraft may come to serve as the foundation of the Russian Navy’s ship borne aviation, perhaps even for some future aircraft carriers. Navy leadership has on several occasions, for example, in the "Basic Naval Policy of the Russian Federation to 2010," expressed the need to build new aircraft carriers. However, this is clearly not an option at present. In early 2004, Kuroyedov said that it was too soon to speak of new aircraft carriers — in effect calling them an issue for "the next decade"— though he maintained that the Kuznetsov was fit to sail, and that nobody was thinking of selling or decommissioning Russia’s only heavy aircraft-carrier. At the very least, it would appear that the issue is being studied. The category of guided missile cruisers is being effectively eliminated from the Russian fleet. This development stems not only from financial difficulties but is in keeping with the world-wide trend toward the return to multi-role destroyers as the basic ship for oceanic zones. This is particularly evident with respect to the huge and expensive Project 1144 (Kirov class) nuclear-powered guided missile cruisers, whose tactical value and combat stability is dubious in the absence of air cover by carrier-based aviation. Although Petr Velikiy, the flagship of the Russia fleet, was completed in 1998, the Navy is clearly not capable of maintaining another three ships of this type in active service. For example, the Admiral Ushakov (formerly the Kirov) had been laid up since 1990 because the emergency nuclear reactor had to be replaced. Though many observers trumpeted its eventual return to active service, the ship was decommissioned in 2002. The Pacific cruiser Admiral Lazarev (formerly the Frunze) has also been kept in reserve since the early 1990s at Strelok Bay near Vladivostok, but the chances of its return to service are rather slim. There has been some progress only in Severodvinsk, with respect to the third ship, of the Admiral Nakhimov (formerly the Kalinin), where steps to recharge the active zone of the reactor were finally undertaken in February 2003, though the duration of these repairs is expected to be a minimum of three years. The Russian fleet can still boast of three Project 1164 gas-turbine guided missile cruisers, of which the first ship Moskva (formerly the Slava) and the Marshall Ustinov underwent mid-life repairs in the 1990s, which in essence makes them relatively fit for service. The Pacific Varyag (ex-Chervona Ukraina) is past due for medium repairs, though it entered the Dalzavod Ship Repair Dockyard for running repairs in 2002. The fourth ship, Admiral Flota Lobov, built in Nikolaev as an improved project ship, was given to Ukraine 85% complete in 1993 and promptly renamed Ukraine. The Ukraine has been unable to complete the ship and in any case has no practical use for such a large vessel, which ironically has led to the attempted resale of the still incomplete cruiser back to Russia; a proposal the Navy brass has shown little interest in due to the near obsoleteness of the project. The export of military ships is in a deplorable state. The Project 956 Sovremenny class large destroyers were undermined by their unreliable high-pressure steam boilers and poor servicing; factors which led to 7 of the 17 built from 1980 to 1994 to be stricken. Of the remaining ten ships, only the Bespokoyniy and the Nastoichiviy of the Baltic Fleet and the Besstrashniy of the Northern Fleet are fully operational. The Northern Fleet destroyers Rastoropniy and the Bezuprechniy are derelict at Severniy Wharf in St. Petersburg, while the Bezuprechiy will soon follow, along with the laid-up Gremiashiy of the Northern Fleet. The Bezuderzhniy is also kept in reserve in unsatisfactory condition. In the Pacific Fleet, the Bystriy, Burniy, Bezboyaznniy and the Boyevoy are all in a so-called "limited" condition of fitness, and the first two are the only ones that ever go to sea. As is well known, two additional Project 956 destroyers were built at Severniy Wharf for export to China. The fate of the Udaloy-class Project 1155 Large Anti-Submarine Ships (destroyers) has been somewhat more positive. Thus far only three ships have been stricken, soon to be joined by the Marshal Vasiliyevskiy. The remaining eight ships are in fairly good condition, having undergone mid-life repairs over the past decade (repairs to the Vice-Admiral Kulakov were completed this year). In 2003 the Admiral Vinogradov and Admiral Panteleev of the Pacific fleet sailed in the Indian Ocean. However, the operational condition of these ships depends on the use of replacement gas-turbine power plants taken from reserves on hand. Alas, very few new turbines have been purchased from the Ukrainian Zorya factory in Nikolayev. The Black Sea Fleet maintains two old, large Anti-Submarine Ships of the Project 1134B Kara-class– the Kerch and Ochakov, and, although the former has recently undergone running repairs and the latter is expected to return to service after 16 years of mid-life repairs, the extreme age and wear of these ships make their battle-readiness entirely ephemeral. The electronics and armaments of the large Project 1155 destroyers are largely outdated. It was decided that the armaments were to be upgraded with Project 11551 (Udaloy-II class), but due to the crisis conditions and collapse of the USSR, only the Admiral Chabanenko was completed, and even then with great difficulty, in 1999. The second vessel of the class was cancelled and scrapped incomplete at the Yantar shipyard in 1993. The further development of large surface fighting ships in the Russian Fleet is tied to attempts to develop multipurpose destroyers, equipped with an integrated, multifunctional weapon and fire control system. The system includes, "standardized launchers for practically all types of missiles and anti-aircraft missile systems that can ensure the destruction of aerial targets at any altitude and range extending to several dozen kilometers from the ship." Plans are currently underway to develop vessels similar to American warships equipped with the AEGIS system. There are at present two known designs, one by the Number 1 Central Scientific Research Institute (TsNII-1), a counterpart to the American Arleigh Burke Flight IIA class ships, and another by the Northern Design Bureau. Unfortunately, even the best-case scenario would put the construction of such a destroyer in the distant future only. Only seven vessels of the Russian Navy’s small fleet of 32 Project 1135 (Krivak class) anti-submarine frigates remain. They are the Zadorniy (Northern Fleet), Pylkiy, Neukrotimiy (Baltic Fleet), Ladniy, Pytliviy (Black Sea Fleet), Letuchiy and the Revnostniy (Pacific Ocean Fleet). We can expect even these to be decommissioned sooner than later - that of the Letuchiy is planned for this year. The frigate Smetliviy, a former Project 61 Kashin class large Anti-Submarine Ship built in 1969, preserved as a kind of museum piece, was upgraded in the first half of the 1990s to a Project 01090 test ship. In the 1980s the development of frigates (‘guard ships’) was connected with the mass production of new Project 11540 ships for the Soviet Fleet. However, this project of the Zelenodol'sk Design Bureau had a bad internal design and proved to be less than fully seaworthy. The project was declared obsolete in the face of an overall decrease in production. As a result, construction was limited to the first Neustrashimiy series that underwent testing only in the late 1990s. Building of the second Yaroslav Mudriy (formerly the Nepristupniy) series dithered on for 16 years, breaking all records for delays. Construction was restarted in 2002 and, according to the "Armaments Program to 2010" the ship was supposed to have been released in 2004, though this date has been postponed again for one year. Construction of the third vessel Tuman was suspended at 30% complete in 1996, and laid up in 1998, presumably redesignated as a Project 11541 Korsair and earmarked for export. In the 1980s, the Almaz design bureau made plans for a new generation Project 12441 Grom frigate to replace the ageing Project 11540. The project was revised after the collapse of the USSR and modified to use only Russian parts. The fist ship of the project, the Novik, was laid down on 27 July 1997 at the Yantar shipyard. Project 12441 is the first Russian ship to incorporate ‘stealth’ technology and requires some 30 new weapons and electronics systems, including the Oniks anti-ship missiles (SS-N-26) and the Poliment anti-aircraft missile system. Given the meager financing available, these high-tech requirements have doomed the ship’s future. The project was suspended several times due to its "excessive complexity and technical risk," and was never more than 12% complete. In 2003 the project was reclassified as a simplified training vessel. The difficulties plaguing attempts to construct just the first ship of the 12441 series led Navy management to shift to the construction of a simpler and cheaper type of ship, nicknamed "corvette", but known officially as a "multifunctional littoral combat ship." The Almaz design bureau won the tender with their Project 20380 and consequently the hull of the first ship of this new type, the Steregushchiy, was laid down at Severnaya Wharf on 21 December 2001 and planned for release in 2005. The construction of a sister ship, the Soobrazitel’niy, began on May 20, 2003. The "Armaments Program to 2010" envisages the construction of four such corvettes. All in all a total of ten to twenty are planned. Fully in line with the aim of cutting costs, the Project 20380 is equipped with a diesel power plant, has a moderate running speed and is armed with older, familiar systems like the Uran anti-ship missiles (SS-N-25). Unfortunately, as a result of this strategy, the Project 20380 suffers from limited air-defense capability. However, officials have said the next ships in the series will be equipped with new anti-ship and anti-aircraft missile systems, including universal vertical launching systems. For all the hype surrounding this "Corvette of the 21st century," and in spite of its elements of ‘stealth’ technology, however, the ship is actually closer to the small European frigate of the 1980s. For a warship intended for closed theatres, the Project 20380 is oversized, with inadequate offensive capacity and superfluous anti-submarine components. Indeed, several specialists have criticized the manner of the ship’s construction. Finally, the Project 11661 small frigate Tatarstan (code-named Gepard) has been completed and finally entered the Caspian Fleet. The first of four ships were laid down at the beginning of the 1990s at the Zelenodol’skiy Ship Building Dockyard and earmarked for export. As no buyers were found for these obviously obsolete ships, the unfinished hull of the first ship rusted in 1993. It is worth recalling that as early as the late 1980s, the Soviet Navy rejected an even more advanced version of this ship, Project 11660, offered as a replacement for the Project 1124 (Grisha class) corvettes. In view of the above, the entry of the Tatarstan into the fleet makes little sense as there can be no adequate rationale for having a specialized anti-submarine ship in the Caspian Sea. Moreover, a second vessel called the Dagestan has recently been declared complete. In all, the situation is actually quite absurd, considering that under conditions of dire financing, Russia is carrying on with the construction of four types of patrol ship according to four different projects, none of which completely satisfies contemporary requirements. It’s worth noting that a decade ago, the Navy command had a much more sensible view of its requirements for patrol ships. Having declared the small patrol ship the priority ship of the littoral zone, they said it should be equipped with the same anti-ship and anti-submarine weapons as the new destroyers, though with a somewhat smaller armament." The Number 1 Central Scientific Research Institute made a similar recommendation in the press. Nevertheless, the Navy announced plans for a tender for yet another "frigate" in 2001, specifying that the tender would be for just the first ship of a series of frigates. Navy Command will then make a decision concerning the construction of other ships of the same series after first taking into account its financial means, the results of the ship’s testing (also to take place in 2004), its cost and construction time. Of the 68 Project 1124 Small Anti-Submarine Ships/corvettes (Grisha class) constructed in the Soviet period, about 28 Project 1124M (Grisha V class) remain in service. The impossibility of replacing the afterburning gas turbines of their power plants was one of the main reasons for striking so many. The twelve diesel vessels of Project 1131M (Parchim II class) Baltic Small Anti-Submarine Ships/corvettes built in the German Democratic Republic fared much better, having entered German shipyards for medium repairs in the 1990s. Of the 38 Project 1234 (Nanuchka class) small missile corvettes, only half have been retained, particularly from Project 12341 (Nanuchka III class). At the same time, the mass expiration of the storage life of their main armament, the solid-fuel propelled Malakhite anti-ship missile system (SS-N-9), presents a serious problem for the remaining ships of this class. The newest littoral attack ships are armed with the Moskit (SS-N-22) anti-ship missiles, while the Bora and the Samum are Project 1239 (Dergach class) Black Sea guided missile corvettes —specially designated as "2nd rank air-cushion missile ships." Given their design defects, however, the high cost of these one of a kind ships precludes their serial construction. The "drying up" of the Russian naval surface forces is especially manifested in the sharp decline of missile boats. The mass decommissioning of every variant of the obsolete Project 205 (Osa class) and 206 (Shershen class) vessels did not coincide with an adequate replacement program. The number of Project 12411 (code-name Molnia, Tarantul class) missile boats stationed on the Black Sea (5) and in the Baltic Fleet (10) is clearly insufficient to sustain an offensive mission. In its own right, the Project 12411 boat is too large and expensive. At the same time it does not possess the required universality, with its weak air defense system and complete lack of antisubmarine and mine-laying capability. Its Termit (SS-N-2C) and Moskit (SS-N-22) missile systems are fit mainly for attacking large surface ships, while these boats will more likely square off with smaller enemy combatants. All in all there are about 28 missile vessels of Project 12411 in the Russian navy, while one boat of Project 12421 was built as an export prototype with Moskit (SS-N-22) missiles, as were five old Project 206MP (Matka class) missile hydrofoil craft, which form part of the Caspian Fleet. According to this author’s data, no more than half of the Project 12411 boats are in operational condition, especially in light of the service life of the "imported" (Ukrainian) gas-turbine engines. The Navy’s dwindling light littoral warfare ships are not being adequately replaced. This is probably due to the Naval Command’s lack of a firm view on their role and place within the structure of the fleet. Although on 5 June 2001 the Vympel Shipyard built a prototype for the new Project 12300 (code-named Skorpion) missile boat of the Almaz variant, this boat is probably meant for export and to be released no sooner than 2005. It is said that project variants 12301 (equipped with Onyx anti-ship missiles) and 12302 (equipped with Uran missiles) have been commissioned by the Navy, though it would appear that serial production will not begin until after the prototype has finished testing. The Skorpion continues the line of the Molnia-type, meaning they are fairly large (over 500 tons) boats: expensive, non-universal, and clearly inferior to the larger corvettes across a range of important parameters. The larger corvettes are, as a general rule, replacing missile boats in international shipbuilding. On 20 January 2004 the Almaz plant laid down a new Project 21630 small gunboat for the Caspian Fleet. A total of five vessels are planned with launches expected to start by the end of 2005. The development of minesweepers for the Russian Navy practically ceased after 1991. Only a small number of minesweepers designed in the 70s and 80s and laid down before the Soviet Union collapsed have been produced. These include the Project 12660 ocean minesweeper Gumanenko (this Gorya class vessel was the second ship in the series as further construction was suspended due to high costs and non-delivery of a number of important systems), three Project 266ME ocean minesweepers (Natya class) originally built for export, two Project 12650 coastal minesweepers (Sonya class), and six Project 10750 inshore minesweepers (Lida Class). Further construction has been stopped due to a lack of resources and obsolete designs. Indeed, the Avangard shipyard has refitted two incomplete Project 12650 minesweepers as private yachts and marketed them to foreigners. At the same time, there has been a significant reduction in minesweeping forces, as a result of which the number of Project 226M and 12650 minesweepers has been halved and all older models have been decommissioned. All in all, the number of mine warfare boats in the Russian Navy has been reduced by a factor of three. The greatest deficiency of Russian minesweepers is the lack of mine hunting capability and automated mine countermeasure control systems. Though plans have been developed for the modernization for several variants, designs for a new generation of mine countermeasures ships are being drawn up at the same time. Some information is available concerning such work at Almaz, which recently advertised its prototype base minesweeper. This said, current limits on financing make the realization of these projects in the foreseeable future extremely unlikely. The fleet of landing forces has currently stabilized at 25 large landing ships, of which 21 are variants of Project 775 large landing ships of Polish construction (Ropucha class), and four old Soviet Project 1171 (Alligator class) ships. All three of the even larger Project 1174 (Ivan Rogov class) ships, with helicopter hangars and docks, have already or will be soon been stricken. A large part of the midsize and small landing ships have been stricken due to wear. Relatively intense transport operations and the need to replace the ships of Polish construction, for which spare parts can no longer be obtained, has forced Navy command to consider the construction of new landing ships as a priority task. It is said that funding for this purpose was requested as long ago as 2001. The relatively intensive use of large landing ships for transport and the need for replacing the ships of Polish construction as a result of problems with spare parts have forced the Naval command of Russia to consider the building of large landing ships of new generation as a priority task. Russia’s fleet of hydrofoil landing ships, once the largest in the world, has been virtually liquidated. Of the small air cushion landing ships, only three Project 12322 (code-named Zubr) on the Baltic and three old Project 12321 (code-named Dzheyran) on the Caspian remain. Eight modern Project 12061 Amur air cushion boats (code-name Murena) were transferred to the Border Forces in 1994, only to be stricken in 2001. In summary, the Russian surface naval forces have undergone a tremendous change since the collapse of the Soviet Union. It is to be expected that cut backs on new projects and even maintenance have appeared as a regular feature in the management of the fleet. This process has not been managed rationally, however, possibly do to the uncertainly of funding levels and the expectation of better days that are unlikely to come. Mainly, the lack of provision seems to stem from a combined lack of vision and lack of rational assessment of the needs of the Navy on the part of Russian Naval command. The "Armaments Program to 2010" and the "Program for the Construction and Reequipping of the Fleet to 2015" would appear to have unrealistic goals considering budget limitations. In light of changes in Russia’s strategic military orientation as well as changing standards in Naval architecture, the mass decommissioning of vessels could have been seen as opportunity to revamp the Navy with a modernization program suited to these changes. source Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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