Water turbulence: Russian fleet is changing priorities for purchasing ships

MOSCOW, (BM) – Serious adjustments await the military shipbuilding program, sources in the Russian military department, learned BulgarianMilitary.com citing Russian news agency Izvestia. It is expected that some of the previously announced ambitious programs will be reduced and priorities revised.

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The contracts concluded at the Army-2020 forum that ended recently, as well as the models of promising ships and vessels presented at it, allow us to draw the first conclusions about the directions of the further development of the Navy. Izvestia studied the announced changes in the plans for the construction of the surface and submarine fleet.

On the water

The main announcements took place in the field of surface shipbuilding. The Ministry of Defense has ordered two more frigates of Project 22350, which will become the ninth and tenth representatives of this type of ships. They will supplement the two “Admiral Gorshkov” and “Admiral Kasatonov” in service and six more ships of this project under construction.

Around 2027, we can expect that the Northern and Pacific fleets will receive four such frigates each and two will strengthen the Black Sea one. This will radically update the existing forces of the Russian Navy in the far sea zone. Now they consist of ships built by the USSR in the 1980s and early 1990s.

But if the order of a pair of frigates was expected, then the contract for a record batch of corvettes came as a surprise. The Navy ordered 10 units. Eight of them will be built according to the project 20380 “Guarding”. These corvettes have a proven design, good weapons and seaworthiness. In particular, two Pacific Fleet Fleets “Perfect” and “Gromkiy” recently made a long ocean voyage. It is expected that most of the newly built ships will also go to the Far East.

On eight ordered ships of the 20380 series, the installation of a new integrated tower mast structure (IBMK) with a powerful Zaslon radar system is provided. This radar is already available on four corvettes of the family under construction now.

The other two corvettes will be created under the project 20385. The lead ship “Thundering” is already under testing. Unlike the “Guarding” ships, these ships are armed with the “Caliber” missile system and are a slightly larger version. The fact of ordering a couple more of such corvettes demonstrates the success of the Russian import substitution program for ship propulsion systems. The head pair of such corvettes provided for the installation of German diesel engines.

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Earlier, the Navy announced that the corvettes 20380 would be the last and in the future the fleet will switch to ordering ships of the 20386 family. The lead of them, the Mercury, is now on the stocks. These ships represent a new direction in the naval shipbuilding of Russia and the whole world. They have a so-called integrated feed and a changeable load in the form of container systems for various purposes.

Returning to project 20380 suggests that the development of an innovative project, its cost or the creation of container weapons systems have encountered difficulties. The issues of their placement on ships, transportation and training of personnel for the operation of such promising weapons systems have not yet been worked out.

An indirect evidence of the problems with the creation of container systems can be the fact of their absence at the site of the Army-2020 forum, with the exception of the Kampo diving modules. Therefore, the Navy decided to order ready-made ships and weapons for them. But the program 20386 itself, presumably, although it is strongly shifted to the right, but continues to remain in the plans of the Navy.

“In the conditions of 2020, the fleet revised its development program in favor of more advanced ships, submarines and weapon systems,” military expert Vladislav Shurygin explained to Izvestia. “This can be seen in the order of the corvettes of the 20380 family and the project 636.3 submarine. It was previously believed that the construction of these projects would be completed”.

It must be assumed that financial restrictions and, first of all, the existing problems in the creation of new types of weapons and equipment postpone promising projects for the future. And due to the already worked out systems, the Navy intends to increase its forces and replace aging ships and submarines in the shortest possible time. Also, the Navy intends to strengthen its Arctic grouping, the expert said.

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In the Navy section of the Army 2020 forum, a mockup of the Project 22350 artillery control ship for the Arctic zone was shown. It is a more armed version of the first two ordered patrol icebreakers of this series. The ship has a large number of electronic systems, 24 rocket launchers and stealth artillery systems. There are two containers in the stern. Most likely, this model will be used to order subsequent hulls of patrol icebreakers of the Navy for operations in Arctic waters.

The expected order was for a series of Project 12700 minesweepers. Currently, three of these ships are already in service and five are under construction. The Navy is obviously pleased with this project and wants to continue the series. Moreover, now the basis of mine action forces are again Soviet-built ships. They are of little use for fighting modern types of naval mine weapons. It must be remembered that during the First and Second World Wars, the Russian fleet suffered the main losses precisely from the impact of naval mine weapons.

Under water

The Navy has signed a contract for two Project 885M nuclear submarines. The total number of ordered submarines has grown to 11 pieces, which will bring them to the second place in the world in terms of number among projects of fourth generation nuclear submarine attack boats. Eight submarines of this project are currently under construction. The first of them – “Kazan” in 2020 should become part of the Northern Fleet. It already contains the lead submarine of the series – “Severodvinsk”. By the end of the 2020s, the Russian Navy will receive one division of such boats based in the Northern and Pacific fleets.

The fleet ordered the sixth submarine of Project 677 from the Admiralty Shipyards. But only the first of them, Saint Petersburg, is already in the Navy, although it is in trial operation. United Shipbuilding Corporation faced a number of difficulties during their construction. Nevertheless, the contract shows that the Ministry of Defense still intends to form a full-fledged submarine brigade from them.

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There is information about the plans of the Ministry of Defense to deploy all six 677 boats in the Baltic Fleet. They are smaller than Project 636.3 submarines and are considered better suited for operations in the Baltic. In addition, they can carry a variety of weapons on board, including the Caliber cruise missiles. With the intensification of US and NATO forces in Europe, Russia has to increase its military power in the Baltic region.

The Russian Navy is in the habit of ordering boats of six, which is considered the typical composition of the brigade. Therefore, the information about the order of another project 636.3 submarine sounded somewhat surprising. This brings the total number of designed and built boats of this family for the Russian Navy to 13. It can be assumed that this submarine was ordered for the Baltic Fleet, which has only one orderly outdated submarine “Dmitrov”, 34 years old. It is used to maintain the readiness of the anti-submarine forces of the fleet and to train crews for newly built submarines.

Significant was the contract between the Moscow Region and the Zvezdochka Shipbuilding Center on overhaul and modernization of Project 971 nuclear submarines. Currently, there are four project boats in Severodvinsk on the territory of this enterprise [Samara and Bratsk from the Pacific Fleet, “Volk” and “Leopard” from the North.] These submarines have been out of the fleet for more than six years. The conclusion of a contract for their repair and modernization opens up prospects for the return of powerful underwater systems to the active forces of the Russian submarine.

It is curious that the previously announced contract for the construction of two nuclear submarines with ballistic missiles on board the 955A family was never signed. Most likely, it will be announced later.

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