This post was published in Inosmi. The point of view expressed in this article is authorial and do not necessarily reflect BM`s editorial stance.
WASHINGTON, (BM) – When Russian troops invaded Crimea in 2014, they quickly captured the port facilities of the Ukrainian Navy and many of the outdated Soviet-style warships.
After the annexation was completed, Ukraine had only one large warship – the frigate “Getman Sagaidachny”, 123.5 meters long and several dozen small vessels.
The Ukrainian Navy, hopelessly lagging behind the Russian Navy in terms of the number of naval personnel, launched an urgent rearmament program involving the purchase of patrol boats of several classes with artillery weapons.
But during the next war with Ukraine, Russia should not worry about these patrol boats with artillery weapons – it should be worried about anti-ship missiles, which Kiev also plans to purchase.
The Ukrainian Navy intends to acquire patrol boats of at least three types. Firstly, these are the boats of the Gyurza-M class, which will be built at the Ukrainian enterprise. Kiev plans to build 20 of the 23-meter patrol ships, each of which will have two combat modules with 30-millimeter guns, but as of 2020 it has built only seven.
After an incident in November 2018 in the Russian-controlled Kerch Strait connecting the Black Sea and the smaller Sea of Azov, two such boats were arrested and stayed in Russia for two years.
Meanwhile, as part of a total $ 1.5 billion military assistance package, Washington handed over to Kiev two decommissioned US Coast Guard patrol boats of 34 meters with one 25 mm gun and two Mark VI patrol boats. (Mark VI), 26 meters long with two 25 mm guns.
And in June, the Pentagon announced the possible sale of another 16 Mark VI class boats for $ 600 million to Ukraine. In addition, Kiev and Washington are negotiating the transfer of three more Island class boats.
After all the boats enter the naval combat crew of Ukraine, one frigate and dozens of modern patrol boats can enter.
But even these expanded forces cannot be compared with the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Navy, which is armed with a missile cruiser, a large anti-submarine ship, five missile boats, seven submarines and two dozen patrol boats. Not to mention the reinforcements that the Russian fleet could send to the Black Sea through the Bosphorus.
Soberly assessing the situation, no one suggests that in wartime the Ukrainian Navy will directly engage in battle with the Russian Navy. The navy of Kiev is not intended for this. In fact, all these patrol boats are mobile units in the marine alert system, which also includes coastal observation posts, ground-based radars, and small unmanned aerial vehicles.
In other words, these ships are part of the detection system. And this detection system will soon be able to transmit data to the unit of road-mobile anti-ship missile systems. Russia should not worry about patrol ships, but about missiles.
After all, missiles do not care where they are launched from. If launching anti-ship missiles from land for Ukraine is cheaper and easier than deploying a fleet of vulnerable missile patrol boats, why should Ukraine not abandon the expensive program of building military ships in favor of buying cheap trucks with a set of slightly less cheap cruise missiles?
The Ukrainian design bureau Luch is developing the R-360 anti-ship missile of the Neptune complex. Missile firing began in 2019. State tests of the complex continued in June.
According to the Ukrainian government, the “Neptune” missile system is designed to destroy combat ships of the destroyer, frigate, corvette classes, landing and tank landing ships and enemy transports, acting both independently and as part of separate naval groups and landing squads, coastal radiopaque targets in simple and difficult meteorological conditions at any time of the day and time of the year with active fire and electronic countermeasures of the enemy.
An inconspicuous Neptune missile with a radar guidance system can hit ships at a distance of up to 280 kilometers, which means that from its own territory Ukraine can pose a threat of missile strike at targets in about half of the Black Sea. Depending on the number of Neptune batteries that Ukraine will deploy, this could turn the region into an inevitable missile “trap” for Russian ships.
“The rockets of the Neptune project are a promising Ukrainian development and, if mass production is launched, could become a significant deterrent,” the Ukrainian government says
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