Does Russia need a strong fleet?

Does Russia need a strong fleet?
Does Russia need a strong fleet?

Historically, of all combat arms in VO, the fleet receives the greatest information support, thanks to the efforts of authors such as Alexander Timokhin and Maxim Klimov.

The very fact that the problems of the fleet are being discussed is certainly positive.


However, the country's defense capability implies a complex system of interaction between various branches of the armed forces.

The lack of balance in the presentation of information contributes to the fact that the real role of certain types of weapons is distorted, and wrong priorities can critically affect the defense capability of our country or the understanding by citizens of the primary goals and objectives of our time. Which, in general, is not a good indicator either.

Therefore, in this article, we would like to somewhat compensate for the emerging "trim" towards the fleet and critically assess its real position in the overall defense system of our country.

Naturally, as objectively and respectfully as possible.

In the process, you will have to periodically refer to the articles of these authors, and criticize certain theses regarding the fleet. But this is normal, it really is a search for truth between two opinions.

Geographical features of Russia

Whenever it comes to Russia's ability to have a strong fleet, all ambitious plans inexorably stumble upon a harsh fact - the funds that Russia invests in its fleet should ultimately be divided into 5 parts (by the number of four fleets and one flotilla).

To simplify the calculation, this leads to the fact that having a total budget three times larger than, say, Turkey, our fleet in this case is 1.6 times weaker locally. If in numbers, then against 6 of our submarines there will be 13 Turkish, and against 1 missile cruiser, 5 frigates and 3 corvettes there will be 16 Turkish URO frigates and 10 corvettes with missile weapons. In general, it is worth separately calculating the total capabilities of the Black Sea fleets of Russia and Turkey.


This calculation is a convention designed to demonstrate the principle itself. And he in no way takes into account a number of factors (which also play against us), for example, such as the presence in our fleet of an additional and very impressive item of expenses for the maintenance and support of the work of atomic strategists.

This state of affairs is, to put it mildly, depressing and makes you think - Is it worth spending money on the fleet at all if these investments represent a movement "against the tide"?

This feature of the geography of Russia is well known to people associated with the navy, but its discussion is often ignored due to the fact that casts doubt on the effectiveness of spending money on the fleet, as well as the place of the fleet in the general structure of the RF Armed Forcesand, as a consequence, the importance of all the discussed problems of the fleet for the country's defense as a whole.

So, for example, Alexander Timokhin in a number of his publications (Building a fleet. Consequences of "inconvenient" geography) tried to soften the acuteness of this issue and find a solution to the voiced problem, which became … investing in aviation. We agree with this opinion, moreover, we support it in every possible way.

However, it turns out that in the end it was still not possible to find a solution to the problem through the development of shipbuilding itself. But Alexander's topic is very interesting and contains many aspects that are important for the disclosure of the current topic. There will be several quotes from it below.

Separation of naval forces

The division of Russia's naval theater of operations has always been its strength and weakness at the same time. Force because in the pre-atomic era, no enemy could count on being able to defeat the entire fleet at once.

Well, first of all, it is obvious that there is and cannot be any strength in surviving without showing up for battle. With rare exceptions, which only confirm the rule.

Secondly, war (again with rare exceptions) is a continuation of politics. One country inflicts a military defeat on another country, which makes it possible to present certain requirements and it is not always a question of a complete defeat of the army.

Take the regional state of Japan or Turkey, for example. The sphere of interests of Japan is the Kuriles, they do not care about the Russian Black Sea Fleet anyway. The Turks, on the other hand, are interested in hydrocarbon deposits near Cyprus, but they do not care much about what is happening in the east of Russia. Therefore, the question of the complete destruction of the enemy's fleet for regional states is not on the agenda from the outset.

We are not alone …

It is curious to note that we are not alone. Another country whose fleet is divided by land and cannot quickly get together is … the USA!

It is not customary to talk about this, for some strange reason, but our main opponent has exactly the same vulnerability - his Navy is divided between the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic. Approximately equally. And, importantly, the main strike force of the US Navy, aircraft carriers, cannot cross the Panama Canal. Only bypassing South America and nothing else

There is also an attempt to remove the acuteness of the issue through an analogy - the United States has the same thing, but this does not prevent them from being "kings of the seas." So we can too.

Unfortunately no. For starters, we don't have 10 aircraft carriers, 22 cruisers and 78 destroyers. Now let's go in order.

First, the $ 700 billion budget is not at all the same as the $ 70 billion budget.

Secondly, dividing the fleet into 5 parts is not at all the same as dividing it by 2.

Thirdly, the impossibility of transferring ships concerns only aircraft carriers, other ships, such as the destroyers Arlie Burke (although inferior to the aircraft carrier, but nevertheless are also a force to be reckoned with), are perfectly transferred through the Panama Canal.

Fourth, the constant planned number of US aircraft carriers, equal to 10 units, makes it possible to divide them by 2 in a ratio of 4-6, which also softens the urgency of this issue for the United States. And it allows you to maneuver force to please the moment.

Fifth, the United States is also different from us in that their fleets are not locked in isolated waters like ours.

There is one more, sixth difference, which is perhaps more important than all the others, and which we will talk about a little later.

Soviet experience

And here the Soviet experience from the "Gorshkov era" comes to our aid, namely the concept of OPESK - operational squadrons. OPESK were groupings of warships and floating rear ships deployed in advance in the distant sea and ocean zones, ready to engage in hostilities at any time.

Another experience from the past … And where are the TE ships? And what do we have in return for THAT Soviet fleet?

In essence, the idea is clear and not new - if, say, Turkey closes the strait for us (let's say there will be a coup in Turkey, which has already been attempted and will come to power … but who knows who will come?), Then we need to place the fleet in the Mediterranean Sea in advance …

Such a plan is good, but it implies one piquant moment - it is essentially nothing more than an even greater dispersion of the available forces. That is, "the nose was pulled out, the tail got stuck." They tried to solve the problem of isolation - they aggravated the problem of disunity of forces.

Issues of combat stability in modern wars with the use of missile weapons

Another issue that is often forgotten by people who are fond of studying the doctrines of the times of the USSR is a huge leap in the development of ASP and missile weapons, which fundamentally changed the approach to combat stability. For some reason, this moment is deliberately ignored today.

Modern cruise missiles make it possible to strike targets not only from a long distance, which ensures the safety of carriers, but also to a great depth of troop formation, including the strategic one.

An example is the Russian X-101 missile, which has a range of about 5,000 km.


This means that in certain scenarios, the enemy does not need to defeat the entire army, it is enough to suppress air defense in one direction, after which many targets, expensive in all respects, become available for destruction - command posts, decision-making centers, refineries, ammunition depots, railway hubs, transport highways, power plants, factories, shipyards, etc.

For some time, the air defense will resist, but the first victims of strikes will inevitably be objects located on the border - both the naval bases themselves and the airfields located nearby risk being destroyed in the first place.

This simple fact compels a balanced and cautious approach to the issue of placing expensive weapons, substantial stocks of material and technical means, fuel, ammunition, and qualified personnel in the "red zone".

Someone may argue that only one scenario is being considered - a conflict with the United States, but let's take the Black Sea region as an example.

The distance between Crimea and Turkey is only about 300 km.


This means that in the event of hostilities in this region with the use of high-tech weapons, the battle will resemble a Mexican duel, when everyone will shoot at all of all the "guns". And when "the blue smoke will dissipate after the battle," who will remain on his feet is unknown.

Much will depend on who will strike the first blow and how focused it will be, as well as who can better brush off air defense from enemy missiles.

But it is obvious that in such conditions the fleet, its bases, nearby airfields and planes on them have a very mixed survival rate.

Moreover, the concept of "sea battle" to which A. Timokhin so often appeals is being blurred under these conditions.

First of all, due to the fact that the assignment of the importance and priorities of goals becomes ambiguous.

What is more important to attack? An airfield from which planes will regularly take off? Or a ship? And if the ship has shot back and already has empty mines? How should you assess its threat? Is it worth it to spray, finishing off small ships, or is it better to focus on suppressing air defense and getting the opportunity to destroy infrastructure?

In light of the above, it is worth looking at the Turkish development - the SOM cruise missile, which is planned to arm Turkish Air Force aircraft.


Thus, we have come to the 6th point, which differs us from the USA.

Our fleets are not only disunited and locked up. In the conditions of the use of modern weapons, they themselves and their entire infrastructure is under constant "targeting", which dramatically reduces their combat stability and protection against a surprise attack.

Pearl Harbor is much easier today

And you need to understand that if it comes to a serious fight, the entire Black Sea Fleet has a great chance of being destroyed in a matter of minutes, and up to 2/3 of the ships will be shot at the pier. Rockets.

But Timokhin and Klimov, in their articles, simply ignore this fact, continuing to refer to completely outdated concepts of the 80s of the last century.

Strategic and long-range aviation as a deterrent

While supporting Timokhin's opinion that aviation today plays a disproportionately large role in naval affairs and that the fleet without aviation simply does not seem functional, we want to note that only relying on long-range and strategic aviation can the fleet be fully operational.

Without proper support, it is doomed.

In fact, the United States also faced a similar problem, one of the American military analysts put the question as follows:

However, the problem is not small. America's two most formidable competitors - Russia and China - pose two challenges to operational reach.In the European theater of operations, American and allied bases are vulnerable to attack from Russia because they are too close, while in the Pacific, vast oceans and sparse terrain keep American forces too far away to project power.

Well, really. How can you expect one American base to be able to resist China or Russia?

So the United States needs a weapon that projects its power very quickly and efficiently. And as such a weapon, the United States uses its strategic bombers B-52 and B1 Lancer. They are in no hurry to write them off, on the contrary, they are constantly developing their weapons and methods of maintenance, and the B-52 is pulled with all their might, so that they still serve.

Most revealing is the preparation of the United States to equip its aircraft with fast-reload drums, which hints at the use of these aircraft for a series of missile strikes at the shortest possible interval.

That is, from a base as close as possible to the enemy's territory.

Recent events in the world also contain vivid examples of the use of this tactic. For example, against China - Guam as an element of deterring China: the United States allocated $ 1 billion for the development of a base on the island. I would also like to note - in the comments to the news about Guam, it was discussed how China can attack this base. The United States from Guam can attack all of China - its power plants, its shipyards, its fleet. And China can only attack Guam. An attack on the main US shipyard (for example) is out of the question without the use of strategic forces.

Or the United States acted in much the same way against Iran, carrying out the transfer of B-52s from an airbase in Louisiana to the island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean.

And even against Russia. The main popularizers of the naval theme in the military, Maxim Klimov and Alexander Timokhin, often mention that the enemy will attack us where we are weak, hinting at the importance of the fleet (not taking into account its near-zero combat stability - being locked in "puddles" under a constant "sight").

However, it remains unclear how any of the four fleets and one flotilla will be able to do at least something if the United States implements a similar scenario, which is called "in full"? There are so many former republics "friendly" to us near the Caspian Sea, which with great pleasure will let American planes stand, which is somewhat depressing.

And very close to the "aircraft carrier and unsinkable" Crimea, today, over the territory of Ukraine, the B-52 and B-1 are flying quite calmly, accompanied by Ukrainian aircraft.


Even such an "unsinkable" aircraft carrier as the Crimea may turn out to be quite sinkable. The question is not in survivability, but in the number of megatons.

And this once again brings us back to the difference between the American Norfolk (which is "somewhere over the horizon") from our base in Sevastopol, which is 300 km from Turkey. And 150 km from Ukraine.

Is there even a partial panacea? There is. And it is called Tu-160.


Based in the depths of the territory, these aircraft and their infrastructure are protected by all air defense echelons of the country. Tu-160s guarantee that despite how small the forces of our fleet (and not only the fleet) in a given region and how successful for the enemy and sudden for us their hypothetical first strike will not be, Russia will retain the ability to respond within a matter of hours. Hours - not weeks or days. This is especially important in the era of modern missile weapons, and a lot has already been said about the Tu-160's ability to quickly reach the launch line.

The inevitability of such a retaliatory strike, in turn, sharply reduces the likelihood of using the tactics of a surprise strike against us - since if the enemy is not able to prevent a retaliatory strike, all the success from surprise is somewhat leveled.

Thus, relying on the Tu-160 as the main deterrent, we have the opportunity to always keep our main weapon safe, devoid of the shortcomings inherent in the fleet (separation,locked and at gunpoint).

Its capabilities to support the fleet will also increase manifold in the case of the development of air-launched anti-ship missiles for it, as the United States did with the AGM-158C LRASM.


In the modern world, the ability to quickly concentrate strike potential in one direction, both for defense and attack, is not just important. Strategically important.

Meanwhile, there are examples of how the role of the fleet in maintaining the country's security can be much greater. And the best example is China.

Everything is beautiful: the budget is quite military, and the distance between the extreme points of its coastline is only 2,500 km. And all three fleets of the PLA of the PRC can easily be concentrated in one area, closely interacting with the entire coastal infrastructure.

The geography of our country makes the use of the Tu-160 as a modern tool for projection of power practically uncontested. Moreover, numerous comparisons of the striking capabilities of the Tu-160 and ships armed with similar missiles give the result not in favor of the ships.

Hence our first conclusion: it is necessary to revise the tactics of using the fleet, introducing into it the support of the rapid reaction forces in the person of the Tu-160, armed with anti-ship missiles in addition to strategic weapons

Concept - push back the boundaries

Another popular concept, actively promoted by the adepts of the fleet, is the concept of "retracted frontiers".

This concept works perfectly in the realities of the United States - when there are 6,000 km between Norfolk and the coast of Europe. And the strike group with the aircraft carrier put forward 1000 km forward really makes it possible to move the line. Planes and missiles approach the enemy, but still remain out of the range of his defense.

But this does not work in the realities of Russia.

The distance between Turkey and Russia is 300 km. And no matter how many aircraft carriers we have (and they still do not exist at all), we will not be able to push aside Turkey, Japan, Ukraine, the Caspian countries.

Here is what Alexander Timokhin writes about this (Sea warfare for beginners. The interaction of surface ships and strike aircraft):


It is clear that the only direction where it would be possible to at least draw is the notorious 1000 km line. - this is the direction of the Northern Fleet. But here, too, everything is not so luxurious.

The thing is that Norway is a NATO member. And you shouldn't consider it as a peaceful and independent country. During the Cold War, it was in Norway, under the protection of American special forces, that nuclear weapons depots were located. American. And the distance from its borders to Murmansk and Severomorsk is just over 100 km.


It is not clear how the border is moved from 100 to 1,000 km. More precisely, it is clear that Norway is not moving away in any way.

This point on the map was not taken by chance.


Quite clearly for readers who did not see the problem in the question "where to build a base for an aircraft carrier?"

Such a distance is ugly in that it allows the use of multiple launch rocket systems. And in fact, if necessary, Severomorsk can be shot with ordinary MLRS.

(Why is the MLRS M270 MLRS dangerous)

The situation with the Black Sea Fleet at the moment is not much better and there is every reason to believe that it will only get worse.

Ukraine hopes for US assistance in the construction of military facilities in Berdyansk, Mariupol and Skadovsk

The use of old concepts in today's realities is unacceptable


One of the common mistakes in preparing for war is the application of the concepts that prevailed in the past, without regard to modern realities.

This is often the fault of the authors traditionally covering naval topics.

In the above screenshot we are talking about "sea battle".

The fact is that at the current level of development of aviation and missile weapons in the conditions of the geographic characteristics of Russia, the concept of "sea battle" ceases to exist as something independent.

The myth that the fleet will meet the enemy first

This statement is another way to artificially increase the importance of the fleet, which can adversely affect the defense capability of our country.

Another insurmountable factor is that it is the surface forces that will meet the enemy first.

Returning to the B-52 flights over Ukraine, it becomes obvious that in modern conditions, in a number of scenarios, the fleet will not be able to help at all. How can ships prevent the B-52 from flying over Ukraine? No way. And to shoot down first, sorry, it will not work either. Syndrome 22.06. Sit and wait for bombs and missiles to fly. Alas.

Yes, the fleet can solve certain problems. In theory, the Northern and Pacific Fleets can. In practice, we will count. But the Baltic and Black Sea, in the light of the radically changed strategy of using new types of weapons, do not pose a particular threat to the enemy.

And hence the second and final conclusion. In the state in which the Russian navy is now, it is not capable of solving the tasks that the optimists assign to it. We definitely do not have the ability either financially or physically to strengthen the quantitative and qualitative composition of the fleet

Accordingly, it is inappropriate to pour in huge sums, as Timokhin and Klimov want. Build four fleets, each of which will be able to withstand regional representatives of the same NATO bloc? In modern realities, it will take 60-70 years, if not more.

To build about 50 Tu-160M ​​units at an accelerated pace and equip them with anti-ship and anti-submarine missiles - this task is still within our reach. And it will take 10-15 years.

And the fleet in this form will be able to solve the tasks of protecting the shores of Russia. It is not even worth dreaming about any "distant shores" there. But even their own shores will have to be protected under the reliable umbrella of strategic aviation.

Unfortunately, we have no other alternative. Unless, of course, you believe in the tales about nuclear aircraft carriers and nuclear destroyers. We propose to believe that our old Soviet-built ships will still serve for some time, which will allow us to build new frigates, corvettes and strategic bombers.

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