Our dear TAVKR "Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union Kuznetsov"

Our dear TAVKR "Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union Kuznetsov"
Our dear TAVKR "Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union Kuznetsov"

The fire that broke out on December 12, 2019 on the heavy aircraft-carrying cruiser "Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union Kuznetsov" was a big blow to everyone who is not indifferent to the current state of the Russian Navy. We mourn the death of two people who gave their lives in the fight against the fire and wish a speedy recovery and recovery of strength to all fourteen victims, of whom seven were hospitalized.

It is well known that this is an emergency - already the second in a row during the repair of the TAVKR, which began in October 2017. On the night of October 30, 2018, the floating dock PD-50, in which Kuznetsov was located, went to the bottom. Alas, there were human casualties here too. One person is missing and still not found - readers of "VO" undoubtedly understand what this means. Of the other four victims, one died in a hospital in Murmansk.

Of course, in addition to people in these emergencies, the ship itself was damaged. During the fire on December 12-13, the flames covered an area of 600 (according to other sources - 500) square meters, the premises in this area burned out. The head of the USC A. Rakhmanov has so far refrained from assessing the damage, saying that even about the approximate amounts it will be possible to speak only in two weeks, that is, after the preliminary assessment of the damage, which is currently being carried out by specialists.

However, an unnamed source from USC said that, according to preliminary data, the damage was much less than expected. According to him, household premises with garbage in them burned out (why it was not raked out before welding is a separate question), but neither auxiliary diesel generators, nor containers with diesel fuel and engine oil, which were located near the fire site, were not damaged. So, perhaps, the ship itself this time got off with only "slight fright". As for the destruction of the PD-50, fortunately, for such a large-scale disaster, the ship suffered surprisingly little: the deck and several interior rooms were damaged when a 70-ton crane fell on it.


Perhaps that is why A. Rakhmanov is very optimistic about the timing of the return to service of our only TAVKR. While we are talking about postponing these dates "to the right" by no more than a year, that is, if it was originally assumed that the ship would return to the fleet in 2021, now 2022 is mentioned.

Meanwhile, in the electronic media

The fire on December 12-13 turned into a kind of trigger for a multitude of Internet publications with heartbreaking titles, such as: "Stop torturing him." Their essence boils down to the fact that the aircraft-carrying cruiser does not need to be put into operation. The arguments are as follows.

Kuznetsov is a classic suitcase without a handle. It is clear that an aircraft carrier is a status thing, and I want to keep it in the fleet. But the TAVKR is practically incapable of combat, and is only suitable for training pilots of carrier-based aviation, and the ongoing repairs of this fact will not change. We will not be able to assemble an aircraft carrier group for him either, because the Northern Fleet simply does not have enough surface ships. That is, the TAVKR has no military potential, and the costs of its repair and maintenance are high, and maybe even huge. It is better to build a pair of "Ash" or "Boreev" with the same money, from which our fleet will be much more useful.

This refrain comes in many variations. For example, if the repair of the TAVKR went according to plan, then everything would still be fine, but the drowning of the only floating dock, where Kuznetsov could be repaired in the north, leads to the fact that it is necessary to build a new one, and taking into account these additional costs, the return of the TAVKR- but the system no longer looks rational.

There is also a more radical position. That the USSR and the Russian Federation simply "could not enter the aircraft carriers." The design of the ship is bad, they have not learned how to operate, constant bloopers with one or the other, and it smokes in the Mediterranean Sea, and planes suffer disasters, and aerofinishers are torn, and even there are continuous zrady in repair. In general, this is not ours, and in general aircraft-carrying ships are a weapon of aggression against the banana republics, which in the era of hypersonic missiles have become obsolete as a class. We do not need aircraft carriers, we will manage with daggers … oh, sorry, "Daggers", "Zircons", submarines and a "mosquito" fleet.

Let's try to figure it all out. And to begin with …

How much does a TAVKR repair cost?

In the open press on this occasion, various amounts were cited. For example, in 2017, TASS reported that the cost of repairing and modernizing Kuznetsov would amount to about 40 billion rubles. Then the figure of 50 billion was named. In May 2018, according to Interfax, it increased to about 60 billion rubles. However, this did not become the final figure - according to the head of the USC A. Rakhmanov dated December 10, 2019, the amount required for the repair of the ship has grown further. Unfortunately, A. Rakhmanov did not specify how much.


Why are the sums for ship repairs growing so strangely - one and a half times, and more? Anyone with a bit of manufacturing experience will have no problem answering this question.

To begin with, it is impossible to accurately plan the cost of repairing a complex industrial product. It will be understandable only after troubleshooting of the repaired components and assemblies, that is, after they have been disassembled and looked at what is inside, which parts need repair, which ones are replacements, and which ones will still serve.

It is well known that a ship is a very complex engineering structure with a lot of mechanisms on board. Each of these mechanisms has its own resource, its own need for scheduled repairs of varying degrees of complexity. And if the scheduled preventive maintenance schedule is strictly followed, the state of the ship is quite predictable and understandable. Accordingly, it is not so difficult to plan the costs of the next repair. Of course, there will still be some deviations, but already relatively insignificant, not by tens of percent.

But if the ship "flew" over and over again by the "capital" intended for it according to the plans of the creators of the "capital", limiting itself to medium or even cosmetic repairs, or even without it at all, if the financing of even these "half" repairs was stretched, the quality of the components was not guaranteed, and etc., then it will be extremely difficult to predict the cost of repairs. You disassemble the unit, believing that two parts will need to be replaced there, but it turns out - five. Moreover, during the disassembly, it also turns out that another mechanism with which this unit interacts also requires urgent repair. And you didn't even plan it, because it worked properly. But then they opened it, saw what was inside and grabbed his head, because it is completely unclear why he hadn’t exploded and killed everyone around him.

This is exactly what happened with our "Kuznetsov". Let me just remind you that for almost 27 years from the date of commissioning and before being put into service in 2017, the TAVKR has not received a single (!!!) major overhaul. Many readers of "VO" swear that the TAVKR stands idle at the wall a lot, but, forgive me, how you service the equipment, so it serves you.


And therefore it is completely not surprising that until the limits and volumes of the necessary work were determined according to the TAVKR, until the defective statements were drawn up for all the components and assemblies being repaired, the total cost of repairs grew by leaps and bounds. There is no need to see in this some kind of excessive greed of the USC: it is clear that the company's managers will not let theirs go, but in this case the increase in the cost of repairs has quite objective reasons. So, the process of identifying defects was finally completed in November 2018 and, although the exact figures were not disclosed, it can be assumed that the cost of repairing the Kuznetsov aircraft, excluding the costs of eliminating the consequences of a fire and, probably, the fall of a 70-ton crane by its deck will be in the range of 60 to 70 billion rubles.

How much is a fallen crane and a fire?

How much can the damage to the TAVKR, received by it as a result of the flooding of the PD-50 dock, cost? I will answer the question with a question: "For whom exactly?" The Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation is not at all to blame for the death of this dock, and therefore it is not at all with his hands to pay for this damage. Maybe the United Shipbuilding Corporation will have to fork out? It is possible that this is so, but the fact is that at first glance, she, as it were, is not to blame for what happened. The floating dock PD-50, as well as the 82nd shipyard itself, where the Kuznetsov was repaired, are not part of the USC. This is a "private shop", the main shareholder of which is the well-known company "Rosneft". In October 2018, USC filed a lawsuit against Rosneft in order to compensate for the damage received by the Kuznetsov aircraft carrier, however, how it all ended (and whether it ended) is unknown to the author.

But from the point of view of the law, such damage is paid not by the customer, which is the Ministry of Defense, but by the contractor (USC), which, in turn, can recover the amount of damage from the co-contractor, which is shipyard 82. Whether it will be possible to recover money from Rosneft from A. Rakhmanov, or not, is of course an interesting question, but for the budget of the RF Ministry of Defense, the fall of the crane will not cost anything.

Interestingly, the same applies to the fire. The difference is that here USC is unlikely to be able to re-expose the damage to someone, but the Ministry of Defense will not pay for the emergency that occurred through the fault of the contractor.

How much does a new dock cost?

Here it is quite interesting. The fact is that the PD-50, apparently, is no longer possible to put into operation, even if you spend money on raising it. The structure is rather elderly, commissioned in 1980, and, most likely, critically deformed by collision with the ground during flooding.


Thus, the only solution to the issue is the construction of a new dry dock at the 35th shipyard (SRZ). More precisely, not construction, but the combination of two separate dry adjacent chambers of the existing dock into one. This will provide an opportunity for the 35th shipyard to repair large-tonnage vessels and ships, including the Kuznetsov TAVKR.

Of course, the pleasure is not cheap. According to experts, such work will cost the country about 20 billion rubles. And then those who predict the speedy disposal of the last TAVKR of our country turn on simple arithmetic: “60 billion rubles. for the repair of the cruiser, and 10 billion for repairing the damage, and 20 billion for the cost of the dock … Oh, it's not at all profitable!"

Well, we have already figured out the costs of eliminating the fire and falling of the crane. The costs are significant, but the RF Ministry of Defense will not bear them, so in this calculation they are equal to zero. What about the costs of building a dock?

For some, this may sound strange, but in calculating the costs of returning the TAVKR to operation, the costs of a new dock are equal (the author makes a mysterious face) exactly 0 (ZERO) rubles, 00 kopecks. Why?

The thing is that the construction costs, or rather the rebuilding of the dock, could be added to the cost of repairing the TAVKR only in one case: if this modernized dock was needed only and exclusively for Kuznetsov and for nothing else. But the same PD-50 existed and served many different ships, and by no means only the Kuznetsov TAVKR.


Our fleet in the north, both military and civilian, needs a large dock for large ships and vessels, and we no longer have it. And therefore, regardless of whether Kuznetsov will remain in the Russian Navy or be withdrawn from it, it is still necessary to create a large dock at the 35th shipyard.

I must also say that the modernization of the dock of the 35th SRZ in question was planned to be carried out even when the PD-50 was afloat and, as they say, nothing boded. Moreover, not only and not so much even large battleships of the 1st rank were considered as "guests" of this hydraulic structure, but the nuclear icebreakers LK-60, whose displacement will reach 33, 5 thousand tons. At that time, this was not a priority task, and it was planned to start modernizing the dock of the 35th shipyard in 2021. So you need to understand: the destruction of the PD-50 did not lead to the need to modernize the dock of the 35th shipyard, but only accelerated the start of work on it by about 3 years.

The need to dry-dock the TAVKR influenced only the timing of the start of work, but not the very need to reconstruct the 35th shipyard dock - the latter has nothing to do with Kuznetsov's presence in the fleet. And if so, there is no reason to tie the cost of building this dock to the cost of repairing our TAVKR. In fact, this is as absurd as, for example, building a tire shop and offering to pay the full cost of the construction to the driver of the first car to use its services.

So how much is it?

It turns out that the repair of the Kuznetsov TAVKR should cost the country about 65-70 billion rubles. But the terms of the repair may well shift "to the right", because A. Rakhmanov is very optimistic about the readiness of the "united" large dock at the 35th shipyard. The head of the USC assumed that this would take a year, but, as we already well know, in the construction of anything, we can easily turn a year into three. In theory, this should even reduce the cost of repairing the Kuznetsov for the Ministry of Defense, since, firstly, the later date of delivery of the ship will lead to a shift in the corresponding payments, and due to inflation, the latter may become cheaper (1 billion, paid in 2021 and in 2023, that's two different billions). In addition, the RF Ministry of Defense has the opportunity to fine USC for disruptions to work on the ship. But on the other hand, it is possible that the USC will be able to agree and still compensate part of its costs for the protracted repairs at the expense of the Ministry of Defense. That is why it makes sense to assume that in the end the cost of repairing the Kuznetsov TAVKR will be about 70-75 billion rubles. Is it a lot or a little?

It is rather difficult to give an answer to this question. The corvette of project 20380, laid down in 2017, that is, in the year of the beginning of the modernization of Kuznetsov, would cost the country about 23 billion rubles. (in 2014 they were contracted at a price exceeding 17 billion rubles plus inflation). It seems that the promising corvette "Daring" of project 20386 cost according to the 2016 estimate - 29 billion rubles, but next year it would have pulled out all 30 billion (despite the fact that in fact it is likely to be significantly more expensive). The cost of the serial "Ash-M" in 2011 was announced in the range of 30 billion rubles. That is, about a billion dollars. But this is the initial price, which Serdyukov seems to have managed to "push through", but later it, most likely, increased. Suffice it to say that the lead boat of the project 885M "Kazan" was estimated in 2011 at 47 billion rubles. That is, in terms of today's money, one serial "Ash-M" may well cost 65-70 billion rubles. or even more expensive.

On the whole, I believe, we will not be too mistaken in estimating the cost of repairing the Kuznetsov TAVKR at the cost of building 2-3 corvettes or one multipurpose nuclear submarine.

TAVKR "Kuznetsov" - incapable of combat?

Suppose Kuznetsov has been successfully repaired and returned to the Russian Navy in 2022 or there in 2024. What will the fleet get in the end?


It will be a ship capable of basing an air regiment (24 units) of multifunctional fighters of the MiG-29KR / KUBR type. In fact, the TAVKR could have serviced an air group of this size before, but for objective reasons it was never possible to "assemble" it on a ship, and there was no extreme need for it. At the same time, even at the time of the Syrian campaign, the deck MiGs had not yet been adopted for service.

At the same time, at the beginning of the 20s, the MiG-29KR / KUBR will be fully mastered by the pilots of carrier-based aviation. General overhaul of TAVKR mechanisms responsible for ensuring the functioning of aircraft, as well as a new take-off / landing control system will be able to provide the necessary maintenance.

The Kuznetsov TAVKR will no longer carry the strike weapons. The existing complex of anti-ship missiles "Granit" is not capable of combat, and the equipment of the UKSK ship for "Caliber", "Onyx" and "Zircon" is not provided for by the repair project. This, in general, is correct, since the key task of the TAVKR is to ensure the work of carrier-based aircraft, and not strikes with cruise missiles. Of course, the reserve does not hold a pocket, the ability to deliver a missile strike is obviously the best of its absence, but you have to pay for everything. Reinstallation of launchers, placement of appropriate combat posts and equipment, re-routing of communications, integration into BIUS and other work required to equip the Kuznetsov TAVKR UKSK will cost a lot of money.

As for the defensive weapons, then, as far as can be judged from open publications, the Kinzhal air defense system will remain, although it is possible that it will be modernized. But 8 installations ZRAK "Kortik" will be replaced by "Shells", probably - in the same amount.

What the ship's speed will be after repair is extremely difficult to say. Nevertheless, according to the information available to the author, it can be assumed that, having returned to the fleet, "Kuznetsov" will be able to produce at least 20 knots without stress and for a long time, but possibly more.

What can you say about such a ship? Very often in publications and comments to them one has to read the following: in this form, the TAVKR is categorically inferior to any American aircraft carrier and will not be able to withstand the latter in open combat. At the same time, the Americans have 10 aircraft carriers, and we have one "Kuznetsov". A simple conclusion is drawn from this: in the event of a war with NATO, our last TAVKR will not be able to bring any sense.

In fact, this conclusion is completely wrong. The fact is that the usefulness of this or that weapon should be measured not by "spherical horses in a vacuum", but by the ability to solve specific tasks in very specific conditions. A hunting knife, as a means of destroying enemy manpower, is in all respects inferior to a hunting rifle in the steppe, but in the elevator of a city house, the situation changes dramatically. Yes, the American AUG in a duel situation, no doubt, is capable of destroying an aircraft carrier multipurpose group led by "Kuznetsov". But the question is that no one will ever set our TAVKR the task of defeating such an American formation in the ocean.

Severomorsky bastion

In the event of a global war, the task of the Northern Fleet will be to create, as it has become fashionable to say, a zone of restriction and denial of access and A2 / AD maneuver in the Barents Sea and east of it. This is necessary, first of all, to ensure the safety of the SSBN deployment. This, of course, is not about assigning a multipurpose submarine and 2 frigates to each strategic submarine cruiser. The Northern Fleet will need to identify, hinder and restrict the actions of surface and submarine ships, as well as NATO aircraft and helicopters in the Barents Sea. Thus, the probability of a successful interception of our SSBNs by enemy ASW forces can be significantly reduced. And the same applies to the deployment of domestic nuclear and diesel multipurpose submarines.

Simply put, after the Russian naval missile aviation ceased to exist, submarines became, perhaps, the only means capable of causing at least some damage to the enemy. But we have few of them left, and besides, practice has long and many times proven that submarines are incapable of fighting a properly organized anti-submarine defense, carried out by heterogeneous forces. So, no matter how weak our surface and air forces are, their correct use at the beginning of the conflict will be able to limit the activities of such important elements of NATO ASW as anti-submarine aircraft and hydroacoustic reconnaissance ships - and thus create additional opportunities and chances for our submariners.

What kind of adversary are we going to face? According to the American military plans that have existed since the times of the USSR, the American AUS (2 aircraft carriers with a bunch of aircraft taken into overload and with escort ships) was supposed to approach the shores of Norway. There, some of the aircraft were supposed to fly to Norwegian airfields, and then act on sea, air and land targets.

In other words, the Americans do not at all strive to get their AUGs into the Barents Sea. Their plan is simpler - having provided air supremacy with superior aviation masses (under two hundred carrier-based aircraft), conquering it under water, saturating the water area with its first-class multipurpose nuclear submarines, and airspace with anti-submarine aircraft and helicopters. Can we resist these plans with land-based aviation alone?

Let's take such an important element of reconnaissance as the AWACS aircraft. The Russian Federation has such planes: we are talking about the A-50, the modernized A-50U, and perhaps even about the A-100 Premier.


Yes, they do not serve in naval aviation, but, according to the author's information, they are periodically involved in reconnaissance over the seas, at least in the Far East, and nothing prevents them from doing the same in the north. A-50U is capable of patrolling for 7 hours 1000 km from the airfield. This is fine, but the Su-30, which took off from the same airfield, even hung with outboard fuel tanks, is unlikely to be able to accompany it in patrol mode for even an hour. In total, to accompany one A-50U, at least 14 Su-30s will be required, provided that a pair of fighters will accompany the AWACS aircraft.

But, for example, an A-50 was discovered by an enemy patrol plane. What to do? Send fighters to attack, remaining defenseless, because even if the Su-30 succeeds, they will burn fuel, use up their weapons, and be forced to return to the airfield? Leave after an attack with them, giving up airspace control? Calling for reinforcements from the ground will not work - it will arrive too late. There remains only one option - to have with you not a pair, but four fighters, but then, to ensure the operation of one AWACS aircraft, you will need not 14, but 28 fighters. And this one is already simply unrealistic - we will not be able to allocate such an air group to support only one AWACS. In total, we should either abandon the use of long-range radar reconnaissance aircraft at sea, or make it very fragmented, tying the patrol time to the capabilities of the fighter cover. Obviously, both options will have an extremely negative effect on the coverage of the air and surface situation.

The task of monitoring the airspace is greatly simplified if at sea, in the AWACS patrol area, there is an aircraft-carrying ship with at least one squadron of fighters on board. Its aircraft, having even a smaller combat radius, will still be able to accompany the "flying headquarters" longer simply due to the proximity of the TAVKR to the patrolling area. They will also be able to react quickly and intercept targets identified during AWACS patrols. Helicopters operating from the TAVKR are quite capable of significantly strengthening control over the actions of foreign submarines at a considerable distance from the coast.


Of course, the Americans are quite capable of locating and destroying the Kuznetsov in the Barents Sea. But the destruction of the AMG as part of the TAVKR, and at least only 2-3 surface ships supporting it, is a very difficult task that cannot be completed at once. This is a complex operation that requires preparation, reconnaissance and additional reconnaissance of the Russian warrant, the organization of a massive air raid, and perhaps not even one … In general, this is an operation that, under the most optimistic assumptions, will take many hours for the Americans. And as long as the TAVKR is not destroyed, or at least disabled, the mere fact of its existence will seriously limit the actions of NATO anti-aircraft patrol aircraft.

In other words, the presence of an operating air-defense missile system as part of the Northern Fleet, even if only with one or one and a half squadrons of fighters, even without its own AWACS, even with a move of no more than 20 knots, will significantly increase the situational awareness of the fleet command about the surface and submarine situation in the pre-war period, and can seriously hinder the actions of enemy ASW aviation at least in the first hours of the war.

Can we assume that the actions of the TAVKR will save at least one nuclear submarine from death in the initial period of the war? More than.


Imagine representatives of the RF Ministry of Defense at a crossroads. There is a certain amount of money (70-75 billion rubles). You can build another modernized "Ash" project 885M. Or it is possible - to preserve the status pennant, to gain experience in the operation of aircraft-carrying ships, to continue the development of domestic carrier-based aviation, and, at the same time, not to reduce the submarine grouping of the fleet at all, because if it comes to war, the presence of all this will save at least one nuclear submarine from death in the very first hours of the war.

For the author of this article, the choice is obvious. And for you, dear readers?

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