The end of the nuclear triad? Marine component of strategic nuclear forces

The end of the nuclear triad? Marine component of strategic nuclear forces
The end of the nuclear triad? Marine component of strategic nuclear forces
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The end of the nuclear triad? Marine component of strategic nuclear forces

Marine component of strategic nuclear forces

The naval component appeared later than the aviation and ground component of the strategic nuclear forces. In principle, the United States planned to launch nuclear strikes on the USSR, including by aircraft taking off from aircraft carriers, but still, submarines (submarines) with ballistic and cruise missiles (CR) with nuclear warheads (YBCH) are considered the naval component of the strategic nuclear forces.

The first submarines with nuclear weapons had limited capabilities: the launch had to be carried out from the surface position, which allowed the enemy to quickly detect the surfaced submarine and destroy it even before the missiles were launched. This was facilitated by the short range of missiles, because of which the submarine was forced to approach the territory controlled by the enemy's anti-submarine forces.

Important milestones in the history of submarine strategic missile carriers were the emergence of nuclear submarines (nuclear submarines) and intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) capable of launching from under water.

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Thus, a new class of weapons appeared - SSBN (nuclear submarine with ballistic missiles), in Russia referred to as SSBN (strategic missile submarine cruiser) with submarine ballistic missiles (SLBMs) ​​and strategic cruise missiles with nuclear warheads (currently time CD for submarines with nuclear warheads removed from service).

Like other components of strategic nuclear forces (air and ground), the naval component has its own advantages and disadvantages. To some extent, we can say that the naval component combines the advantages and disadvantages of the aviation and ground components of the strategic nuclear forces. For example, as in the case of bombers at airfields, SSBNs near the pier are practically defenseless against a sudden disarming strike from both nuclear and conventional weapons, although, unlike an aircraft, it is capable of launching SLBMs directly from the pier.

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On the other hand, after going to sea, it is much more difficult to detect and destroy SSBNs, which in some way makes this type of weapon similar to mobile ground-based missile systems (PGRK). Accordingly, if it was possible to ensure the secrecy of SSBNs when the enemy delivers a sudden disarming strike, then it can deliver a retaliation strike of colossal force. In theory, even one SSBN can inflict unacceptable losses on the enemy.

Given that the survival of the SSBN is its secrecy, it is necessary to ensure the minimum time of its stay at the pier, that is, a high coefficient of operational stress (KOH). This is ensured by the increased efficiency of logistics and maintenance of SSBNs, as well as the presence of two replacement crews for each SSBN, similar to what is done in the United States.

It is much more difficult to ensure the secrecy of SSBNs when leaving the basing area to the patrol area. For a long time, Soviet SSBNs lagged significantly behind American ones in terms of noise. Because of this, the naval component of the USSR's strategic nuclear forces has always been in second place in relation to the ground component of the strategic nuclear forces - the strategic missile forces (Strategic Missile Forces). The newest Russian SSBNs in terms of noise characteristics are presumably comparable to US SSBNs. But since it is impossible to achieve absolute invisibility, this only affects the detection range of SSBNs by enemy anti-submarine forces.Do not forget that the means of detecting submarines are also being rapidly improved.

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The most important factor that increases the survivability of the naval component of the strategic nuclear forces is the presence of a strong fleet capable of protecting SSBNs from enemy submarines and anti-submarine aircraft. And with this we have serious problems. It is possible that due to the construction of new ships, it will be possible to ensure the exit of SSBNs from the base, but it will be much more difficult for the Russian Navy to provide high-quality cover for patrolling areas in the near future.

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The biggest disadvantage of the naval component of the strategic nuclear forces is that SSBNs are on alert duty in international waters, where there is no way to limit the enemy's activity. In other words, the enemy can carry out unlimited deployment of its ships, submarines, aviation, autonomous sensors and promising submarine and surface unmanned systems.

SOSUS and FOSS

During the Cold War, the United States deployed the SOSUS (SOund SUrveillance System) system in the ocean, designed to detect Soviet submarines. The SOSUS system consisted of giant acoustic antenna fields in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. In the Middle North, SOSUS sensors were located throughout the Lofoten Basin - from the coast of Norway to Jan Main Island. After the deployment of the system, the hidden passage of Soviet submarines to the Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean turned out to be very difficult, since submarines were detected at a distance of up to several hundred kilometers.

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Currently, the SOSUS system is mothballed, the emphasis is on promising rapidly deployable multi-element regional lighting systems for the underwater situation (FOS) consisting of emitters towed by surface ships and numerous receivers: towed antennas of surface ships, sonar systems (HAC) of submarines, sonar buoys and expansions on the ground of linear antennas.

In addition to sonar, the search for submarines by the FOSS system is carried out in other ways - by changing the hydrostatic pressure, the readings of seismic sensors of vibrations of the seabed, the illumination of the underwater bottom, the magnetic field, changes in the Earth's gravitational field, the wave wake of the boat.

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Let's imagine for a moment that reconnaissance and signaling devices would be placed on the routes of movement of the PGRK, mobile units on armored vehicles would be deployed, enemy aircraft would patrol the sky. How stable would such a component of strategic nuclear forces be?

It can be assumed that in the near future the number of autonomous sensors, underwater, surface and air unmanned vehicles capable of searching for submarines will only increase. The characteristics of sensors will also increase, and high-performance computing tools, including those based on neural networks, will help to effectively track almost all large objects in the world's oceans in real time

Under these conditions, only a fleet comparable to the enemy's fleet, capable of creating an A2 / AD (anti-access and area denial) zone, can provide an acceptable degree of survival for the naval component of the strategic nuclear forces.

If this is not possible, the SSBN can be tracked by the enemy along the entire route. In the event that the enemy decides on a sudden disarming strike, all SSBNs will be destroyed, and information about this can be obtained with a significant delay. Given the number of nuclear warheads on one SSBN, the destruction of at least one of them would cause significant damage to Russian nuclear potential.

In this context, the adoption of Poseidon unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) will not change anything, since the carriers are destroyed even before the launch of the UUV.And the invulnerability of the Poseidon BPA itself remains a big question.

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Possible solutions

How can the survival rate of SSBNs be increased? Building a powerful and efficient fleet is the obvious answer. The only question is whether we can create such a fleet and how long it will take.

It is possible to reduce the likelihood of tracking SSBNs by building SSGNs - nuclear submarines with cruise missiles based on the same project as SSBNs. Apparently, the construction of the Project 955K SSGN is being considered by the Russian Ministry of Defense. In the event of a simultaneous exit from the SSBN and SSGN base on the basis of one project, it will be difficult for the enemy to understand which of them needs to be tracked, and the SSBN will be more likely to get lost in the ocean. But not by much, since it will not be possible to build many SSGNs, and our enemy has too many anti-submarine weapons, which will allow him to monitor all carriers. On the other hand, SSGNs themselves can also be effective weapons of conventional war.

Increasing the survival rate of the marine component of the strategic nuclear forces can increase the "toothiness" of the SSBNs themselves. First of all, this is the equipping of SSBNs with modern torpedoes and anti-torpedoes.

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Submarine anti-aircraft missile systems (SAM) can increase the security of SSBNs from anti-submarine aviation. The newest French nuclear submarine (nuclear submarine) "Suffren" of the "Barracuda SNA" class is equipped with an A3SM self-defense air defense system, developed by a joint division of the MBDA and DCNS concerns, and is capable of launching from under water a modified MICA-IR medium-range air combat missile with dual-band infrared homing head. The launch of the launch capsule with an anti-aircraft missile is carried out from torpedo tubes of 533 mm caliber.

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Considering that Russia is a leader in the creation of air defense systems of various classes, it can be assumed that we are quite capable of equipping our submarines with air defense systems, for example, based on the Vityaz air defense system, with missiles with an active radar homing head (ARLGSN) or an infrared homing head (IC GOS).

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Or, following the example of the French, create an air defense system based on air-to-air missiles RVV-BD and RVV-MD.

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An even more radical solution could be the creation of an SSBN and a multipurpose nuclear submarine (SSNS) on the basis of one project. According to unconfirmed reports, such a decision has already been considered by domestic developers, but at present there is no mention of the creation of SSBNs based on this project. Obviously, the implementation of such a solution has objective difficulties due to the significant dimensions of the SLBM, but most likely they can be overcome when creating promising missiles.

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In this case, a universal platform can be created, capable of carrying both cruise and ballistic missiles. The number of SLBMs on board such a nuclear submarine will be limited, for example, to four missiles. The main advantage will be that during the construction of a large series of nuclear submarines based on a universal platform, it will be practically impossible to distinguish SSBNs from SSNs. Accordingly, with a competent organization of the exit of nuclear submarines and SSBNs into the sea, the enemy will never be able to understand whether he is chasing SSBNs or SSBNs.

It should be noted that for the naval component of the strategic nuclear forces, the missile attack warning system (EWS) is of minimal importance, it is only important that the possibility of receiving an order to deliver a nuclear strike remains. If the SSBN is not detected, then the launch can be carried out after the destruction of other components of the strategic nuclear forces, and if the SSBN is detected, then it will be destroyed even before the early warning system detects the launch of enemy missiles.

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