We devoted the last article to the appearance of a promising corvette for the Russian Navy, now let's think: what should our multipurpose submarines look like?
To begin with, let's recall what, in fact, tasks should be solved by ships of this class (both nuclear and non-nuclear) according to the military doctrine of the USSR:
1. Ensuring the deployment and combat stability of strategic missile submarines. In fact, multipurpose submarines simply do not have more important tasks than this and cannot be. The provision of the strategic nuclear forces of the USSR (and now the Russian Federation) is an absolute priority, because the nuclear triad is, in fact, the most important (and today - the only) guarantor of the existence of our country.
2. Anti-submarine defense of their facilities and forces, search and destruction of enemy submarines. As a matter of fact, submarines solve the first task (providing SSBNs) precisely by means of anti-submarine defense, but the latter, of course, is much broader than covering SSBNs alone. After all, the formations of our other warships, and coastal shipping, and the coast and the bases of the fleet, etc., also need anti-submarine defense.
3. Destruction of enemy warships and vessels operating as part of formations and groups, as well as singly. Everything is clear here - submarines must be able to fight not only against enemy submarines, but also surface ships, and destroy them, both single and as part of the highest operational formations of the fleets of our potential adversaries (AUG / AUS).
4. Violation of enemy sea and ocean communications. Here we are talking about actions against non-military, transport ships of our "sworn friends". For the Soviet Navy, this task was all the more important because, in the event of the outbreak of a large-scale military conflict between the ATS countries and NATO, Atlantic ocean shipping assumed a strategic character for NATO. Only the speedy and massive transfer of US ground forces to Europe gave them at least a shadow of a chance to stop the Soviet "tank roller" without the large-scale use of nuclear weapons. Accordingly, the disruption of such shipments, or at least their significant limitation, was one of the most important tasks of the USSR Navy, but only submarines could implement it in the Atlantic.
5. Destruction of militarily important enemy targets on the coast and in the depths of its territory. Of course, multipurpose submarines cannot solve this problem as radically as SSBNs, but they, being carriers of nuclear and non-nuclear cruise missiles, are capable of causing significant damage to enemy infrastructure.
The above tasks were key for the multipurpose submarines of the USSR Navy, but besides them, there were others, such as:
1. Conducting reconnaissance and ensuring the guidance of its forces on enemy groupings. Here, of course, it was not meant that the submarine should rush around the water area in fright in search of enemy ship groups. But, for example, the deployment of a submarine formation on a wide front along the possible routes of its movement made it possible to detect and report on the noticed enemy forces if, for some reason, his immediate attack was impossible or irrational;
2. Implementation of mine laying. In essence, it is a form of struggle against ships and ships of the enemy;
3. Landing of reconnaissance and sabotage groups on the enemy coast;
4. Navigation, hydrographic and hydrometeorological support of combat operations;
5. Transportation of goods and personnel to the blocked points of the base;
6. Rescue of crews of ships, vessels and aircraft in distress;
7. Refueling (supply) of submarines at sea.
A kind of "Serpent Gorynych" was involved in the creation of submarines for solving these problems in the USSR, as part of three design teams:
1. CDB "Rubin" - this design team was engaged in nuclear submarines carrying ballistic and cruise missiles, as well as diesel submarines. By the time of the collapse of the USSR, the products of this design bureau were presented by SSBNs of project 941 "Akula", SSGNs of project 949A - carriers of anti-ship missiles "Granit", diesel submarines of types 877 "Halibut" and its export version, project 636 "Varshavyanka";
2. SPMBM "Malachite", the main profile of which were multipurpose nuclear submarines, the apex of which, by the beginning of the 90s, undoubtedly, were the famous boats of project 971 "Shchuka-B";
3. CDB "Lazurit" - "a jack of all trades", who began with the design of diesel submarines, then took up submarines - carriers of cruise missiles, but yielded positions here to "Rubin" and, finally, created very successful multipurpose boats with a titanium hull. The latter - the nuclear submarine of project 945A "Condor" - became the "calling card" of this design bureau by the end of the 80s.
Thus, in the USSR, at some stage, they came to the following structure of a multipurpose submarine fleet:
Submarines - carriers of anti-ship missiles (SSGN)
They were heavy (surface displacement - 14,700 tons, which is not too different from the Ohio SSBN with 16,746 tons), highly specialized missile-carrying submarines for striking heavy anti-ship missiles against operational formations of the enemy fleet, including AUG. In fact, SSGNs could effectively solve only one (albeit important) task indicated in our list under No. 3, "Destruction of enemy warships and ships operating as part of formations and groups, as well as individually." For the solution of the remaining tasks of multipurpose submarines, of course, he could be involved, but due to the large size, relatively high noise level and worse maneuverability compared to less heavy boats, such use of SSGNs was not optimal;
Nuclear-powered torpedo submarines (PLAT)
They were effective anti-submarine ships, a means of fighting against enemy communications, and, thanks to their equipping with long-range cruise missiles S-10 "Granat" launched from torpedo tubes, they could strike at ground targets. Thus, PLAT effectively solved the other four most important tasks of multipurpose submarines. Of course, they could also take part in the defeat of enemy naval groups, but, not being armed with heavy anti-ship missiles, they were inferior in efficiency here to specialized SSGNs.
Diesel submarines (DEPL)
They are, in essence, a cheap analogue of PLATs with reduced capabilities. Of course, in this case, "cheap" does not mean "bad", because while driving on electric motors diesel-electric submarines had much less noise than PLAT. And, although their modest size did not allow them to place sonar systems on them, equal in capabilities to those that stood on their "older atomic brothers", they still had an advantage zone in which enemy nuclear-powered submarines had not yet heard diesel-electric submarines, and diesel-electric submarines detected nuclear submarines. That, in fact, was the reason for some people to call the same "Varshavyanka" "black hole".
As you know, the Soviet Navy, for all its gigantic size and the well-deserved title of the second fleet of the world, still did not dominate the ocean expanses, and to ensure security in the “bastions” of the Barents and Okhotsk Seas, diesel-electric submarines were an excellent tool: what about the Baltic and Black seas, then the use of nuclear submarines there was generally irrational. Thus, both in the USSR and today, diesel-electric submarines, or, perhaps, non-nuclear submarines using air-independent power plants (VNEU), are an important component of the submarine forces, justified by both military and economic considerations.
But with nuclear submarines, everything is not so simple - the very division of multipurpose nuclear submarines into SSGNs and PLATs gave rise to a different type of ship composition, which could not be welcomed, but in addition, in the USSR they also managed to simultaneously improve two types of submarines - with a conventional hull (project 671RTM / RTMK "Schuka" and project 971 "Schuka-B"), and with titanium (project 945 / 945A "Condor"). The Americans got by with the only type of multipurpose nuclear submarine "Los Angeles", while in the USSR, boats of three types of two different subclasses were simultaneously created! And the design bureau was already working hard on new projects: "Rubin" designed the latest SSGN, "Lazurit" - a specialized boat - a submarine hunter, "Malakhit" - a multipurpose nuclear submarine …
All of the above, of course, led to the desire to somehow unify domestic multipurpose nuclear submarines. The result of these efforts was the newest project 855 boat "Ash" from the creators of the famous "Shchuka-B" - SPMBM "Malakhit".
In this ship, our designers made a very good attempt to link together the "horse and quivering doe": in fact, it was about creating a single type of multipurpose nuclear submarine, suitable for performing all the tasks assigned to ships of this class of the USSR Navy.
The result, I must say, turned out to be extremely interesting. Let's compare "Ash" and "Pike-B": there is no doubt that "Ash" and, especially, "Ash-M" (the head "Kazan" and the boats that follow it) have a much lower noise level - the one and a half hull works for this design of project 885, and improved shock absorbers, which reduce vibrations, and hence the noise of a number of units, and (at Yasen-M) a special design of the reactor, which provides natural circulation of the coolant, which makes circulation pumps unnecessary, one of the strongest sources of noise on the nuclear submarine, and the use of composite materials, and other innovations unknown to the general public. In general, one can argue about how the noise of "Ash" and "Virginia" is related, but the fact that the domestic shipbuilding has made a big step forward in terms of quietness relative to ships of previous types is undoubtedly.
Hydroacoustic complex. Here "Ash" also noticeably breaks ahead - it is equipped with the newest and very powerful SJSC "Irtysh-Amphora", which, among other things, takes up significantly more space on the ship than MGK-540 "Skat-3", which were equipped with -B ". Strictly speaking, both SACs have side conformal antennas of a large area, and a towed antenna, and they probably occupy approximately equal space, but we are talking about the main antenna, traditionally installed in the bow section of the boat. So, if the "Shchuka-B" main antenna "Skat-3" is fully combined in the nose compartment with torpedo tubes,
then at "Ash" the bow compartment is fully used for the antenna "Irtysh Amphora", because of which the torpedo tubes had to be shifted to the center of the hull. That is, again, one can argue for a long time about the real efficiency of the Irtysh Amphora SJSC, but the fact is that it was given more volume and weight than the Skatu-3 on the Pike-B.
In terms of the number of armaments, the Ash is also significantly superior to the Pike-B. The latter had 4 * 650 and 4 * 533-mm torpedo tubes, and the ammunition load was 12 * 650-mm and 28 * 533-mm torpedoes, and only 40 units. "Ash" has a slightly more modest torpedo armament: 10 * 533-mm TA with 30 torpedoes ammunition, but it also has a launcher for 32 missiles of the "Caliber" or "Onyx" family.
Thus, we see that Malachite managed to create a quieter, more equipment-loaded, more armed, equally deep-sea ship (maximum diving depth - 600 m for both Ash and Shchuka-B), at a price … a price in total, approximately 200-500 tons of additional weight ("Ash" has a surface displacement of 8 600 tons, "Shchuka-B" - 8 100-8 400 tons) and a drop in speed by 2 knots (31 knots versus 33 knots). True, the volume of the Yasen's hull is more than 1,000 tons more than Shchuka-B - 13,800 tons versus 12,770 tons. How did you manage it? Apparently, a significant role was played by the abandonment of the two-body scheme in favor of the one-and-a-half-body scheme, which made it possible to greatly facilitate the corresponding designs.
The Yasen and Yasen-M multipurpose nuclear submarines will undoubtedly become the milestone ships of our Navy, they are quite successful, but, alas, they are not suitable for the role of the prospect of a multipurpose nuclear submarine of the Russian Navy. And the reason is quite simple - it's their price. The contract cost for the construction of the lead boat of the Yasen-M project was 47 billion rubles, which at that time, in 2011 prices, was approximately $ 1.5 billion, as for the serial ones, there is no clarity with them. Most likely, the price for them was 41 billion (1.32 billion dollars), but perhaps still 32.8 billion rubles. (1, 06 billion dollars), however, in any case, more than a billion in dollar terms. Such a price tag turned out to be too steep for our Navy, therefore, in the end, the Yasenei-M series was limited to only 6 hulls - together with the "ancestor" of the Yasen series, Severodvinsky, 7 boats of this project will enter service with the fleet.
And we need them, according to the most modest estimates, well, no less than 30.
Accordingly, we need a modern nuclear submarine of a different project, which will be able to perform the tasks listed at the beginning of the article in the most difficult conditions of modern combat: a submarine capable of withstanding the ships of the first fleets of the world. And, at the same time, the submarine, which in its cost will be significantly lower than the "Ash" and will allow us to build it in a truly massive series (over 20 units). Obviously, one cannot do without some kind of sacrifice. What could we refuse in the project of a promising multipurpose nuclear submarine? Let's divide all its qualities into 3 groups. The first - which in no case should be discarded, the second - indicators that may allow some reduction with minimal consequences for the ship's combat capability, and, finally, the third group is something that promising nuclear submarines can do without.
First, let's define what we shouldn't give up for sure. This is the low noise and power of the hydroacoustic complex: our ship, no doubt, should be as quiet as possible with the best HAC that we can put on it. Detecting the enemy while remaining invisible, or at least not allowing the enemy to do so, is a key issue in the survival of the submarine and in its combat missions. If we can achieve parity with the Americans here - great, we can surpass them - just wonderful, but there can be no savings on these characteristics.
But with the speed of the ship and the depth of immersion, everything is not so clear. Yes, modern submarines are quite capable of developing very high speeds under water: "Shchuka-B" - up to 33 knots, "Virginia" - 34 knots. the world "? It is well known that at such speed conditions even the quietest submarines turn into “roaring cows”, the noise of which is heard across half the ocean, and in a combat situation the submarine will never go at such speeds. For a submarine, it is not the "limiting" speed that is of much greater importance, but the maximum low-noise speed, but in modern nuclear submarines it usually does not exceed 20 knots, and in the 3rd generation submarines it was even 6-11 knots. At the same time, a lower speed of the ship means a lower cost of the power plant, smaller dimensions and savings in costs for the ship as a whole.
But … let's look at things from the other side. After all, high speed is provided by the increased power of the power plant, and the latter is an absolute boon for the nuclear submarine. Indeed, in combat conditions, when the submarine is discovered and attacked by the enemy, the submarine can undertake an energetic maneuver, or a series of them, in order to evade, say, torpedoes attacking it. And here, the more powerful its EI, the more energetic the maneuvering will be, the laws of physics have not been canceled. This, if you will allow, is the same as comparing some family car, into which a weak motor with a sports car was "stuck" in order to reduce the cost - yes, the first car will still accelerate, if necessary, to the maximum permitted speeds in the city and on the highway, but sports car in terms of acceleration speed, maneuver, will leave it far behind.
The maximum speed of the Ash is 31 knots, and we can say that in this parameter our nuclear submarines are in the penultimate place - only lower than the British Estute (29 knots), and is it worth further lowering the speed? Only professionals can answer this question.
With the depth of immersion, too, everything is ambiguous. On the one hand, the deeper the submarine goes under the water, the stronger its hull should be, and this, of course, increases the cost of the structure as a whole. But on the other hand, this, again, is a question of the ship's survivability. The sea and oceanic strata is a real "layer cake" of various currents and temperatures, using it competently, a submarine warship can get lost, knock the chase off the track, and, of course, this is easier to do, the greater the depth is available to the submariner. Today, our newest "Ash" and "Ash-M" have a working depth of 520 m, maximum - 600 m, and this significantly exceeds the same indicators of the American "Virginia" (300 and 490 m) and the British "Estute", which has a working depth of immersion 300 m at an unknown limit. Does it give our boats a tactical advantage? Apparently - yes, because the best American submarine hunter, Seawulf, had a working and maximum diving depth similar to the Ash - 480 and 600 m.
As you know, the Americans in the Seawulf project came close to the ideal of a submarine fighter - of course, at the then existing technical level, but the cost of such nuclear submarines turned out to be prohibitive even for the United States. As a result, they switched to the construction of much more modest "Virginias", limiting them, including the depth of immersion. How justified was this savings? Alas, the author of this article cannot offer an answer to this question.
What do we have left for sequestration? Alas, only weapons, but here you can really give up something: we are talking about launchers for missiles "Caliber", "Onyx" and, probably, "Zircon".
Why is that?
The fact is that of the five main tasks of multipurpose nuclear submarines, only one (No. 3, "Destruction of enemy warships and ships operating as part of formations and groups, as well as individually") requires a launcher for anti-ship missiles, and even then not without doubt - in fact, it is only really needed when the submarine is operating against a large formation of warships such as the AUG or amphibious group or similar size. But for anti-submarine warfare, and therefore for covering areas of combat stability of SSBNs, missiles are not needed - even if we assume that a multipurpose nuclear submarine needs missile-torpedoes, then they can be used from torpedo tubes, a vertical launcher is not necessary for this. And it is also not needed for actions against the enemy's merchant shipping: if there is, say, an urgent need to disable the escort ship covering the transports, then again, for this, you do not need a volley of 32 missiles, which means, again, you can use as a launcher torpedo tubes. There are still operations "fleet against coast", which submarines can only use cruise missiles, but even here there is a persistent feeling that the use of vertical launch silos for these purposes is completely unjustified.
The fact is that the launch of missiles strongly unmasks the submarine - regardless of the launch method, very powerful engines or accelerators are needed in order to "wrestle" the rocket from an unusual sea element, transferring it to the air element. It is impossible to make them low-noise, so the launch of rockets under water can be heard very from afar. But that's not all - the fact is that missile launches are well tracked by early warning radars: we are well aware of the important role they attach to air and surface control in NATO countries. Thus, the launch of missiles in the zones of control of NATO fleets can strongly unmask the submarine, which, in the future, is quite capable of leading to its death.
However, the attack on the enemy coast can be carried out in another way, which, as far as the author knows, is not used today, but is quite feasible at the current technological level. Its essence is in the use of special containers for missiles equipped with a launch delay system: that is, if the nuclear submarine drops such containers, it will move a considerable distance, and only after that the missiles will start.
In other words, nothing seems to prevent our submarine from dropping containers with cruise missiles from torpedo tubes - this, most likely, will be much quieter than an underwater missile salvo. The containers themselves can be made extremely unobtrusive - while ensuring zero buoyancy, they will not rise to the sea surface, where they could be visually detected, or otherwise detected by patrol aircraft, they do not make noise, that is, they are uncontrollable by passive sonar, and their small size and general the debris of the seas and oceans will well protect such containers from active sonar. At the same time, missiles can be launched autonomously (that is, without a launch signal) simply by using a timer located in the container 2-3 hours after their "sowing" or even more - in this case, the submarine will have time to leave the launch area and it will be much more difficult to detect it. Such a method is not suitable, of course, for hitting moving targets (unless only pulling wires from dropped containers to a submarine to correct target designation), but it is quite suitable for destroying land-based stationary targets. Even if the currents carry the containers aside, the usual means of orientation (yes, the same "Glonass") in combination with the fixed coordinates of the target will allow the rocket to correct the route for the resulting error. Which, moreover, can be largely "chosen" at the stage of preparation of target designation - the point of container drop is known, the speed and direction of currents in the drop area - too, what else can we do?
And so it turns out that out of 5 "alpha tasks" of multipurpose submarines, two are solved completely without the use of cruise missiles, and for the other two there is no need to install a vertical launch: and only one task (the defeat of the AUG and others like them) requires submarines missile carriers like "Ash" and "Ash-M".
You need to understand that in the event of a military conflict, multipurpose nuclear submarines of the Russian Navy will receive a variety of tasks - someone will guard SSBNs and conduct anti-submarine defense of water areas and ship formations, someone will receive an order to go into the ocean, attack enemy communications, someone - to strike at the enemy's territory, and only a part of the submarines will be deployed to counter the operational groups of our "sworn friends". Moreover, vertical launch installations will be needed only by the "anti-aircraft" forces.
But the fact is that we already have them. Was it in vain that we commissioned the Yasen and are building 6 ships of the modified Yasen-M project? From the point of view of the author of this article, it makes sense to order another ship of this type, so that 2 formations of 4 boats can be formed: one each for the Northern and Pacific fleets, thus,each of them will receive its own "anti-aircraft" formation (for a division of 4 ships, of course, they do not pull … a brigade? Division?).
As for the torpedo tubes, here, according to the author of this article, there is no need to save money: yes, the additional device, of course, costs something and weighs something, but, by and large, the benefits from the possibility of the immediate use of weapons, perhaps, outweigh the others. considerations. Therefore, we probably do not need to go to the level of "Virginias" and "Estyuts" with their 4-6 torpedo tubes, but keep their number at the level of 10, like in Ash-M, or 8, like in Shchuka-B "Or" Sivulf ".
This is, in fact, in this way the appearance of our prospect of a multipurpose nuclear submarine is emerging. A minimum of noise with the most powerful means of lighting the underwater environment that are available to us. To approach business in an unconventional way, not to limit ourselves to pouring money into design bureaus, but to study carefully everything that enthusiasts offer, weed out what turns out to be husks, but “do not throw it out with water and a child” - it is quite possible that some developments contain a rational grain … In general, one should not dismiss the work with "rationalization proposals" only on the basis that someone is not interested in it, or because 95 or even 99% of these rationalization proposals will be ineffective.
The boat, most likely, will have to be made with a single-hull, since this implies serious benefits both in terms of the weight of the hull and in terms of low noise. A water cannon will most likely be used as a propeller, although … the author of this article does not understand why, in the presence of water-jet propellers installed on the Borey SSBNs, the series of improved Yasen-M continues to be built with, in general, classical propellers. It would be great if our kulibins found a way to provide the propeller with the same low-noise capabilities as the water cannon - but then why are we building Borei-A with water cannons? Nevertheless, it is possible to make an assumption (more like a guess) that the most effective propulsion of a multipurpose nuclear submarine will be a water cannon. Other characteristics look like this:
Displacement (surface / underwater) - 7,000 / 8,400 tons, if you get less - great, but you don't need to artificially underestimate the displacement;
Speed - 29-30 knots;
Immersion depth (working / maximum) - 450/550 m;
Armament: 8 * 533 torpedo tubes, ammunition - 40 torpedoes, mines or missiles;
The crew is 70-80 people. Less is possible, but not necessary - the fact is that today it is really possible to "re-automate" a submarine to a crew of 30-40 people, and maybe less. But after all, the crew, in addition to direct control of the ship and its weapons systems, must serve on it, and, in case of emergency situations, also fight for survivability. In such conditions, human hands are extremely important, which cannot be replaced by any machine gun, and therefore an excessive reduction in the number of the crew is still undesirable. The situation could have changed if the submarine could have implemented … tank technologies, something similar to what was implemented in the project of the newest Armata tank - a small crew in a special, especially well-protected capsule. If something like this could be implemented on a submarine, limiting the crew of 20-30 people, but placing their jobs in a separate capsule that could leave the submarine that received critical damage and surface … but this is clearly not the technology of today, and hardly or even tomorrow.
And further. The most remarkable submarine will not achieve success in modern combat if it is not armed with the latest and most effective weapons, as well as means of misinforming the enemy. Fortunately, the absolutely terrifying situation in the field of torpedo armament seems to be starting to improve with the advent of the newest, and, God forbid, the Physicist and Case torpedoes at a good world level - alas, it is difficult to judge them seriously. since most of their performance characteristics are secret. But the questions with the simulator traps designed to mislead the enemy about the real position of the nuclear submarine remain open - according to the information (though incomplete and fragmentary) of the author of this article, today there are simply no effective simulators in service with the Russian Navy. If this is actually the case, then such a situation is completely intolerable and should be corrected as soon as possible. Building nuclear submarines with crews of under a hundred people, worth a billion dollars or more, but not providing them with the means of "underwater jamming" is not even a mistake, it is a state crime.