In the first part of the cycle, we were forced to state with regret that today, in the event of a full-scale conflict with NATO, the Russian naval aviation of the Russian Navy can only “show that it knows how to die bravely” simply because of its small numbers. But maybe this is a temporary phenomenon? Let's try to assess our prospects.
So, two squadrons of MiG-31, which are part of the naval aviation of the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation, as you can understand, will be upgraded to the MiG-31BM, but further transfer of aircraft of this type of naval aviation is not planned. Which, in general, is absolutely correct, since the place for these aircraft is still in the air defense aviation.
The available Su-33s are likely to serve for another 10-15 years, gradually leaving for a well-deserved rest. New deck-mounted MiG-29KR / KUBR, obviously, will not be ordered, especially since in the coming years 17 Su-33 and 22 MiG-29KR / KUBR, even taking into account current repairs, etc., will always be able to provide 100% load of the TAVKR air group "Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union Kuznetsov".
Until recently, the air forces of the Baltic Fleet consisted of a Su-24M squadron and a Su-27 squadron (probably modernized) - this is all that remains of the 4th Separate Guards Naval Assault Aviation Regiment and the 689th Guards Fighter Aviation Regiment. However, then the situation turned for the better. The Baltic Fleet received several multifunctional Su-30SM fighters, and all of them entered the 72nd Aviation Base of the Baltic Fleet Aviation at the Chernyakhovsk airfield, where the Su-24M squadron was based. And in 2017, it was again transformed into an air regiment with a mixed composition of two squadrons, one of which was the Su-30SM (the exact number transferred to the BF, unfortunately, is unknown to the author).
But it seems that the matter will not be limited to the revival of the 4th Omshap: according to the statements of the responsible persons made in January 2018, there is "an opinion" to revive the famous 689th GIAP by equipping it with Su-27SM and SM3, and then, in the future, hand over one Su-35 squadron to him.
The Black Sea Assault Aviation Regiment will, obviously, gradually replace the Su-24M in its armament and will completely switch to the Su-30SM. In addition, there is information that on the basis of the Su-30SM, transferred today to the Northern Fleet in the 279th OQIAP, a separate air regiment, equipped with aircraft of this type, will subsequently be deployed.
Thus, we see a clearly traceable desire of the leadership of the Russian Navy to provide the Northern and Black Sea fleets with one regiment of multifunctional fighters each (and the Baltic Fleet - even two!), Not counting carrier-based aircraft and the MiG-31BM. But what about the Pacific Fleet? Having at its disposal a single squadron of MiG-31BM, it obviously needs to replenish its air forces: it is impossible to imagine that the leadership of the Russian Navy does not understand this. Therefore, and taking into account the fact that the Su-30SM is declared as the backbone of the Russian naval aviation, the deployment of the Su-30SM regiment to the Pacific Fleet is most likely.
If these plans come true, then each of our four fleets will receive one regiment of land-based Su-30SM multifunctional fighters, not counting carrier-based aviation and two MiG-31BM squadrons, and for the BF they will also “scrape together” another Su-27M or M3 regiment followed by replenishment of the Su-35. Assuming the average size of an air regiment at the level of 30 units, we will need 18 Su-27SM / SM3 for this, a dozen Su-35 (in the future) and at least 120 Su-30SM. But is it real for us today?
Well, as of last year, the Su-27SM / SM3 we had only within fifty, and whether it is possible to single out 18 machines for the Baltic Fleet from this number … is somehow doubtful. Therefore, most likely, it will be like this - they will revive the regiment as part of two squadrons (24 machines), and someday later, in the bright future, they will add a dozen more Su-35s to them. And no matter how it turns out that one squadron will fly on the Su-27, the second - on the Su-27SM3, and then withdraw from the Su-27, replacing them with the Su-35. Well, okay, this is just guesswork, akin to fantasizing on coffee grounds. But will the naval aviation of the Russian Navy really get 120 Su-30SMs to form the Baltic, Black Sea, Northern and Pacific regiments?
Recall that the supply of the Su-30SM to our armed forces began in March 2012, when the first contract for 30 aircraft of this type was signed for the Russian Air Force and Navy. Then there were others, and today the total number of contracted vehicles is 116 units, of which more than a hundred have already entered the Aerospace Forces and the Navy, and by the end of 2018, all 116 will be. At the same time, 88 machines will serve in the Aerospace Forces, and in the naval aviation of the Navy - 28 aircraft of this type. As you can see, more than six years after the start of deliveries, and despite the fact that the share of "naval" Su-30SM in the total volume of their production is a very noticeable 24%, we still have not "scraped" machines for one 30 -aircraft regiment. What will be next?
According to the article by A. Nikolsky ("Vedomosti"), referred to by the bmpd blog, by the end of 2018 the Russian Ministry of Defense plans to conclude a contract for the purchase of another 36 Su-30SM in the Aerospace Forces and the Russian Navy. The delivery will be carried out within three years (production of 12-14 vehicles per year is assumed) and will be completed in 2021 Everything would be fine, but in August 2017, Kommersant announced that the production of the Su-30SM by 2022 will be almost completed, and the plant will reorient itself to the production of frying pans … excuse me, MS-21 passenger airliners. In total, in the worst case, we are expected to supply another 36 Su-30SM, which still have to be somehow divided between the Aerospace Forces and the Navy and … that's all. Based on the existing distribution ratio between these branches of the armed forces, it turns out that the naval aviation of the Russian Navy will receive 9 vehicles. Of course, the share of the Su-30SM attributed to naval aviation can be increased, but even the transfer of 20 aircraft from the 36 planned for contracting the Russian Navy will make it possible to increase the number of the Su-30SM in naval aviation to only 48 aircraft, that is, up to two regiments of two squadrons each … And this is unbridled optimism.
Is it possible to increase the production of the Su-30SM over the aforementioned 36 vehicles? Without a doubt, because for the normal functioning of production facilities and preparation of production for conversion (oh, how difficult it was to print this word!) Irkutsk Aviation Plant (IAP) needs an order for 100 aircraft (including export ones), which they have not yet collected. Thus, nothing prevents the IAP from ordering a dozen or two more Su-30SMs. But will this be done, and if so, how many vehicles will the naval aviation get?
Of course, Kommersant's announcement about the cessation of production of the Su-30SM may turn out to be erroneous, and aircraft of this type will continue to be produced after 2021. But how many? By the end of this year, we will have 28 Su-30SM in naval aviation, for example, the IAZ will produce 12-14 aircraft per year, of which 4-5 (33-35%!) Will be transferred to the Russian Navy. But for the manning of 4 regiments of 30 aircraft, we will need another 92 aircraft, that is, at such a pace the program of re-equipment of the Navy aviation that we have conceived will drag on for 18-23 years …
The situation is somewhat simplified if we form regiments of two squadrons, that is, 24 aircraft each. Then we will need 96 aircraft for this, 28 are already there, there are 68 left. However, as we can see, even this value is hardly lifting for us - in order to ensure such an inflow at least within the next 10 years, we need to transfer to the Russian Navy 6-7 Su-30SM annually, but until today the pace was much more modest - 4-5 cars. Of course, sometimes miracles happen, but it would be wrong to rely solely on them. Perhaps the following will turn out - the Baltic Fleet and the Northern Fleet, instead of the promised air regiment, will receive a squadron: that is, after the withdrawal of the Su-24M from service, the Baltic 4th Omshap will again lose its status, and in the north, the 279th OQIAP will have one full squadron and a little more Su-33 and the second squadron of Su-30SM, but the Black Sea and Pacific fleets will still receive a regiment of 24-aircraft composition. In total, the existing 28 aircraft will need "only" 44 aircraft, and this is somehow more similar to the capabilities we have - handing over to the fleet 5-6 aircraft per year, in 8-9 years you will look and manage.
True, by the end of these 9 years, that is, by 2028, all the Su-24Ms will leave the system, the MiG-31BMs will serve their deadlines, and the Su-27SM and Su-33 will finally become obsolete, both morally and physically. Although with the latter, things will be a little better than with the former, since the Su-33 is still newer. In total, it can be assumed that with some acceleration of the existing pace by the end of the twenties, the naval aviation of the Russian Navy will have at most:
The Baltic Fleet is a regiment consisting of the Su-35 squadron and the Su-27M3 squadron, as well as a separate Su-30SM squadron. In total - 36 aircraft;
Northern Fleet - in two regiments, including: the 279th air regiment with the Su-30SM squadron and the Su-33 squadron, and the 100th air regiment with 22 MiG-29KR / KUBR), and, in addition, a separate MiG-31 squadron … A total of 58 cars.
Black Sea Fleet - 43rd Omshap on Su-30SM (24 vehicles);
The Pacific Fleet - the Su-30SM regiment and a separate MiG-31BM squadron (36 vehicles).
And in total - 154 multifunctional fighters, of which 24 are already physically and / or morally very outdated (12 Su-33, 12 Su-27SM3), and the most modern Su-30SM and MiG-29KR are still, albeit improved, but only the fourth generation of fighters. This is still better than we expect to see at the end of 2018 (125 cars). But how much is this enough for the fleets to solve the tasks facing them?
The American supercarrier has 48 multifunctional fighters in its air wing, but at any time it can increase their number to 60 - in this case, one such ship in the number of tactical aircraft will surpass any domestic fleet, including the North and Pacific. Nevertheless, given the presence of a "strategic reserve" in the form of a full-blooded regiment of the modernized Tu-22M3M, both the Northern and Pacific fleets are able to carry out an operation to destroy a single enemy AUG. By promptly transferring this regiment to a threatening direction, providing and supplementing its strike with the forces of the naval aviation of the fleet, we, theoretically, have good chances to defeat a single AUG as part of a supercarrier and escort ships.
Tu-22M3M, with the latest X-32, in their capabilities significantly surpass the Soviet regiments armed with even the latest Tu-22M3 with X-22 anti-ship missiles.
The main drawback of the Soviet missile carriers then was the frankly weak missile seeker, which actually required the crew of the aircraft carrying it to approach the target at a distance from which the rocket, which was on the suspension, that is, even before the launch, was able to capture the target. As a result, the missile carriers were forced to enter the AUG air defense zone, breaking through fighter patrols, or even salvos of shipborne air defense systems. Of course, the Tu-22M3 could attack at supersonic speed, thereby minimizing the time spent in the danger zone, but all the same, the losses were assumed to be very high - up to 80% of the attacking aircraft.
With the advent of the Kh-32, the situation has changed significantly. The missile range is indicated at the level of 800-1000 km, while the anti-ship missile is equipped with a radically improved seeker, which, according to the creators, is capable of operating in a difficult jamming environment. Probably, in a real combat situation, the aircraft will not use them from the maximum range, but even so, all the same, the Tu-22M3M will not have to climb deep into the echeloned air defense of the AUG, respectively, the tasks of their fighter cover are greatly simplified, and the losses are reduced. Nevertheless, all of the above does not make the destruction of the enemy ship unit (especially the AUG) an easy matter. Tu-22M3M must be deployed to the airfields from which the attack will be carried out. The Kh-32, for all its merits, is liquid-fuel, which means that it, like the Kh-22, should be refueled before the attack, that is, it, most likely, needs to be delivered to the airfield to the Tu-22M3M, refueled, suspended from aircraft, this is dreary and long, and during this time, of course, it is necessary to ensure the protection of the airfield from the enemy. It is highly desirable to carry out the attack itself from two different directions, the enemy can push forward the ship of the radar patrol, and its presence should be taken into account and destruction should be foreseen, etc.
In general, such an operation is extremely difficult and reconnaissance, establishing the exact location of enemy ships, is extremely important for its successful completion. And with this, our naval aviation has not only problems, but one solid, such a big black hole.
The fact is that the maritime reconnaissance and target designation system (SMRTs) or, if you like, EGSONPO (a unified state system for lighting the surface and underwater situation) will be truly effective only when it includes all the necessary components, such as: satellite constellation, over-the-horizon radars, stations and aircraft (and, possibly, UAVs) of electronic reconnaissance and long-range radar detection, hydroacoustic stations, both stationary and mobile (that is, reconnaissance ships with GAS on board), etc. But today our satellite constellation is frankly small and cannot guarantee the submission of timely data on enemy ships. ZGRLS are good, but the data they provide require additional reconnaissance, and both are, in general, vulnerable to the enemy's influence at the initial stage of the conflict. The deployment of sonar systems is in its infancy, and there are simply no specialized RTR and AWACS aircraft as part of naval aviation. As a matter of fact, apart from a pair of Ka-31 AWACS helicopters and, possibly, several surviving Su-24 reconnaissance aircraft, our fleets do not have specialized reconnaissance aircraft at all.
Of course, there is something in the Aerospace Forces - according to unverified data, today we have as many as 4 modernized A-50U and 7 A-50 “on the wing” (another nine of these aircraft are under storage). As for the RTR and EW aircraft, we have no more than 20 of them (perhaps no more than 15), if we count the Il-22 of all the corresponding modifications and the Il-214R. In general, the Aerospace Forces themselves will not be enough, and it is possible to expect that they will share with the fleet, but this is not guaranteed. And, as we have already said, it is unlikely that the crews of the Aerospace Forces will have the specific skills necessary for naval pilots.
Thus, the problem lies not even in the small number of multifunctional fighters in the fleet, but in the fact that the naval aviation is not able to provide the necessary information space for their successful use. American supercarriers are primarily dangerous because of the balance of their air groups - they include AWACS and electronic warfare aircraft, which are also capable of conducting electronic reconnaissance. In order to provide at least something, we will have to use either the anti-submarine Il-38N, which, after modernization, have a certain reconnaissance potential, or all the same Su-30SM with "Khibiny", using them as scouts.
However, such use of multifunctional fighters will divert some of the aircraft, which means it will reduce their already small number, which a separate fleet can allocate for solving air defense missions and, if necessary, strike. But about the silts …
Il-38N, is a deep modernization of the Il-38 with the installation of a modern complex "Novella P-38" on it. As a result, the aircraft received unique characteristics of its kind - it is capable of conducting radar, thermal imaging, radio-hydroacoustic, magnetometric and electronic reconnaissance at the same time, while all these stations are linked into a single complex that analyzes and summarizes all information received by all of the above methods in real time. … In general, it is an excellent patrol aircraft and a very formidable adversary for submarines, capable of also detecting enemy surface ships, aircraft and providing a command control for them. But it is extremely doubtful that on the basis of the anti-submarine aircraft and simultaneously with the preservation and expansion of its anti-submarine functions, it would be possible to place RTR and AWACS, corresponding in their capabilities to specialized aircraft. As a matter of fact, most sources, noting the presence of a radar system on the Il-38N, give rather moderate characteristics of its capabilities - detection of surface targets up to 320 km (that is, not to the radio horizon even for large targets) and air targets only 90 km away (moreover, according to some reports, we are talking about targets with an EPR of 3 sq. m.), which, of course, is much inferior to the capabilities of not only the A-50U, but also the American deck E-2D "Edvanst Hawkeye". There is practically no data on the capabilities of RTR, but it is likely that it also loses to the equipment installed on specialized aircraft.
Nevertheless, at least in terms of electronic intelligence, the Il-38N would be an extremely useful machine, if not for one "but". The fact is that it is planned to equip a total of 28 aircraft with Novella P-38, and, most likely, these are all the Il-38, which are capable of flying, which we have. In addition, the naval aviation will retain about two squadrons (17 aircraft) of the Tu-142, which are supposed to be upgraded to the level of the Tu-142M3M (and it is unclear how deep this modernization is and how, in terms of its capabilities, the upgraded Tu-142M3M will correlate with the Il-38N) and with the tasks of finding and destroying 4th generation nuclear submarines). Thus, we have only 45 anti-submarine aircraft for 4 fleets, which, of course, is absolutely absolutely insufficient. In the event of a large-scale non-nuclear conflict with NATO, we will need all of them to ensure the security of SSBNs by detecting and destroying enemy atomarines in the deployment areas of our submarine missile carriers, and diverting such aircraft to perform other tasks (even as important as the destruction of the AUG) will be perhaps a crime.
Of course, in addition to anti-submarine aircraft, there are anti-submarine helicopters in the ranks of naval aviation, but, again, there are not many of them - 83 machines. Taking into account the fact that to ensure round-the-clock duty of a pair of helicopters at a distance of 200 km from their base and subject to two combat missions per day per vehicle, 17 Ka-27 helicopters will be required (the time of combat duty at the indicated distance is only 1, 4 hours), the specified number will not be able to provide round-the-clock duty for a maximum of 5 couples. And not for each of the four fleets, but for all 4 fleets, which, generally speaking, is very, very little.
But the most unpleasant thing is not even the fact that today the naval aviation of the Russian Navy does not have specialized RTR and AWACS aircraft, but the fact that such a strengthening is not even expected. At the same time, the author of this article could not find information that would allow us to hope for an increase in our anti-submarine aviation, which would free up a certain amount of Il-38Ns (although they are not quite suitable for this) to perform reconnaissance and target designation tasks. So far, everything is limited to the modernization of the Il-38 to the Il-38N and the Ka-27 to the Ka-27M, which does not allow counting on an increase in the fleet of anti-submarine aircraft and helicopters, but practically guarantees its reduction. Since, in all likelihood, some of the helicopters that are considered combat-ready today are too old for it to make sense to invest in their modernization.
And besides … considering the counteraction of the enemy AUG, we acted in many ways schematically, analyzing not a real combat situation, but rather a certain theoretical action. Well, practically … Let's say in 2028 we were on the eve of a large-scale conflict with NATO. The American AUS (that is, 2 AUG) is stuffed to capacity with planes (in this case, it is quite realistic to stuff all 90 vehicles into an aircraft carrier, not counting electronic warfare, AWACS and helicopters) and approaches the shores of Norway (a NATO member). There, some of the planes fly to the Norwegian airfield network to operate from there. In total, the United States has 180 Super Hornet and Lightning multifunctional fighters at its disposal, whose combat radius allows them to operate practically throughout the entire water area of the Barents Sea. The Northern Fleet is able, as we have already said, to oppose this well if 58 aircraft, including 12 Su-33s (by that time there will be hardly more on the wing), the same number of MiG-31BMs (despite the modernization, it is still not a conquest fighter air supremacy). At the same time, in the interests of American squadrons, 8-10 ADLO "Edvanst Hawkeye" aircraft and no less (or rather more) number of "Growlers" will operate, while we can only tear off a few Il-38Ns from ourselves.
So who will be the hunter in such conditions? Will our anti-submarine aviation be able to operate under conditions of enemy air domination? It is sad to admit it, but most likely it will turn out the other way around. And to the enemy "Virginias" targeting our SSBNs, NATO patrol aircraft will be added, scouring in search of our nuclear submarine component and the few multi-purpose submarines covering it.