On July 29, Russia marked its Navy Day. After many years of neglect, the service is going through the period of resurgence to become a second to none blue water force equipped with state-of-the-art weapons. It’s a lot more operational today than it has been in many years. In some areas the Navy demonstrates technological lead. Pretty much anywhere in the world, one can see the “Saint Andrew Flag”, the naval ensign of the Russian Federation, a radical change in comparison with what it was like just ten years ago.
In 2017, Russian ships made 46 port calls to drop anchor at 28 ports of 27 countries worldwide. The list includes five Western or West-friendly states: Greece, Portugal, Cyprus, Japan and South Korea, which account for 19% of the countries visited by Russian ships. Nine (33%) of the states on the list belong to the Asia-Pacific region, with other 13 (48%) situated in Africa, the Middle East and South Asia. The 81% vs.19% ratio illustrates Russia’s rebalancing from the West toward other countries and power poles. The Russian Navy also conducted six international exercises, demonstrating its global presence and power projection capability. The service has become strong enough to make the US re-establish the Second Fleet in the Atlantic.
A task force comprising three surface ships and three auxiliary vessels of the Baltic Fleet is on a voyage around the world. The route lies across the Atlantic, the Arctic, the Eastern Mediterranean, the Indian and Pacific Oceans. On May 16, President Vladimir Putin made a statement to say that Russian naval presence in the Mediterranean Sea will be permanent. The standing force will include warships with long-range land attack cruise missiles.
With new ships and weapons coming in, the Navy is quite capable of defending Russia’s maritime approaches and coasts, long-range precision strike missions with conventional and nuclear weapons, power projection and defense of the sea-based nuclear deterrent. It has recently acquired the capability to conduct long-range attacks with conventional weapons against fixed infrastructure targets.
Russia’s shipbuilders offer corvette-frigate size surface ships, such as the Admiral Grigorovich-class and the new Admiral Gorshkov-class, packing a really potent punch to make them formidable warriors. Oniks anti-ship missiles, Kalibr long-range cruise missiles capable to strike land targets at great distances, Pantsir-M point defense weapons, Poliment Redut air defense systems and Paket-NK anti-torpedo systems are contained in vertical launch systems (VLS). Normally the armament suite includes seventy-six-millimeter gun or a one-hundred-millimeter gun and close-in weapon systems (CIWS) to enhance the versatility of the ship. Multi-mission frigates have become the backbone of the Russian Navy. Vasily Bykov, the first project 22160 corvette, started sea trials in April to join service this year. The Drive (War Zone) the “concept is innovative enough that it should be studied by western navies as a source of inspiration for their own future multi-role combat vessels.” The source believes that the ship has “a pretty genius design” with its relatively small frame providing great strike power.
Project 636.3 “Varshavyanka” conventional submarines are cheap, quiet and deadly with their Kalibr missiles. The newest Yasen-class nuclear-powered multipurpose attack submarine is to be armed with land-attack cruise missiles, anti-ship missiles, anti-submarine missiles, including several variants of Kalibr-PL designed for a wide range of missions. A single Yasen-class can carry thirty-two nuclear-tipped Kalibr missiles to strike deep into the enemy’s territory.
The Russian industry is capable of producing some of the most sophisticated platforms in the world. There are 11 nuclear powered submarines laid down. The shipbuilders can build a conventional submarine in just 18 months.
On June 25, The Russian Navy commissioned Ivan Khurs, the second Project 18280 intelligence-gathering ship. The ships of the class are called after Russia’s naval intelligence chiefs. The vessel can conduct electronic warfare, radio, and electronic intelligence.
It was reported this month that the Bulava (RSM-56) intercontinental-range submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) had entered service with Russian Navy to become the backbone of the nuclear triad’s sea-based component until 2040. A salvo of four missiles launched in rapid succession within 20 seconds in late May confirmed the SLBM’s operational readiness.
Modernized to M3M standard, the Air Force Tu-22 long-range bomber primarily designed for naval missions will take to the sky next month.
The Navy is testing the Poseidon (Status-6), a new unmanned underwater vehicle (a doomsday weapon) that can carry either conventional or nuclear warheads, which enables to engage various targets, including aircraft groups, coastal fortifications, and infrastructure.
According to Commander-in-Chief Admiral Vladimir Korolev, precision guided weapons and blue water ships are the priority for the future. The Navy also leads in superfast weapons. The Kalibr travelling over Mach 3 is a good example. A higher speed makes interception almost impossible and destruction is maximized by imparting more kinetic energy upon impact. Put on a wide range of ship and submarine classes, the weapon provides for a qualitative leap to drastically enhance the fire power of the Russian sea forces. The Kalibr allows the ships based in the Caspian and Black seas to cover the entire Caucasus and large parts of Central Asia and the Middle East – the areas where threats to Russia’s national security are most likely to emerge.
The 3M22 Zircon anti-ship missile going through final tests has a 500km strike. It will impact at a speed of Mach 6. As yet, the US Navy does not have a weapon to match it.
According to the State Armament Program for 2018-2027 adopted in late 2017, the naval component of the nuclear triad will consist of six Project 667 BRDM (Delta IV-class) and eight Project 955B (Borei-class) strategic ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs), to be evenly divided between the Northern and Pacific Fleets. 12 submarines to be in service at given moment with two undergoing overhauls and modernization. The program envisages the construction of Super Gorshkov-class 8,000-ton frigate and six-seven Yasen-M nuclear attack submarines.
Russia’s 2017 Naval Doctrine set the goal of building a strong force to enable the country to achieve and hold the leading positions in the world until 2030. The Navy is on the way to accomplish this mission with balanced forces able to support the operations of strategic ballistic missile submarines and maintain a strong conventional component, carrying out a range of missions, including power projection, with its cutting-edge ships, naval aviation, coastal defense forces, and even ground effect vehicles. Russia has made a strong comeback as a sea power.