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Submarines to the Slaughter

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Submarines to the Slaughter

IMAGE: degandr.ru

Written by Maksim Klimov; Originally appeared at VPK, translated by AlexD exclusively for SouthFront

It is meaningless to build fifth generation submarines without taking into account modern methods of their detection

The main tactical property of submarines is stealth. With this in mind, the dramatic increase over the past quarter century of the effectiveness of their search and defense sharply raised the question of revising the appearance of modern and promising submarines, their role and models of application in modern war. Until the issues of protection against detection are resolved, it is pointless to start designing the next generation boats.

According to the theory on the matter, science is arguing still, but the fact remains that a number of successful detections and search operations performed by anti-submarine aircraft of the naval aviation with a special configuration of a conventional search radar “Initiative” (development of 60s), ensuring the detection of submerged submarines by traces on the surface.

The head of the Department of Advanced Design Research Institute Andrey Vasilyev Krylov reminisces on the Deputy commander of the Navy for shipbuilding and weapons Admiral Fyodor Novoselov: “At the meeting, he did not give a word to the head of the Institute, eager to talk about experiments to detect the surface trace of the submarine using radar. Much later, at the end of 1989, I asked him why he had dismissed the question. Fyodor Ivanovich replied, “I know about effect, it is impossible to protect against such detection, why upset our submariners.””

The question arises: does the principle of “No need to upset” also apply to the military and political leadership of the country? The issue is very relevant in view of the huge material and financial investments in the submarine fleet.

Today we have a sharp increase in the capabilities of anti-submarine forces, which ask extremely tough questions about the appearance of modern submarines, their tactics and weapons. And it is necessary to understand objectively by carrying out special research, tests and research exercises. Only after such work is done can the question be raised about the  beginning of the technical design and creation of nuclear-powered fifth generation ships.

There is another aspect: is it necessary to raise such critical special issues in the public media? This depends on the situation, but in the one that we have with the Russian Navy today, when many problems are hushed up or varnished, when the Armed Forces under the guise of new and promising models of the Air Force sometimes supplies known antiques, there is no other way.

So what are the actual problems that shipbuilders need to solve?

Informative noise

Stealth in the primary hydro-acoustic field (low noise) is characterised by the levels of broadband noise (BBN) and narrow-band discrete components (NBDC) of the spectrum. Today, an extremely important factor is the preservation of low levels of BBN and NBDC at high speeds and at great depths under compressed pressure robust housing and means of acoustic protection of submarines. Contrary to the advertising statements of some individuals and organisations, there is a noticeable lag of our submarines behind the western ones in terms of low noise, however, taking into account the achieved levels, this difference is small and with competent tactical actions it allows us to act with dignity against opponents. Today, the main direction of reducing the submarine noise should not be reducing the specification levels, which are low, but the expansion of the range of low noise in speed and depth.

Submarines to the Slaughter

Click to see the full-size image

The next question is secrecy of the secondary sonar field (sonar visibility). Taking into account the width of new active low-frequency search systems, the role of low sonar visibility becomes extremely important, and sometimes more important than low noise. New tools provide effective detection of even completely silent submarines, when the active low-frequency “illumination” resonates the light hull structures and the reflectivity of the submarine is significantly increased by a set of external frames. And if the vibration excitability of light structures is extinguished by the use of composites, the problem of a strong secondary “response” of the set is sharp.

Telling waters

Stealth on extremely low frequencies fields is a code name, implying fluctuations in the water column caused by the submarine. It depends on the size of the submarines and the accuracy of their depth retention, maneuvering in the vertical plane. This issue must be dealt with very seriously, first of all from a practical point of view: under what conditions the secrecy of our submarines can be ensured in the adjacent seas with shallow depths. At the same time, the registration of anomalies on the water surface by radar is only one of the directions of non-traditional methods of search.

Next is the field trace of the submarine. Contrary to popular belief of not having domestic analogues of systems to search the trail abroad, there are similar models, not for exploration, but serial production, including military submarines.

The effectiveness of western search facilities, such as electronic reconnaissance, is increasing in relation to our submarines because of a design error. In pursuit of reducing the number of holes in the robust housing and, accordingly, the number of retractable devices, we combined on one mast the radar and the radio intelligence station (RIS). As a result, the high visibility of the locator unmasks our submarines and makes it extremely difficult to maintain the RIS in the area of active operation of enemy aircraft.

In addition, the effectiveness of magneto-metric search tools has improved significantly in recent years.

In recent years, laser scanners have been added to the classical optical detection tools, which provide the detection of submarines in the near-surface layer to a depth of 100 metres.

In view of the possibilities of new means of search, the task of ensuring secrecy today has no absolute technical solutions. Even a completely silent submarine will be detected due to the low-frequency active “illumination”. A high search performance of new tools and the possibility of their use from the air allow to quickly increase the anti-submarine potential in the area of primary detection, in fact depriving the submarine of the chance of evasion.

That is, the solution to the problem of stealth and combat stability of submarines is possible only at the tactical and operational levels. In many cases, today the most effective way to restore the secrecy of the detected submarine will be tactical, to destroy the carrier of anti-submarine weapons that have made contact with it.

There is also an obvious need to include submarines in the network-centric control system and data exchange of the theatre. There is a problem of ensuring the secrecy of communication, but this is a complex concept, and the inclusion in the network is now one of the conditions for ensuring the combat stability of submarines. In fact, it is now being implement in the US Navy.

Surprise duel

Objectively, our sonar lags behind those of the western countries. However, this gap is technically minimal, and in the new prototypes we demonstrate a decent level. True, only for the technology. In the implementation of modern concepts of the use of hydro-acoustics, we are lagging behind critically.

The most serious drawback of our new anti-submarine ships with helicopters, the Project 20380 Corvette and Project 22350 Frigate, are the absence of multi-position work of sonars. Helicopter buoys, its lowered sonar station and the sonar ships operate in completely different frequency ranges.

The problem of conceptual backwardness is further exacerbated by our underestimation of operational oceanography, which is the foundation of modern anti-submarine action for our competitors.

Taking into account the environmental factors dramatically increases the ability of forces to search for submarines and to ensure its secrecy, but an effective system requires a comprehensive consideration of issues. Instead, we have a series of disparate papers exploring various factors, but often without any connection to each other. The practical usefulness of such work is extremely low.

Given the state of stealth, sonar and general operational environment in most tactical situations, the battle will begin with a sudden attack on us. Due to the significant backlog in torpedo issues, we have an unreasonable hope for anti-ship missiles (ASM). However, since the start of the first ASM, our boat actually loses stealth, after which a strong opponent will arrange her raid with aircraft.

At the same time, today there are technical capabilities to perform hidden torpedo attacks from outside the anti-submarine warfare zone of the target. The west implemented this in new samples of torpedo weapons. We also have an acute problem of noise of spent torpedoes. In fact, the question is: is it realistic, given the capabilities of our industry, to meet the promising requirements for low noise torpedoes of caliber 53cm or need to switch to a larger caliber? This directly affects the shape of our future submarines, without careful consideration of any “Husky” in a practical sense is out of the question.

In view of the expediency of reducing the size of submarines, the question arises of the necessary ammunition (especially missiles). Obviously, we will not get the answer as long as the latest “Zircon” will not fly confidently.

The appearance and effectiveness of weapons are the defining parameters of promising submarines. We are, without a satisfactory answer in weapons or in stealth, already actively developing the budget for the design of fifth generation boats.

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  • occupybacon

    Russia doesn’t have submarines, she has ‘underwater missiles carriers’

    • skinner15

      While NATO subs are underwater sh it carriers.

    • northerntruthseeker .

      Much the same as the US Navy which still has Trident missile carriers as well as those converted to carry cruise missiles…

      • occupybacon

        Is there a publication where US is calling their submarines ‘underwater carriers’?

    • AM Hants

      Which pick up ground samples from the arctic bed, and lays Russian flags on the arctic bed. Funny, Russia is the only nation to provide ground samples of the arctic, to prove their territorial claim in the UN. Courtesy Russian submarine technology.

      • occupybacon

        Lel, the same does US & UK.

        • AM Hants

          Oh no they don’t. We have (UK) 3 astute class, in acive service, with 3 Trafalgar class submarines, which should have been retired over a decade ago, but, had to hold on, owing to astute coming in so late. Then you have the 4 old bombers, coming to the end of their missile shelf life. US, only has attack and ballistic subs (also coming to the end of their missile shelf life). Russia has a variety of subs, including the ‘all singing and dancing’ Losharik, which is not part of her Navy, but, deals with special projects. Such as laying down flags on ocean beds and collecting ground samples. Seriously impressive piece of kit.

          Funny, the Russia defence budget is similar to the UK defence budget, around $47 billion, but, they spend wisely, leaving all the Nato toys obsolete, including what the US achieves on $717 billion. Guess, that is because Russia cuts out the ‘middle man’, where defence of her nation is concerned. What a difference it makes.

          • occupybacon

            Sounds good, thanks for the briefing. But Uk & Us submarines can leave flags on the arctic bed too :) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=orKGaU6RXGM however I agree with most of your comment. Btw how does providing ground samples from the Arctic affect territorial claim at UN? I mean, can someone get rocks from Marianas and claim Marianas hole as theirs, or the moon?

          • AM Hants

            Oh no they cannot, owing to depth zone.

            LOSHARIK, is a deep sea submarine, not naval. Deep sea subs go deep. The US and UK do not have submarines that can compete with Losharik whether diving, or picking up ground samples, owing to dive limitations.

          • occupybacon

            hah I got it, when you said they lay Russian flags on the arctic bed I thought you was referring to surface ice :)) after all why would anyone lay flags on the bottom of the sea…

          • AM Hants

            “Planting the flag” usually means making a claim to something, usually territory or land.

            Territorial claim, the titanium flag of Russia, lying on bed of the arctic shelf, whilst the UN analyses the geographic DNA, Russia provided.

            ‘…In a record-breaking dive, the two craft planted a one metre-high titanium Russian flag on the underwater Lomonosov ridge, which Moscow claims is directly connected to its continental shelf…

            Descending to 4,300 metres, the mini-subs Mir-1 and Mir-2 collected water and sediment samples from the seabed..’

  • Hasbara Hunter

    Who needs a boat these days? Good Detection Equipment will find you your Targets to Shoot your Hypersonic Missiles at, to sink Tin Cans in seconds….Detection Equipment spots a Plane…Fire a Missile and Plane is Gone…sounds logical…..Mo’ Missiles….Missiles save the day….

  • PAtrick

    The author has laudable points but considering the almost maniacal culture of secrecy in the Russian Military , I would not base m’y opinion of their knowledge and Operational application of oceanography and acoustical theory on some papers available in the public domain. Also, russia is notorious for keeping its capabilities close to the chest .

    • Ace

      Good point. Such frank discussion of supposed Russian design problems seems out of character. Still, as one without any technical background I can say I’m a bit more informed on methods of detection. So it’s quite interesting.

  • Tudor Miron

    I have to say it again – this guy Klimov is a very controvercial figure. His reputation in Russia (within those interested in navy) is mostly negative. All I saw from him is constant crying how everything is disastrous and lost in Russian navy. He’s extremely active in numerous navy related forums where he was often exposed as pretender “to know it all”. Overall he makes an impression of a guy who’s only purpose is sow dubt and negative perseption within Russian navy.

    • FB

      You know what…I never heard of this guy or his reputation, but just reading this article I could tell, as an aerospace engineer familiar with these technical domains, that this guy is just talking gibberish…he does not even mention the fact that communicating by radio with a submerged sub in salt water is nearly impossible…[yes there are certain ‘methods’ such as super low frequency waves that use the entire earth as an antenna…but this only works for shore to ship]…his statements about sonar and laser and other technical subjects quickly reveal someone who is a layman in physics…like many in the ‘popular’ media, this guy has no business writing about technical things for which he is not qualified…

    • 1691

      I read “opinions” and “analysis” for fun, never trusting them. Take it as another incompetent article from the desperate party.

    • Tommy Jensen

      Me too.
      Never base your evaluation on reputation or gossip, but on whether Donald Duck actually tells you some facts you can use.

      • AM Hants

        Before or after the the USS Donald Duck visits either the Black or Baltic Sea?

    • Scaathor

      He’s a 5th columnist Atlantacist fuktard, and I’d be amazed if this guy doesn’t have a numbered bank account in Switzerland stuffed with USD from “contributors” from our Think-Tank wanklanders.

    • AM Hants

      I stopped reading, after the first paragraph, owing to having a soft spot for submarines, particularly the wonders Russia has been rolling out in the 21st century, following lessons learnt from the Kursk. How they have the safest, plus, most spacious, with regards ‘crew living space’, out of any nation. Owing to moving forward with ‘next generation’ advantages.

  • Robert McMaster

    There’s not a lot to discuss on this subject. Russia designs impressive stuff but can’t get around to actually producing much. What? Like in a zillion years we will dribble out, uh, 4 Yansens. When you can count to 10 come back and we might re-visit the matter.

    • Mike

      And what do Americans produce , duds like the zumwalt, another yank talking out of his ass.

      • Robert McMaster

        Very true. No argument. But Russia is still very pokey about making stuff.

        • AM Hants

          LOL. as the USS Donald Duck, plus, USS Theodore Roosevelt say.

          • Robert McMaster

            Well… Good point!

      • AM Hants

        Poor old zumwalt, which is the Russians and Chinese have no problem viewing, just, the fishermen, plus, merchant shipping, cannot see it coming. Well, when it works.

      • Robert McMaster

        Don’t forget donuts, sugar cereals, cola, pizza, crap beer – the necessities of life. The US is really good at steadily killing themselves.

    • AM Hants

      How old is the youngest, US deterrent submarine?
      When will the Columbia Class replace the current US Ohio bombers, which Russia can hear, before they even leave port?
      Same time the UK will be replacing the old Vanguard in 2029.
      Remember the US defence weapons/systems never turn up on time or in full working order. US attack submarines, are only recently being replaced.
      How many old US attack submarines are over 40 years old?

      Funnily, they had to convert four of their old bombers, to be able to deliver cruise missiles. Russian Yassens, can use both cruise missiles, plus, standard.

      How many classes of submarines does Russia have? 3 versions of SSBNs,

      Boreii II (SSBN) – since 2014, 3 are in active service, 1 undergoing operational exercises with 7 in various stages of build. Delta – Typhoon (SSBNs)

      Yassen (SSGN), 5 in build, 1 in active service, with 1 going through operational drills. Uses both hypersonics, plus, cruise missiles. Multifunctional fourth-generation submarines equipped with Kalibr (hypersonic) and Oniks cruise missiles.

      US has no hypersonic weapons.

      Akula Class – SSN, plus, the electro-diesels and special mission submarines.

      Now what did Rear Adm. Dave Johnson, Naval Sea Systems Command’s program executive officer (PEO) submarines, say, with regards the Yassen?

      “…We’ll be facing tough potential opponents. One only has to look at the Severodvinsk, Russia’s version of a nuclear guided missile submarine (SSGN). I am so impressed with this ship that I had Carderock build a model from unclassified data..’

      • Robert McMaster

        Every word you write is good and correct. Very nicely put too. But, the Russian side has its weaknesses and they deserve to be acknowledged. So, improvements can be made. That is all.

        • AM Hants

          Thank you. Do believe the West seriously underestimates Russia, owing to arrogance, plus, ignorance.

          • Robert McMaster

            Absolutely! The West hasn’t a clue about Russia. Or China for that matter. Except Partick Armstrong. But they are aggressive. They exercise the initiative and put Russia and China constantly on the defensive. The West is very fragile – debt, social division, declining everything. Yet, they bluff their way on and Russia and China don’t have a good read on their character. Otherwise, they could at any time just blow the doors down and put an end to this Potempkin Village. I await that day.

  • Ricky Miller

    Terrible article. Submarine tactics and weapons have changed the game, entirely from the world of his premise. Submarines’ primary weapons are now land attack and anti-ship cruise missiles. These can be fired from long range, so need to mix things up with NATO submarines at all, except close to home where aircraft, emplaced sensors and surface ships are more help. Ditto for Ballistic missile submarines who now carry longer ranged SLBM’s, giving them way more ocean to operate in and still be ready to launch their missiles.

    Next, acoustics. It’s not really much of a problem. NATO tech submarines remain quieter, by all accounts but only at speed. So a Russian submarine of current technological trends might have to drop to eight knots to get the same acoustic footprint as a NATO teched up submarine doing fifteen knots. Which side is likely to be defensive in operation and which side is likely to be attempting to project force far away from their own territory? Exactly, so not a problem. Also, on average Russian submarines dive and operate deeper, working around cold sinks and salients which make both acoustic and magnatic detection more difficult.

    This article is poorly labeled or titled. It should bear the title: My outdated and ill informed summary of modern day Russian submarine operations…

  • Shawn Batchelder

    So were was all this high tech detection equipment when a Chinese sub popped up behind a US aircraft carrier several years ago? LOL And from what I recall, the carrier task force was conducting battle drills at the time
    Contrary to this rubbish article, it is extremely difficult to detect subs

  • Dick Von Dast’Ard

    Why bother with stealth…
    First thing the U.S. would need to do would be to fly in equipment and troops to the European theater of operations in the event of a very “hot” war.
    Having a submerged anti-aircraft submarine, (perhaps a converted SSBN) lurking in the North Atlantic would be a major hindrance to rapid logistical support.