Oct 27, 2021
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Great exchange: Shoigu will swap Tu-160 for destroyers

In the photo: Tu-160 strategic bomber and Il-78 tanker aircraft

In the photo: Tu-160 strategic bomber and Il-78 tanker aircraft (Photo: Grigory Dukor / TASS)

The specialized Internet portal, which positions itself as “a global database on the maritime industry in Russia and the CIS countries,” published sensational news. According to the portal, which in turn is based on the publications of the Chinese business publication NetEase, Beijing may soon offer our country a mutually beneficial exchange of military technologies.

According to, within the framework of a possible agreement, the Chinese are interested in receiving from Moscow some technical secrets of the production of strategic bombers of the Tu-160 type. And further: “If Moscow reveals its secrets, then in return it will be able to receive (from the PRC -” JV “) Type 55 destroyers. China believes that just one such deal will help both countries solve important problems in the military sphere.”

If you look closely, such an idea, in my opinion, really contains an undoubted potential benefit for both Russia and China. Because we actually, apparently, have long forgotten how to independently build large combat surface ships for warfare in the ocean. When they came to their senses, it turned out that after the collapse of the USSR, technological chains of critical importance were lost. Simply irreplaceable specialists fled or left for another world. Domestic shipyards and design bureaus actually turned into ruins.

They are trying to restore all this by inhuman efforts. But the shipbuilding devastation has probably gone too far. If we are now able to confidently and rhythmically launch in this area – then only small missile ships of the Buyan and Karakurt types. Well, more corvettes like “Guarding” and “Thundering”.

Yes, all of the ships listed are equipped with excellent strike weapons. But with an insulting small displacement. This greatly limits their use away from their native shores.

Therefore, all the hopes of the domestic fleet in this area have long been associated exclusively with the program of building a series of multipurpose frigates of the 1st rank of the “Admiral Gorshkov” type. The draft design of which in the “Northern Design Bureau” was developed back in 2003.

The ships, it must be admitted, turned out to be successful. But the trouble is that over the past two decades since then, we have contrived to introduce only two such frigates into the combat composition of the Russian Navy. Besides the aforementioned “Admiral Gorshkov”, there is also “Admiral Kasatonov”. The third (“Admiral Golovko”) is planned to be handed over to the customer not tomorrow either – at the end of 2022.

And this despite the fact that if the country managed to implement the originally announced plans, then by today we should have had at least 15-20 such combat units. However, this would also make it possible to cover only the most minimal needs for the restoration of the combat power of the Russian fleets. Six such frigates were promised to be included in the Black Sea frigate alone, which now bears the brunt of the operation in Syria. As you know, while in Sevastopol – not a single one. And no one will say when even the first one will come there.

As a matter of fact, the signing in 2011 of a contract with Paris for the purchase of two Mistral-class amphibious assault helicopter carriers from Paris became a sad but forced admission that we are now, alas, real shipbuilding ineptitude. So that participation in their construction using French technologies would help us remember our own former competencies. And even to be transported, finally, in this craft to the 21st century.

But, as you know, it did not grow together with helicopter carriers. In May 2015, the so-called “Ukrainian” crisis that broke out in Europe led to the termination of the contract at the initiative of the French. Therefore, nothing happened with us with the “Mistrals”, and with the acquisition of modern technologies by Russian shipyards. But the problems registered on them have not disappeared anywhere.

It is for this reason that in the domestic media space, conversations like: “So we’ll take on the creation of atomic miracle destroyers of the“ Leader ”type, a model of which was presented to the public back in 2013, in the domestic media space. Or for your own aircraft carrier. Either the “Storm” type, or the “Manatee”. They just haven’t decided yet. “

A couple of years ago, the Western edition of Defensionem sarcastically summed up the intermediate result of this fountain of ideas, not free for the treasury of the Russian Federation, a couple of years ago: “We were delighted. Then they remembered that Russia had not designed or built anything larger than a frigate since the collapse of the Soviet Union. And we all had a good laugh … The truth is that not a single Russian shipyard has ever participated in the construction of anything commensurate and complex. “

It looks like – at least for now! – in the domestic shipbuilding really “good impulses are destined for us, but nothing is given to accomplish”. Without benevolent foreign aid. Such, indeed, could probably be the purchase of modern destroyers from China. Well, or an exchange with him for technology that China itself desperately needs. Yes, yes, there are needs similar to ours even for the “Celestial Empire” taking a leading role in the production of modern weapons!

The Chinese really would certainly not have refused the help of Russian designers and engineers in updating their strategic aviation. Because here, in contrast to the creation of their own Navy, if they have advanced, it is completely imperceptible.

Today, the basis of the long-range aviation of the PLA is heavy bombers of the Xian H-6 type and their later modifications. It’s scary to say: these machines, if you look at it, are flesh from the flesh of Soviet long-range jet bombers of the Tu-16 type. The first public display of such an aircraft in the USSR took place over Red Square during a military parade on May 1, 1954. The Chinese, of course, improved similar “carcasses” to the level of Xian H-6K. But they still fly on this archaic!

In the photo: the Tu-160 supersonic strategic bomber-missile carrier during the launch of a rocket after departure from the Engels airbase of the Russian Aerospace Forces as part of a training in the management of strategic offensive forces
In the photo: the Tu-160 supersonic strategic bomber-missile carrier during the launch of a rocket after departure from the Engels airbase of the Russian Aerospace Forces as part of a training session on managing strategic offensive forces (Photo: press service of the Russian Defense Ministry / TASS)

Naturally, Beijing intends to show the world its own newest “Kuz’kin mother” here soon. Therefore, after 2010, he began to create his own analogue of supersonic aircraft of the level of the Russian Tu-160 and the American B-1 V. Or even the state’s inconspicuous B-2 Spirit.

At one time, the Chinese edition China Military Online wrote that the flight range of the new “strategist” should be 12,000 kilometers (with one refueling – 18,000 kilometers). He, the newspaper claimed, would be able to hit targets in North America with long-range cruise missiles. The total weight of the weapon on board is likely to be at least 10 tons.

It is wonderful. But here’s the problem: the source of the Chinese resource said at the same time that the new superbomber, already named Xian H-20, would take to the skies for the first time “after 2020”. Which, of course, looks like a rather “stretchable” period. But still, 2020 in this context is hardly mentioned by accident. Meanwhile, it has long passed. But so far no one has seen the Xian H-20 in flight.

There are certainly a lot of problems for Chinese designers. Judging by the open press, not the last place among them is the creation of a new generation bypass turbojet engine (turbojet engine) based on WS-15 and WS-18 (Chinese copy of the Soviet D-30KP-2).

Proceeding from this, Beijing is probably closely watching how Russia is working on a new version of the famous “White Swan” – Tu-160M2 with engines much more modern than those of China. Because the Samara NK-32-02 with a take-off weight of 25 tons was developed in the USSR much later than the D-30KP-2. In 1987. Its release was not carried out for a long time only due to funding problems, but it was established by Moscow since 2014.

In the photo: the dashboard of the Tu-160M2 strategic bomber on the territory of the Kazan Aviation Plant, a branch of the Tupolev PJSC.
In the photo: the dashboard of the Tu-160M2 strategic bomber on the territory of the Kazan Aviation Plant, a branch of the Tupolev PJSC. (Photo: Vadim Savitsky / press service of the RF Ministry of Defense / TASS)

The Tupolev Design Bureau claims that with new engines and with a base load (six cruise missiles with a total weight of nine tons), the Tu-160M2 will be able to cover 13950 kilometers without refueling. That is, 1650 kilometers more than in the standard version of this Russian “strategist”. That simply cannot but cause “white envy” among the Chinese, for whom their main N-6, even after modification and without the assistance of a tanker aircraft, is unable to fly more than 8300 kilometers.

So, apparently, the ground for bargaining between Moscow and Beijing, announced by and the Chinese edition of NetEase, may very well really exist. We are helping you in creating a promising strategic bomber. In return, you give us the technology for the production of large warships like the most modern destroyers Type 055. Or at least a good discount when buying one. Why, as it seems, it is necessary to talk about buying? Because we will not build anything like this with our own hands quickly anyway. And the situation in the world is such that time is running out.

For clarity: what kind of URO destroyer is this, “Type 055”? Full displacement up to 13 thousand tons. That is much more than that of the American missile cruisers of the Ticonderoga type (9800 tons) and almost the same in terms of this indicator of the Russian project 1164 (Moscow, Varyag and Marshal Ustinov). Speed ​​up to 30 knots. It is capable of detecting air targets at a distance of up to 600 kilometers, and underwater targets up to 10 kilometers away.

Armed literally to the teeth: total ammunition of 112 anti-aircraft, anti-submarine and cruise missiles. And also – the 130-mm artillery system H / PJ-38, one 11-barreled 30-mm machine gun H / PJ-11 and the anti-aircraft complex HJ-10 with its own launcher for 24 missiles. To combat underwater targets, there are two three-tube torpedo tubes of 324 mm caliber.

There is simply nothing to compare in the Russian Navy, including “Admiral Gorshkov”. And it is not known when something like this will appear in our country without the help of China, if the prospect of a designated bargaining with Beijing seems to someone very high up in Moscow to seem untimely or offensive to a great ocean power in the past.

And finally, a little more information for thought. According to the estimates of the Chinese newspaper Sina, produced in 2019, the price of one Type 055 destroyer is 6.4 billion yuan (about $ 1 billion). The frigate “Admiral Gorshkov”, however, bypassed Russia only half the price (about $ 500 million). But, judging by the composition of weapons (first of all, anti-ship missiles, of which there are a maximum of 16 on the Gorshkov), the combat capabilities of these ships are simply incomparable.

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