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Jan 26, 2021
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Russian frigates locked up the 6th US fleet

Photo: frigate

In the photo: the frigate “Admiral Grigorovich” (Photo: Snapshot from the video / press service and information department of the RF Ministry of Defense / TASS)

In the permanent task force of the Russian Navy in the Mediterranean Sea, another rotation (or reinforcement) took place. The frigate “Admiral Grigorovich” and the small missile ship (MRK) “Vyshny Volochek” arrived here from the Black Sea Fleet, the frigate “Admiral Kasatonov” and the ocean rescue tug “Nikolai Chiker” entered the Mediterranean Sea from the Northern Fleet almost simultaneously. The fact itself may be insignificant – the Russian naval group, consisting of about 15 warships and support ships, has been present in Mediterranean since 2013. However, the appearance of the newest frigates in its composition made the command of the 6th Fleet of the US Navy pretty worried.

The cause for concern was the powerful modern missile armament of frigates and MRK, which is capable of “zeroing” the entire potential of US NAVY ships in the Mediterranean. Recently, the American edition of the National Interest published an expert article Sebastian Roblin, who came to the conclusion that, despite the absence of a large number of large warships, it is the Russian fleet that now dominates the Black Sea water area. Among the “strike fist” were mentioned frigates of project 11356R, built using stealth technology, with guided missile weapons – anti-ship supersonic missiles “Onyx” or cruise missiles of the “Caliber-NK” family.

Now such ships are actively operating in the Mediterranean Sea. So there is a reason for American sadness.

Doubts about NATO’s superiority in the Mediterranean have arisen within the alliance itself. If you follow the statement of the official representative of this organization Oana Lungescu, they recorded “a significant increase in the number of Russian ships off the coast of Syria.” NATO members counted 19 warships with the alleged presence of nuclear submarines. The Russian Navy claims that 10 ships and 2 diesel submarines from the Black Sea Fleet are on alert in the region. Why was the “Russian squadron” so frightened by the 6th American fleet and the ships of NATO countries, whose shores are washed by the Mediterranean Sea?

Let’s start with another fact. As you know, the naval base in the Syrian port of Tartus (the 720th logistical support point) is engaged in the provision of the Russian Navy’s connection in the Mediterranean Sea. And here’s the news – the frigate “Admiral Kasatonov”, which set off on its first long sea voyage from Severomorsk on December 30 last year, two weeks later entered the port of Algeria in the Mediterranean Sea. Kind of like a friendly visit.

At the same time, the ship was replenished with supplies of fresh water, fuel and food, and the crew could rest for two days on the shore. That is, purely theoretically, the Russian frigate could easily have “lasted” to Tartus, but had the opportunity to replenish supplies in Algeria. From this we can conclude that the ships of the Russian Navy can carry out long-term service in the western waters of the Mediterranean and not return for replenishment in its eastern part. This is a big plus.

Now the project 22350 multipurpose frigate “Admiral of the Kasatonov Fleet” with guided weapons of the long sea and ocean zones. It entered the Northern Fleet on July 21, 2020. So far, there are only two ships of such a project in the Russian Navy, and the Admiral Gorshkov operates on the Northern Fleet. But six more such frigates are under construction (two more government contracts have been signed), “Admiral Golovko” is undergoing mooring tests and will be handed over to the fleet this year, “Admiral Isakov” will be completed by 2022. The program for project 22350 is calculated until 2027.

The frigates of this project have a powerful armament complex consisting of missile, artillery, radio-technical and other types of weapons. Striking power is represented by two universal launchers of 8 cells each, designed to launch different types of missiles.

It can be either anti-ship winged 3M55 “Onyx”, supersonic RRC PJ-10 BrahMos (joint Russian-Indian development), anti-ship and tactical “Caliber”. The installation can also be used for promising hypersonic missiles 3M22 “Zircon”, which are expected to be adopted by 2023. The frigate is equipped with the Redut air defense system, which consists of four eight-cell modules designed to launch 32 short-range anti-aircraft missiles (10 kilometers), medium-range (50 kilometers) or long-range (150 kilometers). Simultaneous deployment of different types of missiles is possible.

The artillery armament of the frigate is represented by the 130-mm A-192 “Armat” mount with a firing range of up to 22 kilometers at a rate of fire of 30 rounds per minute. There are also two combat modules of the 30-mm anti-aircraft artillery complex “Broadsword”, as well as a complex of anti-submarine defense and anti-torpedo protection “Packet-NK”. Aircraft weapons are represented by the Ka-27 anti-submarine helicopter. Radar station 5P27 “Fourke” is designed to detect surface and air targets, radar “Polyment” is designed to detect and target air defense missile systems, station 34K1 “Monolith” gives target designation to anti-ship missiles. The combat information and control system (BIUS) also includes electronic warfare, electronic suppression, radio and space communications. All this together makes the Project 22350 frigate a powerful weapon against any American ship.

Project 11356 frigates, to which the Admiral Grigorovich belongs, should be more correctly called a patrol ship of the far sea zone, but in terms of its tonnage, weapons and the nature of the tasks performed, it is quite suitable for the classification of the frigate.

Born in the Baltic and tested in the North (Barents Sea), these frigates were originally intended to reinforce the Black Sea Fleet, whose rearmament appears to be a priority. And, no doubt, by their appearance on the Black and Mediterranean Seas, they will be able to adequately represent Russian flags in this region. There were to be twice as many frigates of this class – the Navy ordered six such ships.

However, Ukraine’s failure to supply gas turbine engines for these frigates, produced in Nikolaev (and already paid for), slowed down launching and factory tests. Mastering our own production of such engines is not a question for a single year. However, Russian shipbuilders are successfully solving this problem, and the potential of the ships of Project 11356 allows us to say that they are able to operate very effectively even with a small crew.

What is the Project 11356 multipurpose patrol ship?

These ships inherited the best properties of their predecessors, but received a qualitatively new weaponry and electronic equipment. The frigates now have a landing area for the Ka-27 helicopter and a hangar for it. The changed architecture of the hull and superstructures is made using stealth technology and meets the requirements of low visibility. The cruising range of the ship is 4,850 nautical miles at a speed of 14 knots (maximum speed – 30 knots). Autonomy – 30 days. The crew is 180 people, in addition to which there can be up to 20 marines on board.

But the most interesting thing, of course, is in the frigate’s armament. If its predecessors for the most part performed the functions of anti-submarine warfare, then the current purpose is much broader – in addition to destroying submarines, Project 11356 is capable of fighting surface and air targets, and, if necessary, fire on coastal targets.

The armament of the Project 11356 ship is somewhat similar to the armament of the Project 22350 frigates. It also consists of eight cells of the universal ship complex, the universal automatic 100-mm artillery mount A-190, the Shtil-1 anti-aircraft missile system, two six-barreled rapid-fire 30- mm of AK-630M installations. In any case, each of those currently serving in the Mediterranean is able to solve a whole range of combat missions and cause a lot of trouble here for the US 6th Fleet.

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