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Jul 31, 2022
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The “dead hand” of the dead Ukrainian fleet reaches out to our “Varshavyanka”

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Photo: Lev Fedoseev/TASS

In Kyiv today, one of the most burning topics is how to most reliably prevent the incessant strikes by high-precision Caliber cruise missiles from the Black Sea on the territory of Ukraine? The main evil in this regard is considered here to be Russian diesel-electric submarines of the Varshavyanka type (project 636.3), which regularly receive cruise missiles one after another in Sevastopol, and then from the very edge of the territorial waters of the “square” carry out launches from a submerged position.

The crews of our submarines on the other side of the front are so hated that at the end of July they considered it possible to publicly announce a reward of 15 thousand dollars for the “head” of the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Black Sea Fleet, Captain 1st Rank Anatoly Varochkinorganizing action of the Black Sea submariners. Kyiv, without any trial (because it’s a democracy!) declared him a war criminal. Leaflets with a message about this, the home address of the caperang and the personal data of his wife and children were pasted up in Crimea by unknown persons.

And then, on his own behalf, the deputy of the Verkhovna Rada, an ally of the ex-premier of the country, considered it necessary to increase the reward for the promised murder Yulia Tymoshenkoformer Minister of Housing and Public Utilities of Ukraine Alexey Kucherenko. On the Web, he wrote: “I read that someone announced a reward of 15 thousand dollars for the life of the commander of a submarine division (Varochkin’s position was indicated incorrectly by a Ukrainian deputy calling for open terror – “SP”), who shelled Vinnitsa and other cities with Caliber Ukraine. He announced in a serious way – with the name, address in Feodosia, phone numbers, photo, photo of his wife, dog’s name etc. On my own behalf, I add the same amount to this fund from my declared strategic reserves. Quite seriously.”

I have no doubt that the FSB took these enemy threats seriously and exhaustive security measures have already been taken against the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Black Sea Fleet and his family. But why are “Caliber” from “Varshavyanka” more terrible for the enemy than volleys of almost the same missiles, but from the launchers of the Black Sea surface ships?

After all, such weapons are also installed on the Admiral Essen and Admiral Makarov frigates currently based in Sevastopol (project 11356) and on small missile ships Vyshny Volochek, Ingushetia and Grayvoron (project 21631 Buyan-M) . They also regularly participate in a special operation in Ukraine.

But Kyiv is obviously especially afraid of the Varshavyanka, of which we have only four left in the Black Sea (B-237 Rostov-on-Don, B-262 Stary Oskol, B-268 Veliky Novgorod and B -271 “Kolpino”). Two other similar submarines of the 4th separate brigade of submarines of the Black Sea Fleet (B-261 “Novorossiysk” and B-265 “Krasnodar”) both left last year for the Syrian Tartus, and continue to carry out permanent military service there due to the closure of the Bosphorus by Turkey and the Dardanelles for the passage of any warships.

And here’s the thing. Yes, we can hit targets on the territory of Ukraine with Kalibr from almost anywhere. Though from Syria, even from the Caspian Sea, even from the berths of Sevastopol. The flight range of these excellent high-precision missiles is more than enough. However, then the flight time to the shores of Ukraine turns out to be such that the local air defense system, with the help of the vigilant American electronic intelligence, gets quite enough time to prepare to repel the attack. Therefore, according to available information, some of the Kalibr released by the Armed Forces of Ukraine manage to shoot down more often than we would like.

This is elementary: in order to complicate the task of the enemy, Russian missile carriers should get as close as possible to his territory. It is risky for surface carriers of “Caliber” to do this after the death of the guards cruiser “Moskva” and the departure of ours from Snake Island. Therefore, they shoot almost from Cape Fiolent near Sevastopol.

With the speed of these missiles of the order of 1000 kilometers per hour, from there they fly to the same Odessa for about 20 minutes. It is quite enough for the crews of the Ukrainian anti-aircraft missile systems to take their places at the consoles, turn on the equipment and get ready for combat work.

Another thing – “Varshavyanka”. Without any risk, they are able to approach the very coast of Ukraine under water. And from there, with their “Caliber” without surfacing, directly from the depths of the Black Sea, hit the enemy from a distance of almost a rifle shot. It is much more difficult to repel such a sudden missile attack by ground-based air defense systems. Therefore, the effectiveness of the combat operation is guaranteed to be higher.

Let’s also take into account that the Ukrainian military sailors could not detect the stealthy low-noise “Varshavyanka” on the way to their borders before because of the wretchedness of the anti-submarine defense system inherited from the USSR. Now, after the total destruction by the Russians of the already barely alive naval personnel of the Ukrainian Navy, there was even nothing to talk about.

Here, in fact, this simple arithmetic, as well as the feeling of their complete helplessness, measures the degree of Kyiv’s special hatred for the submariners of the Black Sea Fleet. However, something needs to be done with all this APU? What exactly?

Expect that the Americans will plant some of their long-decommissioned frigates of the Oliver Hazard Perry type to strengthen the anti-submarine defense of Ukraine?

A few years ago, even in Washington, there was unofficial talk about such a possibility. But, firstly, Ukraine needs too much to operate such large warships. Not only very significant money. But also trained crews, a repair and training base, and weapons arsenals. Naval base, after all. Odessa and Ochakov, which theoretically could claim this proud title, are about to be occupied by Russian troops themselves. And then what?

Expect that Turkey is worthy and will transfer to the Ukrainian Navy the first of two quite decent and quite modern Ada-type missile corvettes, on which an agreement was reached between the two countries in 2020?

The Turks have almost passed their part of the way. By the beginning of this year, the lead ship for Ukraine was 75% ready at their shipyard. But then, in the crucible of the Russian special operation, the Ukrainian Navy itself evaporated. And now Ankara is racking its brains: who would attach the almost finished Ada corvette?

That’s about it the other day on the Kiev TV channel “Inter” and there was a conversation with local military experts. One of them turned out to be without five minutes rear admiral – captain 1st rank Andrey Ryzhenko. In the recent past – Deputy Chief of Staff of the Naval Forces of Ukraine for European Integration. In other words, in Odessa – the former chief for relations with NATO and especially with the United States. But in March 2020, he was transferred to the reserve as a result of some intrigues by the defense department in Kyiv.

However, Ryzhenko certainly had foreign connections. Therefore, I think we should listen to his opinion.

In general, either by himself, or with the help of American friends, the recent deputy chief of staff of the Ukrainian Navy is now sure that corvettes with frigates for the Ukrainian Navy are all empty. In the fight against the Russian “Varshavyanka” near the coast of Ukraine, Kyiv should stake on underwater drones.

“I think that in order to fight these submarines, the most realistic option for us is underwater drones, which are already on the market. They are produced by leading companies, I know that there were such developments in Ukraine. Those parameters of the operational zone, the northwestern part of the Black Sea, which is 80 by 120 nautical miles, allow these drones to be used.

They can find, identify and destroy submarines. And it costs one or two orders of magnitude less than classical means, such as corvettes, frigates, own submarines and maritime patrol aircraft,” Ryzhenko said.

What is it most likely about? Since 2010, the US Department of Defense agency in charge of developing new technologies for use by the military (DARPA) has been working on a project to develop an anti-submarine drone that could track Russian and Chinese diesel-electric submarines. The project was given the name ACTUV: an underwater unmanned complex for long-term tracking of non-nuclear enemy submarines – Anti-Submarine Warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel.

Commenting on the progress of this work in 2015, American Rear Admiral Frank Drennan He put it this way: “Catching the quiet hum of a battery-powered diesel-electric submarine in busy coastal waters is like trying to recognize the sound of a single car engine in the noise of a big city.”

A couple of years later, in the United States, the first result of work on the ACTUV project was rolled out – the Snakehead underwater drone (translated as Snakehead). The performance characteristics of the device are not disclosed. However, based on the message that torpedo tubes of nuclear submarines can become its carriers, it is logical to assume that the diameter of the “Snakehead” is 533 mm. Judging by the presented pictures, the length is about one and a half meters.

A high degree of drone autonomy is provided by advanced artificial intelligence. The movement is driven by electricity from lithium-ion batteries. The modular design principle allows you to quickly change combat missions and equipment of the Snakehead. Including equipping it with anti-ship and anti-submarine torpedoes.

Finally, perhaps the most significant in our conversation today. Most recently, in the winter of 2022, the US Navy began testing this diving contraption on its territory. And then it rumbled in Ukraine. Is this not a chance to test the combat potential of the experimental “Snakehead” in the conditions of a real hunt for real Russian submarines in the Black Sea? Naturally, together with Kyiv, having previously taken all measures so that the new weapon does not end up in the hands of Moscow, if Odessa is also under attack.

If we assume that the retired captain 1st rank Ryzhenko in his country, according to old memory, somehow provides for these concerns of the Pentagon and DARPA, then wasn’t he talking about the “Snakehead” at Inter last Wednesday?

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