The Russian Navy will receive water all-terrain vehicles. The Ministry of Defense has decided to develop an amphibious assault ship on an air cushion. According to the plan of the military department, the new vehicle for the delivery of marines and equipment should be able to take on board up to 60-70 tons of load. It will be able to transport, among other things, tanks and missile systems “Bal”, “Bastion” and “Iskander”. The peculiarity of this class of ships is that they hover above the surface, and this is not necessarily a body of water: the ship will deliver troops and equipment through swamps, ice, shallow water. Experts note that the new vessels will not only radically increase the capabilities of the Navy in the island and coastal zones, but will also be indispensable for providing assistance in case of natural disasters.
Tanks will appear over the horizon
Sources in the military department told Izvestia that the issue of building a series of new light amphibious ships is now being considered. The new items will be equipped with air cushion systems. Thanks to this solution, boats will be able to move both on water and on land. It is planned that they will carry cargo weighing up to 60-70 tons. According to the interlocutors of the publication, now several technical projects of new landing boats are being worked out.
The peculiarity of hovercraft is that their hull is raised above the surface due to the compressed air injected under the bottom. Actually, they do not float on the water surface, but hover above it. This allows such structures to develop much higher speeds than conventional ships. Hovercraft can move not only on the water surface, but also in shallow water, swamps, freeze-up and even on land. They do not depend on the navigation period and can be operated all year round.
New ships will operate in the coastal zone. They will be able to transport cargo hundreds of kilometers at high speed. When carrying out amphibious operations, for example, the ship will be able to take on board one tank or several infantry fighting vehicles and armored personnel carriers, as well as an assault group. Also, the new ship will be able to quickly transfer operational-tactical complexes “Iskander” and coastal anti-ship complexes “Bal” and “Bastion”, the interlocutors of the publication explained.
Hovercraft are needed for over-the-horizon landing of troops on an unequipped coast or in places where the enemy was able to establish engineering barriers, military expert Viktor Murakhovsky told Izvestia.
– The Soviet backlog is over, and now our fleet is in short supply of such ships, – the expert noted. – They can provide surprise and deliver to the shore not only strike units, but also equipment. Not so long ago, helicopters were used in exercises in Crimea for the over-the-horizon landing of advanced reconnaissance and assault groups. Military equipment and the main forces were already delivered to the shore by large landing ships.
Hovercraft will be especially useful in the island zone, for example, in the Kuril Islands, the expert believes.
– All garrisons are isolated on them, – Viktor Murakhovsky explained. – In favorable weather, hovercraft can transfer equipment and equipment between them. It will be in great demand.
Hovercraft will also be useful in emergency response. A ship with a carrying capacity of 60 tons will be able to transport a lot of machinery, cargo and equipment at once. Moreover, such a transfer will take much less time than conventional vessels, the expert noted.
Hovercraft of this class are operated by the US Navy. More than 70 LCAC hovercraft are in service there, which can be operated on modern multi-purpose amphibious assault ships. They were produced from the late 1980s to the early 2000s. Such a boat can carry up to 68 tons of cargo. The deck can accommodate one heavy tank “Abrams”, or several units of light armored vehicles, or 180 troops. Boats can cover up to 300 miles, their speed is over 40 knots.
In the footsteps of “Zubra”
30 years ago in the Navy there were only 20 small amphibious air-cushion ships (MDKVP) of Project 12321 “Jeyran”. They could take on board two medium tanks or five armored personnel carriers and move at a speed of 50 knots – more than 90 km / h. All of these ships were decommissioned in the mid-1990s.
In total, several models of landing ships and boats were mastered at Soviet shipyards, but in the 1990s they stopped building. The most advanced in terms of firepower, maneuverability and speed were considered eight hovercraft (DKVP) project 12322 “Zubr”. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, two representatives of the series remained in the Russian Navy – “Mordovia” and “Evgeny Kocheshkov”. They are still part of the Baltic Fleet.
“Zubrs” can deliver marines, three tanks or 10 armored personnel carriers with a total weight of up to 150 tons to an unequipped coast. They are still considered the world’s largest amphibious air cushion ships. These vessels are capable of speeds over 110 km / h.
Two rocket launchers of the Grad-M multiple launch rocket system and 30-mm automatic artillery mounts AK-630 are installed on board the Zubrov. Such a set of weapons makes it possible to fight not only against surface and ground targets, but also against air targets at close range. If necessary, these vessels can mine the water area.
Due to the cloud of spray they raise, hovercraft have a quality that is important for a modern military ship – it is hard to see on enemy radar monitors. This gives the boat a serious trump card when conducting landing or covert operations.
30 years ago, the Navy also had dozens of hovercraft. The boats of the project 12061 “Murena” were considered one of the most perfect. Each of them could take on board a tank weighing up to 48 tons, or two or three infantry fighting vehicles, or armored personnel carriers. Now almost all of them were scrapped, leaving one for conservation.
At the same time, domestic ships and air cushion boats are still in demand abroad. Greece bought three former Soviet Zubrs in the 1990s, and they are still part of the country’s navy. China has four more landing ships of this project. The South Korean Navy has three Mureny-E, which were built specifically for this republic in 2005-2006 in Khabarovsk.
Bogdan Stepovoy, Roman Kretsul