Tuesday, December 29, 2020

The "Ominous" Commissioning.

Depends, of course, for who this commissioning is ominous. Today, Russian Navy received yet another ship. The flag was raised on Project 20385 Corvette Gremyaschiy (Thunderous) and this is not an ordinary delivery. Not to speak of this ship joining fast modernizing Russia's Pacific Fleet.

These are very different from now popular and versatile corvettes of the Project 20380.  The differences between the two brotherly classes are, actually, dramatic. Not only new corvettes are larger, they are armed differently and this difference is not only in the main strike weaponry--20385 are carriers of Kalibr family, P-800 Oniks and 3M22 Zircon. They also have a new AESA radar Zaslon, whose capabilities are well represented in this Russian-language video. 

This is a considerable upgrade over run-of-the-mill (by Russian standards) traditional for pr. 20380 Furke. Whatever else is packed inside the integrated mast of these ships--we can only guess. Obviously something for specifically surface search and targeting, including over-the-horizon. It goes without saying that satellite communications and data-links allow receiving and providing targeting within combat network from and to multiple sources, so, all things considered, the use of the main missile systems to the maximum range is assured. Judging by the open info Zaslon and Redut air defense complexes are fully integrated and the whole thing looks absolutely intimidating for the fraction of a price of project 22350 Gorshkov-class frigates. It is certainly more expensive than relatively austere 20380 but 20385 dwarfs its strike capability. All 6 project 20385 corvettes with the strike fire power of a destroyer are bound for Pacific Fleet, which is being modernized and expanded dramatically. There is a reason for it. 

Obviously project 20385 are designed for A2/AD primarily but the funniest thing about this A2/AD "thingy" is that  with new missile complexes such as 3M14M and 3M22 even couple of such ships can completely control all of Japan and Okinawa and can strike from Bering Sea anywhere in Alaska, Northern Canada and parts of the US Pacific Northwest. But here is the main point--for anyone who didn't spend last 10 years under the stone--it will come as no surprise at all that the shipbuilding program for the Russian Navy accelerates, especially after Russia removing her dependency on Ukraine in power plant. Next 7 years will see 70 new major combatants (I exclude here Russia's Coast Guard which is being thoroughly modernized) ranging from brand new SSGNs of Project 885M (Severodvinsk-class), SSBNs, large amphibious assault ships and newest frigates and corvettes. In her combat shipbuilding today Russia lags only behind China and the US. But don't be surprised seeing Russian Navy hitting number two spot in the next few years. But, in the end, these are not just platforms and their numbers which, of course, matter--these are weapon systems and sensor suites which make all the difference. Project 20385 embodies this philosophy--a lone ship of this class can destroy anything with a single salvo at the ranges which seemed inconceivable even 10 years ago. All that--in about 2500 tons of a displacement. But then again, take a look at the Karakurt-class to get the idea.  Ah, yes, Russia is a shipbuilding yard, masquerading as a country. She is also an aircraft and space ship station masquerading as a country. So, you get my drift. 

In related news, 10,000 tons of high-tech self-propelled polar institute has been floated 10 days ago. LSP North Pole is Russia's major return to Arctic research. 

The form of the vessel is specifically designed to freeze into the ice but not be crushed by it. This institute is capable to conduct geological, acoustic, geophysical, meteorological, you name it, research. Ah yes, Russia is a scientific station, masquerading as a country. As Patrick Armstrong recently concluded: 

In a humiliating insult to Canadian pride, rumor has it, Russians are toying with the idea of a Russian Zamboni production. This is an atrocity, really, but that is just a rumor. Hopefully Russia will abandon this reckless idea in order to save Russian-Canadian relations at some point in the distant future. 

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