You have probably heard that Four Russian naval vessels based in the Caspian Sea have launched 26 missiles against targets in Syria. This attack demonstrates a capability similar to that of the US Tomahawk missile.
What you might not realize is how small the Russians ships that launched the attack really were. While the US surface vessels equipped with Tomahawk are Burke class destroyers and Ticonderoga class cruisers of 8,000 to 10,000 tons, the Russian operation involved only a one small frigate and three small corvettes. The corvettes were smaller than a 210, and the frigate was less than two thirds the size of a 378. All four were considerably smaller than the projected Offshore Patrol Cutter. All four together displace only slightly more than a single Bertholf class.
The largest ship, Dagestan, is a Gepard class light frigate or large corvette, 1,930 tons (full load), 102.14 m (335.1 ft) in length overall, 13.09 m (42.9 ft) of beam, with eight Kalibr (SS-N-27) anti-surface missiles, SA-N-4 AAW missiles, a 76.2 mm gun, two six barreled 30 mm guns, four 533 mm (21″) heavy weight torpedo tubes, and an RBU-6000 ASW rocket launcher.
The other three, Grad Sviyazhsk, Uglich, Veliky Ustyug, were Buyan-M class corvettes, displacing 950 tons full load, with a maximum speed of 25 knots, armed with Kalibr (SS-N-27) anti-surface missiles, 100-mm and 30-mm guns, and Igla-1M air defense missiles.
While the US Navy has begun talking about distributed lethality, the Russians are practicing it.
Certainly the Coast Guard is not going to arm their ships like this in peacetime, but we might want to keep the possibility in mind if things start to go south.
My understanding is that such impressively dense weapon system loads come at the expense of of things like access space for maintenance, repair and damage control, especially underway. This translates into less weapons system reliability, decreased ship readiness and more time in port, although this may be of somewhat less significance for smaller vessels, or if more such vessels are available. The USN may be following a similar path, not to increase systems density, but to decrease personnel requirements, as in the Zumwalt class. Perhaps a wider adaptation of swappable mission modules in future warship designs, if they can made to work as envisioned, can partially bypass such design tradeoffs. Also, if future mission modules could be removed and replaced, for either repair, reload or reconfiguration, by a forward-deployed support vessel, then they’d really have something useful.
I came to the conclusion that the 327s were so successful partly because they were not overburdened with weapons as the War approached. The 327s were based on the Navy’s Erie class gun boats. They were armed with four 6″ guns and four quad 1.1″ anti-aircraft guns. The Navy ships were not very useful, while the 327s quickly added large quantities of depth charges and later HF/DF sensors and hedgehog ASW mortars and became the most successful class of US ASW vessels.
Essentially the 327s were blank slates to which new weapons and sensors could be added, while the Erie class would have required disassembly before new systems could be added. That never happened.
If our government continues their longstanding practice of grossly underfunding the USCG and forcing them to keep their cutters in service far longer than makes any sense, perhaps more careful attention ought to have been paid to designing new cutters with future modifications and upgrades (and future additional missions) more in mind than short-term and short-sighted budgetary parsimony.
[but please correct me if the new cutter designs have incorporated such considerations more than I believe they have]
I was not privy to the specs for the Bertholf Class National Security Cutters but information has come out that they were designed for future installation of twelve Mk56 VLS each capable of launching one Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile.
There is reference in the Offshore Patrol Cutter Concept of Ops to having additional weapons, but this might only be replacing the Mk38 mod2 with a Phalanx.
There is no requirement in the OPC specs for hosting container based mission modules, but it appears that all three of the “parent craft” for the competing OPC designs had provision for storing containers on board. Hopefully this will apply to the OPC as well. Hosting mission modules may require utilities like water, electricity, or compressed air which may or may not be included.
More details and pictures of the ships here: http://news.usni.org/2015/10/07/kurdish-video-lends-credibility-to-russian-navy-caspian-sea-strike-mission-claims
Does look like some of the Russian missiles did not make it to the targets. http://news.yahoo.com/4-russian-cruise-missiles-crash-iran-en-route-220504854.html
Another view on what happened here: http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/naval/ships/2015/10/11/caspian-sea-russia-navy-missiles-attack-strike-military-naval-syria-frigate-corvette-lcs-littoral-combat-ship/73671188/
Pingback: October Member Round-Up Part One
Two more of the 1000 ton corvettes that participated in this operation are expected to join the Russian fleet by the end of the year. A total of ten are apparently planned. http://www.navyrecognition.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=3170
A view as to why the Russians decided to use these weapons instead of aircraft. http://www.realcleardefense.com/articles/2015/10/20/putins_birthday_present_to_the_us_108594.html
TASS, ran an article which said, “Russian missile strikes against IS in Syria hit Pentagon…”
Russian Caspian Fleet is at it again. Reportedly 18 missiles launched. 600 killed. http://gcaptain.com/watch-russian-warship-launches-missiles-against-isis-in-syria/
Four more of the small missile ships completed recently, apparently two going to the Black Sea and two more to the Caspian Sea. http://www.navyrecognition.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=3349
Pingback: Project 22160 patrol ships, Russia’s Cutter X | Chuck Hill's CG Blog
The same class of small corvette has been used to launch missile attacks on Syria from the Mediterranean.
Information on the Buyan-M class. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buyan-class_corvette
Five active, more building. 949 tons fl, 75m (246 ft)x11m (36 ft)x2.5 m (8 ft)
2 shaft CODAD, 4 x Zvezda M520, 14,584 shp (10,880 kW), Pumpjet
Range: 2,300 nmi (4,300 km) at 12 knots. Crew of 52.
On the growing importance and capabilities of Russia’s Caspian Sea Flotilla.