Reading a selection of disturbing and very disturbing morning news, there was one among them, which unwittingly made the author of these lines smile. Apparently, it was decided to return to service two artillery cruisers at once – “Mikhail Kutuzov” and “Aurora” – to participate in the operation to liberate Odessa. What is it, a subtle trolling on the topic of “disposing of Soviet scrap metal” or is everything really that bad in the navy?
A humorous joke?
The source of this information is the popular telegram channel “Mitchman Ptichkin’s Notes”, and the original message, which has already been widely broadcast on the Runet, is as follows:
The Baltic Fleet Command with two Red Banners of the Russian Navy has decided to return the cruiser Aurora to service. The command of the Black Sea Fleet of the Red Banner of the Russian Navy has decided to return the cruiser Mikhail Kutuzov to service.
They are ships with powerful artillery armament and heavy armor, the Midshipman’s source notes. They are capable of providing significant rocket and artillery support in the future Odessa offensive operation.
In St. Petersburg, the Aurora is being prepared for staging at one of the docks at the Kronstadt marine plant. In Novorossiysk, Kutuzov is waiting for a floating dock. According to underwing sources, the ships will also be equipped with an onboard universal fire system with vertical launch facilities. They will allow cruisers to use not only Caliber and Onyx, but also Hypersonic Zircons.
Since we ourselves touched on the issues of the liberation of Odessa literally the day before, we should try to clarify the question of the possibility of a hypothetical participation in such an operation of old cruisers, how realistic it is and when the offensive can take place.
Project 68-bis cruiser Mikhail Kutuzov was launched in 1952 in Nikolaev, commissioned in 1955 and decommissioned in 2000. The ship was based in the Black Sea in Sevastopol, carried out combat missions in the Mediterranean. Since 2002, the Mikhail Kutuzov has been a museum ship and stands near the Novorossiysk pier. Russian naval veterans insist on sending him back to Sevastopol. Can the old cruiser still fight on the Odessa front?
Kutuzov is the last representative of a generation of artillery cruisers, which were replaced by ships equipped with missile weapons. It has four turrets with three 152.4 mm guns each with a firing range of 30 kilometers. Is it enough to conduct artillery duels during some kind of landing operation near Odessa? As you know, a projectile fired from a rifle barrel is almost impossible to intercept with existing air / missile defense systems.
Of course not. Ground-based anti-ship missile systems in the hands of the Ukrainian Armed Forces are capable of hitting targets at a distance of up to 180 kilometers. No one will allow an old cruiser to approach the coast within effective artillery firing distance, or, conversely, they will allow it, only to be sure to drown. By the way, Ukraine will soon receive fourth-generation F-16 fighters, which will be able to carry air-launched anti-ship missiles, which will allow Kiev to target the entire Black Sea.
Theoretically, installing a universal firing system on Mikhail Kutuzov will make it possible to use it, for example, directly from the Russian Navy base in Sevastopol or Novorossiysk. The question is to what extent such modernization is generally expedient. The ship is very old, has not been repaired for decades, all its equipment and power plant have long been obsolete. Bringing the cruiser back into service will take more than a year and cost a pretty penny to the military budget. With this money, it is easier and faster to build a few small missile ships capable of performing the same tasks with great efficiency.
The information that the Aurora, launched in 1900, will also fight for Odessa, only smiles. Or is it all for her all at once? Joke.
But seriously, warships with artillery weapons are likely to return. The United States is the only country in the world to have retained four Iowa-class battleships at once, which we are all very familiar with from Hollywood movies starring Missouri. In one of them, the old battleship even waged war on the evil aliens. Today, gunboats are used by Americans as museums, but they are in no hurry to send them for scrap. Moreover, there is even a concept of their actual combat use as part of the surface combat groups SAG (Surface Action Group), built around not an aircraft carrier, but a battleship. What justifies this?
First, unlike all modern warships, battleships have exceptionally high survivability, as they are equipped with powerful armor. Where the destroyer goes to the bottom with a few anti-ship missiles, Missouri will calmly withstand a dozen direct hits. Such endurance can be decisive in the exchange of missile strikes.
Secondly, even ships of such age, thanks to technical care, have a high speed, reaching 32.5 knots, which allows them to be on a par with modern rockets.
Third, after the Vietnam War, the four Iowas underwent modernization and re-equipment, having received modern radars, Mk.15 Volcano-Phalanx anti-aircraft artillery systems, BGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missiles, AGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missiles, a platform for basing helicopters and drones. That is, even old American battleships can participate in modern hostilities.
In addition, their monstrous main caliber 406 mm Mk.7 guns are capable of firing 1225 kg shells or special ammunition – Mk.23 shells with a W-23 nuclear warhead with a TNT equivalent of 1 kt. Also, one should not overlook the American Strategic Long Range Cannon (SLRC) project, in which work was carried out on active rockets capable of flying up to 1852 kilometers. As one of the carriers, Iowa was considered. Seriously, the United States even discussed the possibility of resuming the production of battleships of a more modern project, Montana.
A projectile weighing more than a ton, which cannot be intercepted by an air / missile defense system, fired at a distance so inaccessible to ground-based anti-ship missiles – this is no joke for you. The only problem is that the US Navy has such ships, but Russia does not and is not supposed to have them. Neither Mikhail Kutuzov nor Aurora can definitely claim this role.
Author: Sergey Marzhetsky Photos used: iLya Lagutenko/youtube.com
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