Marko Marjanovic – Checkpoint Asia May 22, 2019
Russia is adding warships to its navy faster than the US. The reason for that is simple, while the US is pouring $14 billion into the USS Gerald Ford carrier the Russians are building corvettes. A class of warships between 500 and 1,000 tons.
Not only are they small, they are cheap. The newest class, Karakurt, sets back the Russian budget 2 billion rubles or just over $30 million at the exchange rates.
These sound like puny vessels, except here is the thing: they can hit an enemy surface ship from four times the distance a US destroyer (Arleigh-Burke) or cruiser (Ticonderoga) can.
Four different classes of corvettes are being built. Buyan-M-class of which 15 are planned and 10 are already serving. Steregushchiy-class of which 24 are planned and 6 are serving. Karakurt-class of which 18 are planned and one is already serving. And Gremyashchiy-class of which 4 are planned and 1 is already serving.
Except the Steregushchiy-class all these vessels may fire the Kalibr and the P-800 Onyx anti-ship missiles with the respective range of 660 and 600 kilometers. Steregushchiy carries a lighter Kh-35 missile with the range of “only” 300 kilometers.
Arleigh-Burkes and Ticonderogas fire the Harpoon anti-ship missile with the range of just 130 kilometers. Even if the US had heavier anti-ship missiles ready its primary “surface combatants” could not fire them because their multi-functional weapons cells would be too small to accommodate them. An Arleigh-Burke costs $2 billion, the older Ticonderogas cost $1 billion at the time they were built. Both classes displace around 10,000 tons.
The Arleigh-Burkes do fire the old subsonic Tomahawk flying bomb, but that is for blowing up Afghan weddings, it does not have an anti-ship capability.
Many of Russia’s older corvettes are specialized for anti-submarine warfare, but 25 Tarantul-class, 4 Bora-class, and 3 Buyan-class vessels are likewise capable of firing the P-800 or Kalibr missiles.
Not bad for vessels light enough that they can be switched out between the Baltic, Black and Caspian fleets as need arises by navigating Russia’s network of rivers and canals.
It’s just incredible how derelict the US Navy has been in missing out on the entire naval missile revolution, which to make things worse isn’t even a new thing. The technology, albeit initially in a cruder form, has been around for 50-60 years now.
It’s also strange because when it comes to aerial warfare the US military has been obsessed with long-range missile kills. But if anything it should be far more feasible for a beyond-the-horizon missile to hit a slow-moving ship, than a far faster jet, especially a fighter which can maneuver tightly to evade it.