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Will Russia buy Chinese frigates from project 054A?

CHINA (OBSERVATORY) –┬áMissile strikes in Syria on April 14 no longer cause widespread public attention, however, as more details are revealed in connection with this event, many things go beyond the assumptions.

In the article of the Russian newspaper Vzglyad dated April 19, in the context of the sea confrontation in Syria, a review was made of the Russian and US Navy. The author came to the conclusion that “the balance of forces does not seem completely hopeless.”

However, Russia is in a very difficult situation, and the only way to save it is to purchase 8 frigates from project 054A from China, that is, an unthinkable contract.

According to the newspaper Vzglyad, the US sent 16 warships to Syria, including the aircraft carrier Harry Truman. In addition, France for the first time sent 3 FREMM frigates for entry into the fighting, and the United Kingdom for nuclear submarines such as Astute and Trafalgar.

Even refusing to participate in the war, Germany sent a frigate Hessen to Syria. For comparison, before the start of the coalition strikes, the Russian Navy in Syria had only two submarines of the Black Sea Fleet (Veliky Novgorod and Kolpino), as well as two frigates – the carrier of anti-ship missiles of the Caliber complex.

The article states that the missile cruiser of the Northern Fleet “Marshal Ustinov” is completing the course of combat training after the dock repair; 2 combat anti-submarine ships (BOD) “Severomorsk” and “Vice Admiral Kulakov” are in the state of combat readiness; The Baltic Fleet has already sent a “Yaroslav the Wise” patrol ship to the place of combat operations, and two more ships are on alert; the Pacific Fleet missile cruiser Varyag and 2 more BOD are ready to hurry to the aid to the Mediterranean.

Nevertheless, in reality, these ships are unlikely to be sent to Syria. In addition, on average they are in operation for more than 20 years, so it is not known how much they can play.

Compared with obsolescence, a more serious problem recently discovered by the Russian Navy is the serious shortage of warships. Faced with maritime confrontation in a very limited space, as in Syria, even if we are talking about the smallest grouping, led by an aircraft carrier, the Russian Navy will be able to immediately send to the battlefields only 2 submarines and 2 frigates.

This weakness of positions is the real reason for desperation in the Russian media. And under the phrase “the balance of forces does not seem completely hopeless”, we do not mean that Russia has a “deadly weapon” that it will never use, but that its last hope is for China.

As for the Russian Navy, the current confrontation in Syria has shown one interesting fact: despite the fact that the Russian Navy from the oceanic offensive has turned into a coastal defensive, due to pressure from the west in the Middle East direction (in the Mediterranean), it still needs to react on the actions of their opponents, so at the moment the Black Sea and Baltic fleets look more important than the North and Pacific.

However, proceeding from the fact that the Black Sea and Baltic fleets, which differ initially from the small size and the number of logistics centers, operate in a very limited area, the frigates will become the main naval vessels, therefore the frigates of project 054A are the key to maintaining military power.

To participate in the confrontation in Syria, the Black Sea Fleet sent 2 frigates, the Baltic Fleet plans to send 3. But even without the US aircraft carrier Harry Truman, to effectively combat 15 destroyers of a large displacement by Soviet standards, at least 12 destroyers with the same characteristics.

Now at the disposal of the Black Sea Fleet there are 4 frigates with a displacement of more than 2 thousand tons, the Baltic Fleet has 3 such vessels. Considering that a third of all warships are in ports under repair and can not go to sea, the two fleets are ready to send to Syria all available ships (5 pieces), but they lack 7 more.

The purchase of 8 frigates from project 054A from China is a solution to a problem that should be considered. For Russia, these ships are almost the best offer on the world market. But more importantly, even if we ignore the issue of characteristics, the diesel engines used on these ships provide a lot of opportunities – a low technological threshold for Russia, seriously lagging behind gas turbines, as well as high quality of assembly and maintenance after acceptance for service. If we add to this the advantages in the application and the ammunition that Russia can supply to these ships, any other options simply fall away.

The article of the newspaper “Vzglyad” helps to understand that the current sea confrontation in Syria really hit Russia painfully – the fact that the indomitable Russian navy, which has been uncontrollable since the collapse of the USSR, is declining.

The convulsive efforts of the last 20+ years have proved that Russia can not save its fleet by relying on its own forces. It faces a lot of pressing problems, so there is nothing more important than saving the fleet, even by purchasing ships from abroad.