Writing in Friday’s Nezavisimaya gazeta, Viktor Litovkin talked about the procurement of proyekt 20380 corvettes from Piter’s Northern Wharf. The second unit Soobrazitelnyy was just launched, and three more have been laid down, but it’s not clear when they’ll enter of the order-of-battle. A total of 20 are planned, but the specialists say everything depends on financing.
Then Litovkin turns to last week’s reports of imminent decommissioning for Ochakov, Kerch, etc. He says this’ll leave the BSF with about 40 ships (12 of which are either in repair or a ‘conservation’ status). He puts the average age of the remaining fleet units at 25-30 years, and the youngest are its proyekt 1239 small air cushion missile ships.
As far as capabilities go, the BSF is still stronger than Ukraine and Georgia (at least), but there is a question as to whether it can defend the country’s interests. But maybe it doesn’t have to be so powerful when the country still has the RVSN, and the BSF wasn’t really challenged in the August 2008 war with Georgia, and it can still show the flag in the Mediterranean, defend the country’s economic zones, and participate in antipiracy operations off the Horn of Africa. No one would take it into their head to compare it with the U.S. 6th Fleet.
But still Litovkin wants to answer why the BSF reached its current state. Because the ‘Orange Revolution’ Ukrainians wouldn’t permit Moscow to renew the BSF’s potential in ships, aircraft, or personnel. And Moscow was busy trying to modernize and preserve parts of the military other than surface ships. He says:
“It built them for India, China, Vietnam. Only now is it beginning to launch new corvettes and frigates for the Navy. But by a drop (by one) per year. And this is for all four fleets and a flotilla.”
“According to experts’ assertions, in the coming 10-15 years there are no possibilities for renewing the composition of the surface fleet. Despite even the fact that today two frigates for the distant naval zone are laid down (proyekt 22350), five corvettes of proyekt 20380, three small gun ships of proyekt 21630, large landing ship of proyekt 11711… But even if the program of their construction is successful, they won’t under any circumstances compensate for the ships withdrawn due to age.”
“Even the Mistral won’t help here.”