Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Hurt for Red October

The Russian fleet is disappearing and Moscow's plans to build 6 aircraft carriers are seriously stupid. If carried out, this idea would deprive every other naval budget item--and possibly the rest of the military--of funding. And the Russians couldn't operate them if they built them:

Whatever oil prices might have been at the time or how high they might have been sustained on the world market, the idea of Russia constructing this number of naval vessels in even the best of economic circumstances is inconceivable. The funds that would have to be expended in order to boost the navy to these levels would break the bank. Plus it would draw all funding away from the other branches of the armed services, which would be unlikely to sit by idly and watch while the navy vacuumed up every kopeck that they needed for fighter aircraft, tanks, new communications systems, air defense batteries, etc.

The reality now is that not only is the idea of Russia building and operating aircraft carrier battle groups an impossible dream, but just building enough new ships to replace those that are worn-out after decades of use is also not feasible. A recent analysis by the authoritative Moscow-based weekly, the Independent Military Review (NVO), entitled "BMF RF (Naval Military Fleet of the Russian Federation) on Foreign Warships" states that the Russian Navy is currently in a situation of irreversible collapse.

The Russians don't need to interdict the North Atlantic NATO supply lines. Russia's ideas about naval power are lunacy and nostalgia disguised as strategic thinking.

Russia needs ballistic missile submarines based in the Arctic to serve as a survivable nuclear deterrent, nuclear attack subs to protect them, and small surface vessels to act as a coastal defense force. Once that is in place, if they want to build a small force for global show-the-flag operations, have a go at that.

Russia is a land power spanning two continents. The Soviet navy was an anomaly that only made sense in the context of fighting America for Western Europe.

Are the Russians really prepared to cripple their ability to defend the motherland to create the shadow of capability to fight America in the North Atlantic? If so, the Russians really do have one foot in the Cold War. And the other is in their grave.