Submarine Matters provides an expanding database on submarines worldwide. Australia should contract in 2016 to only buy a batch of 6 Shortfins - then, in the 2030s, decide whether to buy: 6 more Shortfins or 6 Barracuda SSNs or 4 Virginia SSNs. With increasing numbers of Chinese, Russian and Indian SSNs in Australia's region Australia's Shortfins cannot attain any 2016 Defence White Paper goal of being "regionally superior". Australia would need to buy SSNs to be "superior".
October 31, 2016
Russia set to unleash carrier aircraft and SLCMs on IS in Syria
In defiance of Western criticism of Russia’s air war over
Syria President Putin is assembling a small armada (fleet) of Russia's only carrier, cruise missile
firing ships and submarines to demonstrate that the Russian navy is again becoming a powerful force.
Russia’s land based aircraft and missile forces in the Syrian region are already sufficient to attack Islamist rebels. But Russian inter-service rivalry demands (and other reasons - see FURTHER COMMENTS below) the
Russian Navy also gets to demonstrate its land attack abilities.
Western forces have had long histories of three or four services (army, navy, airforce and
marines) jockeying for position to get the lion's share of elective warfighting. Hence all services in UK
and US forces in the Middle East's First and Second Gulf Wars wanted to serve there, no matter the iinefficiencies.
wants all to know its Russia’s turn to show what it can do in the Middle East. Western powers resent Russia's new presence in the Middle East. A particular concern is that Russia, as the second largest oil exporter, should not also have large military forces right next to the world's major oil exporter, Saudi Arabia.
LAND ATTACK WEAPONS FROM THE SEA
In late October 30, 2016 UK authorities were advised by Russia that it was sending three submarines from north to south through the Irish Sea (between the UK and Ireland). These subs were from Russia's Northern Fleet, based in the Murmansk region. The subs may have stayed on the surface (in “innocent passage” mode) through the busy Irish Sea, to prevent collisions with ships, boats, rocks, avoid fishing nets and to avoid revealing submerged operational secrets to snooping UK ASW forces.
The three subs consisted of two Akula SSNs and one Kilo SSK. The Akulas and the Kilo can all fire Kalibr (3M14K variants) submarine launched land attack cruise missiles (SLCMs) through their horizontal torpedo tubes. They have no vertical launch tubes that I know of.
A sea baseed Kalibr land attack missile see the 3M14K (different reference) which may be approaching the performance of the US Tomahawk SLCM.
The blue arrow points to Tartus (Syria) Russia's only foreign naval base. A Russian fleet may tend to operate just offshore from Latakia (up the coast from Tartus) to be in closer carrier aircraft range to key targets (Aleppo and Islamic State HQ at Ar Raqqah). (Map courtesy Hashmonean).
The subs are on their way to join the Russian Admiral Kuznetsov carriergroup which is on station in the Mediterranean Sea, perhaps ready to strike IS in Aleppo or Raqqa, Syria. The group consists of the heavy nuclear propelled (and armed) missile cruiser Peter the Great, large destroyers/frigatesSeveromorskand Vice-Admiral Kulakov and smaller maintenance vessels.
No-one, this side of military
intelligence agencies, would know what the Russian strike plans are.
This is talking carrier aircraft dropping bombs and cruise missiles from the Russian
subs. Also, in early October, it was reported that three small missile corvettes (Mirazh, Serpukhov and Zeleniy Dol), armed with Kalibr cruise missiles, had left Black Sea Fleet anchorages, with an expectation they were sailing into the Mediterranean for missile strikes on Syria (and accompanying the Kuznetsov group).
All of these Russian vessels can get missile and bomb reloads from
Russia’s Tartus naval, air and sigint base on Syria’s coast (see map above). The Syrian targets could include Islamic State, the Free Syrian
Army, al Nusra or other Islamist groups.
As stated in COMMENTS (above) for Russia to lay high explosive on Syrian targets the Admiral Kuznetsov carriergroup is not really needed.
Ground attack aircraft already operate from air bases in the Tartus base region and
long range Russian heavy bombers have been operating from Russia and reportedly
Iran to hit targets in Syria. Russia also has short to medium range surface-to-surface missiles.
The reasons Russia wants to project land attack firepower from the sea then falls to:
1. inter-service rivalries
2. propaganda, showing Russia's/Putin's rising military might,
3. weapons testing under real operational conditions. Russian testing of its Kalibrs has not yet been fully refined. Russia has never used its carrier aircraft to drop ordinance on an enemy.
4. the West has naval might in the region, so Russia, to a limited degree, wants to match this.
5. Russian ship and submarine intelligence collection on Western naval forces, and 6. Russia wants to demonstrate it has legitimate interests, that it will service militarily, in the Middle East.