December 13, 2016

Granit armed Oscar II class submarines confronting Western Carriers

Two huge Oscar II class submarines, with their 24 large Granit missiles (each) may be confronting two Western carrier groups. See the tiny human figures (bottom, right) for scale. See here for larger image.
---

COMMENT

Claims that Western forces are still hunting two Oscar II submarines in the small Mediterranean Sea would be incorrect. These subs would have been detected very quickly in the small sea environment. At 25 years old, the huge, 19,400 tons (submerged) are easily spotted with active sonars. Also each Oscar is propelled by two aging OK-650 naval reactors, developed in the 1970s, which are likely to be very noisy. 

Oscar II submarine comparative noise lever (Courtesy FAS). FAS also reports (upper diagram hereAkula II's have about the same noise level as Improved Los Angeles class (688i). Inconclusive. Which returns Oscar II to 1970s noise, returning to their 1970s reactor noise.
---

If these Oscars are confronting US and French carrier groups in the Mediterranean Sea the carrier escorts, ASW destroyers, frigates, corvettes, ASW MPAs and helicopters would all have played a part in detecting and tracking the Oscars.

Once detected just one Western ASW corvette per Oscar could tail the Oscar, using the corvette's active sonars, from one end of the Med to the other.

It may be the confronting nature of the Oscars that prompted the West to publicise the activities of these Oscars. Ordinarily activities of enemy subs are kept secret.

An Oscar firing some Granit missiles. The Granits are arranged and fired diagonally. This may be required for flight dynamics. Diagonal firing also has tactical benefits for the Oscar, ie. it can keep moving (perhaps ready to fire torpedos) rather than having to stop like an SSBN firing SLBMs. (Artwork courtesy Federation of American Scientists).
---

ARTICLE

Kyle Mizokami writing for Popular Mechanics, December 12, 2016 (quoting The Aviationist)  reports:

"NATO is Hunting Russia's "Carrier Killer" Submarines'

The subs are thought to be stalking two NATO carrier battle groups operating nearby.

NATO's anti-submarine forces are currently hunting one, and possibly two, Russian submarines in the eastern Mediterranean. The submarines, Oscar-II class guided missile boats, was designed to take out aircraft carriers in wartime. Two NATO carriers are operating off the coast of Syria….USS Eisenhower and the French Charles De Gaulle …in the eastern Med…[operating against IS in Syria]….

The Oscar's firepower lies in its 24 [very large, supersonic]  P-700 Granit missiles…
  



A Granit being unloaded from the destroyed Oscar II submarine Kursk (Photo courtesy Air Power Australia). The P-700 Granit/3M45/SS-N-19 "Shipwreck" with its 7 tonne launch weight can fly 300 nautical miles, with an end-run of Mach 2.5. Granits are also deployed on Kirov class battlecruisers (only "Peter the Great" (in English) is active) and on the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov

Miniaturisation of modern electronics and of (nuclear and conventional) warheads is permitting the gradual phase-out of the large Granit concept in favour of the only(!) 3 tonne BrahMosP-800/Oniks/Yakhont/SS-N-26 "Strobile".

Pete

12 comments:

Josh said...

@Pete

The fact that the Russians were running nuke boats in the Med wouldn't I think even warrant a news article or any discussion outside the militaries involved. I assume the recent tensions in Syria and elsewhere caused the DoD or NATO to drop this piece of information to emphasize increased Russian activity. Deployment of even one North Fleet SSGN to the Med, let alone two, would be very significant particularly as 2-3 other boats were rumored to already be in theater.

I also wouldn't just assume these units are being tracked by NATO units. They were some of the latest models outside Akula and Siera, and are relatively quiet for Soviet boats and certainly quite fast. The later could prove challenging to an escort to track and follow at speed - even active sonars are less effective and fuel is limited for the escort. The Med has fairly horrible sonar conditions. So while apparently one or more was detected, it might be false to assume it has a trailer at all times. Though I suspect some kind of NATO SSN is in fact following whatever is there.

Cheers,
Josh

Anonymous said...

Hi Pete,

if there are really Oscar-class SSGN out there in the med, they might be the ones, which have been overhauled and sporting !!! 72 !!! Yakhont/BrahMos missiles.

This huge number of missiles make the Oscars still a very powerful system.

The new hypersonic "Zircon" will also be given to those Oscars. Russian media says first round of trials are finished.

Those media reports is also good way for more funding for NATO forces, whose ASW-capabilities have entrophied after 1990.

Cheers
Team Eurowussies

Nicky K.D Chaleunphone said...

Hi Pete,
I think Any GOOD Sonar Tech, would be able to pick off the Oscar-class SSGN and track them for a long time.

Eric Weinkam said...

Pinging a sub with active sonar during peacetime is a big no-no. That is a good way to make a jumpy sub captain send a torpedo back the other way. Any sub tracking is being done with passive sonar only.

That said, the Oscars can be tracked pretty easily from two or three CZs away. Depending on the conditions, that could be out to about 80nm. I'm sure any Oscar away from port has a NATO SSN following it around.

In the case of these Oscar's, they have never been known to get close to carriers. They don't need to. Their role is to just stay within their 300nm engagement range and depend on off-board platforms for targeting data.

Peter Coates said...

Hi Josh

My sources indicate the huge Oscars in the little Med are more on a political gesture mission rather than hoping to be stealthy. Bit like the political gesture of the enormously inefficient Kuznetsov splashing 15-20% of its squadron sized airgroup in about 2 weeks.

Difficult for Russian subs to be louder than Oscars.

Cheers

Pete

Peter Coates said...

Hi Team Eurowussies

Yes like the Ohio SSGNs Oscars armed with smaller more modern missiles may become excellent platforms for conventional land attack missiles used in Middle East (watch out Islamic State and future terrorist mobs).

I don't know if Oscars would be efficient in sacrificing themselves firing BrahMos or Yakhont against enemies well equipped with ASW missiles.

Regards

Pete

Peter Coates said...

Hi Nicky K.D Chaleunphone

I agree. Oscars seem a not repeated Soviet experiment of huge sized carrier killers, now easily seen by the latest Sonars. Modern Russian SSKs and SSNs can now carry and use adequate anti-ship missiles, especially "Sizzlers" and Yakhonts.

Regards

Pete

Peter Coates said...

Hi Eric Weinkam

I think the use of active sonar "pinging" would depend on the opponents involved and how confrontational the sub is acting.

For example I recall a 2009 report that http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7868863.stm :

"Indian naval officials have denied media reports that Chinese warships forced an Indian submarine to surface in a stand-off in waters off Somalia...."

I'd agree "Oscars can be tracked pretty easily" and "any Oscar away from port has a NATO SSN following it around" (especially if the Oscar is stalking a NATO taskforce).

Oscars aren't the latest stealthy Kilos or Yasens so "stay within their 300nm engagement range and depend on off-board platforms for targeting data." looks quite plausible.

Regards

Pete

Peter Coates said...

BTW I found an Italian article http://www.ilgiornale.it/news/mondo/mar-mediterraneo-cinque-i-sottomarini-russi-pattugliamento-1340912.html which seems to record a Russian publicity/political gesture for domestic Russian consumption and for NATO opponents:

"On 18 October [2016], the [Oscar II] K-410 Smolensk...operating with the Northern Fleet, launched a cruise missile Granit hitting the intended target in the archipelago Novaya Zemlya in the Arctic."

Russians can be proud of Putin's missiles and Putin's/Russia's own aircraft carrier fighting real bad enemies.

Pete

Anonymous said...

Hi Pete

PM Abe will strengthen defense cooperation between JSDF and Russian Armed Forces as a new diplomacy against Russia despite concerns of US government. As the military threat of China is transforming into a realistic crisis, MoD and JSDF recognize that coopertiom with Russian Armed Forces is needed. They think that Japan and Russia can complement each other in suppressing China which is going to expand its dominance in the Pacific Ocean, the Indian Ocean and the Arctic Ocean [1].

I always emphasis on the importance of cooperation between Japan and Russia, and it is coming true. Though the differece of recognition of the northern territory of Japan is great between Japan and Russia, PM Abe showed important compromise. I am expecting final solution of the northern territory issue which will significantly contribute to the ocean security.

[1] http://www.sankei.com/politics/news/161217/plt1612170024-n1.html (“Why does Prime Minister Shinzo Abe rush to Japan-Russia defense cooperation- Threat of expanding China and bisecting Russia and China” Sankei News, Dec/18/2016)

Regards
S

Peter Coates said...

Thanks S [at 18/12/16 10:49 AM]

Japan and Russia are both worried about rising China - so would have that in common.

Russia and Japan also appear to have increasing energy trade relations. I noticed this 16 December 2016 article http://russianconstruction.com/news-1/25882-russia-and-japan-confirm-interest-in-sakhalin-hokkaido-gas-pipeline-project.html :

"Japan and Russia confirmed their mutual interest in the project for “Sakhalin – Hokkaido” gas pipeline, Interfax reports on Friday.

The parties agreed to intensify the project’s development at a level of economic entities, the press service of the Ministry of Russian Far East Development announced following the talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe in Nagato, Yamaguchi Prefecture in Japan...

The project involves laying an onshore gas pipeline from Sakhalin to the port of Wakkanai located on the Japanese northern island of Hokkaido, and then its extension to Tokyo Bay. The report also says that Vladimir Putin has invited Japanese investors to participate in the creation of the Amur gas processing plant in the Amur region of Russia."

Regards

Pete

Anonymous said...

Hi Pete

Based on various sources, I show some important aspects of Japan-Russia economic cooperation and deployment of Russian Armed Forces in Kuril Islands as follows:

Although PM Abe highly recommends investment in Russia, Japanese companies and investers are hesitant, because they do not trust Russia.

Key areas in Kuril Islands are Vries Strait (1300m in depth) between Urup Island and Itrup Islands and Kunashiri-suido (suido means strait, 484m in depth) between Iturup Island and Kunashir Island. Russia deploys the Russian Pacific Fleet including submarines through these straits. If Russia returns Kunashir Island to Japan, it may interfere deployment of the Russian Pacific Fleet.

Russia recently strengthens deployment of Russian Armed Forces in Kuril Islands. It is against for China, not for Japan.

Application of the US-Japan Security Treaty in the Northern Territories must be considered. Some people expect possible exemption of the Security Treaty.

Regards
S