Tu-204 Anti-submarine Aviation Complex
Naval aviation will be strengthened by ultra-long hunters for "steel sharks" Anton Lavrov reported in Izvestia, January 15, 2020. The High Command of the Navy had already prepared the technical requirements for the latest anti-submarine aviation complex (PLAK - Protivolodochnogo Aviastiannogo Kompleksa), the base of which will be the Tu-204 passenger airliner. The machine will be equipped with the most modern weapons and equipment, including combat robots. The complex will become a thunderstorm of enemy nuclear submarines, experts say. It will also be in demand to ensure the actions of Russian warships in the oceans.
As sources in the military department told Izvestia, a tactical and technical requirement has already been prepared for the creation of a new anti-submarine aviation complex (PLC). The Tu-204 passenger airliner or its Tu-214 variant is considered as the main candidate. Already produced aircraft would be converted into combat vehicles.
According to Izvestia sources, in addition to Tupolev’s aircraft, the PLAK will include new automated hunting means for submarines, as well as anti-submarine weapons. In addition to conventional sonar buoys and on-board search equipment, unmanned boats landing on the aircraft will be under the control of the crew. Once located, the PLAK will be able to destroy submarines with its own airborne weapons.
The head of the Ministry of Industry and Trade, Denis Manturov, announced in August 2019 that the Ministry of Defense had requested proposals to create a new aircraft for this complex. Domestic developers of aircraft were invited to consider the possibility of upgrading existing models or designing a fundamentally new machine. Earlier, the chief of naval aviation of the Russian Navy Igor Kozhin talked about plans to begin production of PLAKs by 2030. Preparation of a tactical and technical requirement and determination of a candidate for the creation of the complex meant that the project is progressing and the hopes of the fleet were realizable.
Anti-submarine aircraft are currently playing an important role, and the Tu-204 is well suited to carry out their missions, said Admiral Valentin Selivanov, former head of the Navy's General Staff. “In peacetime, they will keep enemy submarines away from our shores,” he told Izvestia. "In the event of a threatened period, they will have to discover areas of deployment of enemy ships, so that after receiving a command about the start of hostilities, they will be destroyed immediately. A nuclear submarine is a serious adversary that can cause great damage, therefore, close attention should be paid to the means of dealing with them. The effectiveness of an anti-submarine aircraft is primarily determined by the equipment, that is, the means of detection and destruction. Homing torpedoes should become the main striking force. To destroy the submarine, one such ammunition is enough."
According to the newspaper, a new aircraft with turbojet engines will be able to spend hours patrolling a given area at high altitudes, remotely controlling marine drones. High cruising speed will allow him to quickly advance to any point in the search. The use of mobile robotics is expected to dramatically increase the likelihood of detecting submarines compared to traditional search tools.
“The question of updating the fleet of anti-submarine aircraft has been facing the Navy since the mid-1990s,” said military expert Dmitry Boltenkov. Currently in Russian naval aviation there were three types of aircraft for the search and destruction of enemy submarines. To control the near sea zone, the IL-38, built back in the 1960s, is intended. According to media reports, only 15 units remained in operation. Eight of them underwent modernization to the IL-38N variant, having received more advanced devices. Be-12 anti-submarine amphibious aircraft also remained in service.
The Ministry of Defense also announced its intention to modernize all of its long-range Tu-142. They were created on the basis of one of the variants of the Tu-95 strategic bomber and inherited a long flight duration from it. These aircraft are capable of conducting a search for submarines and naval reconnaissance several thousand kilometers from the coast. But, according to media reports, there were no more than two dozen such aircraft in service now. The small number of anti-submarine aircraft limited the ability of the Russian fleet to track foreign submarines and warships.
"Spending money on developing a specialized aircraft from scratch is wasteful. Especially when you consider that the basic requirements that are required for vehicles with anti-submarine equipment are met by civilian liners, ” Dmitry Boltenkov told Izvestia. The Tupolevs are reliable and can be operated literally in the minibus mode - fly daily without requiring large maintenance costs. Other countries have taken a similar path. For example, the United States made its anti-submarine aircraft Poseidon, taking as a basis the passenger Boeing.
The Tu-204/214 aircraft are close in characteristics to the Boeing 737-800, on the basis of which the American P-8 Poseidon was created. The Tupolev airlines even operated non-stop flights from Moscow to Vladivostok. Now the aircraft will help ensure not only a large patrol time, but also comfortable conditions on board for the crew and anti-submarine weapons operators.
According to the online registry of Russian aircraft, at least 30 Tu-204/214 in passenger modifications were in storage as of 2020. "It is also important that the aircraft are already available. They can only install the necessary equipment. This will allow you to quickly increase the fleet of naval aviation" said Dmitry Boltenkov.
The Tupolev Tu-204/214 family of airliners already has several options created specifically for law enforcement agencies. The Ministry of Defense is armed with two Tu-214R integrated reconnaissance aircraft. Two more reconnaissance aircraft, the Tu-214ON, were built for observation flights under the Open Skies international treaty. The special flight detachment "Russia", which provides the work of the first persons of the state, includes the Tu-214 in the variants of a command post, relay, and special communication center.
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