Russian president Vladimir Putin used the occasion of the Navy Day festivities on 26 July to announce the approval of a new 'Maritime Doctrine-2015' for the Russian Federation. Nikolai Novichkov assesses the key changes.
The last time Russia issued a maritime doctrine - which codifies the country's naval priorities, strategy, and procurement - was in 2001, so a new document was thus overdue. According to Russian deputy prime minister Dmitry Rogozin there were two main reasons behind changes the 2015 doctrine brings into play: the changed international situation and improvements to Russia's navy since the last doctrine.
Maritime Doctrine-2015 divides Russian naval policy between six regions: Atlantic, Arctic, Antarctic, Caspian, Indian Ocean, and Pacific. Within each region the doctrine assesses four naval functions: operations, transport, marine science, and the development of natural resources. The focus of the doctrine is on two of these regions: the Arctic and the Atlantic.
The national maritime policy in the regions is to be enforced by the navy's strategic and operational units of the Northern, Pacific, Baltic, and Black Sea fleets and the Caspian flotilla.
Rogozin notes the Atlantic has been emphasised because of NATO expansion, the need to integrate Crimea and the Sevastopol naval base into the Russian economy, and to re-establish a permanent Russian Navy presence in the Mediterranean.
Meanwhile, the Arctic focus is down to the growth of the Northern Sea Route, the need for free entry into the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and the wealth of the continental shelf.
To implement the doctrine's provisions related to the Atlantic and Arctic regions, the structure and performance of the Baltic, Black Sea and Northern fleets will be improved. Enhancements to the combat capabilities of the fleets are also planned. For example, the Black Sea Fleet's infrastructure in Crimea and Novorossiysk will be bolstered.
The 2015 doctrine adds a new section to the mix: shipbuilding. This, the doctrine states, is due to the re-emergence of the Russian shipbuilding sector over the past 10-15 years.
Admiral Victor Chirkov, commander-in-chief of the Russian Navy states that the navy's priority is to develop and deploy advanced equipment to enable Russia to make up for lost ground (against rivals) and to become superior to them in certain areas. In addition to refitting the fleets, the navy is looking to build up stocks of weaponry and materiel; improve naval command and control (C2); integrate joint force C2 into the various theatres; and improve the navy's basing and support systems.
Among these, priority will be given to supporting Russia's ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) and nuclear attack submarines (SSNs) within the Northern and Pacific fleets.
Additionally, the doctrine seeks to create a general-purpose marine force armed with long-range and high-precision strike systems capable of providing a non-nuclear deterrent.
The navy's future surface fleet is to be divided between long-range multirole vessels and short-range vessels with modular capabilities. Looking ahead, the service intends to field a multi-service naval strike force capable of quick relocation to threatened areas.
The doctrine also foresees the introduction of new and innovative technologies such as: artificial intelligence systems, unmanned aerial, surface and underwater vehicles (UAVs, USVs, UUVs), non-lethal weapon systems, and new weapon types such as directed-energy weapons.
Russia will now look to create a single, integrated, and jam-proof fleet-wide C2 system for use at all levels from the strategic to the tactical. This is intended to be adaptable and to form a single information control complex to enable network-centric command of diverse naval and joint-service assets in any theatre of operations.
In connection with the maritime doctrine, and amendments in some aspects of force development, the Russian Navy is expected to gain some additional resources because the creation of a well-balanced and equipped naval force is a long-term effort of 30-40 years. Considering this and the duration of ship design/construction work, the conceptual approach to the development of the navy will be an ongoing issue for 45-50 years.
To take account of the implementation time and existing/forecast resource and technology restrictions, the creation of the new-model navy has been divided into three phases: up to 2020; 2021-2030; and 2031-2050. The content of each phase was outlined by Adm Chirkov for the various elements of the navy.
Strategic nuclear forces
Up until 2020 the maritime strategic nuclear force will focus on completing the development and launching of its fourth-generation Borey-class (Project 955/955A) SSBNs, while maintaining its remaining Delta III/IV-class (Project 667BDR/667BDRM) SSBNs in operational service.
During the 2021-2030 phase work will proceed on replacing the Delta class with fourth-generation SSBNs. Within this second phase Russia will also work on developing a new ship-based (in fact submarine-based) strategic missile system and a fifth-generation SSBN class. The doctrine sets out that series production of the fifth-generation SSBN will then commence in the final 2031-2050 phase.
The general-purpose marine force inventory will include in its first phase the creation of a strategic non-nuclear deterrent force, enhancements to its SSN and diesel-electric submarines (SSKs), the build-up of the inventory and capability of its surface forces, and the creation of the new marine rapid-response force. In the mid term the non-nuclear deterrent will be provided by Yasen-class (Project 885M) SSNs and Oscar-class (Project 885M) nuclear-powered guided missile submarines (SSGNs). Meanwhile, the capability of Russia's non-strategic submarines will be ensured by upgrading its third-generation SSNs and building a new generation of SSKs.
During the 2021-2030 phase Russia's existing SSN/SSK fleet is planned to be improved by adding unmanned technologies, while construction of a new-generation SSN class is also planned.
In the first phase Russia's Admiral Gorshkov-class (Project 22350) frigates and Steregushchy-class (Project 20380) corvettes and their variants will become the core of the surface force for long- and short-range operations.
In the mid term a new-generation destroyer featuring advanced strike, air defence and missile defence capabilities will become the navy's main oceangoing ship. Between 2021 and 2030 a new class of modular multirole surface combat ship will be designed and enter series production as the successor to the Project 22350/20380 classes. It is envisaged that these will be armed with novel weapon systems and will carry unmanned vehicles of various sorts.
The marine rapid-response force is intended to be capable of conducting missions in the maritime, aerial and land domains in any part of the world. For this, new aircraft carriers will be the core of its capability, along with multirole landing ships. Work to design a new class of Russian aircraft carrier is to be completed before 2020, with construction and entry into service planned for the second phase of the doctrine (2021-2030).
Unlike the heavy aircraft cruisers of the previous generation of Russian aircraft carriers, the new carrier design will be multirole. It is envisaged to be equipped with manned and unmanned combat systems operating in the air, at sea, underwater and possibly in space. The carrier's air groups will include radar surveillance and C2 aircraft, alongside reconnaissance and strike UAVs.
For the Russian Naval Aviation the focus in the first phase will be the development and serial production of an advanced maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) by 2020.
Additionally, Russia will look to develop and produce a new shore/ship-based multirole helicopter (to replace the Ka-27) and acquire a ship-based combat helicopter (the Ka-52K). Russia will also seek to develop advanced airborne strike systems.
The second phase will see the deployment of the new Russian ship-based radar surveillance aircraft, ship-based UAVs, and ship-based strike aircraft. The 2021-2030 period will see the Russian Naval Aviation transition to optionally piloted aircraft, including those derived from existing manned aircraft. Obsolete aircraft are to be replaced by modern, multirole manned and unmanned aircraft. During the 2031-2050 phase naval aviation focus will switch to a new generation of multirole aircraft and UAVs and field a new generation of airborne precision weapon systems.
The first phase of the doctrine concerning Russia's coastal troops and marine force aims to achieve: the completion of development of advance coastal-defence missiles and the issuing of them; and the enhancement of the marine brigade's ability to operate in different climates, including extreme Arctic conditions.
Between 2021 and 2030 the doctrine plans the introduction of a highly mobile amphibious combat vehicle for the coastal troops so that they can support the marines' operations. The marines are also earmarked to begin receiving unmanned platforms during this period, possibly armed with directed-energy weapons or powered by alternative energy sources.
The direction of the final 2031-2050 phase is currently being analysed, according to Adm Chirkov. However, it is envisaged that during this final phase the following will be undertaken: series production of new-generation submarines; ongoing series production of the new aircraft carrier class; the start of series production of the new multirole ship class; the creation of a new generation of multirole unmanned systems; and the arming of coastal defence troops with new-generation unmanned missile systems capable of striking air, surface, sub-surface and space targets.
Long-term plans (by 2050) also call for a transition to modular combat platforms for both surface ships and submarines.
Nikolai Novichkov is a JDW Correspondent, reporting from Moscow