In the domestic fleet today there is a steady confrontation between two different concepts of fleet development. One group of naval sailors from among tacticians and strategists is focused on the creation of multipurpose ships of small and medium displacement for the fleet. In terms of the composition of their weapons and their tactical and technical characteristics, such ships can perform a huge amount of work, starting with carrying out percussion operations and ending with performing search and patrol operations. The main argument of the supporters of this concept is the low cost of building such ships and the real opportunity to master mass production. The Russian Navy today needs modern ships, and in large quantities.
The period came when a rich legacy of the Soviet Navy actually worked its life and required a full replacement of the ship. Another group of naval strategists is responsible for the creation in Russia of a powerful ocean fleet equipped with large warships. In this case, the thrust of naval leadership that has been preserved since the Soviet period towards giant-water has been felt. The main argument of the proponents of this concept is trite and relies more on ideological motives. A big country means you need to have a large fleet equipped with large combat ships. The project destroyer 23560 - a clear confirmation of this. The history of the project’s birth and subsequent events clearly showed how ready the domestic shipbuilding and defense industry is to implement such ambitious plans. The projected ship should be the response of the domestic fleet to the appearance in the ranks of the Western fleets of similar ships, the American destroyer Zamvolt and the British destroyer Daring.
The new ship is a kind of test for suitability for the Russian defense industry. The tactical and technical characteristics incorporated in the project are by far the most advanced for military courts. Is it possible for the domestic industry to master the construction of new promising ships for the fleet in the required quantities, or will a squadron destroyer of the type “Leader” become the next leviathan in the Russian navy?
The birth of the project 23560 "Leader" - where do legs grow
The Russian Higher Naval Leadership has set an ambitious task for Russian designers to create a large warship in whose design all advanced concepts and the most modern technologies will be implemented. The new destroyer should be smaller than domestic heavy cruisers of the Kirov type, but should be larger than the American destroyer Zamvolt.
The ship is planning to use an atomic power plant, which greatly increases the range and operational resource. On the American ship installed power plant of the usual type. According to the technical equipment, power supply and combat equipment, the Russian ship should become more powerful than its American counterpart. Already appreciating the preliminary tactical and technical characteristics of the project, we can safely say that the typical elements of the next arms race are obvious. Project 23560 is another attempt to catch up and overtake technically Western military fleets. It is difficult to judge now how much this is a good idea, but there are reasons for which the construction of a ship of this class for the Russian fleet remains open.
It should be noted that such large military ships in Russian shipyards in modern conditions have not yet been built. There is an experience of modernization of large ships of Soviet construction, which they are trying to use for the development and construction of a new destroyer. A promising ship may surprise even a specialist dedicated to the subtleties and details of the development of modern military fleets. In the design of the ship laid a number of advanced technical innovations. A separate conversation deserves the provision of the ship with radar and navigation equipment. Technology "stealth" is dominant throughout the project. On top of that, the Russian destroyer of the type “Leader” must be armed with the most sophisticated and powerful weapons, surpassing all domestic ships in combat capabilities.
Multipurpose destroyer was developed for operations in the far sea zone. The functions of the ship included the struggle with land ships of all classes, the provision of anti-submarine and anti-aircraft defense of the connection of ships, fire support of landing operations. Evaluating the functionality of the ship, its technical characteristics and combat capabilities, a reasonable question arises - why a destroyer. The displacement and size of the projected ship is more like a cruiser. All the above functions were previously assigned to the cruisers.
A small digression. Why exactly destroyer
Creating a new prospective destroyer, the Russian designers went on the beaten track, successful in other countries. Here, the "small fleet effect", which Japan has been implementing for 50 years, probably worked. After the defeat in the Second World War, Japan lost its entire line and cruising fleet. In the process of reviving the fleet, the concept of building small displacement military vessels was adopted. The main combat ship of the Japanese Navy self-defense was considered a destroyer class ship. Over time, the Japanese designers and sailors developed the concept of the destroyer, turning it into a completely different ship. Today in the Japanese fleet there are destroyers-aircraft carriers and destroyers-landing craft. The displacement of these combat units has far overstepped the threshold that has been set for ships of this class. Currently, destroyers have a displacement of 10-15 thousand tons.
Thus, the Japanese military decided to circumvent the limitations in the military budget. It is much easier to obtain funds for the construction of a destroyer than to provide funding for a cruiser under construction, especially for an aircraft carrier. It does not matter that during the construction process, a modest squadron destroyer turns into a combat ship comparable in combat power and size to a battleship. This practice bore fruit, and in a short time Japan was able to acquire an entire squadron of large ships of different classes, which with a stretch can be called destroyers.
In a similar way they decided to go to the USA, where they decided to build the newest ships in this way. Having laid down in the draft military budget the construction of the newest destroyer, the Americans got a combat ship at the exit comparable in size and combat power with a cruiser. The British managed to build the same type 45 ship, which is considered the destroyer, in fact, quite comparable with a full-fledged cruiser.
In the domestic fleet they did not reinvent the wheel and relied on the creation of the project of a promising warship. Destroyer project 23560 is a completely different type of combat vessel, which was previously built on domestic shipyards. The power of weapons and military equipment of this ship is comparable with the Russian atomic heavy cruisers like "Kirov". The project cost in this case is much less, which allows you to build such ships in a large series.
The fate of the destroyer project 23560 type "Leader"
Of all the vast amount of information about the project, which today circulates in the press, on the Internet and on television, you can learn only a few details. It is planned that the newest Russian ship will be completely manufactured taking into account the technology of "stealth". This applies to the use of composite materials in the construction of the main superstructures in giving the hull optimal contours. For the destroyer of the project 23560 will be characterized by a high degree of automation of all the major technological and combat processes. The atomic power plant and the large size of the vessel will provide him with unlimited seaworthiness and cruising range. The newest ship must reach a speed of 30 knots. In addition to the strike and defensive weapons on the ship, it is planned to install hangars and take-off areas for basing and receiving two helicopters.
With such technical characteristics and parameters, the displacement of the ship inevitably increases, which, in accordance with the design data, may be about 9 thousand tons.
Initially, the state with the newest ship looked like this. Even in the high offices of the General Staff of the Navy, there was a debate about what a new generation destroyer should become, and in the depths of the Northern PKB there were already preliminary work on the development of the project. The idea of building such a ship for the domestic fleet appeared in 2009, and only in 2013, the draft design of the new vessel was approved.
The reason for this delay was that there was no consensus, neither the sailors, nor the designers regarding the type of power plant for the new combat unit. Fought two concepts: to give preference to the nuclear power plant or still concentrate efforts on the construction of ships with a conventional, gas turbine engine. Accordingly, the choice in favor of one or another option inevitably led to a change in the basic parameters of the vessel. With a nuclear power plant, the displacement of the ship increased significantly. It was about 12-14 thousand tons. With a conventional engine, the ship could theoretically fit into the design parameters, about 9 thousand tons.
It should be noted here that time has put everything in its place. While deciding which engines the new destroyer will be equipped with, the military-political and economic situation in the world has changed. The refusal of Ukraine to supply gas turbine units for the construction of Russian ships led to the fact that it was decided to orient the project of a Leader-type destroyer under a nuclear power plant. The project was planned to be prepared in accordance with the new requirements in 2018, however, during these periods it was only possible to begin full-scale design work.
Despite this, as early as 2018, at the International Salon, where samples of naval armaments were presented, Russia presented a model ship of the project 23560E, a promising destroyer in the export version. At this cabin the tactical and technical data that the new ship would have to possess was only announced. As for the appearance, it turned out that the model of the ship presented at the exhibition only conditionally recalls the new development of the Russian defense industry.
In the export version, the prospective ship should carry 64 launchers for the Bramos, Caliber-NK or Zircon anti-ship missiles. For the air defense on the ship, 56 launchers of the naval version of the S-400 air defense system or a more modern modification of the Prometheus C-500 were in charge. Further, the ship’s firepower was intensified by the installation of launch canisters for the Redoubt anti-aircraft missile system.
In combat power, the Russian project exceeded all existing military ships today. The strike complex, combined with the most powerful air defense system, made such a ship the most formidable enemy at sea. As it is necessary for the ship of this class - the destroyer of the type "Leader" was equipped with torpedo armament. Traditionally, the ship decided to leave the artillery, which is represented by an automatic 130 mm cannon in the tower location.
Mysteries of the project 23560 and the reality
In order to present the full scale of the construction being started, one should deal with one nuance. Why did the ship, which was to become a destroyer, manage to turn into a ship commensurate with the missile cruiser even at the project stage? The tasks that such a ship must solve look excessive for one ship. In this case, the situation that has arisen in Japan is comparable with the construction of the battleships Yamato and Musashi, the largest military vessels of this class. An attempt to concentrate enormous firepower on one or two warships may turn into a catastrophe for the fleet.
Similarly, the attempts of Russian naval sailors to create one or two large warships capable of gathering on board the firepower of an entire fleet. Whether it will be justified from a tactical and operational point of view - time will tell. The situation is still in an embryonic state, and the amount of contracts that may result in the construction of destroyers of the type "Leader" look exorbitant.