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Old 09-10-2008, 04:54 AM
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Default The Soviet Navy in T2K (c. 1996)

Raellus 07-16-2008, 02:13 PM This is something I whipped up on the hypothetical Soviet Navy of the Twilight War. I did this mostly to amuse myself but I'm posting it in the hopes that at least one or two folks 'round these parts find it helpful or interesting.


The Soviet Navy in T2K c. 1996


Recently, having informally conferred with the unofficial T2K Naval Warfare Group based in Washington D.C. (and rereading Red Storm Rising for the first time in nearly two decades) I have become very interested in how the naval aspect of the Twilight War would/could have played out. Although canonical sources exist for the major land forces involved in the Twilight War, no such sources (that I’m aware of) exist for the naval forces engaged therein. The D.C. group has done a thorough job of calculating the estimated strength of the U.S. Navy as it would have stood leading up to 1996 (in the T2K version 1 timeline) so there is no need to reinvent the wheel.


Calculating Soviet naval strength is extremely problematic. While it can be safely assumed that overall Soviet army strength and organization would have remained fairly similar to pre-collapse numbers had the Soviet Union continued to persevere as a political entity, such assumptions cannot be made for naval strength and organization after 1991. First of all, following the economic and political upheaval that occurred in the Soviet Union between 1989-1991, many older classes of ships and submarines were hastily struck from the lists (decommissioned or “deleted”) or sold on the export market to raise badly needed foreign capital. Furthermore, for financial reasons, construction of new naval vessels nearly stopped altogether. Several vessels already on the slips were either sold or scrapped, while construction of planned vessels was never even started.


I have endeavored, therefore, to estimate a plausible strength for the Soviet Navy -had such a thing existed- c. 1996 in the Twilight 2000 (v1) timeline. After the TDM of late 1997, further ship construction would have become incredibly difficult, if not impossible.


Notes on methodology:


To reconstruct the Soviet Navy of T2K, I have primarily used two readily available sources, Jane’s Warship Recognition Guide, 4th edition (2006) and the Encyclopedia of Warships (Thunder Bay Press 2006). All vessels listed below have been cross referenced using both sources.


In the following list, I have included vessels that were in Soviet naval service in the late 1980s and beyond. I have also included vessels that were under construction or in the planning stages as of 1991.


I have not included older vessels previously slated for retirement in the late ‘80s being as these vessels would most likely have been struck from the lists even had the Soviet Union not collapsed precipitously shortly thereafter. I have, however, included older vessels that were still operational in the years immediately preceding 1991, based on the assumption that such vessels would have been maintained in service -albeit perhaps in a reserve capacity- as a way of maintaining the Cold War naval race/balance of power with the NATO navies.


Vessels either under construction or planned for construction as of 1991 which were subsequently liquidated or cancelled are included in the list.


Vessels built expressly for Soviet client states have not been included in the list, whereas vessels originally built for the Soviet navy but hastily sold to former client states between 1989-‘91 (or shortly thereafter) have been included.


Vessels of Soviet origin currently serving in the navies of its former republics (Ukraine and Lithuania primarily) listed in Jane’s Warship Recognition Guide (4th ed.) have been included in the list.


I have not included coastal missile/patrol craft as they are almost too numerous and varied in type to mention and it is difficult to ascertain whether or not current examples, unless specified, were originally and specifically built for export.


I have not attemtping to speculate on losses incurred by the Soviet navy in their support of operations against China in '95-'96.


Diesel electric submarines (total 104)


Tango class: 18

Foxtrot class: 62

Kilo class: 24


Nuclear submarines (total 92)


Akula I & II classes: 13

Charlie I; II classes: 11; 6

Victor I; II; III classes: 16; 7; 26

Oscar I & II classes: 11

Sierra class: 1

Alfa class: 1


Heavy Aviation Cruisers (total 3)


Ulyanovsk (project 1143.7) class: 1

Kuznetsov class (project 1143.5) class: 2


Aviation Cruisers (total 4)


Kiev class: 4


Antisubmarine Cruiser (total 2)


Moskva class: 2


Heavy Cruisers (total 5)


Kirov class: 5


Cruisers (total 31)


Slava class: 4

Kynda class: 4

Kresta I; II classes: 4; 10

Sverdlov class: 9


Destroyers (total 50)


Sovremeny class: 20 (28 total planned)

Udaloy class: 10 (total includes single Udaloy II class vessel)

Kashin; MOD Kashin classes: 14; 6


Frigates (total 181)


Neustrashimy (project 1154) class: 4

Krivak I,II,III classes: 32

Grisha class: 28

Parchim* class: 10

Riga class: 47

Petya class: 42 (c. 1984)

Mirka class: 18


*Made in E. Germany


Corvettes (total 61)


Nanuchka class: 15+

Tarantul class: 25

Pauk class: 21

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Raellus 07-16-2008, 02:29 PM Well, I see that Chico's already created Soviet Naval Orders of Battle on his site, and done a much more thorough job at that.


http://mysite.verizon.net/vzeedox4/


I probably should have checked his site before I stayed up until 3am typing up my research and analysis. Oh well, I had fun anyways.


I almost deleted this thread but I'll leave it up just in case anyone wants to discuss the Soviet Navy in T2K.

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FightingFlamingo 07-17-2008, 07:30 AM Rae,

do you have any thoughts on the strategic employment, or the other WP navies (I'm guessing Poland & Bulgaria both of which probably have to displace surviving assets to Soviet ports during the course of the war IMO).

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Jason Weiser 07-17-2008, 08:22 AM FF,

I have Looter's Guide to the Baltic, and I do wonder if most of the Polish Navy even makes it out of the Baltic once Advent Crown kicks off?

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FightingFlamingo 07-17-2008, 09:17 AM Jason,

I have my own idea's about the bulk of the Polish Navy, which is not far from what you describe, but I was wondering about combined forces wartime performance.

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Raellus 07-17-2008, 12:19 PM Rae,

do you have any thoughts on the strategic employment, or the other WP navies (I'm guessing Poland & Bulgaria both of which probably have to displace surviving assets to Soviet ports during the course of the war IMO).


Why, I'm glad you asked!


Chico's VMF (Soviet Navy) strategy write up is extremely well done and mighty convincing. It's very difficult to find fault with any of it. Let me just preface my thoughts by stating that Chico is the man. I do not intend to take anything away from what the D.C> group has already labored long and hard to develop. I do, however, have a different take on Soviet maritime strategy. In my mind, VMF strategic priorities would be slightly different than those listed by Chico and would favor bold offensive operations as a means of defending the Motherland. I believe that the VMF would follow that old adage, "the best defense is a good offense". I just finished reading Clancy's (and Bond's) Red Storm Rising and he makes a strong case that vigorous convoy interdiction in the early stages of a conventional land war in Europe would help hamstring NATO and contribute significantly to a Red Army victory.


In Chico's write up, North Atlantic convoy interdiction is well down on the list (5th or so, in order of priority) of VMF strategic objectives. I think that convoy interdiction would be much higher on the list, right behind the preservation of their SLBM assets.


Chico's argument is that the west has a surfeit of merchant shipping and therefore, the VMF can't possibly hope to sink enough of it to have a significant detrimental impact on NATO logistics. Therefore, the VMF concentrates its efforts elsewhere. While it may be true that the west has access to a lot of shipping, it would take weeks or months to fully mobilize and the VMF would only have to sink a large pecentage of the first few fast convoys carrying the tanks, helicopters, bombs, and bullets that the U.S. would send immediately upon the outbreak of hostilities to reinforce its forces pre-positioned in Europe to have a major impact on NATO operations on the continent. Furthermore, it would take quite a while to "requisition" and assemble additional merchant hulls to replace the innitial losses. Vessels heeding the call would be incredibly vulnerable to submarine attack as they sail in ones and twos for ports along the east coast.


Vigorous convoy interdiction would have the added benefit of drawing significant NATO assents away from offensive operations against the Soviet mainland to escort threatened merchant convoys. It's part of an active defense of the motherland and would also contribute towards the Red Army's efforts on the ground in Europe by disrupting NATO logistics. To sum up, anti-convoy operations accomplish several important Soviet strategic objectives.


In looking at Chico's VMF ORBATs, I believe that the Soviets would have had the forces to both actively defend its SSBN fleet and northern naval bases with diesel and SSN screens, roving surface ASW patrols, aggressive ASW surface hunter-killer groups, shore-based aviation, and coastal missile craft and launch aggressive offensive operations against NATO naval forces in the North Atlantic with multiple surface battle groups, SSNs, SSGNs, diesel boats, and shore-based bombers.


In order to pump enough submarines and long range bombers into the Atlantic to significantly attrit NATO convoys, the Soviets would have to neutralize or suppress the formidable NATO ASW network in the G.I.U.K. gap. I see them going about that in a mutli-phase strategic naval offensive.


Phase 1A: Secure northern Norway to clear sea approaches and air lanes to Iceland, and secure airbases to provide land-based cover for the next phases of VMF operations. Red Army forces would advance overland while the Red Air Force would suppress NATO airfields in N. Norway. VMF battle groups would advance into the Norwegian sea while an Amphib task force advances along the coast landing naval infantry N. of Narvik to outflank the NATO forces engaged against the Red Army. Where viable, Airborne troops would be dropped on NATO airfields to secure them intact for the earliest possible Soviet use.



Phase 1B: Strikes against U.S. airfields in Iceland. These would be innitiated by sub-launched land attack missiles and sub-landed Spetznaz teams concurrent with Phase 1A. Once relatively safe overflight of northern Norway was possible, long range bombers could join in on the assault on Iceland and support of the VMF surface forces in the next phase of the offensive.


Phase 2: As soon as significant gains were made in N. Norway, the VMF would sortie powerful battlegroups into the Norwegian Sea and [G.]I.U.K. gap to confront NATO surface forces in the area. The VMF would have already established several screens of submarines to interdict NATO naval task groups attempting to disrupt VMF operations in support of the Soviet invasion of N. Norway and/or threaten VMF bases. The VMF surface battle groups would attempt to defeat or at least tie down opposing NATO forces while additional VMF submarines exploit the confusion to slip into the N. Atlantic with the intention of operating against NATO merchant shipping.


If the VMF emerged victorious in a fleet action, a small-scale invasion of Iceland (Phase 3)would follow. If the VMF failed to defeat the NATO task groups arrayed against it, it would retreat to defend Soviet gains in N. Norway. However, as long as significant submarine forces were able to gain greater access to the N. Atlantic, any NATO surface victory would be a Phyric one as NATO convoys would become increasingly assailed. Air strikes against bases in Iceland would continue to disrupt NATO ASW operations in the G.I.U.K. gap and the N. Atlantic.


Synchronicity with Canon


The strategic offensive I've outline above roughly corresponds to the situation described briefly in canon (Twilight 2000 Referee's Manual v.1, Chronological Background, p. 24). The authors mention a 3-week battle in the North Atlantic. I think that both phases of my VMF strategic offensive could fit into this three week period. Of course, according to canon, the Soviet strategic offensive I describe ulitmately fails, paving the road for a future NATO naval offensive agains Soviet base areas on and around the Kola peninsula. In additional to decimating the North Atlantic VMF, both actions end up severely depleting the fighting strength of the NATO navies as well.


Analysis and Opinion


I just don't see the Soviets sitting back and waiting for NATO to seize and maintain the innitiative in strategic naval operations. I think it follow the lead that the Red Army has taken since 1942 and play the aggressor. While it is true that for most of the Cold War, the VMF was essentially a glorified, "'roided-up" coastal defense force, during the late '70s and throughout the 1980s, the Soviets worked hard to develop a significant blue water, offensive naval capability. This has to reflect a marked change in strategic thinking.


The Kirov, Slava, and Sovremeny classes were all designed primarily as surface attack ships designed to hunt and kill opposing surface combatants. Their new heavy aviation cruisers were designed for more offensive operations that their Kiev class counterparts. A battle group built around a Kirov, a Kutzenov, a Slava, and a couple Sovremenies would make a dangerous and powerful opponent. Such vessels need plenty of sea room in order to operate effectively. They would not have the operational freedom necessary to be effective if they were tied down off of coastal waters close to their bases.


A strategy of attrition ultimately favors the larger U.S./NATO naval forces. By ceding the innitiative to NATO, the VMF would be living on borrowed time. IMEO, it's a waste of valuable attacking assets and just doesn't fit in with the Soviet military mindset.


It's very possible that I've got this all wrong. Chico might have used actual late Cold War Soviet strategic doctrine in constructing his analysis in which case my entire assessment is moot.


I'll grant you that the VMF was never as powerful or capable as the combined naval forces of NATO (or even just the U.S.N., for that matter). The most significant weakness of the VMF is their lack of dedicated AA platforms. The Soviets had nothing like the AEGIS cruisers and destroyers of the U.S. Navy. Any VMF battle groups would be more vulnerable to air attack than their NATO counterparts.


But, I think it would be very dangerous to underestimate them. They had some very capable platforms and weapon systems. Their supersonic ASMs are, for one example, a lot scarrier than Harpoon the ship-attack version of Tomahawk. Undersestimating the enemy is one of the great repeating blunders of military history. The Soviet navy at its peak could have given NATO a run for its money, especially if it was well -and aggressively- led.


The Polish Navy and the battle for the Baltic


As for the Polish Navy, it is my understanding that it would be fully integrated into the VMF Baltic Fleet. It would be Polish in name only (the crews of course, would be Polish) but it would be tightly controlled by the VMF Baltic Fleet. I think the VMF/WARPACT Baltic Fleet would be steadily worn down by NATO forces in and around the Baltic. I doubt that much if any of it would get out alive. The Baltic, in a modern military sense, is basically a big lake with nowhere to hide. After the Twilight War, they'd have to take the moniker "Iron Bottom Sound" away from the area near Guadalcanal and give it to the Baltic- it would be so littered with sunken ships and aircraft.

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Law0369 07-18-2008, 12:12 PM I agree on the navy part chico has put out . the USA is just too big and too advanced for the Russins in sea power. wait til you see our navy almost 700 ships to put to sea. very powerful force. no way they would or could go offensive they would just commit suicide. better for the russians to hit an run and wear the united states down. just like hey are taught in there tactics and how there navy is formed with the focus on Subs. Just my ten cents.

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Raellus 07-20-2008, 03:00 PM I agree on the navy part chico has put out .


Yeah, it's hard to argue with what he's done.


the USA is just too big and too advanced for the Russins in sea power.


I agree that the U.S.N. trumps the Soviet Navy in terms of both quality and quantity.


wait til you see our navy almost 700 ships to put to sea. very powerful force.


It is the most powerful naval force ever assembled, no doubt about it. However, I bet that quite a few of the ships on that list are older, less effective platforms that the U.S.N. of our timeline retired as soon as the Soviet threat diminished.


Also, those 700 ships would be split between the Atlantic, Med, Indian Ocean/Persian Gulf, Pacific. So the U.S.N. has overall numerical superiority but they wouldn't necessarily have anywhere near the same degree of local superiority, depending on the region we're talking about. With my more aggressive convoy interdiction strategy, more of those 700 ships would be tied down to convoy protection than otherwise.


no way they would or could go offensive they would just commit suicide. better for the russians to hit an run and wear the united states down. just like hey are taught in there tactics and how there navy is formed with the focus on Subs.


I see it as "pick your poison". I wouldn't call anything in war a certainty, but, even at the height of its power, the Soviet Navy is pretty much doomed to ultimate failure.


However, just sitting around in the Barents Sea waiting for the first of the NATO carrier groups to amble on in is, in the end, just as suicidal as trying to seize the innitiative at the outset. A largely defensive posture can only forestall the innevitable. As the SAS motto says, "Who Dares Wins". By trying to seize the innitiative, the Soviets could gain the freedom to act instead of just being forced by NATO to react, thereby putting NATO on the back foot, at least temporarily. Plus, playing prevent defense doesn't really do anything strategically beneficial for the Soviet Union except maybe prolong its existence.


Also, if the whole Atlantic fleet is concentrated in one region, it makes itself more vulnerable to nuclear attack as well as conventional strikes.


During the first year of WWII (for the U.S.) in the Pacific, the U.S. fleet was always outnumbered- sometimes heavily- by the IJN. Furthermore, its ships and weapons, at the outset, were not quite as good as the those of the Japanese (for example, the Zero was better than the Wildcat, the Long Lance torpedo was far superior to the Americans' equivalents, and the Yamato's 18.1 inch guns could out-range the American battleship's 16-inchers).


However, due to some aggressive leadership and wisely choosing when and where to fight, it managed to hold its own and eventually turn the tables even before the U.S. was cranking out Essex class carriers and the superior Hellcat fighters. This wouldn't have been possible if the U.S. fleet has basically just hung out around Pearl waiting for the larger and more powerful Japanese fleet to come to them.


So, I don't disagree that the Soviet Navy is basically doomed from the start, but I think it's wholly within the realm of possibility that an aggressive admiralty could favor a more pro-active defense involving strategic offensive operations and increased convoy interdiction. They basically still have the same to lose and much more to gain from such a strategy.


I don't hope to convince anyone; I just want to reassure folks that I'm not crazy.


Just my ten cents.


Thanks for your opinion.

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Law0369 07-20-2008, 04:09 PM Good post wait for our US Navy guide and you will be shocked by the power and number of ships per fleet....

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Raellus 07-20-2008, 04:11 PM BTW, I would love to wargame some T2K/WWIII Atlantic Theater naval battles versus a live opponent. That would be fun.

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Law0369 07-20-2008, 06:59 PM well we will on chico's dining room table......

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Raellus 07-20-2008, 09:19 PM well we will on chico's dining room table......


Unfortunately for me, there's no "I" in "we". Wish I could be there!


Make sure Chico converts at least a couple of the Kiev class aviation cruisers with ski-jumps for 24 navalized MiG-29s like the Indians are doing. I want those Soviets to have a fighting chance!


; )

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FightingFlamingo 07-21-2008, 07:18 AM Rae that probably isn't going to happen since the Indian's are looking at that 13 years past our time frame, and the Sov's were looking at the Yak-142 program as the source for replacement aircraft for those ships in the late 1980's.

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Raellus 07-21-2008, 12:16 PM Rae that probably isn't going to happen since the Indian's are looking at that 13 years past our time frame, and the Sov's were looking at the Yak-142 program as the source for replacement aircraft for those ships in the late 1980's.


Come on, be a sport!


Of course, you are right. From what I read, the Yak VTOL fighters, old and new, were pretty much pieces of crap with wings.


Maybe the Soviets saw how well the ski-jump/SU-27 combo was working by comparison and decided to try it out a similar system with the smaller MiG-29 for their Kiev class ships. It could happen!


Hey, the Sov Navy needs all the help it can get if it is to perform as well as T2K canon describes.


BTW, what system are you guys using to wargame out the various T2K naval battles? Harpoon? Something else?


I remember playing the first computer version of Harpoon as a teenager on my ol' black-and-white Mac back in '89. Good times. I may have to get one of the new versions. I guess they still offer lots of Cold War scenarios.

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TiggerCCW UK 07-21-2008, 12:33 PM Used to be a great naval game available from Janes called Fleet Commander. Let you design your own scenarios as well. Really good. Sadly my copy died, don't know if you can still get it.

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FightingFlamingo 07-21-2008, 01:30 PM They've used Harpoon...

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chico20854 07-29-2008, 07:16 PM Why, I'm glad you asked!


Chico's VMF (Soviet Navy) strategy write up is extremely well done & mighty convincing. It's very difficult to find fault with any of it. Let me just preface my thoughts by stating that Chico is the man. I do not intend to take anything away from what the D.C. group has already labored long & hard to develop. I do, however, have a different take on Soviet maritime strategy.


Thanks, Rae!


Sorry it took forever for me to get to this, I was out of town when this went up & am just getting caught up now. I can tell you've put a lot of thought into this & I think we're pretty close in reality! I appreciate the feedback!



In my mind, VMF strategic priorities would be slightly different than those listed by Chico & would favor bold offensive operations as a means of defending the Motherland. I believe that the VMF would follow that old adage, "the best defense is a good offense". I just finished reading Clancy's (& Bond's) Red Storm Rising & he makes a strong case that vigorous convoy interdiction in the early stages of a conventional land war in Europe would help hamstring NATO & contribute significantly to a Red Army victory.


In Chico's write up, North Atlantic convoy interdiction is well down on the list (5th or so, in order of priority) of VMF strategic objectives. I think that convoy interdiction would be much higher on the list, right behind the preservation of their SLBM assets.


I agree with you that the Soviet fleet's obvious best strategy is to take the offense, & to a certain extent that is the case.


The problem, however, is that the Soviets are attacking an alerted & mostly mobilized NATO. REFORGER is implemented in August 96 & all of the US III Corps plus some National Guard heavy divisions are already on the ground in Germany when the war breaks out (plus a huge amount of munitions, fuel & supplies ferried across in the last few frantic months of peace). There is a NATO Corps in northern Norway (the US 6th & 10th IDs, a USMC Brigade, a Royal Marine Bde plus Norwegians & the NATO AMF-L, plus possibly the Canadian CAST Bde (IRL its Norway mission was switched to filling out 1st Canadian Division in the late 80s).) NATO's strike fleet, with possibly 5 large US carriers & 2 British ones patrolling the GIUK gap, is already in the North Atlantic. The US National Guard has been mobilized, & if Air Guard units haven't deployed they are at least at a high state of readiness. This reduces the value of interdicting the sea lanes - much of what the USSR wants to stop coming across the Atlantic is already there when general war breaks out, while the opposition is already very strong. The USSR, weakened by 18 months of war in the Far East, tied down in action in Germany, stinging from the loss of the DDR & with its best units already in action elsewhere. is truly desperate.


The NATO Vehicle Guide states that the Soviets came across the Norwegian border in November 96 - before the US entry into the war in Germany. I see this & the subsequent 3 weeks of the Battle of the Norwegian Sea, as the offensive you describe. The attack on land (supported by amphibious & air assaults) bogs down in the terrible Norwegian winter, poor comms & crack NATO defenders. The slugfest in the Norwegian Sea is truly epic, with multiple feints, advances & retreats, as NATO airpower (both land-based & from the carriers of Strike Fleet) attempts to maintain air superiority over the front lines in Northern Norway, defend Iceland from air & missile attack, protect the lines of communication to Northern Norway (much of the logistics is seaborne due to the sparse road & rail network) & defend the carriers & airbases. In the course of this, the Soviets are presented with a multitude of targets, but lack the assets to hit them all (especially long-range aircraft, which start the war with a significant portion deployed to Eastern Siberia undertaking long-range bombing missions over China). The Soviet surface forces are mighty - (probably) 2 fixed-wing carriers, 3 nuclear battle cruisers & a couple of Slavas, plus a ton of subs & escorts. (I'm assuming that the 2 Kievs, with Yak-41s & ASW Helos, are "Bastion Kings", forming the core of some serious ASW battle groups on a defensive mission in the Barents). But the Soviets are entering a NATO-surrounded lake in the Norwegian Sea, & while bloody the outcome is, as Law mentioned above, ultimately a forgone conclusion. The Soviets fight hard & smart & have a lot of tricks up their sleeves (anti-Aegis missiles, ships hiding in the ice flows, Spetsnaz teams hitting SOSUS stations, electronic warfare, covert mining) but it can't change the basic disparity in airpower over the Norwegian Sea. The chaos following the NATO victory - at a terrible cost - allows the Soviets their second chance to disrupt NATO shipping, with the release of raiders upon the North Atlantic.



Chico's argument is that the west has a surfeit of merchant shipping & therefore, the VMF can't possibly hope to sink enough of it to have a significant detrimental impact on NATO logistics. Therefore, the VMF concentrates its efforts elsewhere. While it may be true that the west has access to a lot of shipping, it would take weeks or months to fully mobilize & the VMF would only have to sink a large pecentage of the first few fast convoys carrying the tanks, helicopters, bombs, & bullets that the U.S. would send immediately upon the outbreak of hostilities to reinforce its forces pre-positioned in Europe to have a major impact on NATO operations on the continent. Furthermore, it would take quite a while to "requisition" & assemble additional merchant hulls to replace the initial losses. Vessels heeding the call would be incredibly vulnerable to submarine attack as they sail in ones & twos for ports along the east coast.


Unfortunately for the USSR, NATO had a standing plan for mobilization of shipping (in fact it preceded the formation of NATO). I've been in what was to be the command center for NATO control over civilian shipping - it had the magnetic status cards already typed up for the 600+ civilian ships NATO nations (and shipowners) had committed for reinforcement (with the understanding that a great many of them would be elsewhere in the North Atlantic or lost in the early stages of a conflict). And with REFORGER kicking off in Aug, NATO had time to put that whole apparatus into place. Shipowners screamed about the imposition of NATO control, but the businessmen in them were relishing in the top-flight rates & full insurance coverage, while also making a killing on their ships that NATO didn't take control of. So even as the war kicks off, NATO has already gone through that rough stage of mobilizing & organizing shipping. There is a lot of independently sailing shipping on the North Atlantic - it seems that NATO actually didn't plan to escort ships carrying non-military cargo, even if it was vital to the continuation of the fight (ie crude oil tankers). The USN, for example, in the 80s only planned to form escort groups for 7 military convoys & 10 underway replenishment groups worldwide (in addition to carrier, battleship & amphib groups). The 700+ ship navy that the US forms early in the war, using a lot of older, borderline obsolete ships, allows more shipping to be escorted, but still most of the merchant shipping worldwide is unescorted.



Vigorous convoy interdiction would have the added benefit of drawing significant NATO assents away from offensive operations against the Soviet mainland to escort threatened merchant convoys. It's part of an active defense of the motherland would also contribute towards the Red Army's efforts on the ground in Europe by disrupting NATO logistics. To sum up, anti-convoy operations accomplish several important Soviet strategic objectives.


In looking at Chico's VMF ORBATs, I believe that the Soviets would have had the forces to both actively defend its SSBN fleet & northern naval bases with diesel & SSN screens, roving surface ASW patrols, aggressive ASW surface hunter-killer groups, shore-based aviation, & coastal missile craft and launch aggressive offensive operations against NATO naval forces in the North Atlantic with multiple surface battle groups, SSNs, SSGNs, diesel boats, & shore-based bombers.


They have a ton of assets available, I agree. We're not looking forward to having to try to form them into task groups & assign them missions. The defenses they are able to raise after the Battle of the Norwegian Sea is testimony to that strength - after all, NATO is so badly hurt & the Soviet defenses so strong that NATO doesn't move against the Kola until June of 97 - when prewar doctrine implied that the NATO Strike Fleet would sail north & east immediately following the destruction of the Soviet surface fleet. One note on the Soviet fleet, though: readiness. A lot of the older ships were in mothballs & on the verge of being scrapped when the war broke out. The crews are recalled reservists, very few of which were officers (and of them, even fewer are lower-ranking ones). And officers performed many of even mundane technical tasks aboard Soviet naval ships (in fact, the Alfa-class subs had an all-officer crew). The case of the defecting Soviet destroyer in the Baltic, where the political officer led the enlisted crew towards Sweden for a few hours before something went wrong that the crew couldn't fix, leaving it dead in the water, is illustrative of the readiness of a Soviet naval enlisted crew without a large number of officers. Recalled reserve enlisted men would be even worse...



In order to pump enough submarines & long range bombers into the Atlantic to significantly attrit NATO convoys, the Soviets would have to neutralize or suppress the formidable NATO ASW network in the G.I.U.K. gap. I see them going about that in a mutli-phase strategic naval offensive.


Phase 1A: Secure northern Norway to clear sea approaches & air lanes to Iceland, & secure airbases to provide land-based cover for the next phases of VMF operations. Red Army forces would advance overland while the Red Air Force would suppress NATO airfields in N. Norway. VMF battle groups would advance into the Norwegian sea while an Amphib task force advances along the coast landing naval infantry N. of Narvik to outflank the NATO forces engaged against the Red Army. Where viable, Airborne troops would be dropped on NATO airfields to secure them intact for the earliest possible Soviet use.


Red Army forces get tied up with the NATO Corps in Northern Norway. Furious air battles overhead. Amphib task force tangles with NATO Standing Naval Force Atlantic & Norwegian coast defenses, fast attack boats & coastal submarines, while USN subs wait further offshore. Airborne troops land but NATO airpower prevents the Soviet air force from providing significant resupply & the amphib force turns back - remnants of the division break out overland.



Phase 1B: Strikes against U.S. airfields in Iceland. These would be initiated by sub-launched land attack missiles & sub-landed Spetznaz teams concurrent with Phase 1A. Once relatively safe overflight of northern Norway was possible, long range bombers could join in on the assault on Iceland & support of the VMF surface forces in the next phase of the offensive.


Non-nuclear cruise missile strikes (from SSGNs) damage Keflavik but are not in sufficient quantity to destroy the facility. Fighter aircraft from NATO Strike Fleet, from carriers operating just south of the GIUK gap, patrol over Norwegian Sea as carriers move north. Soviet Naval Aviation in the Northern Fleet screaming for return of Backfires from China, where they have been used to smash a USN CVBG near Korea. VMF Surface force suffers some attrition from US & UK SSNs in Norwegian Sea. Overflight of Northern Norway impossible due to continued reinforcement of NATO airpower as Air Guard & Air Force Reserve units deploy, forcing long-range bombers to take longer routes. Soviet sub force surges, only lightly interdicted by NATO P-3s operating furtively due to ranging Soviet interceptor patrols.



Phase 2: As soon as significant gains were made in N. Norway, the VMF would sortie powerful battlegroups into the Norwegian Sea & [G.]I.U.K. gap to confront NATO surface forces in the area. The VMF would have already established several screens of submarines to interdict NATO naval task groups attempting to disrupt VMF operations in support of the Soviet invasion of N. Norway and/or threaten VMF bases. The VMF surface battle groups would attempt to defeat or at least tie down opposing NATO forces while additional VMF submarines exploit the confusion to slip into the N. Atlantic with the intention of operating against NATO merchant shipping.


Despite continuing stalemate on land (both sides suffering from Arctic winter, miserable weather & limited logistic support due to terrible road net & interdiction/harassment of seaborne supply by enemy subs & light naval forces), VMF surface group sorties. A meeting engagement in the Norwegian Sea follows. Some US CVBGs are caught in Soviet combined-arms ambushes (long-range bombers, SSGNs & surface ships striking from all points of the compass, following loss of Aegis & E-2 coverage from specialized Soviet assets) or overwhelmed by bombers. Some Soviet gains on land as seaborne supply to the NATO Corps in northern Norway is curtailed due to marauding battlecruiser & overall high level of Soviet naval activity. After 3 weeks of bloody back & forth, remnants of NATO fleet fall back to hold the GIUK gap, while Soviet forces disperse, some (including Kirov) slipping south in the confusion to wreck havoc on the convoy lanes, the rest retiring to the naval bases of the Kola to repair & refit, the Kola still safe behind multiple barriers (some minefields, SS lines, patrol boat squadrons, short-range land-based air, coast defense missiles).



If the VMF emerged victorious in a fleet action, a small-scale invasion of Iceland (Phase 3)would follow. If the VMF failed to defeat the NATO task groups arrayed against it, it would retreat to defend Soviet gains in N. Norway. However, as long as significant submarine forces were able to gain greater access to the N. Atlantic, any NATO surface victory would be a Phyric one as NATO convoys would become increasingly assailed. Air strikes against bases in Iceland would continue to disrupt NATO ASW operations in the G.I.U.K. gap & the N. Atlantic.


The invasion of Iceland doesn't happen. NATO is fearful of it, however, & maintains a surface action group (we in DC are still working on its composition) to watch for it, & the (relatively small) Battle of North Cape in March 97 is a result of that watchfulness. The most modern Soviet subs are guarding Soviet SSBNs, as NATO SSNs probe the bastions from all sides under the ice. The oldest subs are kept close to home, as the crews are unable to maintain sailing conditions for more than a few days at a time. A good collection of Soviet subs do make it into the North Atlantic, forcing the delay of many National Guard heavy units' deployments (especially following the mauling of the 278th ACR's convoy) until NATO surface forces can hunt them down (made easier by their need to replenish after a few weeks of happy hunting). That gradual hunting (epitomized by the gun duel between Kirov & New Jersey, hastily brought through the Panama Canal after being being found by aircraft off USS Lexington) increases NATO's confidence at sea, & when additional forces are required by the success of Advent Crown traffic on the North Atlantic returns to full levels. (Even throughout this time ships are sent to sea with small military cargoes rounded out by large economic cargoes to keep the European war machines going & civilians fed, clothes & warmed. Their losses, while regrettable, provide contact points for NATO ASW forces, & many more ships get through than are lost.

********************

chico20854 07-29-2008, 07:16 PM Synchronicity with Canon


The strategic offensive I've outline above roughly corresponds to the situation described briefly in canon (Twilight 2000 Referee's Manual v.1, Chronological Background, p. 24). The authors mention a 3-week battle in the North Atlantic. I think that both phases of my VMF strategic offensive could fit into this three week period. Of course, according to canon, the Soviet strategic offensive I describe ultimately fails, paving the road for a future NATO naval offensive against Soviet base areas on & around the Kola peninsula. In additional to decimating the North Atlantic VMF, both actions end up severely depleting the fighting strength of the NATO navies as well.


Analysis & Opinion


I just don't see the Soviets sitting back & waiting for NATO to seize & maintain the initiative in strategic naval operations. I think it follow the lead that the Red Army has taken since 1942 & play the aggressor. While it is true that for most of the Cold War, the VMF was essentially a glorified, "'roided-up" coastal defense force, during the late '70s & throughout the 80s, the Soviets worked hard to develop a significant blue water, offensive naval capability. This has to reflect a marked change in strategic thinking.


The Kirov, Slava, & Sovremeny classes were all designed primarily as surface attack ships designed to hunt & kill opposing surface combatants. Their new heavy aviation cruisers were designed for more offensive operations that their Kiev class counterparts. A battle group built around a Kirov, a Kutzenov, a Slava, & a couple Sovremenies would make a dangerous & powerful opponent. Such vessels need plenty of sea room in order to operate effectively. They would not have the operational freedom necessary to be effective if they were tied down off of coastal waters close to their bases.


A strategy of attrition ultimately favors the larger U.S./NATO naval forces. By ceding the initiative to NATO, the VMF would be living on borrowed time. IMEO, it's a waste of valuable attacking assets & just doesn't fit in with the Soviet military mindset.


I agree that the course of events described above makes the most sense, both in a strategic sense & maintaining continuity with canon. I think our differences are more in the scale of the Soviet resources available to achieve the various missions, & we've been trying to give the VMF the benefit of the doubt - trying to conjure up the 10-foot tall Russian of my high school days - to offset what we now know about the state of the Soviet military & the amazing firepower that the USN can put to see. I was trying to indicate in the Soviet strategy document (which you are correct was based on late-80s analysis of Soviet strategic goals) that the Soviet offensive at sea wouldn't necessarily be the entire Northern Fleet (or even all of its most modern units) bum-rushing the GIUK Gap to be slaughtered by NATO navies, who could then immediately launch a sustained air & sea-based bombardment of the Kola.



It's very possible that I've got this all wrong. Chico might have used actual late Cold War Soviet strategic doctrine in constructing his analysis in which case my entire assessment is moot.


I'll grant you that the VMF was never as powerful or capable as the combined naval forces of NATO (or even just the U.S.N., for that matter). The most significant weakness of the VMF is their lack of dedicated AA platforms. The Soviets had nothing like the AEGIS cruisers & destroyers of the U.S. Navy. Any VMF battle groups would be more vulnerable to air attack than their NATO counterparts.


But, I think it would be very dangerous to underestimate them. They had some very capable platforms & weapon systems. Their supersonic ASMs are, for one example, a lot scarier than Harpoon the ship-attack version of Tomahawk. Underestimating the enemy is one of the great repeating blunders of military history. The Soviet navy at its peak could have given NATO a run for its money, especially if it was well -and aggressively- led.


The Polish Navy & the battle for the Baltic


As for the Polish Navy, it is my understanding that it would be fully integrated into the VMF Baltic Fleet. It would be Polish in name only (the crews of course, would be Polish) but it would be tightly controlled by the VMF Baltic Fleet. I think the VMF/PACT Baltic Fleet would be steadily worn down by NATO forces in & around the Baltic. I doubt that much if any of it would get out alive. The Baltic, in a modern military sense, is basically a big lake with nowhere to hide. After the Twilight War, they'd have to take the moniker "Iron Bottom Sound" away from the area near Guadalcanal & give it to the Baltic- it would be so littered with sunken ships & aircraft.


The naval war in the Baltic is pretty fierce, as you outline. The defection of the East German Navy decreases the Pact naval strength available at the start of the war significantly (the Soviet Baltic fleet having to sail from Leningrad, Riga, Klapieda & Kaliningrad to reach the war zone, possibly being engaged piecemeal), while the surprise attack of the West Germans results in 100+ Tornadoes of the Marineflieger being dedicated to sinking the Polish Navy. The Danes, nominally neutral until Feb 97, have plenty of time to turn the Danish Straits into a huge minefield, while NATO airpower prevents the Baltic Fleet from getting into the western Baltic. As NATO forces advance as part of Advent Crown, the remnants of the Polish Navy are effectively absorbed by the Soviet Baltic Fleet and, its bases destroyed by NATO forces, it effectively ceases to exist as a force that can be discerned from the Soviet Baltic fleet. Pact airpower & patrol boat activity is still high enough though that NATO navies don't commit anything larger than the occasional destroyer as escort for the light amphibious & fast attack groups. NATO diesel subs do a fair amount of business inserting commando teams ashore in the Soviet Baltic states to work with local anti-Soviet forces, raid airfields, exfiltrate shot-down airmen & attack Soviet rear area support units.


And once the war goes nuclear, that opens a whole nother bucket (not cup) of tea.

********************

Raellus 07-29-2008, 09:42 PM Thanks for your much anticipated reply.


I must say, Chico, with the added clarification and elaboration, you've more or less won me over. It sounds like we weren't really that far apart to begin with in our views.


Your meeting engagement in the Norwegian Sea fits both canon and my more offensive minded VMF so I wholeheartedly approve.


I just want to clarify that I was never advocating a general fleet action between the entire VMF North Atlantic Fleet and the combined NATO navies in the area. At least, that was not my intention. Such a move would indeed be insanely suicidal. I was just arguing that the VMF would act aggressively at the outset to try to seize the innitiative. The longer they waited to do so, the smaller the chance they would have to succeed.


So, I concede. Please let me offer a few humble suggestions to help restore the 10-foot tall Soviet menace that we all remember (and secretly miss).


Here are a couple of mitigating factors that might help boost the Soviets' innevitably futile efforts in a conventional naval war against NATO.


Many Soviet pilots would be combat aces, having slaughtered the relatively poorly trained and equiped Chinese AF. This experience would transfer to the ground-based air forces supporting the VMF's ops in the N. Atlantic. Also, perhaps some Soviet naval aviators could have been "loaned" to the Soviet AF as a way of gaining valuable combat flying time. This may help them hold their own later against the highly trained and magnificently equiped NATO aviation units. In a historical parallel, at the outset of WWII in the Pacific, Japanese pilots were more than a match for their Allied counterparts. This was due in part to the Japanese having a lot of prior combat experience in spanking the Chinese AF.


With air supremacy (or at least widespread air superiority) in China, most if not all of the far-east Backfire squadrons not employed against the U.S. Pacific (& SEATO) fleet could be returned to support ops in the N. Atlantic. With control of the skies over China, the Backfires could easily be replaced by the older Blinder and Bison bombers. Same goes for category A fighter and attack units.


The Soviet navy's training and overall preparedness would improve after war started with China. As I mentioned in the thread starter, the Soviet Navy, in the T2K timeline, would not have reached the level of decrepitude that it did in our world after the fall of the Soviet system. In terms of mobilization and war production, the Soviets have historically been slow starters but once they get moving in the right direction, watch out!


Note: I agree that Yak-equipped Kiev class carriers would be kept close to home.


P.S. I'd love to help put those VMF battle groups together. I'm thinking about getting myself a copy of Harpoon CE and tinkering with it to that effect. Just got to convince the wife that it's $50 well spent. Easier said than done...

********************

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Old 07-05-2018, 03:43 PM
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There's particularly revealing here, but it's a good summary of Cold War Soviet naval strategy.

http://warisboring.com/how-the-sovie...world-war-iii/
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Old 07-06-2018, 02:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Raellus View Post
There's particularly revealing here, but it's a good summary of Cold War Soviet naval strategy.

http://warisboring.com/how-the-sovie...world-war-iii/
Realistically the Soviet Navy hadn't a chance in the Atlantic against NATO in wartime. Soviet surface forces would have been rapidly wiped out by US naval airpower and NATO submarines and they knew it.

The Soviet's best naval assets were their submarines and long ranged bombers with supersonic missiles. Some might think they could have caused havoc in the Atlantic to NATO shipping between North America and Europe like the Germans did for the first few years in the Second World War. However unlike the Second World War NATO was well prepared for anti-submarine warfare and also at intercepting Soviet naval bombers. Only a fraction of the Soviet submarine force would have been present in waters south of the GIUK Gap in hostilities and few others would have breached the GIUK Gap undetected from northern waters, and none of their bombers would have realistically made it.

Most NATO navies were also well drilled and equipped for anti-submarine warfare, particularly the British, Canadians and Dutch. In the 1970's British naval doctrine switched from its previous role as a global Blue Water fleet to being an anti-submarine fleet focused on the North Atlantic. The price of this was a fairly poor showing in the Falklands against Argentine air attack due to lack of adequate carrier aircraft coverage and inadequate air defence weapons, but their submarine forces were excellent and the anti-submarine capabilities of their surface fleet was sound. The US Navy's submarine force was also formidable and better than the Soviet's.
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Old 07-06-2018, 05:36 AM
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I'm pretty sure this has been mentioned before so at the risk of repeating someone else's information...

It would have been interesting if the Soviets had completed their "true" aircraft carrier projects. I'm thinking specifically about Ulyanovsk which was supposed to launch in 1995 but construction was halted and it was scrapped in 1992.
https://www.hazegray.org/navhist/car...ussia.htm#ulya
Global Security has a more informative, though poorly translated (but still generally understandable) section giving more background on the carrier: -
https://www.globalsecurity.org/milit...sia/1143_7.htm

War Is Boring has some extra info although their gushing fanboy writeup makes it seem as though these two carriers were going to be "the terror of the seas": -
http://warisboring.com/ulyanovsk-wou...-supercarrier/
Wiki has a line profile of the carrier and it can clearly be seen that the Soviet plan really was to "build like the Americans": -
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet...rier_Ulyanovsk

It was one of a planned class of only two supercarrier types so I don't see them as having been any serious problem for NATO navies and specifically the US Navy (which totally outclassed every other navy in the world, let alone the Soviets, in regards to aircraft carriers - probably even every other carrier navy in the world combined!)

Considering the first of class was laid down in Nikolayev, Ukraine, the ships would probably have been bottled up in the Black Sea (unless of course they were able to pass through Turkish controlled waters during peacetime to get into the Med.) So in that regard they wouldn't likely have been a problem for the Atlantic/North Sea/Baltic Sea theatre

Last edited by StainlessSteelCynic; 07-06-2018 at 05:37 AM. Reason: spelling correction
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