Recently, “VO” published an article by S. Yuferev “Twice more expensive than” Mistrals “. Two universal amphibious assault ships for the Russian Navy “, in which the respected author came to the conclusion that the planned UDC will cost our fleet more than the Mistrals ordered in France. Although not twice, about 10% percent, but still.
Let’s try to understand the comparative cost of Mistrals and new domestic UDCs.
Two words about inflation
S. Yuferev’s logic is very simple. With a contract value of 1.2 billion euros, the acquisition of Mistrals cost us about 49 billion rubles, while today the estimated cost of a contract for 2 UDCs to be built on the Black Sea Zaliv is 100 billion rubles. That’s a double difference! True, the author immediately makes a quite fair reservation about the change in the exchange rate of the ruble against the euro and makes a new calculation. At the average exchange rate for 2020, it turns out that our UDCs cost 1.317 billion euros, which is still more expensive than the contract for the supply of French ships.
Everything seems to be correct, but, unfortunately, the author missed one very important point. The fact is that not only the ruble was subject to inflation, but also the euro.
The point is that inflation is an integral feature of a market economy. Moreover, its small value is considered an unconditional blessing, since it does not allow money to “stagnate” and makes it “work”. The logic here is very simple: if there is no inflation at all, you can put money in a stocking and keep it there as long as you like. Nothing will happen to them. But if there is even a slight inflation, then the purchasing power of money will slowly be lost. That is, over time, the money from the stocking will be able to buy fewer and fewer goods. This, according to the logic of the market economy, will force you not to keep money in a stocking, but to invest it, or at least put it in a bank that will do it for you.
So, the euro is subject to inflation. The Russian Federation entered into a deal with Mistrals in June 2011, and then it cost 1.2 billion euros. But what would happen if the Russian Federation tried to conclude a similar deal now? The inflation calculator shows that the purchasing power of the euro from June 2011 to December 2019 (alas, as of today it is impossible to find out) significantly decreased: today, 1000 euros could buy as many goods as in June 2011 spend only 900.32 euros. Thus, if we had made a deal on the Mistral in December 2019, then two French UDCs would have cost us 1,332.9 million euros. And if we concluded this deal right now, it would be even more expensive, because for the period from December 2019 to May 2020, euro inflation did not sit still.
At the same time, a contract for two UDCs of domestic construction was concluded in May 2020, that is, when the cost of the euro reached 80 rubles. At the exchange rate for May 27 (77.79 rubles / euro), the contract value is 1285.5 million euros. But even if we take at the average rate for 2020, which for the same May 27 was 75.95 rubles / euro, then in this case 100 billion rubles. will amount to 1,316.7 million euros. In fact, UDCs are even cheaper – the fact is that the contract for their construction did not cost 100 billion rubles. and in the amount of “about 100 billion rubles.”
That is, in comparable prices, UDCs of domestic production are definitely cheaper for us than French ones. But the numbers are still comparable – the difference we calculated is on the strength of percentages, if not their shares. Why is this so, since domestic salaries and prices for raw materials and supplies are not French at all?
The Mistral UDC has a standard displacement of 16,500 tons and a full displacement of 21,300 tons. Unfortunately, the displacement of domestic UDCs is unknown: alas, they cannot be seen on the Zvezda TV footage.
But it is indisputable that our ships will be much heavier than the French ones, and here’s why.
It is known that our UDCs have a large landing capacity – up to 1,000 marines and up to 75 units. equipment against 900 and 60 at the UDC “Mistral”. Unofficial sources have repeatedly given information that the standard displacement of the UDCs planned for laying in the Black Sea will be 25,000 tons. Perhaps this is not the case: the figure is suspiciously similar to the universal amphibious assault ship Priboy, developed by the Krylovsky State Scientific center (KGNTs). At the same time, it is known that UDC will be built in Zaliv according to the project of another developer – Zelenodolsk Design Bureau. Nevertheless, the author of this article assumes that the standard displacement of our UDC will indeed significantly exceed 20,000 tons and approach 25,000 tons. The point is this.
First, as mentioned above, our UDCs are more capacious. Secondly, the Mistrals were built according to the canon of civil shipbuilding, which our military would hardly have gone to, designing the UDC from scratch. It can be assumed that the underwater protection of domestic ships is much more powerful than that on the Mistral. This is also hinted at by the increased width of our ship, relative to its French “colleague”. Thirdly, the Mistral developed a maximum speed of 19 knots, and it is very doubtful that such a speed would suit our Navy in the new project. The same “Surf” had 22 nodes. And a high speed, and even with an increased width, obviously requires a much more powerful power plant. Fourthly, let us recall that the Priboy, which apparently took into account the wishes of the sailors, just assumed the transportation of up to 1,000 paratroopers and up to 75 pieces of equipment, but at the same time had a standard displacement of 25,000 tons.
Finally, the most approximate calculations show that if the Mistral, with a length of 199 m, a hull width of 32 m and a full displacement of 21,300 tons, has a draft of 6.3 m, then a domestic ship with its 204 m length, 38 m width and draft 7.5 m will have with more or less similar contours and even a lower coefficient of completeness, no less than 28-30 thousand tons! Which, again, is very close to the indicator of the UDC “Priboy”, which has a total displacement of 28,000 tons.
Thus, we probably will not be too mistaken, assuming that the UDCs planned for laying will have a standard displacement of 23-25 thousand tons and a total displacement of 26-28 thousand tons. But this means that domestic universal amphibious ships will be at least 40% heavier than the Mistrals!
But that is not all
Of course, as the distinguished S. Yuferev writes, we should not forget about the composition of weapons and onboard equipment that our new UDC will receive. The same “Surf” was supposed to be equipped with three ZRAK “Broadsword” and two “Pantsir-ME”. The author does not know what exactly the new UDC will be armed with, but this is what should be taken into account.
The contract for the Mistral involved equipping them with domestic weapons. In other words, the cost of this weapon and a number of systems (such as communication systems) was simply not included in the amount of 1.2 billion euros in the value of the contract signed in June 2011 – it was supposed to be manufactured and supplied by domestic enterprises. But in the case of the UDC, which will be built on the Black Sea, this cost is obviously taken into account: “Zaliv” will acquire weapons and install them on ships, and naturally, this will be paid for by the RF Ministry of Defense, which means it will be included in the contract price.
There is one more important aspect. The world practice of building warships shows that the lead ship is always more expensive than the serial one. So, with the French, the construction of the Mistrals was put on stream, and the French UDCs built for the Russian Navy, although they had some design differences, in fact, were serial ships. In our case, “Zaliv” will build one head and one serial UDC, which, obviously, should cost more.
It can be assumed that by concluding a contract in the amount of “about 100 billion rubles.” for the construction of two UDC, the Russian Navy will receive two ships, almost one and a half times heavier than it could order in France. Moreover, with weapons already included in the price of the contract, and not without it, as in the case of an order abroad. And it will cost about the same amount and even a little cheaper, despite the fact that the ships will be built according to a new project, and not according to a proven serial technology.