Washington — the US state Department this week concluded a long and difficult confirmation process for a possible sale to Ukraine of sophisticated patrol boats Mark VI (development, 2015) along with weapons and military equipment. And although the final decision must be approved by the U.S. Congress within 30 days, it looks a formality, given the strong bipartisan support for Ukraine in both chambers. Ukraine will finally get the opportunity to create a full-fledged “mosquito” fleet, capable of altering the security balance in the black sea-Azov basin.
Boats the latest development
As noted in Washington, the Ukrainian side may receive “up to 16 patrol boats” for a total of about $600 million According to sources familiar with the situation, this wording means that the Ukrainians are buying at their own expense ten Mark VI, plus four boats will be paid by the international aid to Ukraine by the U.S. state Department, and two can be purchased in the event of further need.
In addition, each boat will be equipped with modern weapons: two 25-mm automatic gun MSI Seahawk A2, system identification “friend or foe”, infrared cameras and acoustic device the long range of the LRAD. Incidentally, the latter can be used to feed a very loud signals and communication with other ships and non-lethal weapons. This device is capable of generating reflected acoustic attacks — like those that were used against American diplomats in Cuba.
The new American boat has a speed of 45 knots and striking range — up to 750 nautical miles at a cruising speed of 25 knots. To understand the maximum distance between the Eastern and Western shores of the Black sea (from Georgia to Bulgaria) is 730 nautical miles, the minimum from the southern coast of the Crimea to Turkey — 160 miles.
Thus, the American Mark VI would easily cover the region and significantly strengthen the Ukrainian Navy, which is still not in a winning position compared with the Russian Navy.
As opposed to cruisers
To achieve balance of forces in the black sea-Azov sea basin in the context of the confrontation of Russian aggression, Ukraine needs to choose the most efficient and least costly way of strengthening their own capabilities at sea. For example, in order to catch up with the Russians by the number of large warships, we need billions and billions of dollars. The solution could be the creation of so-called “mosquito” fleet, the most realistic from the point of view of the balance between efficiency and cost. It provides for the availability of a fast and maneuverable attack boats — torpedo, patrol, missile, and other species.
The tactic of “mosquitoes” (that is, a large number of “biting” small fry) were born during the First world war, when it was proved that they are able to take large ships of the enemy domination in coastal areas.
The strategy of the Navy armed forces of Ukraine from 2019 the emphasis is on the “mosquito” fleet. “The advantage (of boats — ed.) on large ships is the speed and suddenness of action, the possibility of relocation by land and the ability to act on the rivers”, — stated in the document, developed by Ukrainian and Western military experts. It is emphasized that in combination with the innovative tactics of the boats of the “mosquito” fleet will allow us to defeat a powerful enemy in naval battles and operations.”
Today the Ukrainian Navy already has a dozen attack boats, including two American patrol “island”, which arrived in October last year in Odessa, artillery-boats “Gyurza-M”, as well as missile, anti-sabotage, assault, and other types of small warships. Along with the new Mark VI their number will almost double, which significantly change the balance of forces in the Black and Azov seas.
Why is partnership important
Iconic is the fact that the decision of the US state Department about the possibility of selling the Ukrainian side the latest Mark VI was made almost simultaneously with the acquisition of Ukraine’s status of a NATO partner with enhanced capabilities (Enhanced-Opportunities Partner). In addition, only a few days ago, the United States approved the package of military assistance to Ukraine in the amount of $250 million on the line of the Pentagon. And recently Ukraine has received the first batch purchased “Javelin”, and other American equipment.
A change in the law of Ukraine on procurement of foreign weapons beginning to work to enhance capabilities of the Ukrainian army. And this is important, because it creates additional power potential.
At the same time, additional support consistently demonstrate partners in the United States. And, as argued by influential American experts, regardless of that will change if the leadership of the White house after this year’s elections, Ukraine will continue to have a powerful assistance to the United States in the military sphere, including lethal weapons and safety equipment.
For Ukraine it is critical, especially during the long Russian aggression, as well as political turbulence in the country, where the situation is further shaken by the hybrid scenario of the Kremlin. It is also important from the point of view of that awareness is coming and in Russia, where historically respected the enemy only when he begins to engage in dialogue from a position of strength.
Washington sends a clear signal: the United States adhere to international safeguards on protection of Ukraine, and not just allegations. The United States stands ready to help his now close partner (NATO) to defend the frontier of Western democracy, which is the basis of the modern Western world. So, it is in the national security interests of the United States.