MOSCOW, 04 Oct 2021, RUSSTRAT Institute.
In Kiev, there is another “victory”, which, according to tradition, always sooner or later turns into a “betrayal”. According to a report from the US Defence Department, Washington will still give six patrol boats to Ukraine for almost $84.254 million as part of a package of American military assistance for the “young Ukrainian democracy”. In the end, it was scrounged.
We are talking about the newest Mark VI boats with a displacement of 72 tons, capable of reaching speeds of up to 45 knots and taking on board up to 10 people, not counting the 10 crew members. The six boats intended for the Navy can be equipped with a total of 12 remotely controlled MSI Seahawk A2 machine guns, 12 Mk 44 Bushmaster II light machine guns, as well as radars, friend-foe recognition systems and other components.
In the American press release, everything looks swashbuckling. Kiev is puffing up its cheeks all the more now, preparing to tell the whole world how boats made in the USA will help it repel “Russian aggression”. This is where the wonderful “victory” ends — and the treacherous “betrayal” comes. Because Kiev’s acquisition will not affect the real balance of power in the Black Sea-Azov region in any way.
Moreover, the details of the deal indicate that Washington, as before, does not trust Kiev at all and is in no hurry to supply it with serious weapons. As is said, “matches are not a toy for children.”
Let’s start with the fact that Mark VI boats manufactured by SAFE Boats International are designed to patrol rivers, ports and coastal waters. In the open sea, even at a short distance from the shore, they simply cannot act effectively.
Scare the fishermen? Okay. Take the Kiev delegation for a ride along the coast? Why not?! Star in a new action movie? You’re welcome. Land a squad of troops or a sabotage and reconnaissance group (during exercises, because in a real situation the Russians will kick their behinds)? This is also possible if one trains. But to butt heads with Russian ships – fired.
And there would be something to butt with. The fact is that Ukraine will receive American boats, judging by the announced data, without serious strike weapons. The Mark VI itself can, in principle, be equipped with AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-surface missiles or BGM-176B Griffin anti-ship missiles. However, the Pentagon is not at all eager to transfer them to “Maidan democracy” – it will make do with machine guns.
Simply put, in a real situation, the combat value of the newest Mark VI patrol boats of the Ukrainian Navy will be little more than that of inflatable boats. These “floating targets” are not able to compete even with the Coast Guard boats of the Border Service of the FSB of the Russian Federation, not to mention to resist the pennants of the Red Banner Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Navy.
Moreover, the American military, who received twelve Mark VI, themselves are not averse to getting rid of them. As recently as January 2021, Major General of the US Marine Corps Tracy King stated that these boats were too expensive to maintain and at the same time completely unsuitable for participation in a hypothetical military conflict with “serious powers” — read, with Russia and China.
So, it seems that the Pentagon, supporting a domestic manufacturer from Bremerton, Washington, simply tossed useless boats at the Ukrainians on the principle of “you’re willing to sacrifice what you don’t want yourself”.
It should be understood that such a “gift” of six boats for the Navy is worse than a Trojan horse. After all, any increase in the number of combat units of the fleet inevitably entails a multiple increase in costs — for berths and docks, arsenals and warehouses, command posts and educational institutions, etc. Kiev will have to fork out a tidy sum even to deliver boats from the west coast of the United States to Odessa.
In a word, “if you want to ruin the country, give it a cruiser”. For Ukrainian realities, even a boat is enough. So Kiev’s initial plans to acquire as many as 16 Mark VI patrol boats from the United States for a fantastic $600 million have long been hanging in the air: there is no money.
We add that the already announced six boats will be built at best by 2025. It is written in the contract, and what will happen to Ukraine and the US itself in four years, God knows. Besides, to build does not mean to get married. So far, we recall that from all its “naval wishlist” Kiev received from Washington only two second-hand vessels – the “Island” boats. Without weapons. Oh, and inflatable boats too.
In general, all of this is sad, of course. Once upon a time in Soviet times, ships with a total displacement of almost 60,000 tons descended from the stocks of shipbuilding plants in Ukraine. Today, the ceiling of Ukraine’s own capabilities is 38-ton river armoured boats. Kiev is begging all over the world, getting only what it will never need. However, it’s not a pity.