Jane's Fighting Ships 1977-78 Revised Edition
The 1977-78 edition of Jane's Fighting Ships maintains the format initiated in the previous edition. In addition, a new section of ship silhouettes and a worldwide pennant list of major surface ships have been added to assist recognition. With complete revision of all data and well over 1,200 photographs and line illustrations, the book provides the most comprehensive and up-todate reference book now available. At a time when President Carter's Administration is conducting a searching inquiry into the defense needs of the United States, and against the background of endless arguments over defense spending in the NATO countries, the steady advance of Soviet forces in both quantity and quality has continued during the past year. An analysis of the role of the Soviet aircraft carriers of the Kiev class, armed with eight surface-to-surface missile launchers, both antiair and anti-submarine missiles, as well as more conventional gun and A / S armament, both hull and towed sonar, in addition to their VSTOL aircraft and helicopters, suggests that these ships could well have an important intervention role in peacetime and will go far to augment the Soviet's capability to initiate sea-control of specific areas as the worldwide capabilities of the Western navies diminish with their shrinking numbers.
The comparative roles of submarines are highlighted, particularly in the ballistic-missile field. The Soviet submarine program has continued at the rate of some 12 a year, six SSBNs being of the "Delta I" and huge "Delta II" (16,000 tons) classes. An improved version of their basic missile, the SS-N-8, was launched in November 1976 to a range of 5,600 nautical miles, allowing a coverage of nearly half the world from a firing position off northern Soviet bases. At the same time, trials of a new missile, SS-NX-18, were carried out to a range of 4,600 nautical miles. This liquidfueled rocket with a triple warhead is being deployed in the "Delta" class during 1977. It appears probable that their 1,300- nautical-mile SS-N-6 missiles will be replaced this year by the new SS-NX-17, a solid-fueled weapon with a range of 2,400 nautical miles. This gives the USSR a capability unlikely to be matched by the West until the 1980s. Although the Soviet surface fleet has an increasing A/S and missile potential and has insured itself with anchorages and berthing facilities throughout the world, giving it the capability to deploy in security to all the major strategical maritime area, it is now facing the facts of obsolescence as well as man-power problems. In the United States, the immediate results on naval appropriations appropriations are not entirely clear, but it does seem that the nuclear strike-cruiser program is likely to be deleted for the time being, submarine programs are being adjusted and the hydrofoil program has been canceled at one craft. At the same time, the characteristics of the next class of aircraft carriers show a return to conventional propulsion for ships designed to carry about 60 aircraft, a change of policy advocated in this book four years n ago. The plain fact is that after a slump in building, available numbers in the active fleet are rising, and this is vital for a navy with worldwide commitments. With an all-volunteer navy, the United States has the edge on so many rivals despite recurrent problems in certain spheres.
In NATO, problems of standardization and compatibility remain, and will become increasingly acute as the costs of weap- ~ - ons systems rise dramatically. With the life of ships now commissioned reaching into the 21st century, the problems of alternative types of propulsion to the oil-fueled boilers and engines become more acute and deserve urgent attention.
"Jane's Fighting Ships 1977- 78." Edited by John Moore. 329 pages. Price $72.50. Jane's USA, a Division of Franklin Watts, Inc., 730 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10019.