RUSSIAN NAVY SUBMARINE FORCE ON COLD WAR ‘FOOTING’

There was a time when the Russian Military was down and out after the Cold War, and it might be again, but Russia recently unveiled its newest nuclear-powered attack submarine (SSN), the Kazan, first in the Project 885 Yasen-class. By all accounts, NATO and the US Navy, are very impressed.

The warship was designed based upon both the Russian experience with the Akula-class and the Alfa-class SSNs, and has an appearance like the Alpha. The Yasen-class SSN, Kazan, was launched Friday in Severodvinsk, Russia, and is expected to join the fleet in 2018. The new attack submarine is approximately 139 meters in length, 13 meters wide, and has a draft of 10 meters. On the surface the Kazan displaces 8,600 tons, and up to 13,800 tons underwater. She is reportedly powered by an OK-650V water-cooled and water-moderated nuclear reactor with a capacity of 190 MW to be upgraded to 200 MW in future vessels. The Kazan can reach speeds of 16 knots on the surface, 31 knots submerged, and can dive to an estimated maximum depth of 600 meters. The submarines reportedly have a crew of up to 90 men and can be at sea for 100 days. They are believed to be much more quiet than their predecessors. It has been reported that a modified version of the Yasen-class SSN has been proposed to the Indian government for its use in a lease arrangement signaling the likelihood of an export variant of the ships.

The Yasen-class SSN is armed with eight vertical silos for Oniks and Kalibr cruise missiles, and has ten 533mm torpedo tubes with a load of 30 torpedoes each and 300 in total. The P-800 Oniks or SS-N-26 "Strobile" is a supersonic anti-ship cruise missile, with a range of 600 kilometers, and a 250-kilogram semi-armor piercing high-explosive warhead. Kalibr or SS-N-27 “Sizzler” anti-ship, anti-submarine and land-attack cruise missiles are all part of the same successful family of weapons of the same title. The Kalibr or SS-N-27 “Sizzler” anti-ship and anti-submarine cruise missiles variants have an estimated range 440–660 kilometers with a 200-kilogram high explosive warhead and fly at speeds of Mach 2.9 to their target. The Kalibr land-attack cruise missile variant is believed to have a range of 1,500 kilometers with a conventional- warhead and a range of 2,600 kilometers with a nuclear-warhead. Eventually, the Russians are planning to arm all Yasen-class SSNs with the new Raduga Kh-101 (Kh-102) cruise missiles and universal deep-water homing torpedoes. The Kh-102 nuclear-tipped variant may have a range of over 3100 miles.

The Russian Navy is expected to commission the new deep-water homing torpedo codenamed Futliar by year-end, replacing the aging Fizik. The Futliar will be equipped with an advanced homing system, but speed and limit firing depth will remain the same as Fizik, estimated at 50 kilometers, over 50 knots, and 400 meters, respectively. Additionally, the Russians have said that the Yasen-class SSN are designed to destroy enemy submarines, surface ships, naval bases and ports. There is some thought that the new attack boats might carry the follow-on to the VA-111 Shkval “Squall” super-cavitating torpedo that can reach speeds of 200 knots an hour, called the Khishchnik “Predator,” to strike targets like American aircraft carriers. The speed of the Predator will reportedly be faster than that of the Squall. As well, there are reports that Russia is working on a new type of multi-mega-ton, nuclear-armed torpedo "oceanic multi-purpose Status-6 system" designed to "destroy important economic installations of the enemy in coastal areas and cause guaranteed devastating damage to the country's territory by creating wide areas of radioactive contamination.” The weapon is believed to have a range of 10,000 kilometers and may carry a warhead containing the highly-radioactive Cobalt-60 isotope. The Kazan and its successors in the Yasen-class cruise missiles will reportedly be able to hit the target-rich, US East Coast, from the middle of the Atlantic Ocean over 1,500 miles away. Russia Navy’s Yasen-class SSNs are expected to become the work-horse of the Russian submarine attack fleet and to replace the aging Soviet-era Akula and Oscar-class attack submarines.

In a message to the new Trump administration, the Russian Navy also announced with great glee that its submarine fleet’s combat patrols have reached levels not seen since the Cold War, with crews spending more than 3,000 days on patrol last year.


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