Military


Project 677 Lada class
Diesel-Electric Torpedo Submarine

The future of the Project 677 Lada program, a unique design developed by the Rubin design bureau, is uncertain. The Russian Navy appears to have had problems developing the new Project 677 Lada diesel-electric submarines. This design began in 1989 as the export oriented Project 1650 Amur class. The submarine (Lada = harmony), whose export version is known as the Amur 1650, features a new anti-sonar coating for the hull, an extended cruising range, and advanced anti-ship and anti-submarine weaponry.

The new, fourth postwar generation Project 677 Lada class diesel-electric submarine is a successor to the Type 877EKM and Type 636 Kilo-class submarines. The Lada type is significantly smaller (1,600 tons D/W) than the previous Kilo type submarines (2,325 tons D/W), which may account for the problems encoutered in sea trials. It is generally configured for anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare, minelaying and special forces deployment.

The construction of the Project-677 Lada-class diesel submarine, named the St. Petersburg, began in 1997. The similar Lada-class (some sources consider this to be a Project 877 boat) Sankt Petersburg was begun the same day at the same facility for the Russian Navy. As of January 2000 the Sankt Petersburg was said to be about 30% complete and the Amur 1650 about 7% complete, and subsequently this boat faded from view. As of early 2001 Russian officials were predicting that the Sankt Petersburg would be launched during 2001. As of 2002 work on the Sankt Petersburg was suspended.

The Project 677 Lada submarines would have high submerged cruising range and endurance, combat efficiency and reliability, and low acoustic signature. The sonar equipment includes highly sensitive direct-listening transducers at the forward end and a towed transducer array. It would be outfitted with six torpedo tubes, and its 18 weapons would comprise a mix of torpedoes and torpedo-tube launched missiles. Measuring 67 meters in length and 7.2 meters wide, it would include an anechoic tile coating on the outer hull and a skewed 7-blade propeller. The vessel's surface speed would be 10 kt; submerged 21 kt. The submerged cruising range using economic speed is 500 nautical miles at 3 kt. The maximum diving depth is 250 m, with an endurance of 45 days with a crew of 34.

In addition:

  • acoustic field of the submarine has been considerably reduced (in comparison with submarines of previous generations - several times);
  • radio-electronic equipment of a new generation has been installed with a state-of-the-art element base;
  • an integrated system has been installed for automatic control of submarine and its combat and technical facilities;
  • an inertial navigation complex has been installed which provides safety of navigation and determination of motion parameters with specified missile armament accuracy during long underwater operation;
  • a variable-speed propulsion plant of a new design has been fitted;
  • a storage battery with increased service life has been installed.

New types of production and technological processes have been introduced in the course of construction, as follows:

  • a work bay has been equipped for production of non-penetrating retractable devices and hoist masts;
  • a testing bench has been produced for the above retractable devices and hoist masts;
  • a technology of installation of highly sensitive hydrophone antenna of sonar system "LIRA" has been developed and introduced;
  • a technology of application has been introduced for anti-sonar coating of a new generation "Molniya" ("Lightning");
  • a technology of painting with "VICOR" of improved stability has been introduced.

The main objectives of the Russian Shipbuilding Agency for 2004 in the military sector included the delivery during the year of the Sankt Petersburg class diesel sub for the Russian and foreign customers; project 11356 frigate; mine sweeper; combat and patrol cutters, specialized and auxiliary ships (fire control, divers', hydrographic, demagnetizing, floating berths).

On 28 October 2004 the Sankt Petersburg, honoring the 300th anniversary of the city, was launched at Admiralteyskiye Verfi. The conventionally powered fourth-generation submarine of the Lada project, designed by the Rubin Central Design Bureau, marked the introduction of one of the first submarines specifically built for the Russian Navy since the collapse of the USSR. In 2005 the Russian fleet commissioned two ships, including the conventional submarine Sankt Petersburg of the maiden Project 677.

In July 2006 Konstantin Lantratov, Reporter for Kommersant Daily, reported that Vladislav Putilin, the deputy chairman of the Military-Industrial Commission, said that under the Russian State Armaments Program for 2007-2015 the Navy would receive six Project 677 Lada diesel-electric submarines.

In January 2007 St. Petersburg's Admiralty Shipyards said it would soon begin a final round of sea trials of a fourth-generation diesel submarine. At that time a second Lada-class submarine, the Kronshtadt, which was the first in the production series, was also being built at the shipyard and was to be commissioned by the Russian Navy in 2009. A third submarine, whose keel was laid 10 November 2006, was named after a city associated with Russian naval glory - Sevastopol, and was expected to be launched in 2010. On 25 July 2008 it was reported that Navy commander Adm. Vladimir Vysotsky stated that the construction of new-generation nuclear-powered ballistic missile and attack submarines was a top priority for the Russian Navy's development. At that time, the construction schedule for the Lada class submarines remained unchanged from 18 months earlier.

Diesel-electric submarines in the Russian Navy are represented by Kilo-class vessels. They would be gradually replaced by Project 667 Lada-class submarines. As of March 2009 the first submarine of the Lada class was undergoing sea trials and was to enter service with the Russian Navy in 2009. A second Lada class submarine, which was the first in the production series, was to be commissioned in 2009. A third submarine was expected to be launched in 2010.

Project 877 Paltus (Kilo class) submarines continued to age rapidly. As a result, the Navy had to order upgraded Project 636-M (Kilo class) submarines once again. In August 2010, the keel of a lead Project 636-M submarine was laid for the Black Sea Fleet. Project 636.3 diesel electric submarine Novorossiysk was laid down at Admiralteyskie Verfi shipyard (ST. Petersburg) 20 August 2010 at 12 pm. The sub would be delivered to the Navy in 2013; later on, other two submarines of the project would be laid down and in 2014 dispatched to south Russia.

A production rate of 1/year starting with laying down a fourth unit in 2008 would be needed to maintain existing force structure in the face of a plausible Kilo retirement schedule through 2020. Alternately, a building rate of two each year could be initiated after 2015 to achieve the same result, recognizing that the remaining Kilos were built at a rate of about two each year, and thus might also retire at about that rate.

The Russian Navy planned to build a total of eight Lada Class submarines, but by 2014 construction on the second and third units remained at a standstill, while the first unit, though nominally in commission, remained in sea trials.

Kalina

A prospective series of Russia’s new fifth-generation conventional submarine equipped with an advanced air-independent propulsion system would be designated the Kalina-class, the commander of the country's navy said 19 March 2014. “Russia is currently designing a fifth-generation conventional submarine, dubbed Project Kalina, which would be fitted with an air-independent propulsion (AIP) system,” Adm. Viktor Chirkov said. “Our industry promises to develop this AIP system by 2017 and build the first boat fitted with such a system by 2018,” Chirkov said.

The admiral earlier said that the new AIP system could be initially tested on the only operational Lada-class diesel-electric submarine in service with the navy, the St. Petersburg, which was undergoing sea trials in the Barents Sea after a series of design changes. Air-independent power plants offer significant advantages over diesel-electric submarines, which must surface regularly to recharge their batteries, and nuclear submarines, which must continually run noisy pumps to cool their reactors. Submarines with such systems can stay submerged for weeks at a time and are already in operation with a number of navies around the world. The United States has so far not employed the technology, however, in favor of the longer endurance and range of nuclear submarines.

The distinguishing feature of Russia’s newest, fifth-generation submarines would be stealth rather than higher speed or greater depth capabilities, Vladimir Dorofeyev, head of the Malakhit Design Bureau, said 19 March 2013. “It is quite possible that new technological solutions would appear to protect submarines from detection,” he said. The fifth-generation submarine would acquire new capabilities through close interaction with other components of the Armed Forces, including surface warships, warplanes, spacecraft, satellites, as well as other submarines, based on an integrated information space, he said. He added, however, that the incorporation of submarines, alongside surface warships and warplanes, into a single communications system is at odds with the idea of a “stealth vessel,” insofar as the sheer exchange of information is a “telltale sign.”

“But that is a field that requires serious scientific-technical research,” Dorofeyev said Rubin Central Design Bureau head Igor Vilnit said work is in progress on fifth-generation nuclear-powered and diesel submarines. The new submarine would have a service life of about 50 years, he said. The fifth generation would be distinguished by its lowered noise, automated control systems, reactor safety, and long-range weapons.

The Russian Navy currently relies on third-generation submarines with fourth-generation subs of the Yury Dolgoruky (Project 955 Borey) and St. Petersburg (Project 677 Lada) class just beginning to be adopted for service. In addition to Rubin, Defense Ministry research centers and the Navy Institute, as well as Rubin’s partners and contractors, are working to develop a basic design of the fifth-generation submarine. The Defense Ministry previously said Russia was planning to develop its fifth-generation submarine by 2020 under a 2011-2020 arms procurement program, to be armed with both ballistic and cruise missiles.

Russia’s fifth-generation strategic and attack submarines would most likely be non-nuclear-powered, more compact and less “visible,” a senior designer at the Rubin design bureau said 11 November 2013. Large nuclear-powered vessels, including Russia’s Typhoon-class strategic boats, have so far dominated past and current trends in combat submarine construction. “I believe future submarines would be smaller, because of the use of more advanced technologies as well as the pursuit of more cost-effective production,” Sergei Sukhanov said.

“The fifth-generation boat would also be less ‘visible’ compared with existing submarines. They could also feature a new power plant, including fully electric,” Sukhanov said, adding that changes could affect other sub-systems of future submarines. The designer said the most likely substitution for a nuclear reactor on strategic and attack submarines would be an air-independent propulsion plant (AIPP), which would make them stealthier than nuclear-powered boats.

The AIPP allows a non-nuclear submarine to operate without the need to access atmospheric oxygen. While a nuclear submarine’s reactor must constantly pump coolant, generating some amount of detectable noise, non-nuclear boats running on battery power or AIPP can be practically “silent.” “The endurance of submarines with this type of propulsion should be sufficient [for patrol or strike missions] – for a month or even more,” Sukhanov said. He said the construction of fifth-generation submarines in Russia could start in the next 10 to 15 years.



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