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Project 877 Paltus
Project 636 Varshavyanka
Kilo class Diesel-Electric Torpedo Submarine

The Kilo Class (Project 877) submarine was designed for anti-submarine and anti-ship warfare in the protection of naval bases, coastal installations and sea lanes, and also for general reconnaissance and patrol missions. The Kilo is considered to be to be one of the quietest diesel submarines in the world. The submarine consists of six watertight compartments separated by transverse bulkheads in a pressurised double-hull. This design and the submarine's good reserve buoyancy lead to increased survivability if the submarine is holed, even with one compartment and two adjacent ballast tanks flooded. The foreplanes are positioned on the upper hull in front of the fin or sail. The command and control systems and fire control systems are located in the main control room which is sealed off from the other compartments.

The Russian fleet operates three variants of the Kilo 877: the basic 877; the 877K that has an improved fire-control system; and the 877M that has wire-guided torpedoes from two tubes. The Russian navy also operated five of the improved 636 version. These submarines were built at a rate of about two each year from 1982 through 1984, with the last four units for Russian service completed in the 1991-1994 timeframe. Even assuming a thirty year operational life, the remaining units would begin to be withdrawn from service around 2015 with all being withdrawn from service not too long after the year 2020.

The authoritative website warfare.ru reported pennant numbers for 11 Kilos that were subsequently exported to other countries, suggesting that these were commissioned into Russian service, however briefly, prior to export. This interpretation is further substantiated by the fact that warfare.ru does not list many other export Kilos, which makes sense, given the fact that this was a website about the Russian military, not the Russian shipbuilding industry. Thus, but the reconining of warfare.ru, a total of 33 Kilos were in Russian service at one time or another, though 11 were exported, leaving 22 for Russia.

The admission of ignorance is the beginning of wisdom. Not surprisingly, there are problems reconciling the various published sources on this program. Over time, open source understanding of the nomenclature for the various substypes of this class has become more granular, and more confused. At one time the Project 877 boats were believed to be designated as Graney by NATO, but now it is clear that this nomenclature is associated with the Project 885 boats. More recently the earlier Project 877 boats seem to be associated with the Varshavyanka nomenclature, while the later model Project 636 appear to be associated with the Paltus [Turbot] name. The problem is that other sources, equally authoritative, draw precisely the opposite association.

As of early 2000 as many as 14 units were believed to remain active, with an additional 7 in reserve, though specific identities were not known at that time. It was reliably reported that as of November 2006, 16 vessels were believed to be in active service with the Russian Navy, with eight more in reserve, for a total of 24 built for the Soviet Union and Russia [counting as Russian BN-529 Rossiya, the 636 display ship of Rosvoorouzhenie, yields 23 specific identifiable Russian hulls]. Another 29 vessels were thought to have been exported to China, India, Iran, Poland, Romania and Algeria. There are 19 specific identifiable Project 877E and Project 877EKM export boats, and 10 Project 636 export boats, for a total of 29. Algeria subsquently bought a pair of 636 boats, and Admiralty Shipyards in St. Petersburg, Russia, was to build a further six Kilo class diesel-electric submarines for delivery to Vietnam, the Russian business daily Kommersant reported on 27 April 2009.

As of 2008 the International Institute of Strategic Studies reported that a total of 15 Kilo-class submarines were in service, with another four held in reserve. Two were deployed in the Baltic, one in the Black Sea, six in the Pacific [which also held three in reserve], while the Northern fleet had six [with probably one in reserve]. As of 2011 the International Institute of Strategic Studies reported that a total of 15 Paltus [Kilo] class submarines were in service, with another four Varshavyanka on hand. As other types of vessels include reporting as to building, refit or reserve status, the implication is that a total of 19 boats were in service, but this seems implausible, and is certainly inconsistent with other reporting.

The Nuclear Threat Initiative reported a total of 13 Varshavyanka/Kilo SSKs in active service, while warfare.ru reports 15 active and 4 reserve 877 / 636 Kylo class boats. The 2011 IISS Military Balance also reports 15 active and 4 reserve boats, but places this as 15 Paltus and 4 Varshavyanka boats. The Nuclear Threat Initiative reports B-401 NOVOSIBIRSK, B-800 KALUGA, B-459 Vladikavkaz as active, while warfare.ru reports them as inactive, and a good many boats reported active by warfare.ru are missing from the NTI list of active boats. NTI reports that B-248, the first Kilo, placed in commission in 1982, remains in service, but this seems implausible.

While there is general agreement as to the number of the various different types launched, and broad agreement as to the current status of these boats generally, there are annoying issues with the identity of individual boats. Of course, this is the intent of the Soviet warship designation systems - unlike American hull numbers the Russian pendant numbers may be changed and re-assigned. The Russians decided to stick with fixed numbers, but there is no rhyme or reason to pendant numbers, and now we see that these submarines have two numbers, one with a B prefix, and the other without.

Thus numbers B-405, B-425, B-468, and B-470 have been reported at various times, but do not appear to be currently assigned, as is the case with B-880, associated with the currently unreported name Del'fin. The B-177 and B-871 pennant numbers have been reportedly associated with boats sold to China, but these numbers are well attested in subsequent Russian service. The numbers B-229 and B-354 have been associated with submarines of this class, but are very poorly attested.

Two authoritative sources, the Nuclear Threat Initiative and warfare.ru, appear to have transposed two pairs of boats. Both sources are in agreement as to the names, numbers and construction yards of all four boats, but they disagree as to which pair was built in the early 1980s and which dates from the late 1980s.

sourcenumberName Laid Down Launched Comm.
NTI
warfare.ru
B-871 Alrosa 1983
1988
1984
1984
1990
NTI
warfare.ru
B-806 Un-Named 1985
1986
1986
1991
NTI
warfare.ru
B-401 Novosibirsk 1988
1982
1989
1990
1984
NTI
warfare.ru
B-402 Vologda 1988
1983
1989
1990
1984

Project 877E / 877EKM Paltus

Project 877 export models, designated with an 'E' suffix, are generally similar though with some reduced features. As of early 1998 construction of the Project 877EKM submarines was nearly completed, with only one submarine left under construction in St.Petersburg for the Indian Navy. By that time Russia had exported 21 Project 877 and 636 submarines, including: India - 10, and China - 4, Iran - 3, Algeria - 2, Poland - 1, Romania - 1.

On 04 August 1993, Iran took delivery of a second Russian Kilo-class diesel submarine, and the third arrived 18 January 1996. Russia went ahead with the first two deliveries despite vigorous US protests. In response to Administration pressure and US sanctions legislation, Russia formally pledged in June 1995 not to enter any new arms contracts with Iran, although prior arms contracts could be implemented. By July 2005 the Zvezdochka shipbuilding plant in Severodvinsk (Arkhangelsk Region) was holding talks on a possible contract to overhaul and modernize three diesel-electric submarines belonging to the Iranian navy. Zvezdochka directors visited Iran in the second half of January 2005 and held talks on military and technical cooperation.

India took delivery of the first of the two additional Russian-built Kilo class submarines in January 1999. On 17 August 2000 the Sindhushastra began the two month voyage from St Petersburg to India. The 877EKM submarine was the last in a series of 10 submarines built at Russian shipyards for Indian customers. In August 2000 the Zvezdochka engineering enterprise at Severodvinsk started the work of servicing and modernizing the Indian series-877EKM submarine Sinduratna, the second Indian sub to have had a refit at Zvezdochka. In 1999 the Indian Navy took delivery of the Sinduvir, the first submarine to have been modernized at Severodvinsk. The Sinduratna was the second Indian submarine to be fitted with four ZM-54E1 missiles, with a range of 300 km. The missiles are part of the latest Klab-S anti-ship missile complex designed by the Novator bureau at Yekaterinburg.



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