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Project 1166.1 Gepard class

Project 1166.1 is the Russian entry in the international market for ships with 1,500-2,000 tons of displacement. Intended for export, the design is the successor to the smaller Koni, Parchim and Grisha corvettes. The Project 1166.1 escort ship is available in various modifications (Gepard-3.2, Gepard-3.9, Gepard-5.1, Gepard-5.3, etc.). The "Gepard-3.9" patrol ships are designed to seek, track, and knock out surface, submarine and air targets both independently or in squadron formation, for escort purposes, patrol missions, and defence of naval sea borders and economic zones. By 2008, the Zelenodolsk Design Office has developed a still more efficient version of this patrol ship for several foreign countries. It has a special aft hangar for a deck helicopter. A "Klab" complex and a Shtil-M type anti-aircraft missile complex can be installed on it instead of the "Uran" missile system

Design work on the missile ship (frigate class, codename Gepard) was conducted in 1983-1988. The construction of the series began in 1988. Two other units also subsequently started construction.

The first unit was launched in July 1993 and essentially complete by 1995, but was not commissioned due to a lack of funding. Renamed the Tatarstan, the ship was expected to be commissioned in the Baltic Fleet in June 2001. In July 2002 the Gorky Shipyard in Zelenodolsk (Tatarstan) launched the escort ship Tatarstan. The frigate Tatarstan joined the navy after twelve years of construction. Despite initial speculation that it would enter service with the Border Guard fleet in the Baltic, by August 2002 the frigate [literally "escort ship"] Tatarstan was serving as the new flagship of the Caspian Flotilla.

The Republic of Tatarstan is situated in the middle of the Volga basin at the confluence of the Volga and Kama rivers. In the north, it borders upon Udmurtia, in the west - Mari and Chuvashia, in the east - Bashkkortostan, and in the south - Samara Region. The population of Tatarstan is 3,7 million, of which 48% are Tatars and 43% are Russians. Only 23% of Tatars live in Tatarstan. The Tatars descends from nomadic tribes that migrated westward from southern Siberia between the 10th and the 13th centuries. The term "Tatar" refers to a nation which is rooted in three main ethnic groups of Turkic origin. 1552 Ivan the Terrible conquered the Empire of the Kazan Khanate and incorporated it into the Russian Empire. The Tatars made numerous attempts to throw off Tsarist rule, they did not succeed.

In early 2005 the Russian Navy drastically increased financing of the construction of the Gepard project ship Dagestan for the Caspian Sea. The ship was to be commissioned in 2007. The shipyard had stable defense orders in 2-3 years intervals. Defense orders accounted for 15-23% of the production. It was planned that with the planned growth rate from RUB1.6b in 2005 to RUB3b in 2007 the share of the defense order will remain the same.

In early June 2008 it was reported that the Caspian Sea Flotilla will receive the newest escort ship "Dagestan" and two small landing craft. This was according to the Commander in Chief of the Caspian Sea Flotilla Vice Admiral Vikto Kravchuk, speaking on front of the Makhachkala Brigade of Maritime Security for the Caspian Flotilla region on the occasion of its 25th anniversary. Earlier, the CinC Russian Navy noted that "Dagestan" will significantly exceed the armament of the "Tartarstan". The escort ship will perform search, surveillance and destruction of surface, subsurface and air targets. It is equipped with the universal strike missile "Uran", with a range of 350 km, anti-air and anti-submarine defenses, special devices to detect and destroy torpedoes as well as acoustic detection devices. A Ka-28 or Ka-31 can be based on board.

Dagestan is situated in the North-East of the Caucasus mountain range. It borders the Caspian Sea in the East, the Chechen Republic and Stavropol Territory in the West, the Kalmukya Republic in the North, and Azerbaijan and Georgia in the South. Persia ceded the Muslim khanates on the territory of Dagestan to Russia in 1723. The Dagestanies revolted against the Russians for many years, including the Murid Uprising that lasted from 1828 to 1859. Russia finally captured over the country in 1859 and Dagestan ASSR was created on January 20, 1920.

Dagestan measures 50,000 square km and had 37.5 inhabitants per square km in 1989. 28 percent Avar, 16 percent Dargin, 13 percent Kumyk, 11 percent Lezgi, 9 percent Russian, 5 percent Lak, 4 percent Tabasaran, 4 percent Azeri, 2 percent Nogai and others (1989). Rural population: Avar 69 percent, Dargin 69 percent, Kumyk 54 percent, Lezgi 52 percent, Lak 34 percent, Tabasaran 63 percent, Nogai 81 percent and Rutul 69 percent (1989).

It is one of the most ethnically diverse regions in the world, counting 36 ethnic groups and 80-odd nationalities. Dagestan was the center for Islam in the North Caucasus and the capital, Makhachkala, is the seat of the Muslim spiritual board of Dagestan and the North Caucasus. The Dagestan landscape changes from high mountains in the South to flat steppe land in the North. Because there is no easily accessible pass over the Caucasian mountains, the coastal plain of Dagestan, bordering the Caspian Sea, is an important North-South passage. The mountainous areas are still extremely isolated, notably in winter.

As of early 2008 the third unit, Burevestnik (English: Stormy Petrel), was still being built.

In 2004 Vietnam signed a deal with Russia for four Gepard Project 11661 frigates. Two were to be delivered from Russia and the other two were to be constructed in Vietnam. Rosoboronexport and Defense Ministry of Vietnam had been talking over the deal since 2003. The initial project set forth construction of Tiger corvettes by St. Petersburg Severnaya Verf shipbuilder, which is controlled by Mezhprombank. It took two years for Vietnam to study documentation before it rejected the corvettes on fears, a source involved in the talks said, that testing may fail to confirm the speed ability of the ships. Tiger still existed as a project version with not a single vessel finally constructed.

In February 2006 it was reported that the Gepard project will be the first military export order for Zelenodolsk Shipyard since Soviet times. The Vietnamese had already agreed on the specifications of the ships, therefore it was thought that the contract may be signed even during the visit of the Russian officials to Vietnam.

The newspaper Kommersant insisted that the two ships to be built in Russia will not be based on the two unfinished hulls, standing since 1992. According to the anonymous source of the newspaper the construction will take place from scratch, laying down two renewed hulls. Gepard-3.9 was designed in early 1980s to fight submarines and surface ships and to destroy air targets. Upgraded Gepard will be constructed under the Stealth technology and equipped with modern armaments of Russia, including Palma-SU air defense system, Uran guided-missile system and Ka-28 ship-based helicopters. The upgraded Gepard for the Vietnamese Navy will use "newest Russian arms, which successfully passed tests and were allowed for export". Some claimed names are air defense complex Palma-SU with new optic-electronic system and the missile complex Uran. The tests of the latter were finished December 2005. The ship will have Ka-28 helicopter. There are some plans to replace standard gas turbines with more powerful engines.

In July 2007 it was reported that Zelenodolsk Shipyard held a solemn ceremony of laying down the head frigate of the project 11661 to be built for the Vietnamese Navy. Trade Attach of the Embassy of Vietnam in Russian Federation Nguen Dag took part in the ceremony. He represented the company VASUKO, which serviced the arms deals between Russia and Vietnam. The head of the naval department of Rosoboronexport Victor Komarov pointed out that laying down the new frigate is a significant event not only in the history of the shipyard, but also for the entire Republic of Tatarstan. The ship designed by Zelenodolsk PKB was intended for a wide range of missions: searching and fighting against submarine, surface and air targets, patrol service, convoy operations and protection of the economic zone. The range of navigation is about 5000 miles, displacement - 2100 tons. Zelenodolsk Shipyard used to delivere the ships to Vietnam. Its patrol ships of the project 159 today protect the sea borders of Vietnam. Gepard-3.9 is a new page in the history of military shipbuilding. It is necessary to note that before construction of a military ship of this class lasted three - three and a half years. This contract will be fulfilled in 31 months.

It was reported in 2008 that Vietnam will get the first Russian-built "Gepard-3.9" patrol ship in 2009. The second one was scheduled for delivery in 2010, Director-General and Head Designer of the Zelenodolsk Design Office Leonid Sharapov stated. The delivery of Gepard-type warships to the naval market of Southeast Asia was achieved due to the vigorous marketing efforts of the "Rosoboronexport" company and of specialists from the foregoing design bureau. The contract, which "Rosoboronexport" had signed with the Vietnamese navy, envisages the construction of two more warships of this type. The licensed construction of "Gepard" warships on Vietnamese yards was not ruled out, too.

The first two frigates entered service with Vietnams navy in 2011. The second contract was signed in February 2013. Unlike the first two, the new frigates feature antisubmarine weapons and an advanced propulsion system.

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