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Merkuriy / Derzkii Project 20386 Corvette

Project 20386 MerkuriyBy 2022 the newest corvette under Project 20386 will join the Russian fleet. It is one of the country’s first ships designed and built to carry the latest Zircon hypersonic missiles. The key task of Project 20386 ships will be to locate and destroy both surface and submarine enemy vessels. In addition, they will be engaged in protecting civilian ships, and, if necessary, covering marine infantry with artillery fire during a coastal assault.

Since the 2038 corvettes were expensive, it was necessary either to try to make them cheaper or to develop a new, more massive project to upgrade BMZ ships, especially anti-submarine ones. The continuation of the series in a slightly modified form was quite logical from the point of view of inter-ship unification. Instead, a completely different thing happened.

In 2016, the public was presented with a model of a new corvette - project 20386. The ship was distinguished by the highest technical complexity, huge displacement for the corvette, weakened weapon composition compared to 20385, lack of unification with previously built ships in many systems. A lot of technical risks were laid in its design, and, most importantly, it was almost twice as expensive as the Project 20380 corvette, having the same offensive weapons, the same cannon, 4 SAMs and more air defense systems, and worse than 20,380 submarine search capabilities.

The new corvettes will be at least 15% faster than their predecessors, the project’s deputy chief designer. This will be achieved thanks to the newly shaped hull, which will allow the ship to cut through the waves more smoothly, and increase the speed of the vessel through the use of composite materials. The ship would feature two gas-turbine engines with elements of a next-generation electric motor. This refers to modifying the ship using Azipod units. The device sits in a special capsule attached to the ship’s hull. It features an additional electric motor and a propeller that steers the ship in any direction. In fact, it means the ship can move both bow- and sternwards. This means the multi-ton monster can be deployed at the drop of a hat. It’s a new element that increases the maneuverability of the ship.

The total capacity of the energy system exceeds 55,000 horsepower. This is a first for corvette-class vessels in Russia. Thanks to innovative technologies, the Project 20386 corvette will be a fundamentally new ship in the Russian fleet. It will also be the first ship in the Russian fleet to have a Ka-27 helicopter with sea mines on board under the deck. The helicopter will be hidden from enemy surveillance, and, if necessary, will be raised to the deck via a special ramp for deployment.

The new Derzkii Project 20386 is very different from the base project 20380, its seaworthiness and habitation are significantly improved. compared to his predecessors, has a completely new superstructure, as well as a hydrodynamically improved hull with a completely new gym. Controversially, however, the ship's weaponry was solved, which is stronger than at Stierieguszczich, but it does not have - at least at the present stage of knowledge - the Kalibr-NK missile system that went to Gremyaschy. The design of the unit was carried out by the Almaz office from St. Petersburg.

Project 20386 is designed to conduct combat operations in the near and far sea zones, protect communications and economic activities in the sea, artillery support troops. In particular, the ship of project 20386 must strike combat surface ships and vessels with cruise missiles of the ship missile complex, search for and destroy enemy submarines with torpedoes of a small anti-submarine complex, ensure the combat stability of ships and ships from air strikes against enemy air defense missile systems. The corvette will be equipped with an A-190-01 artillery installation of 100 mm caliber developed by the Central Research Institute "Burevestnik".

The main feature of the new Corvette project 20386 is a modular design that will allow, if necessary, to quickly optimize the vehicle under a wide range of tasks, changing the standardized modules with equipment and weapons systems. The corvette can carry onboard deck helicopter and unmanned aerial vehicles. This is a fundamentally new modification of a surface ship, its design will combine elements of the basic configuration and removable combat modules, which greatly expand the range of performed Corvette tasks.

The Corvette project 20386 has onboard a helicopter, and designers consider the possibility of equipping unmanned aerial vehicles. The ship will also be equipped with new electronic systems. As a result of all these modifications Corvette of this type will be multi-purpose and can act not only near but also far sea zone. A number of these latest systems, including electronic equipment and electronic weaponry, will be installed on two Corvette project 20380 “Zealous” and “Strict” laid on “Northern shipyard” February 20, 2015. These systems are far superior in its capabilities similar equipment four corvettes of this project, is already transferred to the fleet.

Project 20386 corvettes will be fitted with a pair of anti-ship batteries, each with four launchers and eight missiles. They are expected to be Zircon-class, the world’s first ever hypersonic missiles, with a range of up to 500 km and Mach 8 speed (about 2.5 km/s). Such missiles are not yet in service in any country except Russia. At present, there are no effective countermeasures against them, which makes Zircon and its carrier ships unique. Also installed on the ship will be Redut anti-aircraft guns, Igla missiles, and 30-mm six-barreled machine guns, able to pierce the armor of modern ships.

To defend against underwater torpedoes, a pair of 330-mm caliber guns will be installed on board. And for coastal assaults, the ship will have a 100-mm A-190 howitzer, which will riddle the coast with 80 rounds a minute. The 100-mm Lightweight Multipurpose Naval Gun is a single-barrel turreted automatic gun that may be installed on ships with the displacement of 500 t and more. Upon the operator’s command the fire control module automatically turns the artillery system to standby or combat-ready position, ensures ammunition selection and feeding, gun laying and firing. As a result, the artillery system has minimum response time and high rate of fire. The corvette will be made with the use of Stealth technology will become invisible to the enemy. As a result of innovations corvette project 20386 will be multi-purpose and can operate not only in the near, but in the long-range maritime zone.

The new CODELAG propulsion system includes two M-90FR gas turbines and two ADR-1600-8 asynchronous electric motors connected by a reduction gear and working on two adjustable screws. Four diesel generators will provide electricity to power the main propulsion engines. It will be the most complicated plant of an offshore warship designed and built in Russia after the collapse of the USSR.

What is more, due to the sanctions of the European Union and the break of cooperation with companies in Ukraine after the annexation of Crimea, the Russians planned to install on the new corvette mechanisms and devices of domestic production. The biggest problem was gas turbines. Only in 2019 did St. Petersburg Satrun manage to deliver the first turbine engines of the M-90FR type, completely domestic production, for assembly on the third frigate of project 22350 - Admiral Golowko, built in the same shipyard as Derzkii and also suffering from lack of propulsion. The new corvette will wait its turn, but it is likely that engines will be received in 2019. Their lack was the first cause of delays in the production of the ship. However, once Derzkii goes out to sea, he has to achieve the planned high speed of 30 knots, very rare among ships of this class.

The superstructure was designed as a monobloc construction, covering everything that is usually distributed on board the ship: classic superstructures, chimneys, partly mast and sensor antennas, it also hides some launchers of weapon systems. In this sense, it corresponds to the concept used on the destroyer USS Zumwalt. However, this also contributed to delays in the construction program of this advanced corvette. Its producer, like superstructures and masts for Steregushchy and Gremyaschy, is the Srednenevsky Zavod shipyard near St. Petersburg.

The difference is that Derzkii is one and a half times bigger than his predecessors, he has a completely different geometry, also differs from the superstructures of previous types of corvettes with the structure of the main structural material. Thus, the preparation of dies for its production from polyester-glass composites formed by the vacuum infusion method - because these are the superstructures of the corvettes of projects 20380, 20385 and 20386 - it requires more time and money.

Another novelty, but still linked to the superstructure, is the multi-functional curtain system Zaslon. It uses eight active wall antennas with electronic phase scanning (AESA - active electronically scanned array) operating in the S and X bands - each uses four antenna panels. This system had not yet been tested in marine conditions. This will happen this year, thanks to the fact that it was premiered on the Gremyaschy development variant, which was to come to the Baltic Sea for rehearsals in 2019. The experience of other manufacturers, however, indicated that the road to full integration of this system with missile weapons, especially anti-aircraft, was still far away.

Innovative features do not end there. The stern part of the ship, seemingly empty, houses solutions known from American LCSs, i.e. modular ships for coastal operations. Under the helicopter landing pad there is a hold connected to the rotorcraft hangar. The helicopter will go to him thanks to a lifter similar to those used on aircraft carriers. In the rear part of the hold there will be space for standard containers for the transport of additional equipment, including for special forces, as well as for two hybrid boats that will be launched by side boards. On the stern itself, there is a place for the sonar of the towed Minotawr-IPSN-M system (the second antenna will be in the foresail of the ship's hull), which will be made in a modular version, easy to remove and replace with an additional, large assault boat.

the key feature of the ship of the project 20386 is its huge price. At the moment, the figure of 30 billion rubles is known. Meanwhile, the shipbuilding industry has never met the agreed price of the contract, which means that even without other conditions, this price is likely to rise. So, the ship is equipped with modular weapons, which will also cost money, and will require special storage conditions on the shore, separate personnel for each module, which, if the module is not used, will simply live at naval bases, receiving food and allowance. Unfortunately, no one considers this money, and the amount for the entire life of the ship will be considerable. It is easy to guess that in the end, with the expansion of coastal infrastructure, the ship's price can reach 35 billion. This is the price of two project 20380 corvettes. Thus, with the money that the fleet wants to spend on ten ships of project 20386, you can build twenty ships of project 20380. And this will replace all the rapidly aging small anti-submarine ships of project 1124, which are even more operational in the Navy 20 units. The situation with project 20386 looks even more absurd due to the fact that earlier, in 2013, the Navy refused corvettes of project 20385 because of their high cost.

The project 20386 ship, although it is called the word “corvette”, is a frigate in terms of its displacement, seaworthiness and cruising range. And most importantly - this is a frigate and at a price too, but he is armed at the same time at the level of a corvette! To call this ship a corvette, as the developers and the Navy do, is wrong, it is not. This is just a complex, high-tech, expensive and lightly armed frigate.

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On January 9, 2020, a new round of the epic with the corvette/frigate of project 20386 developed by TsMKB Almaz became public. This time, Almaz Central Design Bureau again jumped above its head and finally turned the project into a frigate, moreover, not just a frigate, but nothing less than a frigate of the “ocean zone”.

The increase in size (and therefore displacement) and new launchers were clearly visible. One of the drawbacks of the old project is fixed - a weak strike weapon. Now instead of the RK “Uranus” on the model there are two launchers 3C-14, capable of at least using the KR “Caliber”, and, possibly, “Onyxes” and sometime in the future “Zircons”. The launcher in front of the cannon is the Redut launcher. The fact that Admiral Evmenov said about 32 "Caliber" is some kind of mistake, there are obviously 16 missiles in shock weapons and the same number in the anti-aircraft missile launcher.

For this, however, the ship had to be lengthened. Moreover, which is logical, not only the bow, where the "Caliber" sheltered, but also the stern. The reasons, apparently, are the need to avoid constant trim on the nose and the desire to provide contours with greater speed and better seaworthiness, the ship is now no longer in the "near sea zone capable" occasionally "performing tasks in the far", but "oceanic". Recall that even the frigate of project 22350, the most powerful warship in its class, belongs to the distant sea zone.

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