Project 865 Piranya
Designed for special operations and to engage surface ships located offshore, the Piranya is toughly built and is almost completely silent. The hull is comprised of a titanium alloy, that reduces the effectiveness of enemy mines. Divers can be deployed on sabotage missions. The divers remain in contact with the submarine, which is capable of supplying them with oxygen for breathing, electricity, warmth, and monitors to ensure that underwater instruments are operating normally. The Piranya's 1200 kW lead-acid batteries allows the submarine to remain underway for ten days and the submarines at sea replenishement capabilities allows the submarine within 8 hours to receive enough food, fuel and lubricants, and air for an additional ten days.
The design was apparently not considered particularly successful. It was planned to build 12 subs for all Russian Navies. Later the order was reduced to 6, but only 2 were built. The two units were placed in reserve in 1993, briefly reactivated in 1995, and again laid up by 1997, and were expected to be discarded. After long operation the two were scrapped because the state could not afford to keep them.
With the view of tomorrow Malahit resumed works in the sphere and developed 11 versions of small subs based on the original Piranha. These versions differ in displacement, arms, costs and many other parameters.
In 1991 the St. Petersburg-based Special Boiler Design Bureau (SKBK) completed development of the Kristall-20 AIP system for the Piranha. The AIP underwent comprehensive testing and was accepted by the customer - the Ministry of Defense. However, AIP systems were never installed in submarines due to reductions in defense spending.
By early 2005 KB Malahit forecast and increase of the demand for small subs by the year 2010. The promotion of the Piranha was started in this context. The advantage of a small sub is that a shipyard may build several subs simultaneously, delivering one every few months. Today only Russia and Germany may compete in this market. General designer of Malahit Yuri Mineev claims that this forecast is not just a marketing instrument. He notes that Germany "realized the perspective of the small subs and started serious work in the niche." The new German sub is comparable with Piranha.
A number of countries plan on having a fleet of small subs, but it take several years to create the infrastructure to service them. KB Malahit regards South-East Asia and Middle East as the main potential customers. The UAE expressed interest in Piranha, but the country arranged domestic production of such subs. Many countries already operate small subs, but most of them are outdated. Thus the market for small subs is replacing these older vessels with new models.
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