UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!


Russian Navy - Fleet Modernization 2000s

Throughout the 1990s the Russian Navy suffered from a chronic shortage of funding and attention from Moscow. This forced the Navy to concentrate on its Strategic Nuclear Sea Forces, to the dismay of the primary surface fleet. Although some of the separate fleets within the navy maintained a level of battle-readiness, others were allowed to wither away until the point they were either barely adequate to carry out missions, or were rendered insignificant altogether. Some Russian media sources suggested in 2007 that since the fall of the Soviet Union the Russian Navy had deceased by close to 40% in the total number of warships it possessed, over 85% in active warships, and by 60% in personnel.

In April 2001 Russia Navy Commander-in-Chief, Adm Vladimir Kuroyedov stated that the Navy should consist of 12-15 strategic missile submarines, 50 nuclear-powered attack submarines and 35 diesel submarines, along with about 70 ocean-going surface combatants. However, to achieve these goals the Navy would need to receive at least 25% of the Russian defense budget, double the current allocation of about 12%.

Fleet Admiral Vladimir Kuroedov, commander of the Russian Navy, stated that the navy will be slashed by one-fifth over the next few years, "Krasnaya Zvezda" reported on 6 January 2003. Kuroedov said that since 1995 the navy had received about 12 percent of the funding it needs, and the underfunding had forced the navy to decommission ships it cannot afford to maintain. He also revealed that from 1992 to 1997, the navy received 10 new nuclear submarines and that one additional nuclear submarine was commissioned in 2002. He said the navy will be reviewing its maintenance and modernization priorities with an eye toward refurbishing and upgrading existing ships and weapons systems.

On 24 July 2004 RIA Novosti reported that Navy Commander-in-Chief Vladimir Kuroyedov said Russia's surface combatant ship force will not be downsized until 2020. He said that adequate repairs and maintenance will make it possible for the Russian Navy to avoid cuts on the number of its surface ships through 2020. Russia will be able to sustain its status of a great power only if it remains a naval power, which was impossible without a modern, well-balanced fleet, the admiral pointed out. In a longer term, surface vessels will be upgraded to carry modern weaponry systems.

According to Admiral Kuroyedov, smaller surface vessels and boats will have to be discarded first, as their service life was shorter than that of larger vessels. "The firstborn of our surface shipbuilding is the corvette - a new multifunctional littoral combat ship, which combines qualities of anti-submarine ships and missile carriers," the Russian Navy chief said, citing the Steregushchy and the Soobrazitelny by way of example.

Russian Navy orders for the Scorpion Project 1230.0 475-ton fast patrol craft and the Project 2038.0 1800-ton Steregushchy class corvette signal a recovery for domestic naval business. Construction was underway on the first hulls for these classes, with the first Steregushchy due for commissioning in 2005 and the Scorpion patrol craft in 2003. Russia would like to build 12 of the fast patrol craft and 10 Project 2038.0 corvettes if funding continues was available.

The construction of a multifunctional frigate will soon get underway, Adm. Kuroyedov announced. The next type of surface ship to manufacture for the Russian Navy will be an oceangoing torpedo boat destroyer. Its mass production was expected to start in about a decade's time, just as the large surface vessels, cruisers, and torpedo boat destroyers that are currently in operation will be approaching the end of their service life.

As of the end of 2003 the Russian navy consisted of 300 ships, 400 aircraft and helicopters, 150,000 personnel and 120,000 employees. The ratio between maintaining the fleet and newbuilding has been raised to 60/40. Four years ago it used to be 90/10.

A mid-2004 analysis of future shipbuilding priorities suggested that the following types of new ships might eventually enter service with the Russian fleet:

  1. Strategic submarine missile carrier, within the framework of the American-Russian agreement on limiting the strategic attack potentials, signed by the Presidents in 2002.
  2. Multi role nuclear submarines will become "multi functional and universal. The main criteria in the development will remain reducing the noise level, improving the hydro acoustic weapons and reducing the level of other fields. Utilizing the high precision cruise missiles with non-nuclear charges on such submarines will attribute the role of the strategic deterrence weapon to this class of subs."
  3. Diesel-electric subs "The development of this class of subs, especially "coastal" subs of limited (as a rule 1000 tons) deadweight will go in the following directions: increasing the power and the suddenness of the strike due to the increased number of combat ready weapons; increasing the submarine speed aimed at intercepting the surface warships and transports within the vicinity of own coastline to ensure preventive strikes; increasing the submarine endurance; reducing the physical fields to the minimal level, first of all the fields of the electro magnetic group, aimed at minimal visibility when on patrol; complexly automating the control systems of the ships and reducing crews. Anaerobic power stations, especially single units, will make a great impact to the development of this class of subs."
  4. Multi role ocean ship, with "the characteristics of a torpedo carrier, anti sub ship and missile-artillery ship (destroyer), will have the displacement of up to 10 000 tons, the speed of 28-30 knots and the endurance of up to 10 000 miles at 16-17 knots speed. The type of the main power station was gas turbine with fully electricity based movement. The destroyer will have a complex of missiles with universal vertical launching systems to use high precision missiles against ground targets, missiles against surface and submarine targets, air defense missiles of far, medium and small range targets as well as a universal artillery unit with high precision controlled shells against ground and surface targets. The ship will have one or two helicopters."
  5. The universal ship of the sea zone (frigate) "will have the displacement of about 5000 tons. Even now there are prerequisites to provide absolutely the same complex of weapons to the destroyer and the frigate with the only difference in the number of spare charges."
  6. Corvette "with the displacement of up to 2000 tons. It is supposed to conduct short range and coastal operations as well as the functions of the border guard."

At the beginning of 2005 there were about 30 ships and boats of various types under construction for the Russian Navy, including some ships laid down even before 1991. Work was under way on a number of various new projects: two Project 20380 corvettes, the Project 11711 large landing ship, the Project 21630 small gunboat, a Project 12300 missile fast attack craft, a Project 21700 coastal minesweeper and the Project 18280 intelligence ship. New work during 2005 included laying down a new type of frigate [Project 22350], the third Project 20380 corvette, the second Project 677 conventional Submarine, the second Project 21630 small gunboat and one Project 12322 air cushion small landing ship. All of these shipbuilding projects are proceeding at a very slow pace. The Russian fleet received only two new ships in 2005: the conventional submarine Sankt Petersburg of the maiden Project 677 and the Project 21630 small gunboat Astrakhan.[SOURCE: The Russian Military: Still Saving for a Rainy Day] Russia's Navy was set to acquire 10 to 20 new warships by 2015 that will set it back 5 to 10 billion rubles per frigate.

State Armaments Program for 2007-2015

In July 2006 it was reported that Vladislav Putilin, the deputy chairman of the Military-Industrial Commission, stated that under the Russian State Armaments Program for 2007-2015, the Navy will receive several dozen surface ships and submarines, including five Project 955 Borey nuclear-powered strategic ballistic missile submarines equipped with new Bulava-30 ballistic missiles, two Project 885 Yasen nuclear-powered multipurpose submarines, six Project 677 Lada diesel-electric submarines, three Project 22350 multipurpose frigates and five Project 20380 corvettes.

As of mid-2006 there were about 50 large surface ships in the Russian naval fleet. This included one aircraft carrier, four Project 1144 and 1164 missile cruisers (with two more Project 1144 cruisers laid up), ten Project 956 destroyers, 12 large antisubmarine ships and 25 large amphibious ships. Not all of them are combat-ready, as some were under repair or awaiting major overhauls.

As of mid-2006 there were 45 nuclear submarines and 20 diesel submarines in the Russian fleet. Although the fleet includes three Project 941 ballistic missile submarines, the Dmitry Donskoi was a test pad for the Bulava missile, the Severstal was under renovation, and the Arkhangelsk had no missiles. The main nuclear deterrent was six Project 667BDRM missile submarines [one of which was under renovation], and six Project 667BDR vessels. Of the nine Project 959A submarines with anti-ship missiles, two were under renovation. And of the 21 Projects 971, 945 and 671RTMK nuclear torpedo submarines, at least six are under renovation. Of the 20 Project 636, 877 and 641B diesel submarines, only 12 were actually combat-ready. By 2010 it seemed the best-case scenario was there would be five or six Project 667BDRM ballistic missile submarines and one or two new Project 955 submarines, with the total number of submarines reduced to 35-40.

Under the tutelage of President Vladimir Putin and Minister of Defense Sergei Ivanov, Russia's military policy was drastically revamped. Due to significant economic growth and an influx of cash from oil and natural gas exports, Russian embarked upon a series of military reforms aimed at modernizing and strengthening their armed forces, including the navy. A giant State Armaments Program for 2007-2015 was approved for the sum of 4.9 trillion rubles, of which 25% was allocated toward the production of new ships. Furthermore, a Rearmament Program until 2015 put the development of the naval program at parity with that of the strategic nuclear forces. Lastly, in September 2005 President Putin relieved the Head Commander of the Russian Navy, Vladimir Kuroedov, the man many claimed was responsible for the navy's numerous setbacks it had experienced in previous years, and replaced him with Vladimir Masorin.

Russia analyzed their naval production, capabilities, and overall strategy in the early 2000s. The Ministry of Defense's concocted a new policy within the Plans for Naval Development to 2040-2050, where it was announced that emphasis would be placed on construction, upgrades and modernization, and smaller, more efficient ship types.

It seems that greater spending on military shipbuilding programs was inevitable. In 2007, 13 billion rubles ($520 million) was earmarked. By one estimate at least 30 bln rubles must be provided every year to complete the ongoing construction projects within a reasonable time frame. Of the 13 billion rubles earmarked in 2007 for new warships, 10 billion was go to submarines, with almost the entire amount due to be spent on three Project 955 missile carrying submarines. This included almost 5 billion rubles that will be spent on the Yury Dolgoruky's testing and fine-tuning. To compare: a mere 200 million rubles was allocated in 2007 for construction of the Admiral Gorshkov frigate, with an estimated price tag of 11 billion rubles. The US Navy's shipbuilding budget during this timeframe was about $10 billion annually, twenty times that of Russia.

The United Shipbuilding Corporation was established via Presidential decree on March 21, 2007. The Corporation intended to consolidate the country's financial assets within the industry and the shipbuilding companies themselves. It was owned entirely by the state. The corporation was divided into three separate regional areas: the Western Center, located in St. Petersburg, the Northern Center, located in Severodvinsk, and the Far Eastern Center, located in Vladivostok. It was to be led by Colonel General Alexander Burutin. Moscow anticipated that it would have an immediate effect and was hopeful that production in warships would increase by close to 50% by 2010.

Russia also planned on repairing, upgrading, and modernizing its fleet. Due to the large number of outdated ships that the country possessed, upgrading offered a cost-effective alternative to producing modern warships. Furthermore, the scale and scope of technological advances available to the navy were quite impressive. By the summer of 2007 Russia was reportedly proceeding towards the development of a global satellite navigational system, comparable to the United States Global Position System, which would be available for the military to operate upon its completion. In addition, the navy has successfully launched a series of corvettes and smaller vessels equipped with stealth technologies. The production of new weapons platforms and missile systems continued as well. The newest generation of Project 955 Borei-class Ballistic Missile Submarines were scheduled to field and operate the newly developed Bulava SLBMs. Other system upgrades included those related to tactical defense and energy use and consumption.

A strategic decision was also made to move away from the traditional custom of building large warships in favor of smaller multi-purpose vessels that were capable of partaking in numerous types of missions. This would enhance the overall efficiency of the Russian shipbuilding process and fulfill the security requirements and needs of the country.

In a series of statements and press conference during the spring and summer of 2007, Admiral Masorin announced that the future Russian Navy would be centered on an array of technologically innovative and newly built strategic nuclear-powered submarines, and a force of six aircraft carriers. Although numerous officials reiterated that construction on the carrier force would not being prior to 2015, it appeared as though the admiralty were basing their naval strategy around these ships. The six carriers would be divided into two powerful strike groups, one in the Pacific and one in the Atlantic. Each would have a total of three carriers at its disposal, in which one would be actively conducting operations; another would be on call and ready to be deployed at a moments notice; and the last would be undergoing maintenance and repairs.

Although these ambitious plans would thrust Russia to possess the second largest navy in the world by 2020-2025, Masorin quickly denounced any intentions of getting into a naval arms race with the United States. In the immediate future the country would focus its efforts in the carrier program on the maintenance of its only operational vessel of that type, the Admiral Kuznetsov. At the same time, however, it would slowly begin to develop, design, and ultimately construct the new ships. It was estimated that Russia's nuclear aircraft carriers should finish at approximately 50,000 tons displacement and have the capacity to field 30 aircraft and helicopters. Officials believe that a naval-aviation complex will be completed within Russian territory by 2010 to train pilots with deck aircraft.

The Russian Navy will become the world's second largest in 20 years' time,its commander-in-chief, Admiral Vladimir Masorin, said 22 August 2007. He said the navy's core would consist of the newest strategic nuclear-powered submarines and six squadrons of aircraft carriers. For Russia's navy, this would be its third modernization program. The previous two, although giving it a boost, were never completed. Now, said the admiral, there was such a chance.

The rearmament program until 2015 for the first time in Soviet and Russian history put the development of the navy on an equal footing with strategic nuclear forces. Out of 4.9 trillion rubles ($192.16 billion) allocated for military rearmament, 25% will go into building new ships. "We are already building practically as many ships as we did in Soviet times," First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov said during a visit to Severodvinsk. "The problem now is not lack of money, but how to optimize production so that the navy can get new ships three, not five, years after laying them down." Ivanov said Russia has a strategy for shipbuilding until 2030 under which warship production was to increase by 50%. For the first time in 15 years, a series of 40 frigates has been laid down, with no less than ten each for the Northern and Baltic fleets. In February 2006, after a 16-year break, the frigate Admiral Sergei Gorshkov had its keel laid down,

Surface ships intended are for long-range operations in distant seas. The navy had plans for about 20 such ships. Admiral Vladimir Kuroyedov, a former commander of the navy, outlined their concept and the strategy for naval development they are to fit into: "We should abandon the existing multitude of ship and aircraft classes. Compactsized fighting blocks going to make up ships should increase their fire power and reduce research and development costs."

The idea was to drop the use of specialized ships capable of fighting only submarines or aircraft carriers and to go over to multi-purpose fighting units meant to carry out a wide range of missions away from home. Such ships will be assembled from modular units, and their weapons and equipment will be unified for all types of combat craft. In the future, this will not only facilitate the provision of spare parts and ammunition, but also simplify maintenance, repairs and modernization.

Of special note are plans to build six aircraft carriers, which would make the Russian Navy the world second in terms of combat capability. The government program, however, does not provide for their construction before 2015. Nor was there mention of them in plans for the period until 2030. But during his recent trip to Severodvinsk, Ivanov was shown plans for a new $500 million dock designed to build large-tonnage ships at the Zvyozdochka ship repair yard. Earlier such large ships could only be built in Nikolayev, Ukraine. The dock, the Russian shipbuilding agency said, was needed to build gas carriers - ships to transport Russian liquefied natural gas to Western partners. The same dock could also build aircraft carriers. At any rate, the project was already on the drawing board. Masorin said the craft would be a nuclear-powered ship not less than 100 meters long and would carry an air wing of 30 combat fighter jets and helicopters. But this was not going to be soon.

The outlook was best for submarines. Recently two Project 667BDRM boats had been modernized, and two more submarines are being repaired and upgraded at Severodvinsk. A new sonar system was being installed to enable them to "see" and "hear" better. Other equipment includes new fire fighting systems, nuclear reactor protection devices, and the RSM-54 Sineva strategic missile system. Unlike its predecessor, the Skif, the Sineva carries 10 independently targetable re-entry vehicles instead of four. The new missile has a longer range and a modern control system.

It was a Sineva intercontinental ballistic missile that was fired in the summer of 2006 from the North Pole by the submarine Yekaterinburg commanded by Captain Sergei Rachuk. An underwater launch, especially from under the ice, was a challenging task. The jumbled magnetic fields render ship and missile navigation instruments inoperable, and the crew needs special training for working under ice. But there are also advantages - under a thick icecap the submarine remains invisible to hostile observation satellites till the last moment. As a result, a retaliatory nuclear strike would be sudden and unavoidable. Many submarine commanders who managed to do this were later made Heroes of the Soviet Union and Russia. Sergei Rachuk, too, received the Gold Star of the Hero from President Vladimir Putin.

But modernization of existing vessels was only part of the rebuilding program. The Sevmash engineering plant at Severodvinsk was currently building a series of new fourth-generation submarines. These are Project 955 Borei boats. It was for them that the new Bulava sea-launched ballistic missile was being developed. "Three nuclear submarines of the fourth generation are currently under construction," Masorin said. "They are the Yury Dolgoruky, Alexander Nevsky and Vladimir Monomakh. In comparison with previous boats, they will have much better armaments and equipment."

A Project 885 Yasen-class multi-purpose attack nuclear-powered submarine was preparing to hit the water at Severodvinsk. It was another new fourth-generation submarine able to replace several classes of submarines used in the Russian Navy. Professionals say this ship will cause a revolution in submarine building. Russia's third-generation Project 971 Akula submarines are already undetectable in ocean depths. The Yasen will outperform even the latest American Sea Wolf in the underwater noise level. In addition, it will be a multi-purpose boat. Thanks to its armaments (several types of cruise missiles and torpedoes), it will be able to carry out diverse missions. It will be able with equal ease to chase enemy aircraft carriers and deliver massive missile strikes on coastal targets.

Most naval and naval infantry units have been designated as permanent readiness units and are expected to become all-volunteer by the end of 2007. All personnel aboard ships and submarines are anticipated to be contract servicemen by the beginning of 2009. As of the summer of 2007 the Navy had approximately 62 submarines, between 185 - 200 surface ships, and just over 140,000 sailors.

Ships of the Russian Black Sea Fleet until 2020 will be supplemented with new ships and modernized bombers will be built in total, 18 new ships: including six frigates of Project 22350, six diesel submarines of Project 677, and two large amphibious ships project 11711, a Representative of the General Staff of the Navy told Interfax on October 25, 2010. In addition, he said, up to 2016’s Black Sea Fleet naval aviation will get upgraded Su-24M bombers, instead of outdated samples of this machine, and instead of amphibious aircraft Be-12 - a more modern anti-IL-38.

The service life of the majority of the Black Sea Fleet ships exceeded the 35-year mark, and by 2015, when the fleet will come on the first ships, almost the entire fleet will need replacing, the source said earlier in the General Staff of the Navy. In addition, the same deadline, anti-aircraft naval aviation’s Black Sea Fleet, which has now crossed the 40-year milestone will be subject to cancellation by the resource.

Previously reported that the ship of the Black Sea Fleet will fill two patrol ships of Baltic Fleet Project 11540 “Fearless” and “Yaroslav the Wise.” In addition, earmarked for BSF Project 22350 frigate Admiral Kasatonov “(founded in Severnaya Verf in November 2009), the diesel submarine of Project 677 Sevastopol “(founded in November 2006), a small missile ship Project 21631 was scheduled for the end of 2010), and Project 20380 corvettes “Prompt” (scheduled to lay in 2011). “Given how quickly we built warships, you can be sure that by 2015 no new products BSF will not get” - commented, “Independent Military Review”.

The July 2015 revision of Russia’s maritime doctrine stems from the latest changes in the global political environment: the expansion of NATO’s infrastructures towards Russian borders, the reunification of Crimea and Sevastopol with Russia, the priority development of the Arctic and steps to gain a firmer foothold in the Asia-Pacific Region.

On July 26, Navy Day 2015, President Vladimir Putin approved amendments to the maritime doctrine - the key document of planning the nation’s maritime policies. The revised maritime doctrine identifies six key areas: the Atlantic, the Arctic, the Pacific, the Caspian, the Indian Ocean and the Antarctic. The doctrine points to the need for restoring the presence of the Russian Navy in the Mediterranean. "The Atlantic was identified as number one priority. Of late, the North Atlantic Alliance showed rather active expansion towards our borders. Naturally, Russia cannot but provide a response to this," Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said at a conference at the presidential office.

"Promotion of friendly relations with China and the build-up of positive interaction with other states in the region is a major component of the national maritime policies in the Pacific," the doctrine says. In the Indian Ocean the document points to the development of friendly relations with India as the main development guideline.

Under the state program for armaments, 4.7 trillion roubles was to be invested into the development of the Russian Navy. The list of naval ships due to enter duty looks as follows: eight strategic submarines Borei of project 955 and as many multi-role nuclear powered submarines Yasen of project 885, eight frigates of project 22350 and six frigates of project 11356, as well as 35 corvettes (including 18 ships of project 20380 and 20385, six missile boats Buyan of project 21360 and six amphibious assault ships of project 11711.

For the first time ever, civilian and military ship-building was identified as a separate point in Russia’s national maritime policy, the Security Council deputy chief said. "No doubt, it is hard to implement an independent maritime policy without the development of ship-building and the associated branches of industry" Russian Security Council Deputy Chief Mikhail Popov said.

The All-Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VTsIOM) found that the majority of Russian citizens (67%) believe that the Russian Navy was the strongest in the world, in the second place, according to Russians, was the American fleet (40%), the third - Chinese (15%). This was evidenced by survey data published on 31 July 2019. Also, the majority of respondents (89%) expressed confidence that the Russian Navy was able to protect the country's maritime borders in the event of a real threat from other states, and this figure has increased by 19 percentage points over the past 14 years (89% in the current survey against 70%). in 2005). Along with this, 85% of respondents noted that service in the Navy was, in their opinion, prestigious, while only 5% of respondents adhere to the opposite opinion. More than half of survey participants (56%) would approve of the choice of their children and grandchildren to become naval officers. In general, today, like 14 years ago, almost every fifth Russian respondent (17% in 2019 against 18% in 2005) had friends, relatives or acquaintances who serve or work in the Russian Navy.

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list