SPMBM Malakhit P-750BThe main advantage of the air-independent power plant is to increase the stealth of the submarine: the submarine gets the opportunity to be under water without surfacing to charge the batteries. At the same time, the Russian VNEU fundamentally differs from foreign analogs in the method of producing hydrogen - the unit provides for its production in the volume of consumption by means of diesel fuel reforming. Thanks to this, hydrogen of high purity does not have to be carried on board the submarine. In 2015, it was reported that the Russian Navy would receive non-nuclear submarines with an air-independent power plant [VozduhoNezavisimoi Energeticheskoi Ustanovkoi [VNEU]] by the end of 2020. The completion of the development of this engine was announced at the end of June 2016. Versions of the domestic anaerobic installation are being created by the design bureaus of the Malakhit and Rubin submarines; the Central Research Institute of Ship Electrical Engineering and Technology of the Krylov State Scientific Center (KGNTs) also participates in the development. Specialists of the St. Petersburg Marine Engineering Bureau "Malakhit" continue work on a closed-cycle air-independent power plant (VNEU) with a gas turbine engine. In case of a positive decision of the customer, the first submarines equipped with such a VNEU can be created by the mid-2020s. This was announced to Mil.Press FlotProm during the Army-2019 forum by the leading designer of Malakhit Igor Karavaev. The concept project of the P-750B non-nuclear submarine, which is a development of the earlier P-750, was first presented at the domestic military-technical exhibitions in 2019. Their visitors were shown a model of a prospective submarine and technical and advertising materials. At the forum "Army-2020" SPMBM "Malachite" presented a new detailed model of the submarine, better showing the features of the project. The P-750B is a Russian small multipurpose submarine, which is being developed at the St. Petersburg Maritime Bureau of Mechanical Engineering "Malakhit" (SPMBM). One of the most famous submarines produced by SPMBM "Malachite" - Project 971 - was given the "cat" name "Bars". But this is a large nuclear submarine, and the P-750B is small and non-nuclear. Therefore, a not so large feline predator was selected for her. "Small-sized" serval came up just right. Serval is the first submarine in the history of the Russian Navy with an anaerobic engine that does not depend on atmospheric air. Displacement - about 1,450 tons, length - about 66 meters, width - about 7 meters, draft - about 5.2 meters. The maximum immersion depth is 300 meters. Full underwater speed - 18 knots, economic speed - 4 knots. Autonomy - up to 30 days, total cruising range - up to 4,300 miles. The continuous underwater range, taking into account the VNEU, is up to 1,200 miles. The power plant includes a closed-cycle gas turbine engine (two 400 kW each) and a propulsion electric motor with a capacity of 2.500 kW. Armament - 533-mm torpedoes, missiles and mines, as well as cruise missiles "Caliber". The P-750B has a certain relation to the family of small submarines of Project 865 "Piranha". As for the Piranha project. Currently, studies are being carried out on submarines of two directions - multipurpose and special purpose. Potential customers are offered a wide range of configurations and technical characteristics ranging from 200 to 1,500 tonnes of displacement. At the same time, these projects are basic, on the basis of which it is possible to form the appearance of a submarine that meets the requirements of a particular customer. The P-750B power plant is classified as air-independent (VNEU). The main element of VNEU is a gas turbine engine, which makes it possible to obtain significant power with small weight and size characteristics. Such an engine is quickly and easily put into operation, has high maneuverability, good explosion and fire safety - due to the absence of hydrogen in the working circuits, and also allows achieving sufficiently high resource indicators of the equipment, which reduces the cost of operation. Countries such as Germany, Sweden, South Korea, Japan are gradually abandoning traditional diesel-electric submarines, but even more maritime states are going to develop their submarine fleet in this direction. The Russian VNEU is a working prototype, which continues to undergo experimental research on a test bench. And for the Army-2020 forum, Malakhit prepared a new demonstration model with high detail, which will allow Malakhit to better examine the design features of the submarine. As for the amount of information on the boat, it contains the main tactical and technical characteristics and key design features of the Serval. The power plant includes two 400 kW gas turbine engines connected to generators, as well as a single-shaft system with a 2500 kW propeller motor. When driving on the surface of a gas turbine engine, air is obtained from the atmosphere, and the exhaust gases are thrown out. In the submerged position, the motors switch to a closed cycle. To operate underwater, a gas turbine engine uses oxygen stored on board the boat in liquid form in heat-insulated containers. Earlier it was reported that the engine exhaust gases are also liquefied and do not go beyond the submarine. In a recent interview, the general director of Malakhit pointed out the possibility of obtaining oxygen from a gas mixture with its subsequent supply to the engine. Using only batteries, the P-750B submarine will be able to stay under water for three days. The use of the VNEU of the proposed type allows this period to be increased to 30 days. In addition, high speed and maneuverability characteristics are provided. Full submerged speed will reach 18 knots. Continuous range at VNEU - 1200 miles. The total range is 4300 miles.
Gas turbine engines are widely used on surface ships. At VNEU, the differences concern only the "working fluid", which is formed not from atmospheric air, but from exhaust gases enriched with oxygen, previously purified and cooled. In addition, an electric motor will be installed on the boat. According to calculations, the P-750B will be able to be in autonomous diving mode for up to thirty days.
One of the most notable innovations is the implementation of a removable-modular concept for placing a payload, including weapons, self-defense equipment, group underwater vehicles and unmanned underwater vehicles. So, all this is located outside the solid hull, and the complete set, depending on the tasks set, can change before each new exit to the sea. In addition, during the development of the conceptual design of the submarine, the use of composite materials, new developments of electronic weapons was envisaged, various variants of the propulsion system were considered.
The Serval project offers a modular weapons and payload architecture. The necessary units are located in the bow of the boat, under the light hull. There can be placed 533-mm torpedo tubes, self-defense equipment, unmanned vehicles for various purposes, etc. It is possible to replace such a payload directly in preparation for going to sea. The presence of several torpedo tubes allows the use of the entire range of domestic mine and torpedo weapons. It is also possible to integrate the Kalibr missile system in the version for submarines. Thus, "Serval" will be able to work on various surface and coastal targets, incl. at a great distance.
An interesting feature of the P-750B is the presence of an airlock, also located in the bow. With its help, the submarine will be able to land and receive up to six combat swimmers simultaneously. At the same time, the habitable compartments will allow up to 16 people to be taken on board and delivered to the place of solving problems.
The Serval boat should use modern general ship systems, controls, etc. Due to the high automation of processes, it is possible to reduce the crew to 18-20 people. Accordingly, the volumes for their placement are reduced, which makes it possible to optimize the design of the submarine as a whole. It is envisaged to reduce the requirements for basing points.
Small submarines of the P-750B project, like the previous developments of the SPMBM "Malakhit", are intended to perform a variety of tasks in the coastal zone. They are capable of patrolling and fighting enemy surface or submarine ships in order to protect sea borders. It is possible to lay sea mines, conduct reconnaissance, as well as ensure the work of sabotage and reconnaissance groups.
Its small size and displacement will allow the Serval to move and fight in shallow water and in narrow areas. This significantly increases the possible areas of operation and provides significant advantages over larger submarines. Low demands on the basing points will simplify the transfer and deployment in new areas.
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