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Analysis: Severnaya Verf launches Project 20380 corvette Retivy

On March 12, Russia’s Severnaya Verf (a subsidiary of the United Shipbuilding Corporation, USC) launched the Project 20380 (Steregushchiy-class) corvette Retivy (Strenuous), according to the enterprise.

Analysis Severnaya Verf launches Project 20380 corvette Retivy 925 001 Project 20380 corvette Retivy (Picture source: Petr Kovalev / TASS)

The Retivy is the seventh ship of the Steregushchiy class and the fifth Project 20380 corvette built at the Severnaya Verf. The surface combatant is being built for the Russian Navy’s (VMF’s) Black Sea Fleet. The first four Project 20380 naval platforms, namely, Steregushchy (Excubant), Soobrazitelny (Quickwitted), Boiky (Brisk), and Stoiky (Uncrushable), were issued to the Baltic Fleet.

The corvette Retivy (factory number 1,007) was laid at the Severnaya Verf on February 12, 2015, along with its sister ship - Strogy (Stern; factory number 1,008). In October 2017, the ship’s hull was formed; in March 2018, it was fitted with powerplants and speed reduction gears.

In February 2020, the platform was moved from a covered berth to a floating dock to have its bulbous radome, ship stabilizer, and steering system installed. The launch will be followed by the tugging of the Retivy to a building berth for outfitting. The enterprise will start to load cable runs, outfit the crew compartment, and install communications, navigation, and armament systems.

The mooring tests of the Retivy are scheduled for late 2020. The ship’s crew will be trained at the Navy’s Joint Training Center under the programs, which incorporate the latest technical solutions (including those in the field of radars) introduced to the design of the new surface combatant.

"The backlog of orders from the USC subsidiaries and, in particular, Severnaya Verf will provide the enterprise with workload for the following decade at least. We will lay the keels of new frigates soon," said Deputy Defense Minister Alexey Krivoruchko at the launching ceremony.

"The [Project 20380] ships have shown decent performance as reliable naval platforms with high combat potential. It is a good series of ships <…> The Severnaya Verf’s main task is the building of corvettes; however, the laying down of frigates’ keels is also suggested," added the Navy’s Commander-in-Chief Admiral Nikolai Yevmenov.

"Two our ships are passing through their trials in the North. We are planning to finish them and deliver the platforms to the Navy," said Severnaya Verf Director General Igor Ponomaryov. According to him, Russia is now serially building blue-water ships, reducing those platforms’ costs and terms of construction.

According to President of the USC Alexey Rakhmanov, the Project 20380 corvettes feature high effectiveness. "These ships will be built at Russian shipyards. Moreover, Severnaya Verf is waiting for a large modernization," he said.

Compared to the first Project 20380 corvettes, the Retivy features an improved radar and modified structures. "Both Retivy and Strogy will be fitted with a new radio-technical suite and a more powerful electronic warfare station," said then-acting Navy’s Deputy Commander-in-Chief Admiral Viktor Chirkov during the official ceremony of the laying of the abovementioned corvettes’ keels.

The Project 20380 type ship, Steregyshchy (factory number 1,001), was laid in December 2001 at Severnaya Verf. The ship was launched in May 2006, and the Navy commissioned it in early 2008. Then the enterprise laid the keels of three more such naval platforms, namely, Soobrazitelny (factory number 1,002; laid down in May 2003, launched in March 2010, and commissioned in October 2011), Boiky (factory number 1,003; laid down in May 2005 launched in April 2011, and commissioned in May 2013), and Stoiky (factory number 1,004; laid down in November 2006, launched in May 2012, and commissioned in July 2014). The Amur Shipbuilding Plant laid the keels of two more corvettes, namely, Sovershenny (factory number 2,101; laid down in June 2006, launched in May 2015, and commissioned in July 2017) and Gromkiy (factory number 2,102; laid down in April 2012, launched in July 2017, and commissioned in December 2018).

All the aforementioned ships feature a common radio-technical suite. The first Project 20380 corvettes were fitted with the Monument-A fire-control radar (FCR) and the Furke-2 radar, with both sensors mounted on a foremast in radio transparent radomes. The corvettes were also equipped with the 5P-01-02 Puma (Cougar) bow structure-mounted FCR.

Both baseline and modernized Project 20380 corvettes (except for the Steregushchy) have the same armament suite, which comprises the Uran missile system with the 3M-24 anti-ship missiles (the Uran incorporates several inclined four-cell 3S-24 launchers mounted behind the bow structure) and the Redut naval surface-to-air missile (SAM) system. The Redut integrates three four-cell 3S.97 vertical launch systems (VLSs) and is armed with four types of SAMs, including the short-range 9M100E, the medium-range 9M96E, and the long-range 9M96E2 and 9M96E2-1. These highly maneuverable missiles have been unified with the S-350 Vityaz (Noble Knight) SAM system. It should be mentioned that the Steregushchy features the 3M87-1 Kortik-M naval anti-aircraft gun-missile system instead of the 3S.97 VLSs. The ships are also armed with two AK-630 30 mm close-in weapon systems, which are mounted in the aft part of each board.

The Project 20380 corvettes carry a bow-mounted A-190 100 mm naval gun. The Paket system with two SM-588 324 mm eight-cell launchers incorporating either anti-torpedoes or compact anti-submarine torpedoes maintains the anti-submarine warfare capabilities of the surface combatants. A hangar and a helicopter pad for a Kamov Ka-27-family (Helix-A) rotorcraft are mounted in the aft part of the ships.

In the early 2010s, the military decided to build a series of the Project 20385 corvettes armed with the 3S-14 VLS for the Kalibr ‘SS-N-27 Sizzler’ and Oniks ‘SS-N-26 Strobile’ missiles and 16 3S.97 cells of the Redut SAM system. The new ships were supposed to be powered by MTU powerplants; however, the cooperation with the German company was ceased in 2014 after the imposing of Western sanctions. By then, the industry had laid down the keels of only two ships, namely, Gremyashchy (factory number 1,005; laid down in April 2012, launched in July 2017, and commissioned in December 2018) and Provorny (factory number 1,006; laid down in July 2013). Despite the replacement of the MTU engines with diesel powerplants built by the Kolomna Plant, there is no plan to continue the series of Project 20385 ships.

One can strongly suggest that the cessation of the Project 20385 program has resulted in the construction of more Project 20380 corvettes with an upgraded mast-mounted multifunctional radar developed by JSC Zaslon. The shipbuilding industry is now building four modified Project 20380 surface combatants, including two at Severnaya Verf (Retivy and Strogy) and two at the Amur Shipbuilding Plant (Hero of the Russian Federation Aldan Tsidenzhapov (factory number 2,103; laid down in July 2015 and launched in October 2019. The ship’s commissioning is scheduled for 2020) and Rezky (factory number 2,104; laid down in July 2016. The ship’s launch and commissioning are scheduled for 2020 and 2021, respectively).

At the Army 2019 military-technical forum held in Kubinka near Moscow in June 2019, a representative of JSC Zaslon told TASS that the company was manufacturing six multifunctional radars for two Project 20385 corvettes and four such devices for Project 20380 ships.

The new all-round radar comprises a control system, a multifunctional X-band radar with non-rotating active electronically scanned arrays (AESAs), an S-band radar with a rotating AESA, a multifunctional radio-technical environment control radar, and a naval artillery control device.

The new multifunctional radar employs electronic scanning of beam patterns and special regimes and algorithms of observation and target detection and tracking, providing rapid reaction, high information-handling capacity, and good accuracy of target designation.

In active mode, the radar works in X- and S-bands at a distance of up to 200 km and at an altitude of up to 30 km. The sensor can detect a vehicle with a radar cross-section of less than 1 m at a distance of up to 75 km in a jamming-free environment. The radar tracks up to 200 targets. In passive mode, the system works in L-, S-, C-, X, and Ku-bands, detecting emitting radars at a distance of up to 300 km. When detecting aerial targets, the radar works in S-, C-, X-, and Ku-bands and tracks more than 100 targets simultaneously.

The modernized Project 20380 corvette also lacks an aft structure-mounted mast after the stack. The bow-mounted antenna post of the Puma FCS has been removed as all the radar sensors of the ship are installed in the integrated mast-tower construction.

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