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Vladimir Putin will modified the Russian shipbuilding program.

| 2022

According to information published by Tass on August 9, 2022, the Russian shipbuilding program may be modified following the approval of the Naval Doctrine and the Russian Navy Regulations by Russian President Vladimir Putin on Navy Day on July 31, military expert Vladimir Karnozov writes in the Independent Military Review.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001Russian President Vladimir Putin during the Navy Day in 2022. (Picture source: Russian presidency)

The current edition of the Russian shipbuilding program was approved in the spring of 2014, the military expert recalled. According to him, over the past eight years, there have been dramatic changes in the world: a sharp cooling in the relations between Russia and the West, a big number of sanctions imposed on Russia, NATO’s further expansion, the establishment of the AUKUS bloc in Southeast Asia, and, finally, the beginning of the special military operation in Ukraine in February this year.

The shipbuilding program is classified, therefore, as Karnozov writes, it is possible to talk only about general modifications to the program will be subject to.

As Karnozov says, the first visible consequence of the cooling in the relations between Russia and the West for the Navy was the refusal of European companies to supply diesel engines and shipborne equipment under previously concluded contracts.

“In the current situation, domestic shipbuilders are to immediately and decisively reorient themselves to other suppliers,” the military expert notes. This reorientation has already been made and now “needs to be fixed in the new shipbuilding program.”

Black Sea Fleet’s most effective element

“Import substitution is not the only reason for adjusting the long-term plans of the domestic shipbuilding industry,” Karnozov writes. He says with reference to the foreign press that in the special military operation, the Black Sea Fleet’s submarine forces are the most effective element of the Russian Navy, being involved in launching Kalibr cruise missiles against military facilities of the Ukrainian army.

“NATO reconnaissance means, which are actively working for the Ukrainian Armed Forces, are not able to track all the movements of Black Sea Fleet submarines,” that is why, a submarine can be generally detected only by the point at sea, from which 3M-14 missiles emerge. Such surprise, as the expert notes, “reduces the enemy’s ability to cut losses in manpower and equipment by quickly dispersing them immediately before a missile strike.”

“Surface ships are increasingly turning into targets for a high-tech enemy,” since their movements can be easily tracked by reconnaissance aircraft and satellites of NATO countries, Karnozov writes.

Ships are highly vulnerable to weapons in service with the Ukrainian Armed Forces, such as the Neptune, Harpoon, and Brimstone anti-ship missiles. The expert suggests using the high stealth capabilities of submarines for reconnaissance and monitoring of enemy coastal targets at a short distance from the coast.

New subs for Baltic Fleet

As Russian President Vladimir Putin said at the Navy Day parade in St. Petersburg, Russia’s national interests, both economic and strategic ones, extend to the Arctic, the Black Sea, the Sea of Okhotsk, the Bering Sea, as well as the Baltic and Kuril Straits. According to the president, the security of these water areas will be ensured by the Navy.

“The Baltic Fleet is to be strengthened following the inclusion of the Baltic Sea into the zone of Russia’s strategic interests,” Karnozov says, adding that during the period of improved relations with European countries, this fleet “lost most of its ships.”

At the same time, the future entry of Sweden and Finland to NATO has already prompted some Western politicians to say that the Baltic Sea will be turned into a NATO lake.

“Taking into account the significant numerical superiority of the NATO naval forces, it seems most logical to equip the Baltic Fleet with advanced missile-carrying submarines,” Karnozov says.

According to the expert, work is currently in progress to select submarines to arm the fleet. A proposal has been made to continue the construction of Project 636.6 submarines by ordering another its series from the Admiralty Wharves Shipyard.

“However, these submarines have obvious shortcomings,” Karnozov notes. In his opinion, they are associated with the obsolescence of the basic project 877 developed back in the 1970s.

“Numerous upgrades introduced to the improved project 636 are unable to bring it to the technological level of the latest foreign submarines in terms of automation and noise level,” the military expert believes. He suggests ceasing the production of Project 636.3 submarines in favor of fourth-generation Project 677 Lada-class subs.

“With the same weapon suite (18 missiles and torpedoes), the Lada-class sub is much quieter, and its Lira sonar system is much more sophisticated than the obsolete Rubicon,” Karnozov writes.

The submarine’s low noise level and new sonar system allow the crew to operate covertly in areas of deployment of enemy antisubmarine warfare ships and aircraft. The Lada-class sub is more compact and therefore better suited for operations in the Baltic Sea with its shallow waters and high traffic,” the expert says.

Development of Russia’s submarine fleet

The military expert says that Russia has “appropriate design and production capacities” to build an efficient submarine fleet. “The flagship of Russia’s shipbuilding industry, the Sevmash Shipyard in Severodvinsk, is working at full capacity,” he points out.

The Sevmash Shipyard produces nuclear-powered submarines, namely Project 955A Borei-A class nuclear-powered submarines armed with intercontinental ballistic missiles, multipurpose Project 885M Yasen-M class nuclear-powered attack submarines, as well as special-purpose submarines, including deep-sea stations, carriers of submersible vehicles and robotic systems.

Russia continues to replace Soviet-made Project 877 diesel-electric submarines with more modern ones, namely the Project 636.3 and Project 677 submarines.

Submarines of these projects are being built by the St. Petersburg-based Admiralty Wharves Shipyard. It was reported in June that the shipyard would hand over the Project 677 Lada-class submarines B-586 Kronstadt and B-587 Velikiye Luki this year. There are also plans to deliver the Project 636.3 submarine B-588 Ufa to the Navy.

Project 677 and Project 636.3 submarines

The Project 677 Lada-class diesel-electric submarine is a derivative of the Soviet-made Project 877 Paltus-class sub. The project was developed by the Rubin Central Design Bureau for Marine Engineering in the 1990s.

Submarines of the type are designed to destroy enemy surface ships and vessels, conduct patrolling and reconnaissance, guard sea lanes, as well as lay minefields.

Compared to its predecessors, the Lada-class sub features a low noise level, a high degree of automation, a surface displacement reduced by almost 1.3 times, and an increased underwater speed.

The Project 636.3 submarine is designed to replace Paltus-class subs. The upgraded Project 636.3 submarine was developed by the Rubin Design Bureau too.

Submarines of this series are designed to destroy surface ships and vessels, enemy submarines, conduct patrolling and reconnaissance, and protect sea lanes in the close sea zone. The Project 636.3 submarine is a carrier of Kalibr-PL cruise missiles.

During the counterterrorism operation in Syria, on December 8, 2015, Project 636.3 submarine B-237 Rostov-on-Don launched Kalibr missiles at terrorist targets in the Syrian province of Raqqa.

In 2017, similar attacks against terrorists in Syria were delivered by the Project 636.3 subs Krasnodar and Veliky Novgorod. These missile launches were the first strikes against a real enemy in the history of the Russian submarine fleet.

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