Written by Andrei Akulov; Originally appeared strategic-culture.org
Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to sign the State Armament Program for 2018-2025, which comes at a budget of 19 trillion rubles, before the year-end. The document emphasizes the role of new breakthrough technologies. Husky-class submarines are a good example of state-of-the-art weapons the Russia’s military will receive while the program is implemented. On December 20, Adm. Vladimir Korolev, the commander of the Russian Navy, reviewed the preliminary conceptual design of a fifth-generation submarine, which was developed by St. Petersburg Marine Design Bureau “Malakhite.”
Russia’s United Shipbuilding Corporation (UAC) has announced the start of the development of a fifth-generation Husky-class stealth nuclear submarine to replace the existing Yasen-class boats. The research and development stage of the project is scheduled to be completed next year. The goal is to have a cost-effective multi-purpose nuclear submarine, with a construction time of four to four and a half years to produce 15-20 submarines totally. There are few details about the class in open sources, but whatever is already known suggests that Husky subs will be a technological breakthrough. United Ship-Building Corporation President Alexei Rakhmanov said it will be “an absolutely different submarine from the viewpoint of physical fields” to be “standardized to combine key elements of strategic and multipurpose submarines.”
Oleg Vlasov, head of the robotics sector of the Malakhit Bureau, said that the Husky-class submarine will be equipped with robotic systems able to operate in water and air. According to Deputy Navy Commander Vice Adm. Viktor Bursuk, the construction of Husky-class multi-purpose nuclear submarines is expected to begin in 2023-2024. The first Husky is to be delivered in 2025, while the last would be delivered in the 2030s.
This is a very special program expected to result in something the world has never seen before. The new class is expected to have a common hull design, a common sonar, power and propulsion systems for three variants: a new nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN), a nuclear-powered attack submarine (SSN), a nuclear-powered cruise missile submarine (SSGN). The SSGN variant will incorporate a vertical launch system (VLS) payload module.
The displacement of a SSBN version, if ever built, will be larger to accommodate intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). The SSGN and the SSBN variants would be added an extra hull section. The SSBN variant could be built contingent on what happens with the New START arms control treaty.
The basic attack submarine design is expected to have the following specifications: displacement: between 4,000 and 6,000 tons (about 13,800 tons submerged), length: 140m, width: 13m, draft: 9.4 m, depth: 600m, endurance: 100 days, crew: 64, service life: 25-30 years. The expected speed is between 32 to 33 knots. The boat will be capable of delivering and recovering special operations forces and their gear.
The armament suite will include 30 533m torpedoes, sea-mines and cruise missiles launched via 10 torpedo tubes. SSGN’s 8 launchers will accommodate 32 cruise missiles. The SSGN variant will also be armed with the 3M22 Zircon hypersonic anti-ship missile, which is already undergoing tests. The new missiles capable of Mach 5.0-Mach 6.0 will have a range of 250 miles, with sheer speed making it extremely difficult to intercept with existing missile defense technology. The weapon is currently in testing. It is expected to enter into production in 2018.
Russia will be the only nation in the world to launch serial production of hypersonic weapons, leaving the US far behind. Admiral Cecil Haney, the head of US Strategic Command, warned that American anti-missile and anti-aircraft defense systems would be virtually incapable of intercepting the Russian hypersonic missile. Harry J. Kazianis, Executive Editor of The National Interest, believes that such missiles could «could turn America’s supercarriers into multi-billion dollar graveyards for thousands of US sailors».
The new class will incorporate various technologies of the Borei-class as well as the Project 885-M Yasen class of SSNs. It is expected to have liquid metal cooled reactors. Improved composites and new polymers are supposed to be used throughout from the hull coating to the dive planes, rudders, stabilizers, propellers (or pump jet propulsors), drive shafts and possibly even the hulls themselves, further reducing the ship’s acoustic signature. New multi-layer composite materials still in testing will isolate working mechanisms from vibrations. The composite material has a high internal loss factor, or sound absorption properties can change when vibration occurs, completely preventing the spread of vibrational energy. Composites don’t corrode and thus wouldn’t need to be painted, reducing maintenance costs.
Husky has the torpedo tubes in the bow pointing directly forward with the sonar below it. The ship will also have long flank arrays. A modern conformal array will be installed.
Featuring lowered noise, automated control systems, reactor safety, and long-range weapons, the new fifth-generation submarine would be designed to serve the Navy for 52 years. Taking into account the technological sophistication of Russia submarines in production, such as Yasen– class, and the production capacity of Sevmash, the principal nuclear submarine shipyard, there is each and every reason to believe that the knowhow and production capacity exist to make Russia the first country in the world to have a fifth generation submarine in service.