2009/06/04

Project 22350 and the Russian Navy

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It's not difficult to find info about the U.S. LCS project that delivers less frigates than expected at higher costs per ship than expected - and lacks a reasonable unclassified explanation for the overall concept of the design(s).

There's another project that's at least as interesting to Europeans, though.

It's the Russian Project 22350 / Admiral Sergej Gorshkov (2nd link), a contemporary project of a new (ASW?) frigate class.

It's dissimilar to LCS as it's slower (not faster) than normal and has a normal (not shallow) draught.
Its armament (nothing special apparently), helicopter equipment (single helicopter only) and sensor equipment (no variable depth sonar apparently) isn't convincing and I assume there's a bit of disinformation about it in the air.
It's officially an ASW frigate with self-air defence capability and some impressive yet likely not terribly important anti-ship missiles.
The expected price is five to ten billion roubles, that's at most € 230 million (today's exchange rate). It's likely a bit more in purchasing power parity terms, but keep in mind that this figure was for the upper end; the optimistic price estimate is only half as high.


I think it deserves to get some more attention, the LCS is in contrast completely over-publicised.

It seems reasonable to expect a modernization wave in the Russian forces during the next 15 years, and this class will apparently be the FFG component of such a modernization.

There are other Russian projects advancing as well:

The corvette equivalent (rear area ASW) project is the Project 20380 Steregushchy class (2nd link).
(I'll drop them a note to choose a simpler name next time.)


They've got a new strategic nuclear submarine (SSBN) project since the mid-90's, the Project 935 Borei class.


The new nuclear attack submarine are the Project 885 Yasen class nuclear SSGNs. (I don't expect a new pure-bred SSN soon, but that's another possibility.)


The new 'conventional' submarines are the Project 677 Lada class SSKs, apparently with AIP.


They're also thinking about CVNs in the 55,000 to 60,000 ton range similar to the British and French concepts, but probably with some serious area air defence.

There's no new classic area air defence ship project publicly known (unless I missed it), so it's reasonable to expect the Russians to keep their large Cold War surface classes with strong AAW (Kirov and Slava classes) in service till the introduction of an AAW FFG or DDG.

The Russians had an impressive amphibious fleet. We'll get important clues about their strategy by their decision to rebuild it or not. So far I've heard of no major efforts in this area.

An important component of Russian naval power is air power. Both the Baltic and the Black Sea fleets have small enough areas of operation to get significant air support from land-based aviation. Their Pacific fleet can only reach the open ocean by passing through a couple of geographical bottlenecks that are in range of Russian air power as well. The Arctic fleet has the important mission of deploying and protecting strategic (nuclear deterrence) submarines (SSBNs). This can largely be done in range of land-based air power as well.


The last old Cold War design units will succumb to their age and leave service till about 2030 (bigger ships later than smaller ones). Everyone should re-assess the Russian fleet in the next years if he's still sticking to the image of the late old War Soviet fleet or of the rotting Russian fleet of Yeltsin and early Putin. We'll see an almost all-new Russian fleet soon.

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2 comments:

  1. Hey Sven,

    I really like your posts on naval warfare, however they also expose some of my Wissensl├╝cken. I really don't know much about modern navies. Would you happen to know a good book or two on that subject? I obviously have Mahan here, but he's fairly outdated and also quite overhyped, I'm given to understand. Anyway, keep up the good posts!

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  2. @Gruendlich:

    few books about modern naval combat are really useful.

    Hughes "Fleet tactics and coastal combat" is good on some operational/tactical aspects (at least for surface actions).

    The hardware side is better explained by military journal articles and websites like http://www.hazegray.org/worldnav/ .

    Mahan is badly outdated, but honestly - naval theoretical thinking didn't happen much outside of navies during the 20th century, so there are few popular books about it.

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