Tag Archives: Proyekt 636

Sub Numbers

Admiral Vladimir Vysotskiy

Let’s look a bit closer at what’s been said recently about future Russian submarine production.

On February 2, at the Navy development session in Severodvinsk, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitriy Rogozin got the media worked up when he talked [or was, he claims, misquoted] about producing an aircraft carrier and six submarines every year. 

The Rogozin flap had scarcely settled when Kommersant wrote that its Defense Ministry source indicated the Navy now plans to procure ten Borey-class SSBNs, ten Yasen-class SSNs, and some non-nuclear submarines including six Proyekt 636 or Kilo-class diesel-electric boats. 

The paper referenced former First Deputy Defense Minister Vladimir Popovkin’s rather non-specific early 2011 comment about acquiring 20 submarines (apparently separate and apart from SSBNs) under GPV 2011-2020.

Unfortunately, Kommersant’s failure to clarify this prompted others (e.g. Lenta) to conclude the Navy will get 10 SSBNs, 10 SSNs, and 20 other submarines.

Nevertheless, most observers focused on a still robust number like 30 new submarines in the GPV (e.g. Novyye izvestiya).  Eight or ten Borey units, and the rest Yasen or diesels.  As long ago as late 2010, Trud’s Lukanin wrote about 8 Borey and 22 other subs (though he also mentioned a total of 36 new subs).

Now we’re fortunate that Krasnaya zvezda provided a summary of Navy CINC, Admiral Vysotskiy’s remarks in Pushkin.  He flatly said the Navy plans on obtaining ten new diesel-electric submarines by 2020.  And, in early January, Mil.ru ran a press-release saying 8-10 diesel subs are coming.  According to Vysotskiy and Rear-Admiral Aleksandr Fedotenkov, six will be Proyekt 636 boats for the BSF.

But, interestingly enough, in his recent interview, Vysotskiy wasn’t asked and didn’t talk about sub numbers.

It’s also interesting Yasen and SSNs aren’t the focus of more discussion and speculation given Rogozin’s announcement at Severodvinsk that Moscow would put resources into extra overhauls for third generation nuclear submarines (Akula-, Victor III-, and Oscar II-classes).  This could ease the pressure for new SSNs.

Still, the task set for the Russian Navy and submarine builders will be extremely daunting.  They’re looking at reviving their force by launching between 20 and 30 new boats in much less than a decade.

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Dyachkov’s Interview

Andrey Dyachkov (photo: RIA Novosti / Sergey Safronov)

As General Director of both Sevmash and TsKB MT Rubin, Andrey Dyachkov’s a pretty significant individual when it comes to submarines.  What follows are highlights from his RIA Novosti interview last Friday.

Some blurbs have been published, but one frankly hasn’t had time to see if they captured the importance of what Dyachkov said.  Hence this summary.  It has less elegance (or perhaps fluff) than you may be accustomed to reading on these pages.

Dyachkov said the following:

  • Sevmash and the Defense Ministry signed a contract for the modernized Yasen, or Yasen-M this year.  It will be five units; Severodvinsk plus five.  Severodvinsk will be delivered next year; there were problems with some components obtained from suppliers and the Kalibr missile system needs to complete state testing.  About six months are needed for all this.
  • This year’s huge contract problems were a result of a changed Defense Ministry approach toward price formation Sevmash wasn’t ready for.  But times have changed, and Sevmash recognizes money has to be used more effectively, and ways have to be found to cut production expenditures.
  • Rubin has a contract to design the modernized proyekt 955, Borey, the Borey-A.  The contract should be signed by early 2012.  The lay-down of the first improved Borey will happen next year, and Saint Nikolay is still the working name for the first unit.  No word from the Sevmash chief on the final number of boats until after the contract is signed.  They’ve started laying down Saint Nikolay, but the official ceremony’s still to come.
  • Seventy percent of sub costs are reportedly to pay suppliers.  The main thing is getting them to reduce the cost of their products.  The Defense Ministry might even consider foreign component suppliers for some SSBN components.
  • Sevmash will take on construction of two diesel-electric proyekt 636 from Admiralty Wharves.  This will lighten the workload of the latter, and use excess capacity at the former.
  • Severnoye PKB has a contract to figure out how to modernize Kirov-class CGN Admiral Nakhimov (proyekt 1164, Orlan).  First and foremost, it needs new missiles (Kalibr and Oniks) to replace its Granit.  They are talking only about Nakhimov at this point.
  • Sevmash won’t be repairing CV Admiral Kuznetsov in 2012.  The shipyard is prepared to build a future carrier.
  • Modified Typhoon-class SSBN Dmitriy Donskoy will be kept active at the White Sea Naval Base for sub-on-sub trials of new boats.  Northern Fleet subs won’t be diverted for this task.
  • KB Malakhit has developed repair and modernization plans for the Akula-class (Proyekt 971, Bars).  Money’s been allocated and Zvezdochka will do the work. 
  • Russia may offer up the Amur-1650 diesel sub in next year’s Indian tender.  It could have air-independent propulsion, but Russia doesn’t seem really high on the idea.
  • They want to test Proyekt 677 Lada and its sonar in deeper waters next year.

Perhaps the Borey and Yasen mods reflect the problems of restarting construction that had been dormant (or at least very slow) for a long time and of using newly-made components rather than older ones.

The GOZ Last Week (Part I)

Let’s start with the news.  In short, Defense Minister Serdyukov told the press all GOZ-2011 contracts, except ones with OSK, were signed.  But most news outlets concluded he failed to meet Prime Minister Putin’s August 31 deadline for finishing the contracting process.

ITAR-TASS reported the Defense Ministry signed its fourth contract with OSK on August 29.  It was with Baltic Shipbuilding Factory “Yantar” for three Proyekt 11356M frigates.  Kommersant reported others are with Admiralty for three Proyekt 636 diesel-electric submarines and with Zvezda Shipyard in the Far East for nuclear submarine (probably OSCAR II-class) repairs and modernization.

But the largest and most important contracts with Sevmash for Proyekt 955 Borey-class SSBN and Proyekt 885 Yasen-class SSN production are still not signed.  The contract is supposed to cover two of the former and one of the latter that are already (or almost) complete.  Kommersant says the contracting delay means a fourth 955 and second 885 won’t be laid down until sometime in 2012.

ITAR-TASS concluded there are still differences over pricing although there is progress in the negotiations.  The wire service writes that Sevmash refuses to make concessions taking below a minimum profitability level, while the Defense Ministry calls price increases unjustifiable, and says it will only pay for concrete items regardless of the producer’s profitability.

On September 1, ITAR-TASS reported Serdyukov’s announcement that, on the whole, the Prime Minister’s order to conclude all GOZ contracts had been fulfilled.  It provided some choppy, weaseling quotes from Serdyukov:

“We are reprogramming for other requirements – precision weapons mainly, aviation, air defense . . . some suppliers because of some obstacles can’t provide their products.  . . . now we’re making changes – on the order of 30 billion [rubles].  . . . in essence, this is a formality  . . . .  Essentially, we’ve been through the entire agreed part.  The signing itself occurred yesterday-day before yesterday.  Only the United Shipbuilding Corporation contract remains.  Perhaps that’s all.”

Kommersant added Serdyukov’s comment that:

“We, unfortunately, can’t accept the figures which industry gives us.  For the most part, they are simply unjustified.”

Kommersant’s sources maintain, in addition to OSK, contracting with OAK and MIT remains incomplete, and no one’s willing to guess when this still-difficult process will end.

On September 2, Kommersant’s source said part of MIT’s contracts are done, but it would be premature to say the process is complete.

ITAR-TASS added that Sevmash’s contract is now supposed to be signed in mid-September.  The factory reportedly will agree to current prices for its submarines in exchange for some kind of “coefficient” to offset their rising costs starting in 2013.  The wire service also claimed there are now 6 of 13 OSK contracts signed.  And it put the cost of a Borey-class SSBN at a somewhat hard-to-believe 23 billion rubles.  OAK and MIT sources also told ITAR-TASS their contracts aren’t complete.

Vedomosti cited Konstantin Makiyenko on long-term submarine production costing 500 billion rubles.  If that’s eight Borey– and eight Yasen-class boats, it’s a $17 billion contract, basically $1 billion per submarine.  Thirty billion rubles a boat is a lot closer to 23 billion than the 47 or 112 billion that Serdyukov complained about in July.

Despite indications to the contrary, one has to wonder if Serdyukov isn’t very slowly winning his battle with the OPK.  But ultimately, it’s hard to say before we see what gets delivered, when, and how good it is.

Navy Day

Sankt-Peterburg Submarine in the Bolshaya Neva (photo: http://www.flot.com)

In honor of Navy Day — the 315th anniversary of the Russian Navy’s establishment — here are this week’s sound bites from Navy CINC, Admiral Vladimir Vysotskiy.  RIA Novosti will publish a complete interview with him tomorrow.

Vysotskiy says the Navy expects “not less than eight” proyekt 885 SSNs by 2020.  Some sources maintain the number is six.

Unit 1 Severodvinsk is preparing for sea trials in August, and unit 2 Kazan is expected by 2015.  They’ll have to pick up the pace to get eight by 2020.

Vysotskiy says work on a new destroyer will begin in 2012, and be completed in 2016.  This is the one he suggested might be nuclear-powered.

The CINC’s other comments covered the Black Sea Fleet. 

He claimed the BSF will get six proyekt 636 diesel-electric submarines in the coming years.  Its sole submarine now, proyekt 877 Varshavyanka-class SS Alrosa is currently in the Baltic for repair.

RIA Novosti recalled Vysotskiy’s past comments about obtaining 15 frigates and diesel submarines for the BSF by 2020 in a 60-30 proportion.  He also said a frigate and submarine were specifically laid down for the BSF in 2010, and would be every year henceforth.  He claimed the fleet would be renewed by 2020 through new construction rather than inter-fleet transfers.

Moskovskiy komsomolets and Newsru.com reported on the BSF’s drastic ten-fold decline since 1997.

This week TsAMTO cited a Baltic Fleet press release saying it expects to get the Neustrashimyy-class FF Yaroslav Mudryy, proyekt 20380 Steregushchiy-class FFLs Steregushchiy, Soobrazitelnyy, and Boykiy, proyekt 677 Lada-class SS Sankt-Peterburg, as well as assault ships and other craft.  The BSF may be expecting to get some of these ships as well.

Popovkin Details the GPV

Yesterday First Deputy Defense Minister Vladimir Popovkin gave RIA Novosti more details on Russia’s procurement plans under the State Program of Armaments (GPV), 2011-2020.  He said 78-80 percent of the 19-trillion-ruble Armed Forces portion of the GPV will go to procurement.   

Popovkin said Russia plans to develop a new liquid-fueled heavy ICBM to carry up to ten warheads, and having a service life of up to 35 years.  Former RVSN Commander General-Lieutenant Andrey Shvaychenko talked about a new liquid heavy as far back as late 2009, and the issue’s been debated in the Russian military press since. 

Popovkin said the Defense Ministry plans to accept the Bulava SLBM and the first two Borey-class SSBNs this year.  There will be 4-5 Bulava launches this year.  Recall to date only 7 of 14 Bulava tests have been successful.  Addressing the missile’s past failures, Popovkin said there were many deviations from the design documentation during production.  He also said Russia plans to build eight SSBNs to carry Bulava by 2020.  He was unclear if this includes the first two Borey-class boats.

Popovkin said work on a new strategic bomber is ongoing, and he claimed a technical design will be complete in 2015.  He said this work isn’t being rushed.

Popovkin told RIA Novosti  the Air Forces will receive more than 600 new aircraft and 1,000 new helicopters by 2020.  In 2011, Su-27SM, Su-30M2, Su-35S, Yak-130, and Su-34 aircraft are to be procured.  More than 100 helicopters, including Mi-26 transports and Mi-28N and Ka-52 combat helicopters will be acquired this year, according to Popovkin. 

Popovkin said a contract for the first ten experimental PAK FA (T-50) aircraft will be signed in 2013, with serial production of 60 aircraft beginning in 2016.

The GPV includes the purchase of ten S-500 air defense systems.  Popovkin said this system will begin testing in 2015, initially with missiles from the S-400.  Fifty-six S-400 units will also be purchased by 2020.  This sounds like seven 8-launcher battalions.   

Popovkin said the GPV will buy 100 ships – including 20 submarines, 35 corvettes, and 15 frigates – for the Navy.  He didn’t specify types for the other 30 ships, and it’s unclear if new SSBNs are included in these numbers.  Popovkin reconfirmed Russia’s plan to buy two and build two Mistral amphibious ships.  Recall also the Black Sea Fleet alone is supposed to get 18 new ships including proyekt 636 diesel-electric submarines, proyekt 11356 and 22350 frigates, and proyekt 11711 LSTs.

Popovkin also mentioned plans to buy a limited number of French FELIN soldier systems, with the intent of Russia producing its own version by 2020.  He looks for it to equal the advertised capabilities of U.S. and German equivalents.

Return to Cam Ranh?

Russia Departs Cam Ranh in 2002 (photo: ITAR-TASS)

The Russian Navy’s possible return to Vietnam became the latest military rumor floated in the media last week.  If it happens, it won’t have exactly the same purposes as in 1979, and it probably won’t be on the same scale.  But it will be part and parcel of the issue of being, or wanting to remain, a naval power.  Moscow might have to ask itself if it still is one, or will be one in the future.

On Wednesday, former Navy Main Staff Chief, Admiral Viktor Kravchenko told Interfaks the Navy is proposing to reestablish a material-technical support base (PMTO or ПМТО) at Cam Ranh.

The news service quotes Kravchenko:

“Without a system of bases for deployment, full support of Navy ships in distant waters is problematic.  Navy surface ships and submarines need repair, resupply, and crew rest to fulfill a wide range of missions on the world’s oceans.  If as before Russia considers itself a naval power, the reestablishment and creation of basing points like Cam Ranh is unavoidable.”

A Defense Ministry source told Nezavisimaya gazeta that:

“The [Navy] Glavkomat has finished work on the documents considering and substantiating the need to reestablish a basing point to support Russian ships in the Asia-Pacific region.  If there is a political decision, then the Navy is prepared to reestablish a working base in three years.”

The base would support ships on antipiracy missions in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, according to the source.

The Chairman of the Duma Defense Committee’s Subcommittee on Military-Technical Cooperation, former Captain First Rank Mikhail Nenashev told Interfaks:

“The rent for a naval base at Cam Ranh, in the end, would cost Russia less than regular support of combatants on the world’s oceans using auxiliary ships, tankers, and repair ships.”

And:

“Reestablishing a base at Cam Ranh would help strengthen and develop cooperation with Vietnam and the Asia-Pacific region countries not only in military, but in many others spheres of activity.”

Izvestiya says, Moscow doesn’t intend to return to a Cold War-style global military confrontation with Washington – it has not the forces, means, or desire for it – but the ‘Cam Ranh initiative’ shows that a gradual reanimation of specific military bases abroad could happen.

According to Newsru.com and Vremya novostey, in 1979, Moscow and Hanoi signed a 25-year agreement by which the Soviet Pacific Fleet’s 17th Squadron gained access to Cam Ranh.  Vietnam allowed the Soviet Navy to base 10 surface ships, 8 submarines with a submarine support ship, and 6 auxiliaries at the port.  Later, the 922nd PMTO was established at the Vietnamese port.  The Soviets had POL storage, an ASW and missile armaments base and technical service unit, a Naval Infantry sub-unit, and an air regiment at Cam Ranh.

The base was initially free, but Hanoi asked for $300 million in rent in 1998.  In 2001, Moscow decided not to extend its agreement with Vietnam, and the last Russian elements departed Cam Ranh in mid-2002.  The decisionmaking around the Cam Ranh withdrawal (likewise for Lourdes, Cuba) is anything but clear-cut.  But then President Putin probably made the decision, reportedly against the advice of many senior uniformed officers, in an effort to save money for the military at home, and to make nice with Washington.  Former high-ranking General Staff officer Leonid Ivashov claims the $300 million rent, at least, shouldn’t have been an issue since it could have been written off against Vietnam’s $10 billion debt to Moscow.

Prime Minister Putin’s December 2009 Hanoi visit and major arms deal, including six proyekt 636 diesel submarines, with Vietnam may have started movement on a return to Cam Ranh.  Defense Minister Serdyukov went to Hanoi in February and told Rossiyskaya gazeta the Vietnamese were very interested in constructing a Navy repair plant and Russian help with naval logistics.  However, Serdyukov claimed the Vietnamese didn’t propose anything about Cam Ranh.  But NG’s Vladimir Mukhin speculates a deal for a renewed Russian presence at the base might be inked during President Medvedev’s late October trip to Vietnam.

Izvestiya quotes independent military analyst Aleksandr Khramchikhin:

“Theoretically, I welcome the reestablishment of a Navy base at Cam Ranh.  For Russia, it is a very composite and most useful facility abroad. Without it, the operations of the Pacific Fleet are impeded.  Also very little remains of the Pacific Fleet.  This fact, however, doesn’t change the usefulness of the base at Cam Ranh.  Such a step could, of course, create certain foreign policy difficulties for Russia.  I suppose the U.S. and China will express dissatisfaction, but this will hardly have any real effect.  As concerns Vietnam, it would pay to view it as our most important ally.  Russia largely cast it aside after the collapse of the USSR.  This was a gross mistake worth correcting.”

It’s worth recalling Khramchikhin may view Vietnam through a slightly Sinophobic prism.

Talking to NG, Duma Deputy, and former Black Sea Fleet commander, Vladimir Komoyedov worries there won’t be anything to deploy at Cam Ranh:

“The Pacific Fleet, whose ships need to control the waters of South-East Asia, has hardly received any new units for the last two decades.  And what will we deploy to Cam Ranh?”

Proyekt 636 Subs Being Laid Down for BSF

On 17 August, Russian news agencies reported that Admiralty will build a proyekt 636 diesel-electric submarine for the Black Sea Fleet (BSF).  The keel-laying was scheduled for 20 August.  Navy CINC Admiral Vladimir Vysotskiy says, in all, three proyekt 636 submarines will be laid down for the BSF before year’s end. 

Krasnaya zvezda writes that, although Admiralty has produced export submarines since 1983, Novorossiysk will be its first proyekt 636 for the Russian Navy.

Ocean TV reports Novorossiysk will be complete in 2013, and the other two in 2014.

The Rubin Central Design Bureau of Naval Technology has made changes in the construction of systems and equipment of the proyekt 636 for its use in the Russian Navy.  RIA Novosti said the new BSF submarines will be armed with the Klab-S antiship cruise missiles.

The Navy Main Staff calls Novorossiysk the start of its long-term plan to restore the BSF’s combat readiness.  The fleet is also slated to receive the Sevastopol, the third unit of new fourth generation proyekt 677 submarines.  According to Krasnaya zvezda, the transfer of Baltic Fleet Neustrashimyy and Yaroslav Mudryy frigates to the BSF is still being worked, and could take place in the next year.

A related aside . . . it’s been almost four months and there’s no mention of the BSF basing report that, on 1 May, President Medvedev ordered Defense Minister Serdyukov to present in a month.