Russian navy is experiencing its new youth in the past year and it is announced that the investments in ship building will be only higher in the years to follow. Besides the corvettes, frigates and small patrol boats that are already in full production, there are some rumors about new aircraft carriers and new submarines as well. Out of these rumors the only confirmed story is the one about Lada class submarines (Project 677).
In the late 1990’s there was an obvious need for a new, more silent diesel/electric submarine to inherit the famous Kilo class and to ensure the protection against all potential threats from the sea. The previous designs have proven to be very successful so the Russian navy wanted to keep the pace with its opponents. Still, the bad financial situation prolonged construction of the first unit until 2004 when it was sent for trials. In 2011 the officials have announced that the entire project is cancelled due to unexpected bad performance and that the existing submarine will be used for various tests.
Still, the story doesn’t end here as in 2012 the decision was made to renew the project and to continue with construction of these submarines with some constructional adjustments that apparently solved all the issues it had. Currently the following two Lada class submarines are being finished and five more will be built. Out of the initial three, one will be deployed to Northern Fleet, one to Black Sea Fleet and another to Baltic Fleet.
The Lada class submarines are predicted for reconnaissance missions and anti-submarine and anti-ship warfare in defence of the Russian mainland. The very fact that they are diesel propelled shows that they are not predicted for a long range strikes as their nuclear propelled counterparts and additionally their armament is strictly focused on the sea warfare.
The Lada class is propelled by combined diesel-electric engines which are able to operate even when the vessel is submerged. This gives the autonomy of 45 days under the water surface and that is quite enough to fulfil the tasks it is designed for. The maximum tested depth to which this submarine can submerge is 300 metres. It should be extremely silent and without the need to surface this makes it almost undetectable for enemy’s destroyers and other subs.
The main armament of the Lada class consists of six 533 mm torpedo tubes which can use both torpedoes and RPK-g Stallion missiles. This is the strong enough equipment to take out almost any ship with a single hit. The crew consists of 38 (officers and men).
All in all, this is a decent successor to the Kilo class submarines and if no further problems occur it will be a valuable addition to the Russian Navy, especially for the Black Sea Fleet which operates in the part of the world where these submarines can show their full potential.