Ever since the Cold War begun, the Soviet naval forces were paying special attention to the attack submarines. They were meant to be the weapon for nuclear strikes and battling the western navies on the sea. The Akula class was the backbone of these forces for many years, but since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, little was done to increase the power of the Northern and Pacific fleet.
This changed dramatically in the last few years as the Russian Navy started ordering new ships and subs. The new Borei class was the priority as it carries the ICBMs, but now the Yasen class (NATO reporting name Graney) is next to be produced and delivered in significant numbers.
The development of the Yasen class has started in the late 1970’s. The design works started in 1977 and the project was to be done by 1985. Still, the first unit was ordered only in 1993 and soon in 1995 it was postponed due to lack of funds. All the way until the 2000’s, the Russian navy was unable to invest significant funds in new multipurpose submarines so the fresh start was made only in 2004. Unfortunately, the Borei class got the priority so the first sub of the Yasen class named Severodvinsk was finished in 2010 and since 2013 it is on the battle duty. The second submarine of the 885M Yasen class named Kazan is also finished in 2014 and it is expected that it will be commissioned in 2015. Two more units named Novosibirsk and Krasnoyarsk are laid down and they are expected to be commissioned in 2017 and 2018. The plan is to deliver one multipurpose nuclear submarine each year, although they all may be of different classes.
This is the state of the art sub. It is powered by a single KPM pressurized reactor and the technology used in it gives the sub absolute autonomy of movement. Namely, it is predicted that the service life of the reactor will exceed the service life of the sub, and without any refuelling.
It is also a very quiet submarine. The NATO experts claim that it is the quietest of all Soviet/Russian submarines but that is louder than American Seawolf and Virginia classes. Despite this, the NATO also refers on the Yasen class as “The Black Hole” class, unofficially.
The armament is very powerful and includes long range cruise missiles of the latest generation. The main armament consists of 32 or 40 Kalibr (Klub) missiles placed in the VLS. It can also carry the Granit and Onyx anti-ship missiles in the same containers. Also, it has 8 torpedo tubes in 650 mm calibre and additional two in 533 mm calibre. It also carries the mines and anti-ship RPK-7 missiles launched from the torpedo tubes. All the armament can be equipped with conventional and nuclear warheads.
The maximum depth on which it can go is 600 m and that is more than impressive. The crew consists of 90 men, 32 of them being the officers.
Once these subs become present in significant numbers, they will pose a serious threat to any navy in the world. Their unlimited operational range, huge firepower that can be exploited while the sub is submerged and its silence are the guarantee for success.