Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Russia Commissions First Project 885 Yasen Class Nuclear Submarine

The first Project 885 Yasen class (or Graney class) nuclear submarine has finally been commissioned in the Russian Navy, long after it was originally planned to enter service during the nineties. The Severodvinsk was laid down in 1993 with work continuing on and off over the next two decades.

The nineties saw the Russian Navy experience hard times due to financial difficulties which effected the building of new warships, including the Project 885 submarines. However, the improving Russian economy in recent years has allowed Russia to spend more on defense that wasn't possible before.

A total of eight ships are to be build and the next seven will be modified to the improved Project 885M Yasen-M standard. The submarines will be armed among others with the 3M-54 Kalibr and 3M-55 Onyx (Oniks) missile systems.

The P-800 Onyx is finally starting to enter Russian service after export versions of the missile have already done so in other countries years before. The Yakhont has been exported to Syria, Indonesia and Vietnam and the Brahmos is in service in India.

The domestic version of the 3M-55 missiles are to be used by the Russians only and offer superior performance over the export versions, such as a maximum range of an estimated 500 km.

On the other hand, both the Yakhont and Brahmos are limited to less than 300 km. It's the same case with the 3M-54 Kalibr, which is the domestic version for Russia of the export-only Klub missile complex.

The building of new submarines is part of Russia's program of rearming, including the Navy which has been drastically reduced in size compared to Soviet times. Besides the Project 885 Yasen class, two Project 955 Borey class ballistic missile submarines have also joined the Russian Navy recently.

Besides new submarines, Russia is also upgrading some of its older ships, including the Project 949A Antey (Oscar II) class and Project 945 Barrakuda (Sierra) class nuclear submarines.

The surface fleet is also undergoing changes with the addition of new surface warships and the upgrading of existing ships such as the Project 1144 Orlan (Kirov) class guided missile cruiser and the single Admiral Kuznetsov (Project 1143) aircraft carrier.

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