Home' Asia Pacific Defence Reporter : APDR May 2016 Contents Asia Pacific Defence Reporter M AY 2 0 1 6 41
on the next-generation multipurpose non-nuclear
submarine” in a compliance specification issued earlier
by the defense ministry.
Information about the new design remains scarce.
It is known, however, that the Kalina will feature a
combination of AIP and Ion-Lithium batteries. Also, she
must be capable of launching both ballistic and cruise
missiles, as well as of making use of “robotic means”.
RENEWAL OF DOCKYARD
At the turn of the century, the Kilo class was in
production at four locations. Today, Admiralty Shipyards
in St. Petersburg is the only maker of diesel-electric
submarines for local and overseas customers in the
country. The company fulfils orders from the Russian
defense ministry for the Project 636.3 and Project 677,
and those of Vietnam and Algeria for the Project 636.1.
India is expected to place an order for the Project 636.1
and China for the Amur 1650.
In a recent inter view with Indian journalists, Admiralty
Shipyards general manager Alexander Buzakov said:
“We are preparing to manufacture submarines with
AIP and Ion-Li batteries as the main source of power for
underwater propulsion. Industrial processes have been
adjusted accordingly, so as to enable construction
of submarines attributed to the fifth generation and
beyond. Reconstruction being carried out is based on
a systematic approach and is intended for optimization
of construction and testing cycles”.
He further stated that the dockyard’s capacities
permit the build of a lead ship of an all-new design in
four years’ time. Then, as the production streamlines,
lead cycles for series boats will be reduced to less than
The Kalina class is believed to represent a unified
launch platform for both ballistic and cruise missiles.
It seems likely that these next-generation boats for
the Russian navy will be equipped with the so-called
Universal Vertical Launch System (UVLS) similar or
identical to that already on the Project 885 Yasen
multipurpose nuclear submarine (SSNG). In 2012,
the lead ship of this project, Severodvinsk, carried
out successfully single and salvo launches of Novator
3M45 anti-ship and 3M14 land-attack missiles from her
UVLS. In addition, the Caliber-PL system on the class
can handle the 91R anti-submarine missile. Also, UVLS
can also manage launches of the 3M55 Onyx (which is,
effectively, an all-Russian version of the BrahMos PJ-10
from BrahMos Aerospace company, a joint venture of
India and Russia).
Russian companies are working on unmanned aerial
and underwater vehicles for submarine applications.
“ We are not lagging behind the West in the robotic
means for the submarine”, Igor Vilnit told APDR.
According to the head of Rubin design house, “robotic
means” were tested on the Sarov experimental
submarine. “She proves a very useful ship, and
performs well. In fact, we are ahead of all others on the
planet with that ship”, he noted.
Russian scientists have long been looking at ways
to create innovative large-capacity accumulator
batteries that would supersede the classic lead-acid
ones. Calculations showed that replacing a factory’s
standard unit with the Ion-Li type on the Project
677 Lada could notably improve her performance.
Endurance and range in submerged mode at
low-noise speed would increase by 50 % , range at
full speed by a factor of three.
Various scientific, technical and manufacturing
issues prevented the head vessel – B -585 Saint
Petersburg - from acquiring a Ion-Li battery. She was
launched on water (2004) and commissioned (2010)
with a classic battery. Thus equipped, the B-585
continues to undergo operational trials. At the same
time, the scientists and industry managed to come
for ward with a workable solution on a Ion-Li battery
for submarine applications. Funding for a production
specimen was provided in 2013.
That year, the author spoke to Igor Vilnit on the
theme. He said: “For seamen, the accumulator battery
has always been, and remains, a very special issue.
Acid batteries produce hydrogen. That’s why there
are strict rules for checks and maintenance in use on
in-service submarines. The Ion-Li battery – the one
Rubin developed together with our industrial partners
does not have such a drawback. We have already
tested its elements for short circle, rapid discharge and
high currents. Results of these and other tests permit
me to assert that the new battery works fine. We have
no doubts that next year (i.e . 2014) we will manage to
complete development of the Ion-Li battery applicable
to the submarine. This work is being carried out under
contracts with the Russian navy”.
The following year, Rubin lived up to the promise
and completed “all tests necessary” on a production
specimen. This fact enabled Vilnit to make the following
statement in December 2014. “The Lada project
commenced without a Ion-Li battery since one had not
been available at that time. But we have it today, and it
is going to be installed into submarines in accordance
with the Russian navy plans. Such a battery can find
application on the Lada class submarines”.
While acknowledging that the merits of the Ion-Li
battery make it especially attractive in conjunction with
AIP, Vilnit stated this. “At the same time, the key thing
about this new battery is not to do with AIP, but higher
accumulator capacity. If the electric current is same,
this battery allows for a considerable extension of a
submarine’s endurance at sea. Secondly, the Ion-Li
battery has a notably longer lifetime. Thirdly, the Ion-Li
battery does not require heavy maintenance of the sort
that we obser ve today on in-ser vice batteries. Again,
none of these merits are to do with AIP specifically. At
the same time, a Ion-Li battery is much more expensive
to buy. And yet, since it requires less maintenance, the
initial expense shall pay off over the entire lifetime”.
The new battery from Rubin and its industrial partners
is made interchangeable with the existing models: they
have the same dimensions and attachment points. As
of December 2015, however, there was no decision
by the navy to equip the two Project 677 hulls under
construction – the B-586 Kronshtadt and B-587 Velikie
Luki – with the new batteries.
The most recent comment from Rubin CEO is
this. “As such, the Ion-lithium battery has a number
of advantages over the classic acid one. Because of
this, it will find application on new submarine designs.
I do not think that there is a reason to replace batteries
on submarines already made. The battery is only one
element in the ship’s power generation and propulsion
system, and so it needs to be integrated into that
system with all its qualities in a meaningful way. There
is not any special need to install the new battery into
already completed hulls. At the same time, we have
come very close to creation of an AIP & Ion-Li battery
system with optimized performance. And it will be
installed into a new ship”.
AIR INDEPENDENT PROPULSION
Early attempts to produce AIP date back to Imperial
navy times. Inventor Stefan Drzewiecki engineered
the Pochtovy displacing 134 tons. In naval ser vice
during the years 1908-1913, she featured a unified
propulsion system (employing an internal combustion
engine fed with compressed air) to propel the boat in
both surfaced and submerged modes. In the 1950s,
the Soviet Union built a series of 400/500-tonne A615
submarines (NATO code mane Quebec) with a unified
propulsion system, using closed cycle diesel engines.
To make diesels work under water, these submarines
carried reservoirs for liquid oxygen (LOX) of 8.5 tons
and chemicals (14.9 tons). Oxygen leaks led to a
series of explosions and caused numerous casualties
among crews. Subsequently the Quebec class was
nicknamed “Cigarette lighter”. Since then, the painful
experience with AIP on the A615s has been a factor for
Russian naval planners.
In the course of space programs in the 1980s,
the Soviet Union developed fuel cells and set them
into production. R & D efforts on naval applications
brought to life several projects codenamed Crystal.
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