Relevant for IN since we are looking to add a new second Type of SSK in INFourth generation Non-Nuclear Submarines (NNS) in struggle for markets
In 1980s the two world powers - the USSR and the USA - got down to design of the fourth generation of the non-atomic submarines which differ from their predecessors on higher combat effectiveness achieved by implementation of the latest achievements in nuclear engineering hydrodynamics, weapons, construction materials, stealthiness, submarine acoustics and not acoustic means of submarine detection, automatic control systems, communication etc. As a result such submarines as "Seawolf" (entered the service in 1997) and "Virginia" (entered the service in 2004) multi-purpose submarines as well as Project-885 and Project-955 Russian nuclear propulsions (their entering the service of the Naval forces is expected in 2008-09), the French "Barracuda" nuclear submarine (the forerunner was laid down in 2007) and the British "Ascute" (2009) appeared.
Some time later in 1990s the construction of the first NNS of the fourth generation was started in Germany, France and Russia. Today they are in fierce competitive struggle for the international market of under-water weapons.
Today the total amount of the NNSs in the fleets of 44 states is about 400. These ships play both tactical and strategic role providing even small countries which have submarine forces with the possibility to damage larger and stronger enemy during naval operations. That is why the world market of NNS appears to be highly profitable, prospective and capacious. Its peak increase can be even in the next decade when full range substitution of the third-generation submarines will begin in many countries.
However, the NNSs (which can be referred to as diesel-electric) were in the "shade" of their nuclear "sisters" in 1960-1980s. Its enough to say that one of the super-powers, the US, rejected the idea of development of these ships (excluding the development of special purpose submarines and deep-sea vehicles). From 1950s US NATO allies started the development of the NNS projects. The second world leader, the USSR, unlike the US needed both ocean-going and sea-going ships (The Baltic and the Black seas have international non-nuclear status). The USSR developed its diesel-electric submarines according to so-called "residual principle" investing the bulk assets and resources of the military-industrial complex into upgrading of its nuclear submarine fleet first of all.
The submarine ship-building (even in its non-nuclear part which seems easier at first) remained high-tech and science-intensive area and demanded powerful engineering and production base which in its turn demanded enough large means and assets for development. With growth of its complexity and science-intensiveness the number of the states capable to project and build not nuclear submarines independently constantly reduced. If in 1950 - 1960s the diesel-electric submarines were produced by practically all leading ship-building powers of Europe - England, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, the Western Germany, France and Sweden. By 1990s only Germany, France and Sweden remained in the European «club of not nuclear submarines producers». Other countries preferred either to buy NNS abroad or to build them under foreign licenses.
At the same time submarines still remained one of most effective means of the armed struggle on the sea. And if in 1950-1960s the demand for them was appreciably satisfied with modernized American or Soviet submarines of military series as well as the submarines of the first post-war generation in service with the Naval Forces of the USSR and the USA, in 1970s the first place (after the Soviet ship-building industry, and the Chinese, who duplicated the Soviet diesel submarines of the first generation in great quantities) was occupied by English, German and French ship builders. In particular, the German Type 205, Type 209 submarines and their numerous variants got the world wide recognition. The submarines of Project-209 have really got the world-wide recognition: in 1970-2000s 63 submarines of this type of various modifications have been delivered in 14 countries of the world. Under the German license their assemblage was carried out in Argentina, Brazil, India, Turkey, South Korea.
Approximately at the same time (1974-2006) France built 13 submarines of "«Agosta»" type. Four of them were given to the national fleet, four - for the Spanish Navy and five - for the Pakistani Navy.
Japan was one of the most active in diesel-electric submarines production countries. The country used its own projects and built several series of relatively large (2500-2800 m3) ocean-going submarines of the second and the third generation which had "albacore"-type hull (the export of weapons and combat vehicles is prohibited in the country by the law). China in parallel with buying of the Russian submarines of the third generation (Projects 877 and 636) produces so-called national "clones" of this submarines and the ships of its own projects using Russian and French technology.
The evolution of the diesel-electric submarines of the second and the third after-war generations (both Russian and Western) was going on along with the modernizing the nuclear propulsions in the way of increasing stealthiness, depth of submersion, self-sustained period, combat possibilities of the weapons and other parameters. The growing demand for diesel-electric submarines in 1970s led to restoration of interest for airindependent non-atomic power plants for submarines which were concerned as auxiliary power plants ensuring the under-water self-sustained period at low speed by two-three (and more) times.
It is necessary to tell that in 1940-1950s the work in this direction was actively conducted in the USSR, the USA and the Great Britain. However after occurrence of the first underwater atomic-powered vessels the interest to such projects considerably decreased for more than a decade having revived only after the diesel-electric submarines proved the capability to be applied effectively even in "atomic age" successfully supplementing incomparably more expensive and sometimes less effective nuclear propulsions.
In 1996-1997 three submarines of "Holland" type entered the service of the Swedish fleet. They conditionally can be corresponded to generation «3 +». The ships with displacement of 1300/1600 м3 and the length of 60.4 m which were constructed on the shipyard in Malino representing further development of diesel-electric submarines of the 3rd generation of the "Vaster»Gotland»" type, have lower noiseness and equipped with modern radio-electronic equipment and weapons. However their main feature is presence airindependent power plant which includes Stirling engines.
Works on this engine began in Sweden in 1960s, and in 1989 the test submarine (converted "Nacken" diesel-electric submarine), equipped with Stirling engines was tested. Unlike diesel engine (where fuel burning occurs in the cylinder under the piston), in the Stirling it is performed in the separate cmbustion chamber. The heat is transferred to a working body (inert gas) which is in the cylinder which actuates the piston. Thus the products of combustion which are under high pressure, are released out board without the additional compressor.
The successful end of the experimental works has allowed the Swedes to start design of high-grade combat submarines. On each of thr "«Gotland»s" two engines of external combustion with the capacity of 75 kw were installed. Soon in the same way with «Gotland» and its «sisterships» two submarines of the third generation of Vaster "Gotland" type were modernized too in Malino. Thus the Swedish fleet was the first in the world to equip fully the underwater forces with NNSs with airindependent power plants.
Power plants with Stirling engines provide the submarine at a speed of 2.5 knots with the duration of the underwater course equal to 20 days. The submarine can go with a speed of up to 20 knots using accumulators. The weak points are - the efficiency is less than a diesel has, big noiseness, leaving trace, and restriction on depth (which, however, is not critical for the Swedish submarines, owing to hydrographic features of the Baltic having working depth of only 150 m).
With the experimental purposes the Swedish engines were bought by Australia. And in Japan with the same purposes the "Asahio" submarines ("Harushio" type) were converted for the Stirling engines. In 2005 the «Gotland» submarine was taken in leasing by the US Navy. According to the official version the US is going to use it for working off of the measures for struggle with perspective anaerobic NNSs of China. However it is most possible to assume, that the Americans simply wish to return to rather perspective international market of NNS and make up the missed opportunities by using actively the advanced European experience for this purpose. At the same time there is no information on contracts on delivery of new boats of the «Gotland» type or on the beginning of building of submarines with the Stirling engines in Japan which also has selected «the Swedish way». The plans of new generation boats with the Strerling engines in Sweden left without continuation.
In 1994 the government of Germany signed the contract on purchase of four submarines of Type 212 which are the new, fourth generation of NNS. The development of these ships was preceded by long works in the sphere of anaerobic power plants of various types, which had been performed in Germany since 1970s. As a result, in the early nineties, after carrying out of numerous experiments and tests (including the tests on the experiment ship - the U-1 Type 205 submarine), the German experts chose the power plant with electrochemical generators (ECG).
This device provides direct transformation of chemical energy into electric, which is carried out in special electrochemical elements (cells). PP with ECG has a number of important advantages to not nuclear airindependent plants of other types - steam turbines of the closed cycle, Stirling engines, diesel engines of the closed cycle, etc. In particular, at rather high efficiency electrochemical generators possess low level of oxygen consumption, have a small thermal emission, and at the output only one product, water, appears.
It is necessary to consider the following points as serious, basic weak points of ECG. First of all, the difficulties with storage of hydrogen: it is dangerous to store it onboard a submarine in the form of the compressed gas or peroxide, and in a liquid condition (with reference to conditions onboard a submarine) - it is extremely technically difficult. The German experts have selected the way of storage of hydrogen in metal-hydride accumulators (so-called intermetallic storage) at which emptiness in a crystal lattice of metal are filled with atoms of hydrogen. However for charging of such batteries "smooth" conditions which can be created only on well equipped coastal base are required. As a result the ship becomes rigidly bound to the limited number of basing sites, which essentially limits its application.
The architecture of the German boat of the 4th generation essentially differed from shape of German submarines of previous generations. The ship has extremely svelt (earlier not peculiar for German submarines) contours with a protection of sliding devices, smoothly «plane likely» interfaced to contours of a superstructure and reminding "cabins" of limuzine type Soviet nuclear propulsions of the 2nd and 3rd generations. It is necessary to tell, that close contours are considered also by the Americans within the framework of works at nuclear propulsions of the 6th generation whih should replace "Virginia" in 2020s.
In 1996 Naval Forces of Italy for which it was necessary to fill up the fleet with at least two new submarines in 2000-2010 joined the German program of design of 212 type submarine. The «Romanized» project of the submarine was designated as Type 212А.
The first boat of Project-212 - U31 named "Wittenberg" was laid in July, 1998, in Kiel on "Howaldswerke Deutchewerft" and was floated in April, 2002. On October, 19, 2005 this ship as well as the second boat of the same type - U32 "Edenkoben" constructed by "Tissen Nordtzeewerke" (Emden) - in solemn conditions were transferred to the fleet. Thus the German Naval Forces after 1969 for the first time were replenished with new submarines. In 2006 the Naval Forces of Germany received two more boats of the given type.
The Italian NNSs Type 212А are under construction on shipyard in Finkantieri (their enering the service is expected in 2009 and 2010), differ from the German "elder sisters" in a number of insignificant features of design and equipment set in which the interests of the Italian manufacturers are taken into consideration.
On Greek shipyard "Helenik Shipyard" two boats of Type 214 which are the export version of Type 212 are under construction for the Naval Forces of Greece. They have increased to 65 m length and less powerful PP with ECG. The surface displacement of the boats is 1600 м3. The head Greek ship "Palanicolis" was floated in April, 2004. Three more NNSs of Type 214 according to the contract signed in 2000 are under construction in Korean Republic for the national Naval Forces. Turkey declared its desire to buy six boats of Type 214. Brazil and the Republic of South Africa became potentcial buyers of these boats in 2008.
The Type 212 boats having surface displacement of 1450 м3 and underwater displacement of 1830 м3 are made in one-and-a-half type (which is caused by necessity to generate volumes for components of ECG). The X-shaped tail plumage (which was earlier made at a number of the 3rd generation submarines which are produced in Germany for a number of foreign customers) rather seldom applied in underwater shipbuilding is another feature of configuration of these submarines. The strength hull of the ship is made of low-magnetic steel, and the external hull and the protection of sliding devices are made of fiberglass.
Power plant of the boat includes usual diesel-electric PP, added with the electrochemical generator. The rowing electric motor with the capacity of 3875 h.p. actuates seven-bladed quiet rowing screw with crescent-type blades. The capacity of ECG is about 306 kw (nine generators with 34 kw each) which provides the boat with full underwater speed of 8 knots, and cruiser speed of 3 knots. Type 212 according to the statements of company representatives is capable to go in underwater position for 14 days (the range of a course is about 1700 miles). With the diesel engine, at cruiser speed of 8 knots, the range is 8000 miles, at a course with only accumulators the boat is capable to cover 420 miles at a speed of 4 knots.
Type 212 and Type 212А NNSs have length of 55.9 m and full speed of underwater course of 17 knots (according to other information - about 20 knots). The maximum depth of submersion is 300 m, self-sustained period - 30 days. Submarines are equipped with six 533-mm torpedo tubes with munition of 12 torpedoes (the regular weapon of the German submarines is the newest electric torpedoes DM2A4 with the maximum speed of an underwater course of about 50 knots and the range of about 20 km. Instead of it the boat can carry mines). The NNS crew is 27 persons. Cost of one serial ship of Project-214 is estimated (depending on the set of equipment and weapon) is 300-350 million euro.
The competitor of Type 212/214 is the "Scorpen" submarine which designed by French DCN company together with Spanish Izar (former Bazan). The new submarine is the further development of the 3rd generation "Agosta" boat. At its development the experience of design and operation of the French atomic-powered vessels (in particular, tiny "Rubis" nuclear propulsion) was widely used. The project has three variants. The choice is defined by desire and financial possibilities of customers:
- Base (usual diesel-electric submarine);
- variant with airindependent installation;
- "Compact", also with airindependent installation, but of less capacity.
Unlike the German boats equipped with fuel elements, the French submarine (the variant with airindepended power installation) is equipped with the MESMA steam turbine of the closed cycle (STCC). At combustion of diesel fuel and oxygen (contained onboard the boat in liquid type) in the special chamber the warm is generated wich serves for work of the steam generator of this PP. Steam goes for supply of the turbine with the capacity of 200 kw, and then it is condensed. Water is repeatedly used in system of the closed cycle, and carbonic gas appearing during fuel burning is thrown out the board. Thus internal pressure in system is so, that gas removal can be carried out at the depth exceeding limiting depth of boat submersion.
Three Pakistan «Agosts» transferred to the customer in 1999-2006 which have an additional compartment with the length of about 10 m with the steam turbine of the closed cycle were the first submarines equipped with plants of MESMA type. Thus standard displacement of the modernised boats increased from 1500 to 1770 t, and the maximum speed reduced from 20 to 19 knots.
The contract for construction of the first "Scorpen" (which were unlike Agost and German Type 212/214 completely export ships) was signed in 1997. It provided construction of two NNSs (O`Higgins and Carrera) in base (diesel-electric) configuration for the Naval Forces of Chile. The transfer to the customer was accordingly in 2007 and 2008. In 2002 another contract for two boats for the Naval Fleet of Malaysia was signed. And in 2003 Spain made the decision on construction of four S-80 NNSs (enlarged in sizes modification of "Scorpen") on Izar shipyard.
However the greatest success of the French builders of submarines was in India. On October, 6, 2005 the contract on licence construction of six "Scorpen" for the Indian Naval Forces was signed as a result of the international competition. The construction (using French accessories) of submarines of base variant as well as the variant with MESMA plant (starting with the fourth hull) on Indian shipyard "Mazagon Docks" (Bombay) is provided. It is supposed, that the first Indian submarine will enter the service in 2012 and the whole series will be finished by 2017. Unlike the boats of this type intended for Chile and Malaysia which have just torpedo weapons the Indian "Scorpen" NNS should be equipped with the SM.40 Exocet anti-ship tactical cruise missiles launced from undewater.
It is necessary to notice that promption of NNSs on international weapons market is actively lobbied at the top international level by our competitors. In Germany it was the Chancellor who personally performed the promotion of German submarines for export, carried on negotiations with the prime minister and the president of India as well as with the leaders of some other countries. French president Chirac personally went to the president of India, to the prime minister of Malaysia... India and Malaysia bought "Scorpen" instead of our boats. South Korea, Greece and Portugal bought Type 214 boat, Chile bought "Scorpen"... Such tendency is very alarming. But we will return to the French ship.
The base variant of the boat in has normal displacement of 1550 t and the length of 66.4 m. It develops full underwater speed of 20 knots and is capable to dive at the depth to 300 m. Using accumulators the diesel-electric "Scorpen" can cover the distance equal to 550 miles in underwater position at cruiser speed. The variant of "Scorpen" with the MESMA steam turbine is a little longer (76.2) and the displacement is 1770. In the airindependent mode this boat is capable to cover 1300 miles at cruiser speed of 4 knots. As well as the German analogue, the French NNS distinguish with small noiseness acheived as the result of the hydrodynamic perfection of the form of the boat hull, minimising the quantity of outstanding parts, optimisation of the rowing screw configuration, acoustic isolation of decks, equipment placing in the places where it is possible on rubber shock-absorbers, use of double elastic linings for installation of the most noise emission systems.
The competitors of Russia have the example in reducing noiseness to achieve. In late seventies in Russa in Leningrad Central Design Bureau "Rubin" under the Chief designer Jury Nikolaevich Kormilitsin's administration the 3rd generation Project-877 diesel-electric submarine, a well-known «Varshavianka», was designed. In 1980-1990s it was a kind standard of stealthiness among submarines. The Americans even nicknamed it as «a black hole» adding that our submarine should be looked for in areas where the sea "does not rustle"...
In 1980 the Russian Navy, and later the fleets of the foreign states started to receive submarines of this type. Naval Forces of Russia, Algeria, India, Iran, China, Romania and Poland got approximately 60 NNSs of Projects 877, 877В, 877Э, 877ЭК, 877ЭКМ, 636 and 636М which were improved every time (boats of Project-636 can be referred to as «3 +» generation). These well armed, reliable and highly-aesthetic ships became an appreciable mark in domestic and world shipbuilding. Building of these ships for foreign customers continues nowadays.
The first Russian NAS of the new, fourth generation Project-677 submarine ("Lada") designed by St.-Petersburg CDB МТ "Rubin" under the administration of J.N.Kormilitsin who was the general designer of the NNS. The variant of this ship intended for supplies to foreign customers has received a designation of «Amur-1650». Serial production of the ships is accustomed on the Admiralteyskie Verfi (St.-Petersburg) under the administration of the Director-general, the Hero of Russia Vladimir Leonidovich Aleksandrov.
The forerunner - "St.-Petersburg" - was laid down in December, 1999, floated in September, 2004 and in January, 2007 went on sea trial. It is necessary to say that tests and operational adjusting of the new ship were tightened that, certainly, causes criticism in domestic mass-media and some malevolenty of the competitors. However it is necessary to remember that "St.-Petersburg" is the first underwater ship of the the new, 4th generation, which design contains the highest level of technical novelty. Critics can object: it was possible to give up a number of the most risky decisions and create a less "revolutionary" but more simple boat which canb be easier implemented technically. But acting in a such «quasipragmatic» way inevitably would lead us to legging behind the European contenders and, in the long run, to loss of world NNS markets. It is necessary to take into consideration the fact that the Russian ship-building industry was conducting the work on the new ship during the most complicated postcrisis period when, after decades of economic disorder, disintegration and universal plundering tragical for our defence industry it was possible to describe the condition of the Russian ship-building industry with only one phrase: «the patient is more likely alive, than dead».
However today the process of recovering of this "patient" gains positive dynamics. And the designers of "Amur" (who did not reconcil with full breakdown of branch and loss of the country's ability to creat new underwater ships as it seemed 10 years ago to many people) and the present management of the Navy should be thanked for that. It is necessary to note the obvious revival of interest to issues of Russia's sea power reconstruction in the top state structures.
In July, 2005 the laying of the first Project-677 serial boat - "Kronstadt" (as seamen and shipbuilders say - «the second hull») which is planned to be transfered to the fleet in 2009 took place. In 2010 of the Navy should be replenished with the "Sevastopol" boat laid in 2006, then comes "Petropavlovsk" ... The Baltic fleet is planning to have two six "Lada" submarines-strong squadrons. Approximately the same number of the submarines of the given project will be got by the Black Sea fleet a little bit later.
According to the words of Director-general of the "Admiralteyskie verfi" Vladimir Aleksandrov in August, 2008, it is expected, that this enterprise will put 12 NSSs of "Amur-1650" type for export. Market cost of one submarine should make 150-200 mln. dollars that is much less than cost of its German analogue.
The new ship, for the first time (for the Russian NSS) belongs to the one-hull architecturally-constructive type has the hull, a superstructure and the protection of the sliding devices made of high-strength steel. At the boat the SED-1all-mode rowing electric motor with the constant magnets, capacity of 4100 kw and nominal frequency of rotation of 200 rpm is installed. Storage battery of the submarine includes two groups of accumulators with 126 elements each. Power consumption in the long discharging mode is 10580 kw/h. Service life of the storage battery is no less than five years.
Normal displacement of "Amur-1650" is 1765 м3, the length is 66.8 m, speed of a full underwater course (in the serial configuration) - 21 knots, operational depth of submersion - 300 m, the maximum range of course - 6500 miles, range of course in underwater position using accumulators - 650 km (at cruiser speed of 3.5 knots). Self-sustained period of the boat - 45 days, ship crew - 35 persons.
The level of the acoustic field of "Amur-1650" (after the end of its operational development) should be several times lower (!) than at the boats of the 3rd generation (in particular at the well-known "Varsavianka" which is considered until recently to be the quietest submarine in the world). It is acheived, in particular, at the expense of use of new, much more effective, sound-proof covering. One more unique, innovative mean of radical decrease of the noise which is expected at serial NSSs is so-called active protection - the system generating sound waves in an antiphase to radiation of the boat.
The ship is equipped with the "Lithium" combat information and control system of the 4th generation developed by the "Sistema" Science and production complex (Chief designer - L.E.Fedorov). This integrated automated complex ensures control of the boat, its information, combat and other means as well as ship-wide data exchange system. The "board" of "Lada", as well as foreign NNSs of the 4th generation has the modern element and program base providing automated control from operator panels placed in the main command post of the boat. Radio-electronic means of outer information reception are integrated into data exchange system which with the maximum speed performs automatic processing and the analysis of the information from various sensors and represents in the generalised view on sensor-controlled LCD displays.
The important innovation, for the first time (with reference to Russian submarines), implemented at "Amur-1650" is the telescopic lifting-mast devices with television, thermovision and laser sensors which do not penitrate into the strength-hull (it is necessary to notice that similar "not penitrating" sliding devices were applied for the first time by the American ship builders at the 4th generation "Virginia" nuclear propulsion which entered the service in 2004, and for the first time such devices were used by the Italians (1966).
Critics of a new Russian boat mark as one of the arguments the absence of airindependent PP at the forerunner. But speaking unbiassedly it appears that in the project of a new Russian submarine as well as the French NNS the using of anaerobic power plants is only an option along with the supply of of boats with traditional power plants . Though the German submarines have the ECG included initially in the regular PP as auxiliary plant.
Thus Russian and French NAVY displaying proper care allow their foreign counterparts for "military technical cooperation" to develop a new power system (although very useful in prospect but not of vital importance in term of tactics and strategy, taking into consideration a great number of nuclear propulsions Russia and France possess) just to avoid inevitable difficulties that always accompany research work.
At the same time Germany has "crossed Rubicon" in its decision to develop the air independent power plant. Why? Perhaps the main reason is that Germans focus on international weapon market. The success of the Project-212 will give them merchant pre-eminence. If submarine operators (primarily abroad) face any difficulties (Germany fuel system has already appeared to be unreliable) the whole military sector of shipbuilding industry in this country will certainly suffer disastrously. But it is a gamble...
Against this background the conventional diesel power plants placed on first "Amur-1650" and "Scorpen" submarines prove their reliability, simpleness and flexibility. It is necessary to mention that Project-677 conventional submarine is able to cover longer distance in submerged mode (650 miles at speed 3.5 knots) than the Germany and French submarines (420 and 550 miles respectively at the same speed). Although the European 4th generation craft powered with the air independent power plant have the range superior to that mentioned above - 1300-1700 miles, but it is the time that will test this quality. Besides, the next generation accumulator plant to be put on the "Scorpen" will extend their range to 750-800 miles at 4 knots. Russia also develops technologies of its own which will soon allow "Amur-1650" to reach the French figures if not breach them.
The 4th generation Russian, German and French conventional submarines are equipped with tactical data systems resembled each other by "intellectual" ability: they have practically the same structure and element base.
Damage control is considered to be advantage of the Russian submarine over its foreign prototype. The use of glass fiber plastic in German submarine arouses incredulity: this material had been used in the US, Soviet and Britain constructions especially in topside and conning tower and appeared to be unreliable in severe ocean condition. As a result metal elements were then used instead of glass fiber plastic.
Comparing the "Amur-1650" (which includes advantages of the "Varshavianka" submarine and nuclear propulsions built in the "Rubin" designing department and has noisiness level 6-8 times less than its predecessor) and the German Type 212 submarine with acoustic stealthiness compatible to that of late Project-636 submarine we can tell it for certain that the Project-677 submarine has stealthiness superior to that of German design and apparently of French also.
The record hydroacoustic antenna surface (for this class submarine) of the "Amur-1650" coupled with low noisiness level is enough to believe that our conventional submarine has better search capability than its German and French prototypes.
Certain difficulties emerged during head craft tests are just another evidence that it is impossible to bypass problems while developing a new complex engineering structure which the submarine is considered to be (also amid financial and personnel shortage our shipbuilding faced in previous period). And it is very important for us not to blame somebody but to find the way out as soon as possible. If it is needed we have to find extra money because the loss of time today means loss of the defense capacity and market tomorrow!
The "Amur-1650" is equipped with 6 533 mm bow torpedo tubes, designed to launch also missiles. Its principle characteristic is ability to employ cruise missile against ships and vessels of the enemy as well as his shore installations.
The interval between barrages is much shorter than that of the previous generation indigenous submarines and its foreign prototypes which is accomplished by unique reloading system. This quality provides our submarine with advantage over any conventional submarine of the same type in duel. Taking into consideration the real combat abilities of the craft, determined also by stealthiness and hydroacoustics, the modern Russian submarine is able to prevail over "Virginia"...
Our 4th generation submarine carries 18 torpedoes or cruise missile, which can be replaced with 36 mines. It also can be used as transport for combat divers with their equipment.
In case with torpedoes (apparently our submarine carries or will carry USAT-80 noiseless electrical torpedoes or their modifications, as well as UGST modern smart multipurpose torpedoes that are to enter the service soon) the "Amur-1650" matches the world prototypes, but speaking of its missile load the Project-667 left far back the foreign submarines of the same class.
Unlike "Skorpena", equipped only with "Aczoset" tactical surface atack missile with the range of 50 km., the "Amur-1650" (as its predicators of 636 Project) possesses powerful missile weapons with tactical and prestrategic ranges. Its export version marked CLUB-S is able to destroy both underwater targets (protected with powerful AD/MD sys) and shore targets at a range of 300 km. Although the modification for our fleet which is not restricted by international agreements has much more superior figure in this respect.
The press mentioned the ability of the "Scorpena" to be equipped with tactical cruise missile, based on "Scalp" airbase cruise missile. This subsonic low-signature cruise missile mounted on version for France has a range of 400 km., but in case of export delivery this figure has to be cut to 300 because of international accords.
The "Asura" French supersonic antisubmarine missile which is under development now may become another prospect weaponry system of this craft. But like "Scalp" further development of this weapon is needed as well as its adapting to the submarine.
There is also a long term Project of providing Type-212 submarine with the "Polifem" multipurpose cable guidance missile system, designed to destroy antisubmarine helicopters, motor boats and small ships when submerged, as well as shore point targets at a range of 15 km.
Outboard conformal pack for 24 mines gives the "type 212" tactical advantage (to be proved on practice). But what will ban the consumer from using this equipment on single board "Amur-1650"?
As we can see, despite compatibility on a number of parameters (similar construction, low level of acoustic and magnet fields, powerful hydroacoustic equipment with large antennas, modern tactical data systems, standard displacement of 1450-1750 tons, underwater speed of 20-21 knots, operating depth of 300-350 m.), the "Amur-1650" and its rivals have fundamental differences which will certainly reflect in their combat effectiveness and success on the world markets.
To crown it all I would like to focus on the prospect of the Russian air independent power plant development for the 4th generation conventional submarine. For many experts it became clear enough that recently this issue had extend from technical field to business: more and more potential foreign consumers representing their departments of defense whose opinion is based not on their own researches, but on media based public opinion enhance their attention to the air independent engines.
That's why these new power plants (despite their obvious incompleteness) are considered to be binding condition of business success, feature of military, economical and even political capability of the country that builds and... procures ships like these and also index of weight of its military and industrial establishment.
We can remember from the history an example from the previous century: in 1903 the Russian "Ascold" scout ship (it was a five-funneled ship) going to the Far East, was being followed by the English "Diadem" ship visiting the same ports and receiving visits of the same sheiks and kings, who had seen the Russian scout ship before. Now then, the captain of the English ship specially built two false funnels made of the available material on the deck, thus transformed his four-funneled ship into six-funneled one. You can see some analogies, can't you?
It is important to mention, that attempts to charge the constructors of "Amur-1650" in cautioness in detecting the composition of the power plant were baseless: the composition of the Russian Project-677 submarine was initially constructed accounting the possibilities of upgrading it with auxiliary power plant with ECG! Prototype devices of this type equipped with low-temperature TE (liquid alkaline electrolytes, a gas-cylinder method of oxygen and hydrogen storage) was developed by the Leningrad Special Engineering Bureau of Boiler Construction (nowadays it is called JSC "SPBK", which is a part of FGUP "CNII SET") and was tested in 1988 on board the S-273 submarine (Project-613E Katran), that was specially reworked in Gorky city according to the project of "Lazurit". In 1991 the "Krystall-20" full-size power plant with ECG assigned for submarine passed the bench-top tests.
Moreover, by the beginning of the previous decade our country was the certain world leader in the field of power plants construction, based on fuel elements for submarines. But during the difficult for Russian science ant industry 1990s the world priorities were lost and the leading role in the ECG field was captured by the German specialists. Though slowly, with great difficulties and breaks that were conducted by the lack of funding, the works on anaerobic power plants in Russia were continued. The next step after the development of "Kristall-20" was power plant "Kristall-27" that appeared in the 21st century. It was provided with neutralizing matrix electrolytes, intermetallic system of hydrogen storage and cryogenic system of oxygen storage, that was designed for providing the power plant with capacity of 300 kw.
Under its "ideology" and basic specifications "Kristall-27" (it is conditionally refered to as the second generation of the ECG) is in general close to the German PP, which are used on the Project-212 submarines. This power plant is better than its German prototype in efficiency and well-worked basic support (it was achieved due to availability of good balanced conjugation of the autonomic coastal complex of fuelling with power plant, which made solving of a quite difficult problems of coastal basing of submarines with fuel elements easier), loosing it generally in only one position - the term of implementation. It provides self-sustained period under the water of 15 days, and while short-timed emerge on the periscope depths - of up to 45 days.
But Kristall-27 (like the German power plant), despite of all its potential advantages is basically an auxiliary power plant, that only complements, not removes traditional diesel-electric power plant.