Submarines: June 26, 2002


Russia is still trying to sell submarines and submarine technology, but is only having success with it's diesel subs. These are bought as a cheap, and less capable, alternative to the more expensive European (particularly German) diesel boats. Russia has had less success selling nuclear boats. There arent too many customers, as a new SSN or SSGN would have to be sold for half a billion dollars or more. The only potential customers are Indian and China. India rented an older Russian Charlie class SSGN from 1988 to 1991 and then returned it. However, India is investigating building its own nuclear subs. The head of that project is an admiral who commanded the Russian sub when it was in Indian service. The other potential customer is China, which has been buying a lot of high tech Russian weapons. China also has a nuclear submarine building project, that has produced several subs. But all of these Chinese nuclear submarines have had serious technical problems. It's not known of Russia has pitched the Chinese and, if they have, how far negotiations have gone. Russia could use the money, and China could use nuclear submarines that are more dangerous to the enemy than to their own crews. Russia has built a fourth generation nuclear sub, but has lacked the money to install all its weapons and equipment. As a result, the Project 885 boat (the Yasen) sits in drydock, waiting for sea trails. The Yasen was laid down in 1993, based on design work done during the last years of the Soviet Union. The Yasen is said to be an advanced design, right behind the latest U.S. Seawolf in capabilities. The Yasen has 12 torpedo tubes (six 21 inch and six 26 inch) plus 24 anti-ship missiles filed from vertical launchers. The Yasen is supposed to be very quiet, but we'll never know unless it puts to sea. And that probably won't happen unless someone steps forward with a few hundred million dollars to finish the first of what was supposed to be a class of seven boats. 


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