MOSCOW – Fifth Generation Perspective Nuclear Submarine (The “Husky” Project), currently being designed, will be armed with ballistic, anti-ship and hypersonic missiles. According to the documents released by Federation Council of Russia – “The Nuclear Submarine Project” – “Husky” will use modules with advanced anti-ship, ballistic and hypersonic missiles.
The Malakhit Design Bureau is in charge of manufacturing the submarine. According to the head of the United Shipbuilding Corporation Alexei Rahmanov, the first submarine from that project is most likely to be completed in the next seven to ten years. Current project plans indicate the submarine will be made in two versions.
The first version will have a dedicated anti-ship/anti-submarine role (the vessel will be equipped with a submarine-launched version of the 3M-54 “Kalibr” cruise missile, as well as with 200 knot-capable (370 km/h; 230 mph) advanced super-cavitating torpedoes for anti-submarine warfare).
The second version will be a strategic attack submarine. The plan envisages arming the submarine with an anti-ship version of the 3M22 “Zircon” hypersonic missile, the main purpose of which is to neutralize large enemy naval formations – aircraft carrier groups, landing craft formations and other types of vessels.
The main improvement of the Husky-class’ lethality is the new hypersonic cruise missile it is planned to carry — the 3M22 “Zircon”. The missile was successfully tested in 2017, reaching top speeds of up to Mach 9. The sheer speed of the missile makes it extremely hard to track and virtually impossible to intercept.
This is due to the missile’s capability to cruise at hypersonic speeds while flying very close to the water surface, thus hampering the ship’s radar to detect it over the horizon. The ability of 3M22 “Zircon” to reach Mach 9 means it is over three times faster than the prior generation of Russian anti-ship missiles.
The Russian P-800 “Onyks” or P-700 “Granit” missiles, for instance, could reach speeds of Mach 2.5. Furthermore, in comparison, NATO’s primary anti-ship missile, the 1970’s era “Harpoon”, with its modest speed of 537 mph (Mach 0.71) is dwarfed by Mach 9 of the 3M22 “Zircon”.
The submarine is planned to carry up to 50 missiles and it’s supposed to have a similar, albeit significantly more advanced launcher construction to that of the Yasen–class type, which can hold between 24–32 missiles, depending on the type of the missile and mission objectives.
The head of Malakhit design bureau’s robotics sector, Oleg Vlasov, stated that the Husky-class will be equipped with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Other significant offensive capabilities of the Husky-class also include the ability to operate a variety of unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs).
Available information also indicates that the Husky-class will have its torpedo launcher around the center of the submarine, similar to the Yasen-class, with the bow being reserved for the forward launcher and sonar systems. Some sources even report the submarine would deploy the infamous “Poseidon” torpedo.
Another notable feature of the Husky-class will be its incredibly low acoustic signature. Composite materials are to be used in its construction so that sound waves from the submarine will be harder to detect. In addition, advanced technologies designed to mitigate the acoustic signature are expected to be incorporated, making the Husky-class two times quieter than earlier generations of submarines.
Some Western observers have dubbed the Husky–class submarine “redundant” since the Yasen-class is also in production. However, integration of hypersonic weapons, increased automation and robotic integration, along with a significantly reduced acoustic signature make the Husky-class unmatched.
However, the true advantage of the Husky-class doesn’t even lie in its unmatched technical specifications, but rather its affordability. The submarine is expected to cost between 30% and 50% less than the Yasen-class. Lower production costs will make it much easier to replace all third-generation submarines in Russian service, including the Akula- and Sierra-class.