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Non-Nuclear Force: Why Russia is Building Lada-Class Subs

© Sputnik / Alexei Danichev / Go to the photo bankVisitors look at the Sankt Pdeterburg diesel-electric submarine of the Lada-class at the International Maritime Defense Show in St.Petersburg. File photo
Visitors look at the Sankt Pdeterburg diesel-electric submarine of the Lada-class at the International Maritime Defense Show in St.Petersburg. File photo - Sputnik International
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Russia's push to build the Lada-class diesel-electric submarines indicates that the country will continue to beef up its non-nuclear submarine forces, Russian military expert Mikhail Nenashev told Sputnik.

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Speaking at the 2017 International Maritime Defense Show in St. Petersburg on Wednesday, Vice Admiral Viktor Bursuk, deputy commander-in-chief of the Russian Navy, said that the Lada-class diesel-electric submarines will become the main project in Russia’s development of its non-nuclear submarine forces.

Bursuk added that a series of these submarines "will be very large" and their modernization specifically includes equipping the vessels with air-independent propulsion systems.

Alexander Buzakov, Director General of the St. Petersburg-based Admiralteiskiye Verfi shipyard which builds the Lada-class (Project 677) submarines, relayed that the fourth and fifth submarines of this project will be built within the next five years.

"By building a large series of Lada-class Project 677 diesel-electric submarines [equipt] with air-independent propulsion systems, Russia will actively develop its non-nuclear submarine forces,"  Russian military expert Mikhail Nenashev said in an interview with Sputnik.

In his opinion, this will be a Russian response to the US military's drive to  develop its non-nuclear forces. 

"If we consider underwater air independence (subs’ ability to remain submerged for long periods of time) from a geopolitical point of view, our diesel-electric missile-torpedo submarines are also one of the vectors for the development of non-nuclear weapons," Nenashed added.

According to him, "a lot of the new systems are being used on board the Lada-class Sankt Peterburg submarine, which is currently undergoing a final test by the Russian Northern Fleet."

"A lot of systems are being used, mainly those related to navigation and radar arrays as well as electronic warfare, and cyber-security," Nenashev said.

Construction of the Sankt Peterburg, the lead ship of Project 677, began in December 1997. It was introduced into the Navy for trial operations in April 2010. Two other Lada-class submarines have already been laid down.

Russia's United Shipbuilding Corporation said last year that the construction of the Kronstadt and Luki would be completed between 2018 and 2019.

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Air-independent, closed cycle submarines, which usually use hydrogen-oxygen fuel cells, are quieter than conventional diesel-electric vessels and do not have to surface or use snorkel tubes to breathe air, thereby shielding themselves to from detection by radar and other sensors.

The surface displacement of the Lada-class submarine is about 1,800 metric tons. Its depth of the dive stands at around 350 meters. The vessel's maximum underwater speed is about 21 knots (39 kilometers per hour).

The Lada-class submarines, which carry six 533-mm torpedo launchers and can fire Kalibr cruise missiles, are designed to defend naval bases, coastal waters and sea communication lines. They can be effectively used against both surface ships and submarines.

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