Russian Yasen-M submarines could represent a new era in maritime warfare threats by being equipped with Zircon hypersonic cruise missiles by 2025.
Russia Advances in hypersonic missiles: T-62
The first Yasen-M-class submarine to fire a hypersonic missile will be the Perm, scheduled to enter service in 2024, according to the Russian TASS news service.
This could advance US Navy plans, which aim to fire hypersonic missiles from attack submarines by 2028.
Submarines armed with hypersonic missiles would enable surprise attacks and destruction of high-value enemy targets in a matter of minutes without being detected by radar systems.
Eleven Yasen-class submarines: Russia
United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC), a state-owned Russian company, built the Yasen-class submarines, also known as the Severodvinsk-class, as a class of nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSNs). Submarines of the Yasen class are a significant part of Russia’s naval defense policy and are meant to replace the older Akula class.
Submarine Severodvinsk was the first of only four Yasen-class submarines commissioned into the Russian Navy in 2014. The next seven Yasen-class submarines are planned to be completed and delivered by 2027, while Russia has already confirmed plans to construct eleven of the vessels.
Submarines in the Yasen class are widely regarded as some of the most modern vessels of their kind. They are equipped to fire cruise missiles, torpedoes, and mines and can operate in both shallow and deep water. The submarines can identify and follow other watercraft thanks to their sophisticated sonar systems.
Submarines of the Yasen class can travel great distances and stay at sea for long periods of time because they are nuclear-powered. The submarines’ stealthy operation and advanced propulsion systems allow them always to remain undetected.
The Yasen-class submarines are fitted with a wide variety of cutting-edge sensors and communication technologies in addition to cutting-edge armament and propulsion systems. This enables them to effectively coordinate their activities with other Russian Navy assets through the sharing of information.
The Yasen-class submarines are an important part of Russia’s military strategy and represent a major step forward in Russia’s naval capabilities. Russia is investing heavily in its submarine fleet, with plans to construct a total of eleven submarines. This will position Russia as a prominent global naval arms competition player.
The Yasen-class submarines have the following salient features:
- The length of a Yasen-class submarine is around 120 meters, and its breadth is around 15 meters.
- The submerged displacement of these vessels is around 13,800 tons.
- Submarines get their propulsion from a nuclear reactor that spins a turbine to provide electricity for the ship’s motors. Submarines are able to sneak around undetected thanks to their stealthy pump-jet propulsion systems.
- Submerged, the Yasen-class submarines may reach speeds of up to 31 knots.
- Submarines’ nuclear reactors allow them to travel great distances and remain submerged without stopping for fuel.
- The submarines’ arsenals are versatile, carrying cruise missiles, torpedoes, and mines. Each submarine has eight torpedo tubes and may carry up to forty missiles or torpedoes.
- The submarines’ sophisticated sonar systems allow them to locate and keep tabs on both other subs and surface ships.
- About 90 sailors make up the Yasen-class submarine’s crew.
- The submarines are outfitted with various cutting-edge sensors and communication equipment, such as radar, electronic warfare systems, and satellite communication networks.
- The Yasen-class submarines are stealthy and hard to detect because of their design. They have acoustic countermeasures to throw off enemy sonar systems and are covered with anechoic tiles, which absorb sound and lessen the submarines’ acoustic signature.
Technological advances in Yasen-M submarines
The Yasen-Ms feature a KTP-6 Monoblock permanent core reactor, which reduces the size and footprint of the submarine, as well as incorporates silencing technologies.
This allows for continued operational service and deployment without the need for mid-life refueling, similar to the US Navy’s new Columbia-class submarines. The new reactor helps quiet the submarine, increasing its ability to evade detection.
Conformal array sonar on Yasen-M submarines
The modernized Yasen-M submarines also feature a conformal array sonar, which improves performance compared to the “cylindrical array sonar” of most Russian submarines.
This sonar technology could have been copied from the US Navy, which incorporated it into Virginia Block III-class attack submarines in recent years.
Conformal array sonar allows for a larger surface area for the hydrophones, which translates to higher gains in passive mode compared to the previous ball array sonar configuration.
Implications for global security
The enhanced capabilities of Russia’s Yasen-M submarines could upset the balance of power in the maritime arena and raise security concerns for other nations.
This could lead to an arms race in the development of submarine and missile technologies, as well as the implementation of more advanced defense systems by world powers.
The potential threat posed by Yasen-M submarines highlights the importance of maintaining vigilance and dialogue among nations to prevent the escalation of conflicts and ensure global peace and stability.