Yasen: The future of Russian SSN fleet

Intro-In the 1980s, Soviet navy started looking for a new SSN which would replace the Victors and counter the LA class. The LA was superior to Victor in almost all aspects. LA flight 2 fielded VLS cells which could the deploy sub launched variant of TLAM (Tomahawk Land Attack Missile) or TASM (Tomahawk Anti Ship Missile) a massive increase in capability for the USN and the Soviets needed an attack sub better than the LA to even the odds. Hence they officially started work on this new sub in 1986 which would be called as the Yasen.

yasenK-329 Severodvinsk (Credits-On the pic)

USN started fielding the newer LA class SSNs in 1976 thus in 1977 Malachite design bureau started unofficial work on a new 4th gen SSN which would be a replacement for the  Victors, the then mainstay of the Soviet fleet. In 1986 work officially started on this new sub which was named as Project 885 Yasen, its NATO name hasnt been confirmed.

yasen class (2)K-329 moving out of Sevmash for seatrials

This sub would displace slightly more than 9000 tonnes of water while on surface, with a length of 120m, submerged top speed in excess of 35kn and maximum diving depth of 600m.  She would be the first Russian sub to have spherical sonar array in the bow with 10 torpedo tubes speculated to be a mix of 533mm and 650mm placed amidships. She would carry 30 weapons internally and 32 missiles in 8 big silos which are quadpacked. These silos would carry the P-800 Onyx AShM to counter the advatage of sub launched TASM from LA flight 2. These subs from the onset were supposed to be quieter than the LA and thus making them a major threat for the allied navies. Like their predecessors they would carry a relatively small crew of 90 men including 32 officers compared to 120 of LA, 145 of Seawolf and 130 of Virginia. It also features 4 wide aperture arrays, two larger arrays on either side of bow and two smaller ones near the aft section.

yankee bignoseYankee Bignose, used to test Yasen’s spherical sonar array

Akula class which was developed as a replacement for the titanium hulled Sierra played an important role in development of the Yasen. Lead boat of the Akula class entered service in 1984 ie 2 years before Project 885 was officially started and it was evident from the first day that Akulas were good enough for the LA and hence Yasen was put on the back burner. The first vessel was laid only in 1993 ie 16 years after the programme was originally started. Cold war had ended by that time hence the production was stalled till early 2000s when it was restarted and the ship was launched in 2010 after nearly 17 years of construction. There were some changes in design over the years, K-329 we see today is 139m long instead of 120m which means it has a newer and quieter propulsion system (there is a simple analogy,the Russians increase the length of a sub and add a quieter propulsion system).

yasenShows K-329 is longer than what it was supposed to be.
(Credits-On the pic)

K-329 was inducted into the Russian navy in 2013, ie more than 2 decades after being laid. This mushroomed the costs and made it the costliest sub ever built along with the American Seawolf class. It still sported a conventional propeller instead of a pumpjet seen on most of the modern SSNs which made it more noisy than the comparable Seawolf. Hence the Russians decided against producing subs with the same config and the next sub ie K-561 Kazan sports several design changes and is called Yasen-M. Yasen-M is rumored to have 8 torpedo tubes instead of 10 whereas the number of missile silos is increased to 10. It also features a pumpjet which improves their acoustic signature manifold.

Hence the sub originally envisioned to counter the LA will now replace the Akula, which ended up facing the LA. They would replace the Oscars as well. The Russians will build 6-7 Yasen-Ms which are better and cheaper than the Yasens, off which 1st Yasen-M ie K-561’s launch has been delayed till late 2015 or early 2016.  This would allow Russia to rebuild a strong submarine force and reassert itself below the waves.

yasen firing klubK-329 firing Kaliber missile

yasen firing onyxK-329 firing a salvo of 2 Onyx AShMs

Displacement ~9000 tonnes
Length 139m
Beam 15m
Max Diving Depth 600m
Propulsion OK-650 reactor driving a single propeller
Max Speed ~35kn
Crew 90
Armament 6x650mm and 2x533m torpedo tubes with 30 weapons carried internally, 8 silos which can be quadpacked
Weapons Carried
  • Type 65 torpedoes (probably phased out)
  • Type 53 torpedoes
  • Klub AshM
  • Kaliber LACM
  • P-800 AShM
Sonar Arrays
  • Spherical array in the bow
  • 4 wide aperture arrays
  • Single towed array


4 thoughts on “Yasen: The future of Russian SSN fleet

  1. Wonderful article about the Yasen’s was wondering what about their costs recently heard that they were very costly and given the present Russian economy development opportunities are severely hindered. Not sure but if you could enlighten. And the silos can they also carry the Onyx and m


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