Asia Defense | Security

Russia’s First Yasen-M Attack Submarine Test Fires Torpedoes During Sea Trials

The nuclear-powered attack/cruise missile submarine Kazan is expected to enter service by the end of 2020.

Franz-Stefan Gady
Russia’s First Yasen-M Attack Submarine Test Fires Torpedoes During Sea Trials
Credit: Russian Ministry of Defense/Wikimedia Commons

The Russian Navy’s first Project 885-M Yasen M-class multipurpose nuclear-powered attack/cruise missile submarine (SSN/SSGN) Kazan test fired torpedoes during sea and weapons trials in the White Sea off the northwest coast of Russia, according to the press office of Russia’s Norther Fleet.

“The crew of the nuclear-powered submarine Kazan [launched] a salvo of two torpedoes from its submerged position against an underwater target. According to a preliminary estimate, the torpedo test-fire passed successfully,” a Northern Fleet statement was quoted as saying by TASS news agency on December 5.

The statement did not specify the torpedo type. The Kazan is reportedly fitted with ten torpedo tubes for firing the 3M-54 Kalibr supersonic cruise missile, the P-800 Oniks over-the-horizon supersonic anti-ship missile, and an improved variant of the 533-millimeter Fizik-1 homing torpedo.

The Northern Fleet notes that the torpedo launches were part of the Kazan’s ongoing sea and weapons trials. “The submarine will soon perform several more episodes of its trials in the White Sea, including the tests of its armament,” the statement reads.

The Kazan conducted its first set of factory and underwater sea trials in September 2018. As I noted earlier this year, the Kazan is not expected to enter service until the end of 2020 or possibly even later as a result of various technical systems failures during dockside trials earlier this year.

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“Following the results of dockside trials, and also the winter stage of shipbuilders’ trials [which ended in January], it has been established that some of the ship’ s auxiliary sub-assemblies and mechanisms do not meet the requirements of the specifications set by the Defense Ministry, including reliability characteristics, and require finalizing in the Sevmash dock,” was quoted as saying in May 2019.

Because of these technical problems the delivery schedule had to be pushed back. “It is absolutely unrealistic to accomplish all this by the end of the year,” the source said. “It is not ruled out that the entire year 2020 will be required and the Sevmash Shipyard will be able to deliver the sub to the Fleet only in 2021.”

The Kazan was launched in March 2017 and was originally expected to join the Northern Fleet in late 2018. It is the second overall Yasen-class SSN launched by the United Shipbuilding Corporation and the first upgraded Yasen M-class boat. A total of five Yasen M-class SSNs are in various stages of construction. It is uncertain that all four boats will be completed, although the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) has plans to deploy up to nine SSNs of the class.

Notably, the new Yasen-class, according to naval analysts, is technically on par with older U.S. Seawolf-class SSNs, built by the U.S. Navy from 1989 to 2005, although the underwater speed of the Russian SSN is thought to be slower than that of its U.S. counterpart.