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Akula class

Nuclear-powered attack submarine

Akula class submarine

The Akula class marked a significant improvement in Soviet submarine design



Entered service 1986
Crew 62 men
Diving depth (operational) ~ 250 m
Diving depth (maximum) 450 m
Dimensions and displacement
Length 111.7 m
Beam 13.5 m
Draught 9.6 m
Surfaced displacement 7 500 tons
Submerged displacement 9 100 tons
Propulsion and speed
Surfaced speed 20 knots
Submerged speed 35 knots
Nuclear reactors 1 x 190 MW
Steam turbines 1 x 32 MW
Armament
Torpedoes and missiles 4 x 650 mm and 4 x 533-mm torpedo tubes for up to 40 torpedoes or missiles
Other up to 42 mines in place of torpedoes

 

   The steel-hulled submarines of the Project 971 Schuka-B, designated by NATO as Akula class were easier and cheaper to built than the Sierras, and are essentially successors to the prolific Victor class. Today, they make up about half of Russia's dwindling fleet of nuclear-powered attack submarines.

   The first seven boats (designated in the West as the Akula I class) were constructed between 1982-90, and are the Puma, Delfin, Kashalot, Bars, Kit, Pantera and Narval. Five more (the Volk, Morzh, Leopard, Tigr and Drakon built between 1986-95) are classified as the Project 971 U or Improved Akula class, while a 13th boat, the Vepr of the Project 971M or Akula II class, was launched in 1995. Three additional boats the Belgograd and Kuguar launched between 1998-2000 as Akula II boats, are also incomplete. At least two more were projected but were not built. Nepra began sea trials in 2008. This boat was leased to India since 2011 until 2020. It was commissioned with the Indian Navy in 2012 as INS Chakra.

   The design was approved in the early 1970s but modified in 1978-80 to carry the Granat (SS-N-21 Sampson) land attack cruise missiles. The Akula marked a significant improvement in Soviet submarine design as it is far quieter than the Victor and earlier SSNs. Furthermore it was far quitter than Western countries expected. The use of commercially available Western technology to reduce noise levels played an important role in this eroding a long-held NATO advantage in the underwater Cold War. Sensors were also much improved, the use of digital technology enabling them to detect targets at three times the range possible in a Victor.

   The Akulas sport a massive tear-drop shaped pod on the after fin: this houses the Skat-3 VLF passive towed array. There is an escape pod built into the fin. The Improved Akula and Akula II boats are fitted with six additional 533-mm (21-in) external torpedo tubes: as these cannot be reloaded from within the pressure hull, it is considered likely they are fitted with the Tsakra (SS-N-15 Starfish) anti-submarine missile. Additionally, the Akula II boats are credited with an increased operational diving depth.

   The Vepr and Gepard boats of the Akula II class employ additional quieting measures. These became the first Russian submarines that were quieter than improved Los Angeles class, latest US attack submarines of that time.

   Russian advances in sound quieting were considerable concern to the West. US Navy had enjoyed technological edge over the Soviets from 1945 until the mid-1980s. However in the late 1980s Soviets were catching up. In response the US Navy launched extremely advanced Seawolf class SSNs.

   Four Akula I boats were paid off in the late 1990s and are unlikely to return, and they surviving boats are divided between the Northern and Pacific Fleets.

   In the future the older Akula class boats will be replaced by the new Graney class nuclear-powered attack submarines.

 

Video of the Akula class nuclear-powered attack submarine

 

Akula class submarine

Akula class submarine

Akula class submarine

Akula class submarine

Akula class submarine

Akula class submarine

Akula class submarine

Akula class submarine

 
Akula class submarine

Akula class submarine

Akula class submarine

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