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Balzam class

Intelligence collection ship

Balzam class ship

The Balzam class ships were the first military vessels purpose built for intelligence collection role



Entered service 1980
Crew 200 men
Sea endurance ?
Dimensions and displacement
Length 105 m
Beam 15.5 m
Draught 5 m
Displacement, standard 4 000 tons
Displacement, full load 4 500 tons
Propulsion and speed
Speed ?
Diesel engines 2 x 17 970 hp
Armament
Artillery 1 x 30-mm AK-630 close-in weapon system
Missiles 2 x quadruple launchers for Strela-2M (SA-N-5 'Grail') surface-to-air missiles

 

   Designated by the Soviets as Sudno Svyazyy (SSV, or communications vessel) the ships of the Balzam class were the first military vessels purpose-built for intelligence collection and processing. The force eventually numbered four such ships built by the Yantar yard in Kaliningrad, but by the beginning of the 21st century only one was left in service.

   The ships carried an array of intercept and direction-finding antennae that fed raw intelligence information into the onboard data analysis and processing equipment located within the extensive superstructure. The result was then sent via the two satellite transmitting and receiving antennae located beneath the spherical radomes, either to shore stations or to the flagships of surface action battle groups for immediate action. For the extended sea periods which they served, the ships were equipped to refuel under way and to transfer solid cargo and personnel via constant tension transfer rigs on each side of the after mast. The class was also the first Soviet AGI type to be defensively armed, the lead ship appearing in service during 1980 with two quadruple Strela-2M (SA-N-5 Grail) SAM launchers and a 30-mm AK-630 six-barrel CIWS. No radar fire-control systems were fitted (presumably to prevent interference with the electronic equipment already carried), so the weapons instead relied on a remote Kolonka pedestal director.

   The Balzams were commonly seen at sea during the 1980s and early 1990s, monitoring major NATO naval exercises in the North Atlantic and also American carrier battle groups. Surprisingly, the class was one of the few modern ship designs fitted with major masts. The sole unit left in service with the Russian navy in 2003 was the Belomore, based with the Northern Fleet. The Russian designation for the vessel is Asia (or Project 1826) class.

 

 
Balzam class ship

Balzam class ship

Balzam class ship

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