Country of origin
250 - 300 men
Dimensions and displacement
15 000 tons
Displacement, full load
18 000 tons
Propulsion and speed
Gas turbines, output unspecified, delivering
power to 2 shafts
2 x unspecified ASW helicopters
1 x 300 mm gun, 4 x Kashtan 30 mm CIWS
70 x Kalibr crusie missiles, 128 x SAMs, 16 x
2 x 4-tube anti-torpedo launchers
Project 23560E Shkval
(squall) is the Russian Navy's current design for their next class
of cruisers. It was publicly unveiled in March of 2015, and has
been a media sensation ever since. It is the product of a mid-2000s
plan by the Russian Navy to replace or radically modernize all of
their major surface combatants by 2027.
The appearance of the project Shkval is quite intimidating, to
say the least, with extremely angular features, a towering
superstructure, a pyramidal aft mast, and a monolithic conning tower
with three tiered, diamond-shaped bulges; both superstructures are
also heavily clustered with platforms and balconies for sensors,
communication systems, searchlights, and possibly weapons. Two
canted and angular funnels are mounted side-by-side on the aft end
of the conning tower.
The bow is subtly raked, with a raised forecastle topped with
a single gun turret, and spray shields on either side of the lower
forward deck, which is covered with VLS launch cell hatches. Spray
shields also cover the edges of the deck between the fore and aft
superstructures, which also features boats and various raised
fixtures. A shorter spray shield extends partly behind the aft end
of the aft superstructure, which contains a helicopter hangar. The
long fantail is topped with a sizable helipad, and ends in a transom
stern. The keel boasts a sizable bulbous bow, four large
stabilizers, and extremely long and broad chines to provide enhanced
stability; no doubt to compensate for the topweight of the colossal
Little has been mentioned thus far about the planned
electronics suite of the project Shkval. The model clearly depicts one
large and two small spherical radomes, and what appear to be panels
for AESA radar and a bulbous bow that may contain a sonar system.
Similarly, no information has been provided as to the propulsion,
speed, or range the project Shkval is to have.
Given the overwhelming size, technology, and firepower of the
project Shkval, its official designation as destroyer is arguably a
misnomer, given that it generously exceed the power of most cruisers.
Most likely that designation destroyer was given due to political
reasons. Once operational the new class of cruisers would replace
Kirov class and
class warships, that are steadily approaching the end of their
More than 200 missiles are to be carried, including 70
cruise missiles, 128 Surface-to-Air Missiles (SAMs), and 16 anti-submarine missiles, along
with a 130 mm gun and 2 helicopters. The sheer size of the
design is equally imposing, at 200 m long, 15 000 tons at standard
displacement, and 18 000 tons with a full load. The shape and
composition of the Shkval are meant to reduce their radar
cross-section to a minimum, while advanced sensors are meant to
scan the seas, skies, and depths for threats at great distances, and
a combat information system on par with the West's Aegis is meant to
coordinate all of this.
The Shkval is specified to be powered by gas turbine
engines and make 32 kts, though no other details concerning the
vessel's mobility have been released to the public. It is also
unknown what the projects' maximum range is to be, although it is
planned to carry enough stores for an endurance at sea of 90 days.
The vessel is to be propelled by 2 screws, and the steering
equipment includes two large, trapezoid-shaped rudders.
Jane's has noted that while the Shkval is meant to be powered
by gas turbines, Russia no longer has the ability to manufacture
naval gas turbine engines of the scale required to power an
15,000-ton warship. Of even greater concern is that Russia also no
longer has shipyards capable of manufacturing a 15 000-ton warship,
which in earlier years resulted in the undoing of a Russian Navy
2007 plan to commission 6 new aircraft carriers by 2027.
However, there are other visible issues with the Project
23560E Shkval design, which beg the question of whether the Russian
shipbuilding industry is actually capable of delivering such a
monumental vessel; and also the judgment of the Russian Navy's
leadership, for having wedded the Navy to the design in the first
A major concern for the
project Shkval is icing in sub-zero
weather and rough seas. Inattention to this issue in the Soviet era
notably resulted in one class of warships having a severe
operational deficiency. The Kynda class cruisers in the early 1960s
had extremely tall and complex pyramidal masts, that not only had
excessive topweight to begin with, but also gathered so much ice in
arctic weather that the Kyndas were deemed too dangerous to operate
in the Arctic Ocean. As a result, the Kynda class had the grim
distinction of being the only Soviet cruisers that never served in
the Arctic with the elite Red Banner Fleet. If the plight of the
bygone Kynda class is any indication, the monolithic triple-diamond
main mast of the Skhval is certain to experience the same
Another questionable feature is the prominent boathouse at
the base of the conning tower. Such large cavities (to say nothing
of the whale boat inside) are extremely powerful radar reflectors,
which makes minimizing radar cross-section impossible. Though this
problem would be greatly mitigated by covering the boathouse with a
door or shutter, no such feature was visible on the models, nor
described by the designers.
There are also viable discrepancies between the layout of the
design and its claimed capabilities. The Russian Navy claims the Shkval will carry 132 SAMs, 60-70 land-attack cruise missiles, 16-24
anti-submarine missiles, but scale model upon close inspection has
only 72 VLS launch cells, and no visible box launchers. If it does
indeed carry so many missiles with so few launch tubes, the rate of
fire will be markedly slower than that of Western Aegis destroyers.
Moreover, as a VLS launch cell ordinarily holds only one missile
(for survivability reasons, as it helps contain a missile fire or
"cook-off", and also because of the impracticality of having a
magazine that loads so many different missile tubes), it is
questionable whether carrying more than 72 missiles is feasible.
This discrepancy has yet to be explained by either the designers or
the Russian Navy.
The launch cells on the Shkval are also poorly-sited, with
most of them being set forward, and there are noticeably less of
them than on many contemporary Aegis warships, and and they're
seemingly scattered randomly all over the recessed area of the
forecastle (compare to all the VLC cells on the
Sejong the Great
class being packed into two neat, small squares). No other missile
launchers are visible on the model. There is also no mention or
visible evidence on the scale model made of anti-submarine rocket
launchers or a torpedo battery, even though these have both been
staples of Soviet and Russian warships since the 1950s.
Even though their helipads only cover a small portion of the
deck, they are far too large for a vessel expected to operate one or
two helicopters, and the hangars on the Project 23560E Shkval model
are too small to hold more than that many.
It is also doubtful that Russia could afford to build even
one of these vessels, regardless of whether their infrastructure is
capable of it, as each would easily exceed $10 billion in cost; even
comparatively wealthy Western nations can't afford to sink so much
money into a warship. The US Navy is already learning the
hard way with the
destroyers, which each cost more
than twice as much). As with so many other huge weapons so
publicized throughout Russia's history, such as the Tsar Cannon, the
Tsar Tank, the Tsar Bomb, and recently the much-publicized "Father
Of All Bombs", this new warship design is more likely an exercise in
posturing, rather than a design intended to actually be put into
production. Project 23560E Shkval could well be remembered in the
future as the "Tsar Destroyer".
Whether these issues can be resolved (or at least mitigated)
has yet to be seen.
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