Submarines: Lada Lives Because Of China


January 7, 2015: Another casualty of Russian aggression against Ukraine has been a joint Russian-Italian effort to develop, build and sell a new submarine design. This “S-1000” project was suspended in July 2014. This was a big disappointment to Russia which had hoped the S-1000 effort would upgrade Russian ship design and construction capabilities. As a result in 2013 Russia revived development of the Lada class submarine, a year after cancelling its Lada class boats. What changed was the agreement for Russia will to develop Lada as part of an older joint effort with an Italian firm (Fincantieri) to create the S-1000 submarine, as well as other export versions of Lada.

The S-1000 actually began as the Russian Amur 950 design but in 2005 the Italian firm offered to join forces with Russia to create the S-1000. This was to be one of the export versions of the Lada but the collaboration with the Italians was also to transform the Amur 950 into the cheaper (less than $200 million each) S-1000 class submarine. While Fincantieri had never built subs (just destroyers, aircraft carriers, and patrol craft), it is one of the largest ship builders in Europe and has access to a lot of Western military technology. This is what has attracted the Russians, and apparently the Chinese as well.

The S-1000 was designed to be operated by a crew of only 16. Top submerged speed is 26 kilometers an hour. There are six torpedo tubes and an AIP (air independent propulsion) system to extend underwater endurance to 15 days or more. In place of eight torpedo reloads, the S-1000 can carry a dozen commandoes instead. Construction on the first Lada began in 1997, but money shortages delayed work for years. The first Lada boat was finally completed in 2005. A less complex version, called the Amur, was offered for export but there were no takers until the late 2014 Chinese order. The Ladas have six 533mm torpedo tubes, with 18 torpedoes and/or missiles carried.

Lada was developed in the 1990s, as the successor to the Kilo class, but it was decided over the last few years that there was not enough difference between the Lada and the improved Kilos being built. So Lada/Amur was canceled in 2012. One Lada was built and another is partially completed and will now be finished. The Russians were hoping that the S-1000 would spark interest in the various Amur designs. The largest of these is the Amur 1650, which is basically the Lada with some top-secret Russian equipment deleted. This is what the Chinese are buying.

The Lada has a surface displacement of 1,750 tons, are 71 meters (220 feet) long, and carries a crew of 38. Each crew member has their own cabin (very small for the junior crew, but still, a big morale boost). When submerged the submarine can cruise at a top speed of about 39 kilometers an hour (half that on the surface) and can dive to about 250 meters (800 feet). The Lada can stay at sea for as long as 50 days and can travel as much as 10,000 kilometers using its diesel engine (underwater, via the snorkel). Submerged, using battery power alone, the Lada can travel about 450 kilometers. There is also an electronic periscope (which goes to the surface via a cable) that includes a night vision capability and a laser range finder. The Lada was designed to accept an AIP (air independent propulsion) system.

The Ladas are designed to be fast attack and scouting boats. They are intended for anti-surface and anti-submarine operations as well as naval reconnaissance. These boats are said to be eight times quieter than the Kilos. This was accomplished by using anechoic (sound absorbing) tile coatings on the exterior and a very quiet (skewed) propeller. All interior machinery was designed with silence in mind. The sensors include active and passive sonars, including towed passive sonar. Russian submarine designers apparently believe they can install most of these quieting features into improved Kilos, along with many other Lada features.




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