Surface Forces: Vasily Bykov class Corvettes


April 9, 2024: Vasily Bykov class corvettes are a relatively recent addition to the Russian fleet. They cost $65 million each and the first ship of the class entered service in 2018. The Russian navy planned to build five more. This plan was disrupted by the Ukrainian resistance to Russian invasion of Ukraine in early 2022. Two Bykovs were still under construction at the end of 2023. At that point the Black Sea Fleet had four Bykovs in the Black Sea. One was damaged by a Ukrainian USV in September 2023 and then sunk by USVs in March 2024. Currently one Bykov is still being repaired after an October 2023 attack by Ukrainian USVs. That leaves two intact Bykovs in the Black Sea and two under construction at a shipyard on the Kerch Peninsula on the Russian mainland east of the Crimean Peninsula.

The Vasily Bykov class ships are among the most modern warships in the Russian Navy. Losing one with another badly damaged is a significant loss. The Vasily Bykov class ships displace 1,800 ton, are 94 meters long and 14 meters wide. Cruising, or patrol, speed is 29 kilometers while top speed is 45 kilometers. Range is 10,000 kilometers at cruising speed and endurance is 60 days. There is a crew of 28 although the ship has berths for 80 people. These ships can be armed with Kalibr missiles by installing the Kalibr-K missile module container, which has four launchers capable of firing either Kh-35 Uran anti-ship missiles or Kalibr cruise missiles.

Russian patrol ships are usually armed with a 76-mm gun. There is a fire control system equipped with a radar for detecting small-sized surface objects. The gun can fire at sea and air targets in both manual and automatic guidance modes.

These ships can also carry a 12-ton helicopter, usually Ka-29 or Ka-52K combat helicopters. The ship have hangars for helicopters plus storage for ammunition, and fuel. A separate hangar accommodates UAVs operated from the ship.

Other armament includes Igla-S man portable anti-aircraft missiles and electronic countermeasures equipment for anti-aircraft and anti-missile defense.

Before the invasion of Ukraine, the Bykovs were meant to patrol sea and ocean zones, protecting naval bases, help victims of maritime disasters, and perform ecological monitoring of the environment. Since Russia invaded Ukraine Bykovs have supported Russian military operations in the Black Sea.

The Russian Black Sea fleet still has about 30 ships and submarines but because of effective Ukrainian use of missile attacks and USVs, the ships of the Black Sea Fleet are based far from the Crimean Peninsula and the commercial shipping channel west of Crimea.




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