Surface Forces: Russia's LCS Eater

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April 20, 2006: Noting the progress of the American LCS (Littoral Combat Ship), Russia is pitching its new Project 20380 corvettes to countries than cannot (for security or financial reasons) get LCS ships. For example, the United States is reluctant to sell LCS to Saudi Arabia, for fear that key technology might be passed along to potential enemies (like China). The Russian ship is about a third smaller (at 2,100 tons displacement) than the LCS, but costs less than half as much (about $125 million each). While not as flexible as the LCS, the Project 20380 has impressive armament (two 30mm anti-missile cannon, one 100mm cannon, eight anti-ship missiles, six anti-submarine missiles, two eight cell anti-missile missile launchers). There is a helicopter platform, but the ship is not designed to carry one regularly. Crew size, of one hundred officers and sailors, is achieved by a large degree of automation. The ship also carries air search and navigation radars. It can cruise 6,500 kilometers on one load of fuel. Normally, the ship would stay out 7-10 days at a time, unless it received replenishment at sea. Like the LCS, the Russian ship is meant for coastal operations.

Having learned from past mistakes, the Russians are making this ship more reliable and durable than past designs of the same size. Three of these ships are under construction, with the first one being launched next month. Russia plans to buy twenty or more. There's not a lot of competition in this size category, and the Russians hope to lock up the low end of the market, and eat the LCS's lunch in many markets.

 


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