A Russian news agency is reporting that Kazan, Russia’s second Yasen class sub, was launched on April 3. Unlike the previous Yasen class submarine named Severodvisk, this new nuclear powered multi-purpose attack submarine bears a new classification, Yasen-M. Russian shipbuilders and military officials were tight lipped about the new classification, only saying that the Yasen-M carried more sophisticated electronics systems and weapons. Kazan is Russia’s most powerful and expensive attack submarine to date.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to the Arctic on March 30 coincided with the launch of a second Yasen class nuclear-powered multipurpose attack submarine, which is equipped with new generation missiles and can fulfill combat missions in any part of the world. The siren emits a long wail and the nuclear submarine, the Kazan, slowly emerges from the workshop of Sevmash, 750 miles north of Moscow. This is Russia’s largest shipbuilding company, home to Europe’s largest building, with a workshop big enough to assemble as many as four nuclear submarines at once.
The Kazan comes to a halt as soon as its propeller, which is carefully camouflaged by tarpaulin and radio-absorbing panels, crosses the threshold. It stands there for a day, demonstrating to foreign reconnaissance satellites that Russia now has a new and even more lethal multipurpose attack submarine.
Neither the shipbuilders nor the military, however, explained exactly how the Kazan differs from the Severodvinsk, which is the first vessel in the Yasen class. Nikolai Novoselov, deputy director of the Malakhit Central Design Bureau, which created both the Severodvinsk and the Kazan, would only say that the Yasen-M differs from the classical Yasen thanks to more sophisticated electronic systems and weapons…
How does the U.S. Navy’s Virginia Class sub match up against the Yasen class subs? In an article at The National Interest, Kyle Mizokami lays out the advantages and disadvantages of the Virginia class compared to its counterpart and theorizes as to which would most likely win a hypothetical battle.
After more than twenty years of American submarine supremacy, a new challenger has arisen from the deep. Slightly familiar and almost two decades in the making, it’s an unusual challenge to U.S. naval superiority, but nevertheless one with a long, lethal pedigree. How does this new old upstart, Russia’s Yasen-class submarine, compare with the new backbone of the U.S. submarine force, the Virginia class?…
…In a head-to-head confrontation between a Virginia Block III—the version under construction when Severodvinsk was commissioned—who would win? Both submarines are the pinnacle of their country’s submarine technology and, pitted against one another, would be fairly well matched. Severodvinsk may be slower, but it can dive deeper. The Virginia may be faster, but according to Combat Ships of the World, the hull has only been tested to 488 meters. Virginia likely has the edge in sonar detection, thanks to the new Large Aperture Bow sonar…
In terms of weapons the two sides are fairly evenly matched, although Severodvinsk has the antisubmarine version of the Klub missile, allowing the Russian ship to quickly engage enemy submarines with a missile-delivered lightweight torpedo, much like the retired American SUBROC system. The Virginia class is quieter and has a better sonar rig than its Russian opponent. In the world of submarine warfare, that’s an unbeatable combination. It can move and detect in ways that would give away Severodvinsk. One thing to be said for Severodvinsk is that it is more capable of quickly responding to a sudden target opportunity via her supersonic Klub ASW missiles. As for near term prospects, the usability of the Virginia’s sonar improves on a regular basis via software updates. Severodvinsk may not be able to update its sonar suite, and making the Russian submarines quieter may not be easily implemented. Overall, the edge has to be given to the Virginia class.
In the long run, the rivalry between the two submarines will likely see the inclusion of unmanned underwater vehicles and a host of other new technologies. The United States has pursued submarine warfare halfheartedly since the end of the Cold War, and even less so since 9/11. As the United States turns its full attention back to big power warfare and submarine warfare in particular, American submarines will likely once again outsail their Russian rivals….
For a more detailed comparison of the two subs click here. Mizokami’s comparison does not take into consideration the “new systems” the Kazan is said to have, or if they even have new systems.