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More Russian Corvettes

April 3, 2010
RIA Novosti

14:26 01/04/2010 St. Petersburg’s Severnaya Verf shipyard floated out on March 31 the Project 20380 Soobrazitelny corvette.>>

Other news of the day

Russia has recently launched a second of their very attractive Project 20380 corvettes which New Wars posted on earlier. Hardly an LCS alternative considering the source, they could certainly be an LCS Rival in a future conflict.  Ilya Kramnik at RIA Novosti tells “Why Russia needs new corvettes“:

Although with a gross tonnage of 2,000 tons this ship meets the classification criteria for that class of vessel, it far exceeds it in terms of firepower. Eight anti-ship missiles, a deck-based helicopter, a wide array of sonar and anti-submarine equipment, a 100mm gun, and an impressive complement of close-range air-defense systems all led experts to consider it more of a frigate, the next stage up in naval classification.
There are good grounds for elevating the Soobrazitelny and its successors to that status. Instead of the Kortik air defense gun and missile system these ships will carry an integrated weapons complex with eight loading bays, each of which can hold 1-4 missiles depending on their type.
The new warships are also equipped with the Sigma combat information and control system, which simultaneously tracks and engages targets on land, on water, under water, and in the air. Much like the U.S. Aegis system, this allows a coordinated defense including clear communications, shared target information and real time control over the combat force’s firepower.

While Moscow is no longer the threat to the West she once was, many are worried that advanced technology like the planned T-50 fighter might get into the hands of rogue states or those just unfriendly to the West. I also see much potential for export from these powerful little warships, which the author rightly concedes is on par with Western frigates. That is where the LCS comes in. Here are the Project 20380 specifications:

  • Length-94 meters
  • Beam-11.1 meters
  • Draft-3.7 meters
  • Displacement-1900 tons full load
  • Speed-26 knots
  • Range-4000 nm @ 14 knots
  • Crew-100
  • Armament-1 x Arsenal A-190 100mm
    2 x MTPU pedestal machine gun 14.5 mm
    1 x Kashtan CADS
    2 x AK-630 CIWS
    6 x 3M54 Klub or 8 x 3M24 Uran
    4 x 400mm torpedo tubes
    SS-N-29 / RPK-9 Medvedka-VE anti-submarine rockets
    Helo pad only

This is why I prefer corvettes over frigates, since most plans for the latter involve ships no better armed than the small warships, but at far greater expense as with the LCS, which at $700 million each is armed basically like a patrol ship. Small warships like this are the real future frigate or destroyer, and could very possibly meet the LCS one on one in a future conflict.

The Russian Navy is building corvettes because they have to. If there was money to spare it would probably go for more nuclear submarines, battlecruisers, and supercarriers to rival the US. Instead they are building corvettes and buying light carriers from France. Through no choice of their own then, they may soon have a Navy perfect for the type of future threats at sea not only Russia is facing but the world, which involve low tech foes such as pirates and smugglers, or missile boat navies like China and Iran.

These are a growing menace, while the rich navies would much rather be competing with one another on the oceans with exquisite wonder vessels, the impoverished Somali pirates are spreading everywhere. Here is a recent report saying “Navies struggle with ‘swarming’ pirates“:

“The navies operating off Somalia have to contend with the question of why, with such sophisticated capabilities, they cannot stamp out a threat based essentially on men in motor boats.”

And what does the international community have to contend with the threat, except a shrinking number of essentially useless frigates:

“…according to Adm Hudson, there are altogether about 20 warships to cover an area 10 times larger than Germany.”

Some are amazingly capable like the Dutch frigate Tromp that keeps popping up in the headlines. The problem is, capability is no substitute for availability. The Russian ships however, as with other corvettes and OPVs are available, affordable, and perfect for the type of shallow water warfare where the Navy will concede it needs to be. Also they can be afforded in enough numbers to make a difference, but you can’t buy too many$700 million frigates, at least without giving up something else, which usually involves your fleet numbers. That is working against, not helping your goal.

14 Comments leave one →
  1. August 7, 2014 11:43 pm

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    I mean, what you say is important and everything. But think of
    if you added some great photos or videos to give your posts more, “pop”!
    Your content is excellent but with pics and videos, this blog could definitely be one of the most beneficial in its field.
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  2. christopher whicker permalink
    April 6, 2010 5:27 pm

    Thank you for your replies…Lets hope the french dont sell them any. But my trust rides very thinly here….. but thanks .

  3. Mike Burleson permalink*
    April 5, 2010 2:44 am

    “how does this compare with the type 45”

    Capability versus availability. The impressive Type 45 can’t be in many places at once, but a descent production of these corvettes could see worldwide deployments.

    But its like comparing apples and oranges. Both types serve a distinct purpose and should complement, not compete. Battleships like the Type 45 maintain your capability, small warships like corvette give you numbers and presence.

  4. papa legba permalink
    April 5, 2010 1:04 am

    Regional Hawk says: “This is disappointing to say the least. Russia should be spending it’s shipbuilding resources on things that would make sense. Things like new and updated Kirovs.”

    It would take the cost of several of these corvettes just to do the R&D to get the Kirov’s power plant functioning smoothly.

  5. D. E. Reddick permalink
    April 4, 2010 10:47 pm

    Regional Hawk,

    The Russians can’t hardly complete the refurbishment of a single old Kiev-class CV (ex-Soviet era Baku) for the Indian Navy without double-charging India. How in the world do you expect them to even contemplate building new CGNs or CBGNs? Worse for them, such vessels do need escorts. And the Russian Navy can’t quite figure out how to distribute its current ship-building budgeting and assets amongst -FIVE- different classes of corvettes / frigates / destroyers presently under construction in their shipyards. And then they want to buy a full-up Mistral class LHP from France (to then likely copy & duplicate, locally). In some ways they make the RN and USN acquisition processes seem a slight bit rational…

  6. Regional Hawk permalink
    April 4, 2010 10:20 pm

    This is disappointing to say the least. Russia should be spending it’s shipbuilding resources on things that would make sense. Things like new and updated Kirovs.

  7. christopher whicker permalink
    April 4, 2010 8:10 pm

    how does this compare with the type 45…. or the next generation of british frigates
    the type 26, in fighting power and cost .

  8. D. E. Reddick permalink
    April 4, 2010 11:03 am

    There’s a long thread regarding these Russian corvettes at There are videos of the first vessel and some pictures of the second one while still in its construction drydock, prior to its launching. Also, the differences in armament between the first and second vessels are described in the fourth and fifth pages of the thread.

  9. Chuck Hill permalink
    April 3, 2010 8:43 pm

    In the Soviet era, the Soviet equivalent of the Coast Guard, the Maritime Border Troops of the KGB, operated Krivak III variants of that frigate class. Wonder if the Russian Maritime Border Troops will see any of these.

    The Russians also call these “guard ships.”

  10. Matthew S. permalink
    April 3, 2010 12:20 pm

    I agree that LCS is underarmed, however there is no need for Standard missiles to be on LCS. There are 60 Burkes and 22 Ticonderogas that can carry dozens of standards. Now a 16 round VLS for ESSM is good enough but I doubt it will ever happen.

  11. Hudson permalink
    April 3, 2010 11:07 am

    As a coastal warship, the Soobrazitelny corvette seems quite up to the task. It’s obviously more heavily armed that LCS 1 & 2, though the latter have likely a more potent helo + UAV punch.

    As a model for the US to copy for blue water requirements, it would need a longer range AA missile than the Grison 11 (10km). ESSM or Standard II would make it an adequate Perry class replacement, assuming its other systems are up to US standards. Certainly it could chase down pirates. Although if it lets them go, as did the latest US catch, releasing 11 pirates, then what’s the point?

    What does Soobrazitelny cost?


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