Third generation of Soobrazitelny's: why Russia needs corvettes


Senior Member
Oct 5, 2009
Third generation of Soobrazitelny's: why Russia needs corvettes

On March 31, 2010, another Russian navy warship hit the water in St. Petersburg: the corvette Soobrazitelny, the second vessel of Project 20380. The new vessel's name follows the old Soviet/Russian tradition of using adjectives for small warships. "Soobrazitelny" means intelligent. This name was borne by a large Soviet submarine hunter of Project 61, and before it, by a legendary destroyer of Project 7 during World War II.

Unfortunately, new additions to the navy occur rarely these days, and the launch of the new corvette became a noteworthy event. Besides, Soobrazitelny deserves special mention as an example of one of the most advanced projects in the world.

The designing of the ship began in the 1990s, and the difficult period in Russia's modern history left its mark on it. In a bid to reduce construction costs and avoid building several series of different types, the developers made Project 20380 a universal one, which unlike specialized craft of Soviet design was capable of dealing with targets of practically all types: under and on water, in the air, and on the ground.

This all-purpose nature determined its classification: instead of being given third rank common for Russian ships, such as small hunter-killer, small missile boat, etc., the new ship was classified as a corvette, which, according to Western standard, is an all-purpose warship.

But while conforming to this classification in size (displacement 2,000 tons), the forward-looking Russian ship outgrew it by fire power. 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-in air-defense systems made experts place it among the frigates, which is a higher ranking.

This status-raising is especially justified for Soobrazitelny and its successors. They are provided with even more powerful weapons: instead of the Kortik surface-to-air gun and missile module these ships will accommodate a general-purpose ship firing system (UKSK), with eight loading bays, each of which can receive between one and four missiles depending on their type.

An equally important feature of the new corvettes is their equipment with the Sigma modern battle management system, which simultaneously tracks and engages targets on land, on and under water, and in the air, like the U.S. Aegis system, allowing a task force to organize collective defense, to exchange information, to share targeting data and to control the group's weapons in real time.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union the Russian navy has heavily fallen behind its opponents as far as new generation systems are concerned, and is now making up for lost time. More often than not, this pull-up develops into a real breakthrough. Today, Russia has developed a unified family of combat ships, ranging from corvette to destroyer, compatible in basic systems and differing only in the numbers of armaments installed.

Currently, Russia is building new ships in small series. Soobrazitelny is only the second of its project run, with three more on the building blocks. The rate of construction will be stepped up as soon as enough information is gathered on all the benefits and drawbacks of the new projects, which will make it possible to make the necessary updates.

In the next 10 years, Russia is to get no fewer than 20 new project corvettes. They will perform a wide range of missions: from patrolling own waters to supporting bigger ships, including all-purpose landing craft, destroyers, cruisers and lastly aircraft carriers whose construction is slated for the coming decade.

For such a wide variety of tasks, the 20 corvettes may fall short of the demand, suggesting more spending on new ships. These are really needed by Russia with its extensive sea borders and the remoteness of key theaters of military operation from each other. Russia needs a strong navy to be able to stand up to any opponent.


Senior Member
Jun 29, 2009
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