The Russian Navy: A Historic Transition

The Russian Navy: A Historic Transition
Table of Contents
Executive Summary.........................................................................................................iii
Introduction: Russian Naval History: From the Kievan Rus’ to Today’s Russia....................xiii
Chapter One: Strategy – Fulfilling National Missions.........................................................1
The Evolution of Naval Strategy........................................................................................1
Soviet Navy Roles and Missions.......................................................................................2
Chapter Two: Russian Navy: Structure and Leadership......................................................7
Admiral Viktor Chirkov....................................................................................................9
Future Leadership............................................................................................................11
Chapter Three: Procurement: Shift to Quality Over Quantity............................................15
The Future Fleet...............................................................................................................17
Naval Aviation.................................................................................................................30
Chapter Four: Personnel – Movement Towards a Professional Force.................................39
Additional resources:
Posters of the Russian Navy Major Forces by Fleet, Russian Navy New Construction, and the Russian Federation Navy (map) are located
inside the back cover.
Published by the
Office of Naval Intelligence
December 2015
Cleared for public release by Defense Office of Prepublication and Security Review (DOPSR Case 16-S-0274)
This report contains copyrighted material. Copying and disseminating the contents are prohibited without the permission of the copyright owners. When feasible,
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Executive Summary
This publication, The Russian Navy – A
Historic Transition, is intended to provide
the reader with a basic introduction to the
Russian Navy and an appreciation of current
developments that will shape Russia’s navy
and its operations in the 21st century.
battled to maintain that access, directly
supported Russia’s land forces in times of
imperial expansion and in the expulsion of
invaders, been part of the strategic nuclear
deterrence triad, and demonstrated a global
presence in the national interest. Political and
military strategy and the role and mission of
the Navy evolved as the Russian state grew,
faced challenges, was transformed into the
Soviet Union by revolution, repelled invasion,
and encountered disintegration.
Because the U.S. Navy operates worldwide
and the Russian Navy is an advanced, globally
capable force, its history, capabilities, missions,
and role within the Russian state and armed
forces should be clearly understood. The
new technologically advanced Russian Navy, “The Russian Navy is being equipped with the
increasingly armed with the KALIBR family of
newest; including precision long-range strike
weapons, will be able to more capably defend
weapons, and has big nuclear power. Naval
the maritime approaches to the Russian
forces today are capable of operating for a
Federation and exert significant influence in
adjacent seas. This multi-purpose force will be long time and with high combat readiness in
the forward-layered defense of Russia and its
operationally important areas of the global
maritime exclusive economic zone and will be ocean.”
able to promote Russian diplomatic interests,
- Admiral Viktor Chirkov
advance maritime science, combat piracy, and
Commander-in-Chief, Russian Navy
provide humanitarian assistance.
It will also provide a flexible platform for
Russia to demonstrate offensive capability,
threaten neighbors, project power regionally,
and advance President Putin’s stated goal of
returning Russia to clear great power status.
Throughout, the navy retained, with some
adjustment for the passing years and
events, many of the basic organizational,
procedural, and personnel practices that
were laid down by its founder, Peter I
(the Great), at the beginning of the 18th
century. As the years passed, Russia’s naval
activity and the shipbuilding and weapons
Over its 320-year history, the Russian Navy
has been instrumental in securing Russia’s
maritime access to the world, periodically
production capabilities required to advance
it became ever more sophisticated and
varied. In addition to production for its own
needs, foreign sales shifted from selling
masts, caulking pitch, and rope to a variety
of highly capable ships, submarines, and
related weapons systems today sold to or coproduced with a number of foreign states.
interest, manned by a new generation of postSoviet officers and enlisted personnel.
The research, technical development, and
production enabling the achievement of
these goals have and will continue to be
accompanied by a robust program of naval
arms sales to other countries. The quantity
and quality of the ships, submarines, and
armaments sold will transform the current
capabilities of recipient states and, in some
cases, potentially enable them to improve the
quality of indigenous arms production.
As Russia asserts itself on the world stage,
it is giving priority of effort and funding to
recapitalizing its navy, which is going through
a major transition from the legacy Soviet Navy
to a Russian Navy that should reflect the latest
achievements of Russian advances in science
and technology.
“Thanks to the bravery of sailors, the talent
of shipbuilders, and the daring of explorers,
pioneers, and naval leaders our nation has
held fast as a great maritime power. This
status is a huge responsibility for us as we
face history, our ancestors who created
Russia’s maritime glory, and, of course, future
generations to whom we must pass a modern
and strong Navy.”
- Vladimir Putin, President
Russian Federation Navy Day, 26 July 2015
On the basis of currently available data it is
projected that the Russian Navy will retain its
core missions. Although the national defense
mission of the strategic and general purpose
navy has remained, today’s fiscal realities
require that the decreased number of major
naval platforms be multi-mission capable
and armed with the latest capabilities in
weapons; sensors; and command, control,
communications, computer, intelligence,
surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR)
systems. Russia has begun, and over the next
decade will make large strides in fielding a
21st century navy capable of a dependable
national defense, an impressive but limited
presence in more distant global areas of
NOTE: The contents of this publication reflect information gathered from a broad range of publicly available
source material that is considered to be effectively accurate and authoritative.
After the disintegration of the Soviet Union in
December 1991, Russia inherited the majority
of the former Soviet Navy, including its afloat
assets, naval bases, and an extensive network
of shore facilities.
organizational disarray and financial neglect as
the Russian leadership focused on the priorities
of national transformation from the framework
of the totalitarian and socialist Soviet state into
a fledgling democracy embracing a market
economy. During this “time of troubles,”
most naval programs were either suspended
or halted altogether. Only efforts to improve
command and control systems and lessexpensive new design work continued to be
The immediate post-Soviet period was fraught
with major difficulties as the Soviet Navy first
became the Commonwealth of Independent
States (CIS) Navy and finally transitioned
to the Russian Federation (Russian) Navy
(RFN). These early years were marked by
Admiral Kuznetzov at anchor Severomorsk
Russia inherited virtually all of a huge legacy
Soviet Navy, however—largely because Fleet
Admiral of the Soviet Union Sergey Gorshkov,
Commander-in-Chief of the Soviet Navy for
almost 30 years, wanted to keep what he had
built—many of the Soviet Navy’s submarines,
surface ships, and auxiliaries had long outlived
their usefulness, but were retained to maintain
impressive numbers. The post-Soviet naval
leadership faced daunting decisions to triage
this legacy. Once assessments were made
and decisions taken, fully three-quarters to
five-sixths of the Soviet-era inventory was
written off. Even some submarines and surface
ships that were both combat-capable and
had service lives remaining were removed if
deemed no longer cost-effective to maintain
(about one-third had long expired service
lives; another third was composed of units
deemed no longer combat-effective under
current warfare conditions). Difficult decisions
were justified on the basis that it was better to
concentrate limited funds and effort and save
some of the best and most useful ships and
submarines rather than attempt to save all and
thereby save nothing.
Since 2000, as Russia’s governmental order
and economy have stabilized, there has been
a focused and funded effort to revitalize
the Russian military—including the Navy.
Suspended construction programs are
now moving toward completion and new
construction programs are beginning to
provide the Navy with 21st-century submarine
and surface platforms.
Another issue, dividing the Black Sea portion
of the Soviet Navy with newly independent
Ukraine, was settled only in 1997. As part of
this process, Russia concluded a base lease
agreement with Ukraine under which Russia
retained use of more than 100 naval facilities
on the Crimean Peninsula through 2017. The
lease agreement provided for the possibility of
bi-laterally agreed extensions, and in 2010, it
was mutually agreed to extend the agreement
for 25 years through 2042 with a possible
additional five years (through 2047) through
the Russian-Ukrainian naval base for gas
agreement, or Kharkiv Pact.
In March 2014, Russian military actions led
to its annexation of Crimea, an act which
abrogated the lease agreement. The United
States does not recognize Russia’s annexation
of Crimea.
Russian Naval Infantryman participating in an
amphibious landing
Ministry of Defense
The Russian Federation Ministry of Defense
website addresses the missions of the Russian
Armed Forces. These have evolved due to the
changing foreign political situation of recent
years and new domestic priorities to ensure
national security. These missions are structured
along four basic directions:
• Deterrence of military and militarypolitical threats to the security or interests
of the Russian Federation
• Ensuring the economic and political
interests of the Russian Federation
• Conducting operations by armed forces
in peacetime
• Use of military force (wartime)
The peculiarity of the development of the
world military-political situation makes it
possible for the execution of one mission
to grow into another, because the more
problematic political situations—from Russia’s
point of view of its security—have a complex
and multi-dimensional character.
One of the forms of resolving political,
national-ethnic, regional, territorial, and other
conflicts is using armed warfare when the state
(or states) participating in military actions does
not transition to the particular condition called
war. As a rule, the parties pursue individual
military-political goals in armed conflict.
The Russian Armed Forces train for direct
participation in the following types of defined*
military conflicts:
Armed conflict. An armed conflict can have
an international character (involving two or
more states) or an internal character (with the
conduct of armed combat within the borders
of one state’s territory).
An armed conflict can be the consequence
of the growth of an armed incident, a border
conflict, armed actions, and other armed
collisions of limited scale, in which means of
armed combat are used to resolve the conflict.
Local war. A war between two or more states,
limited in political goals, in which military
actions are conducted, as a rule, within
the boundaries of the belligerent states and
dominantly touch only the interests of these
states (territorial, economic, political, etc.).
A local war can be conducted by groups of
troops deployed in the conflict region, with
possible reinforcement by the deployment of
supplementary forces from other axes and
with the conduct of a partial mobilization.
Under certain conditions, local wars can grow
into a regional or large-scale war.
Regional war. A war with the participation
of two or more states (groups of states) or a
region with national or coalition armed forces,
using both conventional and nuclear means
of attack on a territory defined by the bounds
of one region and its adjacent maritime
or oceanic waters, air, and outer space, in
the course of which the parties will pursue
important military-political goals.
*these are Russian definitions
The full deployment of the armed forces,
economy, and the great intensity of all of the
forces of the participating states are necessary
for the conduct of regional war. In case states or
their allies having nuclear weapons participate,
a regional war is characterized by the threat of
transitioning to the use of nuclear weapons.
Large-scale war. A war between coalitions of
states or major states of the world community
that can be the result of the escalation of
armed conflict or a local or regional war by
the involvement of a significant number of
states from various regions of the world. In a
large-scale war, parties pursue radical militarypolitical goals, and the mobilization of all
available material resources and spiritual forces
of the participating states is required.
Russian Military Planning
Contemporary Russian military planning is
based on a realistic understanding of the
current resources and capabilities of the
Russian Federation. It assumes that the Russian
Armed Forces, together with other troops,
must be ready—together with the strategic
deterrent forces and the maneuver of the
permanent ready forces—to:
• repulse an attack and to attack the
• conduct active operations (defensive as
well as offensive) under any variant of
the unleashing and conduct of war and
armed conflict with the enemy, massively
using current and future means of attack,
including all types of weapons of mass
Russian Naval Midshipmen in parade formation
In doing the above, the Russian Armed Forces
must be able to:
• In peacetime and in emergency
situations, while preserving the potential
for strategic deterrence and fulfilling the
missions of maintaining combat readiness
by permanent ready troops without
conducting supplementary mobilization
activity, successfully execute missions
in two armed conflicts of any type, and
also conduct peacekeeping operations
both independently and as part of a
multinational coalition.
• Were the military-political and militarystrategic situation to become more acute,
ensure the strategic deployment of the
Russian Armed Forces and deter an
escalation of the situation.
• In wartime, use available forces to repulse
an enemy aero-space attack, and after a
full-scale strategic deployment, execute
missions in two local wars simultaneously.
• Naval Infantry and Coastal Missile and
Artillery Troops
• Naval shore establishment (headquarters,
communications, intelligence, maintenance
and repair, education and training, etc.)
The Armed Forces
The Armed Forces structurally comprise three
• Ground Forces
• Air and Air Defense Forces
• Navy
and three branches:
• Strategic Missile Troops (Strategic Rocket
• Aerospace Defense Troops (Space Troops)
• Airborne Troops
The Navy’s peacetime missions are:
• Deter. Maintain strategic nuclear deterrent
forces—strategic nuclear-powered ballistic
missile submarines (SSBNs)—in permanent
ready status, able to deliver a timely
retaliatory strike or deploy in times of
growing tension to deter an attack against
• Defend. Maintain and deploy constant
ready general-purpose naval forces to
protect and defend Russia’s national
interests both in adjacent seas as well as in
more distant waters.
• Demonstrate. Use the select deployment
of general-purpose forces as an
“instrument of state” to support Russian
foreign policy.
The Navy is the Russian Armed Forces’ service
whose mission is the armed protection of
Russia’s interests and the conduct of combat
operations in maritime and oceanic theaters
of military operations. The Navy is capable
of delivering nuclear and conventional strikes
against an enemy’s land facilities, destroying
enemy naval formations at sea and in base,
interdicting enemy maritime and oceanic sea
lines of communication while protecting its
own shipping, cooperating with ground forces
in continental theaters of military operations,
making amphibious landings, repelling enemy
landings, and fulfilling other missions.
In times of increased tension and war, the
Navy’s priority missions are:
• Protect. Protect the sea-based strategic
deterrent force.
• Interdict. Interdict or blunt an aero-space
attack against Russia from the maritime
The Russian Navy is composed of
interconnected components, spanning the
gamut from combat forces to all elements of
supporting infrastructure:
• Command staff
• Submarine forces
• Surface forces
• Naval auxiliaries
• Naval aviation
Strategic Deterrence
The Russian Navy contributes to Russia’s
strategic nuclear deterrent forces by
maintaining nuclear-powered ballistic
missile-armed submarines (SSBNs) carrying
intercontinental range
surface ships, and
ballistic missiles.
aircraft out to about
These missiles can be
1,000nm from
launched while the
Russia’s frontier,
SSBNs are surfaced
with the intention
and moored at their
of eliminating or
homeports, while
blunting the effects
they are on patrol in
of such long range
protected waters in
land attack cruise
seas adjacent to Russia,
missiles by attacking
SSBN Yuriy Dolgorukiy at sunset
or after surfacing
their launching
through the ice when
platforms (surface
patrolling under the Arctic ice pack.
ships, submarines, and aircraft). These forwarddeployed forces could be protected by their
Strategic “Bastions”
own self-defense means as well as by fighter
SSBN patrol areas in adjacent seas, generally
aircraft deployed on an aircraft carrier.
referred to as “bastions,” are protected against
enemy forces by a combination of fixed
Intermediate/close-in defense. Were enemy
sensor installations, and anti-submarine forces
naval forces to more closely approach Russian
composed of submarines, surface ships, and
territory, they would encounter smaller surface
combatants and diesel submarines armed with
anti-ship and anti-submarine cruise missiles
Layered Defense
and torpedoes. The immediate approaches
The Navy is Russia’s only armed forces service would be defended by coastal defense anticapable of providing for an extended layered
ship cruise missiles and mine fields. Direct
defense of Russian territory. This approach is
assaults on coastal territory would encounter
predicated on engaging potential enemy forces Naval Infantry and Ground Forces.
as soon as their long-range weapons can
threaten and be brought to bear on Russian
Legal Basis
territory. For the purposes of illustration, such
Russian military and naval activity and
threat weapons could be long range land
organization are defined by a series of
attack cruise missiles.
fundamental documents at the national level.
They are:
Forward defense. In order to provide for
• Russian Federation Constitution, 12
forward defense, the Russian Navy could
December 1993
deploy anti-ship and anti-submarine missile• Russian Federation law “On Security,” 15
armed nuclear-powered submarines, major
December 2010
• Russian Federation law “On the State
Defense Order,” 29 December 2012
• Russian Federation law “On Defense,” 31
May 1996 (as amended)
o Section IV. Russian Federation Armed
Forces, other Troops, and military
formations and organizations
o Article 10. Russian Federation Armed
Forces and their purpose, Para 2. The
purpose of the Russian Federation
Armed Forces is to repulse aggression
directed against the Russian Federation,
the armed protection of the integrity
and inviolability of Russian Federation
territory, and the conduct of missions in
accordance with federal constitutional
laws and the Russian Federation’s
international treaties.
• Military Doctrine, Presidential decree of 5
February 2010, as updated December 2014
• Russian Federation Maritime Doctrine
through 2020, Presidential decree of 27 July
2001, updated through July 2015
• Regulation “On the Ministry of Defense,”
Presidential decree of 16 August 2004, as
amended through 27 June 2007
• Russian Federation National Security
Strategy through 2020, Presidential decree
of 12 May 2009 (superceded National
Security Concepts of 1997 and 2000)
“Any ruler that has but ground troops
has one hand, but one that has also a
navy has both.”
- Peter the Great
Russian Naval History
From the Kievan Rus’ to Today’s Russia . . .
Three Centuries Toward a Modern Navy
Today, the Russian Federation (Russia), though
smaller than at any time since Catherine the
Great in the 18th century—contemporaneous with Colonial America—is still the largest
country by area in the world. A little noted fact
is that its coastline is more than 2.5 times as
long as its land frontiers.
Although Russia has one centrally managed
Navy, due to Russia’s geography, it should
be viewed as functionally four and one half
navies: the Northern Fleet, Baltic Fleet, Black
Sea Fleet, the Pacific Fleet, and the Caspian
Flotilla. In October 2016, the Russia Navy will
celebrate the 320th anniversary of its founding
by Peter I (the Great) in 1696.
Early Days
Russian seafaring goes back to Kievan Rus’ in
the 9th century when medieval commerce
was active along the north-south riverine trade
route “from the Varangians (Vikings) to the
Greeks” connecting the Baltic and the Black
Seas. In the south, direct access to the Black
Sea carried trade to Constantinople (Istanbul).
From the 12th century on, coastal residents of
the north voyaged to Novaya Zemlya and to
what is today called Spitsbergen. The Mongol
invasions of the 12th century displaced Kievan
Rus’ and unrestricted commercial access to
the Black Sea was lost. As the Rus’ battled the
Mongols, tenuous access to the Baltic was lost
Painting depicting Peter the Great as a naval leader
to the Teutonic Knights and the Swedes. The
center of power shifted from Kiev to Moscow.
Only during the reigns of Ivan III (the Great)
and Ivan IV (the Terrible) in the 16th century
did Russia begin seriously to roll back the
invaders and take steps to regain maritime
access to the south. By this time, Russia was
already engaged in international maritime
trade with Europe through the port of
Arkhangelsk on the White Sea. This port had
access to the Barents and Norwegian Seas and
beyond but was seasonally blocked by ice.
In the early years of the Romanov dynasty
in the mid-17th century, Russia reached the
Sea of Okhotsk and the Pacific, eventually
acquiring Alaska, establishing a colonial capital
at Novo-arkhangelsk (“New Arkhangelsk”),
now Sitka, Alaska, and a coastal provisioning
outpost at Fort Ross just 65 miles north of San
Francisco, California.
The Imperial Navy Established
The foundation of today’s Russian access to
the western seas and the Russian Navy was
laid by Peter I (the Great) when he ordered the
establishment of a regular navy in 1696. In the
early 18th century, Russia gained permanent
access to the Baltic Sea by defeating Sweden,
then the preeminent Baltic Sea power, in
the Great Northern War. The Russian Baltic
Fleet was established in 1703. Peter the
Great also personally drew up the first Naval
Regulations, the form and design of the Navy’s
St. Andrew’s flag, ensign, signal flags, signal
code, and established the Admiralty Board.
Even the focal point of the urban design of
St. Petersburg, Russia’s imperial capital and
“window to the West,” was and remains the
Admiralty, the headquarters of the Russian
Navy, built on Peter’s order.
The Admiralty in St. Petersburg
In the late 18th century under Catherine II
(the Great), Russia finally gained a permanent
foothold on the Black Sea and access to the
Mediterranean through the Turkish Straits. The
first Russian naval squadron to operate in the
Mediterranean was formed from the Baltic
Fleet and fought victoriously against the Turks,
sinking the Ottoman fleet at Chesme in 1770.
In 1783, the city of Sevastopol was founded
and the Black Sea Fleet came into existence.
The 19th century saw the Russian Navy
transition from the “Age of Sail” to the “Age
of Steam.” It also witnessed three more wars
with Turkey to ensure the Black Sea Fleet
access to the Mediterranean. The first was in
1806–1812, when Russia dispatched a naval
squadron to the Mediterranean composed
of Baltic Fleet ships under the command
of F.F. Ushakov. The Crimean War came
in 1853–56 and saw both the world’s last
naval battle under sail at the Battle of Sinope
and then the first between steam-powered
ships. In the end, Russia was out-gunned
and out-maneuvered by an allied force of
dominantly steam-driven ships. The third
war, in 1877–78, saw the first use of what
can be considered the forerunner of modern
torpedoes. There were also two wars with
Persia in 1803–1813 and 1826–1827 in
which the Caspian Flotilla participated and
gained a secure foothold along the northern
Caspian Sea.
The Soviet Navy
When the Bolsheviks finally established
control over all of Russia after the Russian
Civil War that followed the Revolution, the
naval forces were tattered and scattered. A
significant portion of the remainder that had
survived Tsushima and World War I had
fled the country, carrying refugees to various
Western countries. A large part of the Imperial
Black Sea Fleet found is last anchorage in
The Russian naval advances and achievements Bizerte, Algeria.
in the 1800s were brought to an end at the
beginning of the 20th century by the Battle
The institutions of the Navy carried on, led
of Tsushima Straits in the Russo-Japanese War by officers who considered themselves
of 1904–1905. The Russian Pacific Fleet was
apolitical and wished to remain to serve their
unprepared for the developed might of the
country. The new order accepted them, but
Japanese Navy. In an early engagement the
with conditions. They were never fully trusted
cruiser Varyag perished in an uneven battle at and “political officers” were assigned to watch
Chemulpo (Incheon). To reinforce the Pacific
over their actions and decisions, which had
Fleet, a late decision was made to send a
to be countersigned by the political officers in
sizable portion of the Baltic Fleet, Russia’s
order to be valid. The final chapter for many
largest, around Africa and through the Indian
of them was written by bullets in blood when
Ocean to attempt to turn the tide of battle. By the purges (“repressions”) of the 1930s swept
the time the fleet neared Japan, it was weary
away the loyal and experienced vestiges of
and worn from the 220-day transit. The
the past. Under Joseph Dzhugashvili (Stalin),
Japanese Navy made short work of the pride
the forced fulfillment of ambitious plans for
of the Russian Navy.
massive industrialization was undertaken.
These plans included the recapitalization of
Plans were made to rebuild the Navy. In 1913, shipyards, including the large shipyards in
the lead unit of the NOVIK Class destroyers
Leningrad (St. Petersburg) and Nikolayev, and
was delivered, capable of an impressive 37.7
the construction of an entirely new shipyard
at Severodvinsk (originally called Sudostroy,
then Molotovsk) on the White Sea. Likewise,
The navy that was lost at Tsushima was barely
designs were drawn up for new warships,
beginning to be replaced when the next blow
both surface and submarines. Once again, the
fell—the Russian Revolution of 1917.
construction of a new navy had begun.
The Great Patriotic War
And, once again, catastrophe intervened.
On 22 June 1941, Nazi Germany invaded
the Soviet Union: Operation Barbarossa had
begun. Though there had been indications of
eastward German troop movements, the only
formation of the Soviet Armed Forces that was
fully combat-ready that day was the Baltic
Fleet. Navy Commander-in-Chief Admiral
N.G. Kuznetsov had taken upon himself the
responsibility for issuing the readiness order
without waiting for the normal functioning of
the military bureaucracy.
The southern front saw the Germans
overwhelm Crimea. The forces of the Black
Sea Fleet retreated to Novorossiysk and
from there assisted the counter-offensive that
eventually repelled and ejected the invader. It
was in these actions that then Rear Admiral
S.G. Gorshkov, in charge of the naval forces,
came in close contact with N.S. Khrushchev
and L.I. Brezhnev, both of whom were political
officers in this sector of the war.
To illustrate the extent of the German
invasion of the Soviet Union and its
consequences in terms more familiar to
a U.S. audience, envision the following:
Nazi Germany geographically abutting
the United States’ eastern seaboard with
no intervening land or water. In the early
morning of 22 June 1941, the invading forces
would have simultaneously advanced on a
front stretching from Boston, Massachusetts
to Savannah, Georgia. The United States
would be forced to move all of its east coast
heavy industries to the Rocky Mountains.
The farthest point of German penetration
would be Des Moines, Iowa, and the great
tank Battle of Kursk would take place in
Cincinnati, Ohio. Instead of the WWII U.S.
military death toll of some 400,000, there
would be upward of at least 12 million (25+
million by others), counting both servicemen
and civilians, with most of their blood shed
into their own soil. This traumatic event
was seared into the consciousness of every
Soviet citizen and all would continue to
sacrifice much to ensure that war would
not come again.
The German forces laid siege to Leningrad
for 900 days and advanced to the outskirts of
Moscow. Many Baltic Fleet ships managed
to retreat to Leningrad where they continued
to function as slightly mobile long-range
artillery and anti-aircraft batteries. While
the German Navy dominantly succeeded in
“bottling up” the fleet in the Gulf of Finland
using thousands of mines as “corks,” some
Soviet diesel submarine crews managed to
thread the minefields and inflict considerable
damage on German shipping in the Baltic.
Many of the fleet’s sailors and officers and all
of the Naval Infantry joined the ranks of the
ground forces to stop the invader and pushed
him back.
German advances in the north effectively
contained counterattack operations by the
Northern Fleet operating out of the Kola Gulf
and the White Sea. And here also, submarine
crews were able to slip out and inflict
Once Germany was defeated, the wartime
alliance between the U.S., U.K., and the
Soviet Union evaporated and the chill of the
Cold War soon set in. Interpreting the Soviet
advance into Eastern Europe and the retention
of control there differently, both East and West
warily eyed each other.
The development and use of the atom bomb
cast the long shadow of its mushroom cloud
over all military calculations. The world did
not yet know all of the consequences and
after-effects of radiation exposure and many
considered the development of nuclear
arsenals to be yet another step in future
When cruise missiles were added to surface
ships in the 1950s, the age of long-range naval
artillery duels was a thing of the past. Of
course, every advance in a capability to attack
called forth efforts to provide for an effective
defense. Extensive efforts were focused on
developing anti-submarine warfare (ASW)
capabilities by using submarines, surface ships,
helicopters, long-range aviation, and fixed
sensor systems.
By the late 1960s, under the able and
visionary leadership of Fleet Admiral of the
Soviet Union S.G. Gorshkov and his close
personal connections with the leadership
of the Communist Party and Government,
the USSR had built and was continuing to
On the naval side, the Soviet Union once
construct an impressive navy. In response to
again developed programs to rebuild.
the mention of the huge numbers of hastily
The acquisition of German technology,
built platforms with a tone that questioned
documentation, and scientists allowed both
their quality, a Soviet naval officer reportedly
the USSR and the West to advance their naval said, “Quantity has a quality of its own.” The
capabilities. The war had shown the utility of
1974 first edition of the U.S. Department of the
longer-range weapons: the German V-1 “flying Navy publication “Understanding Soviet Naval
bomb” cruise missiles and the V-2 ballistic
Developments” noted the general-purpose
missiles became the starting points for the
Soviet Navy as having 245 active nucleardevelopment of whole families of ground- and powered and diesel-electric submarines and
sea-launched weapons. The launch of the USS 222 major surface warships. In addition, there
Nautilus ushered in the age of naval nuclear
were 61 nuclear-powered and diesel-electric
power and true submarines—warships that
ballistic missile submarines.
could dive and operate submerged, limited
only by the endurance of their human crew.
By the 1970s, the leadership of both the U.S.
When cruise and ballistic missiles were
and the USSR decided that the arms race
added to submarines, the capability to hold
could not go on unchecked. Negotiations led
an adversary at risk or the ability to launch a
to treaties limiting strategic nuclear arms, first
surprise attack was greatly increased.
SALT and then START. Other negotiations
led to a bilateral agreement aimed at making
the middle-aged M.S. Gorbachev succeeded
the quickly dying geriatric parade of Brezhnev,
Andropov, and Chernenko, a time of change
came to the USSR. For the first time since
the Revolution, things could be described
as they really were, rather than as the Party
ideology insisted they be. Growing global
communications capabilities broke down the
barriers of radio jamming and press censorship.
The massive but fragile Soviet edifice began
to show cracks, and on Christmas Day, 25
December 1991, it disintegrated.
Fleet Admiral of the Soviet Union
S.G. Gorshkov
close encounters at sea more safe and less
hazardous—the 1972 Agreement for the
Prevention of Incidents On and Over the
High Seas (INCSEA)—which continues to
function today.
Disintegration of the USSR
With the passing of the WW-II generation
from the leadership of the Soviet Union, new
thinking and new opportunities arose. When
A wave of information and change swept away
the fossilized dogmas of the past. Both sides
realized that, absent the Communist ideology
that had preached an inevitable clash and
even a nuclear war between the U.S. and
the USSR, a mortal confrontation was not
inevitable and a nuclear war was unwinnable.
Greater transparency showed that neither
side wished to attack or invade the other. This
specifically led to the realization that there was
much to be done to rebuild and renew Russia
after some 70 years of isolation. The Armed
Forces could be downsized and refocused on
essential defensive missions and on providing
stability for internal development.
New Russia and Its Navy
The historical transition from communism to
capitalism, and the end of the Communist
Party at the end of the 20th century, turned
out to be extremely painful and bordering
on the chaotic. The Russian ship of state was
sailing into stormy, unknown waters with an
experienced captain (Boris Yeltsin) at the helm,
develop new, more modern and capable
designs and systems.
The organization and fiscal stability achieved
since 2005 has permitted budgeting for
and financing of critically needed new
construction. The Russian Navy still retains
the essential missions of its Soviet predecessor,
all geared toward the defense of the territorial
integrity and sovereignty of the Russian state
and the protection and promotion of its
Russian Navy Honor Guard in Norfolk, VA
interests. Today’s global realities may allow
it to accomplish these missions with fewer
but one unfamiliar with this class of ship and
means and lesser cost, which would be
lacking accurate charts. Its crew was new, their advantageous, because navies are expensive
uniforms were tattered, and its threadbare
and each generation of armaments takes more
pockets were almost empty. Everybody was
than a decade to develop, design, and build.
thrown into a crash course of survival and onthe-job-training as Russia turned yet another
Today, the Russian Navy once again stands
momentous page of its history.
at a point of transition and renewal, as it has
at various times in the preceding centuries of
Sailing into uncharted waters, the Navy could
its history. The 21st century is beginning with
not avoid the shoals and shallows. With the
different challenges and opportunities, and
now-acceptable ability to see and speak the
Russia envisions its new 21st-century Navy
truth, it was obvious that much of Admiral
to be built and manned to effectively face
Gorshkov’s once-impressive Navy was
those challenges and fulfill its missions while
inoperative, obsolete, or in need of more
carrying on the best traditions of its illustrious
attention than the results would merit. In the
but often rocky and painful past.
course of some 10 years, from 1995–2005,
naval leadership made painful triage decisions.
The choices were stark: try to save most and
lose all, or try to maintain the most capable
and invest in the future. The latter was the
wise choice. As a result, the Russian Navy
today is about one-sixth to one-quarter the
size of the Soviet Navy in its heyday. The
fallow years of the 1990s were used to
Chapter One:
Strategy –
Fulfilling National Missions
The Evolution of Naval Strategy
Over three centuries, Russian naval strategy
has transitioned from developing approaches
and capabilities to acquire access for
commerce to open seas in the west to
developing effective and credible anti-access
approaches and capabilities to deter or defend
against long-range aerospace capabilities to
attack Russia from the sea in the west, north,
and east. However, even today, Russia’s
need for access to open seas remains a vital
concern in the Baltic and Black Seas.
Russia’s early expansion to the north with
maritime access to the White and Barents
Seas and to the east with access to the Sea of
Okhotsk and the North Pacific Ocean beyond
was not met with opposition and did not
necessitate the development of any serious
either offensive or defensive naval capability
in those directions.
In the 19th century, Russia continued to work
to secure access to open seas in the face of
the developing European naval capabilities
Russia’s early requirement for a regular Navy
often arrayed against it. The only strategy
during the reign of Peter I (the Great) in the
available was to develop better ships and
early 18th century was occasioned by the need weapons and to train and educate its naval
to break out of its riverine constraints and to
leaders and ship’s crews to fight better.
secure access to the open sea. To do so, Russia Because the essence of Russian military power
needed a fleet that could both support the
lay in its ground forces, it was the success of
actions of the army and effectively confront
those forces that backed the diplomacy and
enemy ships at sea. The focus of Russian Navy
naval actions that eventually secured access
actions at this time was to defeat Turkish forces
to the open seas. That access from the Baltic
blocking access to the Black Sea via the Sea of
Sea and the Black Sea is still more dependent
Azov and Swedish forces preventing access to
on the combination of diplomacy and the
the Baltic through the Volkhov and Neva Rivers. existence of military power than on the
Russia’s approach was to build numerous
massive demonstration of it.
relatively small but easily-maneuverable oared
sail-augmented galleys and watercraft mounting Due to Russia’s internal economic and
cannon. The use of such craft gave Russia
political situation at the beginning of the
an asymmetrical advantage over the larger
20th century and into World War I, the
sail men-of-war of its adversaries, permitting
Russian Navy had not received sufficient
Russian naval victories in both theaters.
governmental support and was not in a
position to significantly contribute to the
operations of a weak Russian army in the
context of a ground war in Europe. In the Far
East, the limited capabilities of the Pacific Fleet
and the basing of a portion of it in China at
the leasehold of Port Arthur did not permit
mounting an adequate defense against attack
by a more capable and numerically larger
Japanese Navy. The geographic reality of
Russia’s widely separated maritime frontage
did not in 1904 and still does not today
support the strategic utility of sending ships
from one fleet to support another in their
defensive missions.
advance of the German Army in its surprise
attack on the USSR (Operation Barbarossa)
supported by the German Navy effectively
bottled up the Baltic Fleet once it withdrew
to bases in and near Leningrad in the Gulf
of Finland. Even the fact that the Soviet
fleet was put on war readiness just before
the start of the offensive was not enough to
stall the German advance in the Baltic. The
Soviet Northern Fleet, which was just being
developed in the 1930s, was also forced
into a defensive posture. The same fate befell
the Black Sea Fleet, which was significantly
diminished with the capture of Sevastopol.
Most naval personnel ended up fighting
ashore alongside the army as the entire
nation fought to expel the invader.
Each fleet and the Caspian Flotilla must
be effectively self-sufficient to perform its
missions in its region of responsibility in
conjunction with whatever other armed forces
branches are directly available.
By the end of the war, resistance and exploits
by a handful of submarine crews in the Baltic
and North and the construction of numerous
small craft in the Black Sea allowed the Soviet
Navy to support the Red Army in rolling back
the invader. In the Pacific, the modest forces
of the Pacific Fleet entered the war close to
the last moment in order to join in the spoils
of victory. This overall experience left an
indelible imprint on the Soviet political and
military establishment, and for many years, the
Navy’s role remained the support of the Army.
In fact, Soviet military theoreticians asserted
that because of the nature of the Soviet Navy,
there could not be a “naval strategy” as
distinct from “military strategy.”
Soviet Navy Roles and Missions
The early Soviet Period saw the virtual
disappearance of the Navy with most of its
ships either sunk or scuttled during World War
I or removed to foreign ports by departing
contingents of forces opposing the Bolshevik
Revolutions and Communist rule. Prior to
World War II, the Soviet Union worked
steadily to rebuild its navy and the navy’s
mission together with that of the Red Army
was limited to protecting the gains of the
World War II - the Great Patriotic War. The
onset of World War II found the Soviet Navy
in a defensive posture at its bases. The rapid
Post-war Soviet Navy. After the war, the Soviet
Union once again embarked on building a
navy; however, the pace was slow and the
Navy’s mission remained ill-defined.
Post Cuban Missile Crisis. When the Soviet
Union was embarrassed over the 1962 Cuban
Missile Crisis, it provided Admiral Gorshkov,
Commander-in-Chief of the Soviet Navy
for almost 30 years, with the opportunity
and justification to promote equipping the
Navy with capabilities significantly beyond
those required for the direct support of
the Army. Gorshkov postulated that the
Navy, acting relatively alone, could achieve
decisive strategic goals in Oceanic Theaters
of Military Operations (Oceanic TMOs; in
Russian: Oceanic TVD). Pursuing his vision
and using his close wartime connections with
the Soviet political leadership, he was able
to push through robust weapons and sensor
development as well as shipbuilding programs.
Strategic Deterrence. The development of
the ballistic missile submarine changed the
strategic playing field. The adversary could
now be threatened with assured destruction
from invisible platforms lurking in the offshore
ocean depths. At first, Soviet submarinelaunched ballistic missiles were of relatively
short range, necessitating long transits to get
within target range. They also made noisy
Soviet submarines vulnerable to detection
and prosecution by fixed acoustic sensor
systems, shore-based maritime patrol aircraft,
and attack submarines and surface ships. The
development of longer-range ballistic missiles
allowed the submarines that carried them to
patrol closer to their home bases where they
could be protected by various general-purpose
forces and even reach their targets from their
home piers or after surfacing through the
Arctic icecap.
These programs gave the Soviet Navy a role
in strategic defense by creating more capable
nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines
that could threaten the United States and
its NATO allies with nuclear weapons. The
construction of a large number of generalpurpose conventional and nuclear-powered
submarines together with numerous surface
combatants—all armed with cruise missiles—
further threatened U.S. and Allied naval
forces deployed in the Atlantic, Indian, and
Pacific Oceans, and the Mediterranean Sea.
The Soviet posture took on very offensive
dimensions as the temperature of the Cold
War rose.
Conventional Forces. Robust, general-purpose
forces were developed and built to support
the layered defense of the homeland. Small
combatants and minesweepers protected
adjacent home waters and were tasked to
ensure that naval forces could not be bottled
up in their bases. Larger, more seaworthy
forces with greater endurance were deployed
beyond adjacent seas to guard against
incursions into the outer approaches to
the Soviet Union. At the height of the Cold
War, the Soviet Navy deployed submarine
and surface forces globally to confront and
monitor U.S. and Allied naval forces in
order to preclude a surprise attack against
the USSR. This constant shadowing posture
Layered Defense. Having
acquired the means to
strike targets at long ranges
using ballistic missiles
launched from nuclearpowered submarines, it
was now possible to
directly protect them
and the country against
attacks from the sea. To
accomplish this, the Navy
developed a layered
defense strategy. Today,
the outer limit of this
layered defense can be
generally defined as
about 1,000 nautical
miles (TOMAHAWK land
attack cruise missile range)
from the Russian frontier
or from Moscow. For
western Russia, this outer
1000nm range rings – Perceived TLAM threat to Russian homeland
was characterized as “the battle for the first
salvo.” Due to an objective regard for Western
capabilities, the Soviet sailors who manned
the forward-deployed submarines and ships
were under no illusion that they would survive
the initial stages of a war, but their mission was
to preempt or blunt the expected attack, to
attempt to “kill the archer” and thereby lessen
the number of incoming “arrows” aimed at
their homeland that would have to be dealt
with by other defending forces.
only a military but also an ideological and
political component, each side embraced
a “zero sum” calculus whereby any win by
one was automatically seen as a loss by the
other. The USSR chose to support various
anti-colonial or anti-Western movements in
the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, and
Southeast Asia. This East-West contest of
wills played out in “proxy wars” where the
warring sides were openly or clandestinely
supported and equipped either by the
Soviet Union or the United States. In many
cases, Soviet advisors accompanied the
equipment to provide training, and in some
Local Conflicts and Proxy Wars. Because the
confrontation between East and West had not
1000nm range rings – Perceived TLAM threat to Russian homeland (Pacific)
cases, to actually operate weapons systems
in wartime conditions. This activity provided
opportunities to slough off excess or outdated
equipment, test new battlefield weapons
or applications, and gain intelligence on the
equipment and tactics of the opposing side.
bound runs through the
Kingdom gap separating
the North Atlantic from
the Norwegian Sea. In
the Mediterranean, the
line runs roughly northsouth at the boot of Italy
defining the eastern and
western Mediterranean.
In the Pacific, there are
no easily identifiable
geographic bounds at the
1,000 nm range (distances
from three points provide
general orientation). The
disintegration of the USSR
did more to change Russia’s
strategic defense depth on
land (a loss of about 300
miles) but had negligible
effect on seaward concerns.
it has filed a claim to extended continental
shelf rights in accordance with United Nations
Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)
mandated procedures. Russia is taking steps
to enhance its ability to protect its exclusive
economic zone (EEZ), monitor and control the
use of the Northern Sea Route within that EEZ,
and improve its ability to affect search and
rescue (SAR) operations in the Russian Arctic.
Today. Russia’s wartime naval strategy remains
focused on nuclear deterrence and layered
defense as described above. Russia is paying
specific attention to peripheral defense,
particularly in the Arctic where it assesses the
effects of global climate change will potentially
increase foreign maritime presence and where
Chapter Two:
Russian Navy: Structure and Leadership
The Russian Navy is composed of
interconnected components, spanning the
gamut from combat forces to all elements of
supporting infrastructure:
• Command staff
• Submarine forces
• Surface forces
• Naval auxiliaries
• Naval aviation
• Naval Infantry and Coastal Missile
and Artillery Troops
• Naval shore establishment
(headquarters, communications,
intelligence, maintenance and repair,
education and training, etc.)
acquisitions of strategic importance, i.e. the
submarine projects. This will include
management of the Russian aircraft carrier
project as well.
Historically, the CINC Navy exercises
command authority over and provides
administrative direction to the Navy. In this
respect, this position somewhat combines
the historical functions of the U.S. Chief of
Naval Operations and the Secretary of the
The Chief of Staff/First Deputy CINC is the
second in command and is responsible for
The headquarters of the Russian Navy was
all operational issues and direct support. His
recently relocated from Moscow to its
organization includes the Main Operational
historical home in the Admiralty building in
Directorate and the Navy’s Main Command
St. Petersburg. The move is complete and the Post, as well as direct support elements such
new Navy Command Center is functioning.
as communications and intelligence.
Operations are directed and administrative
orders and actions taken emanate from
The Deputy CINC, the third person at the
St. Petersburg. The Commander-in-Chief
top, oversees on a day-to-day basis all of the
(CINC) of the Russian Navy, Admiral Viktor
administrative elements such as personnel,
Viktorovich Chirkov, officially runs the Navy
education, shipbuilding and armaments,
from the new headquarters, but will always
logistics, and engineering and billeting.
share time between the seat of government
He has command authority over naval
in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Like his U.S.
operations only when functioning as the
counterpart, Admiral Chirkov oversees and
Acting CINC.
is ultimately responsible for all new weapons
The CINC Navy and the Main Navy Staff,
responding to orders from the National
Command Authority and in accordance
with procedures and guidelines issued by
the General Staff, and likely in coordination
with the appropriate new Joint Strategic
Commands, issue commands and directives
to the Northern, Baltic, Black Sea, and
Pacific Fleets as well as the Caspian Flotilla.
combatants. Aboard first line ships and
submarines, the Commanding Officer has
both a Senior Assistant (Executive Officer)
and another Assistant.
Within the fleet order of battle, individual
ships and submarines are classified as 1st,
2nd, and 3rd rank. The rank of commanding
officers (Captains 1st – O-6, 2nd – O-5, and
3rd – O-4 Rank) nominally corresponds to
the rank of ship commanded.
• 1st Rank – SSBNs, SSGNs, newest SSNs,
CV, CGNs, CGs.
• 2nd Rank – older SSNs, SSs, DDGs, DDs,
FFGs, FFs, LSTs.
• 3rd Rank – PGs, PGGs, etc.
The command structures of the individual
fleets and the Caspian Flotilla parallel those
of the headquarters organization.
The practice of the commander having two
deputies extends down to all major fleet
Admiral Viktor Chirkov
Russian Navy
Admiral Chirkov, appointed Commander-in-Chief
of the Russian Navy in May 2012, is a lifelong
surface officer with extensive experience in the
Pacific and Baltic Fleets. He replaced Admiral
Vysotskiy at a time when the chiefs of all three
services—Ground Forces, Air Forces, and Navy—
were apparently losing their direct command
functions to the Main Operational Directorate
of the General Staff. In the case of the Navy, this
occurred in November 2011. In the new Armed
Forces structure, the focus of the Main Navy Staff
is concentrated on man, train, and equip issues.
However, imprecise press reports indicate that
the specific command functions of the service
CINCs remain unresolved. This senior personnel
transition also came as the Navy’s Main Staff
moved from Moscow to its historic home at the
Admiralty building in St. Petersburg, located on
Palace Square across from the headquarters of
the recently established Joint Strategic Command
West/Western Military District housed in the
building of the former Imperial General Staff.
Continued executive support and reliable funding
are critical to the fulfillment of Russia’s national
plans for renewing and developing its naval might.
Because of the longstanding process by which
senior officers are groomed for high command
as well as the procedures and traditions of the
Russian Armed Forces, no significant changes
of focus or policy were expected in the change
from Vysotskiy to Chirkov and none have been
observed. Political policy is developed, set, and
promulgated by the Presidential executive. Military
policy also flows from the Russian president and is
developed and executed in conjunction with the
Minister of Defense and the General Staff.
In the course of his career, Chirkov gained at-sea
operational experience as a junior officer in the
Pacific Fleet (PACFLT). Continuing to serve in the
Pacific, he rose to command of an UDALOY I
destroyer, higher to group command, and then
to combined force command in charge of all
Russian forces—submarine, surface-, air-, and
land-based on the Kamchatka Peninsula. With
his posting to the Baltic Fleet, he gained broader
insight and exposure to the European theater
and visited most of the Baltic countries while
also hosting many visitors to the Baltic Fleet at its
main base in Baltiysk, Kaliningrad Oblast, and to
St. Petersburg. Prior to his appointment as CINC
Russian Navy, there were rumors that he would
return to Vladivostok and be posted to command
the Pacific Fleet, but clearly higher command
decided otherwise and appointed him to head the
Russian Navy.
Chirkov came to the helm as the Navy embarked
on a very ambitious shipbuilding, infrastructure,
and personnel development program to create
a new, modern, 21st-century Russian Navy.
Upon his appointment, Chirkov said, “The most
important thing for Russia is to build the fleet with
support of the president and like-minded persons.
My experience of commanding the fleet on the
country’s western maritime frontier will allow me
to assess the full importance and responsibility
of this appointment.” He gave his assurance that
within the framework of the underway reform,
the Navy will continue to defend and ensure the
country’s security along all of its maritime frontiers.
(Chronology next page)
08 Sep 1959
Born in Alma Ata, Kazakhstan SSR
Attended and graduated from S.O. Makarov Higher Naval School, Vladivostok, USSR
Commissioned as Lieutenant (U.S. O-1 equivalent)
Commander of Mine-Torpedo Department, Patrol Ship, Pacific Fleet
Assistant to CO of PACFLT patrol ship
Executive officer, KOTLIN DD VOZBUZHDENNYY, Pacific Fleet
Attended Advanced Special Officers’ Classes, Leningrad
(U.S. SWOS and PXO/PCO courses equivalent)
Commanding Officer, KRIVAK I FF STOROZHEVOY, Pacific Fleet
Deputy Chief of Staff, ASW ship formation, Pacific Fleet
Deputy Commander, ASW ship formation, Pacific Fleet
Commander, 44th Brigade of ASW ships, Vladivostok, Pacific Fleet
Graduated N.G. Kuznetsov Naval Academy, St. Petersburg (by correspondence)
(U.S. Naval War College equivalent)
Attended and graduated from General Staff Academy, Moscow
(requirement for senior flag positions at fleet and national level)
2000–Jun 2005
Chief of Staff/1st Deputy Commander, Northeast Group of Troops and Forces, Pacific Fleet
Jun 2005–Feb 2007
Commander, Primorsk Combined Forces Flotilla, Vladivostok, Pacific Fleet
Feb 2007–Sep 2009
Chief of Staff / 1st Deputy Commander, Baltic Fleet
Sep 2009–May 2012 Commander, Baltic Fleet
6 May 2012–present
Appointed Commander-in-Chief, Russian Federation Navy
Order “For Service to the Nation in the Armed Forces”, 3rd Degree
Order “For Military Achievement”
Order “For Naval Achievement”
Future Leadership
The Russian military leadership structure is
the product of many decades of history and
tradition. Due to the enormity of the Russian
land, and for the most part, the difficulty
and expense of moving and finding suitable
housing, most of the Russian officer corps,
Navy as well as Ground Forces, have tended
to remain relatively geographically stationary.
Service schools are the predominant path
to service as an officer and a young man
aspiring to a naval career normally chooses
to attend one of five naval commissioning
schools, usually the one near his home. The
curricula of these schools reflect the political,
Russian sailors on the bridge of USS Fort McHenry
ethical, and moral expectations Russia sets for
(LSD 43)
future officers through a rigid set of training
requirements. The exception to a near home
The only alternate path to service as an
choice would be choosing to attend the St.
officer is through what are called “military
Petersburg Naval Institute Peter the Great
Corps (established in 1701), the premier school faculties” of a very limited number of civilian
university level educational institutions. These
of the naval service, with an eye on a future
high leadership position. Once commissioned, are rough equivalents of the U.S. Reserve
Officer Training Corps (ROTC) units. There is
he will be assigned to serve in a unit located
no Officer Candidate School (OCS) path in the
within the immediate or adjacent geographic
Russian military.
region. Once settled in, he has the potential
to progress in rank through Captain 1st Rank
Only when an officer is identified as having
(O-6 equivalent) within the same overall
the potential to rise to higher flag rank and
military unit, possibly on the same ship.
assume senior command is it likely that he
Promotions in rank through Captain 3rd Rank
(O-4) are dominantly within the purview of the may be rotated to a different geographic area.
immediate commanding officer. Promotion to At this rank, some of the difficulties otherwise
inherent in making permanent change of
higher ranks involves decisions by formation
station changes are overcome by seniority and
and fleet commanders. Flag ranks are the
deference to command position. Even so, large
combined purview of the Navy Command
geographic shifts are still rare for the majority
and the Ministry of Defense.
of the Russian officer cadre.
Career Ladders
The Russian Armed Forces, and specifically
the Navy, have fairly rigid careers ladders. The
Russian military system does not train and
educate “generalists”; the focus is on “masters
of their craft.” Newly commissioned officers
are screened and selected for command
possibilities early. This selection is dominantly
made by commanding officers at the Captain
2nd Rank (O-5) and Captain 1st Rank (O-6)
level, since these same officers are responsible
for awarding the early promotions in rank.
As noted previously, only once reaching
the Captain 2nd Rank level are promotion
considerations usually made by senior
organizational staff and senior commanders. A
young, newly commissioned officer coming
to his first ship or submarine places his career
fate in the hands of his commanding officer.
The military educational system focuses on
qualifying officers for their initial assignments
in specific specialties. A fleet/unit assignment
choice preference is given to those graduating
at the top of their class (gold medalist/red
diploma). This qualification also plays a
significant role in the perception of selecting
commanding officers.
Career paths are set early. Young officers with
specialties in navigation and weapons have
the best chance for advancement to command
positions. Officers with specialties in engineering, communications, and so on, dominantly
will only have career paths in those specialties and will not qualify for command. In this
regard, the Russian Navy functions similarly to
many European navies.
Path to Command
The classic path to command, both at sea and
at the higher leadership levels of the Navy,
is through the navigation specialty—with
weapons as a close second. Navigation and
weapons specialists are always “where the
action is.” They constantly work in close
proximity to, in coordination with, and under
the direct command of their commanding
officers. Under such working conditions, they
have the opportunity to closely observe the
workings and practice of the art of command,
and conversely, they are constantly under the
watchful eyes of their seniors.
A typical path is to rise from commander of a
specific team to division and department head.
From there, the decision is made whether a
promising officer is deemed fit for command,
at which point he would be considered for the
position as assistant to the Executive Officer
of that ship, or effectively, third in Command.
This position is typically held for three to five
years, and then the transition to Executive
Officer is made; this position is held for four
to five years. With a background of success,
he will then move on to be Commanding
Officer. Command may be aboard that vessel
or transition to another ship to serve as the
Commander. It is not at all the exception that
this entire portion of a naval career can be
spent on a single ship or submarine or those
of the same class. There are, of course, some
breaks for en route courses; however, there
are no ship-shore rotations. The only times
of relatively prolonged “shore” periods is
when the assigned ship or submarine is
down for maintenance or overhaul. In this
way, the first twenty years of a naval career
becomes the “ship” rotation. Only when
an officer is assigned to a group staff does
a “shore” rotation truly begin. However,
even as a member of a group staff, there
are still extended periods spent at sea
overseeing training, exercises, certifications, or
are scrutinized at the Navy Main Staff and
Defense Ministry levels, but those to fleet
command positions also are reviewed at
the presidential level. These are executive
decisions; no legislative review or approval is
According to standing legislation, the age
limit for service in the rank of admiral is 60.
This can be extended “at the pleasure of the
President” in one-year increments.
With all of this as prologue, the path to the
very top of the naval leadership pyramid is
a combination of many early pre-selections.
Many early-made decisions preclude
options to rise to the top. When reviewing
candidates for senior formation and fleet
command, only those officers who are the
top performing commanders at lower levels
are in the running. Again, the only path to
high command is for those firmly entrenched
in the “command” line.
Current information regarding Russian Navy
leadership is available on the pullout inside the
back cover.
Once an officer reaches one of the two senior
deputy positions at the formation or fleet
level, usually the Chief of Staff has been the
one who will succeed to the Commander’s
chair. There have been exceptions where the
Deputy Commander has gone on to be the
Commander, but those are rare.
When a senior vacancy is rumored or arises,
one should look at the pool of the immediately
subordinate commanders, first locally, and
then perhaps more widely afield. The wider
look obviously mostly applies to appointments
to the senior three positions at the overall navy
and fleet levels. All flag officer appointments
Chapter Three
Shift to Quality Over Quantity
the CLUB weapons family (export version
of the domestic KALIBR family) have been
sold and heavily advertised for sale for over
a decade. The BRAHMOS anti-ship missile,
closely related to the S-N-26 STROBILE, was a
joint Russia-India development program. The
marketing showcases for these and other naval
arms merchandise have included the biennial
International Maritime Defense Show (IMDS)
held in St. Petersburg and various other major
arms shows held both in Russia and around
the world.
Naval procurement is a multi-stage
process. The navy assesses and develops
its requirements for platforms and their
characteristics in light of its assigned missions
to support and fulfill the officially promulgated
Russian Federation security and defense
policies and doctrine. These requirements
are developed in close coordination with the
Ministry of Defense and, when approved, are
included in the multi-year State Armaments
Plan. The State Defense Order is the vehicle
which puts specific requirements into
development and production. This entire
process involves close coordination between
the Defense Ministry and major scientific and
industrial organizations belonging to other
We have multiple reflections in the intelligence
record of state-of-the-art weapons systems,
Russian technical assistance, and related
arms traffic from Russia to many non-peer
foreign actors. This proliferation of high grade
weapons is one of the most troubling aspects
of Russian Federation adventurism worldwide.
At the national level, defense related arms
production is managed both for domestic
use and for foreign sale. The proceeds from
foreign arms are used both as a general source In the post-Soviet era, the Russian government
of federal revenue and to defray or subsidize
has taken a more cost effective approach to
the cost of domestic weapons development
military procurement in an attempt to find
and production. In the naval arena, Russia,
and cut waste, fraud, and embezzlement
as the Soviet Union before it, offers a wide
of procurement funds. Significant steps
variety of military products for sale. In recent
have been taken to ensure that the defense
years Russia has sold KILO Class submarines
procurement ruble results in a “ruble’s worth”
to Algeria and Vietnam, GEPARD Class
of equipment. The management of the State
frigates to Vietnam, TALWAR II Class frigates
Defense Order, the government’s military
and a modified KIEV Class aircraft carrier to
purchase plan, is overseen by a Ministry of
DD and Kuznetsov
at anchor
India. High performanceUdaloy
Russian Navy Strategic and General Purpose Forces
Order of Battle (OOB) 2015
Northern Fleet
Sea Fleet
Submarine totals
The charts (see foldouts)
depicting the Russian Navy’s
major combatant
order of battle (OOB) clearly
show that the average age
of most of the ships and
submarines is more than 20
A nominal service
life for most Soviet ships
and submarines when built
was considered to be 25
years. With diligent care and
appropriate maintenance,
the service lives of the larger,
more robustly built units
can be extended by five to
ten years—possibly fifteen. These fleet OOB
charts depict such selected extended service
lives and also clearly illustrate the current age
of Russia’s Soviet legacy fleet.
Major Surface totals
marked by drastically cut
military budgets. The result
was the further degradation of
a fleet already badly in need
of maintenance and repair.
Minor Surface totals
For naval platform purchases, the emphasis
has been—with the sole exception of strategic
systems—on multipurpose platforms designed
with sufficient capability and margin for future
modernization in order to maximize the use of
the basic hull and propulsion systems.
Renewal Imperative
In late 1991, when the Russian Navy inherited
its current order of battle of Soviet legacy ships
and submarines, these platforms had already
seen years of service.
The waning years of the USSR and the
formative decade of post-Soviet Russia were
Overall, these charts, a more accurate and
detailed version of which undoubtedly graces
a wall in the Russian Navy’s shipbuilding
and repair directorate, clearly shows that the
Russian Navy faces the imperative of new
construction in order to avoid disappearing
in the 2020 timeframe. An additional chart
depicts the staus of new construction
The Future Fleet
Russia’s national leadership has recognized future naval needs, and has approved and funded
a broad shipbuilding program that will result in a new 21st-century Russian Navy. The Navy’s
major combatants will dominantly comprise multipurpose submarines and surface ships capable
of conducting aerospace defense, anti-ship and anti-submarine warfare unlike their mostly single
mission Soviet predecessors. The following briefly describes both the major programs underway
and several that are expected to be pursued in the future. (See the chart, similar in format to that
showing the current major combatant order of battle, depicting the status of new construction.)
“The nuclear submarine fleet is the priority in the
Navy shipbuilding program.”
- Admiral Viktor Chirkov,
Commander-in-Chief, Russian Navy
6 July 2015
Submarines are the capital ships of the Russian
Navy. This is dictated by Russia’s geography—
constrained direct access to major ocean
areas everywhere but in the Pacific makes
surface ship operations vulnerable to potential
enemy action. The inherent covert nature
of submarines enhances their survivability
whether operating locally or when transiting
into more open sea areas.
Basic Characteristics:
Placing a priority on strategic deterrence
and defense, Russia’s recapitalization of its
submarine forces began with its strategic
ballistic missile submarines. Construction of
general purpose nuclear and non-nuclear
submarines was second in importance.
Design #
170 meters
Displacement (full)
24,000 tons
29 knots
Main Armament
16x SS-N-32 BULAVA
of Russia’s naval strategic nuclear forces for
most of the 21st century. (Note: SLBMs can be
launched from a submarine moored at a pier,
i.e., not submerged.) The DOLGORUKIY Class
is equipped with the SS-N-32 Bulava SLBM, an
inter-continental, sea-based ballistic missile with
a reported range of 8,500 km. The missile test
program encountered many difficulties, delaying
the submarine’s expected 2009 acceptance
into the Navy. The missile’s shortfalls were said
to have been caused by technical malfunctions
and quality control issues in final assembly;
however, testing continued and the flaws were
investigated and eliminated.
(in series construction)
The Yuriy Dolgorukiy, first unit of the
DOLGORUKIY nuclear-powered ballistic
submarine (SSBN) Class, also known as the
Borey or Design 955, was designed by the
Rubin Design Bureau in St. Petersburg and
laid down in late 1996, initially to complement
and eventually to replace the DELTA III Class
SSBNs. The class, with each submarine
equipped with 16 launchers for launched
ballistic missiles (SLBM), will form the core
The Yuriy Dolgorukiy was finally accepted into
the Russian Fleet on 10 January 2013, several years later than originally expected. The
second unit, Aleksandr Nevskiy, was delivered
in late December 2013 and the third—Vladimir Monomakh—is completing sea trials. Two
more units, Knyaz Vladimir and Knyaz Oleg,
are under construction in Severodvinsk, Russia.
It has been publicly announced that construction program is to deliver eight units by the
end of 2020.
The specific missions of SEVERODVINSK
SSGN include anti-submarine warfare (ASW),
anti-surface warfare (ASuW), as well as land
attack missions. This submarine class will be
armed with a wide range of advanced cruise
missiles to destroy enemy ships and targets
ashore. The lead unit was launched on 15
June 2010 and commissioned for trial service
on 17 January 2014, some ten years after
construction began. Eight are planned to be
built through 2020.
The construction of the lead submarine has
taken an extensive period of time, suggesting
(in series construction)
there has been considerable scope for reThe SEVERODVINSK SSGN, also known as
the Yasen and Design 885, is a 4th generation design, technical upgrades, and the use of
modern design techniques and the inclusion
submarine designed as a multi-purpose
nuclear attack submarine. The lead submarine, of up-to-date materials and systems.
Severodvinsk, designed by the Malakhit
Fifth Generation SSN/SSGN
Bureau in St. Petersburg, was laid down at
Nuclear General Purpose Submarine
Sevmash Shipyard on 21 December 1993.
(projected, not in construction)
In early 2006, then Russian Navy
Commander-in-Chief Admiral Vladimir
Masorin discussed the future composition
of the Russian submarine force. As part of
this force, he noted that a nuclear submarine
of an unknown type was currently under
development. Speaking later, Rear Admiral
Shlemov in charge of naval shipbuilding
expanded on this, highlighting that this new
type submarine would have a displacement
of 5,000–6,000 tons. This new, smaller
submarine’s main mission would be the
protection of the DOLGORUKIY Class SSBN,
allowing the multi-mission SEVERODVINSK
to perform other navy missions. As of 2006,
both the Rubin Design Bureau and Malakhit
Design Bureau were said to be interested in
undertaking the design of this submarine. The
general designer of the Rubin Bureau has
reiterated the requirement of future Russian
submarines to be smaller in displacement.
However, there has been no further public
discussion of the design or announcement that
Basic Characteristics:
Design #
120 meters
Displacement (full)
11,800–13,800 tons
31 knots
Main Armament
KILO Class
Basic Characteristics:
Basic Characteristics:
Design #
Design #
73.8 meters
~67 meters
Displacement (full)
3,950 tons
Displacement (full)
~1,800 tons
20 knots
~20 knots
Main Armament
KALIBR from torpedo tubes
a final design has been approved. Based on
in 2005. The future of hull three, laid down in
typical timelines for submarine development, a 2006, remains uncertain.
launch prior to 2020 is unlikely.
Advanced Non-Nuclear General Purpose
(limited series construction uncertain)
The PETERSBURG SS, also known as Lada
and Design 677, is a diesel-electric submarine
intended to be a technological advance on
the KILO Design 636, specifically with regard
to propulsion, sonar, and combat information
support. The class is the product of the Rubin
Central Marine Equipment Design Bureau and
was built by the Admiralty Shipyard, both are
in St. Petersburg. The lead hull Sankt Peterburg,
laid down in 1997 and commissioned in
2010 for trial operation, is now located in the
Northern Fleet. During initial trials problems
were encountered with the electric propulsion
system, the main sonar, and combat
information system. It has been reported that
these issues have been resolved and work has
restarted on hull two Kronshtadt, laid down
(projected, not in construction)
Work on a future non-nuclear submarine,
design covername Kalina, has been
announced with work underway at the Rubin
Design Bureau. It is expected to have an airindependent propulsion plant (AIP). Laydown
of the lead unit is projected soon after 2020.
Unlike the case with submarines, the Navy
approached the recapitalization of its surface
fleet starting with smaller sized units and
progressively building larger ones.
Surface Combatants
delivered to the Russian Navy 29 June and 4
Dec 2012, respectively.
The engineer of Astrakhan, Guard Capt 3rdRank Sergey Parfeyev, stated the PG’s two
diesel engines drive a reversible water jet
steering unit for high maneuverability.
SVIYAZHSK PGG Guided Missile Patrol Ship
(in series construction)
Basic Characteristics:
Design #
62 meters
Displacement (full)
~500 tons
26 knots
Main Armament
1x 100mm gun
The Buyan design was modified to the
increased displacement Buyan-M Design
21631 to include an eight-cell vertical launch
system (VLS) capable of firing the KALIBR
family of missiles as well as the YAKHONT
anti-ship missile (see missile section). Grad
Sviyazhsk in the Caspian is the lead unit of this
design with additional units in construction
for both the Caspian Flotilla and the Black Sea
Fleet. The export variant of these designs is
called Tornado.
Patrol Combatant
The Astrakhan is the lead ship of the Buyan
or Project 21630 PG designed by Zelenodolsk
Project Design Bureau and built by the Almaz
Shipyard in St. Petersburg. The lead unit was
laid down 30 January 2004, was launched 10
September 2005, and was commissioned 13
September 2006. This class is dominantly being deployed in the Caspian Sea.
Basic Characteristics:
The Astrakhan was first displayed during
the annual Navy Day parade on the Neva
River in St. Petersburg before delivering it
to the Russian Navy’s Caspian Flotilla on 1
September 2006. Two more units, Volgodonsk
(originally Kaspiysk) and Makhachkala were
Design #
74 meters
Displacement (full)
~950 tons
25 knots
Main Armament
Far East at the Amur Shipyard in the city of
Komsomolsk on the Amur River.
BYKOV Class FFLG Guided Missile Corvette
(in series construction)
The Design 22160 BYKOV Class was
designed by the Severnoye (Northern) Design
Bureau in St. Petersburg and is being built at
Zelenodolsk Shipyard. At about 1,500 tons
displacement and armed with KALIBR family
and Yakhont missiles, these corvettes will
perform adjacent water patrol duties likely in
the Black and Baltic Seas. Two units, Vasiliy
Bykov and Dmitriy Rogachev, were laid down
in 2014, with the first to be commissioned as
early as 2016.
Guided Missile Frigate
(in series construction)
The Design 20380 STEREGUSHCHIY Class
was designed by the Almaz Central Naval
Design Bureau in St. Petersburg and is
being built by the (Severnaya Verf) Northern
Shipyard in the same city. Construction
of additional units is also underway in the
basic characteristics:
Design #
104.5 meters
Displacement (full)
2,220 tons
~27 knots
The warship is designed for operations in
adjacent maritime zones, fighting enemy
surface ships and submarines, as well as to
provide naval gunfire support for amphibious
landings. It is also a replacement for the
GRISHA Class frigates (FFL). The ship has a
helicopter landing pad and hangar (for 1x Ka27) and is equipped with the latest electronic
equipment and communications systems.
Steregushchiy, the lead hull, was laid down
in December 2001, launched in May 2006,
and began initial sea trials in November
2006; it required 15 months of trials and
equipment testing before commissioning in
late February 2008. As of August 2015, four
hulls (Steregushchiy, Soobrazitelnyy, Boykiy,
and Stoykiy) have been launched and
commissioned in St. Petersburg. Beginning
with Boykiy, the design included a VLS cell
for the REDUT/POLIMENT (SA-NX-28) air
defense missile system; this changed the type
designation from FF to FFG. At the Far East
Amur Shipyard, workers laid the keel for their
first STEREGUSHCHIY hull, the Sovershennyy,
in late June 2006 with an estimated delivery
date of 2011. It was finally launched in
May 2015. A second unit, Gromkiy, was
reported laid down on 17 February 2012.
The STEREGUSHCHIY design has an export
version, Design 20382 Tigr.
Guided Missile Frigate
(in series construction)
The Design 20385 Gremyashchiy is a
modification of the original 20380 design with
the installation of improved radar system and
a VLS cell capable of launching the KALIBR
family of missiles and the YAKHONT anti-ship
cruise missile. Due to problems arising from
economic sanctions against Russia related to
The GRIGOROVICH Class, Design 11356,
was designed by the Severnoye (Northern)
Design Bureau in St. Petersburg, and built by
the Yantar Shipyard in Kaliningrad. It is the
Design #
latest variation of the long-produced KRIVAK
FFG and in some respects could be called a
104.5 meters
KRIVAK V design. (KRIVAK I and II – Soviet
Displacement (full)
2,200 tons
Navy; KRIVAK III – Soviet Border Guards;
KRIVAK IV – the TALWAR Class for India.)
~27 knots
The lead unit, Admiral Grigorovich, is in sea
trials and the second unit, Admiral Essen, was
Main Armament
launched on 7 November 2014. It was to be
followed by four additional units: Admiral
Ukraine, the inability to acquire German diesel Makarov, Admiral Butakov, Admiral Istomin,
propulsion systems will likely limit this design
and Admiral Kornilov. Admiral Makarov will
to two ships, Gremyashchiy and Provornyy.
be completed but the last three have been
There have been reports of work on another
cancelled because of Russia’s inability to
improved 20386 design.
acquire marine gas turbines from Ukraine due
to imposed sanctions.
Guided Missile Frigate
Due to delays in constructing the new design
(in series construction)
GORSHKOV Class frigates and a critical need
to replace the aging inventory of the Black Sea
Fleet, the decision was made to order six units
of this proven design. An additional benefit
was the fact that the Yantar Shipyard already
had proven assembly experience with this
design, having built a series for India. All six
GRIGOROVICH units were expected to be in
the Black Sea by 2020.
basic characteristics:
Guided Missile Frigate
basic characteristics:
Design #
~130 meters
Displacement (full)
4,500 tons
Diesel-Gas Turbine
~30 knots
Main Armament
(in series construction)
The GORSHKOV Class, Project 22350, also
known as the “Admiral Class”, was designed
by the Severnoye (Northern) Design Bureau in
St. Petersburg.
The lead hull, Fleet Admiral of the Soviet
Union Gorshkov, was laid down in February
2006 at St. Petersburg’s Northern Shipyard.
Then Deputy Prime Minister Sergey Ivanov
stated that hull 1 would be launched in 2011.
Surprisingly, it was launched in late October
New Generation Destroyer (DDG)
(projected, not in construction)
basic characteristics:
Design #
130 meters
Displacement (full)
4,500 tons
Diesel-Gas Turbine
~30 knots
Main Armament
2010. However, it has undergone a long postlaunch fitting out period. FADMSU Gorshkov
may be commissioned in 2015, and assigned
to the Baltic Fleet.
A design development program, covername
Lider [Leader] and possibly Design 23560, is
underway to replace the aging UDALOY and
SOVREMENNYY class inventories. Depending
on propulsion type, the design could be a
8,000 to 18,000 ton ship combining both
destroyer and cruiser characteristics with
robust air, surface, and submarine warfare, as
well as anti-missile defense capabilities.
Russia reportedly intends to build six such
ships for both the Northern and Pacific fleets
(12 total). The lead unit is not likely to be built
earlier than the mid-2020s.
Press reports have mentioned that the
propulsion for this class, whether conventional
gas turbine or nuclear, is not yet determined.
The resolution may depend on decisions yet
to be made regarding a new aircraft carrier
which, if built, is likely to be nuclear-powered.
The GORSHKOV Class is a multi-mission
missile frigate for air, surface, and submarine
warfare roles. It is intended for combat
operations in distant and close-in maritime
zones, as well as for participating in the
execution of missions in the oceanic zone.
The Russian Navy’s original plans called for
20 GORSHKOV units (five units for each of
its four fleets). However, pending cost overruns and issues with weaponry performance
as well as issues with the acquisition of
marine gas turbines from Ukraine may
reduce the number of FFGs actually
produced or greatly extend the construction
schedule, or both. Russian re-tooling of
domestic production to provide the required
marine gas turbines may result in a two-year
or longer delay.
New generation destroyer
basic characteristics:
Design #
~200 meters
Displacement (full)
8,000–18,000 tons
Gas Turbine/Nuclear
~30 knots
Main Armament
~32–64x VLS KALIBR
aerial vehicles (UAVs). Unlike the KUZNETSOV
CV that was built with 12 SS-N-19 anti-ship
cruise missiles, the new carrier will not carry
surface-to-surface cruise missiles. Its propulsion
plant would be nuclear-powered, providing
the ship with a full power speed around 29
knots. At least three nuclear-powered aircraft
carriers have been discussed; one for the
Northern Fleet, one for the Pacific Fleet, and
a third hull—a replacement carrier—would be
undergoing scheduled repairs. Former Navy
CINC Vladimir Masorin stated in 2007 that six
aircraft carriers would be necessary, three each
in the Northern and Pacific Fleets: one active,
one in training, and one in maintenance.
New Generation CVN
Vice Admiral (retired) Anatoliy Shlemov, of
the United Shipbuilding Corporation, spoke to
design progress as of 2009 on a future aircraft
carrier program. Russian designers are currently
working on the aircraft carrier’s requirements
and tactical-technical tasks. This preliminary
design work is being conducted by the Neva
Planning and Design Bureau in conjunction
with the Krylov State Scientific Center in St.
Petersburg, which also designed the previous
KIEV and KUZNETSOV Class carriers. A model
of a new carrier, preliminary Design 23000
covername Shtorm (Storm), was displayed at
the International Maritime Defense Show in St.
Petersburg both in 2013 and 2015.
Construction of a new CV poses a challenge
for Russia. The KIEV and KUZNETSOV Class
carriers were built at Chernomorskoye Shipyard
in Nikolayev, Ukraine, now unavailable to the
Russians. Two shipyards in Russia that could
solicit such a contract are the Baltic Shipyard
in St. Petersburg and Sevmash Shipyard
in Severodvinsk. These two shipbuilding
enterprises reportedly have requested to be
retooled and reequipped. They also want
new technologies to be introduced in order
to increase their plant’s production efficiency.
However, there have been plans to close Baltic
Shipyard by the 2020s and ambitious shipyard
development plans for Sevmash have been
discussed. In addition to manufacturing issues,
the Russian Navy will have to solve issues of
basing, support, new frigate/destroyer escorts,
training, and billeting for thousands of carrier
crew members.
Very preliminary published characteristics
reveal that the new aircraft carrier will carry a
new generation of jet fighters and unmanned
New generation CVN
Basic Characteristics:
Design #
~300 meters
Displacement (full)
~100,000 tons
~30 knots
Main Armament
80–90 aircraft
Although recent statements by the naval
leadership continue to promote the
construction of aircraft carriers, it is likely that
there will be extensive discussion and debate
before final decisions are made. In light of the
extensive work required to enable Russia to
build an aircraft carrier, construction is not
likely to begin until about the mid-2020s.
Amphibious ships
Tank Landing Ship
(in construction, series production uncertain)
The GREN Class, Design 11711, tank landing
ship was designed by the Neva Project Design
Bureau in St. Petersburg.
Ivan Gren, the lead hull, was laid down on
23 December 2004 at Kaliningrad’s Yantar
Shipyard. It was planned that the new LST
would be built in three and a half to four
years resulting in a launch possibly in 2008.
However, due to financial issues, the Ivan
Gren was not launched until late May 2012,
and work continues. A second unit, Petr
Morgunov, was laid down on 11 June 2015.
The amphibious lift capacity will be on the
order of 13x main battle tanks (or 40 BTR), and
up to 300x assault troops.
Its main difference from the amphibious
ships used presently by the Navy is that it
will disembark landing troops on a beach in
a new way. The new, contact-less unloading
method assumes the use of series-production
engineer pontoons, which are normally used
by the ground troops when they ford water
barriers. A pontoon bridge is formed from
several pontoons extended from the bow,
along which heavy and light vehicles can be
moved and disembarked onto the beach. The
LST will also be able to transport standard 20foot sea containers carrying all kinds of cargo.
There is a cargo crane with a capacity of 16
tons for loading and unloading operations on
the ship.
(Built, delivery to Russia cancelled)
In 2011, the Russian president approved
the negotiation of a contract with France to
purchase two MISTRAL Class amphibious
assault ships. Four total units had been planned;
the initial two units were to be built in France.
Russia stated that a decision would be made on
whether to construct hulls 3 and 4 via external
contract or indigenously in 2016, after the
Russian Navy had operated hulls 1 and 2.
This contract has allowed Russia to benefit
from the French builder’s experience in
GREN Class
basic characteristics:
Design #
120 meters
Displacement (full)
5,000 tons
18 knots
Main Armament
1x AK-176 76mm gun
modular surface ship construction concepts
that are critical for short build times (two
years for the MISTRAL vice up to six for
standard production at a Russian shipyard). A
fully integrated digital system to manage and
operate all ships’ systems was incorporated in
the MISTRAL design. The actual construction
of the first two ships was a joint effort with
the forward halves built in St. Nazaire, France,
and the stern halves, housing the well deck
and helicopter hangar, built at the Russian
Baltic Shipyard, St. Petersburg. Final assembly
and initial sea trials were conducted in
France. The acquisition of MISTRALs and
their basing in the Pacific Fleet would have
provided the Russian Navy with significant
power projection options and also would
allow Russia to more effectively participate in
humanitarian assistance/disaster relief (HADR)
basic characteristics:
The original French MISTRAL design was
modified for Russian use by incorporating a
stronger in-water hull to allow for possible use
in ice conditions and a higher hangar deck
clearance to accommodate the size of the
Ka-29 assault and the naval version of the Ka52 Alligator attack helicopters planned to be
deployed aboard. The ship was to be able to
carry up to 16 helicopters and the helicopters,
weapons, and military communications
capability would be of Russian origin. When
completed, these units would be able to
embark 450 Naval Infantry and varying loadouts of armored personnel carriers and/or tanks.
The first ship, Vladivostok, was to be delivered
to Russia by the end of 2014 to complete
outfitting before being assigned to operational
forces. The second, Sevastopol, had initial
sea trials planned for 2015. Both units were
expected to be operational in late 2015 and
were to be based in Vladivostok as part of the
Pacific Fleet.
199 meters
Displacement (full)
21,300 tons
18.5 knots
However, due to current events in Ukraine, the
purchase contract has been cancelled with
France in possession of the two ships and
obligated to refund Russia’s investment in the
Auxiliary Vessels
Communications/Intelligence ship
Submarine rescue ship
(in series construction)
(in series construction)
The lead unit of the IVANOV Class AGI,
Design 18280, Yuriy Ivanov, was laid down in
December 2004 and launched in September
2013 at the Northern Shipyard, St. Petersburg.
It was designed by the Aysberg Central Design
Bureau in the same city and will be the first
of four such intelligence/reconnaissance units,
one for each fleet, to be built at this yard. All
of these ships likely will be named for past
directors of Russian Naval Intelligence. This
design will augment and eventually replace
the existing ocean-going BALZAM and
VISHNYA Class units. The second unit, Ivan
Khurs, was laid down on 14 November 2013.
The BELOUSOV Class, Design 21300,
submarine rescue ship (ASR) Igor Belousov was
designed by the Almaz Central Naval Design
Bureau, St. Petersburg and built at the city’s
Admiralty Shipyard. It was designed to rescue
submarine crews, provide assistance to surface
ships, feed compressed air and electric power
to submarines and surface ships, and detect
and examine ships in distress in specified areas.
Major features of the new vessel include
a deep-sea rescue vehicle (DSRV) with a
submergence depth of up to 700 meters, a
deep-water dive suit for operating at a depth of
about 500 meters, a decompression chamber
for 60 men, one-atmosphere rigid diving suits,
and two rescue boats. The upper deck of the
vessel accommodates a helicopter landing pad.
basic characteristics:
basic characteristics:
Design #
Design #
95 meters
105 meters
Displacement (full)
~4,000 tons
Displacement (full)
5,310 tons
20 knots
~15 knots
been commissioned. Former Navy CINC
Fleet Admiral Vladimir Masorin said that a
production order for four hulls (one for each
fleet) would be requested.
The lead unit, Igor Belousov, was laid down
on 24 December 2005. Planned delivery to
the Navy was to be in 2011. As of mid-2015
the lead unit is undergoing trials and has not
Oceanographic Research Vessels
The Russian Navy signed a contract in February 2009 for two classes of oceanographic
ships. “These ships are designed for studying the seas and oceans and will pave the way
for the rebirth and revival of Russia’s powerful science and research fleet,” said Vice
Admiral Aleksey Burilichev, the head of the Defense Ministry’s Main Directorate for Deepsea Research. Both were designed by the Almaz Central Naval Design Bureau and will be
constructed at Yantar Shipyard, Kaliningrad.
Oceanographic Research Vessel
The SELIGER Class research vessel was
designed by the Almaz Design Bureau, St.
Petersburg and built by Yantar Shipyard in
The lead unit, Seliger, was laid down in July
2009 and finally delivered to the Navy in the
Black Sea in August 2012, about one year later
than originally planned (June 2011).
Seliger is intended to conduct trials of
special technical devices, armaments, and
military equipment; participate in search and
rescue; and perform scientific research and
oceanographic work. Russia plans to use
the vessel to test and use both manned and
unmanned deep-sea vehicles. It is reported
that the vessel will be used in closed seas, e.g.,
Black Sea.
YANTAR class
Oceanographic Research Vessel
(built, series intended)
Design 22010 was also designed by the
Almaz Design Bureau, St. Petersburg. The
basic characteristics:
Design #
59.7 meters
Displacement (full)
1,100 tons
~12 knots
16+ ~20
lead hull, Yantar, was laid down on 8 July 2010,
launched in December 2012, sea trials and
delivery to the Navy was planned for 2014.
Yantar concluded sea trials in early 2015, was
commissioned, and embarked on its maiden
voyage into the Atlantic in August 2015 to
further test all of its installed equipment.
YANTAR is an ocean-going vessel intended
for conducting research globally throughout
the water column and at the ocean floor. It
will carry two manned deep submergence
vehicles capable of working at 6,000-meter
depths. The desire for additional units has
been voiced but no further developments
have been observed.
basic characteristics:
Design #
108 meters
Displacement (full)
5,230 tons
~15 knots
Naval Aviation
The Russian Navy’s aviation arm comprises shore-based and shipborne aircraft. The mediumrange IL-38 MAY and long-range Tu-142 BEAR F maritime patrol/anti-submarine warfare
(ASW) aircraft, Su-24 FENCER frontline bombers, and a variety of rotary- (helicopter) and
fixed-wing transport aircraft make up the shore-based naval aviation force. Shipborne
aircraft are the Ka-27 HELIX helicopters which have ASW and search and rescue (SAR)
variants. The unique Independent Shipborne Fighter Regiment, the nucleus of KUZNETSOVclass aircraft carrier air wing, is composed of Su-33 FLANKER D and Su-25 UTG FROGFOOT
D. The regiment focuses on frontline aircraft as well as future aircraft development efforts.
Only new developments are addressed below.
ASW Aircraft
IL-38 MAY Maritime Patrol Aircraft
(upgrade modification program)
The Ilyushin IL-38 MAY is a four-engine
turboprop, shore-based, maritime patrol
aircraft in operation since 1968. Its nominal
operational range is said to be over 2,500
km (1,360 nm). The aircraft is capable of
supporting traditional search and rescue (SAR)
missions as well as being the Navy’s medium
range anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and
reconnaissance aircraft (analogous to the U.S.
P-3 ORION aircraft).
systems installed. The plan to progressively
upgrade older variants through depot-level
maintenance has a goal to modernize 20
airframes by 2020. IL-38s are based in the
Navy’s Northern and Pacific Fleets.
The IL-38 has undergone numerous updates
over the decades. The latest development
recently operational is the IL-38N (Novella)
variant, said to have upgraded ASW
Fighter Aircraft
PAK-FA Future Fifth-Generation Fighter
(in developmental testing)
The first Russian fifth-generation fighter program, called the PAK-FA, is a single-seat,
medium-heavyweight, multi-role fighter aircraft designed primarily by the Russian company Sukhoy. The term “PAK-FA,” as used by
Russian and Indian officials, is an acronym for
“Perspektivnyy Aviatsionnyy Kompleks Frontovoy Aviatsii,” or “Advanced Aircraft System
for Frontline Aviation.” Sukhoy has publicly
used the designator “T-50,” while at least one
Indian publication has called it “PMF.” This
developmental weapons system has a number
of informal names as its air force and naval
designators have not been announced.
In terms of concept, the PAK-FA is supposed
to conform to all the basic attributes of the
fifth-generation fighter. [Concepts integral to
the definition of 5th Generation capability
are platforms capable of sharing information
to increase the availability of the Common
Operating Picture (COP).] These include low
radar cross-section and infrared signature,
a high level of integration of the onboard
equipment, weapons disposed in internal
compartments, a supersonic cruising speed
without the use of afterburners, and supermaneuverability.
The operational life span of the Su-33 fighter,
currently operating aboard Admiral Kuznetsov¸
is coming to an end in 2015 and the Russian
Navy has chosen the MiG-29K as a replacement
because of lower costs. The MiG-29K was
originally ordered by the Indian Navy for the
INS Vikramaditya and the job of developing
and fielding the aircraft was financed by the
Indian government. Billed as a 4++ generation
fighter, the aircraft features advanced air-to-air
and air-to-ground radar capability along with
digital touch displays and HOTAS in the cockpit.
The avionics used by the MiG-29K allow for the
incorporation of advanced PGM munitions.
PAK-FA flight tests began in January 2010.
Russia has four PAK-FA test aircraft in its
inventory, with two more to be added in 2015. The aircraft is substantially strengthened to
Series production of the T-50 aircraft could
survive the carrier environment. It also features
start as early as 2015 scheduled for Russian Air a four-channel fly-by-wire system, allowing
Force’s acceptance in 2016.
for precise control when coming aboard the
aircraft carrier. Additionally, the operators will
It can be logically considered that the further
enjoy the added feature of folding wings to aid
development of the PAK-FA program could
in the movement of the aircraft in the carrier
include the future fighter for a new aircraft
environment. The Russian Navy expects to
carrier that could become operational by the
acquire 24 fighters at a total cost of 1 billion
early 2030s, if Russia decides to build it.
The Russian MISTRAL was
to deploy with at most 16
helicopters, and Russia
wanted to deploy with
an “8 + 8” format (eight
attack helicopter plus eight
transport/search and rescue
(SAR) helicopters). The eight
attack helicopters would be
newly built Kamov Ka-52K
with the remainder of the
helicopters being Ka-29
Helix B and Ka-27PS Helix
D, for transport and SAR.
Ka-52 Alligator
The Ka-52 HOKUM B, nicknamed “Alligator,”
is a two-seat, coaxial rotor, day-and-nightcapable attack helicopter. The Ka-52 was
designed primarily as an air-to-ground attack
helicopter with side-by-side seating. Weapons
load includes unguided rockets, antitank
guided missiles (ATGMs), and machine guns.
The Ka-52K, nicknamed “Katran,” was initially
reported as the Ka-52MD (Morskogo Desanta/
assault) and will be a Ka-52 modified for
maritime operations. The modifications likely
include folding rotor blades and weapons
pylons. Internal modifications include
upgrades to the wiring and the electrical
instruments, which will need to be more
resistant to an aggressive damp and salty
environment. The helicopter will also be
equipped with rescue rafts/vests, airframe
floats, and a new crew escape system. Lastly,
the under-frame supports will be strengthened
because under rolling/pitching conditions
a helicopter may strike the helicopter deck
harder than when landing on the ground. The
future delivery from the Arseneyev’s Progress
Aircraft Plant of up to 32 Ka-52K helicopters is
set to begin in 2015.
The Russian Navy has used some variant of
the HELIX platform for the past 40 years. The
aircraft is inherently stable because of the
double counter-rotating rotor blades, which
makes it ideal for application in the maritime
Designated as the Ka-29TB (Transportno
Boyevoy/Combat transport), it features a crew
of three who sit side-by-side. The center seat
is the weapons operator, responsible for firing
the weapons on the hard points and the
cannon on the starboard side of the aircraft.
The aircraft has nighttime assault capability
as well. The complement of aircraft aboard
the MISTRAL class amphibious vessels was to
feature up to 16 Kamov products, up to eight
of which would be the Ka-29TB.
Ballistic Missiles
Russia maintains
a substantial
force of nuclearpowered
ballistic missile
(SSBNs) with
intercontinentalSS-N-32 Bulava launch
range missiles;
the country is
developing new and improved SLBM weapon
systems to replace its current inventory of
Cold War-era systems. Upgrades to the SS-N23, named SINEVA and LINER, are replacing
the original SS-N-23 on DELTA IV Class
SSBNs. The SS-N-32 BULAVA SLBM is the
new solid-propellant SLBM deployed on the
new DOLGORUKIY Class SSBNs. Russian
SLBMs are capable of launch from surfaced
and submerged SSBNs and from a variety
of launch locations, including while moored
at their home pier or on patrol and after
surfacing through polar ice cover.
development of new ASCM systems should not
discredit the threat of “legacy” ASCMs.
The first variant of the ramjet-powered 3M-80
MOSKIT (SS-N-22 SUNBURN) was accepted
into service in 1984 and still presents a
stressing threat. The 3M-80 utilizes speeds of
Mach 2.0+, terminal maneuvers, and good
stand-off range to maximize the probability
of kill. Key variants include the 3M-80E
(range 120 km) and the high-altitude cruise
3M-80MVE (range 240 km), both of which
have been exported to China. All variants are
capable of being launched in salvos of up
to eight missiles, with as little as 40 seconds
between the first and last missile. These salvo
launches are intended to overwhelm ships’
defenses, increasing the probability that at
least one of the weapons will reach its target.
Anti-ship Cruise Missiles
The Russian Navy continues to increase its
maritime strike capability through anti-ship
cruise missile (ASCM) and sea-launched landattack cruise missile (LACM) research and
development programs. Missile designs are
focused on increasing missile speed, range and
employment flexibility in addition to improving
the ability to penetrate ship defensive systems.
ASCMs are deployed on multiple launch
platforms—surface combatants, submarines,
aircraft, and coastal defense sites—that provide
the Russian Navy and Russia’s export customers
with multiple maritime strike options. The
On the other end of the speed spectrum
is Russia’s entry into the small, lightweight,
lower-cost ASCM market, the 3M-24E* URAN.
Utilizing a turbo-jet engine, the URAN can
be launched in salvos targeted against a
single ship or a group of ships up to 130 km
away. Due to the 3M-24E’s small size and light
weight, it can be installed on a wide variety of
platforms including ships and aircraft, giving
*The “E” denotes the export version. Russian domestic variants assessed to be more capable.
considerable range and firepower to a smaller
vessel. In addition to being used by Russia,
where it is designated the 3M-24, the export
version (3M-24E) has been purchased by
Algeria, India, and Vietnam.
Russia plans to deploy KALIBR capability
on all new design construction nuclear and
non-nuclear submarines, corvettes, frigates,
and larger surface ships. KALIBR provides
even modest platforms, such as corvettes,
with significant offensive capability and,
with the use of the land attack missile, all
platforms have a significant ability to hold
distant fixed ground targets at risk using
conventional warheads. The proliferation
of this capability within the new Russian
Navy is profoundly changing its ability
to deter, threaten or destroy adversary
targets. It can be logically assumed that
KALIBR capability will be retrofitted
on those larger Soviet legacy ships and
submarines that undergo major overhauls
and/or modernization1.
The recently-fielded 3M-55E* YAKHONT
(SS-N-26 STROBILE), also known as ONIKS
(ONYX), succeeds previous SS-N-7, -9, -12,
and -19 anti-ship cruise missiles. This 300
km-range (export variant) missile flies Mach
2.5, is equipped with an advanced radar
seeker, and conducts evasive maneuvers to
increase its survivability. Unlike the MOSKIT
missiles, which are launched from inclined
launchers, the YAKHONT can be launched
vertically. Vertical launch decreases reaction
time against targets in any direction, while
also reducing a ship’s radar signature by
eliminating protrusive launch canisters above
deck. The YAKHONT can also be salvo
fired, and is currently launched from ships,
coastal defense launch vehicles, and the
SEVERODVINSK SSGN. Russia has exported
the YAKHONT as part of the Bastion coastal
defense missile system.
KALIBR is the more capable Russian
domestic version of the export KLUB family of
weapons, one of Russia’s most comprehensive
export offerings. Heavily marketed for 10
years, the KLUB system was designed for
ship, submarine, air, and coastal-launched
applications. The KALIBR family includes:
• a land attack cruise missile (LACM), the
High ranking Russian defense industry official,
12 December 2011
an anti-ship cruise missile (ASCM), the SSN-27 SIZZLER, and
an anti-submarine missile, the 91R.
Although all are capable of being launched
vertically using a vertical launch system (VLS),
they are also launched from an inclined
orientation, from ground launchers, or from
submarine torpedo tubes. The ASCM and
LACM incorporate salvo capability and
waypoint navigation. These technologies allow
multiple weapons to be launched against
either a single or group of ships, and approach
from different directions, significantly
complicating the target’s defensive task.
Information on the export versions is used
below in lieu of unavailable details on the
domestic variants.
SS-N-30 (3M-14) Land Attack Cruise Missile
The 3M-14E* LACM is visually similar to
the 3M-54E1. Equipped with a 450 kg
conventional warhead, waypoint navigation,
and a 300-km range, the 3M-14E delivers a
high range of land-attack options for ships,
submarines, aircraft, and ground launchers. It
is generally accepted that Russian domestic
variants of export systems have improved
operational characteristics over their export
counterparts. In this regard the reported
operational range for the KALIBR family
3M14 SS-N-30 LACM is 300 to 1,5001/2,5002
kilometers (160 to 930/1,550 mi). Responding
to a question from President Putin in
September 2014, Black Sea Fleet commander
Admiral Vitko said that new units joining the
fleet will have weapons with a range in excess
of 1,500 km (930 mi). (Map depicts nominal
1,000-mi range rings from possible launch
points in Russia’s adjacent seas.)
D 201
1000nm range rings – Nominal KALIBR LACM ranges from fleet areas
Russian President V. Putin in Novorossiysk on 23 September 2014
Andrey Kokoshin, former Russian Federation Deputy Minister of Defense and Secretary of the Russian Security Council, 24 March 2011
SS-N-27 SIZZLER (3M-54) Anti-ship Cruise
For anti-ship applications, the KLUB family
offers the choice of either the 3M-54E* or the
3M-54E1. The 3M-54E is a three-stage missile
with a booster, subsonic cruise stage, and
supersonic terminal/kill stage. With a 220 km
(119 nm) range, supersonic kill vehicle, and
terminal maneuvers, the 3M-54E represents
a unique anti-ship weapon. The 3M-54E1 is
a subsonic anti-ship cruise missile. Although
it cruises at a similar speed as the 3M-24E,
the 3M-54E1 features a larger warhead and a
much longer range: 300 km versus the smaller
3M-24E’s range of 150 km.
91R Anti-submarine Missile
The final parts of the KLUB system, available
only for submarines and ships, are the 91RE1
(submarine) and 91RTE2 (ship-launched) antisubmarine missiles. The submarine-launched
91RE1 has a range of up to 50 km, and the
ship-launched 91RTE2 has a range of 40
km. These weapons have a longer range
and quicker weapon delivery time than a
conventional torpedo. When fired in a salvo,
up to four weapons can be deployed against a
single target.
It is expected that Russia will continue to
develop its ASCM capabilities, pursuing faster,
more flexible missiles with longer-range and
improved electronic and kinematic defense
penetration features. Russian ASCM research
is expected to focus on achieving hypersonic
speeds and improving seeker capabilities,
including the possible use of advanced radar
seekers that allow improved countermeasure
discrimination. The ongoing development of
ASCMs with improved design features such
as supersonic speed, evasive maneuvers,
and advanced terminal seekers will present
continuing challenges to U.S. and allied naval
Russia maintains the world’s largest and most
diversified inventory of torpedoes. It continues
to develop, produce, and export both AntiSubmarine Warfare (ASW) and Anti-Surface
Warfare (ASUW) torpedoes; the most recentlydeveloped heavyweight torpedoes are dualpurpose, utilizing wake-homing in the ASUW
role and active/passive acoustic homing in
the ASW role. Russian torpedoes and torpedo
countermeasures are often proliferated to other
countries as part of the sale or lease of Russian
Russia has historically been a leader in
developing and implementing new technology
for torpedoes. It was the first country to field
wake-homing torpedoes, a super-cavitating
torpedo, and a super heavyweight 65-cm
torpedo. One of Russia’s newest torpedoes
is the multi-purpose depth homing torpedo
(UGST), which entered service in 2002. The
UGST has a monopropellant-fueled axial
piston engine with pump jet propulsor. It is
capable of acoustic, wire-guided, and wakehoming modes and is designed to be fired
from both submarines and surface ships. It is
advertised as being able to reach speeds of
up to 50 knots and having detection ranges of
up to 2.5 km for submarines and 1.2 km for
surface ships. Technology from this weapon is
believed to have proliferated to China.
Mine Warfare Capabilities
Mines are one of the oldest and most effective
naval weapons. Mines are attractive for
many reasons, including low cost, minimal
training, and the ability to remain in place
for extended periods. Russia maintains the
world’s largest and most diversified inventory
of mines. Despite a number of years of likely
reducing funding for mine warfare, Russia
now appears to be revamping and increasing
its capability with renewed interest. Russia’s
inventory now includes a variety of moored
contact, moored influence, bottom influence,
mobile, propelled-warhead, and very shallow
water mines. Although many of the mines in
Russia’s inventory are likely vintage moored
contact mines, its mine design has moved
forward into the modern era. Newer mines
include microprocessor-controlled stealthy
mines designed to hinder mine countermeasure
(MCM) efforts, and encapsulated-torpedo mines
designed to launch Russia’s most advanced antisubmarine warfare lightweight torpedo.
Mine delivery is accomplished by aircraft/
helicopters, surface vessels, and submarines.
The Russian Navy likely would employ mines
to deter an amphibious landing in defense
of their homeland and as part of a layered
As a global expert in mines, Russia maintains
and is renewing a complete MCM force
capable of countering mines in a variety
of environments. Since World War II,
improvements in the Russian MCM forces
include a large number of minesweepers,
the introduction of nonmagnetic hull
minesweepers, and the introduction of
fleet-size mine-hunters. In addition, Russia
maintains a complete suite of MCM
equipment, including mechanical, magnetic,
acoustic, and combined minesweeping
systems, as well as remotely operated vehicles
for mine-hunting and mine neutralization.
Surface-to-Air Missiles (SAMs)
Russia, which produces capable naval surfaceto-air missiles (SAMs), has not only continued
to equip its own ships but has demonstrated
a willingness to sell its leading air defense
weapons on the export market. In recent years,
the Russians have primarily exported two
naval SAM systems, the medium range SHTIL-1
and the longer range RIF-M. The SHTIL-1 is
the primary air defense weapon onboard
the three Russian-built Indian TALWAR Class
Frigates, the four SOVREMENNYY (956 and
956E) Class destroyers sold to China, and the
two LUYANG I Class destroyers built in China.
The RIF-M was sold to China for use on the
two LUZHOU Class destroyers operated by
the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLA(N)). In
both cases, the introduction of these weapons
represented a significant increase in the overall
naval air defense capability of both the Indian
and Chinese navies.
The intent of the SHTIL-1 is to engage
maneuvering aircraft, helicopters, and antiship missiles out to a maximum range of 45
km. The engagement of targets is possible out
to the radar horizon, provided that a sufficient
quantity of radar energy reflects back into the
seeker. Optimizing the effectiveness of the
SHTIL-1 is possible by adjusting the missile’s
control system and warhead for the type of
target it is engaging. The system is effective
to a minimum altitude of five meters and
maintains its effectiveness in the presence of
intensive jamming.
The RIF-M is an advanced, long-range naval
SAM system intended to provide area air
defense from aircraft, cruise missiles, and
ballistic missiles out to a maximum range
of 200 km (108 nm). The engagement of
targets is possible at a minimum altitude of 10
meters through approximately 27,000 meters
at speeds of up to 2,700 m/s. The system
can engage as many as six targets with up
to twelve missiles and can operate in the
presence of intensive jamming.
Russia’s directed energy weapons program
utilizes radio frequencies in order to use
electromagnetic energy to damage or disrupt
electronics. The lasers use a high-intensity
light to disrupt sensors and thermally damage
structures. Low-energy devices are already
being completed for use in electro-optic
countermeasures. Russia’s long-term goal is
a high-energy weapon with anti-satellite and
cruise missile defense capability.
mirrors, lenses, and exotic laser materials like
diodes and non-linear optical crystals.
Rail Guns
Electro-dynamic gun systems are being
developed that use electrical energy for
2,000+ m/s muzzle velocity. The near- and
mid-term combustion-based technologies are
a transitional step to the creation of a railgun.
The major issue for Russia is maintaining
rail life through material science, transition
management, and rail geometry. Another
continuing issue remains pulse power. To
increase and maintain pulse power, Russia’s
new developments comprise of capacitor
inductors, rotating machines, and flux
compression generators. Non-traditional
designs of the system include reconnection
launchers and linear accelerators.
Russia maintains a mid-term high-energy
system of chemical and gas lasers and solidstate lasers as medium-energy systems. The
development trends of radio-frequency
weapons are based on the observed effects
with little modeling or simulations. Different
waveforms are being utilized, including
ultra-wide band and complex waves. Their
capabilities are yet to be fully evaluated;
problems such as system life and targeting
are still key challenges. The other challenge
for Russia is weaponization. This involves
combining the beam into a solid state,
which is dependent on its quality as well as
atmospheric compensation. These systems
require a high quality of manufacturing using
Chapter Four
Personnel – Movement Towards a
Professional Force
Draft and Recruitment
The Russian military is currently reorganizing
its personnel structure to more accurately
reflect the needs of modern warfare. The
goal of a professional, volunteer-based,
highly skilled military is augmenting the
traditional obligated service conscription
system for all males between the ages of 18
to 27. The military is also looking to develop
a new curriculum for educational institutions
involved in training young men for military
service in order to combat a prevailing
negative attitude toward the service.
communications, finance service, medical
corps, and as cultural directors.
Training and Education
Officer. The Russian Navy officer corps consists
almost exclusively of high school educated
males who successfully compete (academic,
physical, and psychological examinations) for
admission to and graduate from regional or
specialty Naval Institutes and are commissioned
as Lieutenants (U.S. Ensign equivalent). There
are military departments at some civilian
universities analogous to U.S. ROTC units but
their contribution to the career officer corps is
very small. There is a slow but emerging trend
The Russian Navy consists of an officer corps,
to allow females admission to Naval Institutes.
non-commissioned officers (NCO), enlisted,
RFN midshipmen will attend a Naval Institute for
and conscripted personnel. Conscripts are
five years. Those five years are counted toward
drafted twice a year during the spring or fall,
and serve a one-year commitment as of 2008. overall military service time for retirement. Naval
Institutes (formerly called Higher Naval Schools)
Local conscription centers decide who is sent
are located in Kaliningrad, St. Petersburg, and
to which service. The military will retain a
mix of enlisted and conscript soldiers, but will Vladivostok. These naval institutes include:
• F.F. Ushakov Baltic Naval Institute
continue steps toward an all-volunteer force
to man all permanent ready combat units. In
addition, reportedly the rank of warrant officer • St. Petersburg Naval Institute - Peter the
Great Naval Corps
will be phased out and re-assigned to the
• Naval Polytechnic Institute (the recent
NCO corps.
combination of the Naval Engineering
Institute (St. Petersburg, Pushkin) and A.S.
Women began to join the ranks of the
Popov Naval Radioelectronics Institute (St.
Russian Navy in the mid-1980s and make
Petersburg, Petrodvorets)
up a small portion of the officer and enlisted
• S.O. Makarov Pacific Naval Institute
corps on a voluntary basis. The majority of
female uniformed personnel serve in the
Russian naval
aviators first graduate
from an Air Force
commissioning and
flight training school
and then transfer to
naval aviation where
they undergo more
specialized training
for specific aircraft
and over water
Commissioned Officers of the Russian Navy1
Warrant Officers and Enlisted Rates of the Russian Navy
Naval Infantry
officers attend
Combined Arms
More specialized
officers, such as
those in the technical
and civil engineering
fields, also graduate
from appropriate
specialty commissioning schools and not from
the above mentioned Naval Institutes.
A midshipman can specialize in
navigation, weapons systems, engineering,
communications, computer and information
systems, meteorology, hydrography, naval
architecture, or intelligence. The five
years of study and included fleet practical
experience are structured to prepare the
young officer specifically for the duties of his
first assignment in one of the four fleets or the
Caspian Flotilla.
In the course of his career progression, an
officer may be sent to obtain specialized
qualifications or qualification upgrades at
the Advanced Special Officers Courses (St.
Petersburg). This institution also provides
specific courses for prospective Executive
Officers and Commanding Officers.
Staff Academy (U.S. National Defense
University equivalent) for higher level officer
education. General Staff Academy credentials
are required for assignment to senior fleet
command, joint command, and Defense
Ministry positions.
At the mid-career point (O-4, O-5), officers
can sit for examinations to attend the N.G.
Kuznetsov Naval Academy. The modern
Russian Naval Academy is similar to a
combination of the U.S. Naval War College
and the Naval Postgraduate School. The Naval
Academy traces its origins to the Naval Guards
Academy established in 1715 in St. Petersburg
where students studied navigation, artillery,
fortifications and naval architecture. In 1960,
the Soviet Union combined the Voroshilov
Naval Academy and Krylov Shipbuilding and
Armaments Academy. And, in 1980 it became
the Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union
N.G. Kuznetsov Naval Academy, normally
referred to as the Kuznetsov Naval Academy
and sometimes even shortened to KNA.
Graduation from the Naval Academy is a
prerequisite for further advancement to senior
ship and shore positions at the fleet and naval
headquarters level.
A select group of identified prospective
or serving flag officers attend the General
In January 2009, a major reorganization of the
Navy’s educational system was announced.
Plans called for the creation, on the basis of
the Naval Academy, of a composite naval
education and research center to be located in
Kronshtadt on Kotlin Island at the sea entrance
to St. Petersburg. This center, using the Naval
Academy as a core, would incorporate several
smaller institutes across a broad spectrum of
naval disciplines and provide undergraduate,
graduate, and postgraduate education. Adjunct
to this core would be training facilities for
enlisted specialists and accommodation for
the pre-naval institute preparatory Nakhimov
School and the Naval Cadet Corps for younger
boys. This ambitious plan for the creation
of a single large naval educational-training
campus was apparently considered too costly.
However, all of the above mentioned naval
educational institutions were combined under
the umbrella organization named the MilitaryEducational Center “N.G. Kuznetsov Naval
Academy” providing centralized management
of naval training and education.
Professional Enlisted. Russian Navy enlisted
personnel are contracted for a certain term of
service and receive technical training in their
specific subject matter area. The Russian Navy,
as well as other services, is currently working
to create a fully functional non-commissioned
officer corps. In principle, the Russian Navy
has had enlisted personnel whose rate
designation would be equivalent to U.S.
Navy Chief Petty Officers; however, actual
equivalency is yet to be achieved.
Conscripts. Conscripted sailors are required
to serve a minimum of one year of service
and receive four to six weeks of basic training
prior to their first assignment. Although
unpopular in media reporting, the draft is
necessary to replace previously conscripted
sailors and retirees throughout the fleet. With
a renewed emphasis on force readiness, within
the navy conscripts normally are assigned
to either shore duty or to ships in extended
maintenance. Relatively few serve on
deployed ships.
Relative to the other services, the Russian Navy
began to seriously assess its organizational
structure and manning early in the first decade
of the 21st century. Significant adjustments had
already been made prior to the announcement
of the latest Defense Ministry reforms. As
a result, among the main services (Ground
Forces, Air Forces and Navy) the Navy has
been the least affected by ongoing changes.
Reform in Progress
The Russian military is in the process of
a significant draw-down in forces and a
further down-sizing restructuring. As Russia’s
perception of NATO as a threat has evolved,
irregular and asymmetric threats have arisen,
and market forces have emphasized costeffectiveness, the Russian leadership decided
that the country no longer needs the massive
force structure of the Soviet Union. The Soviet
legacy military came with large numbers
of officers at the O-5 and O-6 level. These
numbers were incompatible with the new
Armed Forces structure and the Defense
Ministry moved to trim this portion of the
officer corps and provide for early retirements
for personnel deemed no longer required.
In the next 10–15 years, the Russian Navy
will continue its historic transition to a new
21st-century navy. A modest number of new
class ships and submarines will enter the
Navy by the turn of the decade. Continuing
series construction and the start of several
more sophisticated and complex new classes
are projected for the next decade. The new
construction will be accompanied by the
maintenance and extension in service of the
most capable Soviet legacy units.
The new submarine and ship classes will
incorporate the latest advances in militarily
significant areas such as: weapons; sensors;
command, control and communication
capabilities; signature reduction; electronic
countermeasures; and automation and
habitability. More technologically advanced
total ship systems requiring smaller crews
will be complemented with personnel better
trained and educated to exploit the full
potential of their combat systems.
Newest Russian SSBN Class: Yuriy Dolgorukiy
and maintenance, overcoming the impact of
current sanctions, and the recapitalization
of related infrastructure will not be easy to
sustain and will require constant effort.
Future Forces
The future 21st-century Russian Navy is
projected to be more capable on a unit-byunit basis than at present but not significantly
larger in overall order of battle numbers.
Barring unexpected changes in the global
political and economic environment, the
Navy’s missions are expected to remain the
same: to deter potential adversaries with
strategic sea-based nuclear forces, to defend
the nation and its interests using the navy’s
general purpose forces, and to use the Navy
as an “instrument of state” to support Russia’s
diplomatic efforts, initiatives, and national
Proposed Ka-52K naval attack variant
The development of extended and interlinked
intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance
systems within the “World Ocean” Federal
Targeted Program initiated in 1997 was
intended to make Russian naval and other
military and civilian systems more integrated
and interoperable, and, if successful, was
planned to support better informed and timely
direction of the Navy by commanders both
afloat and ashore.
The continued improvement of Russian Navy
uniformed personnel’s quality of life, increases
in pay and allowances, improved housing,
and public recognition of achievements will
reward their dedication and restore and
enhance the prestige of naval service.
The achievement of these goals will not be
without challenges. Continued understanding
of the role and capabilities of the Navy by
Russia’s leaders, securing sufficient and reliable
long-range funding for ship construction
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