Russia ready to develop an AIP system for its conventional submarines

While it builds excellent quality conventional submarines, such as the 636 Kilo and 636.3 Improved Kilo projects, Russian industry has long struggled to build an AIP (Air Independent Propulsion) system, allowing submarines to not no longer having to resurface frequently to recharge their batteries with their diesel engines. The Lada class was to be the spearhead of the new Russian AIP, but numerous technical difficulties led its designers to return to conventional propulsion.

According to the TASS agency, the Malakhit design offices in St Peterburgs have finally developed the technologies and know-how necessary to be able to design an AIP system linked to a gas turbine, and to be able to undertake the construction of a prototype with sufficient risk control. 

As the Russian development, prototyping and validation phases are not particularly short, we should not expect to see Russian submarines equipped with AIP systems before 2025, or even 2028. However, once technological mastery has been acquired, the new Russian units, already particularly discreet, will represent major adversaries for Western anti-submarine systems, especially in shallow seas, such as the Baltic, the Black Sea, or the Mediterranean coastal areas, or in the North Sea.

Under these conditions, acoustic detection systems will be ineffective, and it will be necessary to return to more ancient means of detection, such as the magnetic anomaly detector. Not sure that the P8, or a navalized Airbus, is the best platform for this type of need.

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