Project 971 Щука-Б
, 'Shchuka' meaning pike
, NATO reporting name
"), is a nuclear-powered attack submarine
(SSN) first deployed by the Soviet Navy in 1986. The class is sometimes erroneously called the "Bars
" class, after one of its members. Note that Akula
") is the Soviet designation of the ballistic missile submarine class designated by NATO as the Typhoon class submarine
There are three sub-classes or flights of Shchuka, consisting of the original seven "Akula I" submarines built between 1982 and 1986, five "Improved Akula" submarines built between 1986 and 1991, and four "Akula II" submarines built from 1991. This information is disputed, however, as the distinction between the Improved Akula and the Akula II class is debated by authoritative sources.
Akula incorporates a double hull system that increases the strength reserve and is able to dive deeper than any other modern SSN. It is the quietest Russian nuclear attack submarine; the noise radiated by the Akula-II class is comparable to that of the American Seawolf class submarine.
The distinctive "bulb" or "can" seen on top of the Akula's rudder houses its towed sonar array, when retracted.
All Akulas are armed with four 533 mm torpedo tubes which can use Type 53 torpedoes or the SS-N-15 Starfish missile, and four 650 mm torpedo tubes which can use Type 65 torpedoes or the SS-N-16 Stallion missile. These torpedo tubes are arranged in two rows of four tubes each. Improved Akulas and Akula IIs have an additional six 533 mm torpedo tubes mounted externally, however it is unclear whether these are fully functional external tubes, or if they are only capable of launching Mines and decoys. The external tubes are mounted outside the pressure hull in one row, above the 'Normal' Torpedo tubes, and can only be reloaded in port or with the assistance of a submarine tender. The 650 mm tubes can be fitted with liners to use the 533 mm weaponry. The submarine is also able to use its torpedo tubes to deploy mines.
As with many Soviet/Russian craft, information on the status of the Akula Class submarines is sketchy at best. Information provided by several internet sites varies widely.
Of the seven original Akula-I submarines, only three are known to still be in service. The lead boat of the class, K-284 'Akula' was decommissioned in 1995, apparently to help save money in the cash-strapped Russian Navy. K-322 'Kashalot' and K-480 'Bars' [Currently Ak Bars] are in reserve. K-480 'Bars' will be completely overhauled in 2007-2008 by the Zvezdotshka
shipyard. 'Pantera' will return to service in March-April 2008 after a comprehensive overhaul.
Akula-I Improved submarines
The five Akulas of this class are all thought to be in service. There is some debate about the hull number of the 5th bomber submarine. Some sources report it as K-267, while others say K-295. Most however agree on the name 'Drakon'. Sources also disagree as to whether construction of this class has been suspended, or if there are a further two units planned.
Improved Akula-I Hulls: Volk, Tigr, Narval. There is a new class, a development of the Akula being slowly developed, the Graney class
The Akula-II Vepr
is the only Akula-II known to be in service at present. The Gepard
is in service and was launched a short time after the Kursk submarine disaster
, along with the halted Kuguar
(Akula-I) and Rys
. The 1999-2000 edition of Jane's Fighting Ships
listed the Akula-IIs then as Viper
("vepr" actually means wild boar in Russian), commissioned July 1995, Gepard, launched 1999 and expected to commission in 2000, and Nerpa
, launched in May 1994 and expected to commission in 1999. Another source has Nerpa
listed as having been under construction for eleven years, and effectively having its building suspended.
The Gepard is known to have a slightly smaller and streamlined Towed Array Sonar Dispenser than the other submarines of the class. She also appears to have a longer sail than other Akula class submarines. President Vladimir Putin was on board Gepard during his commission after the Kursk incident.
Lease to India
India is reportedly paying two billion dollars for the completion of two Akula-II class submarines which were 40-60% completed. Three hundred Indian Navy personnel are being trained in Russia for the operation of these submarines. India has finalized a deal with Russia, in which at the end of the lease of these submarines, it has an option to buy them.The first submarine will be named INS Chakra.
Whereas the Russian Navy's Akula-II submarine is equipped with 28 nuclear-capable cruise missiles with a striking range of 3,000 kilometers, the Indian version was reportedly expected to be armed with the 300 km range 3M-54 Klub nuclear-capable missiles.. Missiles with ranges greater than 300 kilometers cannot be exported due to arms control restrictions, since Russia is a signatory to the MTCR treaty.
Appearances in fiction
- An Akula-class submarine appears in the film Crimson Tide. She engages a U.S. Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine but is destroyed.
- A fictional Akula-class submarine 'Viper' appears in Patrick Robinson's novel 'Ghost Force'. In it, the Viper sinks a British Carrier in a fictional account of a war between Great Britain and Argentina over the Falkland Islands. It should be noted that the fictional Viper was designated K-157, the same as the real-life Vepr K-157.
- The fictional Akula-class submarine Admiral Lunin sinks the USS Maine SSBN near the end of Tom Clancy's novel The Sum of All Fears.
- In the 1987 book Skydancer by Geoffrey Archer, the Akula is depicted as having a silent propulsion system similar to that of the Red October (another fictional submarine which appears in Tom Clancy's The Hunt For Red October). It is discovered by the fictional British Resolution-class submarine HMS Retribution.
- Chinese Akula-class hunter-killer submarines and Alfa-class submarines are the primary foes in Tom Clancy's novel SSN. It is therefore speculated in the story that these were either bought from the Russians or manufactured in China under contract.
- The Akula-class submarine is a confirmed unit for the Soviet Union in the upcoming EA video game Command and Conquer: Red Alert 3.
- In the book "The Sixth Battle" by Barrett Tillman an un-named Akula class submarine is sunk by an American S-3 Viking using a .05 KT SKINC (Sub-Kiloton Insertable Nuclear Components).
- The Akula submarine is mentioned in a conversation as "the name of that new Russian sub" when an American pilot who ejected from a fighter craft warns his Soviet counterpart (who also ejected) about sharks off the coast of Iceland. Found in Tom Clancy's Red Storm Rising.