By Andrei Akulov:Russia Insider,Originally appeared at Strategic Culture Foundation.
If the little Buyan-class corvettes in the Caspian Sea could pack such a big punch, imagine the firepower and power projection this behemoth will represent!
Russia’s United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC) is expected to sign a contract with the Russian military to build a new powerful warship – Project 23560 Leader. The ship’s design could be finalized this year. The program is part of Russia’s naval development program until 2050. The Leader-class destroyer is expected to enter service and replace the Sovremennyy-class and Udaloy-class destroyers, as well as the Slava-class cruiser. Actually, it is going to be an all-round ship capable of replacing older destroyers, major anti-submarine ships and small missile cruisers.
The multi-mission ship will be capable of anti-aircraft, anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare and strategic land strike role. It is meant to replace other destroyers and cruisers to become the main surface combatant of the Russian Navy.
President Vladimir Putin signed a decree to perpetuate the memory of Yevgeny Primakov, according to which the first ship of the Leader class will be named after the famous statesman and academician.
Yevgeny Primakov held many top government positions and served as Prime Minister of Russia from 1998 to 1999.
He was also an academician and a member of the Presidium of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
According to the document published by Vladimir Putin: «taking into account the contribution of Primakov in the formation of Russian statehood and economic reforms, it recommended that the government consider installing a memorial plaque on the house where he lived, and requested the establishment of a scholarship. One vessel built for the Russian Navy will be named after him».
The general design of the destroyer was unveiled last summer at the «Army 2015» defense exhibition. The 200-meter long and 20-meter wide vessel will displace up to 17,500 tons. It will travel at a maximum speed of 32 knots. Overall endurance is up to 90 days. Crew – up to 300 men. It is not yet clear how many of the destroyers will be nuclear or gas turbine powered.
The Leader is expected to be outfitted with Kalibr-NK anti-ship, anti-submarine and land-attack missiles, as well as P-800 Oniks supersonic anti-ship cruise missiles with a range of more than 300 kilometers.
The Zircon hypersonic missiles could also be added to the mix.
This new unique missile is capable of speeds around Mach 5.0-Mach 6.0. It is going through testing to enter into production in 2018.
The ship will be equipped with S-500 air defense system capable of destroying intercontinental ballistic missiles and spacecraft, hypersonic cruise missiles and airplanes at speeds of higher than Mach 5.
The S-500 is able to detect and simultaneously attack up to ten ballistic missile warheads out at 600 km flying at speeds of twenty-three thousand feet per second. It can engage targets at altitudes of about 125 miles, including incoming ballistic missiles in space at ranges as great as 400 miles.
Armed with no fewer than 200 missiles, the Leader will be the second largest modern surface combatant in the world after the 28,000-ton nuclear-powered Project 1144 Orlan battle-cruiser (the Kirov-class). The Leader’s armament will include about 60 anti-ship cruise missiles and 128 surface-to-air missiles and 16-24 anti-submarine missiles. The ship will be equipped with vertical launch systems. The armament will also include a 130 mm multipurpose naval gun fitted with a battle management system integrated with tactical and operational-tactical ACS (automated command systems).
The ship will have a landing pad for two Kamov Ka-27 or Kamov Ka-32 helicopters.
Construction is scheduled to begin in 2018-2019, with a goal of 12 ships in service split between the Northern and Pacific Fleets.
«Dubbed the Leader class, these warships would feature the nuclear power and armament capacity of the massive Soviet-era Kirov battlecruisers. For reference, the 28,000 ton Kirov class has thrice the displacement of and carries roughly twice the armament of its nominal US Navy counterpart, the AEGIS cruiser», writes journalist Ben Hernandez in his National Interest article.
The nuclear-powered variant would become the world’s third nuclear-powered destroyer after the American USS Truxtun (DLGN-35) and USS Bainbridge (DLGN-25).
The Leader-class destroyer is a new ship that can outgun the largest surface combatants in the US Navy carrying roughly double an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer’s missile tubes. The nuclear propulsion system would allow the new warships to sortie around the globe without the need for auxiliary refuelers or any requirement to make a port call. That would make it a potent power projection tool – a foreign policy weapon.
The past few years have seen the resurgence of Russia’s naval power. Russia has embarked on a massive recapitalization project, seeking to replace aging Soviet-era platforms. Russia’s major shipyards are now going full tilt implementing an ambitious naval program to make the Russian Navy second to none in the world. With the Leader in service, the Russian Navy will possess a real floating fortress armed with missiles and artillery and a nuclear power plant to ensure Russia’s naval global permanent presence.