MOSCOW ― Russia’s next generation of multipurpose nuclear submarines, reportedly known as the Husky class, will be armed with hypersonic missiles, with the lead boat slated for launch in 2027, according to an unidentified Russian defense industry official quoted by the TASS news agency on Thursday.
“Zircon hypersonic anti-ship missiles will become the main armament of the newest multipurpose submarine,” the source said, referring to a Russian sea-based hypersonic missile project intended to replace the P-700 Granit anti-ship missiles that are common among Russia’s heavier-hitting warships.
Little is known about the Husky-class submarines. They’re called fifth-generation multipurpose submarines in the Russian press and are being designed by the Malakhit design bureau in St. Petersburg, but there is not yet a finalized version of the boat’s design. According to TASS, the Husky class will feature a typical ― or rather typical for Russian subs ― dual-hull design, with a 12,000-ton displacement.
This places the Husky in a similar weight class to the old Soviet-built Akula submarines that the Husky is intended to replace, and the newer Yasen-class multipurpose nuclear boats currently under construction in Russian yards. Yasen began as a late Soviet design that was delayed by the collapse of the Soviet Union and the subsequent decade of economic turbulence in Russia.
The addition of tubes for hypersonic missiles aboard the Husky-class submarines would, if true, come as no surprise. In March, Russian President Vladimir Putin demonstrated an affinity for hypersonic weapons as a means to counter current and future American missile defenses. It seems Russia, with its skill in missile design, is pursuing hypersonic technology as an offset.
Naval rearmament has been a key focus of Russian military rearmament for the past decade, with a strong emphasis on rejuvenating the aging nuclear submarine fleet. These efforts have so far focused on completing construction of the Borei-class ballistic missile submarines and Yasen-class multipurpose submarines.
Four Borei-class submarines have been completed, with four more on the way.
Two Yasen-class boats have also been launched, and five more are under construction. Construction of the lead boat in the Husky class, according to TASS, is expected to begin in 2023 in Severodvinsk and be completed by the end of 2027. This is likely an optimistic target.
Matthew Bodner covered Russian affairs for Defense News.