A prospective series of Russia’s new fifth-generation conventional submarine equipped with an advanced air-independent propulsion system will be designated the Kalina-class, the commander of the country's navy said Wednesday. “Russia is currently designing a fifth-generation conventional submarine, dubbed Project Kalina, which will be fitted with an air-independent propulsion (AIP) system,” Adm. Viktor Chirkov said.
“Our industry promises to develop this AIP system by 2017 and build the first boat fitted with such a system by 2018,” Chirkov said. The admiral earlier said that the new AIP system could be initially tested on the only operational Lada-class diesel-electric submarine in service with the navy, the St. Petersburg, which is undergoing sea trials in the Barents Sea after a series of design changes.
Air-independent power plants offer significant advantages over diesel-electric submarines, which must surface regularly to recharge their batteries, and nuclear submarines, which must continually run noisy pumps to cool their reactors. Submarines with such systems can stay submerged for weeks at a time and are already in operation with a number of navies around the world. The United States has so far not employed the technology, however, in favor of the longer endurance and range of nuclear submarines.