What If Russia Has No Money for Its New Submarines?

Mark Episkopos

Key point: Russia has big plans for many advanced boats. However, if Moscow cannot come up with the funding, Russia's maritime dreams may be moot.

Russia’s ambitious submarine modernization program is spearheaded by two flagship projects: Borei, a heavy ballistic-missile submarine meant to replace the aging Delta and Typhoon lines in Russia’s nuclear triad; and Yasen, a nuclear-powered cruise missile attack submarine. Yasen’s current development incarnation is known as Yasen-M, an upgrade package that is meant to account for the sixteen-year gap between the first commissioned Yasen vessel-- Severodvinsk-- and the upcoming Kazan.

But whereas Borei development and production is proceeding at a steady pace, the Yasen-M project has languished in a series of back-to-back delays.

In March of this year, United Shipbuilding Corporation (UAC) chief Rakhmanov assured Russian state news that “everything is proceeding according to schedule” when asked whether a third Yasen-M vessel would be laid down in 2020. But earlier this summer, chief Alexey Rakhmanov told Russian state news that Kazan will not be transferred to the Russian navy in 2019 due to “design flaws”: “testing submarines is not easy. we are talking about how the control systems, which were used for the first time on this submarine, work. Besides, I won't lie, a number of design flaws were discovered."

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