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Russia is preparing to begin construction on its new class of nuclear-powered attack submarines. The new Laika-class attack submarine is Russia’s first brand new nuclear attack submarine in almost 50 years, however, it is currently unknown when Russian forces will receive the new submarine or how many submarines will be built.

The Russian military operates one of the largest submarine fleets in the world, including both nuclear and conventional attack submarines, ballistic missile submarines, guided-missile submarines, and more. Although as large and powerful the Russian submarine fleet may be, the Russians are heavily lacking in modern submarines, considering most of Russia’s nuclear-powered attack submarines were built by the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

The Laika class submarine is expected to replace the Akula and Victor submarine classes. The new submarine class is expected to bring Russia’s underwater attack capabilities up to par with western standards.

Developed by the Malachite Design Bureau in St. Petersburg, the Laika class submarine will displace 11,340 tons, making them much larger than the United States Navy’s Virginia class submarine at 8,700 tons, according to The Laika will likely have a top speed of 35 knots and a maximum dive capability of approximately 1,700 feet.

The submarine will have a more “exotic” design compared to western submarines. The Laika will have a wider and thicker hull, as well as a lower and longer sail compared to American submarines.

The new submarine will feature a conformal sonar array that provides sound detection capabilities in all directions. It is also expected that the submarine will have about eight 533 millimeter torpedo tubes, as well as approximately 16 vertical launch missile silos for attacking enemy vessels and land targets.

The Russians are interested in replacing their Akula and Victor class submarines on a 1:1 basis, which would require building about a dozen Laika class submarines. This depends on the Russian economy, as well as the development process. The Russian’s Borei and Yasen class missile submarines have each spent almost twenty years in development due to a lack of funds and the complexity of the vessels.

However, even with a strong economy, it will likely take years before the first Laiku submarine will reach the Russian Navy.