Helicopter carrier Priboi (Surf) is expected to become part of the new concept of the Russian Navy. The model of the new vessel was presented at the stand of the Russian fleet during the international forum in the Moscow region in 2015. Back then, military analysts said that the Priboy would be an alternative to French Mistrals that had never found themselves in the Russian waters.
Russian shipbuilders took account of the experience of their French colleagues and offered their own concept of a ship for over-the-horizon landing purposes. The ship is to have a semi-trimmed body that ensures high resistance to disturbance at sea and provides for less resistance to movement while cruising.
It is expected that the first of the two landing ships will pass into service at the Russian Navy in 2025, although no official statement has been made on the matter. The construction of the helicopter carrier, which is to become a universal landing ship, is scheduled to begin in 2020. Preparations have already started in St. Petersburg at Severnaya Verf shipyard.
The mock-up of the Nevsky Design Bureau presented at the forum differed from the design of the French Mistral helicopter carrier. The stated specifications of the vessel do not match those of large amphibious ships of the Soviet period and most foreign analogues.
The Russian Priboi vessel will have the displacement of 14,000 tons, a running speed of 19-20 knots and the draft of five meters. The navigation range will make up 6,000 nautical miles with the autonomy of 60 days. The length of the ship is expected to be 165 meters and width of 25 meters.
The French Mistral helicopter carrier has different specifications: displacement of 22,000 tons, speed of 19 knots, and draft of 6.42 meters. The crew of the French landing ship is 177 men.
A Mistral can carry 16 attack helicopters (Eurocopter Tiger), a tank battalion (40 French Leclerc) and 450 paratroopers. The ship can also be used as a hospital at the same time. In addition, Mistral helicopter carriers can also assume the role of floating headquarters. It is equipped with a French combat information management system, which unites several ships into a single whole. It remains unknown whether the new Russian vessel is going to have such a system.
The Priboi will be able to carry eight deck-based Ka-52/Ka-52K helicopters, which is significantly less than with the French ship. Helicopters will receive a modified on-board radar station with a radius of up to 80 km.
It is not ruled out that the Priboi will also carry Ka-27 helicopters, which is an antisubmarine chopper. However, the Ka-27 exists in two modifications - an anti-submarine and a search and rescue vehicle. It appears that the new ship will be able to carry out complex tasks rather than operate within a rigid framework of narrow specialisation.
It is possible that the new Russian vessel will be able to carry Russia's first unmanned aircraft known as Chirok with a wingspan of 10 meters.
The Priboi will be able to transport up to 900 troops, about ten tanks and fifty infantry vehicles. Two or four landing boats are also going to be on board.
The ship is expected to be armed with three anti-aircraft missile systems Pantsir-M/Palitsa (SA-22 Greyhound).
Many experts were puzzled by Russia's desire to create a ship like the Priboi. After all, a Mistral helicopter carrier can travel for 20,000 nautical miles. Yet, the ship is clearly intended for defence purposes to protect the extensive coastline along the Arctic Ocean, or in the Black Sea and along the chain of Kuril Islands. The ship is not designed to travel across oceans, and this is where the 6,000 mile range comes from.
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