Rosoboronexport: Russia to focus on “small and ultra-small submarine” exports

Russia’s defense industry agency Rosoboronexport will work with the country’s largest shipbuilding company in 2018 to boost worldwide export prospects for what the agency termed as small and ultra-small submarines.

Rosoboronexport said this focus was in response to a growing interest for these vessels in the countries of Southeast Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East.

The agency’s lead industry partner will be the United Shipbuilding Corporation.

“The Russian shipbuilding industry and the Russian Navy have significant experience in their development and operation, which gives us reason to count on the successful promotion of such boats to the world market. According to preliminary estimates, the capacity of this segment of the arms market for the next five years is about $4 billion,” Igor Sevastyanov, deputy general director of Rosoboronexport, said.

Rosoboronexport noted it was ready to design and deliver up to ten different models of small and ultra-small submarines which could displace anywhere between 130 to 1000 tons, depending on the foreign customers’ preference. After-sales services would be arranged under a separate contract.

According to the agency, work is currently under way to equip these small boats with air-independent propulsion systems which would guarantee greater autonomy during patrol tasks. Their roles could range from mining operations through conflict zone evacuations to serving as cruise-missile platforms.

In addition to lower acquisition costs, small submarines would benefit from a reduced acoustic signature making them harder to detect, the agency further reasoned. Another argument in favor of small submarines is the fact that they would not require radical infrastructure investments that usually accompany the acquisition of conventional submarines.