No Lider Destroyer for the Russian Navy yet… You know when you are a bit old, a bit tired and want to retire but you can’t because nobody is there to take over? That’s exactly how the Udaloy and Sovremennyy class destroyers must feel right now.
While the Soviet Union spent quite a lot of money designing various specialised ships for different purposes, the Russian navy tries to make do with less. Therefore, the only way forward is to create multi-role / multi-purpose ships that can tackle different missions. The Lider Class Destroyer is just that type of ship and is supposed to replace the Udaloy anti-submarine destroyer, the Sovremennyy anti-ship, and anti-air destroyer and the Slava class cruiser.
The old guard
The Udaloy is an anti-submarine destroyer and comes equipped with 8 anti-ship / anti-submarine missiles, a twin-barrelled 100mm naval gun, two 213mm anti-submarine rocket launchers and two 553mm torpedo tubes. The ship also sports SAMs and CIWS as well as decoys against aerial threats and several types of anti-torpedo weapon systems.
The Sovremennyy is an anti-ship and anti-aircraft destroyer and carries 8 anti-ship missiles, 48 SAMs, 2 twin 130mm automatic naval guns, four 6 barrelled 30mm Gatling guns as well as 2 double 533mm torpedo tubes and two six barrelled anti-submarine rocket launchers. Finally, it carries decoy dispensers against air threats.
Both ships are designed to carry helicopters (2 for the Udaloy and 1 for the Sovremennyy) and both are capable of reaching a top speed of 60km/h. Both ships are complementary and meant to work in tandem. They are well suited for escort duty or as part of a Kirov / Kuznetsov based battlegroup.
The Slava class Cruiser was built as a cheaper alternative to the Kirov class, with a conventional propulsion power plant instead of a nuclear one. The Slava is overloaded with weapons including 16 X P-500 Bazalt supersonic AshM (P-1000 Vulkan for the Moskva); 64 X S-300F SAM; 40 X OSA-M SAM; 1 twin AK-130 dual purpose deck gun; 6 X AK-630 CIWS; 24 X RBU-6000 anti-submarine mortars (2 mounts) and 10 533mm torpedo tubes.
The Slava also embarks one helicopter and mounts several decoy and jamming systems.
The new kid on the block : The Lider class
What about the Lider class ?
Well, as part of the 2020 rearmament plan, twelve Lider class ships were meant to be built with the first one launched by 2019. The 2020 plan has been revised and is now called the 2025 plan. It is also less ambitious. The Lider is still there, but not expected before 2025 at the earliest, meaning the Udaloy, Sovremennyy and Slava will have to keep on going for a little bit longer.
What can we expect from the Lider Class ?
Well, the first thing we can say is that the Lider class destroyer is… not a destroyer… At 15.000 to 18.000 tons, it is heavier than the Slava class cruiser ! It also has a personality disorder as the Projekt 23560E is known under two different names: Lider (Leader) and / or Shkval (Squall).
It is supposed to be operated by a crew of up to 300 men and have an endurance of up to 90 days at sea. The power plant was supposed to be based on a gas turbine… But as most of those used to come from Ukraine, this might be a problem. Russia will have to find an alternative for this and some sources suggest they might go for a nuclear power plant. Time will tell.
Armament wise, as the role of the ship as been described as “A universal ship, fulfilling the role of (a) destroyer, large ASW ship and guided missile cruiser, able to conduct operations in off-shore maritime and oceanic zones, to destroy land and naval targets, to provide combat stability to naval forces, to maintain area anti-air and anti-missile defence, and to complete peacetime tasks in all zones of the world’s oceans”, you can expect a heavy load. Here is what has been leaked so far: Kalibr-NK cruise missile; Oniks supersonic AshM; Tsirkon maneuvering hypersonic cruise missile; Redut (S-300PS/S-300PT) and S-500 for AA and anti-ballistic protection; Pantsir M filling in the CIWS role; 1X 130mm naval gun and Paket-NK anti-submarine/anti-torpedo system. It also is meant to have a helicopter hangar big enough for two units.
The project was summed up as “Being smaller than a Kirov while being able to carry more weaponry than a Kirov.
Time will tell if this project gets off the ground in 2025 (if at all), but there is no denying it looks good as a model and it all sounds good on paper… And good, it will need to be: The 12 Lider ships currently planned will have to replace the 9 Udaloy (used to be 15), 8 Sovremennyy (used to be 17) and 3 Slava currently operated by the Russian Navy!