Russia is preparing to begin work on its brand new Laika-class of nuclear-powered attack submarine designed to compete with the best of NATO’s submarines, Naval News reports.
The new submarine, named after a breed of Siberian snow dog that was the first dog in space, is Moscow’s first clean sheet nuclear attack sub in nearly 50 years.
Russia remains one of the largest submarine fleets in the world, including nuclear and conventional attack submarines, guided-missile submarines armed with cruise missiles, and ballistic missile submarines armed with long-range nuclear weapons. Although large, the fleet has a downside: many of the ships are decades old and in need of replacement. Of the 16 nuclear-powered attack submarines in operation, almost all were built by the Soviet Union before the end of the Cold War.
The submarine arm of the Russian Navy, like most of the Russian military, suffered for decades after the end of the Soviet Union. Only recently has the submarine force gained new ships, including the new Borei-class ballistic missile submarines and Yasen-class guided-missile submarines. Like the USSR, Russia considers submarines useful in a rivalry with the West, as they could threaten U.S. aircraft carriers and threaten enemy shipping.
The Laika class is the third new post-Cold War submarine scheduled to enter production and will replace the Akula (“Shark”) and Victor (NATO code name) submarine classes.