Project 20380 corvettes may be armed with underwater drones

The Russian Defense Ministry plans to expand the capabilities of project 20380 corvettes. The Izvestia daily said the warships may be armed with unmanned underwater craft to fight mines. The Defense Ministry is considering the issue, but has made no final decision so far. In case of successful trials, the first underwater craft will be supplied to the Aldar Tsydenzhapov corvette of the Pacific fleet. It is the first corvette of the upgraded project 20380 equipped with multirole radar of Zaslon Company. The warship joined the Navy in December 2020.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001Russian corvette of project 20380 Aldar Tsydenzhapov at the anchorage point in the Vladivostok area in October 2020 (Picture source cybershafarat website)

At present, Alexandrite-class minesweepers of project 12700 are armed with unmanned underwater craft. “The French Diamant craft of ECA Robotics has less functions and reliability than our underwater craft. Region Company produces Alexandrite-ISPUM complex for minesweepers of project 12700 built by Sredne-Nevsky Shipyard for the Russian Navy,” Region CEO Igor Krylov said in 2018.

Alexandrite-ISPUM complements Diamant, which is integrated into the first serial warships of project 12700. “Diamant fulfils only a part of minesweeping tasks. Compared to Alexandrite-ISPUM, it becomes clear that our complex has much more functions,” Krylov said.

Alexandrite-ISPUM searches for, marks and destroys sea mines at a depth of 300 meters and in force 3 sea. It can engage a teleguided self-propelled underwater craft capable of operating at 500 meters from the carrier and a towed unit.

Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001

UUV of the Alexandrite-ISPUM-E system. (Picture source Chinese Internet)

It was reported in 2020 that Region had designed a robotized system for underwater work. The solutions used in Alexandrite-ISPUM were used to design a multirole system, which includes a small modular underwater craft, replaceable modules, portable control, acoustic navigation station, geolocation station, and a small automatic winch for optic-fiber cable.

The system can be adapted for various warships. The complex is small, powered from an ordinary network, compact, easily deployed on small-displacement ships. The system has two modifications: search and with manipulator. The compartments are replaceable and the functions change without additional devices.

The search compartment is equipped with a round-view sonar that operates in various conditions and can detect various objects and create their acoustic model. The complex has a telescopic mast of the acoustic antenna to fix the device even on a small carrier vessel.

It was reported in 2021 that Region plans to upgrade Alexandrite-ISPUM and increase the capabilities of the under-keel acoustic mine detection station, as well as the self-propelled craft and the towed unit to optimize artificial vision and payload, and include small underwater craft with replaceable payload modules.

If the decision to arm project 20380 corvettes with unmanned underwater craft is made, Alexandrite-ISPUM or its upgraded option is likely to be chosen.

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