The Russian Navy will take delivery of Kazan in 2018. Once the vessel is operational, she will be the most formidable enemy submarine that the U.S. Navy has ever faced. “It’s probably the most capable nuclear powered submarine out there fielded by a potential adversary,” Center for Naval Analyses Russian military affairs specialist Michael Kofman told The National Interest.
Indeed, Kazan is expected to be substantially improved over her older sister, the Severodvinsk. The vessel incorporates new technological developments that have emerged since Severodvinsk started construction in 1993. Kazan also incorporates lessons learned from testing the older vessel.
“The 885M is really the first ship of the class,” Kofman said. “The 885M is intended as a substantial improvement, based on the lessons learned from the lengthy development, construction, and testing process for the original 885.”
The Project 885 vessels are a departure from previous Soviet and Russian submarine designs. Unlike older Soviet vessels, the Project 885 submarines are multimission boats similar in concept to American vessels like the Seawolf or Virginia-classes.
Technologically, the real proof will be in how quiet Kazan proves undersea. Operationally, that won’t matter if Russia can’t afford to keep the boat at sea frequently enough and long enough to train her crew up to Western standards.