Russia to abandon Lider-class Destroyer project due to economic reasons

Lider-class Destroyer was the most ambitious project for the modernization of the Russian Navy

According to the domestic media of Russia, the Severnoye Design Bureau has stopped development entirely of its Lider class destroyers (Project 23560), and an expanded derivative of the Admiral Gorshkov class frigate (Project 22350M) due to the concerns of long-term financial stability. This news made an impact at Russia because this super destroyer project had been exciting the minds of the Russian patriotic public.

With its huge displacement (appx 19.000 tons) and missile load, Lider-class destroyers were planned to replace older Sovremenny and Udaloy class destroyers and Slava class destroyer in order to give the Russian Navy a modern look. Though originally intended to be a conventionally powered warship, plans subsequently shifted to a nuclear-powered design. At a displacement of 19,000 tons, size-wise, the Liders would be around halfway between more traditional destroyers and the Soviet-era nuclear-powered Kirov-class battlecruisers, which have a displacement of 28,000 tons with a full combat load. If we compare with the Zumwalt class destroyers (16,000 tons), we can say that Lider class could be quite huge.

The Lider-class design featured an especially heavy armament, including a vertical launch system array with 64 3S14 universal cells capable of firing various weapons, including Kalibr land-attack cruise missiles and Oniks supersonic anti-ship cruise missiles. The still-in-development hypersonic 3M22 Zircon cruise missile is also reportedly being designed to work with the 3S14 cell dimensions. The ships would also have a 56-cell naval variant of the S-500 surface-to-air missile system, as well as separate launchers for the medium-range Redut surface-to-air missile and naval Pantsir-M point-defence systems.

Design of the Lider-class Destroyer

Another abandoned project, the Project 22350M, design is a major upgrade of the existing Project 22350 Admiral Gorshkov class featuring a larger hull with 48 vertical launch system cells and a displacement of around 7,000 tons.

The estimated cost for each Lider-class destroyer was assumes as 1.5 billion dollars (100 billion rubles) in 2019. Though this is not a very big cost (comparing with Arleigh Burke Flight-III and Zumwalth) the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is having massive impacts on the global economy, caused this decision. Because of the significant drop in the worldwide price of oil, a major source of income for the Russian government, which has slipped further just in the last 24 hours on the heels of the complete collapse of a U.S. oil futures contract. Russia’s defense budgets have seen significant contractions in recent years already and there have long been questions about whether it has the funds to support its more advanced weapons development programs.

It looks like Russia will not be able to decommission Slava-class destroyers for a long time and modern-look dream to be postponed for a while.

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