August 25, 2015

Morocco Can No Longer Be First Buyer of Russian Amur 1650 Submarine

Drawing board Amur 1650 with its very large, heavy, looking (not yet developed) AIP system (Diagram courtesy Aviation Forum). Morocco may be buying an Amur 1650. See reference to "Russian" AIP. January 2016 reports from Russia are that the AIP has not been developed hence the Ladas and export Amurs will no longer be built.  
---


The drawing board Amur 950 showing 5 of the 10 vertical launch tubes behing the sail (Courtesy Russia's Rubin Design Institute)
---

SUBSEQUENT REPORTING


January 2016 reports from Russia are that Russian AIP (essential to market Amurs) has not been developed hence additional Ladas and any export Amurs will no longer be built. In December 2015 or Janaury 2016 it is likely that Russia offered Morocco the Improved Kilo class instead. This is assuming Morocco would not accept a Russian offer of a future "fifth generation" Kalina class SSK - with the Kalinas only likely to be operational (with AIP) in the Russian Navy in the mid 2020s. 


COMMENT-BACKGROUND

It appears the World Tribune, August 9, 2015 gained a scoop - that the King of Morocco, Mohammed VI, will visit Moscow in late 2015 to sign a contract for one Amur-1650 submarine. Other news agencies picked up the story and some added important details.

Russia’s Russia Behind The Headlines (RBTH), August 21, 2015 advises that one reason Morocco is buying the Amur is due to a submarine arms race with neighbouring Algeria (which is relatively oil rich). Algeria already has two Russian made Improved Kilos (Project 636) submarines, two older model Kilos (Project 877s) submarines and has two more Improved Kilos on order (due 2017). RBTH advises that Algeria and Saudi Arabia have had a falling out over Saudi actions against rebels in Yemen. The upshot is that Saudi Arabia may be financing Morocco’s purchase of the Amur – “my enemy’s enemy is my friend.” 

Saudi Arabia may well be paying the upfront price for Morocco's future Amur 1650 but Morocco might be surprised how high the downstream maintenance, spare parts and crew costs will be.

http://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2015/08/166436/saudi-arabia-to-pay-for-submarine-morocco-will-buy-from-russia-source mentions that Russian-Algerian relations are frosty due to their divergent positions with regard to the energy strategy of the European Union.

The Amur (Russian 4th Generation SSK) is a development of Russia's 3rd Generation SSKs - the Kilos and Improved Kilos. See Russia's-Rubin's five SSK Generations concept at http://gentleseas.blogspot.com.au/2014/04/russian-conventional-submarine.html  .

Russia has been attempting to sell the Amur conventional submarines for years. The never built Amurs (smaller 950, larger 1650) might be seen as export versions of the Lada class (1 completed so far) built for the Russian Navy. A weak point of the Amur-Lada has been the under-developed or non-existent air independent propulsion (AIP) system. Either Russia has had difficulty developing AIP or Russia is satisfied with nuclear propulsion (which could be seen as “super AIP”) for its own navy.

The US$342 million (€300 million) being quoted for the Amur 1650 sale to Morocco is remarkably lower than the usual cost for conventional submarines of around US$500 million. Note that the Wikipedia entry (presumably from Russian sources) quotes US$450 million for an Amur. A number of possibilities may explain the low price to Morocco:

-  China (with its US$333 million AIP “Yuan” S-20) has also been competing to sell to Morocco.
-  Russia wants to secure its first sale of an Amur with a very low price.
-  Russia will apply add-on costs for training, advisers and spare parts and eventually overhauls to recoup the sale price.
-  If the Saudis are financing the Morocco sale this may be part of a larger Saudi arms buy from Russia (giving Russia room to reduce the Moroccan submarine price).
-  Russia wishes to generate more sales from prospective buyers inside the region (expanding the arms race) and/or outside the region.

The smaller Amur 950 is marketed with the extraordinary capability of 10 vertical launch tubes (VLSs) – presumably for Klub missiles. Perhaps weighing 1,100 tonnes (surfaced) depending on whether it has AIP. This is at the expense of only 4 horizontal torpedo tubes – only 2 of which have reloads – meaning a total of 16 torpedos/missiles for the Amur 950.

The Amur 1650 Morocco may perhaps have 10 VLS but not 6 torpedo tubes that all have 2 reloads  = 18 torpedo/missiles horizontally fired. The resulting total of 28 heavyweight shots could not in practice be fitted in a 1,800 ton (surfaced) submarine. So it is more like that a 1650 would have 10 missile VLS + 8 torpedos (6 in the horizontal tubes with 2 of the tubes having 1 reload).

Nicky has provided some useful Youtubes concerning the Amurs -  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CjewVnYqziU and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CjewVnYqziU . The Youtubes mention the Amurs' diesel-electric propulsion. As well as doing extensive engine development themselves the Russians would draw hardware testing and reverse engineering opportunities from Western marine engines sold to Russia. Russia's efficient technical intelligence gathering system would also help.

Its notable that the video portion of https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CjewVnYqziU doesn't mention or show AIP at all. The other Youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NSjsKllZdPM also doesn't mention AIP. Yet it is AIP that has been the biggest new development in non-Russian SSKs in the last 20 years or so. Russian marketing staff may claim AIP is part of  Russia's Lada (St Petersburg) and therefore an option for the Amurs but where is the working proof?

ARTICLE

Russia’s Sputnik News International, August 22, 2015 refers to the original World Tribune report but also adds extra submarine details from its own Russian sources http://sputniknews.com/military/20150822/1026060064/morocco-russia-amur1650.html :

"Morocco to Buy Russian Amur-1650 Superquiet Submarine

Morocco and Russia are close to reaching a deal on the delivery of a Russian-made Amur 650 (project 677E) submarine which would be the kingdom’s first submarine, World Tribune reported.

The contract is expected to be signed during King Mohammed VI’s trip to Moscow later this year. The two countries have been in talks on the issue in several stages since 2013, according to the media outlet.

The sum of the deal may be €300 million ($342 million), Afrik.com reported.

During the DSA-2014 international arms forum in Malaysia, the Malaysian navy also expressed interest for the submarine.

"Malaysian navy commander visited our display and expressed interest in our Amur 1650 submarines," a Rosoboronexport spokesman told Rossiskaya Gazeta.

The Amur 1650 diesel-electric powered submarine was developed by the Rubin design bureau. In addition to an air-independent power plant, the submarine is equipped with a regular diesel generator and a set of accumulator plants. While surfaced it is propelled by the diesel-electric power plant, and by the accumulators and the air-independent power plant while submerged. Thus, the submarine has the technical specs close to a nuclear-powered one.

In comparison with its predecessors, the Amur 1650 submarine is capable of multiple missiles firing (up to six missiles at once) and has a hydroacoustic system with unique sonar for detecting low-noise targets at various distances.

The main feature of the Amur 1650 is its extreme quietness. According to experts, the new submarine outperforms the submarines of Varshavyanka (project 636) class which are now believed to be the most silent submarines in the world.


The Amur 1650 [specifications] has a length of 66.8 meters and a beam of 7.1 meters. While submerged, the submarine can reach speed of 21 knots (39 kmh) at a distance of 650 miles. The submarine can submerge at a depth of 250 meters. The armament includes 18 torpedoes and 10 vertical silo-based missiles."[It is unclear whether the submarine Morocco is buying will have the vertical launch feature.]

Pete

15 comments:

Nicky said...

HI pete,
I suspect the reason why the low price for the Amur 1650 is because Russia wants a first sale and wants countries to buy into their latest generation of the Kilo class Submarine. I also think that since the Amur may not have AIP, I suspect they are using the same propulsion that is on the improved Kilo class SSK.

Here's their Promo video as well. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CjewVnYqziU

Here's their Promo Video on the Amur 950, though in Russian. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NSjsKllZdPM

I do think the Amur 1650 is practically and upgraded version of the improved Kilo class SSK.

Nicky said...

Hi Pete,
Looks like the Saudi Arabia is the one financing the Amur 1650 buy for Morocco.
http://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2015/08/166436/saudi-arabia-to-pay-for-submarine-morocco-will-buy-from-russia-source/

Peter Coates said...

Hi Nicky [August 26, 2015 at 2:56 AM]

Thanks for https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CjewVnYqziU . I agree the Amur (Russia 4th Generation SSK)
is a development of Russia's 3rd Generation SSK the Kilo/Improved Kilo. See Russia's-Rubin's five SSK Generations concept at http://gentleseas.blogspot.com.au/2014/04/russian-conventional-submarine.html .

Yes many similarities are likely in diesel-electric propulsion. Also the Russians would draw ideas and hardware from Western marine engines sold to Russia. Russia's efficient technical intelligence espionage system would also help.

Its notable that the video portion of https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CjewVnYqziU doesn't mention or show AIP at all. The other Youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NSjsKllZdPM also doesn't mention AIP. Yet it is AIP that has been the biggest new development in non-Russian SSKs in the last 15 years or so. Russian marketing staff may claim AIP is part of the Lada (St Petersburg) design but where is the working proof?

Regards

Pete

Peter Coates said...

Hi Nicky

Yes Saudi Arabia may well be paying the upfront price for Morocco's future Amur 1650 but Morocco might be surprised how high the downstream maintenance, spare parts and crew costs will be.

Thanks for http://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2015/08/166436/saudi-arabia-to-pay-for-submarine-morocco-will-buy-from-russia-source which also mentions that Russian-Algerian relations are frosty due to their divergent positions "with regard to the energy strategy of the European Union."

Regards

Pete

Nicky said...

Hi Pete,
It dose seem like the Lada/Amur class SSK is an evolution of the Kilo class SSK and Improved Kilo class SSK. Though it dose seem like the Russians are trying to get a sale out of the Amur class SS.

As for the Saudi connection, I think it boils down to the fact that the Saudi's have the cash and can be very charitable to their allies. Which is why I think the Saudi's are bank rolling this and they are financing the sale. That maybe because Morocco doesn't have the cash for the submarines and I think they looked to Saudi's to finance the sale.

Peter Coates said...

Hi Nicky on Saudis buying a sub [at August 27, 2015 at 4:16 PM]

Yes indeed Lada/Amur is an evolution of the Kilo/Improved Kilos. The Rubin Design Bureau have designed all of those subs - perhaps even the same actual designers.

As well as the Saudi's having the cash to buy a sub for their Moroccan ally the more military minded Saudis (now bombing Yemen) may actually buy some subs for themselves. The Saudi's have bought Chinese medium ranged ballistic missiles in the past http://gentleseas.blogspot.com.au/2012/08/saudi-ballistic-missiles-nuclear.html .

So sub sellers like China may be lining up to sell to the Saudis. This is noting the Saudis arch-enemy Iran has 2 or 3 Kilos and several mini-subs.

Regards

Pete

Nicky said...

Hi Pete,
Do you think the Amur class SSK will eat into the improve Kilo class SSK market or will it just be an evolution of the Kilo class SSK.

Also here's an Interesting article on why Indian Navy subs don't go out that often.
http://www.ndtv.com/india-news/why-indias-submarine-fleet-is-deployed-for-just-6-out-of-10-days-1211385

Peter Coates said...

Hi Nicky

The Kilos might morph into Amurs if there is a major change in technology/capability eg. adding AIP or 10 VLS.

Name changes are also a marketing matter. "Kilo" has brand name recognition while renaming it "Amur" might imply some first of class technical risk or extra cost. Vietnam has bought 6 Kilos during the time Russia has also been marketing the Amur. Also see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kilo-class_submarine#Possible_operators .

Thanks for http://www.ndtv.com/india-news/why-indias-submarine-fleet-is-deployed-for-just-6-out-of-10-days-1211385 . The "six out of 10 days for operational deployment." may be a fair reflection for the average of SSK availability for all countries who operate them. SSK engines are often overhaul intensive and don't have Blue-Gold crews to my knowledge. So SSK crews need time to recover.

Regards

Pete

Nicky said...

Hi Pete,
That's why I think the Amur class SSK are an evolution of the Improved Kilo class SSK

Peter Coates said...

Hi Nicky

On the pending Amur delivery to Morocco I had the thought that the Russians may be trying to to upgrade the pending sale of the 2 Improved Kilos to Algeria (set for 2017) to a sale of 2 Amurs to Algeria instead.

After all Russia would have problems justifying the development costs of the the Amur if such costs were only funded by only one sale - to Morocco. Better for Russia to manipulate the market and spread Amur development costs over three Amur sales.

Pete

Nicky said...

Hi Pete
It maybe and I think Russia is trying to push their Kilo buyers into the Amur SSK and try to sell it as an improved and upgraded Kilo class SSK in a new Submarine. That's why if the Russians are able to sell the Amur 1650 to Morocco, it would push them to sell the Amur in places where the Kilo class Submarine operates.

Peter Coates said...

Hi Nicky

Yes, Russia may be using the Amur sale to Morocco as a marketing tool to raise worldwide interest in the Amur.

Existing buyers of Kilos/Improved Kilos would form the most solid market that Russia can work on first. Along those lines all these countries are potential Amur buyers https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kilo-class_submarine#Operators .

Regards

Pete

MHalblaub said...

So we have a contender for the first submarine lost due to AIP malfunction.

The Russian solution stores LOX and Hydrogen inside the pressurized tube. Such liquids and gases are a hazard to an untrained crew. Even the Russian torpedoes are hazardous like the explosion in India did have shown.

Regards,
MHalblaub

Peter Coates said...

Hi MHalblaub

I think Arabs volatile warrior ethos and tribe-sheikh-royal caste systems will make excellent cool calculating comradely crews for high tech innately dangerous submarines - particularly using highly explosive Russian AIP in foreign hands for the very first time. No cold onboard Russian advisers required...

Regards

Pete

Peter Coates said...

Excellent Reuters article on TKMS & Chinese competition to sell subs to Egypt http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/09/15/us-china-egypt-submarines-exclusive-idUSKCN0RF2NR20150915

Pete