"First there was Alfa, then there was Sierra, now there is Akula!" - - Bert.
The recent revelation that two Russian Akula class submarines have been patrolling the waters of the eastern seaboard [USA] has garnered some attention?
"Russian Subs Patrolling Off East Coast of U.S."
Seen as yet one more sign and indication that the "NEW" Cold War has commenced and is now in stride.
These are Akula II submarines? "Shark" [Akula] class? Hunter/killer attack vessels designed as anti-shipping/anti-submarine submersibles. Their primary task is to "hunt" and destroy American nuclear submarines, all the while in addition having a formidable capability to launch cruise missiles with impressive range against land-based targets!
Akula is the result of a development process that began with Alfa, continued with Sierra, and now comes to fruition with the present incarnation!
Those Alfa class subs when first deployed did cause quite a stir among U.S. naval experts. At the time, the Alfa seemed to be just have a capability, and surprisingly so, that American submersibles could not even compete with, much less match!
Capability to include:
* Titanium double hulls. Allowing for extreme diving depth [4,000 feet]!
* Extreme high-speed underwater, thanks to a liquid-metal cooled nuclear reactor of amazing power!
* High level of automation. ONLY sixteen crewmen required to man a sub, perhaps only one/sixth the normal complement needed.
At the time, as I have said, the Alfa class sub scared the "willies" out of U.S. Navy planners. IT WAS THOUGHT THE ALFA POSED SUCH A THREAT THAT IT WAS EVEN ABLE TO OUT-RUN THE FASTEST AMERICAN TORPEDO. THE ALFA - - ON PAPER - - WAS THOUGHT TO BE FORMIDABLE BEYOND QUESTION!!
Much later, it was found the threat - - on paper - - as posed by the Alfa - - failed to materialize. That power plant had a severe drawback - - even when docked - - the reactor had to be kept up and going at all times, serviced by a tender! AND the Alfa was never intended as a deep-water, long-range, pelagic, ocean-going vessel. Intended to guard those Russian Arctic bastions, chock full of Soviet missile-firing subs. NEVER was seen by the Russian or ever intended as a threat to the American deep-water navy? AND also included many unique and experimental features of uncertain usefulness - - the Alfa serving as a "test-bed"!
Alfa morphed into Sierra [also the dual titanium hull], Sierra into Akula and voila', the Akula II currently patrolling off the U.S. eastern seaboard!
The current class of Akula has a steel double hull, NOT titanium, and uses a pressurized water nuclear reactor, NOT the liquid-metal reactor of Alfa fame. Still has formidable capability! AND looks BOSS! It looks GOOD, what we can see of it. Very strong hydrodynamic design, even revolutionary, and once again - - LOOKS BOSS!!
One Akula is headed for Cuba? The other has disappeared? Bound for who knows where? To observe Nanook 09? ONLY the Russians know for sure!