Should the Navy be worried?
The Husky-class submarine might seem redundant since the Yasen class is also in production. However, the addition of hypersonic weapons, increased automation and robotic integration, and reduced acoustic signature (especially if it really is two times) make the Husky class an incremental upgrade. Perhaps the true advantage of the Husky class is not in its technical specifications but rather its price—it’s slated to be a fair bit cheaper than the Yasen class. Moscow will appreciate the lower price, since the Husky class is expected to replace all third-generation SSNs in Russian service, including the Akula- and Sierra-class SSNs. Whether any of this gets past the planning stage remains to be seen.
Russia’s attack submarine fleet is one of the best in the world. When the Akula and Alfa classes of Soviet nuclear attack submarines (SSNs) were launched, they were among the most advanced in the world. While the Russian Navy has continued this tradition with the Yasen-class submarines—which are still under construction—it is also looking to the future with the new Husky-class. Information on the Husky-class is limited because the project is still on the drawing board, but it will have a number of interesting features that could make it harder to detect and more lethal. According to Vice Admiral Viktor Bursuk, the Husky-class will begin construction sometime around 2023. Finalization of the design and research work for this class is expected to finish by the end of 2018.
The Husky–class is meant to serve in both the SSN (attack) and SSGN (cruise missile carrier) capacities. This was first reported in 2015, when the head of the United Shipbuilding Corporation, Anatoly Shlemov, revealed that the fifth-generation (referring to Husky) project would fulfill both of these roles. The importance of Russian SSGN platforms has been emphasized by certain groups in the Russian government, due to the use of Kalibr cruise missiles in Syria by the Russian Navy.