And underwater drones.
Russia’s recent focus on remilitarization of the Arctic has raised many eyebrows in policy circles. In addition to reactivating old bases in the Arctic Circle, and building more nuclear icebreakers, Russia is modernizing its approach to Arctic operations. Recent reports show that Russia is taking steps to deploy the Harpsichord (Klavesin) series of Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (UUV) in the Arctic, by refitting some submarines to carry and employ them. Unlike smaller UUVs that were used before, the new UUVs are large and possess the capability to dive to great depths. But what are these UUVs used for, and what might their deployment imply?
The proposed carrier submarine for this new generation of Russian UUVs is the Project 09852 Belgorod. This submarine is being modified to accomplish a variety of covert special missions and is speculated to carry the new Harpsichord-2R-PM UUV. At 6.5 meters long and one meter in diameter, this Harpsichord-series UUV is fairly large for an UUVs. It has a range of around fifty kilometers and a diving depth of around six kilometers. It is packed with side-scanning sonar arrays, allowing it to search and map the seabed in great detail. It also appears to be a successful and functional system, with TASS reporting successful tests in the Black Sea in 2016.