Russia’s Akula class submarines will continue to make up a significant part of the Russian navy in the years to come. Several submarines in the class are undergoing modernization to extend their service lives to allow them to serve for the next 25-30 years. The Russian submarine fleet is set to increase, to accommodate a push towards increased global presence, with new Yasen and Borei class submarines being brought in and older submarines being kept in service. The Russian navy will also modernize some Oscar class submarines.
The Russia Navy is a submarine driven navy, as was its Soviet predecessor. As the Russian navy has become more active in the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, it has needed more submarines to maintain increased patrols and deployments.
The Akula class submarines were expected to be replaced with the incoming Yasen class. However, the Yasen and Borei classes have spent the better part of the past twenty years in development and production, their slow production timeline is largely due to a stretched military budget and the complexity of the submarines’ designs. Only one Yasen submarine class submarine has been received and is in used by the Russian Navy, the first of the class, Severodvinsk. The Russian navy expects to receive two Yasen class submarines this year as well as two Borei A-class submarines.
Akula class submarines were of great importance to the Soviet Navy during the cold war with their ability to dive deep and their silent propulsion which has made them exceedingly difficult to track. These attributes still make the Akula submarines appealing to the Russian navy. Akula submarines have been upgraded with Kilibr missiles over the past few years, the same missiles that a Russian Kilo submarine fired into Syria in 2015, marking the return of Russian submarines to land-targeting combat missions. The Akula submarines will now boast this same capability.