Russia is reportedly preparing to launch its first stealth warship, the Mercury naval corvette.
Long plagued by production delays, Russian Navy project 20386 is expected to finally be delivered in early 2022.
The new ship will be armed with both cruise missiles and anti-aircraft missiles as well as conventional guns, according to Russian state news agency RIA. It will also carry formidable anti-submarine armament.
One Russian military source told the Russian newspaper Izvestia that the ship would be equipped with “excessive” weaponry it did not need, such as the Kalibr cruise missiles.
While some previous Russian Navy ships have incorporated some aspects of stealth technology such as a radar-absorbing coating, into some of its navy vessels, the new ship will be the first Russian vessel designed from the keel up to have low radar observability, RIA said.
Several other navies already have stealth ships in their fleets. France’s La Fayette -class frigates were the first operational ships to have full stealth capability and many others have followed.
The Chinese navy, in particular, has three distinct classes of stealth warship afloat at present.
Russian leader Vladimir Putin has presided over a major expansion of the country’s navy, in a major push back against Western sanctions.
Russia's navy has carried out major exercises in the Black Sea, and faced off against Ukrainian Coast Guard vessels as it blockaded waters around the Crimean peninsula, which Moscow invaded and annexed in 2014.
The Russian Armed Forces are currently rated as the world's second-most powerful military, with the largest stockpile of nuclear weapons in the world.
While Russia fell behind in military development after the collapse of the Soviet Union, by 2018 President Vladimir Putin told the country’s Federal Assembly that the country’s ‘modern high-technology army” was a an answer to all those military pundits who “considered it impossible in the foreseeable historical perspective for our country to revive its economy, industry, defence industry and Armed Forces to levels supporting the necessary strategic potential”.
In 2020, he boasted: “The capability of our navy grows constantly.
“This year 40 ships and vessels of different class will enter service, and several days ago six more vessels for the far-sea zone were laid down at Russia's three leading shipyards."
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