Status and prospects of the "Surrogate" project
Several years ago, the Rubin Central Design Bureau first disclosed information about its new Surrogate project. It provided for the creation of an unmanned underwater vehicle capable of conducting exercises fleet and solve other problems. In the future, the work continued, and recently it became known about the completion of their next stage. Similar news suggest that soon "Surrogate" will leave the design stage and get to production.
For the first time, they spoke about the Surrogate project in December 2016. By that time, the Rubin Central Design Bureau managed to carry out preliminary work and formed an approximate appearance of the future underwater vehicle. The concept was presented to the command of the navy, and consultations were held on the need for such a development and ways of its development, taking into account the needs of a potential customer.
Already in 2016, the Rubin Central Design Bureau revealed the main technical features of the Surrogate and the range of tasks to be solved. The alleged appearance of such a device was also published. It is curious that in the future all these data were repeatedly confirmed and were not subjected to significant adjustments.
In February 2019, the domestic media reported on the Navy's plans to create and supply underwater vehicles capable of performing the functions of targets and ensuring the conduct of exercises. Any details of such plans at that time were not specified. However, this news made me recall previous reports about the Surrogate project.
In June 2020, the management of the Rubin Central Design Bureau again spoke about the Surrogate. By this time, the bureau completed its research work. The results of such research were sent to the specialized organizations of the Ministry of Defense for evaluation. Necessary consultations have started. At the same time, it was recalled that the research was carried out on an initiative basis.
The latest news about the "Surrogate" refers to the first days of September this year. RIA Novosti quoted an unnamed representative of the Rubin Central Design Bureau as saying that a new type of underwater vehicle was "designed in Russia." At the same time, it is argued for the first time that the main capabilities of the "Surrogate" are necessary "to deceive the enemy." Previously, it was only about conducting exercises.
Appearance and capabilities
According to published materials, the unmanned vehicle "Surrogate" looks like a small submarine. Product length - approx. 17 m; displacement, depending on the installed equipment, from 40 to 60 tons. It is envisaged to use a traditional cylindrical hull with a set of tail rudders and a propeller in an annular channel. For additional devices there are mounts on the sides of the hull and the towed device.
It is proposed to equip the device with an electric power plant based on lithium-ion batteries. The estimated maximum speed under water will reach 24 knots. The economic speed is 5 knots, which will allow you to cover up to 600 miles. Diving depth - up to 600 m.When using the target equipment, the duration of the swim will be 15-16 hours.
The "surrogate" should receive a modern autonomous control system. It should ensure the passage along a given route and the performance of other tasks, taking into account the situation and emerging situations. The remote control mode, apparently, is absent or cannot be used in the main modes of operation.
The Surrogate project involves the use of a modular replaceable payload. Depending on the tasks at hand, the device will be able to carry certain devices, on board or in tow. The stations for the simulation of physical fields are considered as the main load. With their help, the device will reproduce the noise and electromagnetic field of a full-size submarine of one type or another.
The types and characteristics of the payload have not yet been specified. However, it was reported that such devices will be able to create the physical fields of diesel-electric and nuclear submarines. Probably, they will provide for the possibility of imitating domestic and foreign ships of different projects.
The first reports about the "Surrogate" mentioned the possibility of using other equipment. So, with the help of hydroacoustic and other devices, the underwater vehicle will be able to conduct reconnaissance or draw up maps of the area. Preparation for such an operation will be reduced mainly to a simple replacement of the target equipment.
Benefits and opportunities
According to the main idea of the project, the device "Surrogate" should ensure the conduct of exercises of the fleet on anti-submarine defense. Such a product will have to imitate a full-size submarine of a conventional enemy. It will be able to move at depth and perform maneuvers characteristic of a real target. In addition, due to additional devices, the small device will unmask itself at the same level as the submarine.
The development organization believes that the unmanned target simulator has a number of important advantages and can positively influence the organization of naval exercises. First of all, they boil down to the technical features of such an underwater vehicle. Having the required characteristics and capabilities, it will be easier and cheaper to manufacture and operate a full-fledged submarine.
Currently, the role of a mock enemy in an ASW exercise is assigned to the crews of real diesel-electric submarines and nuclear submarines. They have to be removed from duty, which complicates the organization of events. The unmanned "Surrogate", in contrast to them, will be constantly ready for exercises, and its use will not even lead to a temporary reduction in the potential of the submarine forces. However, such exercises are needed not only by PLOs, but also by submarine crews - they practice covert movement and combat work.
Another advantage is the fundamental possibility of "replacing" submarines of any type. The "Surrogate" equipment can be configured to simulate foreign submarines of current and promising types, which will significantly increase the effectiveness of anti-submarines preparation.
It is reported that the "Surrogate" can carry not only imitation, but also research or reconnaissance equipment. Its prospects in this context completely depend on the carrying capacity and the list of compatible devices. At the same time, scientific or reconnaissance missions are unlikely to be the main ones. For such purposes, you can use any other underwater vehicles of existing or prospective types. The "surrogate" should be entrusted with what it is most effective at.
Recent reports mention the possibility of "deceiving" enemy submarines. Indeed, the key abilities of the "Surrogate" can be used not only in exercises, but also in real combat operations. Simple and inexpensive underwater vehicles can divert the attention of the enemy's submarine and surface ASW assets, helping the submarines to accomplish their assigned tasks.
By customer's decision
Over the past few years, "Surrogate" has come a long way from a general concept to research and development and design. During the work, the Rubin Central Design Bureau kept in touch with the Navy and took into account its views. Now the finished documentation for the new project has been transferred to the specialized organizations of the Ministry of Defense, which will have to study it. Based on the results of the analysis, the value of the Surrogate for the fleet and the need to continue work will be determined.
The prospects for the project are still uncertain. The "Surrogate" was developed on an initiative basis and without an order from the Navy, although taking into account its opinion. These circumstances allow counting on the interest from the Ministry of Defense, which will later result in the launch of the series and adoption. At the same time, the latest news about the completion of the design gives reason to believe that the fate of the new project will be decided in the very near future.
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