The modern Russian Navy leads the military powers of the world in its reliance on the Corvette warship with as many as seventy-eight ships in service spread about five distinct classes. The corvette represents the smallest rated naval vessel available to any one navy today and, as such, has relatively compact dimensions and can be used for both independent and fleet-related operations in "Blue Water" environments. Their shallow draughts also allow for shoreline involvement in support of amphibious actions.
The Buyan-class is one of the corvette groups used by the Russian Navy, available in the three original ships (Project 21630) and the six improved Buyan-M models (Project 21631). All are currently assigned to the Caspian Flotilla, Baltic Fleet and the Black Sea Fleet operating groups and a total of fifteen are planned with six under construction as of this writing (2018) and nine completed and in active service (2018). The ships are constructed by Almaz Shipbuilding Company and Zelenodolsk Plant Gorky.
The first ship of the series, Astrakhan, was laid down on January 30th, 2004 and launched on October 2005. It was formally commissioned for service on September 1st, 2006 maintaining an active service presence today (2018). However, there appears to be a gap in commissioning dates since for the next vessel was not brought into service until December of 2011 (Volgodonsk). Vyshniy Volochyok has been the latest to be commissioned, this on June 1st, 2018, with three more expected to come online before the end of the year. Grad, Naro-Fominsk and Stravropol are expected in 2020 and beyond.
As designed, these warships have a displacement of 500 tons under standard load. Overall length reaches 203 feet with a beam measuring 31 feet and draught is down to 7 feet allowing for operations Close-to-Shore. Onboard is a crew numbering between 30 and 36 personnel with a food/fuel supply to last for up to ten days on station.
The vessels are certainly designed to meet modern threats. Large swathes of unbroken panels line the sides of the ship's hull. Hull lines are unbroken to maintain a "stealthy" appearance. Even the turret over the forecastle has been given a faceted treatment. The bridge is integrated into the forward section of the hull superstructure and the main mast is of a low profile design, completely enclosed, to add another stealth-like feature. The rear of the ship sees a stepped approach leading to the lower stern deck area.
Propulsion and Performance
The ships in the series are powered through a Combined Diesel-And-Diesel (CODAD) arrangement which sees 4 x Zvezda M520 engines mated to Kolomna marine diesels developing 14,584 horsepower to 2 x Shafts. A pumpjet is used for fine maneuvering of the vessel. Maximum speed in ideal conditions reaches 28 knots and range is out to 1,700 miles.
The improved Project 21631 (Buyan-M) have greater overall lengths of 246 feet, wider beams of 36 feet and slightly deeper draughts of 8 feet. As a result, displacement is increased to 950 tons under full load. The propulsion fit is the same though the improved ships are slightly slower by two knots at 26 knots but make up the difference by increased range out to 2,600 miles. The crew complement is increased from 36 to 52. Armament, detailed below, also differs some between the improved forms and the originals.
Onboard systems of the class include the MR-352 Pozitiv-M1.2 phased array radar system (downgraded for export models to the Pozitiv-ME1.2) and the 5P-10-03 Laska for fire control (this, too, downgraded to the 5P-10-03E for export). The sonar fit is the Anapa-M (downgraded to Anapa-ME for export) and the navigation aid is the MR-231 Pal series. 2 x PK-10 launchers manage a supply of decoys.
Installed armament is led by the single 100mm A-190 turreted deck gun over the forecastle. There is a single DP-65 "anti-saboteur" grenade launcher and 2 x 14.5mm KPV heavy machine guns fitted. Project 21630 ships carry a 1 x 40 A-215 Grad-M retractable Multiple-Launch Rocket System (MLRS), 1 x 4 3M47 Gibka Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) launchers and 2 x 30mm AK-630 Close-In Weapon Systems (CIWSs). Project 21630 ships have 2 x 4 UKSK Vertical Launch System (VLS) supporting the Kalibr-NK or P-800 Onix missile families, 2 x 4 Komar SAM launchers, 2 x AK-630-M2 CIWs and up to 3 x 7.62mm PKM medium machine guns.
Several of the ships have gained experience in the Russian involvement in Syria as of late. In October of 2015, three were used to launch cruise missiles at rebel targets inland, crossing through Iranian and Iraqi airspace. Accuracy of the attack was questioned by the West and praised in the East. Beyond this, deployments to the region have been regular as has the class being showcased in various joint exercises involving the Russian Navy (most recently in the summer of 2018).