Koni-class (Project 1159)
Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Frigate
The Koni-class built by the Soviet Union served primarily in export to allies with fourteen of the type being built into 1988.
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Frigate warships have been a mainstay of modern navies for centuries and evolved to become multi-mission, highly-capable fighting forms today. During the Cold War decades (1947-1991), the Soviet Union designed and developed a new frigate warship for the purpose of Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) operations and this became the fourteen-strong Koni-class. The type was built during the period spanning 1975 to 1988 and went on to see service as largely an export product with the navies of Algeria, Bulgaria, Cuba, East Germany, Egypt, Libya, and Yugoslavia. The Koni-class was ordered as a replacement for the outgoing Riga-class series of frigates which numbered sixty-eight in all and served largely the same operators though with origins set in the 1950s.
The vessel displaced at 1,140 tons under standard load and up to 1,900 tons under full load. Overall length was 95 meters with a beam of 12.7 meters and a draught of 4.2 meters. Power was served through 2 x diesel units coupled to a single gas turbine arranged in a CODAG scheme (COmbined Diesel And Gas) which allowed for short bursts of straightline speed when the gas turbine was engaged alongside the diesels. The vessel could make headway at up to 27 knots with ranges out to 3,300 kilometers. Output was 35,000 horsepower to 3 x shafts underneath.
The profile was highly conventional with a up-swept bow and low stern section. The bridge and its corresponding superstructure were well-forward of midships. The main mast (enclosed) sat at the rear of this structure and various other protrusions were identified down the line from the bridge to the stern. A pair of large primary turrets were featured - one over the bow and the other over the stern. The smoke funnel was well-buried within the design, attached as an aft section of the bridge superstructure. The total crew complement numbered 110 personnel made up of officers and sailors.
Onboard systems comprised of various processors, suites, trackers, directors and engagement units. Sonar was also an appropriate part of the base design. Armament included an SA-N-4 "Gecko" surface-to-air missile series launcher as well as 4 x SS-N-2C Anti-Ship Missile (ASM) launchers. There were 4 x 76.2mm Dual-Purpose (DP) guns set within the two aforementioned turrets and 4 x 30mm guns. The warship was also outfitted with 2 x RBU-6000 series depth charge launchers and held provision for carrying up to twenty naval mines for dispersal in contested seas.
The Koni-class was the NATO reporting name while the group came to be known in the Soviet inventory as "Project 1159". Three distinct construction batches emerged which was led by the Project 1159 "Koni I" series ships made for the nations of Bulgaria, East Germany and Yugoslavia. Then followed Project 1159T "Koni II" which included ships for Algeria and Cuba and Project 1159TR "Koni II" were warships delivered to Libya. The primary difference between the Koni I and Koni II series ships was that the former vessels were designed particularly for European water operation and the latter vessels intended for warm water environments like those found in the Middle East region. There might have been some slight differences in design between the ship groups and countries operating them - leading to some variation on overall dimensions and armament fits.
The Soviet Navy made use of one Koni-class warship (the Delfin) for a time but this was reserved for the training of foreign parties in the details of the new type. The sole example was eventually delivered to Bulgaria during 1990 as the "Brave". Some Koni-class ships continue in service today (2015) but many first-rate navies have decommissioned and scrapped their stocks.