Russia’s next-generation Husky Submarines stalled: Delays and war in Ukraine threaten ambitious naval program

With a submerged displacement of around 11,340 tons and top speeds reaching 35 knots, the Husky promises to be a fast and highly automated boat with reduced noise signatures.

Russia’s shipyards have spent over a decade developing a new class of advanced, multi-purpose nuclear submarines designed to replace its ageing Cold War-era Akula and Sierra boats. But the much-touted Husky-class program has faced major delays and setbacks, compounded by the economic strains of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Intended to serve as a cost-effective, multi-role attack and guided-missile submarine, the Husky offers an impressive slate of next-generation capabilities. With a submerged displacement of around 11,340 tons and top speeds reaching 35 knots, the Husky promises to be a fast and highly automated boat with reduced noise signatures.

Its armament loadout aims to make the Husky one of Russia’s most formidable subsurface combatants yet. In addition to torpedoes and cruise missiles, the new submarines are being designed to field Russia’s new Zircon hypersonic anti-ship missile and future hypersonic glide vehicles.

However, the Husky program has been plagued by repeated delays and cost overruns. The lead boat was originally slated for completion as early as 2016 but has been pushed back repeatedly, with some analysts now doubting whether the Russian shipbuilding industry can even finish construction of the first Husky before 2030.

Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022 has only exacerbated these issues, diverting already-limited resources away from submarine construction toward the failing war effort. The import restrictions imposed by sweeping Western sanctions have also cut off access to key microelectronics and other components for the advanced Husky design.

While Moscow retains formidable submarine forces built during the Soviet era, analysts suggest the long-awaited Husky may prove to be another overhyped white elephant. Russia’s next-generation submarines could be stillborn amid the immense costs of the Ukraine quagmire.