Portuguese P-3C Orion caught Russian stealth B-608 submarine

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Bulgarian Military


The Portuguese Air Force’s P-3C “Orion” anti-submarine patrol aircraft recently managed to locate a Kilo-class submarine, also known in NATO circles as the “Black Hole” for its impressive stealth and low noise levels.

Russian media outlets suggest that the submarine identified is most likely the B-608 Mozhaysk of the Baltic Fleet. This detection was achieved with an advanced optoelectronic tracking device that operates in multispectral mode, allowing it to scan the environment in both optical and infrared spectrums with a medium wavelength range of 3 to 5 microns.

However, it’s important to note that the submarine, discovered in June 2024, wasn’t in combat mode. It was on the surface, which translates to less stringent stealth requirements. Hence, this particular find should not be viewed as a significant achievement for the Portuguese NATO pilots.

Portuguese P-3C Orion caught Russian stealth B-608 submarine
Photo credit: Twitter

Mozhaysk has disadvantages

However, according to the internal military blog “Russian Arms,” written by the author Yevgeny Damantsev, the possible addition of an air-independent power unit will significantly enhance the combat performance of these submarines, allowing them to operate autonomously for up to 20 days. In contrast, modern Western counterparts boast superior power plants, forcing Russian crews of the Mozhaisk and similar submarines to surface at least once a day to recharge via diesel generators.

This daily surfacing makes the submarines vulnerable to detection by conventional radars, optical-electronic reconnaissance systems, and ultra-modern AFAR installations. These advanced systems are integrated into the large strategic UAVs of the US Army, such as the RQ-4B and MQ-4C.

Portuguese P-3C Orion caught Russian stealth B-608 submarine
Photo credit: Twitter

Russian experts point out that despite having internal developments in anaerobic power plants, Russia has struggled to launch even an experimental version of this technology for the past decade. The Central Design Bureau “Rubin” has faced significant setbacks, although the project operates on principles of reforming the diesel mixture.

The B-608 Mozhaysk

The B-608 Mozhaysk is a Kilo-class submarine, a type of diesel-electric attack submarine used by the Russian Navy. The Kilo-class submarines are known for their relatively quiet operation and are often referred to as ‘Black Holes’ by NATO due to their stealth capabilities.

Russian Kilo-class submarines fired torpedoes in the Black Sea
Photo credit: Russian MoD

In terms of dimensions, the B-608 Mozhaysk measures approximately 74 meters [242 feet] in length, with a beam of 9.9 meters [32 feet] and a draft of 6.2 meters [20 feet]. These dimensions make it a relatively compact submarine, which contributes to its stealth and maneuverability.

The propulsion system of the B-608 Mozhaysk consists of diesel-electric engines. Specifically, it is powered by two diesel generators and a single electric motor, which drives a single shaft. This configuration allows the submarine to operate quietly, especially when running on battery power alone, making it difficult to detect.

Stealth and armament

Threat to NATO: Russian Kilo-class subs armed with Kalibr missiles
Photo credit: RIA Novosti

The displacement of the B-608 Mozhaysk varies depending on whether it is surfaced or submerged. When surfaced, it displaces around 2,300 tons, and when submerged, it displaces approximately 3,950 tons. The crew size of the B-608 Mozhaysk typically consists of around 52 officers and enlisted personnel. This relatively small crew size is manageable due to the submarine’s advanced automation and efficient design, which reduces the need for a larger crew.

Stealth characteristics are a significant aspect of the B-608 Mozhaysk. The submarine is designed with a teardrop hull shape to minimize hydrodynamic noise and features anechoic tiles on its exterior to absorb sonar waves. Additionally, the diesel-electric propulsion system allows for quiet operation, especially when running on batteries.

The B-608 Mozhaysk is equipped with a variety of weapons, making it a versatile and formidable asset. It has six torpedo tubes capable of launching 533mm torpedoes, which can be used against both surface ships and submarines. Additionally, it can deploy mines and is equipped with the capability to launch anti-ship and land-attack cruise missiles, such as the Kalibr missile system.

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