Punisher of the Seas: How The “Kalibr” Of “Buyan” Makes NATO Tremble

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Translated by Ollie Richardson for Fort Russ

28th January, 2016


The word “small” in the title of this ship points out only its capacity of water displacement – the MRK project 21631 is 949 tons, which is comparable to the corvette class. The tonnage is really small, as initially, the project “Buyan-M” was designed as the type of ship not ideal for ocean spaces, but for operations in closed maritime areas for the protection of economic zones (for example in Russia – the Black, Caspian and Azov seas).

The dimensions of the “Buyan-M” are relatively small. Length – 74 m, width – 11, draft – 2,6. Maximum speed – 25 knots, cruising range – up to 1,500 miles. Endurance is ten days. The crew – 29–36. In rough seas of more than five scale points, sailing with low sides becomes problematic. But special seaworthiness of the “Buyan” is not required. With it being equipped with four jet engines, this ship is capable of operating in estuaries and shallow marines, like, for example, the Caspian sea.

By the way, when, in 2014, the German company MTU, in the framework of anti-Russian sanctions, refused to supply diesel engines for small-size missile ships of project 21631, a substitution took place very quickly. The shipbuilding takes place in Zelenodolsk at the A.M. Gorky plant in Tatarstan, which produces the “Buyan-M”. They changed the supplier of the engines – they now come from “Kolomensky Zavod” and the “Zvezda” plant in St. Petersburg. And the sixth MRK’s will come from the stocks of the plant of domestic power plants.

But the “teeth” of this “kid” can make ships of a higher class envious: the armament of the “Buyan-M” is powerful and modern. It is based on the 3P-14UKSK vertical launcher with eight anti-ship missiles – “Caliber-NK” or “Onyx”, which allow the high-precision cruise missiles to strike targets at sea (300 miles) and ground targets (1500–2500 km).

The artillery armament of “Buyan-M” is a 100mm installation A-190M (the rate of fire is 80 rounds per minute, range – 21 kilometers, height – 15 kilometers, the tower is designed with stealth technology) and 30-mm rapid-fire installation AK-630M-2 “Duet”. The rest of the weapons are represented by two 14.5-mm and three 7.62-mm machine guns. Its air defenses are two SAM launchers “Gibka-R”, equipped with anti-aircraft missiles “Igla” or “Igla-M”.

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For the purpose of electronic countermeasure, the “Buyan-M” has the TK-25 complex. The TK-25A provides creation of different types of noise with a spectral width of 64 to 2000 MHz, as well as misleading and simulation of pulsed interference with signals of copies. The complex is able to simultaneously analyze up to 256 targets. In general, it reduces the possibility of destruction by an enemy ship by three times. Radar screens displaying the MRK generally find it difficult to distinguish it from a fishing seiner, sailing boat or yacht.

The “Buyan-M”, despite the relatively short service life in the Navy (since March 2013), has already observed real combat. And it certainly announced itself! The nervous hiccups of our “friends” from NATO signal they are still digesting the launching of rockets from our ships.

On 7th October 2015, during a Russian military operation in Syria, three MRK project 21631’s (“Uglich” and “Grad Sviyazhsk” and “Velikiy Ustyug”), as well as missile ship project 11661К “Dagestan” from the Caspian sea, fired at the positions of the terrorist organization “Islamic State”. They produced 26 launches of cruise missiles of sea-based “Caliber-NK” on ground targets, located at a distance of about 1,500 kilometers. Three days later, on 20th October, the Caspian flotilla in the same area struck a second blow on objects of ISIS. All targets were successfully destroyed.

So the “kid” “Buyan-M” is able to see action with long-term view even from sensitive marine areas. And their development in the Caspian and Black sea was chosen purely intentionally. Especially given the increasing activity of the navies of NATO countries in the black sea basin, which was observed after the beginning of the known events in Ukraine. And with its small dimensions, small rocket ships of the code “Buyan-M” can become a very dangerous opponent for naval targets of much larger tonnage. And when you consider that the rockets MRK can achieve goals in the Persian Gulf, the Suez canal, the Red and Mediterranean seas and at other points within a radius of 2,500 kilometers, the strategic class of these ships is more than obvious.

In the process of construction at the Zelenodolsk shipyard ready for sea trials are four ships of the project 21631. They are “Vyishniy Volochek”, “Orekhovo-Zuyevo”, “Ingushetiya” and “Grayvoron”. They were initially designed for service in the Caspian flotilla, with the already mentioned “Grad Sviyazhsk”, “Uglich” and “Velikiy Ustyug”. However, due to changes in the geopolitical situation in the black sea basin, it was decided to forward them to the black sea fleet. There, already serving, are the MRK’s “Zelenyy Dol” and “Serpukhov”.

“Four new small missile ships of project 21631 are already being built at Zelenodolsk shipbuilding plant, and their entry into the fleet is expected from 2016 to 2019,” said the official representative of the Russian Navy captain first rank Igor Dygalo. “It has not been excluded that this MRK project will appear on other fleets in the future, such as the North, because of their ability, with appropriate alteration to the permit to operate in the waters of the Kara and White seas. But the current “Buyan-M” for now, is more useful in the black sea fleet”.

It is clear that the main burden for ensuring security in the Black sea belongs to the frigates “Admiral Grigorovich”, “Admiral Essen” – the missile cruiser “Moskva”, but the presence of “Buyan-M” will significantly strengthen the Russian Navy in the region, and will allow them to dominate the entire area.

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