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Russian shipbuilder floats out improved Akula sub Leopard after 9 years of work

Russian Akula submarine Leopard
Photo: Zvezdochka

Zvyozdochka Ship Repair Center has relaunched the Russian Navy’s Improved Akula I submarine Leopard after some nine years of work.

Leopard arrived at Zvyozdochka’s Severodvinsk site for the upgrade in 2011. The overhaul was initially expected to be completed within three years.

During its stay at the yard, the submarine received new electrical installations and systems. What is more, reports say the upgrade will allow the submarine to launch Kalibr-PL cruise missiles that are currently carried by a number of Russian surface warships and submarines.

Other improvements include better living conditions for the crew and a reduced acoustic signature, according to the shipbuilder.

Leopard is the Russian Northern Fleet’s first Improved Project 971I ‘Shchuka-B’ submarine. It was laid down in 1988 and entered service on December 30, 1992.

It is the second submarine in its class to completed the upgrade this year, after sister-boat Vepr returned to the Northern Fleet in August.

Russia planned to build 20 Akula submarines but completed only 15 of them as the project slowed down amid the breakup of the Soviet Union. Some of the boats in the class have been decommissioned while the hull of former Nerpa has been completed and leased to India. The submarine has been named INS Chakra in Indian Navy service and is on lease until 2022.