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Russia's New Arctic Ice Breaker Has One Very Special Feature: Anti-Ship Missiles and Naval Guns

15.05.2017 18:17

The National Interest wrote in the publication that Russia has by far the largest icebreaker fleet in the world with a total of more than 40 publicly and privately owned, including six nuclear-powered icebreakers all capable of punching through Arctic sea ice. It’s also building new ones after a delay of more than four decades, launching the 33,500-ton Arktika in June 2016 and preparing to introduce the 6,000-ton Ilya Muromets into service in fall 2017.

After that, Russia will introduce the 7,000-ton Ivan Papanin, or Project 23550. Except one important addition will be two Kalibr-type anti-ship cruise missiles and a 76-millimeter AK-176MA naval gun in a turret designed to provide a low radar cross-section.

Icebreakers have taken on strategic importance as declining sea ice due to global climate change promises to open up vast reserves of oil in an area with a jumble of maritime boundaries and competing claims.

Icebreakers are primarily peacetime vessels designed to carve passageways for civilian shipping, but the vessels with their strengthened hulls and ice-smashing bows and sterns could similarly clear a path for warships in the event of a conflict.

Armed icebreakers could patrol those claims. The United States by comparison has only two operational icebreakers, and is funding a third.