Aist Class


Origin: Soviet Union.

Type: Air cushion landing craft.

Number: 16 ships.

Weight: 220 tons full load.

Dimensions: Length overall 157ft (48m); beam 57ft (18m).

Propulsion: Two gas turbines, 24,000bhp; 65kt.

Armament: 2 twin 30mm guns.


Development: The Aist is the Soviet Navy’s first large military hovercraft. Unlike the experimental ACVs currently undergoing trials for the US Navy, it is not designed to be accommodated in the docking wells of larger landing ships, but is intended for independent high speed assault operation over relatively short distances. Such a craft would clearly be extremely useful in the Baltic, where it would be invaluable to defensive minefields laid by the Danish and Federal German navies to protect their respective coastlines.

            The Aist is powered by two marinised  gas turbines, each rated at 12-14,000hp. The turbines drive four propeller units, giving a maximum speed estimated at 65kt. A continuous tank deck with ramps at either end can accommodate two MBTs (T-62 or T-72) or five PT-76 amphibious tanks. A reduction in the number of vehicles enables up to 150 troops to be carried.

            Above the vehicle hangar is a navigating bridge with good all round vision and a lattice mast carrying tbe navigational radar. Twin 30mm mountings are fitted side by side at the forward end of the hangar, and the Drum Tilt FC director is installed atop the bridge. As well as providing anti craft defence, the guns can be used for the suppression of shore defences.


Below: The Soviet Navy’s first large military hovercraft is used for short range independent amphibious assault transport and can carry a mix of light tanks and troops over a range  of up to 350 miles (560km +) at 65kt (125km/h).           


Below: Bow view of an Aist, showing the twin 30mm guns each side of the bridge and the Drum Tilt fire-control radome.






Origin: USA.

Type: Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC).

Number: 108 on order

Weight: 170 tons mission weight.

Dimensions: Length overall 88ft (26 ּ8m) beam 47ft (14 ּ4m).

Propulsion: four gas turbines; 12,280 bhp; 50 knots.

Armament: None.

Cargo: 60 tons.

Complement: 5.


Development: As in so many other Western countries the USA has spent many years examining the whole air cushion concept, starting with the deployment of virtually standard British machines in South Vietnam in the late 1960s. in the early 1970s attention began to concentrate on the use of ACVs in the ship to shore logistics role and two trials craft were built: one by Aerojet General (designated JEFF-A) and a second by Bell Aerosystems (JEFF-B). Following extensive (and protracted) trials of these, Bell was awarded a contract to produce a new craft, which combines the best features of the two designs.

            The new Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) is now full production and 108 are on order, of which 54 will be based at Little Creek, Virginia, to serve the Atlantic Fleet, and 54 at Camp Pendleton, California, to serve the Pacific fleet. The first production LCAC is already completed and undergoing trials.

            The LCAC is a pure logistics machine and is designed to carry vehicles and stores from amphibious warfare ships standing offshore onto and over the beaches. It is not intended for anything other than very limited overground travel, although it could obviously penetrate deep inland using rivers or crossing swamps. The engines, control cabin and services are all located in narrow superstructures running down either side of the craft, leaving a clear and unobstructed deck space available for the payload. This 1,800 sq ft (167 ּ23m2) can take up to 60 tons of cargo, which enables it to carry a Main Battle Tank (MBT).

            Another rapidly developing role for ACVs is that of minehunting, where their low weight and acoustic signatures, and virtual immunity to underwater explosions gives them many advantages over a conventional ship type of minehunter/sweeper. The LCAC is thus being examined to assess its suitability for this role especially in support of an amphibious force en route to a landing operation.


Above: The first production LCAC en route to its delivery to the US Navy on 14 December, 1984, by Bell Aerospace Textron.


Below: LCAC-1 showing its main features, but its only payload on this occasion is a solitary transportable container. 









Ikara is a system in which a guided missile is used to carry a torpedo to the vicinity of a submarine target, thus cutting down dramatically on the “dead time” between the acquisition of the target and the arrival of the weapon. The missile is launched from a surface warship and flies at high subsonic speed out to a maximum range of some 12 miles (20km). A data link back to the ship ensures that the missile flies to the computer predicted optimum launch point, where the torpedo is released, makes a parachute descent to the sea and then carries out a normal homing attack on the target. Mk 44 and Mk 46 torpedoes are among those which can be carried, and the system is in service with the Australian, Brazilian and Royal Navies.






This torpedo is in service with the French and Belgian Navies. It is powered by silver-zinc batteries and has a speed of some 35kt, which suggests that its capability against modern, fast, Soviet submarines (some of which are capable of 40kt + speeds) is marginal. It has an active/passive head capable of homing attacks, either direct or in programmed search.






This wire-guided torpedo can be launched from surface ships or submarines against either surface or submarine targets. It has a range of some 8·7 miles (14km) and a speed of some 35kt. The torpedo is controlled from the launching ship until its own acoustic sensors acquire the target, when it is allowed to carry out a normal homing attack. The A 184 is in service with the Italian Navy.






Virtually all Soviet surface warships carry at least one ASW rocket launcher, of which there are several varieties. The rockets are fired in a predetermined pattern from a multiple launcher which is remotely trained and elevated. Current models include the RBU 1800 (a 5-barrelled 250mm system used in older ships), RBU 2500 (16-barrelled 250mm system, fitted in older cruisers and destroyers and in some small escorts); RBU 4500A (6-barrelled 300mm system with automatic loading); RBU 6000 (300mm system with barrels arranged in a circular fashion, range about 6,560yd (6,000m), fired in paired sequence, fitted in many modern warships), and RBU 1200 (6-barrelled system, fitted on the quarters of large warships, manual reloading, may have an anti-torpedo role). The RBU-2500 rocket has an estimated weight of 397 to 440lb (180 to 200kg).


Above: A rocket-propelled depth bomb is fired from one of the two RBU 6000 launchers on a Kashin class cruiser; two RBU 1000s are also warheads.




The SS-N-14 is fitted on most modern, large Soviet surface warships. The system appears similar in concept to the Ikara (qv) in that a missile carries a torpedo to the vicinity of a target where it is dropped to carry out a normal search and homing attack. The Soviet missile is 24·6ft (7·6m) long and is fired from either a twin-arm launcher (e.g. Moskva) or from a quadruple bin (e.g. Udaloy). The flight profile shows a height of about 2,500ft (750m) and a speed of mach 0·95, for a maximum range of 34 miles (55km). SS-N-14 is believed to have an alternative nuclear warhead, whilst the homing torpedo version may also have an anti-ship capability.


Above : Quadruple SS-N-14 “Silex” launcher on a Kresta II ASW cruiser; like ASROC, the missile can carry nuclear or homing torpedo warheads.




The SS-N-15/16 is fitted to Soviet attack submarines of the Alfa, Papa, Tango, Kilo and Victor-III classes, and may well be fitted to others as well. It is an ASW system similar to the US SUBROC in which an underwater launched missile travels to the surface, follows an airborne flight path and then releases dept bomb (SS-N-15) or a homing torpedo (SS-N-16). Maximum range is estimated to be about 34 miles (55km).






Developed is Sweden, this rocket system is in service with at least eight navies. The missile weights some 551lb (250kg) and carries 220lb (100kg) of TNT or 176lb (80kg) of hexotonal. The launcher has either two of four tubes and is automatically reloaded from an operating room below; fuses are set automatically at proximity, time or impact. The missile has a rocket motor and follows a flat trajectory, thus minimizing time of flight. Maximum range is approximately 4,000yd (3,657m).






Stingray can be launched from helicopters, fixed wing aircraft and surface ships, and is now in service with the Royal Navy. It is an autonomous acoustic-homing torpedo and is claimed to be equally effective in shallow and deep water. An onboard computer can make the course of an attack. The torpedo has an endurance of 8 minutes at 45kt.


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