The Russian Navy has for long time been in demand for vessels for operations in the inshore maritime zone that are capable of protecting Russia's maritime boundaries. The switch from a concept of a big Ocean fleet of the Cold War era to the idea of the present-day fleet that has universal combat vessels has prompted the development and construction of small combat vessels.
The need for the implementation of this concept was vividly proved by the last November events. In particular, the Ukrainian armored artillery boats, the Berdyansk and Nikopol, and the Yany Kapu tugboat tried to sail from Odesa, the Black Sea, to Mariupol, the Sea of Azov. Russia accused the Ukrainian sailors intruding twice, with a 12-hour difference, Russia's territorial waters near the Crimean coast. As for the second time, the ships were attacked and captured, while more than 20 sailors were detained, with three of them injured.
Owning to this, it was high time for the Vasily Bykov patrol boat to join the Black Sea Fleet as part of the general program of the Navy rearmament and modernization. According to a report of the Zelenodolsky Plant named after Gorky that built the ship, the solemn ceremony of joining the fleet took part at the Novorossiysk naval base in late December 2018.
The Severnoye Design Bureau designed Project 22160 for defending and protecting a 200-mile economic zone, as well as for defending naval bases in case of military actions. Tactical tasks of patrol boats have lately included rather uncustomary tasks, such as combating poachers in the territorial waters, combating poachers and illegal fishing in the 200-mile economic zone, escorting ships, defending port facilities and naval bases, as well as maritime rescue operations.
The keel of the Vasily Bykov patrol boat, the lead ship of Project 22160, was laid in February 2014. The shipyard successfully coped with the problem of import substitution, finding a way-out from a rather complicated situation. Mainly Russian-made details and units, including state-of-the-art radar and navigation equipment, are used aboard the ship.
The Vasily Bykov's main characteristics are as follows: its displacement is 1,500 tons, length - 91 meters, width - 14 meters, speed - 27 knots, cruising capacity – 60 days, cruising endurance – about 6,000 miles, and crew – up to 80 sailors.
As for the stock armament, the design bureau was to choose between two concepts. Initially, it was tasked with arming the ship with short-range weapons, including short-range anti-ship missiles and artillery and air defense systems. Later, after Kalibr missiles aboard small-displacement ships proved effective, it was decided to arm the new patrol boat with a similar missile launcher.
The modular design of Project 22160 ships is their characteristic feature. This way of building combat ships is for the first time tested in Russia in the construction of new patrol boats. Given that the major part of the ships' units, including weapons, are uniformed, they are mounted and installed right at the shipyard. The uniformity of the ships' structure allows to change the set of installed weapons during their exploitation.
The ship's hull and the deck architecture are designed using the "stealth" technology, considerably reducing the ship's radar visibility.
The deck is protected by composite materials with low reflecting capacity. Even the bow artillery system has an angular turret with a small reflecting surface.
According to expert estimates based on combat characteristics of a Project 22160 boat, the ship is capable of successfully countering almost any potential enemy. In terms of arms and cruising endurance, military experts have recently compared the Russian patrol boat to legendary David, who defeated Goliath with just one sling shot.
As of today, no patrol boat in the world has weapons comparable to the ones of Project 22160 ships in terms of firepower. The draught of Project 22160 ships is 4 meters, which allows them to not only operate at high seas but also to enter bays and even rivers.
Project 22160 ships' air defense include the 12-channel Shtil-1 air defense missile system armed with 24 9M317E missiles. Short-range air defense is ensured by the Gibka system. The ships are armed with 57-milimeter A220M guns.
The Zelenodolsky Plant named after Gorky is currently building 5 more patrol boats of Project 22160: the Dmitry Rogachev, the Pavel Derzhavin, the Sergei Kotov, the Viktor Veliky and the Nikolai Sipyagin.
There are expected to join the Black Sea Fleet soon.