Submarine warfare is a pretty unique type of military naval engagement that continues to revolve rapidly for decades now, and attack submarines are one of the most lethal aspects of submarine warfare. These underwater vessels have been designed, developed, and built with one main goal: to destroy enemy ships and submarines. The most dangerous attack submarines of the 21st century are so heavily armed and advanced that can take out a whole naval fleet of enemy ships without ever being noticed.
One of their strongest elements is its acoustic signature, as these types of submarines can’t be very noisy. Navies around the world design their attack submarines in a way that they can move unnoticed by enemy vessels. So it’s actually pretty obvious that they mustn’t produce a ton of noise. That’s why they are moving with limited speed and at specific depths. After the launch of torpedoes or missiles, these underwater killers will try to leave undetected too.
Another feature that makes an attack submarine powerful is an advanced sonar – a key system that helps the vessel detect any possible target in a near area. Last but not least, armament is of course a very decisive aspect of any attack submarine that exists. Considering these three factors, we have ranked the ten most dangerous predators under the surface of the water.
10 Oscar II class
We start the list with the Russian attack submarines of the Oscar II class. Within the Russian borders, the boats are known as Project 949A Antey. When it comes to length and displacement, these vessels are actually the third largest in history.
Heavily armed with 24 P-700 Granit supersonic missiles, these types of weapons can destroy an enemy target at a maximum distance of 340 miles. Although Oscar II consists of powerful vessels, the class is not stealthy at all, at least not when compared with advanced attack submarines of other classes.
9 Ohio Class
We continue with the US Ohio Class, which is a class of attack submarines that are armed with super-powerful cruise missiles. The US Navy initially planned to arm them with ballistic missiles, although it changed in mind later.
Today, the typical armament of a such vessel includes Tomahawk cruise missiles with a maximum capacity of 154 weapons. That’s a crazy amount of firepower, but their armament doesn’t end here. They also feature four torpedo tubes for launching the Mk.48 torpedoes. This is a real underwater predator.
8 Soryu Class
The first Japanese submarine on the list, the Soryu class features a diesel-electric propulsion system. That’s something that makes them distinct from other attack submarines, as most of these vessels take power from a nuclear reactor.
The special engines of the Japanese attack submarine make it stealthier, but the vessel can travel at the impressive distances of typical nuclear-powered boats. Plus, the Soryu doesn’t feature heavy armament; it only fires torpedoes and anti-ship missiles (that aren’t launched by a VLS).
7 Akula Class
Moscow did a decent job developing a stealthier class of attack submarines in the ’80s. Although they were great on their own, Russia decided to improve them: the result is the more advanced Akula II class.
The newer vessels don’t only feature stealthier capabilities. Their equipment also includes more modern systems and avionics that make the submarines more deadly. Another thing that makes them true predators are for sure the eight torpedo tubes and the capacity of up to 40 of these weapons.
6 Improved Los Angeles Class
The US Navy has another strong class of attack submarines in its hand. These are in essence submarines of the old Los Angeles class of attack submarines that were improved with upgrades and modernization packets.
After the changes, the US Navy’s boats are almost 7 times quieter than before. Their new armament includes Mk.48 torpedoes, anti-ship missiles, and Tomahawk cruise missiles that hit land targets. As you noticed, there’s a wide range of options with this class. That’s why it’s so up on the list.
5 Sierra II Class
That’s a pretty special class of Russian submarines. Moscow decided to operate only two vessels of the powerful Siera II class because these military boats proved to be extremely expensive.
In action, these submarines show that they are expensive for a reason, or better… for many reasons. They are light, fast, well-protected, and can dive to outstanding depths. But everything comes with a cost, and Russia learned that the hard way.
4 Yasen Class
Another pick from Moscow, the Project 885 Yasen is actually the latest addition to the Russian fleet of nuclear-power attack submarines. Their purpose in the Russian Navy is to replace the Akula class, which is also a powerful family of submarines.
The new attack vessels are producing less noise, they feature 24 VLS tubes and can carry weapons with a maximum range of 190 miles. These are the Russian P-800 cruise missiles that NATO calls SS-N-26.
3 Astute Class
The Astute class is an impressive British class of attack submarines that features a unique and imposing design. The United Kingdom is acquiring them in order to replace the Swiftsure class – an older class of attack submarines that serve for many decades.
The British underwater killers are armed with six torpedo launching tubes. Their available weaponry with these launching systems includes the Spearfish torpedoes, anti-ship missiles, and cruise missiles.
2 Virginia Class
We are almost at the top, where we find the Virginia class of the US Navy. These boats succeeded the Los Angeles class, introducing smaller and less costly attack submarines that can kill in silence.
When it comes to armament, a Virginia submarine can take out a small fleet on it. Inside the vessels, we find 12 VLS tubes and four torpedo tubes for a variety of different torpedoes and missiles.
1 Seawolf Class
At the top of the world, we only see the US Navy’s Seawolf class of attack submarines. Their amazing capabilities and armament come with an impressively high cost. Due to that, only three boats were built and serve in the Navy until today.
The underwater predators of the Seawolf class can operate with the least acoustic signature of any other military submarine. In simpler words, these US vessels are the world’s most silent killers of the seas. They destroy their enemies using eight torpedo tubes and a capacity of 50 torpedoes and missiles.
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