Balzam-class intelligence ship
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A starboard view of the Soviet Balzam-class general intelligence collector ship underway in international waters as United States Navy ships sail out from Norfolk, Virginia, at the beginning of NATO Exercise Ocean Safari '85.
|Builders:||Yantar Yard Kaliningrad|
|Operators:||Soviet Navy, Russian Navy|
|Preceded by:||Primor'ye class surveillance ship|
|Succeeded by:||Vishnaya class intelligence ship|
|In commission:||1980? - present day|
|Displacement:||4,900 tons full load|
|Length:||105 m (344 ft)|
|Beam:||15.5 m (51 ft)|
|Draught:||5 m (16 ft)|
|Propulsion:||2 shaft diesel 9,000 hp (6,700 kW)|
|Speed:||20 knots (37 km/h)|
|Sonar: hull mounted MF, HF dipping, possible passive arrays|
|Armament:||2 x 4 9K32 Strela-2 positions, 1 30 mm AK-630 anti-aircraft gun, 1x7 55 mm MRG-1 grenade launcher|
The Balzam class is the NATO reporting name for a class of Intelligence collection ships built for the Soviet Navy in the 1980s. These ships are also known as the Lira class. The Soviet designation was Project 1826.
Design and role
The ships were designed to gather SIGINT and COMINT electronic intelligence via an extensive array of sensors. The data could be transmitted to shore via satellite link antennas housed in two large radomes. They were the first Soviet AGIs to be armed, carrying one AK-630 CIWS gun system and Strela anti-aircraft missiles.
The last remaining Balzam class ship in active service is 344 ft in length, mounting a Medium Frequency sonar, High Frequency dipping sonar, Electronic warfare gear to include jammers, interception devices and code-breaking software: these ships were revolutionary when built in that they carried not only intercept and direction-finding electronics but also the necessary computing power to feed raw signal data into on-board information processing computers.
An Underway replenishment system was installed, as were two four-round Strela-2M (SA-N-5 Grail) IR-Guided SAM's and a single six-barrelled 30 mm gun. The weapons rely on a single remote Kolonka pedestal director.
Four ships were built by Yantar shipyard, Kaliningrad.
One ship, the SSV 571 Belomore, is in service; of the other three units, the Lira was decommissioned in 1998, the Azia and Pribaltica are in reserve.
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