SEPTEMBER 12 2007 11:10h
Russia could be developing a top-secret new type of submarine capable of patrolling underwater longer than the existing ones.
The project -- codenamed 20120 -- came to light when details were inadvertantly posted on the Internet site of a provincial town, Kommersant newspaper reported. The posting has now been taken down and the navy denied any knowldege of the project.
Russia is boosting military spending to back up its increasingly assertive foreign policy. That has allowed it to resume work developing new hardware that was shelved because of a lack of cash after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Earlier this year, Russia launched the Yuri Dologruky nuclear submarine, its first new-generation submarine since the end of Soviet rule.
Kommersant said the specifications for the 20120 and the secrecy around it suggested it contained technology that was radically different from any submarines in service.
It said the new design may involve installing a small nuclear reactor on a diesel-powered submarine to extend the time it can operate without surfacing.
Contacted on Wednesday, a spokesman for Russia's navy said the details cited by Kommersant did not come from it. "We are not going to make any comment," he said.
Details of the submarine were released by the town of Sarov, north-east of Moscow, in a press release on a visit by a naval captain who commands a submarine named after the town.