In the early 1990s, a request for proposals was started among the major Soviet design bureaus for an all-new large missile boat (BRKA) to replace the earlier Projects 1234 and 1241.1 in production.
Priority was given to low cost and low displacement, prompting the selection of the lower-end anti-ship missile class and a fairly conservative ship design hewing close to civilian standards. Leveraging their recent experience with civilian ship designs in joint-venture with several non-Soviet firms, the Yuzhnoe Design Bureau submitted a untypically Western-looking design with a boxy superstructure and side-firing missile canisters.
The resulting ship was in the same weight class as the previous Pr.1234 small missile ship, overstepping the limit from missile boat to missile ship. In an effort to keep costs down, the short-range Uran was selected as the main weapon system. The low weight and volume of the Uran allowed the new hull to carry a record-breaking 16 missiles, while the short range was considered an even trade-off for near-shore defense.
Being the only new Soviet missile ship in its decade, the Musson obviously raised interest on the export market, but the actual prospects turned out less rosy than expected. The bulk of the Soviet missile corvettes exported in the 1980s was still seeing good use, and it would take nearly another decade until most client states would invest in ships of that class, by which time several would have developed their own designs.
While the Uran missile system was considered adequate for short-range attacks against moderately defended targets like landing forces, it was clearly insufficient against first-rate surface combatants. A more compact and versatile replacement to the Moskit, the P-800 Oniks had been undergoing a lengthy development since the late 1980s, and had been field-tested on several small missile ships and submarines by the time the Musson came out.
Large-scale integration of the new missile in the coastal defence forces was boviousl a high priority for the Soviet navy, but the way the Musson design was optimized for short-range missiles of the Uran class turned to its disadvantage when the time came to switch to a heavier payload. Without a massive re-design of the superstructure that was refused by the Soviet navy on cost grounds, the Yuzhnoe designers had no other choice than to stack Oniks tubes across the deck in the same space as the Urans of the original model. The sheer length and weight of the missiles forced them to lay nearly flat on the deck, and reduced the loadout to a still respectable 8 tubes.
The low amount of missiles carried compromised the Pr.2034.1 boats' usefulness against well-defended targets, even though they had become significantly more expensive and less sea-worthy than the baseline Pr.2034, which remained perfectly adequate against less advanced naval ships. The production rate of this variant remained low, with a total of 6 units delivered to the Soviet Northern Fleet between 2002 and 2008.
In parallel to the baseline missile-boat design, an anti-submarine patrol boat (MPK) version of the Project 2034 was also designed. It was first pitched in 1996 to the Soviet Navy, which rejected the design in favor of a second batch of the Polish design Project 621, on account of better sea-keeping and a higher upgrade potential, particularly to carry light helicopters.
While a straightforward adaptation from the Pr.2034.0 to carry Medvedka ASW missiles instead of Uran AShMs was in theory possible, it was felt that a 500-ton ASW boat did not need 16 medium-range ASW weapons, but rather additional sensors and comms. On that basis, the design team decided to rework entirely the above-deck mid-section of the ship and retain only two quad missile launchers, this time facing forward. The overall configuration freed the aft deck for installation of a towed-array sonar as well as additional short-range anti-submarine weapons. The additional weight on the fantail and the internal space needed for ASW control systems nevertheless required lenghtening the hull by a few meters.
Operational trials showed the discrepancy between the lengthened range of the new ASW weapons and the still dismal performance of the current compact sonar systems in complex coastal environments. These followed previous tests on several other converted missile boats and turned out to be the final nail in the coffin of the high-speed MPK concept for the 2000s.
The single ship of Pr.2034.2, simply named MPK-10, would carry out further trials in the Black Sea, helping refine ASW tactics and doctrines for a future generation of ships. In 2005, having outlived its usefulness as a test platform, it docked at the Kerch shipyard to be converted to a patrol ship, sailing in early 2007 up the Don and down the Volga to serve in the Caspian Sea Flotilla, where it would lead a successful career patrolling off-shore oil facilities and fighting smugglers and terrorists.