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Russia’s Pacific Fleet: Nuclear Sub Test Fires Intercontinental Ballistic Missile

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Russia’s Pacific Fleet: Nuclear Sub Test Fires Intercontinental Ballistic Missile

The recent missile drill follows the test firing of two ICBMs by another sub of Russia’s Pacific Fleet in September.

Russia’s Pacific Fleet: Nuclear Sub Test Fires Intercontinental Ballistic Missile
Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Edward L. Cooper

The nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) Georgy Pobedonosets successfully test fired a submarine-launched intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) from a submerged position in the Sea of Okhotsk, Russia’s Ministry of Defense announced on October 12.

“The launch was carried out from the submerged position. The missile’s warhead arrived at the Chizha practice range in north Russia at the designated time,” the defense ministry stated without specifying the exact date of the missile drill.

The defense ministry also did not specify the type of ICBM test fired. The 13,000-ton (submerged) Georgy Pobedonosets is a Soviet-era Project 667BDR Kal’mar (Squid) Delta-III class SSBN. It was first commissioned in 1981 into Russia’s Northern Fleet and transferred to the Pacific Fleet over three decades ago in 1983. It underwent a major overhaul for over a decade from 1993 to 2003.

Project 667BDR Delta-III ballistic missile submarines are armed with the R-29R/R-2S (NATO reporting name:  SS-N-18 Stingray) intercontinental ballistic missile equipped with three to seven multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRVs). The missile has an estimated range of 6,500 to 8,000 kilometers (4,038-4,970 miles).

The Georgy Pobedonosets reportedly can carry up to 16 R-29R ICBMs and, given that the sub is equipped with the so-called D-9R launch system, can fire any number of missiles in a single salvo. It is likely that that the sub fired a R-29R ICBM during its most recent missile drill. Delta-III subs are also fitted with four 533-milimeter and two 400-milimeter bow torpedo tubes.

The most recent successful test launch illustrates “the high level of the Pacific Fleet submarine forces’ readiness and confirmed the efficiency of the system of the sea-based strategic nuclear forces’ combat control,” the defense ministry noted, according to TASS news agency.

“The actions of the commander and the crew of the nuclear submarine Georgy Pobedonosets have been recognized as professional and competent. The crew is ready to accomplish tasks as part of the constant alert forces,” the ministry added.

The Georgy Pobedonosets along with the remaining two Delta-III class subs will slowly be phased out in the years ahead and replaced by the Project 955 Borei-class (“North Wind”) aka Dolgoruky-class of SSBNs. One Delta-III class submarine is reportedly undergoing overhaul while two were thought to be currently held in reserve. The recent test appears to confirm other sources that state that both Delta-III class SSBNs are fully operational.

The last time a Pacific Fleet SSBN conducted an ICBM test launch occurred on September 27, when the Project 955 Borei-class Yuri Dolgoruky test fired two Bulava (RSM-56) ICBMs from a submerged position in the White Sea off the northwest coast of Russia (See: “Russia’s Deadliest Sub Test Fires 2 Nuclear-Capable Ballistic Missiles”).