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Russia to Launch Its Most Powerful Ballistic Missile Sub in November

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Russia to Launch Its Most Powerful Ballistic Missile Sub in November

The Russian Navy is expected to float out an improved variant of its latest class of ballistic missile subs next month.

Russia to Launch Its Most Powerful Ballistic Missile Sub in November
Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Russian Ministry of Defense

The Russian Navy is slated to launch the first advanced variant of the nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) Project 955A Borei II-class (“North Wind”), or the Dolgorukiy-class, in November, the commander-in-chief of the Russian Navy, Admiral Vladimir Korolev said in an interview with Russian media.

“In the near future, the Severodvinsk-based Sevmash Shipyard will float out a new nuclear powered missile underwater cruiser, the Knyaz Vladimir, from the slipway. The event will take place in November,” the admiral said. Russia’s most powerful SSBN to date, the Knyaz Vladimir (Prince Vladimir), was expected to be launched in August. Admiral Korovel did not elaborate on the reason for the delay.

The Knyaz Vladimir will be the lead boat of the improved Borei II-class (also designated Borei-A). The boomer was laid down in July 2012 at the Sevmash Shipyards in Severodvinsk, a port city on Russia’s White Sea. Construction of the new boat began with a two-year delay due to due to contract disputes between the Russian Ministry of Defense and Sevmash Shipyards. The Knyaz Vladimir is expected to be delivered to the Russian Navy in 2018.  

As I noted elsewhere (See: “Russia Will Start Constructing New Ballistic Missile Submarine in December”), the improved Borei-class will be more heavily armed than regular Borei-class boomers.

In comparison to the Borei-class, Borei II[A]-class submarines are fitted with four additional missile tubes, boast smaller hulls and cons, and feature improved acoustics and lower sound levels, next to a number of other technical improvements.

Both variants of Borei-class subs will be armed with Bulava (RSM-56) intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). The Borei-class will be capable of carrying up to 16 Bulava ICBMs, whereas the improved Borei II-class can carry up to 20 ballistic missiles.

The improved variant of the Borei-class will be capable of launching 96-200 hypersonic, independently maneuverable warheads, yielding 100-150 kilotons apiece. 

“The Russian Navy plans to operate eight Borei-class SSBNs–three Borei-class and five improved Borei II-class boats–by 2o25,” I reported in June. “As of new, three Borei-class SSBNs have been commissioned to date with one submarine, the Yuri Dolgoruky, serving with the Northern Fleet and the remaining two–Alexander Nevsky and Vladimir Monomakh—deployed with Russia’s increasingly more active Pacific Fleet.”

Last week, Russia conducted a military exercise involving the country’s nuclear triad of strategic bombers, submarines and land-based missiles. According to Russian media reports, Russian President Vladimir Putin personally oversaw the test firing of four intercontinental-range ballistic missiles. The Russian Ministry of Defense neither revealed the SSBN submarine class involved in the exercise, nor the submarine-launched ballistic missile fired.