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Russia’s Navy to Receive Upgraded Variant of New Ballistic Missile Sub in 2019

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Russia’s Navy to Receive Upgraded Variant of New Ballistic Missile Sub in 2019

An improved variant of the Navy’s newest class of ballistic missile subs will be delivered to the service in 2019.

Russia’s Navy to Receive Upgraded Variant of New Ballistic Missile Sub in 2019
Credit: Rubin Design Bureau

The Russian Navy is slated to receive the first advanced variant of the nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) Project 955A Borei II-class (“North Wind”) or Dolgorukiy-class in 2019, a senior Russian naval official said on May 9.

The Borei II-class (also designated Borei-A) SSBN Knyaz Vladimir (Prince Vladimir) was originally expected to be delivered to the Russian Navy in 2017, a date that was later pushed to 2018 and eventually 2019 due to a two-year contract dispute between the Russian Ministry of Defense and the Severodvinsk-based Sevmash Shipyards.

“Yes [in 2019],” the Navy Deputy Commander-in-Chief for Armament,Vice-Admiral Viktor Bursuk, told TASS news agency this Wednesday. “The sub will have to undergo a wide range of trials, including those that were not held before.” Additionally, Bursuk noted that the new boomer will purportedly be delivered to the Navy “fully ready to accomplish assigned missions.”

The Knyaz Vladimir was laid down in July 2012. It is the first of a planned fleet of five Borei II-class SSBNs destined for the Russian Navy. Borei II-class boats boast improved maneuverability and upgraded stealth capabilities, next to carrying extra missiles in comparison to the older variant of the class (See: “Russia Will Start Constructing New Ballistic Missile Submarine in December”):

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 currently operates three Borei-class SSBNs. The Borei-class boomer Yuri Dolgoruky is in service with the Navy’s Northern Fleet, while the remaining two – Alexander Nevsky and Vladimir Monomakh — are deployed with Russia’s Pacific Fleet.

Russia has also begun working on a follow-up to the Borei II-class, designated Borei-B (Borei III). However, the Russian shipbuilding industry has struggled with the Borei B-class boat design, according to the head of Russia’s United Shipbuilding Corporation Alexey Rakhmanov. “I believe we can talk about it in late 2018,” he said in an interview in Martch. “Borey B concept R&D [research and development] was fulfilled last year. The conceptual design was unsatisfactory in economic feasibility. We shall return to the issue.” Work on the Borei B-class’ redesign is currently underway at the the Rubin Central Design Bureau for Marine Engineering in St. Petersburg.