The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) is considering building two Project 955 Borei –class (“North Wind”) or Dolgorukiy-class nuclear-powered guided missile submarines (SSGNs), designated Borei-K, according to a Russian defense industry source.
“The ministry is looking into the possibility of building two more Borei-class submarines, but equipped with long-range cruise missiles instead of ballistic ones,” the source was quoted as saying by TASS news agency on April 20. “If the decision is made, the submarines will be built under the new Borei-K project and will be scheduled for delivery after 2027.”
Earlier this month, the head of the St. Petersburg-based Rubin Central Design Bureau for Marine Engineering said that instead of building the sixth and seven Project 955A Borei II-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBN), the focus will be on more advanced projects that appear to go beyond the two existing SSBN (Borei and Borei A) designs.
The Russian Navy currently operates three Borei-class SSBNs. The Yuri Dolgoruky is in service with Russia’s Northern Fleet, while the remaining two Borei-class SSBNs – Alexander Nevsky and Vladimir Monomakh — are serving in the Russian Pacific Fleet. The Russian Navy is expected to take delivery of the Knyaz Vladimir, the first Project 955A Borei II-class boomer, later this year.
The latest April 20 leak by a Russian defense industry source is an indication that the competition between the Rubin Central Design Bureau and the Malakhit Design Bureau, which is working on a separate fifth-generation submarine design, with the first boat expected to be delivered to the Russian Navy by 2027, may be heating up as Russia’s naval spending is expected to stagnate in the years ahead.
Malakhit’s new Husky-class is reportedly slated to come in three variants: a nuclear-powered attack submarine (SSN), a SSGN, and a SSBN, all three of which will share a common two-hull design as well as common sonar, power and propulsion systems. The new subs will reportedly displace 4,000 to 6,000 for the SSN and SSGN variant; while a SSBN version would come in at between 10,000 to 12,000 tons.
The Russian Navy’s SSGN force currently consists of the 949A Oscar II-class (four of which will reportedly be upgraded to carry 3M-54 Kalibr cruise missiles by 2021) and Project 885-M Yasen M-class multipurpose SSN/SSGN. There are currently five Yasen M-class SSNs/SSGNs in various stages of construction. Yet, only one Yasen-class boat, the K-329 Severodvinsk, which took almost 18 years to build, has so far been commissioned into service.
The Project 885-M Yasen M-class sub, christened Kazan, will begin state trials and live firing tests in the summer of 2019. In terms of armaments, “the Kazan is fitted with eight vertical СМ-346 complex (3Р-14В) silos for submarine-launched cruise missiles as well as ten torpedo tubes for firing the 3M-54 Kalibr supersonic cruise missile, the P-800 Onik over-the-horizon supersonic anti-ship missile, and an improved variant of the 533-millimeter Fizik-1 homing torpedo,” I noted last year.