Asia Defense | Security

Russia’s First Upgraded Borei-Class Ballistic Missile Sub Completes Sea and Weapons Trials

The Knyaz Vladimir successfully completed state trials earlier this month, according to the Russian Navy.

Franz-Stefan Gady
Russia’s First Upgraded Borei-Class Ballistic Missile Sub Completes Sea and Weapons Trials
Credit: Wikimedia Commons/HoteitH

The nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) Knyaz Vladimir (Prince Vladimir), the Russian Navy’s first upgraded Project 955A Borei (A) II-class (“North Wind”) or Dolgorukiy-class boomer, has successfully completed sea and weapons trials off the northwest coast of Russia earlier this month, the Russian Northern Fleet said in a November 21 statement.

“The latest Project Borei-A strategic underwater cruiser Knyaz Vladimir has completed state trials at the Northern Fleet’s combat training ranges in the White Sea and arrived in Severodvinsk,” according to the Fleet’s press release.

As part of the final round of certification tests, the SSBN has for the first time test fired a RSM-56 Bulava (NATO reporting name: SS-N-32) submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) this October. The SLBM reportedly hit its designated target on the Kura missile test range on the Kamchatka peninsula. As I explained last month:

The Bulava SLBM–a sea-launched variant of the Topol-M—can reportedly be fitted with six to 10 nuclear multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle (MIRV) warheads yielding 100 to 150 kilotons apiece, as well as 10 to 40 decoys. The three-stage solid propellant (with a liquid head stage) Bulava has an estimated range of over 8,300 kilometers (5,157 miles).

“Aside from the trials of the sub’s sea-launched weapons, the shipbuilders checked the operation and the reliability of all its systems, mechanisms and equipment and made measurements of the noise level and the underwater cruiser’s other special parameters,” TASS news agency reported last Friday.

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The first Borei-(A)-II-class boomer has been undergoing sea trials and other tests since November 2018. The first round of sea trials of the SSBN reportedly took place in late November/early December 2018 and finished in January 2019. The second round began in early July.

Borei-(A)-II-class SSBNs feature upgraded stealth capabilities, better underwater maneuverability, and can carry additional SLBMs, as I wrote previously:

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.

(…) The Borei-class[is] capable of carrying up to 16 Bulava [SLBMs], whereas the improved Borei II-(A)-class can carry up to 20 ballistic missiles.

The Knyaz Vladimir was laid down in 2012 and floated out in 2017 following a two-year delay. The ballistic missile sub is expected to be commissioned into service with the Northern Fleet in the coming weeks. It is the first of a planned fleet of five Borei II-(A)-class SSBNs.