Strategic Weapons: New Russian Boomers Go East

Archives

July 13, 2007: The first three of Russias new Borei Class ballistic missile nuclear subs (SSBN, or "boomers") will be based in the Pacific. During the Cold War, most of Russias SSBNs were based in the north, at several bases east of the Norwegian border, and facing the Arctic ocean. But now Russia is spending over $350 million to expand and improve its submarine base on Kamchatka island. This will enable its new SSBNs to threaten China, as well as the United States.

The first of its new Borei class subs was launched only four months ago. This ship, the Yuri Dolgoruky, was supposed to have taken place last year. But there were technical problems that delayed it until this month. Construction of the Yuri Dolgoruky began eleven years ago, but money shortages, and technical issues, slowed progress. The Borei will put to sea later this year.

This is the first new Russian boomer to be launched in 17 years. The second ship in the class, the Alexander Nevsky, is also nearing completions. Construction on the third, the Vladimir Monomakh, has just begun. Russia wants to have about a dozen of these boats, to replace the current Delta IV class SSBNs. The Delta IVs are getting old, and have only about a decade of useful service left. Currently, it appears that the navy will get at least eight Boreis.

The Boreis are closer in design to the Delta IVs, than to the more recent, and much larger, Typhoon boats. The Boreis are 558 feet long and 44 feet wide. Surface displacement is 15,000 tons, and twelve Bulava SLBMs (Sea Launched Ballistic Missile) are carried. Work on the Yuri Dolgoruky was delayed for several years because the first missile being designed for it did not work out. A successful land based missile, the Topol-M, was quickly modified for submarine use. The Bulava was a larger missile, cutting the Boreis capacity from twenty to twelve missiles. The boat also has four torpedo tubes, and twelve torpedoes or torpedo tube launched missiles. The Borei also sports a huge sonar dome in the bow.

The Boreis have a crew of 107, with half of them being officers (a common Russian practice when it comes to high tech ships like nuclear subs). Each of these boats will cost at least two billion dollars. This high cost, by Russian standards, is partly because many factories that supplied parts for Russian subs were in parts of the Soviet Union that are not now within the borders of present day Russia. So new factories had to be built. All components of the Boreis, and their missiles, will be built in Russia. A dozen of these boats probably won't be completed for at least a decade.

Another problem is the reliability of the new Bulava missile, which has failed three of its four most recent flight tests. The Bulava is believed to be fundamentally sound, but it could be several years before all the kinks are worked out. It will take that long to finish work on the Yuri Dolgoruky, which is not unusual for a new class of SSBN, carrying a new missile.

 


Article Archive

Strategic Weapons: Current 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 


X

ad
0
20

Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close