Open source intelligence indicates that Russia’s newest strategic submarine, Knyaz Vladimir, will conduct its first missile launch this week. It may be the final test before the submarine enters service with the Russian Navy. She is the first of seven Borei-II Class boats that will form the backbone of the Russian Navy’s nuclear deterrent from the 2020s.
The launch of the Bulava missile will likely occur between October 28 and 31. It is expected to be shot from the protected waters of the White Sea and impact about 650 miles away in the Arctic Ocean. The missile has a range of around 5,000 miles and delivers six independently targeted warheads. Each warhead is equivalent to 150 kilotons of TNT, meaning that each missile is about 50 times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. And she can carry 16 of these missiles.
There may be a rush to complete final tests now as the Arctic Winter is already setting in. On March 12, Russian Defense Minister Gen. Sergei Shoigu announced that the submarine would be commissioned this year. So time is running out.
The previous Borei-I Class submarines were constructed out of leftover sections from other unfinished submarines. With the supply of unfinished submarines being depleted, it is unclear how true this remains for the Borei-II. Either way it incorporates several design choices which are rare in Russian submarines but common in Western types. The sail has a blended base like on the U.S. Navy’s Virginia Class submarines, and the vertical rudder is all-moving. These subtleties do not go unnoticed among defense watchers. Beneath the skins she is still more like a Russian design than a Western one, retaining the double-hull construction. This means that there are two layers of steel between the crew and the ocean.
Knyaz Vladimir translates as Prince Vladimir, and refers to Vladimir the Great, who ruled parts of present-day Russia between 980 and 1015 A.D., not the current president.
In a break from tradition, the crew has been training aboard before the completion of factory trials. This means that she will be ready for active duty much sooner after the formal commissioning date later this year. It used to take the Navy crew a year from the commissioning before deep-sea diving was achieved.
The construction of the new submarines will allow the retirement of older boats. On October 17 one of the Delta Class submarines, Ryazan, experienced problems while test firing its nuclear missiles. She has been in service for 37 years. The new submarines will significantly modernize the strategic submarine fleet.
Source – Forbes