Russia to Deliver 2 Boomers in 2006 With New SLBMs
The Russian Navy has announced that 2006 will see the deployment of two new strategic nuclear missile submarines (SSBNs, a.k.a. “boomers”) armed with SS-NX-30 Bulava sea-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), a sea-launched variant of their new land-based SS-27 Topol-M ICBM. One sub will be a restored Typhoon Class vessel, while the other will be a new SSBN class design.
The TK-208 “Dmitry Donskoi” is a Project 941 (Typhoon) class submarine, six of which were deployed from 1981-1989 at the end of the Cold War. Since their original SS-N-20 missiles have reached the end of their service lives, all Project 941 submarines have been withdrawn from service except for the “Dmitry Donskoi,” which has been used as a test platform for the SS-NX-30 missile and has been refitted for the system. It will re-enter active service in 2006.
The Project 955 or Borey is a new SSBN designed to replace the Typhoon and Delta IV submarines in service with the Russian Navy. Borey Class submarines reportedly incorporate a number of new advances, including improved quietness and the ability to carry 12-20 of the new SS-NX-30 submarine launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs). The first submarine of this class, the “Yuri Dolgoruky”, has been under construction in Sevmash shipyard, Severodvinsk since 1996. Sevmash reportedly received extra funding to accelerate the completion of this submarine in 2003, and the “Yuri Dolgoruky” was specifically named by Commander-in Chief of the Russian Navy Admiral Vladimir Kuroyedov as the second SSBN due to enter active service in 2006.
In March 2004, construction begun in Severodvinsk on a second Borey Class sub, the “Alexander Nevsky”. Though details are sketchy, the Russian Navy reportedly plans to procure up to 12-16 of these submarines through 2020. Even so, the future of the entire program and its final specifications remain uncertain owing to Russia’s political and budgetary situation, despite the fact that the Borey Class subs are currently the highest priority in the Russian fleet.
The Russian SS-NX-30 Bulava, is an intercontinental-range, submarine launched, solid propellant ballistic missile. It is a submarine launched version of the SS-27 Topol-M, which represents the pinnacle of Russian ballistic missile technology and is claimed to be invulnerable to any modern anti-ballistic missile (ABM) defenses. The Topol-M is reportedly capable of making evasive maneuvers as it approaches the target, enabling it to evade any terminal phase interceptors. It almost certainly also carries countermeasures and decoys to increase the chances of its success, reportedly including laser countermeasures. Finally, the warhead is shielded against radiation, electromagnetic interference and physical disturbance, including nuclear blasts closer than 500 m according to Russian claims.
The SS-NX-30 is reportedly identical to the SS-27 except for a slight decrease in range resulting from the conversion for submarine launch. It has a range of 10,000 km (6,214 miles) and is reported to be equipped with a 550 kT yield nuclear warhead. It is reported that up to six MIRV(Multiple Independently-targeted Re-entry Vehicles) warheads can be mounted, albeit at the cost of removing warhead shielding and decoys. It uses a Post-Boost Vehicle (PBV) system to deploy its warhead(s) using a digital inertial navigation system with a GLOSNASS (equivalent to Global Position Satellite) receiver. This achieves a reported accuracy of 350m CEP, but this accuracy is lower than is reasonable to believe given modern guidance systems and previous US and Russian missiles.
Sources & Readings:
- ITAR-TASS, April 27, 2005: The Russian Navy will get in 2006 two new strategic nuclear submarine cruisers
- GlobalSecurity.org: Project 941 Typhoon Class Submarine
- Bellona Foundation: Project 955 (Borey Class)
- Deagel.com: Project 955
- Russianforces.org: Russian Strategic Nuclear Forces (Naval)
- MissileThreat.com: SS-NX-30 Bulava SLBM
- GlobalSecurity.org: SS-27 Topol-M ICBM
- Moscow Defense Brief #1 2005: The Russian Military – Still Saving for a Rainy Day