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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)


The development of the 667BDR Delta III Kalmar (Squid) ballistic missile submarine began in 1972 at the Rubin Central Design Bureau for Marine Engineering. This strategic submarine is equipped with the D-9R launch system and 16 R-29R missiles, and is the first submarine that can fire any number of missiles in a single salvo.

The R-29R missile is the first sea-based Soviet ballistic missile carrying 3 to 7 multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRVs), with a range of 6,500 to 8000 km, depending on the number of reentry vehicles.

The Delta III is equipped with the "Almaz -BDR" battle management system ensuring firing of deep-water torpedos. The inertial navigational system "Tobol-BD" is of the Delta II was replaced with the "Tobol-M-1" system, and subsequently with the "Tobol-M-2". The Delta III is also equipped with the "Bumblebee" hydroacoustic navigational system to determinate its position through hydroacoustic buoys. Instead of the hydroacoustic system "Kerch" was used on the 667BD submarines, the Delta III uses the new "Rubikon" hydro-acoustic system.

The advanced Delta III SSBN entered service in 1976, and by 1982 a total of fourteen submarines were commissioned. All of them were built at Severodvinsk. The operational lifetime of these submarines was estimated to be 20-25 years. The Delta III submarines which served in the Northern fleet formed a division and were based in the port of Sayda in the Yagyelnaya bay and in the Olyenya port. In the early 1990s the ballistic missile submarines were transferred to Yagyelnaya. The Delta III boats that served in the Pacific Fleet formed a division of SSBNs which was based on Kamchatka.

When the START-1 treaty was signed in 1991 five 667BDR SSBNs still served in the Northern Fleet (3 - in Yagyelnaya, 2 - in Olyenyey) and nine in the Pacific Fleet. One Delta III submarine of the Northern fleet was decommissioned in 1994.

The Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction program was scheduled to dismantle 25 Delta-class, five Typhoon-class, and one Yankee-class ballistic missile submarines capable of launching over 400 missiles with over 1,700 warheads, by the year 2003. As of September 1999 US specialists had helped disassemble one Yankee- and six Delta-class submarines, while the Russians had destroyed another five ballistic missile subs on their own using American equipment.

As of June 2000 the Russian Navy claimed that it operated 26 strategic nuclear submarines carrying 2,272 nuclear warheads on 440 ballistic missiles. This force was said to consist of 5 Typhoon class submarines, 7 Delta-IV class submarines, and 13 Delta-III class submarines [which only added up to 25, not 26 submarines]. Not all of these submarines were seaworthy. The Russian Navy reportedly believed that 12 strategic nuclear submarines with ballistic missiles represent the minimum necessary force structure. According to media reports a classified presidential decree of 04 March 2000 established this force goal for the period through 2010.

Russia announced during information exchanges with the United States in 2002 that it had seven operational Kalmar class SSBNs. Two units, K-129 which had been launched 15 April 1981, and K-180 [launched 8 Januay 1980], were subsequently inactivated. The Delta III K129 is not the same as the Soviet Golf-class ballistic missile submarine (SSB) K-129 sank off Hawaii on 11 April 1968, probably due to a missile malfunction.

In FY 2004 one additional Delta III class SSBN was placed on contract for dismantlement by Zvezda Far East Shipyard (work to be performed at Northeast Regional Center in Kamchatka). In FY 2005 dismantlement of one Delta III SSBN by Zvezda Far East Shipyard continued. Dismantlement of one Delta III SSBN was completed in FY 2006. DoD reported that SSBN Delta-class 372 was dismantled in February 2006. The Zvezda shipyard report states that $2,436,311 was generated from 5,652 tons of metal scrap. This does not correspond to previously identified Delta III hull numbers.

As of January 2007, The Russian Nuclear Forces Project reported that Pacific Fleet 16th Squadron, based in Rybachiy (Krasheninnikov Bay, Kamchatka Peninsula) consisted of four Project 667BDR submarines - K-211 Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy, K-223 Podolsk, K-433 Sv. Georgiy Pobedonosets, and K-506 Zelenograd. At least one of these Project 667BDR submarine appeared to be in the process of decommissioning. As of January 2007, The Russian Nuclear Forces Project reported that the Northern Fleet 12th Squadron, based in Gadzhiyevo (Yagelnaya Bay, Sayda Inlet), included two Project 667BDR (Delta III) submarines - K-44 Ryazan and K-496 Borisoglebsk. At least one Project 667BDR submarine - evidently K-44 Ryazan - appeared to be in the process of modernization, as it had returned to service a few years later.

Project 09786 Special Purpose Support Submarine

Following the Project 09780 “Yankee Stretch” conversion, the Russian navy decided to convert a Project 667BDR (“Delta III”) class SSBN rendered redundant by arms control treaties. On 01 May 1994, K-129, a Project 667BDR (Kalmar Delta III class) submarine has been at the Zvezdochka Engineering Plant in Severodvinsk, where it was being converted into a Project 09786 special purpose support submarine. Some reports claimed that K-129 had began conversion to Project 09786 in May 1994, while other sources state that K-129 was simply stricken in 1995. No full details of the conversion have been released, it is generally believed that the added midsection contains a belly docking well for a mini-submarine of unknown type. Chemical lighting and external underwater CCTV cameras are fitted. The sub’s sensor suite has also been updated.

Due to severe funding shortfalls and technical problems with the conversion, the job took fourteen years to complete. KS-129 is operational with the 29th Submarine Division out of Severdonvinsk. According to some sources, she has now adopted the name Orenburg from the sole “Yankee Stretch” sub, which is unlikely to see any further use.

There were also reports that K-433 had been gutted for conversion to a "research" (special operations) or DSRV transport submarine, but as of 2002 there was no evidence that this work had been carried out. On 04 March 2004 it was reported that K-433 Svyatoy Georgiy Pobedonosets [Saint George the Victorious] had returned to service. According to Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov, the K-433 Sv. Georgiy Pobedonosets deployed in the Pacific Ocean, test-fired a SS-N-18 (R-29R) SLBM on 10 September 2006, with two of its test warheads hitting the targeted range.

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