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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Project 935

On 16 October 1996, Commander in Chief of the Russian Navy ADM Feliks Gromov announced that work would start on a new-generation strategic nuclear-powered submarine, which he said would be "two or three times more powerful" than any submarine currently in the fleet. The keel of the fourth-generation Project 935 strategic missile submarine Yuri Dolgoruky was laid down at the Sevmash State Nuclear Ship-Building Center at Severodvinsk on 2 November 1996. The keel-laying was postponed for a week after poor weather made it impossible for high ranking officials to attend, including First Deputy Defense Minister Andrei Kokoshin, Presidential Chief of Staff Anatoly Chubais, Moscow mayor Yuri Luzkhov, and Admiral Gromov. Kokoshin described the new Yuri Dolgoruky as a state-of-the-art submarine with "substantial improvements" over those currently in service, and Chubais termed the new submarine "a totally unique thing, a submarine for the next century."

The city of Moscow sponsored the project, as the lead vessel is named after Prince Dolgoruky, the traditional founder of the city. The wages of shipyard workers and the crew of the new boat will [reportedly] be paid by the city in the event that the federal government is unable to pay. So-called "Presentation" weapons were commonplace in the Red Army during the Great Patriotic War. Presentation weapons were almost always the result of monetary collections taken up locally and voluntarily, and offered towards the cost of various vehicles or other items in the name of some personality or entity. Thus, the workers of a factory, town, or even just local citizens could take up a collection and "buy" a tank or aircraft (etc.) in the name of their Factory, group, or perhaps a local or even national figure -- contemporary or historical.

One of the oldest Russian annals, the Lavrenty Chronicle, was compiled in Nizhny Novgorod at the request of Prince Dmitry Konstantinovich. It contains "The Instructions to His Children of Vladimir Monomakh". Vladimir Monomach ruled in Kiev, the then capital of the Russian state, between 1113 and 1125. He was the father of Yuri Dolgoruky, the founder of Moscow. The meeting of Prince Dolgoruky and Prince Svyatoslav Olgovich on 04 April 1147 in Moscow is the oldest mentioning of Moscow in chronicles.

This was the first submarine of the new Borei-class [Boreas], with a length of 170 meters, a body diameter around 10 meters, and a submerged speed of over 25 knots (over 45km/h). With about half the displacement of the Typhoon, the 935 class was nonetheless designed to carry 20 SLBMs of a new type.

The Yuri Dolgoruky should have entered into service in 2001 as the first of six third-generation submarines that were to replace Mk 941 Typhoon-class SSBNs. However, this did not happen because the development of a solid-fuel ballistic missile, which was to have replaced the obsolete R-39 (RSM-52) SLBM (NATO reporting name, SS-N-20 Sturgeon), was not completed. The missile's initial three tests were conducted unsuccessfully at a White Sea testing range in the late 1990s. Each time, the missile blew up in mid-air, failing to reach its target.

The lead unit of Russia's fourth generation ballistic missile submarine would have reached initial operational capability by 2004, if the plan of launching it by 2002 remained on track. But the Navy leadership's plans to launch one new-generation submarine per year beginning in 2002 appeared unrealistic with the planned financing of national defense. Consequently no more than 9-12 missile-armed submarines with a total of 800-1,000 warheads were likely to remain in the naval strategic nuclear forces by 2010, although the START I and II treaties allow Russia to have up to 1,750-1,900 warheads in the naval component.

As of early 1999 it appeared that construction had ceased on the first unit of the Borei-class, pending a redesign of the ship to accomodate a different missile from the originally intended SS-N-28, which had failed its first three test firings and was subsequently abandoned. The first unit remained under construction with a scheduled launch in 2005. Other sources stated the commissioning year to be 2007-2010, depending on availability of funds.

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Page last modified: 20-12-2014 20:10:47 ZULU