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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Project 935 / Project 955 Borei

The construction of Borei-class submarines, designed to carry intercontinental ballistic missiles, is part of the Russian navy's current modernization effort. The first unit of this class, the Yuri Dolgoruky, was laid down in 1996 as a Project 935 design, to carry the new Grom [Bark] SS-N-28 (RSM-52V), intended to be a straightforward development of the previous SS-N-20. The SS-NX-28, unlike previous Russian SLBMs, was the first to be totally developed and manufactured within Russia's borders by the Makeyev Machine-Building Design Bureau. The first test launch of a prototype SS-NX-28 SLBM on 19 November 1998 resulted in a catastrophic failure. The SS-NX-28 then proceeded to fail its next two test firings, after which the project was abandoned. By early 1999 construction had ceased on the first unit of the Borei-class, pending a redesign of the ship to accommodate a different missile.

The redesigned submarine was reclassified as Project 955. The D-19UTH launch complex was to replace the D-9 launch complex with RSM-52 ballistic missiles. The creation of D-19UTH missile complex designed for the new nuclear strategic submarines of the Borei-class was undertaken at GRTs KB named after V.P.Makeev. The new complex would be equipped with a solid-fuel ballistic missile of greater reliability and longer range, capable of being fired from the surface and under-water positions.

A Borey class strategic submarine is 170 meters (580 feet) long, has a hull diameter of 13 meters (42 feet), a crew of 107, including 55 officers, a maximum depth of 450 meters (about 1,500 feet) and a submerged speed of about 29 knots. It can carry up to 16 Bulava ballistic missiles with multiple warheads [which is reportedly seen in April 2007 launch photographs of the submarine], not the dozen initially reported.

The noise of the strategic submarine missile cruiser of the Borey project is two times lower than that of the American submarine Virginia. The director of the Research and Development Center Kurchatov Institute, Alexander Blagov, told a reporter on 17 December 2018 at a round table on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the nuclear submarine fleet of Russia. “A lot of work was done to reduce the noise of boats and reduce physical fields. The noise of the Northwind strategic submarine of the Borey project is five times lower than the third-generation multi-purpose submarines of the third generation and twice as low as the American ones” Virginia ", - said Blagov. Each Borey consists of 1 million 300 thousand units and mechanisms, 17 thousand tons of metal are required to build one boat (for comparison, the mass of the Eiffel Tower is 1.5 times less), the total length of pipelines and cable routes is 109 km and 600 km, respectively. The hull of the boat is covered with 10 thousand rubber plates.

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 is said to consist of 5 Typhoon class submarines, 7 Delta-IV class submarines, and 13 Delta-III class submarines [which only adds up to 25, not 26 submarines]. Not all of these submarines are seaworthy. The oldest of these boats, which entered service in 1983, will reach the end of their 20-25 year service life about the time the first 935 is commissioned. In fact, by the end of 2000 the active Russian SSBN force was about a dozen submarines, with a few other units nominally in commission. 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.

As of June 2000 the Russian Navy reportedly believed that 12 strategic nuclear submarines with ballistic missiles represented 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. The six remaining 667BDRM Delta-IV submarines were placed in commission between 1988 and 1992. Based on a typical service life expectancy for American attack submarines of 30 years, these units might be retired in the 2018-2022 timeframe. However, based on the apparent 42 year nominal service life of the American SSBN-726 Ohion Class submarines, the 667BDRM submarines might expect to remain in service through the 2030-2035 timeframe. This suggests that the Russian Navy might be content with acquiring no more than half a dozen Borey-class submarines by 2018, though such a number might suffice until around the year 2030.

In August 2003 the head of the MoD newbuilding department, Alexei Moskovsky, said that the Russian fleet would get four new strategic subs armed with new missiles by 2010, under the conditions of timely financing. But he did not exclude the possibility that the commissioning of the subs may be delayed by 1.5 to 2 years due to economic and technical reasons. He said this would include three Yuri Dolgoruky type (project 955), armed with the the new Bulava missiles, as well as the project 941 Akula sub returned from the overhaul in 2002, also equipped with the new Bulava missiles.

Navy Chief of Staff Adm. Vladimir Masorin said in 2006 that the navy hadn't yet determined how many Borei-class submarines would be built within a decade, but added there would be "more than four or six. ... There will be as many of them as necessary to fully modernize the sea-based strategic forces". Each new Borei-class submarine will be equipped with 12 Bulava missiles, which have a range of 8,000 kilometers (5,000 miles). Masorin said that the navy will conduct several test launches of the Bulava missile 2006 and in 2007.

As of 2007 the announced plan is for 8 Boreis by 2017. By 2015 the State Arms Program provides for building 7 project 955 submariness. In the following two years an eighth will be constructed under a new Arms Program.

The Borey class submarines are expected to form the core of Russia's strategic submarine fleet, replacing the aging Project 941 (NATO Typhoon class) and Project 667 class (Delta-3 and Delta-4) boats. Russia is planning to build eight Borey and Borey-A class subs by 2020. The Alexander Nevsky was built in six years, starting in 2004. Construction of the Vladimir Monomakh started in 2006 and was scheduled to be commissioned in 2012. Work was supposed to have begun on a fourth submarine in 2009 which should have taken five years to complete. This apparent trend of shorter submarine construction times has been made possible by the resumption of regular funding of defense contracts.

But this schedule was not and cannot be met. Placing 8 boats in service by 2020 would require commissioning one boat per year starting in 2014, which would require laying down one boat per year. But as of the end of 2012 only the fourth Borey had been laid down [in mid 2012]. The second unit [Aleksandr Nevskiy] took ten years from start of contruction to commissioning [four years were required from launching to commissioning], and the third unit [optimistically] appeared to have shortened this interval to nine years.

Assuming the fourth unit also took six years to build and a further four to commission, it would not enter service until the year 2022. Assuming [optimistically] that one boat per year is laid down each year after 2012, the force goal of eight boats would not be reached until the year 2026, versus the year 2017 that was the stated goal as of 2007.

By early 2013 a two-fold solution was in sight: bigger submarines, and laying down more than one submarine each year. Russia’s Sevmash shipyard planned to lay down two upgraded Borey class nuclear-powered strategic submarines in 2013, capable of carrying 20 ballistic missiles each, Rossiiskaya Gazeta newspaper said on 14 January 2013, citing defense industry sources. The construction of the Alexander Suvorov, the fifth in the series and second of the improved Project 955A (Borey-A) class, was to begin on 28 July 2013, when Russia celebrated Navy Day, while the sixth submarine, the Mikhail Kutuzov, was to be laid down in November 2013. The metal cutting works for the hulls of these vessels had been carried out since 2011, the paper said. The improved vessels will be equipped with advanced sonar, navigation, communications and fire-control systems and will be more "stealthy."

Russia was planning to have three Borey class and five Borey-A class submarines by 2020. Russia’s first Borey class submarine, the Yury Dolgoruky, officially entered service with the Russian Navy on 10 January 2013. It was assigned to the 31st submarine division of the Northern Fleet. The second Project 955 submarines - Aleksandr Nevskiy - was also accepted for service in 2013. However, these two submarines did not have missiles on board.

Following two successful December 23, 2011 test launches, Russian President Medvedev announced on December 27 that the flight testing phase of the Bulava SLBM was now complete, and the missile would now henceforth be adopted for service with the Russian Navy. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu previously ordered five additional launches of the Bulava missile following the failed launch on 06 September 2013. With the latest flop, eight of 19 or 20 test launches of the Bulava had officially been declared failures.

Russia successfully test-fired a Bulava submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) from the Borey-class Yury Dolgoruky nuclear-powered submarine on 29 October 2014. The missile was the first operational test launch of Bulava in line with the program of combat training.

The Northern Machine-Building Enterprise (Sevmash) will build two more serial nuclear strategic submarines of the Project 955A Borey-A by the state order by 2028, the total number of vessels of this class will grow to 10, a source in the defense industry said. “The state program of armaments for 2018–2027 includes the construction of two more Boreans of Project 955A, which have not yet received the name. The construction of submarines will begin on Sevmash in 2024,” the TASS source said 30 November 2018. He added that the first submarine should be transferred in 2026, and the second - in 2027.

The Navy currently had three submarines of the Project 955 Borey, the head submarine of the Project 955A is undergoing factory tests. Four serial submarines 955A were being built. “With the laying of two more submarine cruisers, the total number of strategic submarines of projects 955 and 955A in the fleet will increase to 10 units. Five of them will serve in the Northern Fleet, five in the Pacific,” the source explained.

In Russia, the largest post-Soviet strategic nuclear force exercises, Thunder 2019, took place on 15–16 October 2019. As part of these maneuvers, four ballistic and 16 cruise missiles were launched. It is noteworthy that there was no Bulava among the missiles used. As well as it is not among the announced launches. The last time the Bulava was fired was less than two months earlier, however, the crews of the rocket carriers “Alexander Nevsky” and “Vladimir Monomakh”, after being transferred to the Pacific Ocean, have never once conducted training firing with their own complex, neither as part of the general exercises of strategic forces, nor in uniform self exercise.

The readiness of the Pacific RPSNS group of project 955 Borey, which includes two of the three available boats of this type (the lead Yury Dolgoruky serves in the North), has been called into question in recent years: Alexander Nevsky arrived in the Pacific Ocean in the fall of 2015, “Vladimir Monomakh” - a year later, in September 2016, and if before that they had time to be noted for firing during the commissioning process, then over the past years the Bulava did not launch from these boats. Meanwhile, Yuri Dolgoruky in the Northern Fleet shot Bulava in both 2018 and 2019.

According to some, this raised questions about the readiness of the Pacific Boreev as a whole. The matter was in the system. The crew can still be kept ready, say, by sending officers on business trips to the North to go on fire with Dolgoruky. But launching the rocket is only one, albeit the most important element of the system.

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Page last modified: 25-08-2021 17:17:15 ZULU