The Borei class submarines started with Project 955, deployed in 1996. This is the first Russian submarine project since the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
Nuclear submarines are the most effective, independent and secretive of Russia’s strategic nuclear trio, operates in all weather conditions and can maintain a constant presence across oceans. In the present and near future, nuclear submarines will remain the most effective nuclear deterrent of Russia’s strategic nuclear trio.
According to the State Armament Program, from 2020, the Borei-class submarines will be the core of the Russian strategic nuclear deterrent force, gradually replacing Typhoon and Delta IV class nuclear submarines.
Most recently, the Russian Navy commissioned the fourth Borei-class submarine, the Knyaz Vladimir, hull number K-549. It was also the first Borei-A, an upgraded version of the Borei class. The submarine is named after Knyaz Vladimir the Great.
According to National Interest, in an article in 2018, classified Russian Borei nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines on the list of the most dangerous weapons that humanity has ever invented.
In total, 10 Borei-class submarines will be built and join the Russian Navy, the last in 2027. Expected, 5 of these will be sent to the Pacific Fleet and the remaining 5 will be complement the Northern Fleet.
The Borei class submarines started with Project 955, deployed in 1996. This is the first Russian submarine project since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. In fact, Project 955 has been researched and developed since the Soviet era. When Russia took over, the project was redesigned to accommodate the Bulava ballistic missile, replacing the R-39UTTH Bark missile.
Basically, the Knyaz Vladimir retains the same Borei class design. The submarine is 170 meters long, the beam is 13.5 meters, and the draft is 10m. The displacement when surfaced and submerged is 14,720 and 24,000 tons, respectively.
Borei-class nuclear submarines have a compact design, which significantly reduces the noise level compared with previous generations of strategic nuclear submarines. It uses rudders at the stern and stabilized wings like the US Navy’s Ohio ballistic missile submarine. Thanks to its compact size, the ship can move in shallow water. The Knyaz Vladimir submarine is said to have lower noise levels than the previous Borei class.
Borei is also the first class of Russian submarines to use a pump-jet propulsion system instead of using propellers like the previous submarines. Americans have been using pump-jet propulsions on Seawolf-class nuclear submarines since the 1990s.
The pump-jet propulsion offers higher efficiency, low resistance, especially when operating at high speeds. One outstanding advantage of a pump-jet engine is its low noise, which helps the submarine to reduce the sound signal when traveling.
The noise level is to be five times lower when compared to the third-generation nuclear-powered Akula-class submarines and two times lower than that of the U.S. Virginia-class submarines. The acoustic signature of Borei is significantly stealthier than that of the previous generations of Russian SSBNs, but it have been reported that their hydraulic pumps become noisier after a relatively short period of operation, reducing the stealth capabilities of the submarine.
The submarine’s engine is an OK-650B nuclear reactor with a capacity of 190 megawatts, in addition to an AEU steam turbine. They allow the ship to reach a maximum submerged speed of at least 46 km/h (25 kn; 29 mph).
The submarine can dive 450 meters deep and operate continuously for 90 days with a crew of about 130 officers and men. The Borei submarines are equipped with a floating rescue chamber designed to fit in the whole crew.
The Borei submarine’s sonar system has been completely redesigned, allowing the detection of enemy warships 50% farther than the US Navy’s Virginia class submarines. It consists of a complex set of digital devices that provide communication, target acquisition and detection capabilities, and a host of other auxiliary functions.
The weapon system of Knyaz Vladimir is equipped with the same type as the 955 project, but the fire control system is upgraded to be more advanced.
The main armament of the Borei-class nuclear submarine is 16 R-30 Bulava intercontinental ballistic missiles. This is a ballistic missile launched from submarines, equipped for the Russian Navy, designed by the Moscow Institute of Thermal Technology.
The missile has three stages; the first and second stages use solid fuel propellant, while the third stage uses a liquid fuel to allow high maneuverability during warhead separation. It weighs 36.8 tons, has a range of 8,000 km.
The Bulava missile warhead is a diversion type – MIRV. It can carry a maximum of 6 warheads, the impact of each warhead is 150 kiloton, equivalent to 6 atomic bombs that the US dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima in World War 2.
Using MIRV warheads for submarine-launched missiles would be many times more dangerous than land-launched missiles. Nuclear submarines constantly change launch positions, making it very difficult for the enemy to develop missile defense options.
In addition to Bulava ballistic missiles, Borei submarines are also equipped with Kaliber cruise missiles and torpedoes. The ship is equipped with 6 front 533mm torpedo tubes and nearly 40 conventional torpedoes.
The Borei class’s anti-submarine warfare capabilities are impressive, it is equipped with RPK-2 Viyuga missiles, which can destroy enemy submarines and surface ships at a distance of 45 km, with speed about 1,100 km/h.
As for the Borei-A submarines, the main difference of these submarines from the original version is improved performance. Sound signature is significantly reduced thanks to the hull is covered with a material that absorbs sound from a special rubber compound. The electronics on board have also been upgraded to be more sophisticated.
The Borei class submarines are the most dangerous class of submarines that Russia currently owns. It can hit targets around the world with nuclear weapons. This makes submarines an indispensable part of Russia’s nuclear trio, providing the strongest retaliation against any nation that attacks Moscow with nuclear weapons.
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