The Russian Pacific Fleet has added a new generation ballistic missile submarine, the first such upgrade since the Cold War, according to reports.
The Vladimir Monomakh, a Borei class ("North Wind") submarine joined the fleet in late September, following the introduction last year of a another Borei class ship, the Yuriy Dolgorukiy, to Russia’s Northern Fleet.
A product of the Rubin Marine Equipment Design Bureau, in all critical respects the Borei is a significant advance over the aging Typhoon and Delta IV class submarines it is replacing. At nearly 580 feet, the Borei is a large vessel, but the use of advanced technologies, including pump-jet propulsion from its nuclear reactor, also makes it substantially quieter than its relatively noisy predecessors, posing a challenge for U.S. Navy hunter-killer submarines.
Each Borei will have a crew of 107, of which 55 will be officers. With the inclusion of research and development costs, the Borei will cost about $700 million per boat, far less than a comparable U.S. Ohio class submarine, the costs for which are about $2 billion.
Commercial satellite imagery indicates the Russian navy has also has been upgrading support infrastructure at its Pacific Fleet facilities. ussia is expected to bring at least eight Borei class submarines into operational status by 2020.
The Borei class is designed to launch nuclear-armed ballistic missiles over intercontinental distances. The range of the 12 to 16 Bulava missiles carried onboard the Borei—each capable of carrying six to 10 warheads with maneuvering and other countermeasure capabilities—is estimated at about 5157 miles. The Borei also can defend itself by launching both conventional and nuclear armed torpedoes.
With a service life expected to extend to at least 2040, the Borei will become a prominent fixture in the Russian military’s intercontinental attack capabilities. The Borei is not a panacea for the Navy’s various operational limitations, including highly limited power projection capabilities. Nonetheless, it is a modern boat and its overall capabilities are equivalent to those deployed by the United States and other Western navies.
The Borei also is but one part of a larger commitment by Russian President Vladimir Putin to enhance the intercontinental and theater capabilities of the Russian military. In June, Putin said the Strategic Rocket Forces would be adding 40 new long-range missiles—probably including the RS-24 Yars (SS-27).
There still remain gaps in Russia’s modernization plan. The Russian Air Force has scrapped for the time being a once highly touted plan to develop a stealthy, hypersonic strategic bomber in favor of devoting resources for the foreseeable future to a modified version of the current Tu-160