Long road to the sea
In recent years, special attention has been focused on the nuclear submarine Prince Vladimir: it was she who, being the first submarine of the improved project 955A, should open a new chapter in stories Russian Navy. The first Borey, we recall, was put into operation quite a long time ago, namely, in 2013. The situation is all the more indicative when you consider that the K-535 submarine Yuri Dolgoruky was laid back in 1996. Following the Dolgoruky, in 2013 another project 955 submarine, the K-550 Alexander Nevsky, was put into operation. And in the next fleet received K-551 "Vladimir Monomakh".
The extremely long six-year break ended on May 28, when the fleet handed over the fourth submarine of project 955 is the aforementioned “Prince Vladimir”. “Today, May 28, at the Sevmash (part of the USC), the signing of the acceptance certificate of the strategic missile submarine cruiser Prince Vladimir was signed,” the Sevmash press service said.
Pinnacle of evolution
The nuclear submarine was laid down in 2012. The launch of the boat was carried out in 2017, and in 2018 began testing. It is known that during them a test launch of the Bulava intercontinental ballistic missile was carried out on target at the Kamchatka Kura firing range. In addition, the submarine was fired by torpedoes. On May 21, Rossiyskaya Gazeta reported that the boat was tested in the White Sea and moored in Severodvinsk: they promised to accept the ship in the Navy after evaluating the results of this control launch.
The boat is very different from its ancestors, even purely outwardly. In general, the whole story of Boreev is a story of continuous evolution. Recall that the first three ships, the K-535 “Yuri Dolgoruky”, the K-550 “Alexander Nevsky” and the K-551 “Vladimir Monomakh”, have the characteristic “wrong” bow tip of the wheelhouse, which is slanted forward due to the features placing in this place one of the stations of the sonar complex.
On the new submarine, the contours of the nasal tip of the cabin became more streamlined. The most important difference lies in the disappearance of the "hump" of the missile launch platform. All these changes, as it became known earlier, are aimed at improving the submarine's driving performance and improving low-noise performance - a key factor in the survival and overall combat effectiveness of a modern submarine.
It is noteworthy that this is far from the end of the transformations of project 955. As previously noted in the military department, the next submarine, Prince Oleg, will also have its own profile that does not look like anything. After testing, the fleet will choose the version that will have the best features. That is, K-549 "Prince Vladimir" may well become the prototype of all subsequent submarines of project 955. Probably, for the Navy this would be the best option.
It is also known that the new submarine can boast of its "relatives" the best maneuverability, increased ability to hold at a depth, as well as a more modern airborne weapon control system. In any case, this was announced earlier by the Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Navy, Admiral Vladimir Vysotsky. Also, Borey-A should be distinguished by more comfortable conditions for the crew.
Such characteristics as length and displacement, according to open sources, remained unchanged. Most importantly, the armament, consisting of sixteen R-30 Bulava solid-fuel ballistic missiles, has not changed. It is worth recalling that earlier there were rumors about an increase in the number of missile mines on the Borey-A submarine from sixteen to twenty, but back in 2013 this information was refuted.
Weapons can be called the "weakest" side of the project, which is somewhat paradoxical, given that we are talking about ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads. Experts have claims both to the nominal number of these missiles in one submarine cruiser and to the characteristics of the missile itself. Recall that the old American strategic submarine of the Ohio type, belonging to the third generation of the nuclear submarines, carries 24 Trident II D5. According to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists last year, one such missile can have up to eight W88 blocks of 455 kilotons, up to fourteen W76-0 blocks of 100 kilotons (they were decommissioned), or as many W-76-1 blocks 90 kilotons each. In turn, the "Mace", according to media reports, has from six to ten warheads of 100-150 kilotons. In other words, in its destructive power, one Ohio is significantly ahead of one Borey. There is, however, one “but.” All American submarines of this type are old ships: the last of the strategic cruisers went into operation in 1997. It is noteworthy that the Americans themselves probably think the Ohio arsenal is excessive. In any case, the promising Colombia, which is being created to replace it, will carry not 24 ballistic missiles, but 16 - like a Russian ship.
And although Borey is already difficult to unambiguously call the “most advanced” boat, and the R-30 rocket was initially problematic, it is obvious that there are no alternatives to this duet in Russia. At least, speaking specifically about the marine component of the nuclear triad. In theory, in the future, the Boreev functions can partially be taken over by the K-329 Belgorod submarines of project 09852 and the Khabarovsk project 09851, which are the carriers of Poseidon nuclear torpedoes. However, the "reincarnation of the Stalinist T-15 torpedo" has so many conceptual flaws (speed, vulnerability, and so on) that the mere use of Poseidon as a deterrent is a big question.
Therefore, it is obvious that the project 955 submarines will be actively built in the future. Now, in addition to the boats already put into operation, six more have been laid: thus, the minimum number of submarines of this type is ten. Recall also that in February a source in the military-industrial complex said that this summer the Ministry of Defense could sign a contract for the purchase of two more submarines of project 955A.
However, an even more powerful submarine, previously designated the Borey-B, was not included in the state armament program for 2018-2027: the price of modernization was too high.
But in the future, the fleet may (according to unofficial data) receive the Borey-K variant, equipped with cruise missiles rather than ballistic ones. This option, of course, is in itself very interesting, but it is unlikely to be put into practice: Russia's strategic submarines are much more important than platforms for launching cruise missiles. The carrier of the latter will be the commissioned multi-purpose project 885 submarine, as well as the new Russian fifth-generation submarine, known as the “Husky." We’ll talk about her sometime later.