Only 8 Russian strategic submarines are combat-ready - analyst
MOSCOW, June 1 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's navy has 12 nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines in service, but only eight of them are combat-capable, a Russian military analyst said on Monday.
"Out of 12 vessels, Northern Fleet's Typhoon class Dmitry Donskoi submarine has been overhauled to test new Bulava sea-based ballistic missiles, six Delta-IV class units are being refitted with modernized version of the R-29RM (SS-N-23) missile, known as Sineva, and five Delta-III class submarines are deployed with the Pacific Fleet" said Mikhail Barabanov, editor-in-chief of the Moscow Defense Brief magazine.
"Submarines of the Delta-III class are being gradually decommissioned. About eight [strategic] submarines in total are considered combat-ready," the analyst said.
He added that two Typhoon class submarines, the Arkhangelsk and the Severstal, remain in reserve at a naval base in Severodvinsk in north Russia, but they are not fitted with missiles and need further repairs.
Typhoon class subs will be replaced by new-generation Borey class strategic submarines, which will be equipped with Bulava sea-based ballistic missiles. Russia started mooring trials of the first Borey class vessel, the Yury Dolgoruky, in March.
The vessel is 170 meters (580 feet) long, has a hull diameter of 13 meters (42 feet), a crew of 107, including 55 officers, maximum depth of 450 meters (about 1,500 feet) and a submerged speed of about 29 knots. It can carry up to 16 ballistic missiles and torpedoes.
Two other Borey class nuclear submarines, the Alexander Nevsky and the Vladimir Monomakh, are currently under construction at the Sevmash shipyard and are expected to be completed in 2009 and 2011. Russia is planning to build a total of eight submarines of this class by 2015.
In addition, the Russian Navy has about 30 nuclear-powered attack subs equipped with either SS-N-19 Shipwreck long-range anti-ship cruise missiles or torpedo tubes, but only 17 of them are operational, the analyst said.
Diesel-electric submarines are represented by about 20 Kilo class vessels. They will be gradually replaced by Project 667 Lada class submarines. The sub features a new anti-sonar coating for its hull, an extended cruising range, and advanced anti-ship and anti-submarine weaponry, including Club-S cruise missile systems.
According to Barabanov, the Russian Navy has at least seven 'special purpose' submarines designed for testing of new technologies and weaponry. Some open sources earlier reported the existence of Project 20120 B-90 Sarov diesel-electric submarine, which has a nuclear reactor as a supplementary power generator.
The vessel was commissioned in 2007 and according to some reports may be used by Russia's Northern Fleet as a spy vessel in northern waters.