While Russia's submarine fleet remains a formidable force in the 21st Century, the country still relies on craft built before the Iron Curtain lifted. Today, a lot of the subs are getting long in the tooth. However, the new SSBN Yury Dolgoruky will provide Mother Russia with a fresh set of nuclear fangs.
The SSBN Yury Dolgoruky was designed by the Rubin Marine Equipment Design Bureau. It is both the first new Borei Class and the first sub constructed since the fall of the Soviet Union. Construction began in earnest way back in 1996. But there were budget constraints, and multiple redesigns (due in part to the failures of new ballistic missiles being developed in tandem with the sub). So it didn't launch until 2008.
Once it was in the water, the SSBN Yury Dolgoruky easily passed its sea trials. It entered active duty last July, at 557 feet long, with a 44 foot beam and 32-foot draught. Submerged, it displaces 24,000 tons and keep its 130-member crew underwater for up to 100 days. A single ОК-650В nuclear reactor powers a pump-jet propulsion system—another first for Russian subs. This allows the sub a top speed of 29 knots while operating more quietly than conventional screw propulsion.
This $890-million sub also features a hydro-dynamically efficient hull coated with anechoic material. This reduces the sub's acoustic signature much the same way that the skin of a Stealth Fighter reduces the plane's radar signature. In the event of an emergency, the Dolgoruky incorporates a floating rescue chamber that can accommodate the entire crew.
The SSBN Yury Dolgoruky also carries enough armarment to start World War III and IV. It's outfitted with 16, 45-ton Bulava submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM)—a derivation of the Topol-M ICBM developed at the Moscow Institute of Thermal Technology. Each SLBM employs multiple warheads, and each of those can carry a 100-150kt nuclear payload. According to an RIA Novosti report, it could add up to a total payload of 600 nuclear warheads per sub.
Even if a missile defense system spots and counters these projectiles, they've still got a good chance of hitting their target. These three-stage missiles measure 40 feet in length and are tough enough to withstand a nuclear countermeasure as close as 500 meters without failing.
Other subs had better stear clear of the Dolgoruky as well, lest they meet one of a half dozen RPK-2 Viyuga missiles, firing underwater from a 533-mm torpedo tube at Mach .9. It things really get ugly, the sub can drop a a 90R nuclear depth charge.
Two additional Borei subs—SSBN Alexander Nevsky and SSBN Vladimir Monomakh—are currently under construction with another five ready by 2020. With this bristling offensive capability, the Borei class is expected to become the backbone of the Russian submarine fleet.