Global Insights: Russia Revitalizes Its Submarine Deterrent

Global Insights: Russia Revitalizes Its Submarine Deterrent

Russia’s next-generation nuclear-powered ballistic-missile submarine (SSBN), equipped with the new Bulava submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), officially entered service with the Russian navy’s Northern Fleet on Jan. 10.

Christened the Yuri Dolgoruky, this first Borey-class sub was under construction at the Sevmash shipbuilding company from 1996 to 2008. The ship had originally been intended to carry the much larger Bark SLBM. When the Bark’s development problems led the Russian governmentto abandon it in favor of the smaller Bulava, Russian shipbuilders had to redesign the entire Borey class to accommodate the Bulava -- before the missile had even moved beyond the drawing board.

The Russian military intends the Borey-Bulava combination to serve as the sea-based foundation of its nuclear triad through at least the 2040s. The cost of researching, designing and developing this new SSBN-SLBM combination represents perhaps the most expensive item in recent Russian defense budgets. Estimates are that the Borey-Bulava combination at one point consumed more than one-third of Russia’s defense budget. The Russian government has allocated $132 billion to construct many new submarines and other warships by 2020.

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