Tag Archives: Delta III

Pacific Fleet Patrols

Pobedonosets Concludes Patrol (photo: Mil.ru)

Pobedonosets Concludes Patrol (photo: Mil.ru)

On 29 December 2014, Pacific Fleet Delta III-class SSBN Svyatoy Georgiy Pobedonosets returned home from a combat patrol, according to Mil.ru.  

The MOD site reported that the submarine arrived in Vilyuchinsk after completing missions at sea.  The chief of staff of Pacific Fleet submarine forces greeted its commander and crew with a traditional roast pig.  Mil.ru said Pobedonosets will be ready to fulfill new tasks after replenishing its stores.

34-year-old Pobedonosets is one of only three (two operational) SSBNs in the Pacific Fleet order-of-battle.

It conducted an inter-fleet from the Northern to the Pacific Fleet in late 1983. From 1993 to 2003, it was laid up at Zvezda shipyard for extended “medium repair” due no doubt to a lack of funding at the time.

Then-president Dmitriy Medvedev visited Pobedonosets in 2008.

The submarine fired SS-N-18 SLBMs during strategic forces exercises in 2013, 2012, 2010, and 2009.  The 2013 shot occurred while the SSBN was on patrol and came from the Sea of Okhotsk, according to the VladNews agency.

The Russian Navy conducted only five SSBN patrols in 2012, according to a FOIA response obtained from U.S. Naval Intelligence by Federation of American Scientists scholar Hans Kristensen.  He concludes five were not enough for Moscow to resume continuous SSBN patrols as its Navy CINC promised  in mid-2012.  They would be 73-day patrols end-to-end.

It seems likely Pobedonosets spent 40-50 days in the Sea of Okhotsk or not far off Kamchatka in the extreme northeastern Pacific.

Podolsk Returning to Port in 2014 (photo: Eastern MD Press-Service)

Podolsk Returning to Port in 2014 (photo: Eastern MD Press-Service)

35-year-old Delta III-class SSBN Podolsk patrolled in 2011, VladNews reported. PrimaMedia indicates that Podolsk fired an SLBM, conducted other training, and possibly even an abbreviated combat patrol in mid-2014.

Russianforces.org noted it was the first launch from Podolsk in more than a decade; all other recent Pacific Fleet firings came from Pobedonosets.

32-year-old Delta III-class SSBN Ryazan inter-fleeted in 2008, launched an SLBM in 2009, but has been inactive undergoing repair since 2011.

So the fleet’s old two-submarine SSBN force performs the arduous job of maintaining some kind of Russian strategic patrol presence in the Pacific. There’s some evidence for maybe four Pacific Fleet SSBN patrols in the last four years.

Meanwhile, the Pacific Fleet awaits the inter-fleet of Borey-class SSBN hulls two and three, Aleksandr Nevskiy and Vladimir Monomakh, in the fall when, the Navy hopes, their new base facilities will be complete.  They are already officially Pacific Fleet assets but based temporarily  in Gadzhiyevo.

Two additional Boreys (for a total of four) are intended for the Pacific at some point.  But, in the meantime, the aged Pobedonosets and Podolsk will apparently conduct occasional patrols.

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Yuriy Dolgorukiy Headed for Pacific Fleet

In Vladivostok yesterday, Defense Minister Anatoliy Serdyukov made the surprising announcement that the first Borey-class SSBN, Yuriy Dolgorukiy, will deploy to Russia’s Pacific Fleet, once it becomes operational with its complement of Bulava SLBMs. 

To be precise, Serdyukov said:

“The first Borey will enter the TOF [Pacific Ocean Fleet].  This is how it is in our plans.  . . . new barracks are already built for crews of new submarines.  Since 2007, we’ve been taking down old barracks and building new ones, renovating the social infrastructure 100 percent.”

Serdyukov made the comments while inspecting new construction in Vilyuchinsk for Pacific Fleet contractees.

Basing the first Borey away from where it was built, and away from Russia’s Northern Fleet, is a sharp break from the Soviet / Russian Navy tradition of keeping the first units of new classes — especially SSBNs — close to their point of origin at Sevmash.  A Pacific Fleet deployment could complicate service and support not only for Yuriy Dolgorukiy, but for its new missile system as well, and make this more costly too. 

The Defense Ministry seems to have decided it needs to retain a two-fleet naval strategic nuclear deterrent.  And putting the first Borey there seems essential given that the Pacific Fleet has only a handful of 30-year-old Delta III-class SSBNs at this point.  This decision may also reflect what’s been presented several times as an increased Russian military focus on the Asia-Pacific region.

Strategic Forces Training

Russia fired two SLBMs and an ICBM today.  Pacific Fleet Delta III SSBN Saint Georgiy Pobedonosets launched an SS-N-18 (RSM-50) SLBM from the Sea of Okhotsk.  Northern Fleet Delta IV SSBN Bryansk fired a Sineva (RSM-54) SLBM from the Barents Sea. 

And a crew from the Vladimir Missile Army’s Bologoye Division launched an SS-25 (RS-12M/Topol) ICBM from Plesetsk.

An RVSN spokesman said this launch allows Russia to extend the service life of this grouping of SS-25s to 23 years or until about 2015, and to conduct a planned replacement of these missiles without overburdening the military’s budget.

Yesterday Tu-95MS and Tu-22M3 bombers launched weapons on ranges in Irkutsk and Komi as part of an Air Forces exercise.

According to some reports, the Navy may test fire the Bulava SLBM for the second time in 2010 tomorrow.

Litovkin on What the GPV Will Buy

Viktor Litovkin (photo: RIA Novosti)

Returning to procurement and the GPV . . . in this week’s Delovoy vtornik, NVO’s Viktor Litovkin also asks what will 19 trillion rubles be spent on. 

He says the answer isn’t simple.  During the last 20 years of ‘starvation rations,’ the armed forces got handfuls of essential combat equipment, and, meanwhile, a dangerous imbalance between strike and combat support systems was created.  And this was obvious against Georgia in 2008. 

Litovkin says this imbalance has to be corrected, meanwhile priorities like strategic nuclear forces can’t be forgotten – not just the offensive triad, but also the missile attack early warning system (SPRN), missile defense (PRO), and aerospace defense (VKO). 

Like Viktor Yesin of late, Litovkin asks how Russia will replace its aging strategic offensive arms to stay up to the limits of the Prague / New START agreement.  Half the Russian force is SS-18, SS-19, and SS-25 ICBMs which will be retired in 7-10 years.  Moscow needs to build 400 strategic systems to replace them.  He doesn’t even mention Delta III and IV SSBNs and their aging SLBMS.  And Russia has only the SS-27, RS-24 Yars, Sineva, and Bulava to replace them. 

Litovkin expects a very large amount of money to be spent not just on replacing strategic systems, but also reequipping the enterprises that produce them. 

He turns to his second priority – also demonstrated by the Georgian war – precision-guided weapons, which in turn depend on reconnaissance-information support and equipment in space, on long-range surveillance aircraft [AWACS], and UAVs. 

Priority three – automated command and control systems (ASU).  He cites Popovkin on linking all service C2 systems into one system over 2-3 years. 

Litovkin says you can’t forget about the Navy, but he mentions just the Borey-class SSBNs, and the need for a wide range of surface ships.  And he makes the point [made by many] that Mistral is all well and good, but it’ll have to have multipurpose combatants operating in its battle group.  They need to be built, and they won’t cost a small amount of money. 

One can’t forget aviation either.  Litovkin cites a $100 million per copy cost for 60 fifth generation fighters [that’s a significant 180-billion-ruble bite out of the GPV].  He notes Vega is working on an updated Russian AWACS (A-100).  And, like Korotchenko, he mentions transport aircraft, but also combat and support helicopters. 

And so, says Litovkin, the question arises – isn’t the country putting out a lot of money to rearm its army? 

Viktor Litovkin (photo: Ekho Moskvy)

Being bold, he says, not really.  He actually uses that accursed 22 trillion figure, which is procurement for all power ministries.  If he used 19 trillion, it would be 1.9 trillion or $63 billion per year for Russia against $636 billion for the U.S., $78 billion for China, $58 billion for the U.K., and $51 billion for Japan.  But he doesn’t say this is annual procurement, the GPV, against the total annual defense budget for these other countries.  A bit of comparing one piece of pie to a whole pie.  Nevertheless, he concludes this makes Russia far from champion when it comes to military expenditures. 

Litovkin’s last word is Russia will remain one of the G8 with a powerful, combat capable, and effective army, but without it, only a raw materials appendage of either the West or East. 

But one wonders, hasn’t Russia long been in the G8 without that kind of armed forces?  Doesn’t breaking away from the raw materials supplier role have more to do with developing an open, attractive, innovative, value-added, and competitive economy (and a political system and society to match) than with military power?