Measure of power: why does Russia need the world's longest submarine
The nuclear submarine Belgorod is one of the most ambitious shipbuilding projects in the country
Dmitry Boltenkov, Alexey Ramm
13 February 2021
Special-purpose submarine "Belgorod" is preparing to go to sea for the first time. Sources in the military department told Izvestia that the world's longest submarine has a high degree of factory readiness. Preliminary tests of units and mechanisms have shown their serviceability and technical reliability. The nuclear-powered submarine is over 180 meters long. This is 11 meters longer than that of the largest nuclear submarine Typhoon, and 12 meters longer than that of the American Ohio-class submarine. The domestic submarine is one of the most ambitious projects in Russian shipbuilding. But how much does the Navy need it today? After all, the Navy, albeit with a delay, began to receive the Yasen multipurpose nuclear submarines and the Borey strategic missile carriers. The military historian Dmitry Boltenkov dealt with the issue especially for Izvestia.
The history of the giant
The nuclear-powered ship "Belgorod" was created to combat enemy surface groupings. It was supposed to carry 20 Granit cruise missiles on board. It was planned that the submarine will become the 14th in the family of boats of Project 949 and 949A.
Although the nuclear submarine was officially laid down after the collapse of the Soviet Union, on July 24, 1992, in fact, its construction began earlier. That is why Belgorod can be considered the last submarine of the departed superpower. In 1997, the construction of the submarine and two more of its "sisterships" was stopped due to the difficult economic situation. Subsequently, the metal structures of the two ships laid down after the "Belgorod" went to the creation of submarine missile cruisers of the "Borey" type.
After the tragedy with the nuclear submarine "Kursk" in August 2000, the question of completing the "Belgorod" to replace the deceased submarine was considered for some time. However, in the end, they decided to build a nuclear-powered ship for other purposes. The process of developing new types of weapons is slow. The systems that Vladimir Putin told the Federal Assembly about their appearance in 2018 in his message to the Federal Assembly have been created for a long time. And one can understand why in the early 2000s it was decided to use the Belgorod as a carrier of a variety of promising underwater systems, including combat ones.
On December 20, 2012, the construction of the nuclear submarine resumed, but already according to the new project 09852. On April 23, 2019, the submarine was taken out of the boathouse for completion afloat and conducting various tests. The transfer of the submarine to the Russian Navy is scheduled for 2021.
During the work, the boat underwent major changes. In particular, its hull was increased by 30 m due to the insertion of new compartments. Thus, "Belgorod" became the longest submarine in the world. New compartments were needed to accommodate a variety of underwater vehicles, as well as to release them into the marine environment and receive them back.
The nuclear submarine Belgorod will become the first regular carrier of a new strategic deterrent weapon - the Poseidon super torpedo. In fact, it is a Doomsday weapon. With its help, a retaliatory nuclear strike can be delivered on the territory of a potential adversary if he attacks first.
The highest population density and the largest cities and industrial centers are located near the coastline. A nuclear explosion of enormous power near the enemy's territory, in addition to the damaging factors themselves, will also cause a tsunami.
It should be noted that the Poseidon system is already being tested on the Sarov submarine, but it can also be used autonomously. The construction of the Belgorod submarine is proceeding at a faster pace, especially against the background of delays in the schedules of other nuclear submarines, in particular, the attack submarine Kazan.
And other robots
In addition to Poseidon, Russia has created or is creating many more underwater robotic systems, in particular the autonomous unmanned vehicle Harpsichord-2R-PM. It is capable of conducting research and prospecting work at a depth of up to 6 thousand meters. For example, it can find sensors of underwater observation systems located at the bottom of the sea. Curiously, in the publicly available images of Belgorod there is always a hangar for this product.
For testing anti-submarine operations and, most importantly, for camouflaging and protecting submarines in Russia, the "Surrogate" apparatus was created. It is a submarine simulator with reproduction of its acoustic and magnetic fields. Such a technique will divert the enemy's attention to false targets during the conduct of hostilities. It can be assumed that the Belgorod will also carry it on board.
"Harmony" and "Losharik"
The development of the Harmony underwater observation system is underway in Russia. This is a complex of quickly deployed target detection sensors on the seabed. In peacetime, the system will be able to monitor areas of mining, primarily oil and gas. In particular, "Harmony" will be able to find in time foreign objects that can damage the production facilities.
In wartime, "Harmony" will be deployed to create the so-called defensive bastions. These are sea areas completely isolated for the enemy, where strategic submarine cruisers and boats with Poseidon drones on board will be on duty.
In addition, Belgorod is the carrier of the so-called nuclear deep-water stations, such as AS-31 Losharik. These miniature boats are designed for a wide range of underwater technical operations at great depths (according to some data, up to 6 thousand meters). In particular, for searching for lost military property, detecting or installing various underwater sensors, connecting or destroying communication cables.
The above systems are far from the only ones that are created in the interests of the Russian Navy. They are simply the most famous. On the development and adoption of attack submarines equipped with missiles and torpedoes, information has not yet appeared. However, this does not mean that they are not being developed.
The cruiser "Belgorod" has a wide range of underwater vehicles and robots as a carrier. The use of a variety of systems in the course of combat operations will ensure control over vast sea areas and will minimize the loss of warships and submarines. It will also give the possibility of guaranteed destruction of both the enemy's combat assets and his territory. Therefore, we can safely say that the commissioning of "Belgorod" as a whole brings the concept of "naval war" to a new level.