Submarines: August 29, 2002


: Russia built six of the huge Typhoon-class submarines between 1981 and 1989. Of these, two (TK17 and TK20 Severstal) remain in service with their SSN-20 Sturgeon ballistic missiles, three (TK202, TK12, and TK13) are decommissioned and scheduled for the scrap heap, and the sixth (TK208, the first one launched) has been in the shipyard for conversion to a new missile type since 1992. This boat, TK208 Dmitriy Donskoy, has now been refitted to carry the new Bulava missile, a sea-based copy of the SS-27 Topol-M. TK208 was originally intended to carry the SSN-28 Bark (Russian designation: RSM-52V) and had been undergoing conversion to fire that type when this missile was cancelled after annoying test failures. The original plan was to convert all six Typhoons to carry the SSN-28, but this plan was overtaken by events and halted by budget problems. The TK208 will be used to test the new Bulava missile and make sure that it works. If so, and if money can be found, the other two Typhoons still in service will be refitted to use it as well. The Russians had begun building the first of a new class of missile subs, the Borey-class boat Yuri Dolgoruky, and intended this class to carry the SSN-28. The Dulgoruky has never been completed, due to budget problems and the lack of a working missile. It is expected that work on this boat may resume if the Bulava actually works, and it could enter service by the end of the decade.--Stephen V Cole


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