July 26, 2016

Arguably Less Disturbing Than The Previous Post

It looks like the Russians are commissioning not one, but two classes of big submarines to carry their new heavyweight torpedoes, which we've blogged about before. These torpedoes, which are variously referred to as KANYON or Status-6, are believed to have a warhead with a yield somewhere between 50 and 150 megatons. This sounds like a plot point from a summer blockbuster or comic book, but as a practical matter, these would be fiendishly hard to stop and they would utterly destroy (and render uninhabitable for years) the ports upon which we rely for our Navy and trade.

One of these submarines, a brand new ship believed to be named KHABAROVSK appears to be a dedicated carrier for six or so of these port busters and basically would serve much the same function as a ballistic missile sub, doing deterrence patrols. The other one is something of an oddball....

Click here for SUPAH-SIZE

BELGOROD is a Russian cruise missile submarine being refitted as a sort of research vessel/spy sub/ underwater support ship. Yet this vessel is also reported to have six of these weapons fitted. While this contradictory set of requirements is perplexing, Covert -Shores is a fairly well regarded site and was way ahead of the curve on their analysis of the North Korean Ballistic Missile sub. Why an underwater reconnaissance vessel/work boat is carrying strategic weapons is unknown, but the vessel seems to be designed to support nuclear powered underwater sensor arrays in the arctic and conduct reconnaissance. This may simply be a second large hull that can get the weapons out to sea so they can start "deterring". After all,  a navy needs at least three ships to keep one on patrol at all times. Alternatively, the extensive spy sub equipment might have applications for sneaking these weapons into U.S. ports.

Obviously our European allies would be vulnerable to this weapon too but I can't see the Russians setting off something that dirty in Europe. Japan might be a target as the jet stream and currents would carry the contamination East, but Japan is not a threat to Russia, so this is probably only aimed at the U.S.

Of course, there is actually a bigger story here than just operationalizing some doomsday torpedoes, and that is the ongoing construction of a series of nuclear powered sensor arrays in the Arctic. This is after all purported to be the primary function of this new submarine. Such a sensor array is reminiscent of the old SOSUS but it has the potential to be far more capable thanks to the raw power available from the underwater nuclear reactors associated with it. When completed, this sensor net has the potential to very much turn the Arctic into a Russian lake in which US or Canadian subs will exist only at Russian indulgence.

In a related story (related in that it involves Russians, submarines and breathless, apocalyptic clickbaitery) here is an AEI article that has been making the rounds in the consevosphere. It attaches some considerable significance to the names of Russian Strategic submarines. Note though, that the author's premise does not hold up with regard to the name KHABAROVSK .

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 01:13 PM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
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1 nuclear powered underwater sensor arrays in the arctic

If the people who gave us the Chernobyl disaster start installing nuclear power plants pell-mell in the Arctic, there might be some detrimental impact to the fragile Arctic environment. I'm sure Greenpeace will condemn Russia for this Real Soon Now.

This might be wishful thinking, but some of the Belgorod's gizmos look like vapourware to me.  For example, the Paltus midget sub appears to be a rough equivalent of the US Navy's NR-1; does Russia have the technical capability to build it? (Note that the US Navy only managed to commission one NR-1, and they scrapped it in 2008 with no replacement.)  OTOH, the basic premise of the Kanyon nuclear-tipped torpedoes seems disturbingly plausible to me.

Posted by: Peter the Not-so-Great at Tue Jul 26 23:08:47 2016 (iohoY)

2  They've had nuclear powered midget subs in service for decades. The Paltus, is I believe, the Russians second generation nuclear powered midget sub. The newest is a super deep diving bathyscaph type thing called the Losharik

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at Mon Sep 25 18:43:11 2017 (KicmI)

3 The Kremlinology is strong with that one. But he forgot to account for the fact that the Losharik the cartoon character only had 3 legs (the front legs walked like a normal horse and the rear one jumped like a horse with one of hind legs amputated).

Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at Tue Sep 26 17:46:18 2017 (LZ7Bg)

4 So he's a Pierson's Puppeteer!? Woot!

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at Tue Sep 26 18:00:56 2017 (KicmI)

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