Russia's Borei-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine being constructed by Sevmash

by E K Badwar

A new class of Russian submarines has got the West in jitters. On May 7 last, the Russian Navy commissioned the Kazan, the first vessel of the Yasen-M/Project 885-M class of SSGNs.

The Kazan is the culmination of more than a decade of effort and is an improved version of it's predecessor, the Yasen class Severodvinsk. These new subs have got Western naval strategists worried.


Russia's submarine prowess is not a secret. They have to their credit the largest submarines ever built, the Typhoons. During the heydays of the Soviet empire, their submarine force totalled almost 300 boats of all types. But their capabilities took a steep dive after the dissolution of the USSR.


Under President Putin's stewardship Russia has undergone a vigorous build-up not seen since Soviet times. Putin has made no secret of his desire to elevate Russia to it's former military status. Under his watch new boats like the Borei class SSBNs have entered service.


"On par with ours" says a top US commander on the Kazan. Another warns that the US East Coast is no longer a "safe haven". It is clear that new Russian submarines, have narrowed, if not closed the gap, technology-wise with advanced types of Western navies in terms of quietness and firepower.


Among the weapons the Kazan fields is the 1500 mile range Kalibr missile. First seen in action in Syria it gives the Russian Navy the ability to strike targets deep inland here are also reports that the Kazan and it's sister ships will be armed with the Zircon hypersonic missile. Five more Yasen-Ms will join the fleet by the end of this decade if there are no hiccups in the program. This will give a tremendous boost to the underwater capabilities of Russia. As one observer notes, the wheels of Russia' s military modernization may be turning slowly, but they are turning fair and sure.

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