Uriy Dolgoruky, a two billion American dollars fourth generation Borey-class strategic submarine, will undergo design changes. Until these changes are ready on paper, all construction work on the submarine is suspended, reports the Russian national daily Izvestiya.
The planned Borey-class submarines should have been armed with Bark-class strategic missiles. The maker of Bark-class missiles was the Makeev Design Bureau, which designed almost all Soviet/Russian sea-based ballistic missiles. The Bureau has been working on this missile since 1982, wrote Izvestiya. The Bark-class missiles are a dramatically modified version of the SS-N-20 currently installed on Typhoon-class strategic submarines. SS-N-20 missiles, soon celebrating their 20-year anniversary, are getting old and outdated. However, they still have 7-10 years of service life left. Thereafter, a replacement would have to be found. But to render the situation more complicated, this year the navy decided to halt the development of the Bark.
The reasons for the decision are unclear. However, one may think that it was due to three unsuccessful missile tests. The last attempt to launch this missile from Nenoksa launch field in Arkhangel'sk county in November 1997 was a total fiasco. The missile exploded in mid-air, providing for a great number of broken windows in neighboring Severodvinsk.
The Bark-class missiles, according to Izvestiya, should have been installed not only on Typhoons, but also on Delta-III/IV-class submarines currently armed with SS-N-18 and SS-N-23. The production of both these missile types was stopped at Krasnoyarsk Machine Building plant, as a consequence of the Bark-class missiles plan.
Facing a "nuclear free seas" situation in the next century, the Russian Navy has transferred the development order for a new missile to the Moscow Institute of Termoequipment. This institute developed the land-based strategic Topol-class missiles. The new Navy missile will, reportedly, bear the principles implemented in the Topol-class.
To develop a completely new missile may take around ten years. Under this time horizon, the new missile would become operational by 2007-2010. In the meantime, the redesign of the Uriy Dolgoruky will be ready in the first part of 1999.
The construction of the Uriy Dolgoruky began in Severodvinsk on October 25, 1996. When funding was zeroed out in 1997, the commissioning schedule was moved back to 2002 or 2003, from an initial 2001. Today, the submarine faces a new situation: Completion is scheduled for somewhere beyond the year 2010, after taking into account lack of funding in addition to the lacking missiles.