Russia Just Tested a New Nuclear Submarine. By Firing a Hypersonic Missile?

Knyaz Oleg submarine could be available to the Russian Navy later this year.
Ameya Paleja
Knyaz Vladimir, another Russian borei-class nuclear submarine.HoteitH/Wikimedia Commons

Russia has successfully tested its new class of nuclear-powered submarine, Knyaz Oleg, by firing an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) from an underwater position, Russian news agency Tass reported. The Russian Ministry of Defense has also released a video supporting this claim. 

Earlier in June, CEO of the Sevmash Shipyard, tasked with building the Knyaz (Prince) Oleg had confirmed to Tass that the submarine would be tested in the second half of the year and then handed over to the Navy before the year-end.

Designed by Rubin Central Design Bureau, Knyaz Oleg is a Borei-class submarine powered by a nuclear reactor and a steam turbine that can propel it to a top speed of 25 knots ( 29 mph/46 kph). Laid down in July of 2014, this 557 feet (170 m) long submarine can accommodate a 130 member crew. Designed to replace the Soviet-era submarines, the Borei-class is smaller in size but boasts of improved communication and detection systems, maneuverability, and acoustic signature. Earlier reported to carry 20 Bulava submarine-launched ballistic missiles, Borei class now carries 16 of them, along with six 21-inch (533 mm) torpedos.

The recent launch of the Bulava intercontinental ballistic missile occurred from an underwater position in the White Sea, close to the Arctic Circle. Its intended target was in the Kura firing range in Kamchatka in the Russian Far East, over 3700 miles (6000 km) away from the capital city of Moscow. The Russian Defense Ministry confirmed that the missile warhead "successfully reached the designated area at its estimated time", Tass reported. 

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Being in active service since 2018, the three-stage missile, powered by solid and liquid propellants is expected to be an important component of the Russian nuclear arsenal in the near future. Earlier this month, Russia also reported having fired its hypersonic missiles from another nuclear-powered submarine, posing serious questions of the U.S. military. 

It remains to be seen how the U.S. plans to respond to this. 

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