Russian submarine K-561 Kazan strikes in Barents with Kalibr

On Thursday, April 4, 2024, the Northern Fleet’s press service disclosed that Russia’s nuclear-powered submarine missile cruiser, K-561 Kazan, had successfully test-fired the Kalibr cruise missile. This test launch from the Barents Sea was aimed at a coastal target at the Chizha test site. The Russian TV channel “Zvezda” further corroborated this news, supplementing the announcement with footage of the launch. 

Russian submarine K-561 Kazan strikes in Barents with Kalibr
Photo credit: VKontakte

“Engaged in a range of designated training and combat operations, the multifaceted nuclear submarine Kazan demonstrated its potential in the Northern Fleet’s tactical application of the Kalibr cruise missile. Objectively monitored data confirmed the precision and accuracy of the missile deployment, as well as validating the design parameters of its flight trajectory,” the publication reported.

Belonging to the broader Kalibr missile family, the 3M14K Kalibr-PL is a cutting-edge, submarine-launched cruise missile engineered by Russia. Noted for its precision in striking land targets, this missile stands out due to its impressive long-range capabilities, further supplemented by its dynamic land and ship-based variants. 

Top 5 of the best and deadliest Russian cruise missiles
Kalibr cruise missile, photo credit: Vitaly Kuzmin

Two distinct stages make up the propulsion system of the 3M14K Kalibr-PL. The initial phase utilizes a solid-fuel rocket booster responsible for missile launch and velocity attainment. Once the rocket completes its cycle and disengages, the secondary turbojet engine ignites, providing continuous impetus during the missile’s cruising duration.

In terms of structure, a trio of key elements comprise the 3M14K Kalibr-PL. These include the propulsion system, an advanced guidance infrastructure, as well as the warhead. Thanks to an efficient synergy of satellite navigation, inertial navigation, and topographical contour matching, the complex guidance system ensures the missile navigates its way precisely to the prescribed target. 

Arguably, the standout feature of the 3M14K Kalibr-PL is its considerable operational range. It’s touted to have a maximum range of no less than 2,500 kilometers – which roughly equates to 1,550 miles. Such a substantial range allows submarines to initiate missile launches from a significant distance away, well out of reach of potential enemy countermeasures. 

Fitted with a high-explosive warhead, the 3M14K Kalibr-PL packs a serious punch with an estimated weight of around 450 kilograms, or roughly 990 pounds. The exact amount of explosive content in the warhead remains undisclosed – no surprise given its sensitive nature.

Allow me to introduce you to the K-561 Kazan, an undeniable gem among Russia’s Yasen-M class nuclear-powered cruise missile submarines. Named after the city of Kazan, it showcases Russian technological prowess with its remarkable degree of system automation and integration. 

At the core of this sea titan is its nuclear propulsion system – a singular OK-650KPM pressurized water reactor. This potent force produces an astounding 190 MWt, powering a steam turbine that drives a single shaft. However, it’s not left vulnerable in case of emergencies – the Kazan also houses backup diesel generators and batteries. Quite a marvel, wouldn’t you agree? 

yasen-m submarine russia
Photo credit: Naval Post

With a considerably long frame, the K-561 Kazan measures an impressive approximate length of 139 meters and sports a beam width of around 13 meters with a draft clocking in at about 10 meters. While gliding above the ocean waves, it displaces approximately 13,800 tons, a figure that increases to almost 14,700 tons when it dives beneath the surface.

What makes this submarine stand out are its cutting-edge tech features; it boasts a top marine speed of 20 knots, which accelerates to 28 knots when navigating underwater. Its capabilities don’t end there, as it can venture as deep as 600 meters below sea level, all while equipped with advanced sonar and radar systems, coupled with the latest electronic warfare systems. 

Operating this nautical marvel requires a team of around 64 devoted crew members, a mix of officers and enlisted sailors. Thanks to the high level of automation onboard, this crew size is smaller than usual for a craft of its stature. The Kazan’s nuclear-powered propulsion allows it an essentially unlimited operational range, restricted only by food supplies and maintenance necessities. Impressively, this sophisticated sea vessel can stay submerged for a maximum of up to 100 days. 

Top 5 best submarines in the world - Yasen class, Russia
Photo credit: Wikipedia

The K-561 Kazan comes packed with a diverse and powerful arsenal. Housing 8 vertical launch system [VLS] silos, it can handle a variety of missile types. An additional 10 torpedo tubes enhance its competitive edge. Weapons in Kazan’s array include the P-800 Oniks and Kalibr cruise missiles, paired with the dramatically fast 3M22 Zircon hypersonic cruise missile. Furthermore, a prepossessing selection of torpedoes, such as the Type 53 torpedo and the RPK-2 Viyuga anti-submarine missile, challenge any threat.

Experts from the West, particularly from the US, hold the Yasen-M class submarines in high regard. According to Dr. Andrew Krepinevich from the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, “The Yasen-M class submarine is a testament to a major advancement in Russian undersea prowess. Its avant-garde stealth mechanisms combined with an awe-inspiring collection of weapons render it a tough contender.” 

Thought leaders like Admiral James Stavridis, the former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, and Admiral Gary Roughead, the previous Chief of Naval Operations, concur. To Stavridis, the Yasen-M stands as an unequivocal sign of Russia’s determination to reinforce its influence across the seas of the globe. The design and capabilities of the submarine depict a complexity worth noting. 

Photo credit: TASS

Roughead presented an equally thoughtful perspective: “The Yasen-M symbolizes Russia’s re-emergence on the global maritime stage. Its ability to confront and surpass challenges makes it a formidable contender.” Dr. John Pike, director of, concurred stating that the Yasen-M class, with its cutting-edge sonar and missile systems, can significantly disrupt the US Navy’s stronghold in submarine warfare.


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