On November 29, 2023, Russia unveiled its latest nuclear submarine, the K-564 Arkhangelsk, in an official launching ceremony held in Severodvinsk. This state-of-the-art vessel is part of Project 885M Yasen-M, a new wave of German naval innovation.
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Post its successful launch, the Russian Fleet Headquarters has declared a series of rigorous tests, the final one being a state-level examination. If the K-564 Arkhangelsk passes these trials, it will join the elite Northern Fleet of the Russian Navy. However, this future hinges on their successful completion.
The K-564 Arkhangelsk’s journey to completion has been a long one. Its foundation stone was laid on March 19, 2015, marking the beginning of an eight-year construction period till the launch in November 2023. A key reason behind this extended timeline was frequent funding delays that beleaguered its development.
Unfortunately, the K-564 Arkhangelsk wasn’t the sole vessel to weather such difficulties. The leading submarine of the class, K-560 Severodvinsk, also experienced similar financial constraints from the onset. As a direct result of inadequate funding, this submarine’s construction stretched over 20 years, having been laid down in 1993, a stark contrast to the K-564 Arkhangelsk’s timeline.
Commanding the submarine fleet will be none other than Captain Alexander Gladkov. On the 29th of November, in a ceremonial event, he received possession of the submarine straight from the construction yard and dutifully followed the naval tradition by cracking a champagne bottle against its formidable hull. In Russia, this ceremonial launch of submarines typically marks the year’s end.
As reported by Russian media, “State tests are now ready to commence.” These tests promise an exciting exploration of the submarine’s navigation abilities, diving prowess, and communication infrastructures. They will also scrutinize the launch tubes designed for torpedoes and cruise missiles that grace the deck of this incredibly powerful underwater vessel.
We find validating words about these weapons systems from Russian Navy Commander Admiral Nikolai Evmenov, who was present at the celebration of the launch. He stated, “The weapons systems these crafts possess have distinct superior qualities compared to their foreign counterparts.”, making the Russian fleet’s prowess all the more compelling.
Close to Norway
The ability of the Yasen-M class submarines to navigate without detection could potentially pose a significant threat to naval bases, crucial land infrastructure, and military convoys in times of escalating crisis.
Stationed at the Nerpitcha piers of the Western Litsa submarine base, merely 60 kilometers off the NATO nation Norway’s border, is the K-564 Arkhangelsk. Joining it are two other members of the Yasen-class vessel family – the Severodvinsk and the Kazan.
Just last week, the update reports Russia’s intention to onboard another three Yasen-M class submarines to their production plans. Thus the total fleet size ascends to a formidable count of 12 vessels. This count will be evenly distributed with six each sailing with the Northern Fleet and the Pacific Fleet respectively.
The State Duma, functioning as the lower house of the Russian parliament, accorded approval to the 2024 budget with a conspicuous bias towards the military economy last Friday.
Arming the new Yasen-M class submarines with hypersonic Zircon cruise missiles is a crucial move for Russia in its ongoing naval competition with NATO. While these submarines can carry Kalibr cruise missiles, the Zircon’s superior capabilities make it more significant.
Alexei Rakhmanov, the Chief of the United Shipbuilding Corporation, confirmed in a conversation with RIA Novosti, a state-controlled news agency, in August that the Yasen-M class submarines would be equipped with the Zircon missiles. “We have already initiated work in this area,” stated Rakhmanov.
The first underwater test of Zircon was carried out by the Yasen-class submarine Severodvinsk in October 2021. The submarine was submerged at a 40-meter depth before launching the missile.
The Zircon, a nimble-wing scramjet anti-ship cruise missile, is reported to have a speed capacity of up to Mach 9, which is nine times the speed of sound. It can travel up to 1,000 kilometers, meaning it can be launched from within Russia’s defense zone in the Barents Sea, reaching enemy warships virtually anywhere north of the Arctic Circle in the Norwegian Sea.
As of now, the Zircon missile has been installed on the Northern Fleet’s latest Gorshkov-class frigate. This ship often patrols the Barents Sea and North Atlantic regions off the Scandinavian Peninsula.
Russia started spending
Anticipated spending is predicted to rise to a staggering 37 trillion rubles [equivalent to around 380 billion euros]; representing an impressive growth of approximately 25% compared to figures from 2023. A significant portion of this budget, notably 10.8 trillion rubles, has been specifically allocated towards defense and security measures.
The hike from one financial year to the next clocks a substantial 68% growth. Comparatively, in 2023, the figures were already double that of the pre-full-scale invasion of Ukraine period. This sort of military expenditure is unprecedented, with Russia allocating the largest chunk of its budget towards the military since the disintegration of the Soviet Union.
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