Russian submarine-launched Kalibr cruise missile hits target 1,000 km amid tensions with US, Japan

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Russia’s newest diesel-electric submarine Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky launched a Kalibr cruise missile from the Sea of ​​Japan, hitting a coastal target about 1,000 km away.

“The Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky launched a cruise missile from the Kalibr complex at a target on the ground from a position submerged in the Sea of ​​Japan. At the estimated time, the missile hit the coastal target position on the Surkum tactical field. [in the Khabarovsk region]. The firing range exceeded 1,000 kilometers, ”the Russian Navy‘s Pacific Fleet said in a statement.

Japan continues to assert its territorial rights over the Kuril Islands in the neighboring Sea of ​​Okhotsk. Japan calls the islands the Northern Territories. Soviet troops seized them in Japan at the end of World War II.

The dispute prevented Russia and Japan from signing a peace treaty formally ending the war.

A Kalibr missile launched from a Kilo-class submarine in the Sea of ​​Japan. (photo by Russian Defense Ministry)

Unlike the United States Navy, which has relied on nuclear power, Russia maintains fleets of diesel and nuclear submarines. While Russia maintains nuclear submarines for distant ocean patrols and its fleet of diesel submarines operates in Europe and the Middle East.

Silent killers

The submarines of Project 636.3 (NATO name: Improved Kilo-II) belong to the third generation of large diesel-electric submarines and are among the quietest submarine cruisers in the world, according to TASS .

The first two submarines of Project 636.3 – the Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky and the Volkhov – were dropped off at the Admiralty Shipyard on July 28, 2017. The Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky was launched on March 28, 2019. It entered service with the Russian Navy on November 25, 2019, after passing the tests.

The mainstay of the Russian Navy’s conventionally powered fleet are Project 877-class submarines, known as the Kilo-class. Nicknamed the “Black Hole” submarine by the US Navy, the Kilos are deadly silent. The class has been built more or less continuously for 30 years.

The ships are powered by two diesel generators and an electric motor, giving them enough power to make ten knots on the surface and seventeen knots underwater. They are not fast submarines.

They have a range of 6,000 to 7,500 nautical miles, which means that from the headquarters of the Russian Northern Fleet, they can patrol 1,000 nautical miles and then go to Cuba.

Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky diesel-electric attack submarine
Russian Navy Project 636.3 diesel-electric attack submarine Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. (via Twitter)

Kilo class submarines are not deep divers. According to Combat Fleets of the World, the Kilo class normally dives to just 787 feet, with a maximum dive depth of 984 feet. Submarines do particularly well in shallow water, where they operate closer to the seabed.

Kilos’ hull is said to be shaped like a water drop, which would help reduce water resistance. The propulsion unit is insulated on a rubber base so that it does not touch the hull, preventing vibrations from turning into noises that can be heard outside the boat.

The vessel has a rubbery anechoic coating to dampen the noise emanating from the submarine. The air regeneration system can keep the crew supplied with oxygen for up to 260 hours, giving the ship nearly two weeks of underwater endurance.

Russian nuclear submarines

The development of nuclear submarines in Russia dates back to its Soviet heritage. The first known nuclear submarines to enter service were called the November class, and one of its ships would have become the first Soviet submarine to reach the North Pole in July 1962.

The Russian Navy has enhanced submarines with advanced technology, weapons and ammunition to accommodate an advanced nuclear fleet over the years.

Russia subclass Borei
Borei-class SSBN, K-550 Alexander Nevsky. (Wikimedia Commons)

The Russian Defense Ministry is paying close attention to the naval fleet as the geopolitical war slowly moves out to sea. Two new series of nuclear submarines are expected to replace the Soviet-era Delta submarines.

One of them is the Borei class, which is a series of nuclear missile submarines equipped with new sonar and control systems. Considered one of the most advanced nuclear submarines, the first Borei-class ship called Knyaz Vladimir entered service in 2012.

The second is the Yasen class (called Severodvinsk class by NATO), the latest addition to Russia’s nuclear fleet, which is based on a cruise missile system. Armed with anti-ship cruise missiles and ground attack, the Yasen and Yasen-M can carry cruise missiles like the Kalibr-PL and Onniks as strike weapons.


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