Three of six Typhoons are likely to remain in service to function as test platforms, Severodvinsk proceeds with decommissioning.
Three of six Russian Typhoon-class submarines will apparently remain in active operation to test the new Bark-class strategic missiles. This contradicts both the plans announced by the American Co-operative Threat Reduction, or CTR, program and reports that Bark-class missiles will be discarded due to design failures.
Typhoons to serve as test platforms
Rear-Admiral Vladimir Makeev, the head of the Northern Fleet’s rocket test site at Nenoksa, Arkhangelsk County, said to Interfax that the media reports on Typhoons being taken out of operation ahead of schedule are groundless. According to Makeev, the submarines of this class will be used to test the new Bark-class strategic missiles. These missiles are said to be a maritime alternative to Topol-M land-based missiles successfully tested by the Russian military in the end of 1999. Makeev also said that Bark-class missiles are to be installed at the forth generation strategic submarines of the Borey-class. The first submarine of this class is currently under construction at Severodvinsk Sevmash shipyard scheduled for launch in 2005. Other sources state the commissioning year to be 2007-2010, depending on availability of funds.
Makeev’s statement contradicts reports by the Russian media back in 1998. The reports suggested that the first Borey-class submarine, Yury Dolgoruky, then 10 per cent complete, was to be redesigned due to the fact that Bark-class missiles failed to pass tests and their development was abandoned. The new design draft was to arrive in the first part of 1999. The report suggested further that a new missile would be designed under auspices of the same bureau that created Topol-M.
One Typhoon still awaits decommissioning
The CTR officials said earlier that their objective was to decommission five out of six available Russian Typhoon-class submarines. Following this statement, the second submarine within the Typhoon class – TK-202 – arrived in Severodvinsk the first week of July 1999 to get scrapped at Sevmash yard. Reports from Severodvinsk suggest that the decommissioning work is proceeding as planned so far.
In the meantime, the oldest Typhoon-class submarine – TK-208 – put in operation in 1981 is likely to be brought back into active service in early 2001. The submarine has been under repair at Sevmash shipyard for nine years and it seems it has a chance to leave the dock now.
The Russian officials have been reluctant to confirm publicly the fact that Typhoons will be scrapped. In 1996, the Russian navy’s official magazine Morskoy Sbornik reported, however, that two Typhoons were put into reserve. With the third submarine of this class currently undergoing decommissioning, it can be assumed that the Bark-class – or whatever new class missiles designed for the forth generation submarines – will be tested on the three remaining Typhoons, whose service life will be extended until 2007-2010.