Belgorod: the Russian project for an “aircraft carrier” of underwater drones?

The Russian Navy lacks reliable aircraft carriers. It makes up for this serious drawback with a diverse and robust submarine force. Now the Russians have a submarine that could soon launch nuclear-tipped torpedoes while equipping the most modern missiles available for a submarine.

Nuclear K-329 Belgorod is a Oscar II class guided missile fast attack boat. The submarine was commissioned full-time with the Russian fleet at a public event at the Sevmash shipyard in Severodvinsk on July 8.

Wear nuclear fate

Russia planned the Belgorod feast on American and NATO shipping – especially aircraft carriers. The new submarine is assigned to the innocuous survey Main Directorate of Deep Sea Researchand the Russian Navy said it would conduct underwater science experiments.

Don’t let that fool you. This boat is very dangerous. The weapon that American naval strategists fear most is the draft Poseidon nuclear-powered torpedo, which functions as an underwater combat drone with seemingly unlimited range. Six Poseidons are expected to be aboard the Belgorod.

Russian television news programs, generally recognized as miserable hives of blustering propaganda, claim that Poseidon could “wipe Brittany off the map … in a radioactive tsunami. The doomsday weapon is 80 feet long and can accelerate to 108 knots, while reaching a depth of 3,200 feet. The autonomous underwater drone could create up to a two-megaton explosion.

Fortunately, the Poseidon is still a few years away from deployment. But it might indeed be capable of destroying coastal cities in Britain, the United States or other NATO member states. There is nothing in the opponents’ arsenals that could stop such a nuclear torpedo. Marine Executive the magazine said a nuclear device detonated by the torpedo would be devastating: “The real objective would be to blanket large swaths of the surrounding coast in radioactive fallout – a persistent and difficult-to-eliminate danger from underwater nuclear detonations. The submersible delivery method would bypass (US) missile defense capabilities. »

Quarterback for small subs

The Belgorod has another intriguing and disturbing feature. The submarine can act as a quarterback for a small nuclear-powered spy submarine that would allow sailors in the craft to work or even sabotage underwater internet cables, as well as other objects on the bottom marine. Other sources say the sub can be used as a “carrier” for autonomous underwater vehicles, a big deal if accurate.

However, this program could be suspended due to a past tragedy – the Russians have already tried the concept of a mini-submarine. The Losharik (A-12) was “a deep-diving manned submersible that suffered a battery explosion in 2019 that killed 14 Russian submariners”, according USNI News.

The Belgorod is the largest submarine the Russians have built in 30 years. It is 549 feet long and 49 feet wide, has two nuclear reactors, and displaces 24,000 tons. It has been undergoing sea trials since 2019.

What are we to believe?

All this news is difficult to analyze. I believe the submarine is ready to embark on patrols. The nuclear torpedo sounds optimistic, but US Navy leaders testified on Capitol Hill that it could be a reality one day. Adm. John Aquilino, Commander of Indo-Pacific Command, disclosed in Chamber testimony in May that the Belgorod would be equipped with the Poseidon. Until ready, the nuclear-armed drone serves as useful propaganda.

As for the miniature submarine destroying undersea internet cables, that seems like a stretch. It’s another shiny thing for hawks in Russia to shout about on TV news. I give the whole thing a seven out of ten because it relies on unproven technology. As we get more information on the development of the Poseidon, this rating may increase. Hopefully US Navy Intelligence is keeping a close eye on this nuclear-tipped, nuclear-powered doomsday torpedo.

Now as 1945 Defense and National Security Editor, Brent M. EastwoodPhD, is the author of Humans, Machines and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an emerging threat expert and former US Army infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood.

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