Russian SSBN Fleet to Receive Improved R-29 Missiles

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A Russian Delta IV submarine launches an SS-N-23 SKIFF intercontinental ballistic missile on a test, from a surfaced position in the arctic.
A Russian Delta IV submarine launches an SS-N-23 SKIFF intercontinental ballistic missile on a test, from a surfaced position in the arctic.
A Russian Delta IV submarine launches an SS-N-23 SKIFF intercontinental ballistic missile on a test, from a surfaced position in the arctic.

At present, the liquid-propelled SS-N-23 Skiff (Russian designation R-29RMU Sineva) is the mainstay of the Russian Navy submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) force. The Delta IV ballistic missile submarines are the carriers of these missiles; every sub carries 16 such missiles, each carrying four MIRVs. The SS-N-23 entered service in 2007 and is currently operational with three delta III and four Delta IV submarines in service with the Russian Navy. All but one of seven Typhoon class mega SSBNs produced in the 1980s are now decommissioned. An improved version of this weapon is the R-29RMU2 Layner, introducing improved countermeasures, improving its capability to penetrate enemy missile defenses. Development of the new missile was completed in 2012.

Click here for the full coverage of the Russian Strategic Missile Force Modernization.

Further enhancement of the Russian naval strategic force has been suspended, due to repeated technical delays and complications encountered with solid-propelled SLBM since the 1990s. These began with the failure of the follow-on to the R-39 missile program, which was terminated in 1998. Its successor, Bulava, has also encountered repeated failures. Despite these problems Bulava was commissioned with its lead carrier submarine of the new Borei class, Yuri Dolgorukiy on 10 January 2013. But after another failed launch in September 2013, the remaining missiles were returned to the manufacturer and deployment and test program were suspended, the entire production run of the missiles was then recalled for factory inspections.

The Russian Navy strategic force maintains Delta IV (above) and Delta III submarines in operation. These subs are carrying the R-29 Sineva missile. The first Borei class submarine also entered service but is yet to receive operational its Bulava missiles.
The Russian Navy strategic force maintains Delta IV (above) and Delta III submarines in operation. These subs are carrying up to 16 SS-N-23 (SKIFF) submarine launched ballistic missiles (SLBM). The first Borei class submarine also entered service but is yet to receive operational its Bulava missiles.