Russia’s new Project 09852 Special Mission Submarine KC-139 Belgorod is slated to enter sea trials in June 2020 with a preliminary commissioning date set for September of the same, Sevmash shipyard Director General Mikhail Budnichenko said in an interview on Monday.
“The vessel has already begun trials,” Budnichenko was quoted as saying by TASS news agency on September 9. “Besides, we have a schedule approved by the Defense Ministry, and the work is being carried out in strict compliance with this schedule.”
The Belgorod is reportedly the first nuclear-powered submarine capable of carrying the nuclear-capable underwater drone Poseidon, alternatively referred to as an unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV), autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV), or an intercontinental-range, nuclear autonomous torpedo.
The Poseidon UUV is known as the Ocean Multipurpose System Status-6 or “Kanyon” by the U.S. intelligence community.
Sea trials of the Belgorod have been scheduled to commence on June 15, according to Budnichenko. “In line with the schedule, the acceptance act is to be signed in September of the same year,” the head of Sevmash shipyard, located in Severodvinsk in northern Russia, added.
The Belgorod was officially launched on April 23. The sub was laid down at Severodvinsk in July 1992 but construction was suspended in 1997 only the resume in 2012.
The submarine’s design is based on the 949A Oscar II-class of nuclear-powered guided missile submarines (SSGN). Rubin Central Design Bureau in St. Petersburg redesigned the boat, which boasts a reported length of 184 meters and displacement of around 15,000 tonnes when surfaced.
The sub will be crewed by sailors of the Russian Navy, yet it will be operated by the secretive Main Directorate Deep Sea Research (GUGI) organization.
According to the website Covert Shores, the Belgorod will carry a deep diving midget submarine for covert special missions. There is speculation that it will be deployed under the Arctic and used for the covert installation of a Russian underwater sonar network.
Russian defense industry sources repeatedly stated that the submarine will be able carry up to six Poseidon UUVs, although as mentioned previously, some sources have also cited eight.
Two additional 949A Oscar II-class SSGNs are expected to be retrofitted to carry the Poseidon UUVs by the mid 2020s, with two subs slated for service with the Northern Fleet and two to be deployed with the Russian Pacific Fleet.
In total, the Russian Navy is expected to receive more than 30 Poseidons by the late 2020s.