After the outbreak of the Russian-Ukrainian war, the performance of the Russian army in conventional combat capacity can be described as shocking. Originally, they had an absolute advantage over Ukraine, but now the war has been going on for more than eight months. dragged into the quagmire of war.
In September of this year, after the Ukrainian army received sufficient supply support, it even launched a major counteroffensive in Kharkov and Kherson at the same time, defeating the famous Russian Guards 20th Army in one fell swoop. Obviously, Russia’s conventional warfare capabilities are not only no longer the second, but also farther and farther away from the second in the world. Especially for the United States, the only remaining deterrent of the Russian military’s military power lies in the huge nuclear arsenal.
During the Cold War, the Soviet Union once had a very large nuclear weapons arsenal. In the 1980s, the number of nuclear warheads in the Soviet Union even reached about 46,000, and there were nearly 70 strategic nuclear submarines alone. Although after the end of the Cold War, both the United States and Russia began to significantly reduce their nuclear arsenals, but these two countries still have the largest number of nuclear warheads today. At present, the Russian army has a total of about 6,000 nuclear warheads, which can be deployed at any time. There are about 1,500 of them, and Russia also has its own trinity of nuclear counterattack forces, ranging from land-based intercontinental missiles to strategic bombers to nuclear submarines, of which the most deterrent is undoubtedly the strategic nuclear submarine.
When Russia’s conventional war is in a mess and its relationship with the West is becoming more and more tense, they can only use the way of showing off their nuclear muscles to remind the West of its great power status. A few days ago, the Russian Ministry of Defense released a video related to the strategic nuclear exercise just held. This exercise is code-named Thunder. The Russian army dispatched the RS-24 “Yars” intercontinental ballistic missile of the Strategic Rocket Army during the exercise. The aviation force dispatched two Tu-95MS strategic bombers, and the Russian Navy dispatched the “Tula” strategic nuclear submarine, which launched the SS-N-23 “Canoe” submarine-launched intercontinental missile in the Barents Sea.
Russia’s use of strategic nuclear submarines for ballistic missile launch tests this time is still an old routine. After the missile emerged from the Barents Sea, it flew over most of Russia’s territory from west to east. After flying more than 7,000 kilometers, it successfully hit the Kamchatka Peninsula. At the shooting range in the northeast, the exercise was a success.
It is worth mentioning that the “Tula” submarine that performed the missile launch mission this time is not new equipment, but the 667BDRM “Dolphin”-class strategic nuclear submarine that was in service during the Soviet period, which is the “Delta 4” type in NATO’s mouth. . The nuclear submarine was successively built and put into service between 1984 and 1990. The biggest feature of its appearance is the huge tortoise back.
The underwater displacement of the nuclear submarine is 18,000 tons, which is equivalent to the Ohio-class physique of the US Navy’s current main strategic nuclear submarine. However, compared to the Soviet and Russian Navy’s large number of nuclear submarines that are oversized, their stature is already petite. For example, the Soviet Red Navy once built six Typhoon-class strategic nuclear submarines, with an underwater displacement of up to 48,000 tons, even larger than the French Navy’s Charles de Gaulle nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.
However, the nuclear missile projection capability of the nuclear submarine is not weak. It can carry 16 submarine-launched intercontinental missiles, which is only four less than the Typhoon class. The current Russian Navy is building the latest Borei-class strategic nuclear submarines, while modernizing these old nuclear submarines. For example, the Tula strategic nuclear submarine completed the modernization and upgrading work in 2018.
In recent years, the surface ships of the Russian Navy have been very embarrassing. The aircraft carrier Kuznetsov has not been repaired for several years. In April, the flagship of the Black Sea Fleet was sunk by Ukraine with two light anti-ship missiles. But as long as the 13 strategic nuclear submarines of the Russian Navy are still in service, they have a very strong strategic deterrent. Compared with the very slow replenishment rate of surface ships, Russia launched four new nuclear submarines within a year of 2020, which is their last card.