Created: 9/1/1984

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The Soviet General Purpose Submarine Force: Preparing for




the soviet general purpose submarine force: preparing for

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Sovieu have begun lo build ihe third generation of nuclear-powered totpcdo attack <SSN( and cruise missile (SSGN) submarines lhai will form the nucleus of iheir general purpose submarine force in. During Ihe lasi iwo ycais ihey haw launched an unprecedented number and variety of general purpose submarines, and we eapect ihcm to build aboulercent more in (he neil decade than ihey have since the mid-mO*.

We believe lhat this accelerated efTort will result in;

A general purpose submarine force thai is more diverse in composition and capabilities than the present force.

An increase in Ibe percentage or" general perpose submarines thai are nuclearaboulerceni today io more thanercept

A net n the general purpose submarinenearly IWlow rate of ciesej submarine production and ihe retirement of older units

- Improvements in the capabilities to fight large-scale, prolonged, short-range submarine engagements, especially those involving the prcMection of ballistic missile submarines (SSBNsJ.

flciibilily in submarine operations, including the combination of traditional SSN millions wiih long-range, land attack, sea-launched ciuise missile fSLCM) palrols



The Soviei General Purpose Submarine Force: Preparin? for

Moscow coalmanual strategy of sub marine production.hich tapevistseaul ca highesign* arc pi educed ia small numbers while mainstay designs are produced in series. This relatively cosily strategy allows iheuild up iheir inventory of general pin pose submarines while testing new technology fot use in future production

Rectal Trends in Submarine Production

Soviei produclion of nuckar-poweied ballistic missile submarines (SSBNsl has leveled off in recent yeaisesuli of limitations imposed by the SALT agiee-menu The large Typhoon-class SSSN is being buthate of onevety onealf years, and we eipcct only three orSBNs to beroduction of diesel electric lubmarirveiac remainedtwo or ihiee units aof which,. wai only for ciporiesult. Soviet shipyards are increasingly free for pro-duct-on of new classes of nuclear-powered general purpose submarines

1 ihe number of nuclear-powered gcncial purpose produced each year has remained fairly sicady at four to five, while ihe number of classes under construction lias risen from three to sis. four of ihese i> classes now being builtII.he Y. and lhc Si arc nuclear pc-eted torpedo stuck subrnarirses (SSNiL (For ihe first lime ihe Soviets aie simultaneously building both iheir cuuent mainstay SSNits likely succettor--ihe S

At many as three aOdilionil general putpcaeclasses may also be under corrsiriKlion and could be launched4heseN dcngncd te carry lhcI.CM. another SSN class,maller SSGN class -possibly equipped with lhcither newm'tsile designedoll.iw-.ioI


Omeni and future Force Reouiremenu SSP*'s. The rcceni surge in the Snvielt" generalsubmarine production has been spurred by the immediate need for more submarines lo help protect Ibc Navy's O't aad typhoons, as well as by the recinircmcsM for additional submarine plat for m> toew family of lorig-rangc. land attack ctsyesc missiles Two of ihe largcsi new drug i,nd ihewhai maye. type of mulii-putposc submarine lhal combines the rolei of an SSNong-range, land attack SI.CM platform.

Abom half of ibeuireni SSN force is made up ofs and N't andt. which have been increasingly plagued wiirt ma intern nee proosems (see table II Of thersodcra Srwci SSNs now operaiional (IEls.t. and si* A'sklls are mosi capable of fulfilling all types of SSN missions. Theie include anil-SSBN operations. SSBN support, and surveillance and re-conniissance

We bel"ihai Ihesmo of theforce is protection of Moscow's sea basedstrike force There areovietwhich are available ai any oneused to support ihe Sovieihe United Stales, by comparison,force of aboutSNs to supportSBNs. Because US SSBNs operatemean areas and arc quiclcr lhan theirSSNt are not rcovitfd fnrAlthough ihe Soviets can atso call uponlorec of diesel-powered attack submarines loibe defanie ofstack uans ate

unable to operate under ice where ihe Soviet SSBNt increasingly arc.esult, lhc percentage of the Soviei SSN lorec committed io SSBN support is rising, while ibc Soviet Navyrowing shortage of SSNs available for other missions

* Mairinar air SSBNaeeraimf areasm Sew enasiiladiaecnl seas tadand ilme (he edgeihe

Anut Kreiri rhey ne efrlcnaed bi cthrkned Mien ewnrvised al AS* wtfacc shir-,and nival airetafi


Table I







Soviet Nuclear-Powered Cctteral Purpose Stibrnarines: Summary of Order of Battle,4


T*ul mtirn



Twiil *U" mula TontSSM*








torni nin-w

Technological advances have also driven the Soviets' need for additional SSNs. Long-term efforts ai noise reduction and improvemeni of both active and passive sooai systems have gradually resulted in submarines such asll thai areou icier and morr capable ol delecting Western submarines. Theae development* have led loerfll for kmc. range reconnait-sancc and larveitlance eaperaiioni especialty in Ihe vicinity of Westerniui .

SSGNt. Wc believe that the Soviets need more SSCNs for both anticarrier warfare and for SLCM attacks against distant land target*f their present force ofSCNs is composed of old C'lis.ew ofave been modelnired to earry the longer rangeI anti-ship misiile. Pioduction ofeased

con11mc<ton oflj.vta>at been stow (one every two ondhtlfe believe thaifoi lew-on ioarmed witho loi en *orne Other anti.hipno-be under devckaprncni and could be Uanched within theears. It is alto possible lhat Cl*s may be modified to carry the. which is currently deployed aboard two surface ship daises.


General PuipoitLCMt. Partly In response to the US Tomahawk. Penning II. and ground-launched cruise minile trrograrrts. the Sovieu have developed two new type* of long-range, land aiuckost recently constructed Soviet genera! purpose submarines have torpedo launch tube* from which tin C


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development and probably operationalig IO be launched from torpedo tube* and willew SSGN platform dedicated lo that missile We believe that the Soviet* will need one or more new daises of Large submarine* lo earry SLCM* innumbers to constitute an effective strike force When enough of iheac su (murines have been built, we cancel thai they will conduct SLCM patrol* off ihe coasis of WesternChina, and possibly the Untied States..

Two of the lecently launched SSNthebig enough to earry many

SLCMt in addition to icapcdoca. ASW missiles, or mines. Although likely to be produced In smallfour unit* byM-clai* i* tbeest candidatentdtipurposc lubma-rinc Capable of combining the role* of aa SSN and an SLCM platform for theater or strategict lean iwo morei are presenilyconversion to SSNi, and wc believe thai as many ai*ucb Y's may eventually be pioduccd.

lass Shiu>iru bed in2 ||

igncdCSI pllllorm

Althoughtc SSCN ecu pfl*

OdiOed to carry it instead ol* the9 nniohip cuiic miuilc. we believe it it more likely that the Soviets areew clan of large SSGN designee*e cipcC! both ihis tubman tie and in missile to achieve IOC'

Theaeeitton ol

bmarirM .

Ntw /Jnigni Although Soviet submarine peodueiioti hat iradiiionilly been more diverse than that of lhc United Stales, the variety of newly designed snbma-unes being launched is impressive (see figure Ik They


lass SSGN test plat lorm andlass SSGN. both conversions ofSBNs.

lass nuclear-powered auiilisry submarine fSSANl andE SSAN. bothlengths of '0 meters andbouteters,submarines thai, although not large enough to be SSNs. are probably intended for ipeoal-putpose or research ate

-lass SSN. an unusuallyions

iassfoUowon to ihe

t 3

These new designs have several Feature* iaof them are relativelyoAt least two of the SSNs have, pods onin bit iters for towed array sonar systems,fl. circumstantial bui inconclusive evidenceof ihcm may be built of titanium Theof the new SSNs suggests thai iheya grealec Quantity and variety of be capable of pciftvriiiag multiplethe M-lasses are ectuipprd withpropulsion syiicmi. Ihey will be capableOf li ioanism hulls wouldio ore rale ai demhso

Owittri'ti. Byrive fen greater numbers of nuclear-poweredurpose submarinesore broadly bated research and devriopersenl cfforl. ike Soviclt are continuing to pu"ue Ihe submarine production philenoph) Ibcy adopted during the IVtVOsand H'Os Thit philosophj sliesscd the isdncd productionew high-iechnol.unit* logcihci vmh the series production of 'our Or five lest advanced submarine designs, which changed only slightly during iheir production Itisto-rtcs. Although relalively more ripensivr and wasteful of production facilities this approach kai theof ma limiting both long- and shori-icrm gaini Wc believe,imple, ihai much of ihe technology lested aboard cipciimenial submarine) such as ike A- andlasses, has been ineorporaicd into some of ihe recently launched general purposeasndfor

series production

Operational Implication*


Theboth multipurpose andcpccialiicdthe laical generation of Soviet general purpose submarines will increase the Operational flexibility of the Soviei Navy's submarine force. Several of ihedesigns will help ihe Sovietsredible SLCM capability with which to pose an "analogouso US INF deployments and reach additional theater largetl in Europe and Asia. Designed lo meet the requirements imposed by the prospect of large-scale and pioiracied SSNscenarios, the new tubman ne classes will be particularly effective in guarding Soviet SStJNsin banians near ihe Soviet coasts, along the ice edge, and under Ihe Arctic icecap

Nuclcar-aimeccarried by ihe M- and ihe '

Y-class SSNs. as well as C board theSSGN and ii* probable successor, could beUnd targets in Western Europe. China,United Stales. Some SLCM platform withmission* would probably be deployed inand Greenland Seas, as well a* the Seawhere they could receive optimumother Soviet navalOther

SLCM carriers may conduct peacetime patrols off the US coasts in responseS INF deployments in Europe. The missiles aboard these submarines would piobably be directed against command and control facilities, submarine and straiecic bomberi missile-related installation

The implications of the Soviets' efforts lo increase both the sire and Ihe Quality of their general purpose submarine force are potentially serious for ihe Unt c5 States. If attack submarine combat scenarios inurn inio an undersea version of ihe WW II aerial dogfight, ii follows thai:

The number of combat uniis available and the force ratios involved would be even more imporiani in determining the outcome of submarineespeciallyN support operation*

Slight advaniagc* in speed, stealth, operational

depth, leaderihip. andproficiency would have g.eisneolacnir


a much

peacetime advances in weapons and sensors could easily tip Ihe balance in comb*1



Sonet Submarine.

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la planning the general purpose submarine force lhat ihey will need for, the Soviets have proba-b'y made three basic assumptions:

Their submarines will become quieterate faster than the United Slates can improve ihe detection ranees of its submarines.

They will further improve their submarines*capabilities: either through the transfer of foreign technology or via gradual improvements in indigenously developed acoustic or nonacoutticsystems.

Their submarine force will continue ioubstantial numerical advantage over its US and NATO opponents

We believe that the annual rate of Soviet submarine production will rise loonits during thend.han

aboutercent during theothese new submarines will be general purpose units (secespite this increase, weci reduction in Soviet general purpose submarinelo the slow rate of production of dicscl submarines and the gradual retirement of older units.ramatic increase in Western submarine comtructVon efTom. however. Moscow will continue todvantage in total submarine numbers i.

We believe that the Soviets plan to emphasize the production of nuclear-powered general purpose sub-inarines. and we estimate thai they will build aboulerceni more of these units in the neat decade than Ihey did since the. Wc espect lhatesult, ihe share of nuclear-powered submarines in the Navy's inventory will increase from aboutercentmore thanercent4 lice table 3J.








Tatal (rami








Biieo CaM cfoifdiom (eiclutlea i

Soviet* have ihown link interest in accelerating the production ollthough diesel units constitute aboutercent o( *htit current general purpose submarine force. On average, only aboul Iwo dicad submarines have been added to the Navy'* inventory each year during ihe periodrate of procurement insutTieieni to keep pace wiih ihe attrition of the force's older dieiel*.

Production orlass long-rangend atn this class has vet

Although wc expect the percentage of Soviet diesel general purpose submarine* to dropboutercent by the. wc believe that Moscow will remain committed lo Ihe produclion ol .ueh units, and thai new diesel dasses will continue lo appeal.

ihesen the nealear* we eipect toaeriesonits) ofSSN at ai many as three shipyards,more limited production ol Y- and



3 Moreover, ihe Soviets' annual production of titanium is more than suffieientallow them to make increased use of Ibisr (mure general purpose submarine production

In addition to new SSN classes and SSCNs carrying advanced anliship and long-range land attack cruise missiles, ineci the Soviets to produce Other classes of general purpose lubmarineossibly based upon technology leilcd aboardUssSSANsand other speeiaUeedor research tubrrtarine*

estimate that the lour major Soviet shipyards where submarine* are constructed are opcraiing well belowercent or their capacity. It appear* lhat future overhaul requiiemcnts far nuctear submarines will have relatively little impact upon the underuse ol


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