September 10, 2015

Russian "Drone" and Submarine Propaganda - But Whose?

A Typhoon SSBN  24,000 tons (surfaced), 48,000 tons (submerged) with thousands of tons of expensive Titanium alloy in its several pressure hulls (above). The cost of the six Typhoons submarines built may partly explain why Soviet-Russian public discontent with military spending grew - causing the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s. While the Typhoon boasted 20 SLBMs the US Navy's much smaller (hence economical) Ohio class SSBNs (16,500 tons (surfaced), 18,500 tons (submerged) carry 24 much more reliable Trident II SLBMs. Those tiny red specks, assembled on the Typhoon photo above, are men.

It appears Russia has permanently or temporarily relocated the world's remaining Typhoon submarine (world's largest) to the Mediterranean or Black Seas. Typhoon SSBN Dmitri Donskoy (TK-208) used for Bulava SLBM testing (some failures) for the last few years, has recently shifted to the Mediterranean Sea. It is known from the Bulava tests that at least one of this Typhoon's missile tubes has been converted for Bulava firing but perhaps not all 20 tubes. 

The movement of an SSBN would have no direct military application to a civil war in Syria or in Crimea-Ukraine but it would be a symbolic act escalating political tensions in those areas. Russia would hope that the symbolism worked in favour of Russia and its allies. In the confined waters of the Mediterranean or Black seas a Typhoon would be as vulnerable to ASW forces as a barracuda in a barrel. About as hard to hide in those seas as the object below:

Saint Basil's, Moscow. Difficult to hide in a small sea. Note that Typhoon submarine name Dmitri Donskoy also emerges in Saint Basil's construction

Even more bizarre were reports of a fiendish Russian plot to build a nuclear armed "Kanyon" very large UUV/"drone". It is very likely Russia will NOT build the "Kanyon" UUV and certainly not nuclear arm it. Creative terrorists could hack into Kanyon and pre-detonate it in a Russian port city of their choice - Saint Petersburg or Vladivostok?

The Kanyon Story was apparently planted in Macedonia Online on Tuesday September 8, 2015 then spread unattributed and “viral” to many corners of the MainStreamMedia and blogosphere.

I would say Kanyon is an imaginative hoax story dreamt up by American rightwingers for political and commercial gain. Kanyon is part of the Sell Large UUVs campaign going on in US Navy circles. America can't let those godless commie Russians get away with building Kanyon UUVs - "America's gotta build and field its own large UUVs". The Australian and other junior ally navies are no-doubt adding large UUVs to their to-buy lists.



Anonymous said...

Would a non-nuclear version of "Kanyon" be useful as a mine-layer?

Or maybe using conventional torpedoes as a semi-automated attacker (in which case,
it could serve as a "mobile minefield").

Or maybe a large number of them could serve as decoys to distract an enemy's ASW
assets from manned submarines.

Vigilis said...

Hi Pete

Regarding your speculation that the KANYON leak is a hoax begun by American right wingers, I have some serious doubts.

1. There is little doubt that both DARPA and Russia's Rubin Central Design Bureau and their contractors have entertained the Kanyon concept for quite some time. One can hardly guess who may have begun first.

2. As to TPNN's conforming article (dated 9-9-2015) you linked as conforming, there is little doubt that in the current campaign environment some Tea Party proponents wish to frighten prospective voters from the Liberal camps of Hillary Clinton, whose mindless tolerance of TOP SECRET e-mail (at least one) on her peresonal e-mail server shows she is incompetent to be considered as CinC (except by equally clueless men and women).

3. My suspicion is that since unnamed Pentagon officials have been sourced for all of the stories, including an earlier report in MINA ( that Sen. Lindsey Graham (a "Republican in Name Only") with Pentagon ties and an erstwhile candidate (LOL) for U,S. President running almost totally on his platform of a strong military, is actually responsible for planting the Kanyon story. It has not helped him (currently polls at 1%, with 80% of his home state voters advising him to drop his campaign).

Peter Coates said...

Hi Anonymous

Yes all possible. Small non-US submarines can do these functions close to coasts to.

US arms marketers have almost successfully convinced the US Navy that large UUVs are essential items to be competitive with America's enemies.

Maybe the whole Kanyon scare is a marketing campaign by US UUV marketers?


Peter Coates said...

Hi Vigilis

Yes it seems so outlandish that, not WashPost but, Macedonia Online would have the inside track on Tope Secret thinking in DC and Moscow that the Kanyon scare is definitly propaganda.

I also hold the theory that it is part of the Sell Large UUVs campaign going on in US Navy circles. America can't let those godless Russians get away with these threatening UUVs - "we gotta build and field our own". The Australian and other navies are duly adding large UUVs to their to-buy lists.

Of course increasingly sensitive Chinese and Russian seafloor sensors are a genuine argument for large UUVs.



Anonymous said...

Dear Pete,

there is a reason why submarines have a crew. To automate all these functions is a big endeavor.

What about a small submarine instead of a big UUV like a Type 210mod ;-)
Just compare the size of a Type 210 with the size of a dry dock shelter:

Maybe a Los Angeles-class submarine can even carry a Type 210 submarine.