The test submarine preceding the KHARBAROVSK is known as the SAROV. See SAROV photo below.
See the Covert Shores post on the Sarov of September 9, 2014.
H I Sutton has provided the following description of the SAROV's extraordinary powerplant: the "propulsion arrangement is one of the things that makes [SAROV] so unique and interesting. There isn't even a designation for it. SSKN? How it works (apparently) is that the nuclear reactor on board is much smaller than the ones in regular submarines, and is not used to power the boat directly. Instead it is used to recharge the batteries, which power the electric motors which in turn drive the propeller. This is a form of air-independent propulsion [unlike any] installed on the latest conventional submarines. [SAROV] also has an auxiliary diesel powerplant as back-up."
Status-6 "KANYON" torpedo
The Status-6 aka KANYON, described as an unmanned midget submarine, is better thought of as a massively-large nuclear powered and nuclear armed torpedo. It is huge 1.6m in diameter and about 24m long. To put that into perspective, it is about 27 times the volume of a regular 533mm heavyweight torpedo.
The following are excerpts from H I Sutton's comments. Pete has redded some particularly interesting parts.
Depth: The stated running depth of the torpedo of 1,000m is possible as there is no inhabited pressure hull to worry about.is credible and places it below current countermeasures.
Speed: The claimed speed of 100 knots is fast for a torpedo. The leaked cutaway drawing shows that there is a nuclear reactor coupled with a steam turbine driving a propeller shaft.
Range: The leaked document claims that the weapon can be launched from as far as 10,000 km (5,400 nm) away. At 100kt, it would take 4 days to reach its target at maximum range. It also seems likely that some of the distance would be accomplished under ice adding additional complexity both to navigation and to NATO countermeasures.
The speed parameter seems unrealistic and the range is not operationally necessary. To put it nicely, most people exaggerate their projects to their bosses. I’d wager that they are lying to Putin and themselves as much as to the West. This does not mean that the project is not (at his stage) real.
Status-6 "KANYON" Torpedo Specifications:
Length: 24m (estimated) [4 times longer than a long 533mm heavyweight torpedo]
Diameter: 1.6m [3 times diameter of a standard 533mm heavyweight torpedo]
Weight: TBC - heavy and negatively buoyant
Speed: Stated as 100kt
Endurance: 10,000 km (5200 nm) and ~100 hrs
Maximum Operating depth: 1,000m
Warhead: Nuclear with Cobalt shell. Payload to be confirmed but speculated to be as high as 100 megatons.
Powerplant: 1 x nuclear reactor driving a pumpjet.
Sensors: Long range internal guidance, possibly with external update/abort. Obstacle avoidance sonar.
Trail of radioactive contamination
It is not feasible that the structure of the torpedo contains shielding for the reactor so the device must leave a trail of radioactive contamination behind it as it runs. This is true even in test runs.
The lack of shielding also means that the reactors cannot be test-run while inside the launch tube. Maintenance is thus much harder than on the ICBMs carried in other strategic submarines, and the weapons are essentially sealed containers.
The main launching platform of KANYON is likely to be the new Project 09851 "KHABAROVSK" submarine. Similar to but smaller than the Project 955 'BOREI' SSBN.
- may be 120m long versus 160m for the BOREI.
- does not require the missile section behind the sail.
- may share components and even hull sections with the BOREI
- stated displacement of 10,000 tons (surfaced) makes it large but much lighter than the 13,000 ton BOREI.
The leaking of Status-6 (‘KANYON’) nuclear torpedo details [around November 11, 2015] may be a piece of Putin propaganda. The concept of firing a huge nuclear armed, nuclear powered Status-6 torpedo would be very unstealthy and easily countered. However, Putin is the kind of unorthodox leader who may preside over such a project.
Treat the Status-6 as an underwater cruise missile that only travels at 100 knots, compared to around 10,000 mph for an SLBM. It may take days of submerged travel of the KHARBAROVSK carrier submarine and/or Status-6 independent travel to hit a target.
Undersea sensor arrays may give several hours of warning of a KHARBAROVSK submarine or Status-6 torpedo approach. The sensor arrays may be slaved to fast moving mines, missiles, depth bombs or torpedos to destroy the a KHARBAROVSK or Status-6. Here is a commercially available radiation sensor.
Unlike an ICBM the Status-6 is not MIRVed and carries no known decoys. The Status-6 torpedo is particularly unstealthy because it will shed a radiation trail and have an unusual (probably loud) acoustic signature. Underwater radiation sensors exist - that may be on the seafloor, tethered 1,000 meters deep or nearer the surface
While the KHARBAROVSK and Status 6 may be of limited military value they may act as a feared deterrent in the spirit of mutually assured destruction (MAD).