Diagram 1. Displacements are submerged.
Diagram 2. Columbia class SSBN-X features.
It is difficult, but not impossible, to compare Boreis/Boreys with Ohios and Columbia class (SSBN-X).
The respective Russian and US SSBN programs are out of phase instead of being of the same generation.
- Ohios were built 1976-1997 lasting until 2040s.
- Boreis entered/entering service 2013-2023, lasting until 2050s.
- Columbias entering service 2031-2050, lasting until 2080s.
Secrecy often makes specifications, like diving depth and submerged speed, ballpark figures rather than actual.
Quietness, discretion and efficiency of combat systems (including sonars, other sensors, databases and weapons), drives and crew quality are also impossible to compare with open sources or even in a technical sense. The will be more about Russian sonar and other equipment makers on September 30, 2016.
The Borei class are built by Sevmash, the largest shipbuilding complex in Russia.
Russia’s SSBN force consists of:
- 3 Boreis with further commissioning exercises and technical upgrades yet to be completed. One
Borei is deployed in Russia's Northern Fleet and two are in the Pacific Fleet. A fourth Borei is due
to be commissioned later in 2016.
- 6 Delta IVs (all near end of service life at 26 to 32 years old) and
- 4 Delta IIIs (on extended service life of 34+ years)
At least two Deltas are under long term maintenance at any one time.
SOME POINTS OF COMPARISON BOREI/BOREY AND OHIO SSBNS and COLUMBIA CLASS SSBN-X
Boreis can deploy only 16 SLBMs currently (on the first 4 Borei Is, 64 total), perhaps 20 SLBMS for the 4 to 6 future build Borei IIs in the 2020s (up to 20 total) (64 + 120 = 184 all up). This is less than the 14 Ohio SSBNs, each capable of deploying 24 SLBMs = 336 total.
Variables make precise SLBM counts very uncertain. Numbers of MIRVs per SLBM, empty missile containers, future introduction of 16 SLBM US Columbia (SSBN-X)) class and New START regulations may mean eventual parity at 336 SLBMs each by the 2040s.
According to submerged speed for the Borei may be up to 30 knots (good for fleeing from danger and faster redeployments but noisy). Boreis also have pump jets for relatively quiet operation at 20+ knots. No quieter electric drive known.
Ohios have a quiet standard official figure of 20 knots. Keeping at 20 knots or below may be sensible for Ohios as they were built in the era of no pump jets. Their bare propellers are assumed to be noisy at over 20 knots. No quieter electric drive.
Columbia's are expected to have pump jets and quieter electric drive.
The Borei has two ОК-650 nuclear reactors of a 1970s design and only up to 45% HEU which means 3 or 4 refuels are likely needed (perhaps every 10 years) over a 40 year Borei service life.
The S1B reactor for the Columbia class does not need HEU refueling. The reactor meant to last the 42 year service life (see page 8 https://news.usni.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/R41129-1.pdf)
Boreis have a smaller crew (probably Blue/Gold exchange system) of 107. Blue/Gold crews for Ohios and in future Columbias are/will be 155. This gives Ohios/Columbias an advantage in reducing crew exhaustion, decreased errors, increased attention, more coverage if crew members become ill, increased resources for damage control/safety.
Boreis have a listed operational depth of 450m while Ohios are 240m. This may give Boreis a tactical advantage for evasion from SSNs, torpedos and depth bombs, and less chance of detection from the surface. But Boreis are still vulnerable to seafloor sensors and bottom rising mines. As Borei's main goal is being effective SSBNs their deep diving ability will be of little help to place them just below the surface to launch their SLBMs.
Protection of SSBNs
Russia has far weaker air and naval forces overall including: 9 mainly older Akula SSNs, 1 modern Yasen SSN, 5 Oscar class SSGNs (not specifically built to defend SSBNs) and 26 Kilo SSKs (probably too slow, and noisy when snorting, to guard SSBNs).
The US Navy has far larger naval and air forces to defend its SSBN force, including (at March 8, 2016) 55 high quality SSNs,
There has been a sharp drop in Russian SSBN deterrent patrols since the fall of the Soviet Union around 1991. Patrols by selected year have dropped from:
The 14 US Ohios might each average about 2.5 patrols to 3 patrols a year. Hence about 35 to 42 patrols per year total for the force.
Columbias are expected to have a higher number of patrols over their service lives due to less overhaul/refueling periods. For the 12 Columbias this may also average a total of 35 to 42 patrols.
These are just a few imprecise types of comparison.
Pete and Anonymous