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The United States and Russia Are Arguably the Two Dominant Submarine Powers on


celebrations are held for the annual russian navy day

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  • When it comes to submarine power, the U.S. Navy’s latest submarine is the Virginia Block V, and on the other side of the Atlantic is Russia’s Yasen-M class.
  • The American submarine can carry more weapons, but the Russian sub can carry more missiles…and hypersonic weapons, according to Naval News.

    The United States and Russia are arguably the two dominant submarine powers on the planet. A natural question is how do their submarines stack up? A new article explains just how the U.S. Navy’s Virginia Block V and Russian Navy’s Yasen M submarine (top) compare. While the American subs carry more weapons, the Russian submarine has a bigger bag of tricks.

    The navies of both countries have been rivals for decades, dating back to the end of the Second World War. The Cold War led to an underwater arms race between the two, with both sides racing to adopt nuclear power, guided torpedoes, and nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia inherited the bulk of the USSR’s submarine fleet and undersea technology. As a result, while the U.S. builds some of the best nuclear powered submarines anywhere, Russia is not far behind.

    k571 krasnoyarsk nuclear submarine launched in severodvinsk, russia
    K-571 Krasnoyarsk during launching ceremony, July 30, 2021. The submarine’s propeller is hidden from view to prevent other countries from learning what quieting technologies are built into it.

    Oleg KuleshovGetty Images

    Currently, as Naval News reports, the United States and Russia are both churning nuclear powered attack submarines. Russia’s shipyards are busy cranking out the Yasen M series, while America’s latest and greatest is the Block V series of the Virginia class. Russia launched its latest M series boat, K-571 Krasnoyarsk, on July 30. The first Block V, USS Oklahoma, is scheduled for completion in the early 2020s.

    How will the submarines stack up in firepower? The longer but narrower Virginia-class subs can carry up to 66 weapons, divided between torpedoes and missiles in the torpedo room and missile silos located alongside the spine of the ship. The Virginia submarines can carry Mk. 48 ADCAP (Advanced Capability) heavyweight guided torpedoes for attacking ships and other submarines, plus Tomahawk Block V land attack cruise missiles. Tomahawk Block V is the latest iteration of the legendary cruise missile, adding anti-ship capability and the ability to receive course and target corrections in-flight.

    the uss virginia fast attack submarine enters service
    The Virginia-class submarine USS Indiana during its maiden voyage, 2018. The new Block V class will incorporate new missile tubes between the sail and tail sections.

    NurPhotoGetty Images

    The Virginias can carry a total of up to 40 cruise missiles at a time, six more than the Yasen M type, but have just four torpedo tubes. That means fewer torpedoes loaded and ready to fire in an engagement.

    The shorter and wider Yasen M class, by contrast, is armed with up to 72 weapons divided between the ship’s missile silos and torpedo room. The Yasens carries UGST heavyweight torpedoes, 3M14K Kalibr subsonic cruise missiles, P-800 Oniks supersonic anti-ship missiles, and now Zircon anti-ship and land attack hypersonic weapons.

    Only one of the two ships carries hypersonic weapons, but the Virginia-class submarines won’t be at a disadvantage for long. The U.S. Navy plans to put its new hypersonic weapon system on the Block Vs starting in 2025.


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