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Russia floats out first nuclear sub that will carry Poseidon strategic underwater drones

The submarine will undertake shipbuilders’ sea and state trials in 2020

SEVERODVINSK, April 23. /TASS/. The Project 09852 special-purpose nuclear-powered submarine Belgorod that will be the first carrier of Poseidon strategic underwater drones was floated out at the Sevmash Shipyard in north Russia on Tuesday, TASS reports from the scene.

Russian President Vladimir Putin watched the submarine’s launch ceremony via a TV link-up.

As Sevmash Head Mikhail Budnichenko said during the ceremony of floating out the submarine from the slipway, "the enterprise’s shipbuilders will fulfill all the tasks of building ships within the established timeframe and with high quality." After that, Ship Commander Captain First Rank Anton Alyokhin traditionally smashed a bottle of champagne against the ship’s board.

The submarine’s construction will be completed afloat. A source in the defense industry earlier told TASS that the tests of the submarine’s nuclear reactor and its dockside trials are scheduled for this year. The Belgorod will undertake shipbuilders’ sea and state trials in 2020, after which it will be delivered to the Navy by the end of that year, the source noted.

Another source in the defense industry told TASS that the new submarine would be able to carry six strategic underwater drones.

The nuclear-powered submarine Belgorod was initially being built under Project 949A ‘Antey.’ The submarine was laid out at the Sevmash Shipyard on July 24, 1992. On December 20, 2012, it was laid down again under Project 09852. The exact operational characteristics of the special-purpose submarine have been classified and are unknown today. Russia’s Defense Ministry reported in November 2018 that the Belgorod sub’s crew had been formed.

The underwater drone later named Poseidon was unveiled by Russian President Vladimir Putin in his State-of-the-Nation Address to the Federal Assembly on March 1, 2018. The Russian leader said that Russia had already developed drones capable of moving at very large depths and to an intercontinental distance at a speed multiply exceeding the speed of submarines, the most advanced torpedoes and all types of surface ships. As the Russian president said, these drones can be armed with conventional or nuclear munitions, which will allow them to strike a broad range of targets. The Poseidon drone will feature an unlimited operating range and an operational depth of over 1 km.