The Russian Navy’s Project 949A Oscar-class submarines will be rearmed with the 3M-54 Kalibr cruise missile, Russia’s Deputy Defense Minister Yuri Borisov said on March 6.
“The Zvezda shipyard is carrying out profound modernization of Project 949A nuclear submarines, including the replacement of armament with the Kalibr missile complex and also the replacement of navigation, life support and other systems,” news agency TASS reported Borisov as saying.
Russia is currently in the process of upgrading the nuclear-powered Project 949A submarines to ensure they remain operational for the next 15 to 20 years.
The Kalibr cruise missile the submarines will be fitted with is a long-range cruise missile that is said to be capable of carrying nuclear warheads.
The missile has land-attack, anti-ship and anti-submarine variants and was already tested aboard Gepard class frigates and Buyan-M class corvettes against targets in Syria.
On December 8, 2015, Russian Navy’s improved Kilo-class, Project 636 submarine, Rostov-on-Don fired the Kalibr missile for the first time from a submerged position in the Mediterranean Sea.
Project 949A submarines displace some 24,000 tons when submerged and currently carry 24 P-700 Granit anti-ship cruise missiles and six torpedo tubes.
Russia built a total of 11 Project 949A submarines between 1985 and 1999. Eight submarines in the class are still in service and it is not clear how many of them will undergo the refit program. Head of the Russian Rubin design bureau told reporters in 2016 that not all of the eight boats would be upgraded. Only Irkutsk and Chelyabinsk are currently being refitted.