In the aftermath of Russia's announcement of the imminent induction of new strategic hypersonic weapons systems in March 2018, reports have emerged that Moscow is also planning a new generation of nuclear powered ballistic missile submarines to strengthen its deterrent force. With Russia's recent military modernisation efforts having focused heavily on nuclear capabilities, the most cost effective means to deter a hostile attack, the country has developed two new intercontinental ballistic missile platforms, a new air launched ballistic missile, and a new generation of heavy bombers - all nuclear capable assets which have seriously strengthened the country's strategic deterrent forces. An enhancement to the ballistic missile submarine fleet, the third arm of the country's nuclear triad and the only one which has yet to see similar such revolutionary developments, remains a likely prospect.
The new submarine program, designated Project Husky, is set to provide a considerable upgrade over previous generations. According to some reports the ships will also be smaller and more cost effective both to acquire and maintain than the gargantuan 13,800 ton Yasen Class currently in service. The new submarines will serve not only as ballistic missile platforms, but a second variant will also be capable of fulfilling a combat role against other warships and functioning as a tactical attack platform. Two sub variants of the attack boat, one heavily specialised as a cruise missile platform, are expected to be commissioned. The design will be quieter than its predecessors, critical for survivability of both variants, and each will deploy new hypersonic missile types suited to their particular roles.
The Russian military has long placed a significant emphasis on the speed of its cruise and ballistic missiles, recently culminating in the commissioning of the Kalibr in 2012 which travelling over Mach 3 allows its surface ships and diesel powered 'Black Hole' submarines to launch deadly attacks on enemy ground and surface targets. A higher speed not only makes missiles extremely difficult to intercept, but also maximises destruction by imparting more kinetic energy upon impact - enough to tear a large warship in half. A new cruise missile capable of travelling at hypersonic speeds, far faster than even the Kalibr, will be used by the country's new submarines to further enhance their combat capabilities. The missile, designated 3M22 Zircon, will reportedly impact at speeds of Mach 6 and have a 500km strike range. The type of ballistic missile the strategic variant of the new submarine will deploy remains uncertain, but work to apply hypersonic technologies to a submarine launched platform are currently almost certainly under way and testing will likely commence shortly if it had not already.