When the world does eventually end, it probably won’t be with horses. It’ll probably come in the form of salvos of ballistic missiles, all being launched at once. Thanks to the Russian Navy, we now have a good idea of what that will look like.
The Borei-class Russian nuclear submarine Yuri Dolgorukiy made its first-ever successful test salvo launch of a round of four unarmed Bulava ballistic missiles. The missiles were all launched under the White Sea, which is geographically just below the Arctic Circle, and they all landed on target thousands of miles away off the Kamchatka Peninsula, the Russian Navy said.
Russia is still in the process of testing out its Borei-class nuclear submarines, which are largely meant to drive around in circles underwater, silently awaiting for an order to initiate the apocalypse. It’s all a part of the still-very-much-current doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction, in which any nation that launches nukes at Russia (or the United States, or China, or Britain, or France, all of which have their own nuclear-tipped submarine-launched ballistic missiles) will soon see nukes flying its own way, too. Paired with the Borei–class subs is the new RSM-56 Bulava missile, with each submarine in the class carrying up to 16 Bulavas. Each Bulava is capable of being fitted up with up to six or ten warheads, depending on who you ask packing a 150-kiloton nuclear hellfire punch, with each one of those explosions equivalent in force to ten times that of Little Boy, the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.
So all in all, one Borei-class sub is capable of launching across the planet at least the equivalent of 14 megatons of TNT, or 960 Little Boys. Exploded all at once.
Tests of ballistic missiles, thankfully not armed with their real nuclear warheads, aren’t that rare, but what is unusual here is that Russia tested so many at once. But it’s probably something Russia considered necessary to prove the sub was ready for service.
Russia has already built four Borei-class submarines, and anticipates building ten more, for the face-melting equivalent of 13,440 Little Boys all detonated simultaneously.
The American competitor to the Borei-class, the upcoming Columbia-class submarine, should begin to enter service around 2031 or so. The U.S. Navy plans to build 12 of those, and hopefully when it all ends, we will all go quickly.