Everything You Need to Know About Russia’s Six New Super Weapons

Russia’s Ministry of Defense (MoD) has released multiple videos featuring its six under development super weapons that could change the course of a future war, including the Poseidon long-range nuclear torpedo and the Burevestnik nuclear-powered cruise missile.

The Defense Ministry posted the videos on the YouTube video sharing platform on July 19. The public release of the video came just two days after the controversial one-on-one meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump.

The six new weapons were publicly unveiled by the Russian President during his State of the Nation Address to the Federal Assembly on March 1, 2018. According to the Defense Ministry, the creation of new strategic weapons is aimed at beefing up Russia’s defense capabilities and forestalling any kind of aggression against the country and its allies.

Burevestnik Nuclear-Powered Cruise Missile

The intercontinental-range Burevestnik (Stormbringer) nuclear-powered cruise missile is capable of penetrating any interceptor-based missile defense system.

The missile is capable of flying in supersonic speeds dodging missile defenses and uses a nuclear-powered engine which will give it essentially an unlimited range. The missile can carry a nuclear warhead.

The missile is designed to attack a variety of high-value enemy targets, such as command posts, missile defence bases, and radars.

Burevestnik nuclear-powered cruise missile
Burevestnik nuclear-powered cruise missile

The first test firing of the Burevestnik cruise missile occurred in late 2017. Past tests of the missile have reportedly been conducted with usual jet engines as the nuclear-powered engine does not seem to be ready.

While unveiling the missile in March, Putin said that that work on the missile had begun after the US announced its withdrawal from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM Treaty or ABMT) in December 2001 as a response to Washington’s establishment of global missile defenses.

General Lori Robinson, the then commander of the U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) and North American Aerospace Command (NORAD), said that Russia’s next-generation cruise missiles are capable of hitting targets throughout the United States.

General Robinson said she was “concerned” about the potential for those advanced cruise missiles, which could be launched from bombers or submarines at much greater ranges than legacy systems, to penetrate our air defense network due to their expanded range, low visibility, and limited radar cross section.”

The released footage begins with a test launch video and and then shows a large final assembly hall with several missiles, with some of them placed in launch canisters. This is the first time a close up view of the new missile was revealed by Russia.

The weapon itself is not clearly seen in the released footage as it is either inside its launch container or is covered in tarps. The only part of the missile that can be seen is its nose cone and it appears to have a stealthy design. The missile also features large wings.

Poseidon Nuclear Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (UUV)/ Nuclear Torpedo

Poseidon is a nuclear-powered and nuclear-armed Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (UUV) under development in Russia. Status-6 is the earlier Russian code name for the weapon and Kanyon is the name given by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

Poseidon appears to be a deterrent weapon of last resort and the recent information suggest it having a top speed of 100 km/h (54 knots), a range of 10,000 km (5,400 nmi) and a maximum depth of 1,000 m (3,300 ft).

This underwater drone is cloaked by stealth technology to elude acoustic tracking devices and its size appears to be 1.6 metres in diameter, and 24 metres long.

The drone can deliver both conventional and nuclear payloads. According to Russian state TV, it may be able to deliver a thermonuclear cobalt bomb of up to 100 megatonnes against enemy’s naval ports and coastal cities.

Poseidon Nuclear UUV/ Torpedo
Poseidon (Kanyon/Status-6) nuclear-powered and nuclear-armed Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (UUV).

The Poseidon weapon is designed to create a tsunami wave up to 500 metres (1,600 ft) tall, which would contaminate a wide area on an enemy’s coast with radioactive isotopes, as well as being immune to anti-missile defence systems such as anti-ballistic missiles, laser weapons and railguns that might disable an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) or a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM).

The weapon can be also employed against an enemy aircraft carrier battle group which would have reduced chances of defending itself against it. The drone could detonate its very large warhead at standoff range, and anti-submarine warfare (ASW) units would have very little time to react because of the speed at which it travels.

Two potential carrier submarines, which would allegedly carry the Poseidon externally, the Project 09852 Oscar-class submarine Belgorod, and the Project 09851 Yasen-class submarine Khabarovsk, are new boats laid down in 2012 and 2014, respectively. Oscar-class submarines could carry four Poseidon torpedoes at the same time for the total yield of up to 400 megatonnes.

The MoD footage showed the nuclear UUV at a test facility with its propellers supposedly rotating along with actuation of its rudder. The propeller of the UUV was blurred in the publicly released footage. The video also included an animation of the weapon being launched from a submarine against an enemy carrier battle group.

Avangard Hypersonic Glide Vehicle

Avangard (also called Objekt 4202, Yu-71 and Yu-74) is a hypersonic glide vehicle developed by the Russian Federation using a Scramjet (Supersonic Combustion Ramjet) engine.

The glide vehicle can be carried as an MIRV (Multiple Independently-targetable Reentry Vehicle) payload by UR-100UTTKh (SS-19 Stiletto), RS-26 Rubezh (SS-X-31) and RS-28 Sarmat (SS-X-30) superheavy intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) and can deliver both nuclear and conventional warheads.

Avangard Hypersonic Glide Vehicle
Avangard Hypersonic Glide Vehicle

Avangard reaches speed of Mach 20 and is capable of sharp high speed evasive maneuvers in flight making it “absolutely invulnerable for any missile defence system”. According to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Avangard strikes “like a meteorite, like a fireball”.

According to the commander of the Russian Strategic Missile Forces, Colonel-General Sergei Karakayev, testing of the system has been finished.

In March 2018, Russia announced that the missile entered series production. The Avangard will become operational in late 2018 or early 2019.

The new MoD footage begins with the Avangard being loaded into the silo on top of a ballistic missile which is then launched from the silo. The live footage is followed by a computer generated imagery showing the glide vehicle maneuvering around enemy missile defense system.

Kh-47M2 Kinzhal Air-Launched Ballistic Missile (ALBM)

Kh-47M2 Kinzhal (Dagger) is a nuclear capable air-launched ballistic missile (ALBM) developed by Russia.

This “high-precision hypersonic aero-ballistic missile” has a range of more than 2,000 km (1,200 mi), Mach 10 speed, and an ability to perform evasive maneuvers at every stage of the flight. It can carry both conventional and nuclear warheads.

Kh-47M2 Kinzhal
MiG-31K aircraft armed with Kh-47M2 Kinzhal (Dagger) high-precision hypersonic aero-ballistic missile.

The missile accelerates to hypersonic speed within seconds of launch and performs maneuvers at all stages of the flight trajectory to evade enemy missile defenses. It appears that Kinzhal is an adaptation of the Iskander ground-launched tactical ballistic missile. Western commentators have been skeptical about the Russian claims for the weapon.

The missile is already deployed at Russia’s Southern Military District airbases. The missiles are carried by the MiG-31K supersonic interceptor aircraft.

While unveiling the missile in March, the Russian President claimed that the hypersonic missile flies at more than 10 times the speed of the sound and is capable of maneuvering and overcoming existing and future air defense and anti-ballistic missile (ABM) systems. According to him, the Kinzhal hypersonic missile systems have been on experimental and combat duty with the Russian Armed Forces since December 1, 2017.

Russian Air Force MiG-31K aircraft equipped with Kh-47M2 Kinzhal took part in Victory Day Parade in Moscow on 9th May, 2018.

The newly released footage showed the missile being launched from a Russian Air Force MiG-31 interceptor aircraft.

RS-28 Sarmat Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM)

The RS-28 Sarmat (NATO reporting name: SS-X-30 Satan 2) is a Russian liquid-fueled, MIRV-equipped, superheavy thermonuclear armed Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM), in development by the Makeyev Rocket Design Bureau.

The missile has a liftoff weight of 100 tons, a payload of 10 tons and an operational range of over 1o,000 km.

Its large payload would allow it to be armed with up to 10 heavy MIRV warheads or 15 lighter ones (350 kilotons yield each) or up to 24 Avangard hypersonic glide vehicles, or a combination of warheads and massive amounts of countermeasures designed to defeat anti-missile systems. The new ICBM was heralded by the Russian military as a response to the U.S. Prompt Global Strike (PGS) effort.

The new ICBM will replace R-20V/R-36M2 Voevoda (NATO reporting name, SS-18 Satan) missile of Russia’s Strategic Missile Troops when deliveries are to begin after 2020. R-36M is the world’s heaviest and most threatening strategic missile with a weight 211 tons and can carry a payload of 8.8 tons. It has a range of 11,000 km.

RS-28 Sarmat (SS-X-30 Satan 2)
RS-28 Sarmat (SS-X-30 Satan 2) heavy Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM).

“Not only will the Sarmat weigh less than its predecessor, it will also have a longer range,” TASS news agency quoted Viktor Litovkin, a military analyst. “The Satan has a range of 11,000 km, whereas the Sarmat will be able to fly to 17,000 km.

The Sarmat will carry at least 15 Multiple Independently-targetable Reentry Vehicles (MIRV), each with a yield of between 150 and 300 kilotons. The MIRVs will be arranged into a “grapevine,” and each will separate and continue to its individual target in accordance with the warhead’s preprogrammed algorithm.

The Sarmat has a hypersonic speed of over Mach 5 or 6 and is reportedly capable of constantly changing altitude in flight to avoid being intercepted by any anti-missile system.

The Strategic Missile Troops divisions stationed outside of Krasnoyarsk (4,150 km east of Moscow) and Orenburg (1,450 km east of Moscow) will be the first to receive the new missiles.

At least 154 silos will be left over from the Voyevoda (154 have already been destroyed as part of the START I Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty). Not all of these remaining silos will be used to house the Sarmat; the number of such missiles in Russia’s arsenal will need to meet the START III requirements, in accordance to which Russia and the U.S. are each to have no more than 700 deployed ICBMs with a total of 1,550 nuclear warheads.

According to open source data, Russia maintains 521 deployed ICBMs with 1,735 MIRVs while the U.S. has 741 ICBMs with 1,4871 MIRVs.

The newly released footage shows a transporter vehicle loading the missile into a silo followed by the launch of the missile.

Peresvet combat laser system

Peresvet Combat Laser Complex (Voevoi Lazernoy Kompleks) are new truck-mounted combat laser systems developed by Russia.

The exact role of the system is not currently known but it may be an anti-drone system to be used against enemy unmanned aircraft or a jamming system to blind enemy aircraft’s optical systems.

Peresvet combat laser system
Peresvet combat laser system

The newly released footage by the Russian MoD shows a military unit operating at least two Peresvet combat laser systems with accompanying command and support vehicles. The turret on which the laser system is mounted is shown moving. But, there are no clips, live or computer generated, of the directed energy weapon in operation to give a sense of its capabilities.

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