Putin Hails Russian Navy On Cusp Of Achieving Hypersonic Nuclear Strike Weapons
It’s been a while since Russian President Vladimir Putin touted the country’s experimental hypersonic weapons, especially following last year’s (Aug. 2019) major radiation emitting explosion at a military testing ground in Russia’s far northern Arkhangelsk region, believed to have been a failed hypersonic missile test, which killed multiple scientists and technicians.
But according to new statements of his addressing an annual naval parade in St. Petersburg, the Russian military is far past merely the realm of the “experimental,” but is on the cusp of deploying hypersonic nuclear strike weapons.
“The widespread deployment of advanced digital technologies that have no equals in the world, including hypersonic strike systems and underwater drones, will give the fleet unique advantages and increased combat capabilities,” Putin said on Sunday, according to Reuters. He claimed that the whole world is “chasing after Russia” in this crucial area of cutting edge defense technology.
The Pentagon, which has its own program which is at an unknown stage of development, has had current and former generals dub missiles flying at hypersonic speeds essentially “indefensible” — though the US program is aimed in part at achieving precisely defensive capability against them.
Reuters describes of the as yet to be deployed (to our knowledge) Russian hypersonic arsenal:
The weapons, some of which have yet to be deployed, include the Poseidon underwater nuclear drone, designed to be carried by submarines, and the Tsirkon (Zircon) hypersonic cruise missile, which can be deployed on surface ships.
The combination of speed, manoeuvrability and altitude of hypersonic missiles, capable of travelling at more than five times the speed of sound, makes them difficult to track and intercept.
Elsewhere the Russian defense ministry was widely cited as a saying its first nuclear submarine capable of launching the Poseidon nuclear drone had entered the testing phase. “Work is being successfully completed to create modern weapons systems for the Navy,” a Kremlin statement said.
However, Western analysts have typically considered such statements to be far out front of actual successful testing. But Russian media has detailed that “The tests of Russia’s ship-based Zircon missile – one of several hypersonic weapons introduced by the country’s military – are successfully nearing completion,” citing the Defense Ministry, which has “confirmed the unique tactical and technical characteristics of this missile, as well as its ability to travel at hypersonic speeds.” The Zircon is said to be capable of reaching Mach 9 at an operational range of 1,000km.
Putin also touted that the navy will receive at least 40 new ships this year, without giving further details on types and sizes.
The speech comes days after last week the Russian president held a phone call with Trump over New START, which is set to expire next year. Both sides have expressed a strong desire to avoid an arms race, especially involving nuclear arms.
New START, which is the landmark nuclear arms reduction treaty signed by the two superpowers in 1991 and took effect in 1994, specifically is set to expire in February 2021, which would be a mere weeks after the next presidential inauguration.