Hypersonic nukes! Nuclear-powered drone subs! Putin unwraps his new (propaganda) toys

No no, you can't see them, unless you attack. Which you won't. So you can't see 'em

Vids Russian Federation president Putin has used his annual state-of-the-nation address to show off the latest additions to Russia's weapon's catalog and to warn the Western powers that his country will not be trifled with.

Putin showed off video of new weapons systems, including a massive ICBM capable of launching hypersonic warheads, a nuclear-powered submarine drone, cruise missiles with nearly unlimited range, and a ground-based laser weapon that has already started service with Russian forces.

Here's the full address:

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Such weapons were needed, Putin postulated, because in 2002 then-President Bush unilaterally withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty so that the US could develop its anti-missile shield. In response Russia has developed weapons to defeat any anti-missile technology, although given the lackluster performance of US defensive systems so far one wonders why he bothered.

Russia has successfully tested its new 200-ton Sarmat missile (nicknamed Satan 2 by the US military) and Putin promised it now had enough range to attack the US after travelling via the South Pole. That route will avoid the anti-ballistic missile capabilities installed over the northern polar route.

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Sarmat can carry ten heavy thermonuclear warheads, or a bunch of smaller ones, but Putin also touted a new hypersonic delivery system that could deliver bombs through the atmosphere at speeds too fast to intercept.

Putin also described an new nuclear power source that the Russians have developed that would produce as much power as a large nuclear reactor but in a small package, enabling it to power a new generation of weapons with unlimited range and deadly striking power.

One application for that power source is a manoeuvrable cruise missile that he showed launching from the Russia, flying down into the South Atlantic, evading radar as it went, before flying North across the Pacific Ocean and striking the West Coast of the US. Such a weapon made the US missile shield "absolutely pointless," Putin said.

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This sounds very similar to the Project Pluto engine the US tried to develop in the 1950s – a nuclear powered ramjet capable of flying deep into the then Soviet Union. After dropping conventional bombs the Supersonic Low Altitude Missile (SLAM) would fly over Soviet territory damaging facilities with its low-level supersonic shock waves and spewing radioactive waste over the area. The project was cancelled in 1964.

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The same Russian reactor used in the cruise missile would also be used in submarine warfare, Putin said. Russian subs could deploy nuclear-powered drones that would travel underwater faster than any conventional submarines and destroy either fleets or harbour facilities, with conventional or nuclear payloads.

"They are quiet, highly manoeuvrable and have hardly any vulnerabilities for the enemy to exploit," he said. "There is simply nothing in the world capable of withstanding them."

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After a test in December last year the new reactor was 100 times smaller than a standard nuclear power unit and could cycle up to full power 200 times faster, Putin said. That would give the underwater drones formidable speed and he asked the Russian people to send in their suggested names for the new weapons – El Reg's choice would be Nuky McMeltingface.

Putin also wants suggested names for a laser weapon already in use by the Russian army. The truck-mounted laser looks similar to US systems used against air threats but very little information was given.

Russia already has a name for a new hypersonic missile system, Putin said, and it was called Kinzhal, which translated to Dagger. The air-launched missile is capable of flying ten times the speed of sound, manoeuvre around defense systems and has a range of 2,000 miles.

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Another intercontinental hypersonic missile has also been developed, he promised, which can strike anywhere in the world at speeds of Mach 20 while still maintain the agility to evade countermeasures. New composite materials mean it can also avoid destruction by the heat generated by atmospheric air compression.

"It flies to its target like a meteorite, like a ball of fire," he told his audience. "The temperature on its surface reaches 1,600–2,000 degrees Celsius but the cruise bloc is reliably guided."

Russia will not use these weapons for wars of aggression, Putin said, but only in retaliation is nuclear or other weapons of mass destruction were used against his country. They would also come into play "with the use of conventional weapons that threaten the very existence of the state."

"There is no need to create more threats to the world," he concluded. "Instead, let us sit down at the negotiating table and devise together a new and relevant system of international security and sustainable development for human civilisation. We have been saying this all along." ®




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