The Inside Scoop: What Russia Is Really Saying About Its 100-Megaton Nuclear Torpedo

The Inside Scoop: What Russia Is Really Saying About Its 100-Megaton Nuclear Torpedo

We have all the answers. 

The Right can hardly resist this call to return to the “good old days” when Ronald Reagan governed and the country agreed its greatest foe was the Kremlin. But America (and Russia) will actually be significantly less prosperous and much less secure as a result of these parochial and puerile machinations, especially in so far as they encourage the Stranglovian hallucinations of defense planners in both Moscow and Washington, DC.

The “collateral damage” of the Russia investigation becomes ever more apparent. From  the breakdown  of American institutional norms between the executive and the legislature, to  increasing distrust  regarding the law enforcement and intelligence apparatus to regional crises, for example  in Syria , that seem to spin increasingly out of control, the probe has brought both U.S. domestic and foreign policy making to a the point of crisis. Yet these calamities, which are largely advantageous  to newspaper subscriptions  and cable news ratings , may mask a deeper and more fundamental threat: the accelerating pace of a nuclear arms race [гонка ядерных вооружений] between Moscow and Washington.

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Even during the relatively halcyon days of the 1990s, the Kremlin still kept its finger on the nuclear trigger, in part due to the perceived weakness of its conventional forces but also as a reaction to NATO’s new interest in “out of area” missions. The successive waves of NATO expansion that began in 1999 had the predictable effect of significantly exaggerating strategic tensions and ballistic missile defense programs made an already touchy situation worse. Thus, even as the Obama administration first talked about a “reset” in U.S.-Russian relations, the Kremlin was already  starting to implement  a major overhaul of its nuclear forces. However, the dam was completely broken by the Ukraine crisis beginning in spring 2014. The Cold War has returned in force with the full flowering of the Russia investigation that shows few signs of easing its “death grip” on Washington, DC and U.S.-Russia relations specifically. The multitudes of Russia hawks on Capitol Hill and elsewhere in the Beltway, now more strident on the Left than the Right, may count the truly grotesque  Status-6 Russian naval, mega-nuclear weapon as the fruit of their bellicose ravings.

This “megaton-class nuclear weapon” [ядерное оружие мегатонного класса], as described by  one Russian source , is delivered by an unmanned undersea vehicle (UUV) and has the potential to exterminate a significant portion of the U.S. population in a single doomsday blow if deployed against the East Coast of the United States. This source explains: the  Status-6 UUV is “designed to defeat important enemy economic facilities in the region of the coast and to inflict guaranteed unacceptable damage to the country's territory by creating zones of extensive radioactive contamination unsuitable for carrying out military, economic and other activities in these zones for a long time.” [предназначен для поражение важных объектов экономики противника в районе побережья и нанесение гарантированного неприемлемого ущерба территории страны путем создания зон обширного радиоактивного заражения, непригодных для осуществления в этих зонах военной, хозяйственно-экономической и иной деятельности в течение длительного времени]. For good measure, it is additionally explained that the weapon can also be used to destroy naval bases or aircraft carrier battle groups. This edition of  Bear Cave  takes makes a brief examination of what Russian commentators are actually saying about  Status-6.

First, however, it should be said that  TNI has carried several articles that provide a good analysis of this new weapons system, including in particular, a  fine exploratory piece  by Dave Majumdar. He quotes CSBA undersea warfare expert Bryan Clark explaining that the system is far from an ideal weapon and may face real technical hurdles since a one-hundred megaton weapon could be exceedingly heavy and thus “difficult to control.” Monterey nuclear weapons expert Jeffrey Lewis is quoted reassuringly as saying: “I think we could build defenses against it … It should be easier than intercepting a missile, for sure.” To state the obvious at the outset: this Russian system’s main advantage is that it bypasses missile defenses altogether. Needless to say, it is a grave symptom of  the new  and continuously accelerating Cold War.

A few more details could be worth noting from the above Russian source, associated with the Russian military industrial complex [Военный Промышленный Комплекс].  Status-6 is reported to be powered by a liquid metal reactor and is said to have a cruising speed of 55km per hours. But it is apparently capable of a sprint at 100 to 185km per hour, allowing it to escape, according to this source, from any existing torpedoes employed by adversaries. Good to a depth of 1000m, the vehicle is said to be 26m in length and 1.6m in width. This report may confirm a  U.S. intelligence assessment  that a “successful test launch” [произведен успешный испытательный пуск] was undertaken on 27 November 2016 by  the submarine  Sarov. This project is apparently being developed by the submarine design bureau  Rubin [Рубин] and is described as a “deterrent weapon with a 100% guarantee of operation.”