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Russia Reveals New Sub Carrying Nuclear-Tipped Drone
Kanyon drones equipped with port-blasting megaton warheads
BY: Bill Gertz
April 24, 2019
Belgorod
Belgorod / TASS


Russia unveiled one of its nuclear superweapons on Tuesday launching its first submarine capable of firing high-speed underwater drones armed with massive nuclear warheads.

The first Project 09852 submarine described as the "special purpose" nuclear powered Belgorod vessel was launched from Sevmash shipyard in Severodvinsk in northern Russia, the government news outlet TASS reported.

The report included a photograph of a large underwater vessel with a twin tail and wings.

According to the report, the submarine will be armed with six nuclear drones that have been labeled Kanyon by the Pentagon and Poseidon by the Russians.

Poseidon graphic

Poseidon graphic / TASS

The new submarine appears to be a variant of one of Russia's Oscar-class, cruise missile-firing submarines first built in the 1992 and upgraded during the 2010s.

The report said details of the new submarine remain secret.

Mikhail Budnichenko, director of the shipyard, said during the launch ceremony that "the enterprise’s shipbuilders will fulfill all the tasks of building ships within the established timeframe and with high quality."

The submarine will be finished while afloat and TASS quoted a defense source saying the nuclear reactor will be tested later this year, with sea trials set for 2020 and deployment by the end of that year.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who announced the nuclear drone weapon in March 2018, reportedly watched the submarine launch from Moscow via video.

The Washington Free Beacon first reported the existence of the nuclear drone in 2015. Defense officials described the Kanyon as a weapon capable of blowing up entire ports and cities, such as Kings Bay, Ga. and Puget Sound in Washington state where U.S. nuclear missile submarines are based.

The Kanyon is one of several superweapons unveiled by Russian President Vladimir Putin designed to target the United States with strategic weapons in what the Russians have claimed is retaliation for U.S. missile defenses deployed in Europe.

U.S. intelligence agencies estimate the Kanyon will be outfitted with a warhead in the tens of megaton nuclear yield. A megaton is the equivalent of 1 million tons of TNT.

The Navy currently has no similar unmanned underwater vehicle weapon similar to the Kanyon. The service is developing a range of weapons-carrying drones.

The Pentagon is currently modernizing the U.S. nuclear arsenal with upgrades to communications, facilities, and two small nuclear warheads.

Air Force Gen. John Hyten, commander of the Strategic Command, told a Senate hearing in February that the nuclear drone is one of several new Russian strategic weapons designed to threaten the United States and highlight the need to modernize U.S. nuclear arms.

"Although some might consider these [U.S.] modernization plans expensive, I believe that America can afford survival," Hyten said.

"The only way to change our strategic deterrent is to convince our adversaries to reduce the threat. This is not occurring. China and Russia, in particular, are not only modernizing the traditional elements of their own triads, but are also building a myriad of additional nuclear capabilities to threaten the United States."

The 2018 Nuclear Posture Review also mentioned the Kanyon as one of Russia's nuclear arms, describing the system as "a new intercontinental, nuclear-armed, nuclear-powered, undersea autonomous torpedo."

Former Pentagon official Mark Schneider said Russian press reports have said the Kanyon will carry a 100-megaton warhead and possibly a cobalt bomb—an enhanced radiation weapon never built during the Cold War designed to destroy large port cities.

"Since ports can be knocked out of action with much lower yield weapons, the purpose of Poseidon is murder of civilians by the tens of millions," Schneider said.

"That was the mission outlined in the leaked Kremlin briefing slide. We have nothing like it because it is a weapon of genocide. There is no way to limit damage when it is used and no way to use it consistent with the international law of armed conflict."

Schneider calculates that a single submarine armed with Kanyon bombs would release more radiation than the entire U.S. strategic arsenal.

The Kanyon also is not constrained by the 2010 New START arms treaty and Russian officials have said they will not agree to modify the treaty to bring it within the confines of the accord.

"Russia plans to initiate a nuclear war with precision low yield nuclear strikes," Schneider said. "The purpose of Poseidon is to attempt to deter a nuclear response by the threat of genocidal attacks."

U.S. nuclear policymakers have not stated how the United States would respond if Moscow were to carry out such strikes.

Schneider urged the U.S. government to issue a statement from a high-level U.S. official notifying the Russians that if they were to launch such attacks the United States will respond under the international legal doctrine called "belligerent response." In that response, the United States would destroy a comparable number of Russian cities.

"There is no nice way to deter the Putin regime from using weapons like Poseidon," he said. "If there is a negotiation on New START Treaty extension, this weapon should not be limited but banned."

Putin first announced the new strategic underwater drone in a March 1, 2018, saber-rattling speech denouncing U.S. missile defenses. He said the drones will be capable of diving to "extreme depths" while traversing long distances at speeds several times faster than current torpedoes.

The weapon will be used to attack aircraft carrier battle groups, shore defenses, and infrastructure with impunity, he said. They also will be armed with nuclear or conventional explosive warheads, Putin said.

"They are quiet, highly maneuverable and have hardly any vulnerabilities for the enemy to exploit. There is simply nothing in the world capable of withstanding them," Putin said, noting that the weapon was "not a bluff" and urging others to "stop rocking the boat we are all in and which is called the earth."

Other strategic weapons in development by the Russians include hypersonic strike vehicles, a nuclear-powered cruise missile and anti-satellite weapons.

Russian military officials have touted the nuclear drone as a way to counter the sea-based leg of U.S. global missile defenses.

The Navy currently operates numerous ships Aegis battle management-equipped warships outfitted with advanced missile defense interceptors and sensors.

Tass said the Kanyon will operate at a depth of more than half a mile and will be capable of traveling at speeds of over 125 miles per hour. One Russian report said the weapon will carry a 2 megaton warhead.

 

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Beluga whale with Russian harness raises alarm in Norway
By: The Associated Press   2 hours ago


A beluga whale is seen as it swims next to a fishing boat before Norwegian fishermen removed the tight harness off the northern Norwegian coast Friday, April 26, 2019. (Joergen Ree Wiig/Norwegian Direcorate of Fisheries Sea Surveillance Unit via AP)

COPENHAGEN, Denmark — A beluga whale found with a tight harness that appeared to be Russian made has raised the alarm of Norwegian officials and prompted speculation that the animal may have come from a Russian military facility.

Joergen Ree Wiig of the Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries says "Equipment St. Petersburg" is written on the harness strap, which features a mount for an action camera.

He said Monday fishermen in Arctic Norway last week reported the tame white cetacean with a tight harness swimming around. On Friday, fisherman Joar Hesten, aided by Ree Wiig, jumped into the frigid water to remove the harness.

Ree Wiig said "people in Norway's military have shown great interest" in the harness.

Audun Rikardsen, a professor at the Department of Arctic and Marine Biology at the Arctic University of Norway in Tromsoe, northern Norway, believes "it is most likely that Russian Navy in Murmansk" is involved. Russia has major military facilities in and around Murmansk on the Kola Peninsula, in the far northwest of Russia.

It wasn't immediately clear what the mammal was being trained for, or whether it was supposed to be part of any Russian military activity in the region.

Rikardsen said he had checked with scholars in Russia and Norway and said they have not reported any program or experiments using beluga whales.

"This is a tame animal that is used to get food served so that is why it has made contacts with the fishermen," he said. "The question is now whether it can survive by finding food by itself. We have seen cases where other whales that have been in Russian captivity doing fine."

Hesten told Norwegian broadcaster NRK that the whale began to rub itself again his boat when he first spotted it.

Russia does not have a history of using whales for military purposes but the Soviet Union had a full-fledged training program for dolphins.
The Soviet Union used a base in Sevastopol on the Crimean Peninsula during the Cold War to train the mammals for military purposes such as searching for mines or other objects and planting explosives. The facility in Crimea was closed following the collapse of the Soviet Union, though unnamed reports shortly after the Russian annexation of Crimea indicated that it had reopened.

The Russian Defense Ministry published a public tender in 2016 to purchase five dolphins for a training program. The tender did not explain what tasks the dolphins were supposed to perform, but indicated they were supposed to have good teeth. It was taken offline shortly after publication.

Beluga whale with Russian harness raises alarm in Norway
 

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Russia launches the largest submarine in the world
April 26, 2019




On April 23, the special-mission nuclear submarine Belgorod of Project 09852 was launched in the Sevmash Shipyard, located in Severodvinsk, reports TASS.

The submarine Belgorod is the largest submarine in the world and is based on the Project 949A Antey. This vessel will be the first carrier of Russian strategic autonomous unmanned underwater drones Poseidon.

There is still very little known about the technical characteristics of the Belgorod submarine. The vessel was laid down in 1992. During the completion and redesign works, the length of the original submarine increased from 154 to 184 meters. This is 11 meters longer than the Project 941 Shark submarines, which were considered the largest in the world. Further works on the submarine will continue on the water. The reactor and mooring tests are planned to be held in 2019.

According to the Chief of Staff of the Navy, Andrey Volozhinsky, the new submarine is guaranteed to ensure Russia’s safety.
In turn, the underwater drone Poseidon is able to carry a nuclear warhead and develop high speed underwater, while moving between continents.

 

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Russia tests orbital jamming system in Donba
Thursday, May 02, 2019



The Russian military is testing the Tirada-2 orbital jamming system in the Donbas. The presence of this modern electronic warfare system in eastern Ukraine was announced on 16 March 2019 in a report by the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM). At the time, the system had not yet been officially adopted into Russia’s armament.

According to volunteers from the international investigation community InformNapalm, this system’s presence in the Donbas indicates not only that Russia is testing its latest electronic warfare systems in combat conditions against the Ukrainian army, but also that it is attempting to interfere with the signal reception of the US’s RQ-4B Global Hawk surveillance drone that periodically performs monitoring flights along the contact line.

On 3 April 2019, the Twitter account of the Ukrainian Mission to the OSCE published a photograph of an R-330Zh “Zhitel” automatic jamming system and a Tirada-2 system that were spotted by an SMM drone near the Yuzhna-Lomuvatka settlement in the Luhansk province. The investigators note that there has been a permanent presence of Russian electronic warfare systems in this territory since 2017. Until now, the exact appearance of the Tirada-2 was not known, although Russia did present a model Tirada-2S at the Max-2013 international exhibition.

The SMM drone’s photograph has helped to narrow down the search for real photographs of this secret Russian system. Another picture of the system at a testing ground in Russia was leaked online in 2018 due to negligence on the part of the Russian Defense Ministry’s press service. InformNapalm volunteers compered the photograph from the SMM’s report to the leaked photo and concluded that it is indeed a Tirada-2 system, which is officially not yet being used by the Russian Defense Ministry.

On the evening of 18 April, the OSCE SMM team lost a long-range drone that was meant to be monitoring the Ukraine-controlled and separatist-controlled territories on either side of the demarcation line in the Donbas.

The headquarters of Ukraine’s Joint Forces Operation later reported that Russia’s use of modern electronic warfare systems was responsible for the loss of the OSCE drone.

 

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Russia successfully tests S-500 missile system
May 01, 2019


The radar system and multipurpose radar station that form part of the S-500 Prometheus aerial defense system have been tested and are ready for serial production, sources in the Russian Defense Ministry told Izvestia.

The final stage of the radars’ testing was performed at the Aerospace Forces’ 185th Combat Training Center base in the Astrakhan province.

Special attention was given to cooperation between the S-500 radar systems and the Pantsir-SM missile launcher systems, which are designed to work together. Military expert Anton Lavrov explained that the radars will “be responsible” for long-range threats, such as ballistic missiles and aircraft, whereas the Pantsir-SM operators will “focus” on unmanned aerial vehicles.

The S-500 is also meant to function seamlessly alongside S-300, S-350 and S-400 systems.

In March, Lieutenant-General Vladimir Lyaporov, head of the Zhukov Air and Space Defense Academy, said that the latest S-500 and S-350 surface-to-air missile systems will become part of Russia’s armament by 2020.

 

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Kremlin: Russia opposes Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons Treaty
Sunday, May 5, 2019



Russia believes that the idea of nuclear disarmament is still premature. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) at the moment would only provoke a conflict between the nuclear powers, stated the Russian delegation at the meeting of the committee for conference preparation on The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), reports Gazeta.ru.

According to Russian representatives, the disarmament process must be approached “realistically and in several stages”. At the same time, it is necessary to take into account the development of a global missile defense system and the prospects for weapons placement in space. The Russian Foreign Ministry believes that the Russian side in recent years “has made a tangible contribution to the process of nuclear disarmament”. The country's nuclear arsenal has decreased by more than 85% compared to the period of the “cold war”.

The delegation also opposed the deployment of the United States nuclear weapons in Europe. In addition, diplomats accused Washington of violating one of the key treaties in this area, the Treaty Between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the Elimination of Their Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles (INF).

Earlier, Russian presidential aide for international affairs, Yury Ushakov, said that Russia was ready for new agreements on nuclear disarmament, but that “requires serious negotiations.”

 

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Critical flaws found in latest Russian submarines
May 9, 2019


For the immediate foreseeable future, even the latest Russian submarines will lack effective anti-torpedo protection, claims military expert Maxim Klimov in an article for the Russian news outlet Military Review, after analyzing Izvestia’s interview with Konstantin Drobot, chief designer of the Paket-E/NK anti-torpedo system.

The expert bases his conclusion on the example of the K-560 “Severodvinsk”, the primary submarine in project 885 “Yasen”. The vessel was adopted into Russia’s North Fleet in 2014, but still does not have an anti-torpedo defense system. Klimov believes that this is confirmed by what Drobot said, that a submarine version of the Paket-E/NK system has not yet been created.

“This being the case, our submarines essentially lack effective passive anti-torpedo protection,” Klimov remarks, referring specifically to the sonar countermeasures that are effective against modern torpedoes.

“Both the vessels of project Yasen and the nuclear submarines of project 955 Borei lack elementary protection against torpedoes,” he continues. “The military and the manufacturers are fully aware of this. However, there is no doubt that, if the real situation were reported to the supreme commander-in-chief (according to Russia’s constitution, this position is held by the president), the matter would be resolved in a year, two at most,” he believes.

Yasen and Borei-class submarines are the fourth and latest generation, with the latter still in the development phase. At present, Russia is building only one Yasen-class submarine, the “Severodvinsk”. The three Borei-class submarines under construction have been named “Yuriy Dolgoruky”, “Alexander Nevsky” and “Vladimir Monomakh”. The Borei-class submarines form the sea component of Russia’s nuclear triad.



 

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Putin: 150 ballistic missile launches detected by Russian radar systems over 3 years
Friday, May 17, 2019



During a meeting on defense in Sochi, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that for three years the launches of 150 ballistic missiles were tracked using the space system of early-warning radars, reports RBC news agency.

"During the past three years, it has recorded, in a timely manner, that is, according to standards, the launches of over 150 ballistic missiles and carrier missiles of both Russian and foreign origin," said Putin.

The meeting in Sochi is devoted to the orbital component of the Russian Aerospace Forces. At the opening of the meeting, President noted, that much work has been done in the past six years to improve Russian orbital group of military and dual-purpose spacecraft. "Its parts have been updated by almost 80% and increased by half," Putin said.

"There is no need to say in detail that the preservation of strategic stability and military affairs directly depends on effectively solving security problems in space," the Russian President told the participants of the meeting, proposing to discuss the prospects for the development of the orbital component of the Russian Aerospace Forces.

Putin opened another series of defense-related meetings on May 13 in Kazan, where he visited the Kazan Aircraft Production Association and then had a meeting in Akhtubinsk, where he arrived accompanied by six Su-57 fighters.

 

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Russian army receives its first Tornado-S MLRS brigade
May 21, 2019



This year the Russian army has received its first brigade of the latest-generation Tornado-S multiple launch rocket system (MLRS), announced Alexander Kochkin, vice-CEO of the Rostec subsidiary Techmash, at the MILEX-2019 exhibition.

“As for the further development of the Tornado, we now have a new system, the Tornado-S. The first rocket brigade was sent to the armed forces this year, and has begun pilot operation,” Kochkin told RIA Novosti.

The modernization of the Tornado MLRS to the Tornado-S level was commissioned by the Defense Ministry, he noted.

The Tornado-S is a considerable upgrade from the 9K58 Tornado, designed to destroy distant group targets (personnel, unarmored, lightly armored and armored vehicles), tactical missiles, aerial defense systems, parked helicopters, command points, communication nodes and military industrial infrastructure. The system can fire its rockets in a salvo or as individual precision missiles, and has essentially become a universal tactical rocket system. The Tornado-S can also use adjustable ammunition.


 

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TORNADO-S (9A52-4) is the, upgrade of 300 mm MLRS ‘Smerch’ bearing rockets with satellite-assisted guidance. Tornado is fitted with a single container with six launching tubes for 300-mm rockets. It can fire all existing Smerch rockets, including HE-FRAG, incendiary, fuel-air explosive, cluster with anti-personnel or anti-tank mines. Cluster rounds may also carry self-targeting anti-tank munitions. A standard rocket is 7.6 m long and weights 800 kg. Maximum range of fire is 70 km with ordinary and 90 km with extended-range rockets. Rockets are fitted with range and direction correction system for better accuracy. A full salvo of this rocket system covers area of 32 hectares.

Tornado-S
Two types of containers are available. One of them is factory-fitted and sealed. It is used to store, transport and launch rockets. The whole container is disposable. It is replaced after all rockets are launched. Another is an open-type, reusable launcher pack. It is reloaded with individual rockets by a reloading vehicle in field conditions.

The 9A52-4 chassis of KamAZ-63501 8x8 military truck. Vehicle is powered by a KamAZ-740.50.360 turbocharged diesel engine, developing 360 hp. This heavy-duty truck has good cross country mobility. Artillery system has climatic operation range from -40°C to +50°C. A crew of two men prepares system for firing within 3 minutes, without leaving cabin. The launch vehicle is fitted with automated laying and fire control system. It is also fitted with autonomous satellite navigation and positioning system. A launch vehicle exchanges positioning and firing data with command vehicle. Rockets can be launched directly form the cab, or remotely form the vehicle. The 9A52-4 can launch single rocket, partial ripple or full salvo.

Combat_vehicle_9A52-4_Smerch_MLRS_(3) - Copy.jpg


maks-2007-9A52-4-03-L - Copy.jpg
 

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Why Russia's Most Deadly Rocker Launcher Could Soon Be a Threat to U.S. Troops
July 7, 2018
The Russian government has granted permission to export the 9A52-4 Tornado-G multiple-rocket launcher.
by Michael Peck

For the first time, the Russian government has granted permission to export the 9A52-4 Tornado-G multiple rocket launcher.

That's good news for Tornado-maker Rostec, the Russian state-owned arms manufacturer. But it's not good news for American troops, who have been under fire from Russian-made artillery in various wars since 1950.

Rostec “has obtained the necessary permission to demonstrate the Tornado-G MLRS abroad,” according to a company announcement.

“The system is expected to evoke the interest of potential foreign customers and will be able in the future to replace Grad systems operational in more than 60 countries of the world.”

The Tornado may not be a household word, but its predecessor, the BM-21 Grad, certainly is.

First deployed in the early 1960s, the Grad (itself a descendant of the legendary World War II Katyusha) is used by numerous nations, including North Korea, Iran and Vietnam. It is a truck-mounted weapon with forty launch tubes that can saturate more than two acres of ground in a single salvo.

The Tornado, first deployed by the Russian in 2011, is an improved Grad with more lethal upgrades. The Tornado-G version has a rotating launcher mounted on a Ural 4230 6x6 truck . It can fire forty 122-millimeter rockets with a range of about twenty-five miles. The Tornado-G can fire cluster warheads with self-guided anti-tank sub-munitions.

The Tornado-S version heavier three-hundred-millimeter rockets. A 2016 Sputnik News article, breathlessly titled “Russian Tornado-S Rocket Systems Deliver Blow That Rivals Nuclear Blast,” described the Tornado-S as having a range of seventy-five miles and able to blast an area of 2.6 miles. Unlike the Grad, which was essentially Second World War technology, the Tornado system is equipped with GLONASS satellite guidance (Russian GPS) to enable the launch vehicle to pinpoint its own location for more accurate fire.

In addition to the venerable Grad, the Tornado is slated to replace several Cold War multiple rocket launcher systems, namely the Smerch and Uragan MRLS.

It remains to be seen which, if any, nations will buy the Tornado-G from Russia.

While Soviet multiple rocket launchers were ubiquitous in East Bloc and any number of Third World armies, one virtue of a weapon like the Grad was that like other Soviet weapons, it was relatively cheap, simple, capable of delivering a sudden deluge of high explosive, and able to quickly scoot away after firing before the enemy can hit back. It was self-propelled artillery on the cheap, unlike the expensive tank-like self-propelled howitzers favored by the United States. Even if the accuracy of the earlier rocket artillery left something to be desired, it was good enough for a typical African or Asian brushfire war.

The Tornado seems closer to the American model of higher-tech weapons, with satellite guidance for the launch vehicle and self-guided guided warheads atop the rockets. This suggests a higher level of maintenance and skill will be needed to operate the system, perhaps beyond the capacity of the more threadbare Third World armies. But it could be operated by more sophisticated militaries such as Iran and North Korea.

Just as airpower has been the quintessential symbol of U.S. military power since 1941, so rocket artillery has been quintessentially Russian since the first Katyushas terrified Nazi soldiers outside Moscow. While America has the M270 Multiple Rocket Launch System and the smaller High-Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), they don't occupy the same place that rockets do in the Russian arsenal.

One reason is that the United States prefers highly precise guided weapons rather than brute-force area-effect weapons like multiple rocket launchers. Russia feels otherwise. “Despite the emergence of high-precision and ‘smart’ weapons, multiple rocket launchers remain an effective weapon against ground targets,” Sputnik News assured its readers in 2017.

“Even the Americans, with their predilection for smart weapons, readily use their MLRS and HIMARS systems in Iraq and Afghanistan. Still, the Western MRLs are no match for their Russian counterparts as this country has always been the hands-down leader in the development of such weapons.”

Michael Peck is a contributing writer for the National Interest.

Image: Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation. Wikimedia Commons


 

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Russia's New Stealth Drone Looks Like a B-2 Stealth Bomber. But Can It Fight?
Coming soon?
May 21, 2019
by David Axe

Russia’s prototype stealth drone was on the flight line when Russian president Vladimir Putin on May 14, 2019 inspected the country’s latest warplanes.

Commercial satellite imagery confirmed the Hunter-B drone’s presence at the 929th Chkalov State Flight-Test Center in Russia's Astrakhan region.
It was the unmanned aerial vehicle’s first appearance since January 2019, when photos began circulating depicting the large, flying-wing UAV on the ground at an airfield in Novosibirsk in southern Russia.

Other warplane types also were on the flight line at the test center, including the Yak-130 trainer and several version of the Su-30 multi-role fighter. But Putin visited Chkalov apparently mostly to hype to Su-57 stealth fighter.
Six Sukhoi Su-57s -- fully half of the stealth fighters that Sukhoi has built since the type first flew in 2010 -- escorted Putin’s Il-96 VIP plane on the trip from Moscow to Astrakhan.

Claiming that Sukhoi had driven down the cost of an Su-57 by 20 percent, Putin announced the Kremlin by 2027 would buy 76 Su-57s instead of just 16, as Moscow previously planned. “I hope that the adjusted plans will be executed,” Putin said in a prepared statement following the Chkalov visit.
Putin by contrast barely mentioned the Hunter-B. “In addition to the modern and advanced military aircraft and helicopters that were shown to us, unmanned aerial vehicles were presented,” Putin said. “I emphasize that all the activities in preparation for the serial production of this technology were performed on time.”

“Let's get to work,” Putin said.

Observers should not read Putin’s comments to indicate that the Hunter-B is ready for mass production and front-line service. It almost certainly isn’t ready.

It’s worth pointing out that Putin’s announcement of a possible big order for Su-57s also could be premature. But before it can mass-produce Su-57s that the Russian air force actually can use in combat, Sukhoi must complete development of the type’s combat systems, integrate weapons on the planes, expand the assembly line that builds the stealth fighters and train workers actually to make them.

A flying wing similar in shape to the U.S. Air Force's B-2 stealth bomber, Hunter-B, in theory, could penetrate enemy defenses to deliver ordnance.

Hunter-B is in the same class as China's Tian Ying drone, the U.S. Air Force's RQ-170 surveillance unmanned aerial vehicle, the U.S. Navy's experimental X-47B UAV and Boeing's X-45C drone demonstrator.

The likelihood of Hunter-B eventually entering squadron service with the Russian air force is "big," Tom Cooper, an independent expert on Russian military aviation, told The National Interest.

"The Russian military is running multiple UAV-related projects," Cooper said. "Thus the emergence of this project is perfectly normal."
Hunter-B could begin flight-testing any time now, if it hasn’t already done so. “the Russian defense establishment is promising a test that will include a short-duration 'jump'—the UCAV will rise ever so briefly above the tarmac to test its launching and landing capabilities," said Samuel Bendett, an independent expert on the Russian military.

"At this point, it is going to be heaviest and fastest UAV [in Russian service] if and when fielded, but additional testing and evaluation will have to take place in order for this unmanned system to be fully functional,” Bendett added. “Its speed [up to 620 miles per hour] and weight — up to 20 tons — means that a host of aerodynamic, electronic and high-tech issues need to be worked out."

To be effective in service, Hunter-B also will need small precision-guided munitions, Cooper pointed out. The Kremlin long has lagged behind the rest of the word in PGM development.

All the above means that Hunter-B might need several more years of development before it's ready for squadron service.

But Russian crews are already getting ready, Cooper said. "The first generation of pilots and ground crews for UAVs just completed their four-years-long training, and they meanwhile have plenty of experience in operating smaller UAVs in Syria."

 

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Russia Launches New Icebreaker As It Seeks To Dominate Arctic
May 26, 2019
An undated picture from the Alfred Wegener Institute of Polar and Marine Research dated October 2011 shows the research ship Polarstern (North Star) sailing on the Arctic Ocean.

An undated picture from the Alfred Wegener Institute of Polar and Marine Research dated October 2011 shows the research ship Polarstern (North Star) sailing on the Arctic Ocean.

Russia has launched a nuclear-powered icebreaker as it looks to strengthen its position in the Arctic Ocean to capitalize on its growing commercial potential.

At a launch ceremony in St. Petersburg on May 25, officials toasted the Ural, the third vessel in a plan to reinforce its fleet with some of the largest and most powerful icebreakers ever built.

“They are the ships from new generation icebreakers of that class that we pin our hopes on in exploration of the Northern Sea Route. It is a principally new ship," Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov said at the ceremony.

Thawing ice in the Arctic is beginning to give increased access to much of the planet's remaining undiscovered reserves of oil and natural gas and large deposits of zinc, iron, and rare-earth metals, prompting nearby states as well as world powers such as China to rush and claim territory or boost their presence in the region.

Moscow's is locked in a race with rivals Canada, the United States, Norway and China to dominate the Arctic through a corridor running from Murmansk to the Bering Strait near Alaska, a faster route for sea cargo traveling from Asia to Europe.

The two other icebreakers in Russia's Project 22220 series are the Arktika (Arctic) and Sibir (Siberia),

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that Russia's Arctic icebreaker fleet could total 13 or more by 2035.
With reporting by Reuters and TASS

 

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