Saturday, March 10, 2018

Speaking Softly As Always, Valodya Ended U.S. Superpower

straightlinelogic |  During his State of the Nation address on March 1, Russian president Vladimir Putin claimed that Russia had developed six new weapons. For Putin’s descriptions of the weapons and more details about them, please read the above-linked article by Alexander Mercouris, which was posted on SLL.

Four of the six weapons Putin mentioned are, if Putin is to be believed, already developed: the Sarmat heavy Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM), a nuclear powered cruise missile, a nuclear powered underwater drone, and an aircraft launched Kinzhai hypersonic missile. They are breathtaking for their speed, range, maneuverability, undetectability, and miniaturization of nuclear reactor technology. The other two, the Avangard hypersonic projectile and laser weapons (which Putin only cryptically mentioned), are believed to be still under development.

Hypersonic means a minimum of at least 5 times the speed of sound (Mach 1 or 741 mph, Mach 5 is 3705 mph). Putin claimed the Kinzhai hypersonic missile travels at Mach 10 (7410 mph). The Avangard hypersonic projectile may hit Mach 20 (14020 mph). Intercepting missiles traveling at supersonic speeds (Mach 1 to Mach 5) has proven difficult enough. Even in the limited, controlled tests that have been conducted, present technology has not been 100 percent effective. Presumably, in real world situations they would be even less effective. The difficulties of intercepting weapons traveling at hypersonic speeds are obvious and daunting.

Compounding those difficulties are the weapons’ range and maneuverability. The Sarmat ICBM is believed to have range of at least 10,500 miles (Putin said it has “practically no range restrictions”) and can attack targets via either the North or South Pole (US missile defenses are oriented towards the North Pole). It is able to constantly maneuver at a speed of what is believed to be Mach 5 or Mach 6, and to carry 15 warheads with yields estimated at 150 to 300 kilotons (the Nagasaki atomic bomb had a yield of 23 kilotons).

Powering cruise missiles and underwater drones (both of which can carry nuclear warheads) with miniature nuclear reactors gives them virtually unlimited range. Putin claimed the Kinzhai missile, “can also manoeuvre at all phases of its flight trajectory, which also allows it to overcome all existing and, I think, prospective anti-aircraft and anti-missile defence systems.”