What Is Russia’s Poseidon Drone - 'Super Weapon of the Apocalypse'
|Belgorod is the biggest military submarine in the world - and is armed with nuke torpedos. Photo The Sun UK|
News of Belgorod's disappearance comes amid heightened concerns that the Kremlin is eyeing its nuclear weapons as it suffers setbacks in Ukraine. Recent footage shared on a pro-Russian Telegram channel showed a train transporting advanced military gear that belongs to the 12th Main Directorate, which helps maintain Moscow's nuclear stockpile, the Daily Mail reported.
What is Russia’s Poseidon nuclear drone?
The Poseidon, or the Ocean Multipurpose System Status-6, is a underwater unmanned vehicle that can be launched by a submarine. According to Popular Mechanics, it can travel up to 6,200 miles at speeds of 56 knots (Just over 100 kilometers per hour).
“This nuclear ‘mega torpedo’ is unique in the history of the world,” submarine expert H.I. Sutton explained on his website Covert Shores. “Poseidon is a completely new category of weapon. It will reshape naval planning in both Russia and the West, leading to new requirements and new counter-weapons.”
According to its mission statement, the project was focused on “damaging the important components of the adversary's economy in a coastal area and inflicting unacceptable damage to a country's territory by creating areas of wide radioactive contamination that would be unsuitable for military, economic, or other activity for long periods of time”.
Poseidon drones together with their carriers - nuclear-powered submarines - make part of the so-called oceanic multipurpose system. The drone got its name following the results of open voting on the website of Russia’s Defense Ministry.
In his state of the nation address to both houses of Russia’s parliament on March 1, 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin mentioned for the first time the country’s efforts to develop a nuclear-powered unmanned underwater vehicle that can carry both conventional and nuclear warheads and is capable of destroying enemy infrastructural facilities, aircraft carrier groups and other targets.
Russian Navy Commander-in-Chief Sergei Korolyov later said that the new weapon system would enable the fleet to accomplish a broad range of missions in waters adjacent to the enemy territory. According to the chief naval commander, the trials of the drone’s basic element, the small-sized nuclear powerplant, have already been carried out.
Where was it tested?
|A clear picture of a submarine - believed to be Belgorod - on September 22 in the Barents Sea. Photo The Sun UK|
Russian naval forces may test the nuclear-capable Poseidon in the Black Sea closer to NATO installations, the British military officials reportedly warned. A pro-Russian Telegram channel Rybar also shared visuals of a freight train hauling upgraded armoured personnel carriers (APCs) moving toward the front lines in Ukraine in a sign of a major escalation.
|Hans Christensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, said the torpedoes are still under development. According to him, the combat deployment of Poseidons is possible no earlier than the second half of this decade.|
How powerful is Poseidon?
The weapon has alarmingly been dubbed the "weapon of the apocalypse" and Putin's state media stooges have claimed it can "plunge Britain into the depths of the sea".
Some estimates have given the power of the warhead carried by Poseidon as 100 megatons - twice the seize the biggest nuke ever exploded, the Tsar Bomba.
But more conservative estimates have said the yield of the weapon may be as low as two megatons.
It is believed the weapon can be used against enemy warships - or potentially even create "radioactive tsunamis" to swamp coastal cities.
Defence experts say that based on what’s known about the weapon and its dimensions, the yield of Poseidon’s nuclear warhead could be as high as 2 megatons - a figure repeatedly reported by the Russian TASS news agency in recent years.
That’s huge - more than 100 times the force packed by the Hiroshima bomb, which was about 15 kilotons, and more than 10 times that of the latest version of the B61 nuclear bomb developed by the US.
"Atomic torpedoes have existed way, way back, certainly since about the 1950s. And your normal torpedo is about half a metre in diameter and weighs a few tons," said Hambling.
What are Poseidon’s capacities?
Poseidon is referred to as a drone because it can navigate autonomously, and may even have the ability to be remotely redirected, or have its mission aborted after it’s launched.
It’s believed to have a titanium hull, which allows it to withstand pressure at extreme depths, and could potentially be used as a seabed weapon, meaning "you don't have to risk a pretty large, very expensive and possibly quite noisy submarine in order to launch it," said Kaushal.
In other words, the idea would be to pre-position the torpedo on the seabed and activate it from there rather than launching it from submarines, which would make these an obvious target for preemptive strikes.
|“This nuclear ‘mega torpedo’ is unique in the history of the world,” submarine expert H.I. Sutton explained on his website Covert Shores. “Poseidon is a completely new category of weapon. It will reshape naval planning in both Russia and the West, leading to new requirements and new counter-weapons.”|
Can the Poseidon "super" torpedo cause a "nuclear tsunami?"
Former US Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Ford claimed in 2021 that the weapon could cause a "nuclear tsunami" that would hit the American coastline, and that the resulting radiation would leave coastal cities uninhabitable for a long time.
Ford described the super torpedo as a crude weapon in the interview with Government Matters TV and said that he was unsure what it actually added to Russia's warfighting capabilities over other conventional or nuclear weapon platforms.
"It's a terror weapon," said Ford. "It's designed to kill or traumatize the inhabitants of American coastal cities."
Reactions from the US
The White House has said it would respond forcefully to any Russian use of nuclear weapons. Jake Sullivan, President Joe Biden’s national security adviser, said that Russia would suffer “catastrophic consequences” if it crossed that line. Secretary of State Antony Blinken echoed that warning, saying, “It’s very important that Moscow hear from us and know from us that the consequences would be horrific. And we’ve made that very clear.”
How could Putin detonate nuke bomb from Poseidon ‘apocalypse’ drone test to blast in Black Sea?
|Photo World War|
Joseph Cirincione, a distinguished fellow at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft in Washington DC, has revealed five ways Putin could unleash nuclear weapons on the world, the Sun UK reported.
Cirincione said: "The first possibility is you would use a nuclear weapon in a demonstration shot, so you would fire something into the Black Sea, for example.
"The purpose of this is to 'escalate to de-escalate' if the war is going badly.
"If the Russians felt they were on the verge of defeat, they would fire off a nuclear shot to indicate the seriousness of the situation, and to cause the West to back off.
"If that were to happen, I would say the reaction would be shock and horror - but it would not require a military response.
"You don't have to do anything there. I would say the US response would be more diplomatic."
In a second scenario, Mr Cirincione said Putin could unleash a "very low yield weapon" on a military target in Ukraine.
Russia is known to have so-called tactical nukes, which can be launched onto the battlefield by Iskander missiles.
They would kill thousands and cause major damage.
But Mr Cirincione said: "Again, the US would not necessarily require a military solution."
The expert went on: "The third possibility is that they use a serious nuclear weapon - Hiroshima sized or more - and it strikes and it destroys a city in Ukraine.
"At that point, that's where things get quite serious.
"I would immediately expect to see long-range military response from Nato.
"Not Nato forces on the ground, but long-range strikes, which we are perfectly capable of doing.
"We could strike the launch site, for example, and definitely send a message saying 'do not do this again'.
"That's what you're trying to do, trying to control the escalation."
But he insisted Nato would not fire a retaliatory nuclear weapon on Russia under this scenario.
NATO under attack
"This is where we go to the fourth scenario... targeting a NATO base," he said.
"If you saw a low-yield weapon used on a Nato target, then you would get a NATO air and ground assault, that would just wipe off the Russian military in Ukraine.
"We could do that, it would take a couple of weeks, but we could end the war if we wanted to.
"What you're trying to avoid is Russia firing again - another nuclear weapon.
"That's where it gets extremely risky. Putin may feel he has no option but to launch."
He added: "This is why the fifth and final stage - if Putin would use a nuclear weapon on a US target and used a long-range missile to fire at the US - then all bets are off.
"There's no question the US military command would be nearly universal in demanding we respond with a nuclear strike.
"It would probably be multiple strikes to knock out the command structure and some of their capabilities before they could respond - including knocking out Putin himself."
Cirincione said top US government officials would be working through the scenarios and preparing possible responses if Putin's war escalates.
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