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9M730 Burevestnik

The 9M730 Burevestnik (Russian: Буревестник; "Petrel", NATO reporting name: SSC-X-9 Skyfall)[1][2] is a Russian experimental nuclear-powered, nuclear-armed cruise missile under development for the Russian Armed Forces. The missile is claimed to have virtually unlimited range.[3]

9M730 Burevestnik
TypeNuclear-powered cruise missile
Place of originRussia
Service history
Used byRussia
Specifications
Maximum firing rangeVirtually unlimited
WarheadThermonuclear
Satellite imagery of the launch site

The Burevestnik is one of the six new Russian strategic weapons unveiled by Russian President Vladimir Putin on 1 March 2018.[2][4] The cruise missile received the name Petrel as a result of an open vote on the website of the Ministry of Defence of Russia.[5][6]

External video
Nuclear-powered cruise missile with unlimited range on YouTube
"Burevestnik" cruise missile in a manufacturing plant on YouTube

HistoryEdit

OriginsEdit

The Soviet Union and later Russia have been uncertain since the 1980s to what extent their ICBM nuclear arsenal is nullified by the United States' anti-ballistic missile system Strategic Defense Initiative,[7] proposed during the Reagan Administration and commonly known as the Star Wars program.[8] This type of weapon flies under the ballistic weapon shield and is part of President Putin's broader program to attempt to re-balance Russian nuclear strike capability.[9]

DevelopmentEdit

The Russian defense industry began developing an intercontinental-range nuclear-powered cruise missile capable of penetrating any interceptor-based missile defense system. It is said to have unlimited range and ability to evade missile defenses.[3] A major stage of trials of the cruise missile of the Burevestnik complex, the tests of the nuclear power unit, were successfully completed in January 2019.[10]

Design speculationEdit

According to Vladimir Putin and the Russian Ministry of Defense, the missiles dimensions are comparable to those of the X-101 cruise missile and it is equipped with a small-sized nuclear power unit. The claimed operational range is orders of magnitude greater than that of X-101. As shown in official presentation, the missile starts from an inclined launcher using a detachable rocket booster.[11]

Pavel Ivanov from VPK-news states that the cruise missile is one and a half to two times the size of the X-101, the wings of the Burevestnik are rooted "on top of the fuselage, rather than below it like on the X-101", and also notes that there are "characteristic protrusions where air is most likely heated by the nuclear reactor". According to Ivanov, the mass of the Burevestnik is "several times to order of magnitude" greater than that of the X-101, which eliminates Tu-160 and Tu-95 as potential carriers of the missile.[12]

According to Nezavisimaya Gazeta, Burevestnik is a nuclear thermal rocket with a solid-fueled booster engine. The length of the missile is 12 m (39 ft) at launch and 9 m (30 ft) in flight. The nose has the shape of an "ellipse 1 m (3.3 ft) × 1.5 m (4.9 ft) in size".[13]

Military expert Anton Lavrov in the Izvestia article suggested that the design of the Burevestnik uses a ramjet engine, which, unlike the more traditional propulsion systems for nuclear weapons, will have radioactive exhaust throughout its entire operation.[14]

Stratfor, an American geopolitical intelligence platform, assumes that Burevestnik utilizes a turbojet engine and a liquid-fueled booster.[15]

Nyonoksa radiation accidentEdit

On 9 August 2019, the Russian nuclear energy agency Rosatom confirmed a release of radiation at the State Central Navy Testing Range at Nyonoksa near Severodvinsk in northern Russia and stated it was linked to an accident involving the test of an "isotope power source for a liquid-fuelled rocket engine".[16][17] Five weapons scientists were killed in the accident.[18][19] Nonproliferation expert Jeffrey Lewis and Federation of American Scientists fellow Ankit Panda suspect the incident resulted from a test of the Burevestnik cruise missile.[20] However, other arms control experts disputed the assertions: Ian Williams of the Center for Strategic and International Studies and James Acton of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace expressed skepticism over Moscow's financial and technical capabilities to field the weapon,[21] while Michael Kofman of the Wilson Center concluded that the explosion was probably not related to Burevestnik but instead to the testing of another military platform.[22]

According to CNBC, the Russians were trying to recover a missile from the seabed which was lost during a previously failed test.[23] On 10 October, Thomas DiNanno, member of the United States delegation to the United Nations General Assembly First Committee, stated that the "August 8th 'Skyfall' incident [...] was the result of a nuclear reaction that occurred during the recovery of a Russian nuclear-powered cruise missile", which "remained on the bed of the White Sea since its failed test early last year".[24]

On 26 August, Aleksei Karpov, Russia's envoy to international organizations in Vienna, stated that the accident was linked to the development of weapons which Russia had to begin creating as "one of the tit-for-tat measures in the wake of the United States' withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty".[25]

On 21 November, at the ceremony of presentation of posthumous awards to the dead men's families, Vladimir Putin stated that the scientists killed in the August 8th explosion had been testing an “unparalleled” weapon: “We are talking about the most advanced and unparalleled technical ideas and solutions about weapons design to ensure Russia’s sovereignty and security for decades to come". He also noted that the "weapon is to be perfected regardless of anything".[26][27][28]

OperatorsEdit

  Russia

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Panda, Ankit [@nktpnd] (20 November 2018). "Update from a source: Russia's Burevestnik nuclear-powered cruise missile has a NATO designator – SSC-X-9 SKYFALL. (USIC also calls this missile the KY30.)" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  2. ^ a b "Russian nuclear engineers buried after 'Skyfall nuclear' blast". Al Jazeera. 13 August 2019. Retrieved 11 September 2019.
  3. ^ a b Lendon, Brad (20 July 2018). "Russia shows off new weapons after Trump summit". CNN. Retrieved 2018-07-20.
  4. ^ Gady, Franz-Stefan (2 March 2018). "Russia Reveals 'Unstoppable' Nuclear-Powered Cruise Missile". The Diplomat. Retrieved 2018-07-20.
  5. ^ "Россияне выбрали названия для новейшего отечественного оружия" (in Russian). «РИА Новости». Retrieved 20 November 2019.
  6. ^ Osborn, Andrew (23 March 2018). "Russia names Putin's new 'super weapons' after a quirky public vote". Reuters. Retrieved 2018-07-20.
  7. ^ "Reagan's Star Wars". Cold War: A Brief History. Retrieved 2019-09-26 – via Atomic Archive.
  8. ^ Lambeth, Benjamin S.; Lewis, Kevin (Spring 1988). "The Kremlin and SDI". Foreign Affairs. Retrieved 2019-09-26.
  9. ^ Roblin, Sebastien (18 August 2019). "Russia's Nuclear-Powered 'Skyfall' Missile with Unlimited Range: A Doomsday Weapon?". The National Interest. Retrieved 2019-09-26.
  10. ^ "Tests of Burevestnik nuclear powered cruise missile successfully completed, says source". TASS. 16 February 2019. Retrieved 2019-08-13.
  11. ^ "Послание Президента Федеральному Собранию". President of Russia (in Russian). Kremlin.ru. 1 March 2018. Retrieved 24 November 2019.
  12. ^ Иванов, Павел. "«Буревестник» знает, куда летит". «Военно-промышленного курьера» (in Russian). VPK-news. Retrieved 24 November 2019.
  13. ^ Александр Шарковский (17 February 2019). "Ядерный «Буревестник» стал реальностью" (in Russian). Nezavisimaya Gazeta.
  14. ^ Антон Лавров (26 February 2019). "Хвост «Буревестника»" (in Russian). Izvestia.
  15. ^ "Russia's New Arms Give the U.S. Room for Pause". Stratfor. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  16. ^ Roth, Andrew (10 August 2019). "Russian nuclear agency confirms role in rocket test explosion". The Guardian. Retrieved 2019-08-10.
  17. ^ Kramer, Andrew E. (10 August 2019). "Russia Confirms Radioactive Materials Were Involved in Deadly Blast". The New York Times. Retrieved 2019-08-10.
  18. ^ "Russia's top nuclear official says work on new weapons will continue". Press TV. 13 August 2019. Retrieved 2019-08-16.
  19. ^ "Russian scientists killed in missile test explosion were working on 'new weapons'". The Defense Post. 12 August 2019. Retrieved 2019-08-16.
  20. ^ Landay, Jonathan (10 August 2019). "U.S.-based experts suspect Russia blast involved nuclear-powered missile". Reuters. Archived from the original on 2019-08-11. Retrieved 2019-08-12.
  21. ^ "Is Russia's Doomsday Missile Fake News?". Foreign Policy. 22 August 2019.
  22. ^ Michael Kofman (15 August 2019). "Mystery explosion at Nenoksa test site: it's probably not Burevestnik".
  23. ^ Macias, Amanda (21 August 2019). "US intel report says mysterious Russian explosion was triggered by recovery mission of nuclear-powered missile, not a test". CNBC. Retrieved 11 October 2019.
  24. ^ "2019 UN General Assembly First Committee of the United States of America General Debate Statement by Thomas G. DiNanno" (PDF). statements.unmeetings.org. 10 October 2019. Retrieved 11 October 2019.
  25. ^ Kramer, Andrew E. (26 August 2019). "Russia Identifies 4 Radioactive Isotopes From Nuclear Accident". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 August 2019.
  26. ^ "Putin vows to perfect mystery rocket after engine blast". BBC. 22 November 2019. Retrieved 25 November 2019.
  27. ^ "Putin Says 'Unparalleled' Weapons Tested at Deadly Nuclear Accident Site". The Moscow Times. 22 November 2019. Retrieved 25 November 2019.
  28. ^ "Путин рассказал о погибших в Северодвинске, создававших уникальное оружие". RIA Novosti (in Russian). 21 November 2019. Retrieved 25 November 2019.

External linksEdit