Russian Nuclear-capable Underwater Drone to Enter Service in September

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  • 09:22 AM, May 7, 2020
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Russian Nuclear-capable Underwater Drone to Enter Service in September
Russia_Poseidon Underwater Drone_nuclear capable @RussianMoD

The second submarine to serve as a carrier of Russia’s Poseidon nuclear-capable underwater drones is likely to be floated out in late June.

The first basic carrier of Poseidon drones, a Project 09852 special-purpose nuclear sub, the Belgorod, was floated out on April 23, 2019 and is expected to enter service with the Russian Navy in September. The Belgorod and the Khabarovsk are expected to carry six Poseidon drones each.

"The Khabarovsk [Second submarine] will be floated out in late June at the earliest," a defence source told TASS today

 The news follows Russian threat that any attack with the use of US submarine-launched ballistic missiles will be viewed by Russia as an attack with the use of nuclear weapons and, therefore, a basis for a retaliatory strike.

The US Department of Defence had announced in February 2020 that its Navy has fielded the W76-2 low-yield submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) warhead. In the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review, the department identified the requirement to “modify a small number of submarine-launched ballistic missile warheads” to address the conclusion that potential adversaries, like Russia, believe that employment of low-yield nuclear weapons will give them an advantage over the United States, a statement quoted to John Rood, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy had said.

The W76-2 was developed in response to Russian a strategy in which it might launch a tactical nuclear weapon in order to end a conflict on its own terms. This “escalate to de-escalate” strategy is designed to shock adversaries such as the US.= or NATO, forcing them to either retaliate with a tactical nuclear weapon of their own or throw in the towel, US publication, Popular Mechanics noted.

Russian Nuclear-capable Underwater Drone to Enter Service in September
W76-2 low-yield nuclear weapon being assembled @US DoD

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov earlier said the US production of W76-2 missiles lowers the nuclear threshold and increases the risk of a nuclear conflict. According to US experts, the new missile has the explosive yield of 5-6 kilotons.

The Poseidon drone would be capable of carrying a nuclear warhead with a yield of up to 20 kilotons and feature an intercontinental range capability at an operational depth of over 1 km.

In his state-of-the-nation address to both houses of Russia’s parliament on March 1, 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin had 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.

However, the February announcement by the US DoD that the small nuclear weapon had already been deployed took Russia and most of the world by surprise.

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