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9M730 Burevestnik (SSC-X-9 Skyfall) cruise nuclear-powered missile

Zootycoon

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I think most observers have seen nuclear powered missile, Googled it, found SLAM and therefore assumed that Skyfall must be a supersonic one of those......except the Skyfall configuration is clearly a subsonic.

It’s correct that a fission reactor has both an inherently high power and energy density so it makes sense to fly as fast as possible.

But Skyfall is a subsonic architecture, maybe because it’s power density is limited, which is what I would anticipate for a Hafnium type system.
 
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Zootycoon

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12 ) United States Patent
Podrog
( 10 ) Patent No . : US 9 , 797 , 309 B2
( 45 ) Date of Patent : * Oct . 24 , 2017
( 54 ) HAFNIUM TURBINE ENGINE AND METHOD OF OPERATION

If it works, it’s ideal for miniaturisation in a small sub sonic craft. The Hafnium source would be the size of a coin;- 15g has the same stored energy as 2 tons of kerosene.

Hafnium this or that strikes me as Cold-Fusionesque. Too good to be true.
Except Hafnium 178 is pretty nasty stuff, intensely radioactive (think Cobalt 60) so not really suitable for public consumption........it’s not the green fuel of the future.
 
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edwest

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This missile, if it exists, has very low survivability. If subsonic, it is easier to shoot down, either by a fast interceptor missile/warhead or a laser.
 

Grey Havoc

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Forest Green

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Called it.
Have they Chernobyl'd it again?
 

Forest Green

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Oh, such a reliable source it is
I know but hey, we're working on assumptions all the way here. In many ways it makes no sense to have a nuclear turbofan instead of a ramjet. It's slower, it weighs more, it's larger and there are no relevant range benefits.
 

flateric

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I know but hey, we're working on assumptions all the way here. In many ways it makes no sense to have a nuclear turbofan instead of a ramjet. It's slower, it weighs more, it's larger and there are no relevant range benefits.
So this is supersonic, Mach 2.9 vehicle. OK
 

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bobbymike

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12 ) United States Patent
Podrog
( 10 ) Patent No . : US 9 , 797 , 309 B2
( 45 ) Date of Patent : * Oct . 24 , 2017
( 54 ) HAFNIUM TURBINE ENGINE AND METHOD OF OPERATION

If it works, it’s ideal for miniaturisation in a small sub sonic craft. The Hafnium source would be the size of a coin;- 15g has the same stored energy as 2 tons of kerosene.

Hafnium this or that strikes me as Cold-Fusionesque. Too good to be true.
I heard Yoyodyne was the contractor
 

edwest

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So that's what gave the Russians the idea ;
 

Zootycoon

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My earlier figures were from memory which are a bit faded;-

So some referenced figures for energy density;-


Note -

“A particular isomer of Hafnium, Hf-178m2, stores 1.3 gigajoules of energy per gram of isomer. It has an unusually longhalf-life of 31 years.”

So
1.3 GJ/g = 1300 MJ/g =1300,000MJ/Kg

Kerosene 43MJ/kg

Hence Hafnium178m2 has thirty thousand times the energy density of kerosene.

So 33g (approx. 2.4cc @13.5g/cc <volume of a coin>)of Hafnium 178m2 = one ton or 1000kg of kerosene.
 

Hood

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One can fall down a rabbit hole of speculation. Consider: a lot of people got excited about hafnium isomers, a fair chunk of cash was spent on the idea, and the it was found to *apparently* be fundamentally flawed. But there's enough uncertainty that *maybe* it can work. But how about if the Russians spent *more* money studying and determined that it absolutely WILL NOT WORK. It's a lost cause. It's impossible. So why waste another minute on it?

For dirty tricks, that's why. Make it *look* like you've got a functional, or at least semi-functional, small and practical nuclear turbojet. Make it look like a hafnium isomer system, or a miniaturized plutonium or californium or whatever you want system. "Accidentally" trash one; this releases a burst of gamma/neutron/X-ray radiation that can be measured, along with a cloud of isotopes, all of which are tailored to make your "reactor" look like a hafnium/californium/whatever reactor. And after you've "accidentally" crashed one, fly another one around that is seemingly successful (even though it has only a conventional turbojet, an ultra-lightweight structure and nothing but a whole lot of fuel). The Americans and Japanese and Brits and whoever else will analyze the evidence you've scattered about and will decide "holy crap, the Russians have figured out how to make an unobtainum reactor," and will then blow a bajillion dollars on their own futile pursuit of the same thing. Not only with the US throw away buckets of cash, but the best minds in nuclear power, minds which could be doing something useful like designing NERVA engines or power reactors for subs or next-gen nukes, will be wasted on a useless pursuit of an impossible goal.

Further down the rabbit hole: The Russians find that the engine isn't 100% impossible, but they just can't seal the deal on it. Try as they might they just can't make it work. But if they convince the US that the Russians have it, the US will work on it until they've got it figured out. And since the Russians have spies everywhere, as soon as the US figures it out, the data will filter back directly to Putin and he'll laugh as he rides his armored bear to the nuclear turbojet factory and personally hammers out a functional prototype.
The existence of odd weapons like Kanyon and Burevestnik seems far more rooted in the Soviet (though perhaps its in the Russian psyche) fascination with science and experimental theories. There has always been a desire to follow experimental areas that have promised something on paper but which in practical terms deliver far less. Examples that leap to my mind from the military aspect are Ekranoplans, VA-111 Shkval and the like and if anyone here has read Simon Ing's Stalin and the Scientists: A History of Triumph and Tragedy 1905–1953 will have some idea of the rather strange and scientifically dubious concepts that can be rewarded with research money and political prestige. It may well be the Burevestnik has an unworkable engine but it may have been a product of the scientific 'bubble' that caught the political wave to be rewarded with big research grants regardless of whether the concept was actually sound.

It seems curious that the engine has not been tested statically first rather than attempting flight trials, unless development has been underway for some time. But its clear its not working well outside the lab.

Should we read too much into fact it was being tested from a floating platform? Of course it makes sense given its exhaust is probably not the cleanest, but it could lead to speculation that it may be intended as a sea/sub-launched naval weapon?
 

Grey Havoc

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It seems curious that the engine has not been tested statically first rather than attempting flight trials, unless development has been underway for some time. But its clear its not working well outside the lab.
One possible explanation for the mishaps may be that development is being rushed for some reason.

In further news:
 

Archibald

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12 ) United States Patent
Podrog
( 10 ) Patent No . : US 9 , 797 , 309 B2
( 45 ) Date of Patent : * Oct . 24 , 2017
( 54 ) HAFNIUM TURBINE ENGINE AND METHOD OF OPERATION

If it works, it’s ideal for miniaturisation in a small sub sonic craft. The Hafnium source would be the size of a coin;- 15g has the same stored energy as 2 tons of kerosene.

Hafnium this or that strikes me as Cold-Fusionesque. Too good to be true.
Or RED MERCURY. Geez, I had never heard about this one, then three days ago I red an article about how ISIS went into a wild goose chase hunting for Red Mercury, and laughed my arse off at these idiots.
Considering the bloodshed these ignoble bastards have done in the world since 2014, it is pretty fun to learn that ISIS leaders are a bunch of credule idiots wasting their money chasing unobtainium - pardon, red mercury.
I had a good laugh, really.
https://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/22/magazine/the-doomsday-scam.html
Un-be-lie-va-ble.

Oh, and Samuel Cohen was one hell of a criminal idiot. Neutron bomb and red mercury, WTF ?
 

edwest

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Too much speculation about this. I think the information about this project was leaked by the US military to frighten Congress into giving them more money.
 

Hobbes

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Too much speculation about this. I think the information about this project was leaked by the US military to frighten Congress into giving them more money.
I think we can rule that out. Wikipedia: "The Burevestnik is one of the six new Russian strategic weapons unveiled by Russian President Vladimir Putin on 1 March 2018.[3] "
 

edwest

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Definitely not relevant. Top Secret information should remain Top Secret.
 

kitnut617

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My earlier figures were from memory which are a bit faded;-

So some referenced figures for energy density;-


Note -

“A particular isomer of Hafnium, Hf-178m2, stores 1.3 gigajoules of energy per gram of isomer. It has an unusually longhalf-life of 31 years.”

So
1.3 GJ/g = 1300 MJ/g =1300,000MJ/Kg

Kerosene 43MJ/kg

Hence Hafnium178m2 has thirty thousand times the energy density of kerosene.

So 33g (approx. 2.4cc @13.5g/cc <volume of a coin>)of Hafnium 178m2 = one ton or 1000kg of kerosene.
Interesting calculation and I think I've got the gist of it, electricity and like not being my strongest subject. But it left me wondering how much power that is, so googled it. What I found for comparison, was what my house would use which was on average 130GJ --- in a year. The calculation would indeed make people think it's a wonder energy producer.
 

Desertfox

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Sorry, i think the thing just doesn't look pointy enough for m.2.9...
You may well be right. Although it does pose a valid question. Why didn't they go supersonic?
Probably because the reactor does not produce enough power to go supersonic...

Do remember the Soviets/Russians have been working on small reactors for a long time. They have launched a few satellites with reactors in the past, not the same kind obviously, but they have the know-how to at least start o such a project like this.
 

martinbayer

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It's an old (and obvious) idea
Granted, it is an at least half century old idea (as are such things like nuclear powered passenger cars), but what is in your best estimation the actual current TRL?
 

Grey Havoc

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Nuclear powered trains may be making a comeback in the near future.
 

Forest Green

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Nuclear powered trains may be making a comeback in the near future.
Bad idea IMO. It would be a prime target for terrorists and you can run trains on electricity, so why not use the nuclear power to produce the electricity instead? Far safer that way.
 

RanulfC

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I know but hey, we're working on assumptions all the way here. In many ways it makes no sense to have a nuclear turbofan instead of a ramjet. It's slower, it weighs more, it's larger and there are no relevant range benefits.
So this is supersonic, Mach 2.9 vehicle. OK
Note that nothing says how LONG it could "do" that speed :)

Given the nose and wings, (they don't sweep) I think the "2.9" was supposed to be "0.9something" but it got hyped.

On the other hand you could probably push the airframe to such speeds on a 'terminal run-in' to targe for a very short period of time.

You may well be right. Although it does pose a valid question. Why didn't they go supersonic?
Reverse the question, why would they go supersonic? Subsonic is 'more stealthy than supersonic and structurally easier to build to. RAM materials that can handle sustained supersonic speed are harder to handle and maintain than subsonic materials. (Though from the picture that looks AWFULLY blocky to be very stealthy) And keep in mind this has to be 'supersonic' at very low level over very 'cluttered' terrain for the most part and that would require active sensors which also is detectable.

Most modern cruise missiles fly a subsonic, terrain-following flightpath using passive sensors to make them difficult to intercept. Supersonic flight it good for eating up long distances or as a dash-speed for avoiding point-defense systems. The idea here would appear to be to use the nuclear propulsion system as a means to expand the possible attack vectors to make any defensive preperations less effective. I'm not so sure that, taken as a whole concept, this would actually turn out to be as effective as suggested. However...

It seems curious that the engine has not been tested statically first rather than attempting flight trials, unless development has been underway for some time. But its clear its not working well outside the lab.

Should we read too much into fact it was being tested from a floating platform? Of course it makes sense given its exhaust is probably not the cleanest, but it could lead to speculation that it may be intended as a sea/sub-launched naval weapon?
That might make more sense if one considers the 'average' ASW capability level of the potential adversary. To avoid this the launch platform can now be much further away with a nuclear power system. Flight time and therefore detection and tracking chances go up considerably thought even so.

Randy
 

Zootycoon

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CiTrus90
Many thanks for the link;- I’ve been looking for a good translation of that web page for a while.

However it references solely fission based work and Vyacheslav Solovyov director of VNIEF is widely quoted as describing the device as a type of atomic battery and not a reactor (or words to that effect). In one report he’s quoted as saying a similar system was ground tested in the US last year.

Of course this could all be disinformation.
 

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Here's the latest about the accident from the Moscow Times. It mentions Cesium 137 found in one of the physicians who attempted to treat the unfortunates. I don't think one can get that isotope from an RTG type of unit. Someone with much better knowledge can affirm or correct this claim of mine.

 

Orionblamblam

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Here's the latest about the accident from the Moscow Times. It mentions Cesium 137 found in one of the physicians who attempted to treat the unfortunates.
Which to me sees a weird isotope to be a major player here. Cesium 137 is not useful as either a weapon or a power source; while some power can be gleaned from beta and gamma during its decay, it's jsut too low power per mass to seem to be militarily useful. Cesium 137 is used in industrial applications, typically for very close-range sensors... flow meters and the like. But it hardly seems likely that such a devic even if it was blown up on a rocket test stand would make such a mess that it would contaminate doctors hundreds of miles away.
 
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