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Russian 'status-6' nuclear attack system

Grey Havoc

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bobbymike said:
https://thediplomat.com/2018/07/russia-begins-sea-trials-of-nuclear-capable-poseidon-underwater-prone/

Russia has reportedly commenced sea trials of its ultimate doomsday weapon, a nuclear-capable underwater vehicle (UUV), dubbed ‘Poseidon,’ purportedly designed to deliver a 2-megaton nuclear warhead to destroy naval bases, carrier strike groups, and entire coastal cities by triggering a radioactive Tsunami wave.

The sea trials of the “Poseidon” began last week and are primarily focused on the UUVs guidance system and underwater operations in autonomous mode. Work on the “Poseidon” is reportedly progressing according to schedule, the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) said in a July 19 statement.

The “Poseidon,” also known under Ocean Multipurpose System Status-6 or “Kanyon” by the U.S. intelligence community, “is a new intercontinental, nuclear armed, nuclear-powered, undersea autonomous torpedo,” according to the 2018 U.S. Nuclear Posture Review. The UUV is thought to have been developed in reaction to the increasing sophistication of U.S. ballistic missile defense systems.
 

sferrin

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2 MT sounds unusually low. Something that large could easily pack a 100 MT warhead.
 

bobbymike

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sferrin said:
2 MT sounds unusually low. Something that large could easily pack a 100 MT warhead.
Russia still must have a few of those 20Mt warheads used in the single RV version of the R-36M lying around?
 

Brickmuppet

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sferrin said:
2 MT sounds unusually low. Something that large could easily pack a 100 MT warhead.

W-56 had a weight of 680 pounds and a one megaton yield in a physics package 18 inches wide, so, presumably, a two megaton yield warhead could fit in a 650mm torpedo and possibly a 21 inch one.

Given the size of this thing is about the same size as the old T-15, which was one of the delivery mechanisms that was supposed to cary the "Tsar Bomba"I'd bet on a much higher yield, otherwise there wouldn't seem to be much point.
 

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Surely there is still a point to a 2 megaton warhead... the possibility for even greater destruction shouldn't cause the already incomprehensible amount of destruction posed by a 2MT warhead to seem small.
 

sferrin

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Avimimus said:
Surely there is still a point to a 2 megaton warhead... the possibility for even greater destruction shouldn't cause the already incomprehensible amount of destruction posed by a 2MT warhead to seem small.

I don't think a 2 Mt device is as apocalyptically huge as you think it is. Even Spartan had a 5 MT warhead. Also, it's not as though these would be 1st strike weapons, or that there would be hundreds of them. These would be pure "revenge" weapons. 20 - 30 of them, each with 100+ MT targeted at large ports such as Norfolk, San Fransisco, San Diego, etc.
 

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There might be a point to a 2 megaton warhead, but there isn't a point in putting a 2 megaton warhead in a torpedo the size of a WW2 japanese midget submarine when one can put pretty much the same warhead on a standard torpedo. I have no info on the warhead of the Russian 650mm torpedoes, but the Japanese type 93 of WW2 carried over a thousand pounds of explosive.

Beyond some point, I think its a bit under a Megaton, bigger bombs give diminishing returns in mayhem and woe compared compared to multiple smaller weapons. However, if one goes for a ground or subsurface burst, the cratering and fallout effects of a really big weapon do give a unique capability,


According to Nukemap, a 2 megaton warhead ground burst will result in an 1600 foot wide 300 foot deep crater, which in practice is going to be a circular reef made of radioactive trinitite blocking the shipping channel. The blast wave will create a big wave out of what doesn't get evaporated and in a harbor the seiche effects will likely be nasty. Both effects, exclusive of radiation, are sufficient to shut down a port except maybe New York (which might require two) for months or years. 5psi blast radius is listed as 3.58 miles, and in practice would be much less with an underwater explosion. The water wave might travel farther inland. However the short term fallout from even a 'Plowshare' charge added to that (let alone a salted warhead) and one has a quite nasty weapon...that could be fired in salvo from 80 or so miles off the coast using existing torpedo tubes and likely much farther if a nuclear waterjet is in fact used.

So why the supergigantic torpedo?

A 100 Megaton warhead leaves a 1440 foot deep crater nearly 8 miles across. Your whole harbor is now a radioactive lagoon surrounded by an obsidian atoll. The FIREBALL radius is nearly 5 miles so water in a 30-50foot deep channel is not going to be much of a mitigating factor. 200 psi pressures will be experienced about 2 miles away, and the 5 psi pressures that we see exploding houses in the Apple-2/Operation Cue footage would be happening as much as 13 miles from ground zero. Really big bombs cause severe heat effects on clear days farther than their blast can blow the fires out. #rd degree burns, dry leaves igniting and hair catching on fire would be happening as far away as 39 miles and dry wood would burst into flames at more than 30. The fires alone would cause all sorts of chaos. There would be an earthquake effect too. Tsar Bomba, at "only"50MT registered at over 5 on the richter scale despite being detonated more than 4 clicks up. A 4.9 earthquake here in Virginia knocked over chimneys and wrecked a bank a few years back, the effects of a 100 megaton blast at ground level over a wide area would be...bad. Fallout, depending on prevailing winds, time of year and the position of the jet stream at the time of blast could subject vast swaths of North America to what the crew of FV Lucky Dragon experienced.

6 to 12 of these weapons could end the United States by eliminating its biggest coastal cities and rendering the heartland poisonous for a decade or more. (And no one would be able to eat Maine or Canadian lobsters ever again).

That would be worth the hassle of fielding a torpedo the size of a small submarine.

Attached picture is an example of 5psi.
 

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kcran567

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Russia's enemies have plenty of Coastline, so yet another example of good Russian practicality. Doing things the simple and effective way as cheaply as possible.

Whats going to happen to the ones they lose though? I guess when cancer rates skyrocket in Florida and Maine we might find out. Or would they only be deployed during a shooting war, or on a status mode patrol all the time?
 

Brickmuppet

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Good points.

I wonder if we're looking at this thing wrong. Rather than hitting economic and military centers, the costal versions of which are on the east and gulf coasts in the U.S., the fallout might be the bigger goal here. Thus Belgorod and the soon to be comissioned Khabarovsk would be able to alternate with each other and keep 6 of these things at sea most of the time

Attached is a framegrab from the Nukemap online nightmare facillitator.
https://nuclearsecrecy.com/nukemap/

This is 6 x 100Megaton groundbursts in 5 deepwater ports and a Fishing harbor (Bangor, Astoria, Crescent City, San Fransisco, Sacramento, Long Beach) plus a 2 megaton groundburst for perspective in a salt marsh at Vandenburg AFB. I had the fallout pattern from the smaller blast go south to make it stand out.

Note that the orange circles are the zone of burnination. At the outer edge of those circles, on a clear day people outside go blind, get third degree burns, leaves, hair and dark clothing can catch fire, everything inside of that gets more combustable. the light grey bit just inside that is the outer limit of smashed windows and associated lacerations of people who might already be blind and on fire . Damage, gets worse in from that, the darker grey circle on each blast pattern is the 5 PSI limit seen in the .gif in the post above. Everything inside that circle gets progressively more unpleasant. None of those effects save the outer burn limit are visible at this scale on the 2mt bomb, though I very much would not want to be at Vandenburg in this instance.

The fallout contours vary because I varied the wind speed. The mushroom cloud from a full yield RDS220 is estimated to get over 30 miles high so it's going to be blown east by high speed upper level winds, especially if it intersects the jet stream(s). The wind speeds in this image vary from 10mph to 180mph. In practice such fallout patterns would follow a lazy s curve well into Canada...I would not want to be in Saskatoon or Winnipeg...before arcing down into our breadbasket and possibly (depending on wind speed) looping up through the northeast and poisoning New England & the Maritimes. This is, of course highly dependent on the time of year (things like is the subtropical jet stream active as well as effects of North America's comparatively mild Monsoon pattern).

The 2MT weapon is positively hideous, but a 1 or 2 megaton weapon should be fireable from a standard torpedo tube. Here a full spread of 6 high yield weapons from Belgorod killed or poisoned at least half the country. Given the size and complexity of this project, 2MT just doesn't seem right. I strongly suspect that IF this is not a Potempkin torpedo, that the yield is much higher, between 50 and 150 megatons.

Note too that 150MT was according to The Johnston Archive, the final maximum design yield for the RDS220 physics package...see here:
http://www.johnstonsarchive.net/nuclear/multimeg.html#S2
Even given space and weight restrictions in the weapon, 100 MT doesn't seem unreasonable.
In any event, if you take the parachute, and casing off the old, 1963 Tsar Bomba the actual 'splody bits should just fit into a Poseidon. 1963 was 55 years ago. I'm sure the Russians have made some progress in the intervening years.
 

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iverson

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Brickmuppet said:
Good points....

Good arguments, I suppose. But I am skeptical.

I doubt that the Russians have made a lot of progress with very high-yield bombs. The USSR was already entering the initial stages of its decline in the late '60s. It remained seriously behind in computing for the rest of its existence and had little or no opportunity to test. With neither tests nor supercomputer simulations, I don't see a lot of advance being likely. Since the collapse, the economic resources required for major nuclear development have simply been unavailable.

In addition, status-6 looks more like a warmed over 1950s idea than a new concept--like something concocted as a fall-back when bombers and missiles were not going well.

The doomsday weapon concept is likewise pretty '50s retro. As a tactic, it offers no military advantage, because it destroys purely civilian lives and installations. Craters in seaboard harbors and massive irradiation of the heartland don't affect ballistic missile silos, bombers, and submarines at sea. But they would really provoke a response. So a status-6 attack would not preempt massive nuclear retaliation against civilian AND military targets in Russia.

All in all, I suspect that this status-6 thing, like the recent nuclear-powered cruise missile and the original Tsar Bomba, is less a serious weapon system than a publicity/propaganda stunt intended to draw attention away from Russia's long-term economic crisis and growing military weakness.
 

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Pure speculation... but what if the 2 MT version has an airburst mode and the additional warhead weight is the booster to get it up 100 metres ASL?
 

sferrin

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Avimimus said:
Pure speculation... but what if the 2 MT version has an airburst mode and the additional warhead weight is the booster to get it up 100 metres ASL?

Better to put it on a Shipwreck.
 

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Every time I read about this weapon I can't get Dr Strangelove out my mind!

I think its development, alongside the hypersonic efforts, is simply a reaction to modern and potential future ABM developments. With the development of laser and particle beam technologies the chances of successful destruction of the warhead or missile remains higher than an underwater weapon that no A/S weapon can currently deal with and which no adequate early warning sensor exists.
I wonder if the development of this weapon didn't start out back in the late 1980s as a counter to Reagan's Star Wars and was dusted off the shelf? Certainly modern navigation systems make this a more feasible system today than during the Cold War.
 

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I read the entire thread this morning, plus the best links. Now shaking my head in disbelief. As noted in one of the link (and somewhere on this thread) this looks like a pre- ICBM delivery system of the 50's. Really. A bit like Project PACER for civilian fission / fusion: a Teller brute force approach.
Seriously: submarine + drone + torpedo + H-bomb + colbalt, all poured into a single doomsday vehicle. Which takes two days to reach its target, with a huge noise, in an ocean filled with USN SOSUS (or whatever it is called today) networks.

Somebody also mentioned Vought SLAM, that other doomsday weapon. Spot on: once again, SLAM was typical 50's "Tellerian madness", pre - MAD and pre - ICBM.
And then of course, is this https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burevestnik_(missile) Putin toying with SLAM.

Overall, considering the economic state of Russia those days, ithttps://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php?action=post;msg=333462;topic=26054.135 looks like Putin brickmanship to mask issues with a declining ICBM force facing U.S ABM system (even a limited one).

On a least serious note... somebody noted Putin had found a radical way to fry fishes. Reminds me of that line in Ang Lee much maligned Hulk. At the beginning of the movie they are testing the Hulk thing on frogs... which invariably explode. At some point a frustrated Jennifer Connally (those eyes !!) tell his friend

Bruce Banner: You want to go to the review board on Monday and tell them we have developed a brand new method for exploding frogs?

Betty Ross: I think there's a market for it. I mean, what if there's a plague?

Bruce Banner: What have you had, Betty, like one beer?

Betty Ross: I'm... I'm just saying... frogs start falling from the sky... who do they come to? We'll be world renowned.
 

covert_shores

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Hood said:
Every time I read about this weapon I can't get Dr Strangelove out my mind!

I think its development, alongside the hypersonic efforts, is simply a reaction to modern and potential future ABM developments. With the development of laser and particle beam technologies the chances of successful destruction of the warhead or missile remains higher than an underwater weapon that no A/S weapon can currently deal with and which no adequate early warning sensor exists.
I wonder if the development of this weapon didn't start out back in the late 1980s as a counter to Reagan's Star Wars and was dusted off the shelf? Certainly modern navigation systems make this a more feasible system today than during the Cold War.
generally agree with Hood on these aspects of the system.

Have been considering writing an article covering the ways of countering this weapon but a bit of a sensitive topic. The short answer is that Russia is diversifying its deterrence which will cost $$$$ to build counters for. Likely only US and UK will try to build counters; the US might be limited by existing investments and the U.K. Political process simply cannot cope with commen sense defence investments, especially if it involves new nuclear weapons. So the weapon will likely go un-countered for many years.
 

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Archibald said:
Seriously: submarine + drone + torpedo + H-bomb + colbalt, all poured into a single doomsday vehicle. Which takes two days to reach its target, with a huge noise, in an ocean filled with USN SOSUS (or whatever it is called today) networks.

I think that knowing where it is is one thing and deploying a weapon actually capable of intercepting it is completely another. Current torpedoes in US arsenal can't hit targets beyond a certain depth. Then there are mines and depth charges with nuclear warhead. Not sure if they can guarantee success though. Aiming and timing would need to be ridiculously precise and the target would need to NOT change its course. Is there anything else?
 

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I was originally highly skeptical about the Putin administration really fielding this weapon and on (apparently another thread) wrote as much. It's still as illogical and redundant as then in its potential in ruining everyone's couple of millennia but hey, they've embarked on a number of comparable projects (and other senseless adventures) nonetheless. Not to worry, we'll just place a Virginia-class submarine with their newfangled lasers every couple of nautical miles over the GIUK-gap and zap them as they come, right? Yee-haw ...
 

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Not to worry, we'll just place a Virginia-class submarine with their newfangled lasers every couple of nautical miles over the GIUK-gap and zap them as they come, right? Yee-haw ...

Cant tell if you are drunk right now or being serious. But an airborne laser with 1 megawatt can destroy a ballistic from 10kms away. The atmosphere causes more attenuation for the laser than it does being used in a vacuum of space. How much energy loss does seawater contribute compared to the atmosphere regarding half of that power being used on a sub even though it sounds as cool as the army introducing a 1000 mile railgun. They are also building SONAR arrays with nuclear reactors so some confrontation can occur.

[admin -removed off-topic and inappropriate video]
 
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Grey Havoc

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Archibald

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This article reads like the beginning of a whacky techno-thriller novel.

As for the weapon itself, it looks like a submarine / undersea Vought-SLAM "flying crowbar" (swimming crowbar ?) - nuclear-propulsion included.

In fact the nuclear propulsion system IS a weapon by itself - just like SLAM killed you, not only dropping nuclear bombs on you, but also with its noise and shockwave plus crashing itself at the end of the trip, spewing radioactivity all over the final resting site.

Whacky crazy doomsday weapon, really.

Testing will be... interesting. Even without the nuclear warhead, that thing is nuclear powered.
 

Dilandu

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In fact the nuclear propulsion system IS a weapon by itself - just like SLAM killed you, not only dropping nuclear bombs on you, but also with its noise and shockwave plus crashing itself at the end of the trip, spewing radioactivity all over the final resting site.

Er, SLAM was powered by open-cycle nuclear ramjet, that pumped air right through the reactor active zone. And the Poseidon did not have open-cycle reactor. She is powered by fairly usual closed-cycle reactor that powered her screws. She did not left any radioactive trail behind.
 

Archibald

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Yes but AFAIK the status 6 propulsive reactor will be part of the target destruction and irradation just like SLAM.
 

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Even little efforts counts... and 100 megatons, really ? WTH, does Vlad' Putin intends to bring back the Tsar bomba as warhead for this thing ?
 

Dilandu

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Even little efforts counts... and 100 megatons, really ? WTH, does Vlad' Putin intends to bring back the Tsar bomba as warhead for this thing ?

Well, since it's torpedo, and unable to jump out of water, its reasonable to assume that it's armed with as big warhead as practically possible to install. After all, making big fusion bombs isn't exactly hard - if you are not limited with weight and size of the charge.
 

Archibald

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Surely enough, the late Edward "Strangelove" Teller half-jokingly, half-seriously discussed a 1000 megatons bomb in the 60's...
 

Dilandu

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Surely enough, the late Edward "Strangelove" Teller half-jokingly, half-seriously discussed a 1000 megatons bomb in the 60's...

Why "half"? He was perfectly serious, and US military also seriously contemplated them. Not 1000-megaton, of course - they were deemed too small - but 5000-10000 megaton ones.

Thing is, that gigaton-scale weapons have... interesting effects, when blown up in space. Sure, detonating on surface it's just a very big nuke. But in space? 100-150 km above Earth? The things get different...

The gigaton superbomb, according to US military calculation, created an enormous flux of X-ray radiation. Upper atmosphere absorbed X-rays very efficiently - but heated up as a result. And 10-gigaton superbomb pump A LOT of X-rays into atmosphere. So much, that under the blast, the wide regions of atmosphere are turned into super-hot plasma. Plasma emit absorbed energy; half went into the space, but half went to the ground.

The gigaton superbomb was a sky burner. It was supposed to create a layer of heated plasma in upper atmosphere, so hot, that it would cause thermal destruction on the ground below it. A continental-scale firestorm - everything that could be easily ignited would burn everywhere under the bomb blast. Forests, plains, cities, armies - everything.

And, since the blast is in space, and fireball did not contact the surface - zero fallout. You have enemy destroyed, its armies vaporized, but no radioactive clouds.

Teller considered such weapon as an ultimate MAD device. He argued, that while some dictator, mad enough, may be willing to sacrifice a large part of his nation in "usual" nuclear war - no dictator would ever be mad enough to start war, in which his nation is assured to be completely obliterated.
 

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Ah, that old idea of "let's create a weapon so scary, it will make war impossible".

Completely bonkers if not criminally stupid. And never worked.
 

Dilandu

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Ah, that old idea of "let's create a weapon so scary, it will make war impossible".

Completely bonkers if not criminally stupid. And never worked.

Why, it worked perfectly. When was the last time two industrially-developed nations came to war with each other? In 1945. Never since. Atomic bomb done more for the world peace than a million of pacifist preachers. :)

And I should remind you, that it was 1960s. Only two decades after one mad dictator launched the war he have no realistic chance to win, just by persuading himself & his nation that he could. Teller and others wanted to ensure, that there would be no situation in which even the most unhinged tyrant would be able to persuade himself (or his senior officers) that war is winnable.
 

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