One of the areas where Russia has dramatically improved its capabilities is in its robust effort to modernize its military. For a decade or more following the end of the Cold War in the early 1990s, Moscow's military languished in disarray and disrepair. Warships remained at their docks, rusting. Warplanes remained on their airbases, many of them lapsing into such shabbiness they were no longer airworthy. Conscripted soldiers were disillusioned and often underpaid. On the world stage, no one gave a "beaten" and broke Russia a second thought.
But then the 2000s arrived and with them ex-KGB operative Vladimir Putin, whose nationalism has been infectious during his long tenure alternating as the country's prime minister and president. Fed in large part by vigorous oil sales (and profits), Putin over the last decade has led an amazing revival of the Russian military. That has included the development and fielding of advanced new weapons platforms like the S-300 and S-400 air defense systems, the T-14 heavy tank and serious technological upgrades to Moscow's nuclear arsenal.
And speaking of that, one new atomic weapon is drawing the attention of the U.S. intelligence and defense communities for its dangerous and devastating potential – like, possessing the ability to stealthily approach U.S. coastal cities and obliterate them, leaving a radiation-filled debris field for hundreds of miles that would make the Fukushima disaster in Japan look tame by comparison.
A fearful city killerAs reported by NationalSecurity.news and other media outlets, the Russians are apparently developing a new underwater drone sub that can carry a 10-ton nuclear warhead – enough TNT to destroy New York City, Washington, D.C., and Seattle, among other American cities.
Initially U.S. intelligence agencies called the program "Kanyon," but that designation has since changed.
What American defense officials now know about the program came from the "accidental" release of the vessel's plans during a state-controlled television broadcast of a meeting between Putin and his top defense officials. During the broadcast a television camera peered over the shoulder of a top Russian general as he perused a slide containing details of the sub drone, which reportedly has a range of about 6,200 miles, can travel at depths of about 3,300 feet, reach speeds of 56 knots and can be remotely controlled after being launched by larger conventional subs, reported The Washington Free Beacon.
'Intentional' release of information?But the payload – the 10 megaton nuclear warhead – is what is most disconcerting to U.S. military planners. Even if the weapon was not guided into a major U.S. port and was instead detonated some miles offshore, some believe that the resultant explosion would create a massive tidal wave that could engulf entire urban populations, and with little warning.
With that in mind – the WFB noted further – some in the U.S. defense community believe that the "accidental" broadcasting of the drone sub's plans were actually done intentionally. Specifically, the site reported:
"Officials said that based on official statements from Moscow, the leaking of the nuclear drone submarine appeared to be part of nuclear saber-rattling and Russian information operations designed to dissuade the United States from deploying missile defenses in Europe that Russia opposes."
It's not clear if the Russians are actually developing this weapon or if the slides and the "intentional" disclosure of them was merely propaganda to get the Obama administration and the next president to back off plans to better protect European allies. But clearly drone technology exists, and has done for some time. It stands to reason that some nation would eventually get around to adapting if for maritime use.