New Hypersonic Weapons Increase Risk of Nuclear Annihilation

July 23rd, 2021 - by TASS & Morgan Artyukhina / Sputnik News & The Moscow Times & The Express

Russia Warns Washington against ‘Extremely Destabilizing’
Deployment of Hypersonic Missiles in Europe


WASHINGTON  (July 20, 2021) — The Russian Embassy in the United States has warned Washington against plans of deploying US hypersonic missiles in Europe, the Russian diplomatic mission announced on its Twitter account on Tuesday.

“We would like to remind Pentagon Press Secretary [John Kirby] that potential deployment of any US hypersonic missile in Europe would be extremely destabilizing,” according to the Russian Embassy in the US.

“Their short flight time would leave Russia little to no decision time and raise likelihood of inadvertent conflict,” the Russian diplomatic mission Tweeted.

Pentagon Spokesman Kirby said at a news briefing earlier, commenting on Russia’s test-launch of a Tsirkon hypersonic missile from the frigate Admiral Gorshkov: “Russia’s new hypersonic missiles could potentially lead to destabilization and pose a significant risk because they can carry a nuclear charge.”

The Russian Defense Ministry reported on Monday that the frigate Admiral Gorshkov successfully test-fired a Tsirkon missile from the White Sea. The surface target was located on the coast of the Barents Sea. The speed of the missile was estimated at Mach 7 and the range of its flight course exceeded 350 kilometers (217.4 miles).

The Admiral Gorshkov is the Project 22350 lead frigate. Warships of this class displace 4,500 tons and can develop a speed of up to 29 knots. They are armed with Oniks and Kalibr missile launchers, and also with Poliment-Redut surface-to-air missile systems.

Project 22350 frigates are multi-purpose combat ships capable of effectively fighting enemy surface ships, aircraft and submarines and delivering strikes against ground and coastal installations to a range of over 1,500 km.

Tsirkon Hypersonic Missiles

In February 2011, then-Deputy Defense Minister Vladimir Popovkin announced plans to develop the Tsirkon shipborne system with a hypersonic missile. According to media reports, the missile’s flight tests began in 2015.

In his State-of-the-Nation Address to the Federal Assembly in February 2019, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the work on the Tsirkon hypersonic missile was proceeding as scheduled.

As the Russian leader said, the Tsirkon was capable of developing a speed of about Mach 9 and its striking range capability could exceed 1,000 km. The Russian leader also said that the Tsirkon could strike both naval and ground targets. Putin specified at the time there were plans to deploy Tsirkon on serial-produced surface ships and submarines, including the warships built or under construction for Kalibr cruise missiles.

Russia uses the 3S-14 versatile shipborne launcher for the launches of Tsirkon hypersonic weapons and Kalibr cruise missiles. These launchers, in particular, are operational on Russian Navy Project 22350 frigates and Project 20380 corvettes.

US Has Produced its First in New Line of
Updated 475-Kiloton Thermonuclear Warheads

Morgan Artyukhina / Sputnik News

MOSCOW (July 15, 2021) — The United States is expected to spend more than $1.2 trillion over the next three decades updating its nuclear arsenal, nearly all of which is more than 30 years old, dating back to the Cold War. However, some of the more recent and pricey additions have already been cut from the budget, like a sea-launched cruise missile.

The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), a semi-autonomous agency of the US Department of Energy, announced on Tuesday that the first W88 Alt 370 had been completed at the Pantex Plant, a site in northern Texas where most of the US’ nuclear weapons are assembled. While the Pentagon is responsible for deciding how its nuclear weapons will be designed, the NNSA is responsible for actually assembling them.

“This accomplishment is the culmination of over a decade of work,” Acting NNSA Administrator Charles Verdon said in the news release. “The W88 Alt 370 is a crucial part of Nation’s strategy for the sea-based leg of the nuclear triad, and a testament to the Enterprise’s ability to execute major modernization programs. As we continue to modernize the stockpile, the successes and lessons learned from this program will bolster our future warhead activities to provide a safe, secure, and reliable deterrent.”

According to The War Zone, which viewed an official fact sheet on the DoE website that has since been taken down, the update “replaces the arming, fuzing, and firing subsystem, adds a lightning arrestor connector, and refreshes the conventional high explosives within the weapon to enhance nuclear safety and support future life extension program options.”

The warhead is an updated version of the W88 thermonuclear warhead. Much about the W88 is not officially known, but according to the Federation of American Scientists, the warhead employs a novel egg-shaped primary fission stage, which is technically very challenging to produce, but makes it possible to put greater explosive power on a smaller overall warhead. Thus, more can fit atop a Multiple Independent Reentry Vehicle (MIRV) missile like the Trident II, which is carried by US ballistic missile submarines.

However, the number that can be put on any one missile is severely limited by the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), a bilateral treaty with Russia that the two nations renewed earlier this year, after former US President Donald Trump nearly allowed it to lapse.

The same warhead is also used on the B61 gravity bomb, which is deployed via strike aircraft or bombers.

About 400 of the W88s were built between 1988 and 1992 and the weapons have an estimated explosive yield of 475 kilotons, or more than 30 times the power of the bomb the US used to destroy Hiroshima, Japan, in August 1945 at the end of World War II.

The W88 is by far the largest warhead carried on the Trident II missile; the W76-1 has a yield of 90 kilotons, while the miniscule W76-2 has a yield of between 5 and 7 kilotons.

According to The War Zone, the warheads were delayed by several years, after doubts surfaced about a $5 off-the-shelf capacitor used in their construction, which the NNSA subsequently spent two years and $850 million trying to improve. The better version now costs $75.

Under former US President Donald Trump, the US began work on several new nuclear weapons, including a sea-launched nuclear-tipped cruise missile and a miniaturized version of the W76 nuclear warhead, the latter of which was completed.

US President Joe Biden has faced pressure to conduct a Nuclear Posture Review and reconsider many of the Trump-era programs. While no such review has yet been published, the latest version of the Department of Defense appropriations bill for fiscal year 2022, which was approved by the House Appropriations Committee earlier this week, has dropped the proposed sea-launched cruise missile-nuclear (SLCM-N).

Even before Trump, the US was slated to spend $1.2 trillion updating its existing warheads and delivery systems over the next few decades. That includes not just the W88 Alt 370 program, but also the B83-1 gravity bomb, the B-21 Raider bomber, the Columbia-class submarine, the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent intercontinental ballistic missile, and the Long Range Standoff Weapon (LRSO) cruise missile.

Russia Deploys ‘Invincible’ Kinzhal Hypersonic
Missile-Capable Jets for Syria War Games

The Moscow Times

 (June 25, 2021) — Russia has for the first time deployed two interceptor jets capable of carrying the hyped Kinzhal hypersonic missile for war games in Syria, media reported Friday.

“A pair of MiG-31K aircraft with the ability to use the latest hypersonic missiles from the Kinzhal complex flew from Russian airfields to the Russian airbase Khmeimim in Syria for exercises,” Russia’s Defense Ministry said as quoted by Interfax.

The MiG-31Ks joined other warplanes and submarines in the eastern Mediterranean Sea as the British Royal Navy’s carrier strike group carries out its first anti-Islamic State mission and a US Navy destroyer enters the region following NATO maritime patrols in the Black Sea.

According to the Defense Ministry’s Zvezda broadcaster, the Russian exercises included an Il-38 and Tu-142MK anti-submarine aircraft, as well as Tu-22M3 supersonic bombers. 

Its naval forces were bolstered by the missile cruiser Moskva and the frigates Admiral Essen and Admiral Makarov as well as the Stary Oskol and Rostov-on-Don submarines.

Footage shared by Zvezda showed the MiG-31Ks taking off and landing, and the Khmeimim commander greeting its pilots.

MiG-31K interceptor jets last year test-fired the Kinzhal (Dagger) missile during military drills overseen by President Vladimir Putin.

Putin has touted the Kinzhal and other missile systems as “invincible” weapons that could evade enemy defenses as he declared Russia’s superiority in the field.

The Islamic State is a terrorist organization banned in Russia.

Biden Warning: US President’s Terrifying
Hypersonic Missile Can Hit Moscow in 20 Minutes

Ciaran McGrath / The Express

LONDON (March 17, 2021) — Joe Biden is poised to throw down the gauntlet to China and Russia by showcasing the United States’ new state-of-the-art hypersonic missile, capable of travelling 20 times the speed of sound, or more than 15,000 miles an hour — at which speed it could hit Moscow in less than 20 minutes, and Beijing in half an hour.

But a military analyst has warned the development of such high-tech weaponry brings with it the dire risk of a catastrophic miscalculation. Up to now, the perception has been that Vladimir Putin’s Russia has had the edge when it comes to hypersonic weaponry.

However, the imminent test of the AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) is a clear indication that the US is catching up.

A release issued by the US Air Force said the first booster test flight (BTF-1) was expected within the next 30 days.

The test missile was delivered to Edwards Air Force Base in California on March 1, and has been loaded on a b-52H Stratofortress bomber.

Work is now underway on pre-flight ground tests and checks to obtain certification for the flight.

Brigadier General Heath Collins, Air Force Program Executive Officer for Weapons, said: “The BTF-1 test vehicle is complete and is progressing through ground testing to verify its readiness for flight.

“The team has successfully dealt with COVID challenges and resolved technical findings not uncommon in a first-of-a-kind weapon system.

“We have minimized schedule delays while maintaining a laser focus on engineering rigor.

“Our first BTF will happen in the next 30 days, followed by several additional booster and all-up-round test flights by the end of the year.”

The USAF describes the ARRW program as “a rapid prototyping project that will leverage cutting edge technologies to deliver a conventional hypersonic weapons capability to the warfighter in the early 2020s”.

It “expands precision-strike weapon systems’ capabilities by enabling survivable rapid response strikes against heavily defended targets”.

Speaking last year, former US president Donald Trump raised eyebrows with an off-the-cuff reference to his own country’s attempts to develop hypersonics.

During a presentation at the White House on Friday to unveil the new Space Force flag, Mr. Trump referred to a project which may or may not have been ARRW.

He said: “We’re building right now, incredible military equipment, at a level that nobody’s ever seen before, we have no choice we have to do it, with the adversaries we have out there.

“We have, I call it the ‘super duper missile’, and I heard the other night 17 times faster than what they have right now.

“Then you take the fastest missile we have right now.

“You heard Russia has five times, and China is working on five or six times, we have one 17 times, and it’s just gotten the go-ahead.”

Eugene Gholz, an adjunct scholar for the US-based Cato Institute’s Defense and Foreign Policy Department, subsequently told “The bottom line is that the United States is working on advanced, high-speed missiles, and President Trump wants to make sure that everyone around the world knows that the United States is not planning to cede any military-technological lead and that the United States has tremendous innovative capabilities.

Hypersonic weapons post a major challenge to missile detection systems precisely because of the extraordinary speeds at which they travel.

Pavel Podvig, a military analyst, told Live Science website: “These systems create greater risks of strategic miscalculation and it’s not clear if we can effectively deal with those risks.”

Speaking in 2019, Mr. Putin bragged that his country was the only country in the world to possess hypersonic missiles, which he said could be equipped with nuclear payloads.

Among the weapons in his arsenal is the Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle, sometimes referred to as the Doomsday Missile, which experts believe was deployed last year.

Separately, the second prototype of Russia’s Tu-22M3M supersonic bomber completed trials at hypersonic speeds during its fourth test flight last year, according to defence industry sources.

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