In March, Russian President Vladimir Putin gave a national address with international ramifications; touting new advanced missile platforms that were meant to usher in a new era of Russian military strength. These new platforms, of course, weren’t new to defense experts who had been following the development of these weapons systems, but raised concerns throughout the world nonetheless, and with good reason. Among Putin’s touted platforms were the RS-28 Sarmat, also known as the “Satan II,” a nuclear ICBM designed specifically to circumvent America’s existing missile defense apparatus, as well as the Status 6 submersible nuclear drone that has been called a doomsday weapon by some in the Pentagon, and of course, the hypersonic Kinzhal, which could feasibly become a carrier killer.
But one missile that drew a great deal of attention in the media despite the collective sound of experts scoffing at their keyboards was the nuclear-powered cruise missile Putin said would have nearly unlimited range and, as such, incredible maneuvering capabilities. Perhaps these claims didn’t ruffle many feathers within the defense industry because, like so many other “modern” Russian endeavors, the concept is just a repackaged Soviet project with a fresh coat of paint and Putin’s stamp of approval. The United States was experimenting with similar propulsion designs as far back as the 1950s, but had long ago dismissed the concept because the risks associated with a nuclear fueled missile, likely sputtering radioactive particles throughout the entirety of its flight path, simply made the concept illogical. The benefits just don’t outweigh the risks.
Maybe Putin had never heard of America’s nuclear ramjet engines that were being tested when he was just a kid, because according to the Russian president, their nuclear cruise missile “is unheard of and no one has this system in the world.”
He’s go on to say that the nuclear-powered cruise missile doesn’t “use ballistic trajectory at all, which means that missile defense will be useless against it.”