Russia is building a drone submarine to deliver large-scale nuclear weapons against U.S. harbors and coastal cities, according to Pentagon officials.
The developmental unmanned underwater vehicle, or UUV, when deployed, will be equipped with megaton-class warheads capable of blowing up key ports used by U.S. nuclear missile submarines, such as Kings Bay, Ga., and Puget Sound in Washington state.
Details of the secret Russian nuclear UUV program remain closely held within the U.S. government.
The Pentagon, however, has code-named the drone “Kanyon,” an indication that the weapon is a structured Russian arms program.
Officials familiar with details of the Kanyon program said the weapon is envisioned as an autonomous submarine strike vehicle armed with a nuclear warhead ranging in size to “tens” of megatons in yield. A blast created by a nuclear weapon that size would create massive damage over wide areas.
“This is an unmanned sub that will have a high-speed and long-distance capability,” said one official, who noted that the drone development is years away from a prototype and testing.
Artist rendering of Kanyon drones
The United States currently has no similar plans for a megaton-class underwater nuclear strike vehicle, the Navy is developing a range of UUVs, including a weapons-carrying drone.
The Pentagon is in the process of retiring all of its megaton weapons. The stockpile of 9-megaton B53 bunker-buster bombs were dismantled several years ago, and the 1.2 megaton-B83 will be retired after the upgraded B61 bomb is deployed.
Russia’s arsenal of megaton warheads and bombs includes an estimated five SS-18s armed with 20-megaton warheads and previously deployed 5-megaton warheads on SS-19s. Moscow once built the largest nuclear weapon, the 150-megaton bomb called the Tsar Bomba, or “Tsar of bombs.”
China uses megaton warheads on its DF-5A missiles. The two-dozen DF-5As are said to be armed with 5-megaton warheads.
Based on Soviet nuclear torpedo
Norman Polmar, a naval analyst and author, said the Kanyon could be based on a Soviet-era nuclear torpedo disclosed in his 2003 book, Cold War Submarines.
Both the Russian navy and its predecessor, the Soviet navy, have been innovators of undersea systems and weapons. “These efforts have included the world’s most advanced torpedoes,” Polmar said. “Early in the nuclear age, the Soviets began development of a massive torpedo for attacking coastal cities and ports.”
The T-15 torpedo was about 75 feet long and was capable of carrying a high-yield thermonuclear warhead some 15 miles underwater, something Polmar called “a truly innovative concept.”
SOURCES – Free Beacon