Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.
Excellent commentary by Prof Nichols – the Blofeld quip is hard to beat. Skobov explains the rationale behind the Avangard MaRV and Kinzhal ALCM – a delusional belief that limited nuclear war will not escalate to a full exchange, and as even a limited BMD system would hobble the limited nuclear war model, Russia pursues MaRVs and hypersonic ALCMs to get in under the current BMD systems, and over the top of the SAMs. Whether the actual hypersonic capability is robust or not, the public presentation shows the intent is very real.
Multiple reports on the status of US hypersonics programs. Notably the Russians have been talking about hypersonic weapons for years, displaying models of the 3M22 Zirkon at arms shows, and reported the operational status of this system quite some time ago.
Squassoni, Pletner, and Bershidsky make some very good points.
Russian media claiming the Avangard MaRV has entered production, and the miniature nuclear powerplant (s) for the Status 6 doomsday UUV and nuclear powered cruise missile have completed testing, noting the English translation suggests a single common powerplant.
Full speech included courtesy of the Voltaire website, and also a couple of dubious reports talking up Russian capabilities and national will.
The world should see this bluster by the Russian president for what it was and dismiss it accordingly. The only thing that could have made Russian President Vladimir Putin’s speech about Russia’s nuclear arsenal better is if he had given it wearing a Mao jacket and stroking a white cat, like the evil character Blofeld from a James Bond movie. Putin’s theatrics represented a farrago of theater, fantasy and bluster. For some reason, Putin said he was unveiling a nuclear-powered cruise missile with virtually unlimited range. This is a strange thing to claim, for several reasons. It is technologically difficult to do (which is why the Americans never built one, even after considering it more than 50 years ago), but more to the point, it serves no purpose. Why build a cruise missile that takes hours to reach its target when intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) or submarine-launched ballistic missiles can reach the same targets in minutes? ADVERTISEMENT Putin presented animation of the new missile, mostly consisting of computer graphics that looked like it could have been a cheap 1980s game called “Microsoft Cruise Missile Simulator.” The video showed a cruise missile flying a long distance while following terrain and avoiding obstacles. In other words, it was doing what we’ve known cruise missiles can do for more than 40 years. Even if the Russians can build this nuclear white elephant, it’s not clear what it’s supposed to do. Like the “invincible” hypersonic missile that Putin claims can evade all defenses, it’s a solution searching for a problem: Russian ICBM warheads, like all ICBM warheads, already land at hypersonic speed, and there are no functioning missile defenses in the United States that have any real chance of stopping them. Putin is unveiling this next generation of weapons from Drax Industries for two reasons. Most important, Putin is running for reelection, and while he has no chance of losing, he needs to gloss over his regime’s economic failures by legitimizing his rule in the militaristic themes he knows best as a product of the Soviet system. Whatever hopes people might have had about Putin as a new kind of leader back in 1999, he has turned into a standard-issue Soviet kleptocrat leading a comical (but nonetheless lethal) cult of personality. The man who began his time in office with a candid assessment of Russia’s future challenges is now a whining autocrat who blames all of his country’s misfortunes on sinister forces in the “West” and particularly the United States and NATO. Second, Putin embodies a gnawing and well-deserved insecurity at the root of the Russian defense establishment. The Russian military still relies on conscription and is still a nightmare of poor training, hazing and dodgy equipment. It is improving quickly — which should actually reassure the West, since a military in free-fall is more dangerous than a professional and competent force — but it is so weak that Putin knows he must rely on nuclear threats to punch above its weight. Part of this make-believe is to invoke the defense of a nonexistent Russian alliance system. Putin promised nuclear retaliation for any use of nuclear weapons against Russia or “its allies.” Russia’s allies? Who would they be? Russia, at best, has clients like Syria. Putin’s stab at a NATO-like extended deterrence is both laughable and pitiable, as Russia has no real friends over which to extend it………
Paul Goble Staunton, March 5 – In contrast to his Soviet predecessors, Vladimir Putin “really believes in the possibility of a limited nuclear strike on US territory”and calculates that he can use this as blackmail to achieve his ends more effectively than he could be suggesting he will blow up the entire world, Moscow commentator Aleksandr Skobov says. Skobov, who acknowledges at the outset that he is not a military specialist, nevertheless offers seven “theses” about Moscow’s evolution in thinking about the use of nuclear weapons to reach this disturbing conclusion and why Putin thinks he can win out by threatening such a scenario (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5A9CE2349A89C). First, he points out that “the entire nuclear strategy of the Kremlin is subordinated exclusively to the task of opposing the US” which is “considered by the Putin clique as a blood enemy with whom a mortal conflict is inevitable.” The Kremlin leader believes that this fight will come to a climax in the mid-2020s over the division of global resources. Second, Skobov continues, “both sides have long possessed nuclear arsenals guaranteeing complete mutual destruction without victors or vanquished. A war for complete destruction of the opponent will inevitably be transformed into one of complete mutual destruction” rather than of victory on the part of the country that decided to launch first. Third, “not one of the sides possesses the possibility of launching a preventive and disarming strike: the means capable of instantly destroying the nuclear arsenal of the opponent haven’t been created and will not be in the near future.” Moves to block one side from having that capacity would be viewed by the other as a move toward war. Fourth, Skobov argues, “not one of the sides possesses an ABM system capable of stopping a massive nuclear attack, and that situation will continue as long as an ABM system will be more expensive than the means needed to defeat it.” Each side can “neutralize only a so-called ‘limited nuclear strike’ on its territory.” Fifth, “from Soviet times onward, the sides have developed scenarios of so-called ‘limited nuclear war,’ which would not necessarily grow into a total one. These ideas gave the sides the hope if not for victory in a nuclear war than at least for the achievement of certain practical goals. “However,” Skobov says, “these scenarios presupposed only the exchange of nuclear strikes on the territory of third countries or in the ocean. A limited nuclear strike on the territory of one of the nuclear superpowers was excluded” by such planners. Sixth, Putin’s innovation involves “blackmailing the US with the possibility of launching a limited nuclear strike on American territory.” That was what the weapons he talked about in his speech to the Federal Assembly was about. “Such blackmail can be extremely effective because it is easier to believe in the reality of such threats than in the reality of a threat ‘to destroy the whole world.’” And therefore seventh, Moscow has been thinking about developing the means of a limited nuclear strike against US territory “seriously and for a long time. Putin really believes in the possibility of a limited nuclear war and is preparing for it. He seriously considers that a limited nuclear strike on US territory will completely demoralize his opponent and force its capitulation.” The Kremlin leader, the Moscow analyst says, “is counting on his chief competitive advance: the low value of human life in his ‘system of coordinates.’”
Amid reports of a new Russian missile, DARPA’s chief says the United States lacks infrastructure. than several times the speed of sound, a senior Pentagon official told reporters that the United States is underfunding its own research base for similar work. Putin claimed in a lengthy address on Thursday that his country’s military forces have made rapid advances in hypersonic missile technology. According to translations of his remarks published by the Russian news service Tass, Russia’s hypersonic complex called Kinzhal in southern Russia has “started carrying out its experimental and combat duty missions” and Russian forces “are actively developing hypersonic weapons,” like other scientifically advanced countries. “I’m not going to confirm or deny President Putin’s statement,” Steven Walker, the director of the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency told reporters Thursday at a breakfast talk. Yet Walker went on to say that he felt the U.S. military’s own hypersonics research was underfunded. Asked if the United States is spending enough on its infrastructure to help develop hypersonic weapons, Walker replied, “I would say no.” The Donald Trump administration’s recently proposed fiscal 2019 budget request increased funding for hypersonics research, though it is spread across several services and agencies to include DARPA, NASA, and the Missile Defense Agency. But Walker said some areas are still underfunded, particularly the facilities needed to test hypersonic vehicles. “The dollars that were allocated in this budget were great, but they were really focused on adding more flight tests and getting some of our offensive abilities further down the line into operational prototypes,” he said. “We do need an infusion of dollars in our infrastructure to do hypersonics.” In recent years, military experts have pointed to Russia’s and China’s work on hypersonics to argue for more U.S. funding for the work. Walker said China, in particular, has invested in hypersonics research at an alarming rate. “You look at number of facilities they’ve built to do hypersonics,” he said. “It surpasses the number we have in this country, and is quickly surpassing it by two- or three-x.” China is making hypersonics a “national priority,” Walker said. “I think we need to do the same.” Last year, DARPA briefed then-Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work about hypersonics, Walker said. At the meeting, DARPA tried to persuade the Pentagon’s leadership to start a national initiative in hypersonics. “We did push for a very comprehensive initiative in the budget process,” he said.
DARPA Director: More Funding Needed to Counter Russia, China Hypersonics Programs
WASHINGTON: The Pentagon will ramp up research on hypersonic weapons with a stunning 136 percent increase in the 2019 budget request. Here’s the breakdown of the $257 million: $139.4 million, the lion’s share, goes to the Air Force-DARPA collaboration on rocket-propelled hypersonics, Tactical Boost Glide (TBG), which will produce an “operational prototype” by 2023; $14.3 million goes to Air-Force work on jet-propelled hypersonics, the Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC), which DARPA is hoping the Navy will join. $50 million goes to a new joint venture with the Army called Operational Fires (OPFIRES), part of the Army’s new emphasis on long-range artillery and missiles; and $53 million goes to the Advanced Full Range Engine (AFRE) for future hypersonic vehicles. DARPA wanted more money, director Steven Walker said bluntly, particularly to build up an R&D infrastructure currently half the size of China’s. But, he said, this budget is “a good first step.” Walker ranged widely over DARPA’s portfolio in his breakfast with the Defense Writers’ Group, from artificial intelligence, where he denied the US is falling behind China, to DNA mapping, where he admits China is ahead; to his recent visit to Ukraine, where DARPA is working on some information warfare projects, he said. “This is becoming not just an S&T thing,” said Walker, who’s worked on hypersonics for the last 10 years himself. “The services are engaged and interested in moving forward with real capabilities.” That service interest is crucial. Historically, promising technologies have often failed to make the transition from Science & Technology on the basics to Research & Development of a working weapon. Transitions between DARPA — famed for out-of-the-box experiments — and the services — which actually build and use the weapons — are particularly tricky. Getting this transition right is especially important because the U.S. is arguably falling behind China and Russia, which have invested heavily in hypersonics in hopes of rendering U.S. missile defenses obsolete. Moving at Mach 5 or more, a hypersonic weapon would combine the maneuverability and low altitude of a cruise missile with speeds approaching those of a ballistic missile. That makes it a much harder target for interceptors like Patriot, THAAD, or GBI. Falling Behind? Vladimir Putin claimed yesterday that Russia had a hypersonic missile already “carrying out…experimental and combat duty” since Dec. 1st. That’s the Mach 10, 1,250-mile-range Kinzhal (dagger), he said, “guaranteed to overcome all existing and I think prospective anti-missile systems.” However, China’s much larger economy and talent pool make it a bigger long-term threat. Its DF-17 hypersonic boost-glide vehicle, now in testing, is supposed to enter service around 2020. The Vice-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Gen. Paul Selva, has publicly said that China has pulled ahead of the US on hypersonics. Walker wouldn’t comment on Russia but he did discuss China. “If…you look at the number of facilities they’ve built to do hypersonics, it surpasses anything we have in this country….by two to three (times),” Walker said. “Most of our programs at DARPA are testing in one facility (that’s) doing all it can to work 24-7.” China has clearly made hypersonics a national priority, Walker said, and last spring DARPA went to then-Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work — a noted technophile — to propose a national effort in the US. “We really tried to convince the department that we need a national initiative in this area,” Walker said. “We did receive a budget increase at DARPA and in some of the services to do more hypersonics. I don’t think we got everything we wanted, but it was good first step.” At some point, though, “we do need an infusion of dollars in our infrastructure to do hypersonics,” Walker said. “The dollars that were allocated in this budget were great, but they were really focused on adding more flight tests and getting some of our offensive capability further down the line into operational prototypes.” Boost-Glide, Boost-Cruise Perhaps the most important of those operational prototypes, which Walker says will fly around 2022 or 2023, will be the Air Force’s boost-glide weapon. Such a system uses a rocket motor to accelerate to hypersonic speed, then jettisons the burnt-out rocket and coasts away. Since it’s gliding rather than flying under its own power, a boost-glide vehicle can maneuver but not accelerate. The alternative approach is a “boost-cruise” vehicle, which also uses a rocket to get up to speed but then switches over to something called a scramjet and flies thereafter on its own power. Like a jet, a scramjet sucks in air from the oxygen to mix with fuel and ignite, providing thrust — but a scramjet only functions at speeds that would tear a regular jet engine apart. It’s a much more complex technology to manufacture than good old-fashioned rockets, which carry their own oxidizer rather than getting it from the air, which means rockets weigh more and have limited range. DARPA experimented with boost-cruise under the Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapons Concept. The project Walker wants the Navy to join in on is a follow-on to HAWC. The Army’s OPFIRES system will be a boost-glide vehicle. Walker didn’t say why, but boost-glide technology is simpler and the range is probably adequate for Army targets. Army Chief of Staff Mark Milley has made “long-range precision fires” — modernized cannon, rocket, and missiles– his top modernization priority to counter the massive Chinese and Russian artillery forces. The difference between the Army and Air Force boost-glide programs? The Army’s will be launched from the ground, the Air Force’s from (you guessed it) the air. Who will coordinate all these disparate programs? Now that Congress has split the old Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics bureaucracy into two, that responsibility will fall to the first-ever undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, Mike Griffin. “I’m going to be looking forward to working with the new USD R&E, Mike Griffin, who comes in with an aerospace background, a background at NASA, a background in missile defense,” Walker said. “He understands this problem very well. And I’ve been told by Mike personally that this is going to be …. one of his top priorities.”
Russia claims it has a hypersonic weapon. Has the U.S. fallen behind the hypersonic race, and if so, what can be done?
Darpa’s director has confirmed that the U.S. will flight test operational prototypes of a weapon similar to the Kinzhal air-launched hypersonic strike missile.
The general in charge of U.S. Strategic Command is calling for improved threat tracking and missile defense capabilities as Russia unveils new nuclear weapons.
Options Abound for New Nuclear Cruise Missile
Just weeks before his country’s next national election, Russian President Vladimir Putin did all but set off fireworks celebrating Russia’s military might in his March 1 address to the Federal Assembly (Russia’s legislature). Putin clearly intended to fan domestic flames of nationalism and pride in advance of his certain re-election. The messages for his international audience, especially Americans who are the intended target of those new weapons systems he announced, however, were mixed.
The Hi-Tech Traditionalist: Putin’s Missiles And Putin’s Puffery. Emperor Xi, Not Czar Vladimir, Will Challenge America.
Revanche and confrontation continue to drive his agenda. Russian President Vladimir Putin last Thursday made clear his priorities for his next six-year presidential term: He spent about as much time talking about Russia’s new strategic weaponry as about all of Russia’s domestic policies put together. Revanche and confrontation continue to drive Putin’s agenda. In the meantime, he appears to believe that Russia’s internal problems will largely fix themselves if he sets ambitious enough goals. That, regardless of the new weaponry, is a disaster in the making. Putin’s two-hour speech was designed to double as an annual state of the nation address and the centerpiece of Putin’s campaign ahead of the March 18 presidential ballot. Despite a novel presentation with infographics flashing on giant screens, nothing about the first hour of the speech was particularly new or revealing.
With a language of determination that is almost reminiscent of the Cold War, Vladimir Putin has threatened an arms race against the United States
Some of Putin’s claims were outlandish — but the risks for arms control are real.
Russia has completed the testing of a portable nuclear propulsion system for cruise missiles and autonomous underwater vehicles, RIA Novosti reported with reference to an official source in the Russian military. The source stated that such technology has only been developed and implemented in Russia. According to the source, in recent years Moscow has gone to special efforts to send the West “signals” that the West’s attempts to neutralize Russia’s nuclear potential through anti-missile defense systems are futile. For this reason, several years ago it was intentionally leaked that Russia is developing autonomous underwater vehicles with unlimited range. “It was not done by accident, it was completely deliberate, in order to convince our western partners to come back down to earth and start discussing the conditions to ensure global security,” the source said. However, the source added, instead of negotiating to ensure global security, the western countries, convinced of their own uniqueness and supposed technological leadership, preferred to ignore Russia’s signals. “Now they have ended up in a position where they have to catch up, with all the corresponding consequences, especially for their taxpayers’ pockets,” the source commented. He emphasized that Russia did not break the key agreements which have ensured the necessary parity and mutual strategic deterrence since the 1970s. “It was their choice and yet another display of strategic blindness with respect to Russia and her capabilities,” the source summarized. He mentioned that one of the important ideas in President Vladimir Putin’s address before the Federal Assembly is that, instead of beginning a new arms race, there should be a joint effort to find a way to protect the world.
The United States’ anti-missile defense systems have no combat value after Russia presented new weaponry, a military-diplomatic source added
The source emphasized that it’s time for Russia’s Western partners to recognize the ‘new reality’ created by Moscow’s strategic capabilities.
The new underwater drone, which can carry a nuclear warhead, is said to have an unlimited travel range.
President Trump has responded to Russia’s ramped-up nuclear and cyberarsenals with a mix of Cold War-era approaches and virtual silence.
Moscow has weapons to get around defense systems, Putin said.
Citizens of Russia, members of the Federation Council and State Duma, Today’s Address is a very special landmark event, just as the (…) [Voltaire Network]
Russian President Vladimir V. Putin announced in a campaign speech Thursday that Russia now has new weapons that can bypass the defensive measures the …
However you may feel about him, during his long tenure, Vladimir Putin has definitely been a strongman. For some, this is a sign of a true leader, for others, of undemocratic autocracy. Rigged elections, mysterious opponent disappearances, have brought the man on the verge of a movie mastermind villain status. If
MOSCOW (AFP-Jiji) — Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday promised “victories” for Russia at a star-studded rally attended by tens of thousands of supporters ahead of a March 18 election he is all but certain to win.
Sacrifice for ordinary Russians is a wholly different concept than for their Western counterparts. Throughout history Russians (and their governments) have burned their entire cities (including the spiritual capital of Moscow in 1812 when entered by Napoleon); allowed cities to be besieged for months or even years (e.g., Leningrad in World War II); and showed indifference to basic needs considered vital in Western societies. Respect and obedience to authority is also a distinct element of the sociopolitical ethos of Russian society, which is neither overly democratic nor fully European nor despotically Asian. The Russians are always in the midst of a quest for a messianic formula that can help them make sense of themselves and their aspirations. Christianity and pan-Slavism under the Romanovs, Communism in the Soviet era, Eurasianism under Putin. Russia evolves, but explaining this evolvement via Western prisms rarely helps. This different vantage point helps understand why Western pundits all too often misread the Russian picture. For while Putin undoubtedly craves the widespread approval of his subjects, his power does not entirely depend on their sentiments. Quite the contrary, Russia’s strong state structures (e.g., the police, the security forces, the newly created National Guard), together with deep-rooted victimhood sentiments vis-à-vis the West, strengthens the regime’s ability to harness all political, human and economic resources to the ultimate goal of political survival.
Russia’s economy might be weak, and the country might have demographic problems, but on international standing and regional influence, Putin came to play
The official website of the defense Ministry of Russia has received more than 70 thousand sentences with the names of the newest Russian weapons systems, which said the day before Vladimir Putin. It is noteworthy that the proposals come not only from inhabitants of Russia: about 20% of the names come from Internet users from the CIS countries, another 10% from the inhabitants of near and far abroad. On average receives about 3 million sentences per hour. Currently, the Russian defense Ministry is working to streamline and analyse variants of the names. The results of the analysis is a list of the most popular options and announced the vote, said “NO” in a press-service of military Department.