back to article Hypersonic nukes! Nuclear-powered drone subs! Putin unwraps his new (propaganda) toys

Russian Federation president Putin has used his annual state-of-the-nation address to show off the latest additions to Russia's weapon's catalog and to warn the Western powers that his country will not be trifled with. Putin showed off video of new weapons systems, including a massive ICBM capable of launching hypersonic …

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    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Little reactors?

      "There could be quite a good market for those."

      Assuming they work. Tiny reactors would be more difficult to control, possibly using fast fission rather than thermal. Additionally, they'd be highly inefficient because you wouldn't have enough mass to properly utilize the thermal energy. The main reason that nuclear jet engines were abandoned is that they're just TOO HEAVY to be practical.

      A tiny reactor must be created with extermely enriched fuel, 'weapons grade' or better, and it requires a pretty significant mass of external things to transfer the heat. To be controllable, you need even bigger mass/geometry and it very rapidly becomes impossible to put it into a missile. A "Big Fornicating Rocket" might be able to manage a nuclear engine (and that's been proposed) but they still need some kind of fuel/propellant to eject out the tail end and so the mass of the engine must be weight against the need for separate fuel/oxidizer and the limitations of chemical reactions.

      Anyway, putting a nuclear engine on a missile that's capable of running for "unlimited" time is extremely impractical. The physics and thermodynamics just don't work very well, ya know?

      [not saying IMPOSSIBLE just IMPRACTICAL]

      1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Little reactors?

        "There could be quite a good market for those."

        Blighty could offer to purchase some (of the nuclear powered torpedoes) to strap onto the QE class carriers - a sort of "Nuclear Cruise" option to save on bunker fuel and extend range, and no doubt increase speed.

      2. JassMan
        Trollface

        Re: Little reactors? @ bombastic bob

        > A tiny reactor must be created with extermely enriched fuel, 'weapons grade' or better,

        The thing the russkies are betting on is that since you are delivering is a NUCLEAR WEAPON you might as well use a bit more fissile material to get it to its target. As for getting rid of excess heat, the ocean makes an extremely good heat sink for a hot torpedo. The cruise missile may be more difficult but probably not insurmountable.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Little reactors? @ bombastic bob

          "The cruise missile may be more difficult but probably not insurmountable."

          Yes, it's not like it needs shielding and safety systems. It only has to perform for a max of a couple of hours and if the exhaust is "dirty" who cares?

      3. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. strum

          Re: Little reactors?

          >all those Russian military scientists and engineers.

          We haven't heard from them. We've heard from a politician.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Little reactors?

            "Russia does not pursue the objective of destroying the United States. Russia’s actions are dictated by only one cause–to pull a gun on a drunk, rowdy, knife wielding bully in the bar and get him to pay attention to what others may have to say. In other words, Russia brought the gun to a knife fight and it seems that this is the only way to deal with the United States today".

            http://www.unz.com/article/the-implications-of-russias-new-weapons/

        2. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: Little reactors?

          "Good to hear that you know more than all those Russian military scientists and engineers"

          you haven't even SEEN my CV. And yes, I quite possibly DO know more than at least most of those Russian military scientists and engineers, particularly if they're proposing things that are impractical to implement.

          I may ALSO know "things" about (most likely still classified) systems such *AS* the old nuclear aircraft design. What's publicly available on Wikipedia is probably enough, though. I wouldn't divulge anything else.

          /me used to operate a nuclear reactor on a submarine. yes, I know how they work, quite well in fact. So I think I'm a pretty good judge of how a 'tiny' nuclear reactor might be designed and what a lot of the problems are in trying to get it to fly... or power a torpedo or unmanned submersible vehicle, for that matter.

          1. Andy Tunnah

            Re: Little reactors?

            I LOVE how you tailor your CV to every thread on el reg. Honestly, reading your fantastical comments are my fave part of these forums. You try to baffle us with brilliance, and you just end up blinding yourself with bullshit.

            I LOVE it.

          2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Little reactors?

            "/me used to operate a nuclear reactor on a submarine. yes, I know how they work, quite well in fact. "

            That must have been an interesting career change from Petty Officer (Stores) to Nuclear Reactor Operator. I'm tempted to wonder if you are related to Jake "Jack of all trades", who seems to have done almost every job description under the sun :-)

      4. Steve the Cynic

        Re: Little reactors?

        The main reason that nuclear jet engines were abandoned is that they're just TOO HEAVY to be practical.

        The Unreliable Source's article on Project Pluto suggests otherwise:

        On May 14, 1961, the world's first nuclear ramjet engine, "Tory-IIA", mounted on a railroad car, roared to life for a few seconds. Three years later, "Tory-IIC" was run for five minutes at full power. Despite these and other successful tests the Pentagon, sponsor of the "Pluto project", had second thoughts. The weapon was considered "too provocative",[2] and it was believed that it would compel the Soviets to construct a similar device, against which there was no known defense. Intercontinental ballistic missile technology had proven to be more easily developed than previously thought, reducing the need for such highly capable cruise missiles. On July 1, 1964, seven years and six months after it was started, "Project Pluto" was canceled. (from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supersonic_Low_Altitude_Missile)

        The main reason why they abandoned Pluto was not that the (unshielded) engines were too heavy (they weren't), but that the weapon was too provocative and too unnecessary.

        Shielded "crew-safe" nuclear thermal rockets that use inhaled air as propellant may well be, as you say, too heavy to be practical, but an uncrewed unshielded cruise missile is technologically possible, if marginally feasible.

        1. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: Little reactors?

          "an uncrewed unshielded cruise missile is technologically possible, if marginally feasible."

          keep in mind that it's supposed to be able to run 'indefinitely' which means it's an air-breather. If it carried propellant, it would run out, eventually. The only way to make a 'long time' sustainable nuclear engine is for it to breathe air [or water if it's submerged, which might be a bit more practical]. That also doesn't consider the overall size requirement for the power plant and supporting systems. An air-breathing engine needs a heat exchanger that's large enough to transfer it to the propellant [in this case, air], and not melt in the process [so it can sustain propulsion].

          Project Pluto - that's an interesting one (maybe Putin read the wikipedia page, said "we can do this, too" etc. nevermind the 1960's date on when the project was canceled).

          Back in the 1950's and 60's there were a LOT of those kinds of things being tested out, not the least of which were the nuclear artillery round [which works, but who'd want to shoot an artillery round that causes fallout to drop on your own head?] and the SL-1 reactor [a small reactor that was SO dangerous it exploded from an accident during routine maintenance].

          There are often a lot more reasons why a project is abandoned other than the ones stated. Some of these reasons are actually classified, or were at one time (SL-1 may be an example, I won't say why - if it's publically disclosed I'll comment on it, but that's about it).

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: Little reactors?

            "SL-1 reactor [a small reactor that was SO dangerous it exploded from an accident during routine maintenance]."

            Actually it went prompt-critical and because it was partially drained of water the resulting extra large steam explosion was what killed the maintenance crew. (incidentally it was also prompt-criticality and a steam explosion which blew the roof off at Chernobyl)

            It's because of SL-1 that nuclear reactors are always kept full of water when being maintained. The idea that a 100kW (thermal) reactor could generate 20+GW of heat for a few seconds was known about but hadn't been drawn to the attention of the people tasked with designing maintenance procedures.

            SL-1 was one of the incidents on Alvin Weinberg's mind when he set out to eliminate water from nuclear reactor cores. The idea of 600-1200MWe steam bombs scared the shit out of him and he _designed_ the original PWR reactor.

          2. Steve the Cynic

            Re: Little reactors?

            The only way to make a 'long time' sustainable nuclear engine is for it to breathe air [or water if it's submerged, which might be a bit more practical]. That also doesn't consider the overall size requirement for the power plant and supporting systems. An air-breathing engine needs a heat exchanger that's large enough to transfer it to the propellant [in this case, air], and not melt in the process [so it can sustain propulsion].

            My reading of the Project Pluto page and related stuff is that the SLAM (the missile they were trying to develop) was in essence an airbreathing nuclear thermal rocket. In an NTR, the "heat exchanger" is essentially *direct*contact* between the propellant (in this case, atmospheric air compressed by the ramjet tube to something over 300 psi) and the fuel elements. The *air* (OK, propellant, but this one's air-breathing) is the coolant for the reactor, and this, combined with the almost total absence of shielding, means that the reactor is light enough to be put in a (large) cruise missile.

            And yes, an in-atmosphere nuclear thermal rocket zipping about at supersonic speeds *is* an insane idea. It spews oodles of fission-sourced neutrons wherever it goes, and barfs out significant quantities of radioactive waste particles through the exhaust, but if it's flying in circles over enemy territory, it's ...

            No, it's just insane.

      5. Mike Richards Silver badge

        Re: Little reactors?

        One thing the Russians have experience of is in designing small reactors for their RORSAT programme. Their later 5kW Topaz liquid metal cooled reactor was so good that the US wanted to use it for their space missions. I wonder if they've been looking to scale it up for more power?

      6. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Little reactors?

        "The main reason that nuclear jet engines were abandoned is that they're just TOO HEAVY to be practical."

        It wasn't the reactor that was the problem. other ensuring they didn't spray out masses of radioactive exhaust.

        All the weight was in shielding to keep whatever was at the controls from being fried (meatsacks and electronics are equally susceptable to high levels of radiation)

    2. Cuddles Silver badge

      Re: Little reactors?

      "There could be quite a good market for those."

      Probably not, no. These aren't nuclear electric generators, they're nuclear engines. Probably something like the Project Pluto ones mentioned in the article, which basically wanted to replace burning fuel with nuclear-heated air in a jet engine. A neat idea when you want a jet or rocket engine, especially a single-use one that doesn't need to run for more than a few hours at most, but not much use in the civilian world. It's less Fallout-style nuclear powered cars, and more a slightly better controlled Project Orion (that's the one that planned to launch a rocket by repeatedly exploding nuclear bombs behind it).

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re. MAD

    Interesting idea: why don't countries simply put the money wasted on nuclear weapons into actual things that might benefit this planet such as asteroid detection and defence?

    As it stands Russia didn't see the Chelyabinsk asteroid coming, had that been 3% larger or at a slightly shallower angle Europe would now be glowing in the dark.

    Direct hit on a reprocessing plant would be a doomsday scenario that would dwarf Chernobyl and qualify as an extinction level event in its own right.

    The big problem is that depending on where it hits, it could set off WWIII by itself which is exactly why we need a system in the first place.

    Silly humans. (Grey alien face)

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Megaphone

      Re: Re. MAD

      "why don't countries simply put the money wasted on nuclear weapons into actual things that might benefit this planet such as asteroid detection and defence?"

      sadly there is still evil in the world. You can't reason with evil. You can't make deals with it, either. Non-aggression pacts will be violated, agreements will be broken, and like Hitler during WW2, evil will secretly develop its aggressive ability until it's too late to stop. Unless there's a significant deterrent for any one rogue country to do what the German government did leading up to WW2, we're doomed to repeat that scenario.

      Does that answer your question?

      1. I&I

        Re: Re. MAD

        Plus people hate “evil” more than “random”

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Re. MAD

      "Interesting idea: why don't countries simply put the money wasted on nuclear weapons into actual things that might benefit this planet such as asteroid detection and defence?"

      Because if any given country stops providing for its own defence, it is likely to be conquered by heavily armed rivals which then oppress its people and extract its wealth.

      Sad, but true.

    3. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Re. MAD

      "Direct hit on a reprocessing plant would be a doomsday scenario that would dwarf Chernobyl and qualify as an extinction level event in its own right."

      Wrong.

  2. Mark 65

    Long range missile

    Was this "long range cannot shoot down as it goes via the South Pole" missile the one in the video with the South Park graphics? FFS.

  3. IceC0ld Silver badge

    El Reg's choice would be Nuky McMeltingface.

    why give them 'scary' 'macho'names like Satan ?

    named in honour of Curly Larry n Mo

    Nuk Nuk Nuk

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Scoff as much as you like

      Nobody in Russia will care about your feeble jokes. All that matters is that, if anyone attacks Russia, their own country will be utterly destroyed - probably along with any allies that have not dissociated themselves from the aggression quickly enough.

      And when your face is melting, you probably won't find it so funny.

      https://www.thepoke.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Screen-Shot-2017-08-11-at-11.22.41.png

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: Scoff as much as you like

        Archtech,

        But that was true already. Russia / the Soviet Union has had the power to "end the world" since the 60s. OK, back them a lot of their bombers might have been shot down, but enough would get through. Since then there have been enough missiles kicking around to do the job. Admittedly some of those needed to be updated, as they've got limited lifespans, but not seriously upgraded. The US does not have a significant missile defence capacity, nor does it have the plans to build one, or the technolocy.

        Also, what's this thing with new hypersonic warheads on the new ICBMs. I thought all ICBM warhead were already hypersonic?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Scoff as much as you like

          Have you read the 2018 National Defense Strategy of the United States, which makes it perfectly clear that the Pentagon's new #1 targets are Russia and China? A summary is here:

          https://www.defense.gov/Portals/1/Documents/pubs/2018-National-Defense-Strategy-Summary.pdf

          Did you notice outgoing President Obama's commitment to spend $1 trillion (which obviously would be multiplied many times in practice) essentially replacing the whole of the USA's nuclear arsenal with newer and better weapons?

          https://theintercept.com/2016/02/23/obamas-new-rationale-for-1-trillion-nuclear-program-augurs-a-new-arms-race-with-russia/

          Are you aware that the USA currently spends ten times as much as Russia on its armed forces?

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_military_expenditures

          Or that just the increase approved by Mr Trump is greater than Russia's entire defence budget?

          The USA has systematically surrounded Russia with military and naval bases and missile sites.

          http://washingtonsblog.com/2015/03/proof-russia-iran-want-war-look-close-put-countries-military-bases.html

          It's clear that the people in Washington do not see things as clearly as you do. They are so skilled at self-deception that they may well believe they can defeat Russia anyway. Otherwise why waste such colossal sums of money on surrounding Russia with bases and weapons?

          So Mr Putin's latest announcements are intended to prove to the dimmest American chauvinist that no, they cannot win a war against Russia. All they can do is (further) bankrupt the USA, just as military spending bankrupted the USSR.

          https://www.lewrockwell.com/2018/02/john-w-whitehead/the-military-industrial-complex-strikes-again-war-spending-will-bankrupt-america/

          1. Blitheringeejit
            Facepalm

            Re: Scoff as much as you like

            "They are so skilled at self-deception that they may well believe they can defeat Russia anyway. Otherwise why waste such colossal sums of money on surrounding Russia with bases and weapons?"

            For the same reason as most US Gummint money is spent - pork-barrelling for their domestic military-industrial complex. It's been going on for generations - politicians inflate the possible threat out of all proportion to reality (via "military intelligence", my favourite oxymoron), then use that inflated threat as an excuse to put billions of tax-dollars into the trousers of the arms company executives who then fund the campaigns of those selfsame politicians. No real threat is required - it's just a circle of money and political power, fleecing poorer US taxpayers who aren't in the loop - you know, the ones whose resentment was so effectively harnessed by the Trump campaign. Turkeys vote, yet again, for Christmas.

            Meanwhile, Putin's posturing works along the same lines, and also has a distinguished history (remember Khruschev's "We will bury you!" speech, when he actually had about two ICBMs, neither of which would probably have worked). But because Russian leaders are not (except in the loosest possible sense) elected, and there is even less freedom of information there than in the US, they don't need vast sums of money to stay in power. So they don't need to actually build any of the weapons they say they are building - or indeed make them technically plausible. They just need to inflate the threat, say they are dealing with it, fake a few videos of scary weapons, and thereby retain enough popular support to avoid being overthrown.

            Mr Putin's announcements are not aimed at Americans, any more than Trump's are aimed at Russians. This is really old, tired stuff - please can we have something more original and fun on a Friday afternoon?

          2. Alistair
            Windows

            Re: Scoff as much as you like

            ". Otherwise why waste such colossal sums of money on surrounding Russia with bases and weapons?

            Well, as someone once said, follow the money. The US has a fairly short history, but it has spent an enormous percentage of that time loosing wars and spending colossal sums of money on armaments.

          3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Scoff as much as you like

            "Did you notice outgoing President Obama's commitment to spend $1 trillion (which obviously would be multiplied many times in practice) essentially replacing the whole of the USA's nuclear arsenal with newer and better weapons"

            And Trump, as he keeps reminding us, is going to reverse everything Obama did? Oops.

          4. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Scoff as much as you like

            https://www.sott.net/article/378900-Target-Russia-NATO-sprawl-creeps-into-Eastern-Europe-and-there-are-no-more-illusions-about-its-purpose

  4. ST Silver badge
    Mushroom

    My ICBM is bigger than Your ICBM

    And has deeper penetration too.

    Interpret that as you wish.

    Freud would have a field day with this. Problem is, it's not Freud receiving this challenge, it's Trump.

    I think that sums it up.

    <EOM>

    1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
      Mushroom

      South Pole route

      They don't like it up 'em

      Lance Corporal Jones Putin

    2. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

      Re: My ICBM is bigger than Your ICBM

      Shirley, "My Pecs are bigger and firmer than yours?"

  5. jonathan keith Silver badge

    Excellent work from the CGI team.

  6. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Aimed right at the heart of america

    The yanks' biggest vulnerability is their paranoia. Their fear. And they will go to great (extreme?) lengths to assuage that.

    Just like the 1980's Star Wars programme promised to make the USSR vulnerable to high-tech american weapons - even though they didn't exist and could never have been made - so this is the same: right back at ya!

    Putin seems to have the measure of Trump. He knows the guy is an unbearable narcissist (it takes one to know one?) and that he couldn't let a challenge like this go unanswered. So by hinting that the USA might be "naked" and susceptible to some real imaginary military threat is a great bit of plonker-pulling.

    And if it gets the merkins to crank up their unbelievably inefficient war-machine and spend $ TREEEEEELIONS on countering some Youtube videos and cartoons, then Putin will be laughing all the way to his next election.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Putin vs Trump

      That is the issue. Two of the biggest [redacted] heads with their hands on the nuclear triggers.

      Putin is about to become President for Life.

      Trump is verging on senile and as such is twice as dangerous. He's even planning on standing for re-election.

      Their egos will really clash sooner or later.

      Spend it while you can people as TBH, I don't see a long term future for the planet once Cold War V2.0 kicks in for real.

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Aimed right at the heart of america

      Pete 2,

      Your post makes no sense. Everyone has been living with the threat of nuclear anihilation since the 50s/60s. Russia was able to do that yesterday, and when these new weapons turn up will still be able to do it with the old ones anyway.

      The US might spend R&D money on missile defence, but there's no serious program to stop the threat of Russian ICBMs because it's pointless. Deterring North Korea makes sense, they're only capable of building a few warheads a year, and it's probably similar with the rockets (even if they've got the tech to make the nukes small enough to be deliverable).

      Making it too expensive for the North Korean's to have a credible threat makes it more likely they'll do a deal to trade their nukes for more trade/aid/attention. That's a few billion well spent. The same calculation was true with Iran. Not with Russia.

      You're obviously right about Trump being an arse - but he has to get defence spending through Congress. He'll probably just restrict himself to responding on Twitter.

    3. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Aimed right at the heart of america

      Putin seems to have the measure of Trump. He knows the guy is an unbearable narcissist (it takes one to know one?) and that he couldn't let a challenge like this go unanswered.

      Couple of things. Most of the commentariat has failed to read the official Russian and American strategy in its most recent editions. Russian was published a few years back, American just got published a few weeks ago.

      Russian is very Russian. It is Slavic to the bone. The key differentiator between Slavic mentality and Anglo-Saxon one is that Slavic and especially Russian mentality does not know the concept of limited response. The response is "as big as it takes that you never fucking bother us again". It is erroneously labeled in UK and USA recent analysis as "escalate to deescalate". No it is not - it is escalate so there is no f*cking repeat of this. Translated in real terms, this means that Russia has postulated that it will use its FULL military force with no restrictions in a "limited" conflict (just as it did in Ossetia) to make sure nobody gets funky ideas about limited conflicts. The only "rule" is - it will not deploy its nukes first.

      The official response by USA in the new Trump policy is the use of tactical nukes including USA if necessary using them first in such scenario to keep the conflict "limited" and deter the Russians from using a sledgehammer to crack nuts. If you just spit your coffee on your keyboard, go and read it. Whoever wrote that in Trump team is on some very weird meds. Meds or no meds, the fact is a fact, they will be actually building the weapons to deliver this idea.

      The official Russian response proscribed by their strategy to that is similar - use of weapons of mass destruction against their forces leads to unlimited response on a "this country will not exist to do this stupidity again" basis. This is something they have and they can deploy today. No USA weapon changes this equation.

      Now, looking back on the weapons in question. They are actually a deviation from their official strategy (if they exist). They allow them instead of the proscribed complete destruction to chose a target of any value they like and make a BIG show of taking it out. Without it being a guaranteed end of the world. It may still be an end of the world none the less, but you never know.

      In any case, the correct response here is to de-escalate and rescind the USA policy back to its Obama and earlier incarnations which was "no nukes first". From there on it would be possible to discuss some disarmament. Unfortunately, this is not likely to happen and it is not Trump who is the culprit - there a plenty of psychotic hawks at all levels in both NATO and USA command too and it is them who are calling the shots, not the politicians - same as during the early years of Reagan/Andropov era.

  7. AndersBreiner

    It's worth pointing out that Russia had a lot of trouble getting its latest generation of SLBMs to work properly

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RSM-56_Bulava

    "

    The missile's flight test programme was problematic. Until 2009, there were 6 failures in 13 flight tests and one failure during ground test, blamed mostly on substandard components. After a failure in December 2009, further tests were put on hold and a probe was conducted to find out the reasons for the failures. Testing was resumed on 7 October 2010 with a launch from the Typhoon-class submarine Dmitri Donskoi in the White Sea; the warheads successfully hit their targets at the Kura Test Range in the Russian Far East.[9] Seven launches have been conducted since the probe, all successful. On 28 June 2011, the missile was launched for the first time from its standard carrier, Borei-class submarine Yury Dolgorukiy, and on 27 August 2011 the first full-range (over 9,000 km (5,600 mi)) flight test was conducted. After this successful launch, the start of serial production of Bulava missiles in the same configuration was announced on 28 June 2011. A successful salvo launch on 23 December 2011 concluded the flight test programme. The missile was officially approved for service on 27 December 2011,[10] and was reported to be commissioned aboard Yuri Dolgorukiy on 10 January 2013. The missile did however continue to fail in the summer of 2013 and was not operational as of November 2013.[11] The Bulava became operational aboard Yury Dolgorukiy as of October 2015.[12] However, recent developments put this in question. In November 2015, the submarine Vladimir Monomakh fired two missiles while submerged. One of the missiles self-destructed during the boost phase and the other failed to deliver its warheads to the specified target. After being sent back to the manufacturer, it was determined that the missiles failed due to manufacturing defects.[13]

    "

    And Sarmat is basically 1980s technology. Russia's defence budget is less than the UK's.

    So the idea they're going to be fielding nuclear powered cruise missiles and undersea drones with unlimited range anytime soon is pretty remote.

    It's all CGI vapourware designed to fool the gullible.

    Also US missile defences was never intended to stop a full on attack by Russia or China. Russia doesn't need all this high tech stuff to get through US missile defences it just needs a nuclear trident with submarine, land and air based nukes. Which it has had since the 1960s.

    I.e. this is all vapourware and Russia doesn't even need to build it to be sure that it could get through US missile defences.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Putin is also feeling the pressure a bit this election. He'll win of course, non-token opposition isn't tolerated. But he's having to talk about social programs, because people are getting less thrilled with military success - when the economy is in the crapper. The Syrian adventure wasn't even popular to start with. And Putin had to miss a great opportunity to chest-beat about the US killing a hundred-odd Russian mercenaries last month, because that would mean admitting that the Syrian campaign has been so successful that they still require ground troops (something he said wouldn't be needed).

      The problem is that Russian government gets about a third of its budget from taxes on oil and gas revenue. And that's down by a hell of a lot, since the heady days of $140 a barrel. Those were the days when they started increasing their defence budget and ordering all these shiny new weapons. Some apparently very impressive. But can they still afford more than a few of them? As you say, their defence budget is lower than the UK's, although of course wages are much lower so it probably goes a lot further.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Russian Time Travel...

      Quote from wikipedia...

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RSM-56_Bulava

      "on 27 August 2011 the first full-range (over 9,000 km (5,600 mi)) flight test was conducted. After this successful launch, the start of serial production of Bulava missiles in the same configuration was announced on 28 June 2011"

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @AndersBreiner

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RSM-56_Bulava vs Sineva/Lainer.

      It is standard Russian methodology in anything to have plan B. They do it in life, they do it in engineering acrosss the board. If you have every worked with them you would have run across this one. It pisses off British and American PHBs immensely - most of them cannot comprehend the idea of investing into plan B day one, they invest into it only when Plan A has failed by which point it is too late.

      They also do it with their weapons. An example of how this distinctly Russian way of doing things would have translated to American thinking would have been a full upgrade and life extension of A10 in parallel with doing the F35. See yanks doing it? I do not, not their way of thinking. It is the latest and the greatest or bust.

      When the Russians run an advanced project with a significant risk or delay probability they always also run another project in parallel which uses a tested and proven (but more conservative) tech to achieve a reasonable compromise in terms of functionality.

      That is exactly the case here. Bulava differs from most SLBMs - it uses a very low trajectory "just in case" the opponent has space or land based mid-course interceptor defenses. It also is designed to deploy hypersonic terminal glide warheads in the future. It was always EXPECTED to have a high failure rate.

      In the meantime, while everyone has been paying attention to the Bulava/Borei program, the Russians have IN PARALLEL done the Plan B. With virtually no failures. The result is Sineva/Lainer. It will not fly low so there is some chance intercepting it. It is not designed to carry super-duper special next generation warheads. It can, however carry 16 of them - 4 more than Trident D5. Plenty enough as a deterrent.

      And if Bulava works, that gives them a massive one up. If not - they are at least at parity.

  8. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    If I was president of a country, I would use wooden props (viewable from spaaaaaaaace) and good CGI to let the world believe I have an army to content with, and pressure them to escalate their weaponry upwards, thus making them waste their money on weapons, soldiers and armoury things whilst building my economy up.

    Then making all things money go pear-shaped, buying out their soldiers etc, taking control of their countries that way.

    Muhuhahahaha.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Trollface

      "Muhuhahahaha."

      And demand - 100 BEEELION DOLLARS

      Muhuhahahaha. Muhuhahahaha. Muhuhahahaha! [pinky on cheek]

      "I call this plan, preparation H"

      "I call it - the Alan Parsons Project"

      and so on

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "[...] I would use wooden props ( [...]"

      In WWII part of the D-Day preparations consisted of inflatable tanks etc that fostered a deception of massive forces destined for a Calais invasion.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        A deception the Germans were still buying (to an extent) even after half a million troops had landed in Normandy. It's scary how many panzer divisions Hitler kept around Calais - given how much damage Rommel could have done with them.

        Apparently one of the rubber "tanks" got popped when it was charged by a bull. I like to imagine it taking off and flying round the field, making farting noises...

        1. Jemma

          Not as good as the poor French sod who cycled past some American and British squaddies involved in picking up and moving Sherman tank inflatables - apparently the poor guys eyes bugged out of his head and one of the British apparently said "these Americans, very strong..", in French, at which point monseiur peddled the hell out of it at high speed and the squaddies collapsed in hysterics. History does not mention whether monseiur was more terrified of Americans with a 15 tonne benchpress or British who could speak French..

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            "[...] or British who could speak French.."

            I refer you to "one of the British apparently said [...]" - the Frenchman may have thought he had good cause his interpretation of what the sounds used actually meant in French

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
              Joke

              "I refer you to "one of the British apparently said [...]" - the Frenchman may have thought he had good cause his interpretation of what the sounds used actually meant in French"

              Don't worry, I'm sure the British squaddie said it loudly and slowly so as to make sure that Johnny Foreigner understood.

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