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. John Brown (no body) 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"

      I was under the impression that terracotta was the preferred material for this scenario.

  1. AndersBreiner

    Hmm, I checked and Russia's defence budget is quite a bit more than the UK's these days

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

    However it's still a lot less than the US's.

    I reckon the US and Russia will do a deal on this. The last budget in the US funded literally everything the military asked for including sub strategic Trident which bothers the Russians enormously.

    I predict Russia and the US will do an arms control treaty and most of the new stuff will be bargained away.

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      In order to be bargained, it needs to exist

      Previous rounds of bargains included proven weapons.

      If Russia really wants to make a point, expect a hypersonic demo in Syria by end of year. Till then, it is all cgi and blueprints. While theoretically possible, none of them is proven until its shown - the way it did with its new generation of conventional weapons. That is something which is actually coming off the assembly line. This... Still mostly cgi.

      1. Pete 2 Silver badge

        Re: In order to be bargained, it needs to exist

        > If Russia really wants to make a point, expect a hypersonic demo in Syria

        Unlikely, as the debris from the attack could easily find its way to western intelligence and its actual capabilities analysed and mitigated. Far better to conduct tests in territory you (and you alone) control.

        1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

          Re: In order to be bargained, it needs to exist

          Unlikely, as the debris from the attack

          What debris at >5M? It does not even need a warhead. mv2 by itself is enough to vaporize whatever is left.

          If it does not, their existing Tornado missile batteries at Latakia will clean up the area. That is one of the reasons they are there - to sterilize a spot where they have lost something which they do not want NATO to recover. They already use kit like that there in order for it to clock combat hours. For example - the Su-PAKFA fighters.

          So far they have not needed to use "sterilize the area", but they are perfectly capable of doing it (without blowing up Chinese embassies "by mistake" as a collateral).

    2. Jemma

      Fair point but to be blunt - Micronesia probably has a bigger defence budget than the UK and half of it is sinking into the sea.

      What I can't work out is this. How has no one noticed that in comparison to the QEs or Vanguard the modern "navy" is using what amount to coracles, but if you adjust the prices and compare they're paying 10x as much for the coracles.. Running Windows for Warships no less and half the weapons won't fit, don't work or possibly don't exist. How did we get to this point?

      And I really wouldn't worry about Putin McNukeyface. So he drops a nuke on London - what he doesn't own here (and everywhere else) the Chinese do - so he certainly doesn't gain, he's busy quietly buying up farmland (even in the US) so it's kind of pointless from that angle. About the only place he might be able to nuke to a net benefit would be the Galapagos and I wouldn't want to be him afterwards.

      Putin has been relying on people being idiots for almost his whole life, sadly America and to a lesser extent western Europe have made that a perfect strategy and I don't see it changing any time soon.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        How has no one noticed that in comparison to the QEs or Vanguard the modern "navy" is using what amount to coracles, but if you adjust the prices and compare they're paying 10x as much for the coracles.. Running Windows for Warships no less and half the weapons won't fit, don't work or possibly don't exist. How did we get to this point?

        We got here through a lack of accountability for the people making decisions, and a failure to learn the lessons of either history or previous procurement failures. The only reason the QE carriers were ordered was a desperate attempt by Gordon Brown to shore up the Labour vote in Scotland (and they weren't even effective at that task).

        With almost all military procurement, development costs vastly too much because the original spec was either inadequate or kept changing, and then to keep total costs down, politicians reduce the planned orders, which does reduce total costs, but causes the average cost to increase dramatically. Getting the EAP prototype (forerunner of Typhoon) in the air cost a touch over £100m, with most of the £25m design work done as a private venture by BAe, but MoD funding the c£80m construction of the prototype. But the development costs alone for Typhoon are probably around £7-10 billion, reflecting all the complexity of making it a crappy European project, and then letting the procurement agencies keep farting around. So the production costs of the Typhoon exceed the costs of the first hand-made prototype. That's how fucked up defence procurement is.

    3. TonyJ Silver badge
      Joke

      "...Hmm, I checked and Russia's defence budget is quite a bit more than the UK's these days.."

      That's not hard...I reckon my son's pocket money is more than the UK's defence budget these days :(

      1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
        Joke

        @TonyJ

        That's not hard...I reckon my son's pocket money is more than the UK's defence budget these days :(

        He probably has a catapult or two. That's more than what can be said for the QE class carriers.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Apples... oranges...

      Hmm, I checked and Russia's population is more than twice the UK's. And Russia is 70 times bigger than the UK.

      And Russia is seriously threatened by the USA, which the UK is not - it having been conquered back in about 1930 or 1940.

      1. Blitheringeejit
        Trollface

        @Archtech

        You are Boris Grishenko (http://jamesbond.wikia.com/wiki/Boris_Grishenko), and I claim my five pounds.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @Archtech

          Descent to "ad hominem" - rather a low tactic.

          1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

            Re: @Archtech .. and the Art of Having Nothing to Worry About because Craft and Stealth are MIA

            Descent to "ad hominem" - rather a low tactic. ... Archtech

            'Tis the common default comfort blanket of both the intellectually challenged and future naive, Archtech .... and typical of Sub-Prime busy at work, doing its finest.

  2. Trygve Henriksen

    Nuclear powered cruise missile from the south?

    How will that get past Trump's Great Wall?

  3. EricM

    Great CGI show, I must admit - but how credible is all that?

    Given the upcoming eletions in Russia - how do you estimate the fiction/fact relation of that presentation?

    80/20? 90/10?

    New Launcher: OK. I think a Laser weapon, and nuclear powered sub drone prototypes could be somehow built. Long-term reliability in a military context would have to be seen.

    However, all these pretty much do not change much in the current threat scanrios.

    But the rest? Highly doubt it.

    So MAD was ever and is still assured ...

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Great CGI show, I must admit - but how credible is all that?

      How do hypersonic missiles turn corners? Surely they can be fast or manoeuverable, but not both?

      1. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: Great CGI show, I must admit - but how credible is all that?

        "How do hypersonic missiles turn corners? Surely they can be fast or manoeuverable, but not both?"

        Manoeuvrable is easy. I'm not sure just how manoeuvrable something can be at hypersonic speeds purely because even in a 100G turn you'd need a second or two to turn 45 degrees and you would have travelled a few miles. I'd imagine the steering fins would undergo enormous ablation at those speeds so you couldnt do a lot of it, But you could do some but it would be more like the M1 than Brands Hatch.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: Great CGI show, I must admit - but how credible is all that?

          How do you pull a 100G turn without the missile breaking in half?

          If you're in your final approach and the warhead has separated, then that's a different matter. Assuming they're planning for warhead separation of course.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Great CGI show, I must admit - but how credible is all that?

            "If you're in your final approach and the warhead has separated, then that's a different matter. Assuming they're planning for warhead separation of course."

            If you're already hypersonic, do you even need a warhead? A solid lump of something might be enough, or maybe a box of large(ish) ball bearing that opens us before impact for a shot gun effect. I wonder what the effect of a mach 10+ 1" steel ball bearing would be? Or an expanding cloud of them?

  4. Iain W

    Not a Clue

    The title of the article is idiotic. The writer has no idea as to the status of Russian or Chinese technologies and capabilities and nor does anyone in the West. They are running blind.

  5. MacroRodent Silver badge

    Putin's gift to U.S. the armaments industry

    Expect plenty of new weapons programs to be announced by the U.S, in response to the toys Putin just announced...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Putin's gift to U.S. the armaments industry

      Which strangely was also one of Bin Ladens goals, that the US after the WTC attack would spend itself into economic collapse.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Anyone remember the hype surrounding the Foxbat??

    Supposed to be a superjet that could outfly and out gun anything in the sky.

    When the USSR collapsed, it turned out it was made of steel; could go fast but couldnt turn, had RADAR worse than Mk1 eyeball and missiles with the range of spitballs.

    If Putin really wants to scare Trumplestiltskin, he should threaten to drop weedkiller on Mar-El Largo.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Anyone remember the hype surrounding the Foxbat??

      Hype?, got to remember, it was the hype about the B-70 that made the Soviets come up with the Foxbat design in the first place.

      The MiG-25/Foxbat's construction was conclusively known about in 1976, long before the collapse of the USSR.

      As to going fast and not turning, it was never intended as a fighter, it was designed as a high Mach (3+, but more realistically 2.5-2.8) high altitude interceptor intended to take out things like the B-70, as such, its role was similar to that of the EE Lightning - in the event of a war, take off, get up to 50,000-100,000 ft as fast as possible, intercept the enemy nuclear bombers, blow the buggers up (cf. 'missiles with the range of spitballs'), then GTF away as fast as possible..if possible.

      As to the RADAR, ISTR at the time when they got their hands on the MiG-25 the defector landed in Japan they muttered a couple of things about it, as it was valve based (as were most of the avionics) it was more EMP resistant and that it had a very high output power which meant that it the potential ability to 'burn through' ECM, as to accuracy, bear in mind it wasn't designed to find fighter sized targets, but bomber sized ones flying at high altitude.

      A final thought about hype, the capabilities of Soviet aircraft were regularly greatly, ummm, overestimated by Western analysts..being kind to them they were just guessing based on available (dis)information, being cynical, well, we just had to have some superbogeymen out there to justify our procurement of new super-anti-superbogeymen toys somehow as well...

  7. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Joke

    Bond Villain

    He's only wanting to be noticed by the Bond film producers so that they will consider him for role of the next Bond Villain

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Happy

      Re: Bond Villain

      That can't be true. Otherwise one of these announced projects would be a monorail...

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh you guys!

    What would it take - just hypothetically - to get you to take anything seriously? I can understand that news like this might bring on a few fits of nervous tittering, but why do it in public?

    It's very simple. The US government is very pleased with its immense, all-powerful armed forces, and for a few years after the dissolution of the USSR was looking forward to being the world's only "super-power". Meaning that it could do whatever it liked and impose its will on everyone.

    But the Russians don't want to become American slaves (again). They tried that in the 1990s and it was utterly gross. Men's life expectancy plummeted by nearly ten years in less than a decade.

    Then Mr Putin became president, and Russia regained its pride and independence. All Mr Putin's speech implied (and remember, the bit about weapons was about 5 minutes long) was that Russia should not be treated as a helpless victim, because it has the means to defend itself.

    In Western terms, confronted with a murderous gunslinger, Russia has just hitched its coat back a little to reveal the powerful guns at its own belt.

    1. LucreLout

      Re: Oh you guys!

      What would it take - just hypothetically - to get you to take anything seriously?

      Well, you could try making a point that extends beynd "I don't like America and will support any action against them by anyone", which is pretty much the essence of your posts.

      The fall in Russian life expectancy had nothing to do with American policies and everything to do with communism running out of money. The poverty spikes (real poverty) the utter collapse of their false economy triggered were all but inescapable for most Russians. Suddenly, if entirely predicatable to anyone with any economic nouse, they found that there was no money, and no work.

      The economic collapse also caused a currency rout, which left Russia unable to supplement its produce with foreign products because the exchange rate meant the state couldn't afford to buy enough bread or fuel.

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Oh you guys!

      Archtech,

      Laughing at Putin is exactly the right response.

      Partly because it pisses him off.

      Also because he's the one who's deliberately trying to be scary. And he's the one sulking because he was on the losing side of the Cold War. Because his system was both evil and rubbish.

      Worrying about the threat Russia may or may not pose is something that's worth doing. Panicking, not so much. We're in NATO, so we're obliged by treaty to protect the Baltic States and Poland. We should either pull out of NATO (or kick them out) and admit we don't want to do that, or we should take our obligations seriously and so deal with the perceived threat.

      Putin's problem is that he seems to want Russia to be perceived as a threat (as important) - but then whines pathetically when people do see Russia as a threat. Well ya can't have it both ways. And that's another good reason to laugh at him.

    3. MonkeyCee

      Re: Oh you guys!

      "What would it take - just hypothetically - to get you to take anything seriously? "

      Something that might actually happen, where our actions might affect it. Russia could end the world yesterday, and could do it again tomorrow. New nukes don't make much difference.

      Two nuke armed powers getting into an actual exchange of nukes falls well outside that. The only consolation I have is that I live ~5 miles from NATO JFC, so if the balloon goes up, I'm dead in a fireball in the first 20 minutes or so.

      "Meaning that it could do whatever it liked and impose its will on everyone"

      But crucially, not by invading them, You may have noticed that the US hasn't actually successfully invaded and conquered anywhere for quite some time. In fact the US is singularly terrible at holding captured territory, and have to rely on PRT and their ilk from allies to maintain order on the ground. The US does have the best pointy stick, but it's only good for killing, not conquering.

      "In Western terms, confronted with a murderous gunslinger, Russia has just hitched its coat back a little to reveal the powerful guns at its own belt."

      Hahahaha! Silly example :) Anyone who cares knows the Russians have plenty of world ending weapons. No-one is planning to invade Russia. Lots of efforts to put limits on the kleptocracy in charge, which is what's pissing them off, but invading is bonkers.

      To quote Monty: "Rule 1, on page 1 of the book of war, is: "Do not march on Moscow". "

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Backup plan

    Some of us are less than a month away from a working FTL drive, if funding / parts are available.

    Have the technology recovered from "Sport Model" but can't use it in an atmosphere as the shielding is damaged which is why it crash-landed in the first place due to a very unlucky coincidence involving a weather balloon and "but the shielding is working right?" SNAFU.

    The bad thing is someone didn't take into account that LIGO can sense gravitational waves at much higher frequencies than admitted, if anyone *anywhere* turns on an FTL drive in the vicinity of our Solar System detectors in five locations will inform the authorities and triangulate location very quickly indeed, as it turned out the delay was in fact to add anti-FTL filters for civilian use.

    You do have to feel sorry for them, First Contact wasn't supposed to happen until 2022 and it turned out that they could breathe our atmosphere just barely due to need for higher O2 and inert gas in place of N2 content.

    Hayfever affects them worse than us, needed extreme filtration just to keep them alive.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      Alien

      Re: Backup plan

      "Hayfever affects them worse than us, needed extreme filtration just to keep them alive."

      Dammit! My parents said I was their baby and hay fever was just something some people had!!!

  10. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

    Penetration

    "If you want to be the best, if you want to beat the rest, dedication’s penetration's what you need".

    With Many Thanks to Roy Castle, who dedicated his final years to highlight the danger of passive smoking.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Devil

      Re: Penetration

      Appropriate, as Putin likes blowing his own trumpet...

  11. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Macbeth Act II, Scene 1

    Russia already has a new for a new hypersonic missile system, Putin said, and it was called Kinzhal, which translated to Dagger. The air-launched missile is capable of flying ten times the speed of sound, manoeuvre around defense systems and has a range of 2,000 miles.

    "Is this a dagger which I see before me"

    Too late. Boom!

  12. Scroticus Canis
    Meh

    In other news; 1st April moved forward by a month ....

    All sounds just like willy waving to me. Did someone buy the wee man a 14" strap-on?

    1. Jemma

      Re: In other news; 1st April moved forward by a month ....

      Thanks muchly for that image. I may never sleep again.

      Still could be worse. Trump could go to fancy dress party as the transvestite from Little Nicky...

  13. This post has been deleted by its author

  14. HmmmYes

    Dont worry.

    That useless cunt Brown 'invested' the next 20 years of defense spending on a couple of useless carriers.

    All so the workers would vote for him. Which they didnt.

  15. handleoclast
    Coat

    Saner MAD

    How to make MAD ever-so-slightly saner.

    MAD (Mutually-Assured Destruction) is predicated upon being able to wipe out your opponent even as your opponent is wiping you out. You're both fucked. The hope is that neither side will be so insane as to actually do it, although it's only an effective deterrent if you can persuade your enemy that your leader is insane enough to actually do it (Trump's only talent).

    Counter-measures, such as laser and missile (missle in Merkin) defences, destabilize MAD. They raise the possibility that you could nuke your opponent whilst taking out your opponent's counter-strike. That would turn a lose-lose situation into a win for you, giving you an incentive to launch a pre-emptive strike.

    Here's where it gets interesting. If you nuke your opponent, the immediate damage is caused by thermal flash and blast wave. In the slightly longer term, fallout (via both radioactivity and the extreme toxicity of various residues) wipe out everyone that survived the blast. In the even longer term, if you use everything in your arsenal (as MAD requires) fallout and nuclear winter wipe out the whole planet.

    So here's how to do MAD sanely. Sanely, because it removes the destabilizing effects of counter-measures. If it ever happens, just nuke your own country (turn off your own counter-measures first). Sure, you'll all die immediately or not long after. But in the longer term the fallout and nuclear winter will take out your enemy just as surely as if you had targeted them.

    Mine's the NBC suit ---------------->

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Saner MAD

      "nuke your own country"

      Scorched Earth policy is nothing new. The Russians have been using it for centuries to keep invaders at bay.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Saner MAD

        Trouble is, what if someone comes along crazy enough to welcome MAD?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Saner MAD

          What, you mean like, oh, maybe two nuclear powers, one whose people mainly follow a religion which prominently features reincarnation, so them fucking up the planet in a nuclear war just means hanging about discarnate wherever for a while (or 24,000-300,000 years) before having another go at the old life thingie, the other lot, whose people mostly follow a religion which makes a big deal about dying in a holy war being a 'really good thing'™ which leads to them being awarded all sorts of fringe benefits in their version of the hereafter?

          Nah, no sane planet could have a couple of Nations of nuclear armed nutjobs like those described above...

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What's the difference?

    Absolute destruction is as assured as before.

    1. Daggerchild Silver badge

      Re: What's the difference?

      With one difference. You will (if it exists/works, which it doesn't have to) now get very very little warning before you need to decide to retaliate, so the probability of panic button pressing over a glitch just went up.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What's the difference?

        Given the megatonnage which would be unleashed in an all out attack, a nuclear winter will wipe out the enemy eventually anyway. Therefore, time to retaliation pre-impact is irrelevant.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: What's the difference?

          Unless you make it ZERO, in which case it's now a decapitation strike and a potential winner.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: What's the difference?

            In the event of a "decapitation strike", everything is hardwired to be launched automatically at every target and the other side would respond in kind... therefore, no winners.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Russian kit

    One of the things missing from the multiple articles written about this is that this is Russia regaining the capability to build ICBM's.

    The USSR's missiles (which are aging and need replacing) were made by Ukrainian based design centers.

    Funnily enough, those Ukrainians don't feel much like rearming Russia.

    So they had to build from scratch. Whats the point of building last generation weapons when you are starting again?

    Its actually quite remarkable how far they've managed to come.

    Before anyone questions whether Russia should be spending this money like this, two things:

    1) Their defence projects cost one tenth of US ones - vastly more effecient.

    2) Whilst there is poverty in Russia, its actually percentage wise on par with the USA and numerically less than half of US poverty figures.

    Russia also has vivid memories of the Great Patriotic War. Sure we all lost people in WW2, but nothing like they did. They absolutely will not stand for it to happen again. Trump makes noises about US rearmament, tearing up the ABM treaty and the first use of nuclear weapons, Putin MUST respond.

    Additionally China is another direct threat to Russia (and have attacked them before) and nothing short of nuclear weapons will keep them at bay across a vast land border.

    Whether of course any of their new kit will actually work is another matter... I'd guess some will, some won't.

    This course of action by Putin was entirely predictable with all of the PR stunt being about him being re-elected (of course pretending all the while that its actually a fair election and that he needs to actually persuade voters to vote for him.... which he doesn't really)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Russian kit

      "2) Whilst there is poverty in Russia, its actually percentage wise on par with the USA and numerically less than half of US poverty figures."

      Poverty is actually usually defined on a percentage basis - I think it's the percentage of people who receive less than 60% of the median income. Which means it is very relative. As US GDP is something like seven times that of the RF, most people in poverty in the US would be considered rather well off in Russia.

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