On Thursday, the same day that Putin warned that any country looking to try and include Ukraine or Georgia in the NATO sphere of influence “should think of the possible consequences of this irresponsible policy” because Russia would “respond in kind to any aggressive steps that directly threaten Russian,” the Russian Defense Ministry for the first time published a video showing the final assembly line of the new Burevestnik nuclear-powered cruise missiles.
The professionally produced footage came in a series of newly published social media videos that Russia’s Defense Ministry says shows advanced armaments which were first unveiled by President Vladimir Putin back in March.
The footage shows new tests and development facilities, as well as provides an understanding of the development process of what US military officials have admitted is a highly sophisticated weapon system easily capable of reaching North America.
The online military magazine Defense Blog notes that "Russia’s next-generation nuclear-powered cruise missiles are capable of hitting targets throughout the United States" and cites Russia's Defense Ministry as boasting that the missiles have “unlimited range and unlimited ability to maneuver” and are set for flight tests imminently.
Defense Blog confirms the high range for the newly unveiled missiles, which can carry a nuclear warhead:
The main purpose of the new cruise missiles is the suppression of the operational bases of the probable enemy and the destruction of interceptor-based missile defenсe systems or group of ships with Aegis Ballistic Missile Defenсe System.
The missile has an intercontinental range in excess of 10,000+ kilometers (probably close to 20,000 kilometers) and may be equipped with a nuclear warhead.
In March, after the new Russian nuclear-powered cruise missiles were first made public, the commander of U.S. Northern Command and the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), Gen. Lori Robinson, expressed growing "concern" before the Senate Armed Services Committee.
“Russia has prioritized the development of advanced cruise missiles capable of holding targets within North America at risk from distances not previously seen. These systems present an increasing threat to North America due to their long range, low radar cross section, and the limited indications and warnings likely to be seen prior to a combat launch,” Gen. Robinson said.
The general stated further while arguing for more investment in advanced senors and missile defense systems to protect the US mainland: "I have confidence in the layered approach provided by US overlapping air defense systems. However, I am concerned about the potential for those advanced cruise missiles, which can be launched from bombers or submarines at much greater ranges than the previous systems".
For its part this is Russia's attempt to directly address US-Russian relations in the context of what some have dubbed a 'new arms race'. Andrei Bystritsky, a member of the Valdai international discussions club, told TASS News Agency on Thursday that the development of the advanced armaments in Russia will influence, in one way or another, Russia–US dialogue on strategic stability.
“The US will have to take account of the reality that has emerged, of the new armament system we’ve developed,” Bystritsky said. “While conducting talks the US will have to bear in mind this factor does exist.” Bystritsky did not give TASS a straight answer when asked about what direction the Russia–United States relations dialogue would take.
“If these armaments get into action, they will change the configuration of threats and military power in general on the background of what’s happening in the world in the sphere of arms control,” Bystritsky said.
He mentioned that nuclear arsenals had proved to be an essential tool of nuclear deterrence against the United States: “Nuclear armaments have made it possible for large powers to live without major wars and with a very moderate level of violence,” Bystritsky said. “It’s true that the nukes scared everyone but they helped the world live with reason and rationality and develop a huge number of technologies.”
“The availability of the elements of deterrence like the new armament systems may turn out to be a crucial factor influencing peaceful development and giving stability to the world,” he added.
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Below is a list of recent developments in advanced Russian defense systems with the latest newly released videos by the Russian Defense Ministry, which Russia hopes will change "the configuration of threats and military power in general":
Kinzhal hypersonic missile
Russian Federation takes measures to strengthen its military potential. An aviation squadron equipped with Kinzhal systems with hypersonic missiles has been on test combat standby since December 1, 2017 in the Southern Military District pic.twitter.com/LFzHeGXzMM— Минобороны России (@mod_russia) July 19, 2018
Russian MiG-31K fighters and Tu-22M3 long-range bombers are seen air launching the hypersonic missile. The Kinzhal is air-launched by the aircraft, which rockets it up to Mach 10 (7,600 mph). The missile has a range of 1,240 miles once launched and has struck fear in NATO officials.
While combat deployments for the Sarmat ICMB system are not expected until 2021, a TASS report Thursday said “pop-up tests,” the ability to propel the missile out of its underground silo had been successful. TASS noted flight trials are next.
Avangard hypersonic missile system
Russian defence industrial complex has completed development of the Avangard missile system with fundamentally new equipment – glider manoeuvring warhead. Industrial enterprises have already launched serial production. pic.twitter.com/cLoK6eLDEW— Минобороны России (@mod_russia) July 19, 2018
The hypersonic missile with intercontinental range and the ability to fly Mach 20, more than 15,000 miles per hour, will be entering the battlefield in the near term, according to a Tass report. Earlier this year, serial production of the missile’s warheads had begun, according to a report.
Poseidon underwater drone
#Poseidon Oceanic Multipurpose System is a principally new type of maritime underwater weapon based on application of unmanned underwater vehicles. Industrial enterprises take measures to control joint operation and reliability of all systems of the vehicle. pic.twitter.com/Jzex7e3ytg— Минобороны России (@mod_russia) July 19, 2018
Trials of the underwater nuclear drone could be next. The video shows the manufacturing facility of the alleged Poseidon drone, which can carry a nuclear warhead to an enemy port or wipe out an entire carrier battle group.
Burevestnik nuclear-powered cruise missile
Trials involving new cruise missile with #Burevestnik small nuclear power unit enabled Russian scientists, engineers and designers, together with the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, to check basic scientific and technical solutions, as well as to acquire valuable data pic.twitter.com/rl0CIV7gI1— Минобороны России (@mod_russia) July 19, 2018
Russia’s Defense Ministry says this nuclear propulsion system for the cruise missile, dubbed ‘Burevestnik’ has been successfully tested. The missile, which is designed to have “unlimited range and unlimited ability to maneuver,” will undergo more ground tests in the near term.
Combat laser system
As part of the State Armaments Programme, Russian Space Force received a state-of-the-art weapon based on new physic principals – combat laser system. At present, the #Peresvet laser complex has been deployed at the sites, troops train to operate new weapons pic.twitter.com/stvCpV8MCV— Минобороны России (@mod_russia) July 19, 2018
The “combat laser system” Putin announced back in March is the most mysterious of them all. Little information has been provided on the system. However, the video features a military unit, operating with several Peresvet systems, accompanied by support vehicles.
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Glancing at the current position in the 53.5 Year War Cycle, it seems the “Mid-90s Peace Dividend” has transitioned into the chaotic world of today: hybrid wars in Europe and the Middle East, along with new fears of turbulence in the South China Sea and or near the Taiwan Strait.
There is a reason why Russia is actively modernizing its military with hypersonic weapons, lasers, nuclear-powered cruise missiles — it is because war could be on the horizon.
Glancing over at the United States, the Trump administration with the Pentagon are conducting modernization efforts as well, amounting to nearly $686 billion in military spending for FY’18. And let us not forget China, where under the rise of Chinese leader President Xi Jinping, massive modernization efforts have been underway since 2013.
Graph via Stockboard Asset
So, if you are wondering what comes after a trade war — well, this graphic details what could be next…