Why the Russian Belgorod submarine and the 2M39 Poseidon nuclear torpedo do not change anything?

On the occasion of the campaign for the Russian presidential election of 2018, outgoing President Vladimir Putin caused a certain stupor in the West. by publicly presenting certain “revolutionary” military programs, supposed to give a decisive advantage to the Russian armies for the decade to come. Among these programs, the RS-28 SARMAT ICBM missiles and the Avangard hypersonic glider are due to enter service this year, while the Kinzhal airborne hypersonic missile has already equipped some Mig-31Ks modified since 2019. The nuclear-powered cruise missile Burevestnik has more or less fallen into oblivion. As for the dronized 2M39 Kanyon nuclear-powered heavy torpedo, also designated Poseidon or Status-6, it should soon join active service, while the Belgorod submarine, which is to operate it, has just been delivered to the Russian Navy.

24 meters long and 2 meters in diameter, the Kanyon torpedo is in fact an autonomous drone powered by a miniaturized nuclear reactor, allowing it to reach very high speeds of around 100 knots, and equipped with an autonomy greater than 6000 km, enough to cross the Atlantic from side to side, at depths of up to 1000 meters. In addition, the Kanyon carries a nuclear payload of 100 kilotons equivalent to that implemented by the individual atmospheric re-entry systems MIRV, with a capacity of strategic destruction. The scenario for the use of this weapon is based on a pre-deployment by the modified nuclear missile submarine Belgorod or by the Khabarovsk modified for this purpose, allowing the torpedo to strike port or littoral installations of the adversary, like the Norfolk military port. Due to its structure, such an exposure would cause very significant damage to the docked fleet, the destruction of military infrastructure and coastal targets, and the contamination of a vast coastal area requiring the definitive evacuation of this space.

The Russian Status-6 Poseidon autonomous ocean-going nuclear torpedo is powered by a miniaturized nuclear reactor

To transport the Kanyon, the Russian Navy specially modified the Belgorod cruise missile submarine. The construction of the ship was started in 1992, before being abandoned a few years later for lack of funds. In 2012, the Russian Naval Staff relaunched the construction of the submarine, on modified plans vis-à-vis the ships of the project 949AM Antey (Oscar 2 in the NATO designation), to bring its length from 154 to 184 meters, and its underwater displacement of 20.000 tons to 30.000 tons, making it the largest submarine in service in the world after the last Russian Typhoon was put in reserve. Thus, the new ship will be able to implement up to 6 Kanyon torpedoes, while benefiting from the reinforced discretion of the Antey, much higher than that of older Russian submarines. In fact, according to Russian communication, often repeated in the West, the arrival of the Belgorod/Kanyon couple should profoundly upset the strategic balance in the Atlantic, posing a direct threat to American ports, especially since with its speed, its depth and range, the Kanyon would be impossible to intercept. We have there all the characteristics of what the Germans liked to design under the term Wunderwaffen, or miracle weapon. However, the reality is quite different...


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