OPINION, ANALYSIS AND SPECULATION
U.S. intelligence: ‘Unlimited range’ Russia nuclear missile to be deployed by 2025 despite rash of failures
By Jon Dougherty
(NationalSentinel) Russia is expected to deploy a new “unlimited range” nuclear ICBM by 2025, according to U.S. intelligence agencies, despite a series of failed tests.
The deployment schedule is slightly ahead of previous estimates, according to the U.S. intelligence assessment, which comes even though the Kremlin has yet to stage a successful test of the new missile, according to various sources familiar with the development.
CNBC noted that the intel report comes following a mysterious explosion off the northern coast of Russia that killed five scientists and led to concerns that the Russians had actually tested the missile in question, called Burevestnik.
“A U.S. intelligence assessment found that the Aug. 8 explosion occurred during a recovery mission to salvage a lost Burevestnik from the ocean floor,” CNBC noted.
Last March, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a new hypersonic missile as well as Burevestnik. He also said the missile has unlimited range.
CNBC reports that Burevestnik, also known as Skyfall, was tested once this year. Prior to that, it was tested four times between November 2017 and February 2018, each time resulting in a failure.
U.S. intelligence agencies determined that the longest test flight only lasted a little more than two minutes. The missile flew 22 miles before it lost control and crashed.
The shortest test, meanwhile, took only four seconds but the missile flew for about five miles.
Testing demonstrated that the missile’s nuclear power plant failed to initiate and as a result it was unable to obtain the indefinite flight that Putin mentioned in March.
Despite the failures, Putin seems determined to continue investing in the missile, according to experts.
“Russia is committed to a massive investment in new systems like this to defeat U.S. missile defenses. We are stumbling toward an arms race,” Jeffrey Lewis, a nuclear weapons expert at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, told the network.
Joshua Pollack, a nuclear proliferation expert and editor of the Nonproliferation Review, told the network that current Russian ICBMs are already capable of dodging U.S. missile defenses.
“Nearly everything he showed off was designed to overcome or circumvent U.S. missile defenses in one way or another. Their current generation of ICBMs can do the job without difficulty,” Pollack said.
“But perhaps he’s anticipating the next generation of defensive technology and trying to stay ahead of it.”
This article originally appeared at NationalSentinel and was republished with permission.
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