What we know about ‘Skyfall’ – Russia’s rumoured nuclear-powered cruise missile

Despite attempts to keep it under wraps, the news of an explosion in the secretive Sarov region in Russia’s north still made headlines if you keep your eye on this kind of thing.

Following the explosion, which killed five elite Russian scientists, who it is reported were hurled backwards into the water from the force of the blast, there was a radiation spike in the region which led to the evacuation of children from school in the nearby city of Severodvinsk and its 185,000 residents told to stay indoors. Iodine was distributed and all shipping was barred from the area for at least 30 days, a report from news.com.au revealed.

So what was it exactly that exploded?

Russia’s state nuclear energy agency Rosatom initially said it was “liquid fuel rocket” that was being tested, but then added that it was working on an “isotope power source in a liquid propulsion system.”

However according to a report from the National Interest, there is convincing and sufficient evidence to find consensus among foreign experts that the “missile being tested was likely a 9M730 Burevestnik (“Petrel,” a seabird)—a prototype of a nuclear-powered cruise missile. Such a missile—if it can be made to work—would be powered by a very small nuclear reactor, allowing it to fly practically unlimited distances at very high speeds.”

The report goes on to describe that an on-board, nuclear-powered cruise missile could potentially have almost unlimited range, and sustain supersonic speeds, making it hard to intercept, with some of the fallout from Burevestnik’s unshielded reactor core potentially leaving behind a trail of radioactive emissions and contaminants over everything it overflies, the National Interest revealed.

Back in 2018, Putin bragged about a nuclear-powered cruise missile in a speech to the Russian parliament in which he lauded the development of fearsome new weapons.

According to Reuters, the missile, Putin said, was successfully tested in late 2017, had “unlimited range” and was “invincible against all existing and prospective missile defence and counter-air defence systems.”

It remains to be seen what effect this latest explosion has had on the development of this new Doomsday weapon.

 

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