The Russian experimental rocket that exploded in August at an offshore platform at the Nyonoksa naval test range on the White Sea will be perfected “regardless of anything,” according to President Vladimir Putin.
Putin awarded posthumously orders of courage to the seven scientists and workers who lost their lives after what many experts believe was a nuclear-powered cruise missile, known as the 9M730 Burevestnik, experienced a catastrophic failure. After the accident, radiation levels in the area spiked sixteen times above normal before receding.
Russia has only confirmed that a nuclear-powered engine was being tested at the time.
There is also some speculation that it could have been an anti-ship missile or long-range underwater drone but experts in Russia and the West say the test was most likely linked to the new 9M730 Burevestnik missile, called “Skyfall” by Nato.
President Putin has described the Burevestnik as having “unlimited” range.
It is designed to act as a “vengeance” weapon, to be used after an initial nuclear strike.
Last March at his annual address to Parliament, Putin bragged about his advanced weapons, but military technology experts in the West believe Putin was blowing hot air. His “wonder weapons” were all probably still at the testing stage and nowhere near being deployed. “Skyfall” may be part of an elaborate disinformation campaign designed to force the U.S. to spend money to try and develop technologies that Russia knows are impractical or decades away.
The August tragedy showed that Moscow wasn’t very close to deploying Skyfall. But its conventional arsenal is still fairly robust and a threat. Putin recently paraded Russia’s new fifth-generation fighter, the SU-57, in a bid to compete in the international market with U.S. fighters.
When it comes to Russia’s defenses, you have to ask what’s real and what’s bluster. The SU-57 has been plagued with engine problems and since going into production in 2016, only 12 have been built. Russia’s new spaceport, the Vostochny cosmodrome, has been racked by scandal and corruption with a dozen officials being convicted of various crimes. It wouldn’t surprise experts if Putin’s wonder weapons weren’t experiencing the same thing.