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Top secret plans to build a torpedo-mounted, radioactive “dirty bomb” appear to have been inadvertently leaked by a careless Russian general.
Photo: Alexei Druzhinin/RIA Novosti, Kremlin .
Secret plans for a Russian long-range nuclear torpedo came to light after a state television cameraman filmed over a senior officer’s shoulder with a diagram on show.
The scheme involves the use of massive doses of radiation to render large areas of enemy coastlines uninhabitable and appeared on TV during a meeting with Vladimir Putin on Tuesday.
The images were quickly removed by Russia’s state owned broadcasters, apparently after censors intervened, but not before they were broadcast across the country and picked up by sharp-eyed YouTube users.
“It’s true some secret data got into the shot, therefore it was subsequently deleted,” said Dmitry Peskov, the Russian president’s press secretary. “In future we will undoubtedly take preventive measures so this does not happen again.”
The screen shot shows a general studying a page headlined “Oceanic Multipurpose System ‘Status-6′”, and attributed to the St. Petersburg-based Rubin design bureau – the same office that has produced many of Russia’s most modern nuclear submarines.
Photo: Universal News & Sport.
According to an introductory blurb, Status 6 is designed to “destroy important economic installations of the enemy in coastal areas and cause guaranteed devastating damage to the country’s territory by creating wide areas of radioactive contamination, rendering them unusable for military, economic or other activity for a long time”.
The page also shows a cross-section of the proposed torpedo, and two potential carrier submarines, the Project 09852 Belgorod, and the Project 09851 Khabarovsk, both new “special purpose” boats laid down at the Arctic circle Sevmash shipyard in 2012 and 2014 respectively, although the Belgorod makes use of an older hull for an earlier, never completed boat.
Watch video here: Russian nuclear submarine catches fire at shipyard.
Status 6 itself appears to be a gigantic torpedo-shaped robotic mini-submarine – in other words an underwater drone – that can travel at speeds of 100 knots (115mph) and is so perfectly cloaked by stealth technology it would be invisible to acoustic tracking devices.
The notes on the torpedo diagram give it a range of up to 6,200 miles (10,000km), and a dive depth of 3,300 feet (1,000m) – far beyond that of most manned submarines.
The weapon, if genuine, would appear to be part of a move to modernise Russia’s nuclear deterrent.
Photo: Alexei Druzhinin/RIA Novosti, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP.
The “accidental” leak came at a security council meeting where Mr Putin said Russia would develop new weapons to counter American plans that Russia says would upset the “strategic balance” between the world’s two nuclear super powers.
Russian defence officials have been particularly critical of an American missile defence system in Europe, which generals in Moscow worry eats into the creditability of Russia’s ICBM-borne nuclear deterrent.
Another US plan currently exercising Russian fears is something called Prompt Global Strike – a project that would allow US forces to deliver a conventional air strike anywhere on the planet with one hour’s notice.
Author: Roland Oliphant