Putin warns Russia will deploy new indefensible Zircon hypersonic weapon against U.S., NATO navies if Pentagon puts new missiles in Europe

In a threat harkening back to the days of the Cold War, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned on Wednesday that he’ll order his military to aim its new hypersonic missiles at the United States if the Trump administration decides to deploy new intermediate-range missiles in eastern Europe.

Speaking to his country during the annual state of the nation address, Putin said the military’s new Zircon missiles, which he said can travel at nine times the speed of sound and have a range of 620 miles are part of the Kremlin’s effort to build up its defensive capabilities over what he says is an increasingly aggressive and hostile United States.

Putin’s announcement comes after the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from a key Cold War-era arms control pact banning the development and deployment of intermediate-range missiles, Fox News reported.

During his address, the Russian leader denounced the U.S. decision to quit the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty, which the Pentagon says Russia has been violated now for years. Putin said those accusations are false, but U.S. intelligence and State Department officials say the proof is irrefutable.

The Russian president repeated an earlier claim that Moscow wouldn’t be the first to deploy new intermediate-range missiles near Europe’s (and NATO’s) boundary. However, he warned that if the Pentagon puts missiles on the continent it would mean he will not only target host countries but also U.S. command-and-control centers and the American homeland.

Analysts say that Putin’s warning was clearly aimed at rattling Europe and NATO members who are considering U.S. missile deployment proposals.

Fox News reported further:

Speaking before lawmakers in the Russian capital, Putin added that the other weapons, which he announced last year, including the nuclear-powered Burevestnik cruise missile and the Poseidon nuclear-powered underwater drone, have been undergoing tests successfully.

Putin also focused on a range of social issues in the annual speech, promising to raise welfare payments, improve education and healthcare, as well as remove toxic dump sites from cities.

As for the Zircon, it is designated the 3M22 and it is listed as a scramjet-powered maneuvering anti-ship hypersonic cruise missile. If the missile’s specifications touted by Russia are accurate, it would mean that Zircon is capable of traveling about two miles per second, making all current state-of-the-art missile defense systems useless.

CNBC reports that Russia has conducted five tests of the Zircon, with the latest test occurring on December 10. The December test hit a top speed of Mach 8, or 6,138 miles an hour. A second report in December claimed that Russia has tested the Zircon 10 times.

It is reportedly compatible with surface warships, bombers, and can be submarine-launched as well.



Air Force to buy NEW advanced F-15s as compliments to the F-22, F-35: ‘Not your dad’s F-15’ (Video)

Despite warnings from some within the defense establishment and Congress, the U.S. Air Force has decided to buy as many as 80 brand-new, next-gen, upgraded F-15 fighter planes over the next five years to complement its F-22 and F-35 wings.

The upgraded F-15s will come in two versions — the single-seat F-15CX and the two-seat model F-15EX. According to officials, the new planes are capable of carrying much more ordnance including 12 air-to-air missiles and smart bombs, Popular Mechanics reports.

In addition, Boeing — the plane’s manufacturer — said the aircraft will come with what is arguably the fastest in-flight targeting computer in use today in any air force.

Bloomberg noted that 80 aircraft will be enough to outfit a wing of 72 fighters with eight spares. The wing would be divided into three 24-plane squadrons.

The F-15X is a completely upgraded fighter from the F-15 Eagle air superiority aircraft first introduced in the 1970s. According to one F-15X pilot featured in Boeing’s promotional video promoting the plane (see below), “This is not your daddy’s F-15.”

Popular Mechanics noted some of the fighter’s new features:

The F-15X will also include large flat panel displays for displaying aircraft information, conformal fuel tanks to give it a longer range, a digital fly-by-wire control system, a new APG-82 radar, and the Eagle Passive Active Warning Survivability System (EPAWSS) for protection from air-to-air missiles.

What the aircraft doesn’t have, however, is stealth capabilities like its F-22 and F-35 cousins. And because the airframe was designed before stealth technology became available, other than coating the plane’s surface in radar-absorbing material there isn’t much else that can be done to make it less visible to enemy air defense radars.

But while the plane won’t be difficult to spot, it will be extremely well-armed to make up the difference. “The plane will use new AMBER missile racks to nearly triple the aircraft’s air-to-air missile capability, from 8 to 22,” Popular Mechanics reported.

As for why the Air Force would want to buy an upgraded version of a fourth-generation plane when it has more than enough F35s in the pipeline, service officials say that the F-15X series aircraft will serve to complement their fifth-gen fighters mostly by adding additional mission capabilities.

For one, the F-15X models carry substantially more firepower. The F-22 and the F-35 carry only six and four air-to-air missiles respectively, hidden away in internal bays to reduce radar signature. And while both fifth-gen planes can add external weapons pylons doing so would make them visible to radar and defeat their purpose of evading defenses to strike enemy installations without detection.

Also, theoretically the new F-15s could be used to suppress enemy air defenses ahead of any F-22s and F-35s sent in to strike other targets. Currently, this mission is assigned to single-seat F-16C model aircraft.

Critics say purchasing the new F-15X models takes needed funding away from buying more F-35s. They also argue that increasingly sophisticated air defense networks make stealth aircraft imperative.

But for now anyway, the F-15X purchases will go forward — at least until the Pentagon and the Trump administration changes their minds.


‘Furious’ U.S. admiral sent Navy destroyer to Black Sea after Russian warship fired on Ukrainian vessel

A U.S. Navy destroyer has been dispatched to the Black Sea for naval exercises with Ukrainian warships in a show of “solidarity” following an exchange of fire with a Russian ship that infuriated an admiral.

“The whole episode in the Sea of Azov was extremely bothersome to me,” said Navy Adm. James Foggo, commander of U.S. naval forces in Europe and Africa, in an interview with reporters on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference last weekend.

Reports noted that Russian ships opened fire on three Ukrainian navy vessels as they tried to transit the Kerch Strait, which is a narrow waterway connecting the Black Sea to the Sea of Azov. The Russians also arrested Ukrainian sailors after the incident last November.

It was the first public act of hostility by Russian forces against the Ukrainians since 2014 when “little green men” — disguised Russian troops — invaded Crimea and annexed the enclave for Moscow. Russia has used its control of land on both sides of the waterway to cut off access to a number of vital Ukrainian ports in the Sea of Azov, the Washington Examiner reported.

“We’re showing solidarity,” Foggo said, referencing the deployment of the USS Donald Cook (above) to the region from its homeport at Naval Station Rota, Spain.

Moscow says the three Ukrainian vessels were captured as they attempted to force their way through the strait in an unsafe manner.

“They were apprehended — even though some people have illusions about Crimea — they were apprehended at the place which was Russian territorial waters even before the referendum,” said Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Saturday during the security conference, referencing the vote that Russia claims is underlying the basis for its claim to sovereignty over the Crimean side of the strait.

But that’s a false statement, U.S. officials and NATO member states noted. They say that the Ukrainian ships were taken in the Black Sea, on the international side of the Kerch Strait, making Moscow’s action illegal under international maritime law.

Foggo openly condemned the Russian action and jailing of 24 Ukrainian sailors on charges they illegally crossed a Russian border.

“Let me tell you, that irritates me to no end,” Foggo told reporters.

“They are uniformed Ukrainian sailors and officers and chiefs. They’re not criminals, and they are being charged under a criminal code,” he added.

“They should be protected under the Geneva Convention, which is why the United States and other NATO allies have come to the table and said ‘Release them immediately,’ and they still continue to hold them. That is just absolutely wrong, and it is not the kind of behavior that you would expect from a major power — which Russia wants to be.”

Foggo noted that Russian vessels track U.S. and NATO warships in the Black Sea region but they aren’t a match for American firepower.

“Let’s face it, the Russian carrier Kuznetsov doesn’t even come close to the Ford-class carrier or the Nimitz class carrier, and the surface navy is not an equivalent match for either the United States Navy or [other] NATO navies in the world,” Foggo said.

U.S. Navy stepping up patrols in South China Sea but they aren’t likely to deter China

The Pentagon is stepping up so-called “Freedom of Navigation Operations” — FONOPs — in the South China Sea as a means of meeting and deterring Chinese aggression and expansionism.

The Navy has already carried out two FONOPs this year and officials say more are planned, the South China Morning Post reported.

However, observers say that the increase in U.S. Navy operations isn’t liable to influence Chinese decision-making in the region or deter Beijing from continuing to make outsized claims in the South China Sea.

In January, the USS McCampbell sailed near the Paracel Islands. On February 11, the USS Spruance and the USS Preble sailed near Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands, both missions of which triggered predictable angry responses from China.

The U.S. Navy carried out five FONOPs last year and four in 2017, the SCMP noted.

Adm. Phil Davidson, head of the US Indo-Pacific Command, suggested last week during testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee that FONOPs in the South China Sea would be increased in the coming months.

He also said Britain’s naval activity would also increase in the South China Sea along with the activity of other U.S. allies.

China, thus far, is undeterred. In recent months Beijing has dispatched its own warships to the region in an effort to confront U.S. Navy ships. One such confrontation nearly led to a collision between U.S. and Chinese warships.

Collin Koh, a research fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, said the U.S. would have to resort to other strategies than simply using FONOPs to deter Beijing.

“While freedom of navigation operations may be one of the ways the US expresses its security commitment to the governments, they will have a negligible effect on Beijing’s continued strategic and economic forays – especially via the ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ – throughout the Indo-Pacific region,” he told the paper.

Indeed, he added, “Beijing may likely use the intensified foreign military presence, including joint FONOPs, as a justification for these build-ups.”

Yue Gang, a retired People’s Liberation Army colonel, told the SCMP that neither the U.S. nor China wants to go to war over the South China Sea.

“If the US sent a large number of warships, then China would do the same in order to maintain a balance, so that would increase the risk of confrontation,” he said.

“But China doesn’t want a military conflict in the South China Sea, and the claim America is willing to stage a war against China is an overstatement.”

Pence: U.S. ‘will not stand idly by’ while Turkey buys Russian S-400 systems

Vice President Mike Pence on Saturday repeated earlier warnings that the United States would not look at all favorably on Turkey’s purchase of Russian-made S-400 air- and missile-defense systems a day after Ankara blew off the first of two deadlines to end the deal.

Speaking to attendees at the Munich Security Conference, the VP said the Trump administration “will not stand by idly while NATO allies purchase weapons from our adversaries.

“We cannot ensure the defense of the West if our allies grow dependent on the East,” he added.

Pence’s comments come after Germany continues moving ahead with plans earlier this month to build the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia that the U.S. also opposes.

As for the S-400, Washington had established a Feb. 15 deadline for Ankara to indicate its intention to stop the sale, according to a U.S. military official who spoke to Military Times. If Turkey refuses to do so, a forthcoming sale of the U.S.-made Patriot missile defense system would be stopped.

“We have been clear with Turkey,” the U.S. official said. “The will not receive the Patriot if they purchase the S-400.”

The Patriot sale, valued at about $3.5 billion, covers the purchase of 80 Patriot MIM-104E Guidance Enhanced and 60 PAC-3 Missile Segment Enhancement missiles and associated gear.

In addition to ratcheting up tensions with the U.S. and NATO, to which Turkey is a long-standing member, the purchase of the S-400 would also likely endanger Ankara’s participation in the international development of the F-35, the fifth-generation Joint Strike Fighter program.

Turkey sources some parts for the fighter and its development could be hampered if the U.S. ditches Turkey as a partner.

As for the Nord Stream pipeline, some U.S. analysts believe that Germany is seeking to diversify its natural gas supplies and that it intends to also purchase U.S.-produced LNG at some point.

President Trump has criticized Germany’s partnership with Russia on the project, saying the deal makes it ludicrous for Washington to continue spending so much money on helping Germany itself and Europe against Moscow, which remains an adversary.

Still, as Reuters reports, Germany will consider changes laws governing the Nord Stream 2 in order to ensure that it complies with new European Union regulations, Economy Minister Peter Altmaier told Reuters on Friday.

“My assumption is that it can be built under the new conditions,” he said. “But there will clearly be some changes. One regarding the ownership of the pipeline, since European law requires ownership of pipeline and production to be separated.”

U.S. substantially increasing forces in Pacific to counter ‘massive’ buildup by China

The Pentagon will continue to shift forces to the Pacific to counter what a top commander has deemed a “massive” military buildup by China.

Adm. Philip Davidson, the U.S. Navy’s new Indo-Pacific theater commander, said the U.S. military’s efforts to bolster its presence in the region is necessary to counter aggressive efforts by China to expand its influence and force the region to bend to Beijing’s wishes.

In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Davidson told members that China’s military buildup consists of large numbers of new, advanced missiles, planes, warships, submarines, and nuclear forces. In addition, he described China as “the greatest long-term threat to a free and open Indo-Pacific region,” the Washington Free Beacon reported.

“Through fear and economic pressure, Beijing is working to expand its form of communist-socialist ideology in order to bend, break, and replace the existing rules-based international order,” the PACOM commander said.

“In its place, Beijing seeks to create a new international order led by China and with Chinese characteristics,” Davidson noted further, an outcome that will replace the over 70 years of U.S.-backed peace and stability.

Davidson told the committee the Pentagon was adding additional weapons and forces to the region in response to China’s continued buildup of conventional, nuclear, and “gray zone” forces, the latter amounting to influence operations short of traditional armed conflict. China uses its maritime militia and Coast Guard in this manner.

Currently, PACOM is staffed with approximately 375,000 military and civilian personnel, some 200 warships including five aircraft carrier strike groups, and some 1,100 aircraft, the Free Beacon noted.

“Over the last 20 years, Beijing has undertaken a massive effort to grow and modernize the People’s Liberation Army (PLA),” Davidson said.

“The PLA is the principal threat to U.S. interests, U.S. citizens, and our allies inside the first island chain—a term that refers to the islands that run from northern Japan through Taiwan, the Philippines, and Indonesia—and the PLA is quickly increasing its ability to project power and influence beyond the first island chain,” he added.

U.S. allies in the region have grown increasingly concerned over the past couple of years as China has become more aggressive and assertive in the region, constructing islands in the South China Sea and equipping them with surface-to-air missiles, radar systems, and runways for warplanes.

During Davidson’s testimony, Sen. James Inhofe (R., Okla.), the new Armed Services chairman, said the U.S. military needs “urgent change at a significant scale” to deal with China.

“Our military advantage and deterrent edge in the Indo-Pacific is eroding,” Inhofe said. “The Chinese Communist Party leadership in Beijing senses weakness. They are testing our resolve, and if we do not act urgently, they may soon conclude that they can achieve their goals through force. We can’t take that peace for granted.”

Davidson noted that the South China Sea has become the most volatile flashpoint for conflict between the U.S. and her allies and China.

In addition to meeting security concerns, the U.S. has legitimate economic interests in the region as well. Total “trade with regional states in Southeast Asia totaled more than $1.8 trillion in 2017 and more than $1.3 trillion by the third quarter of 2018,” the Free Beacon noted.

Because of the importance of the region for trade and commerce, the U.S. called on China to remove sophisticated missiles from its islands in November, The Diplomat reported.

“The United States called on China to withdraw its missile systems from disputed features in the Spratly Islands, and reaffirmed that all countries should avoid addressing disputes through coercion or intimidation,” the U.S. statement said following the second annual U.S.-China Diplomatic and Security Dialogue.

Director of the Office of Foreign Affairs of the Central Commission of the Communist Party of China and Politburo member Yang Jiechi responded, “The Chinese side made it clear to the United States that it should stop sending its vessels and military aircraft close to Chinese islands and reefs and stop actions that undermine China’s sovereignty and security interests.”

As Trump considers declaring a national emergency at border, analyst worries Mexico heading to ‘failed state’ status

By Jon Dougherty

After years of escalating violence among rival drug and human smuggling cartels, a new analysis of conditions in Mexico says the country’s government is in a “fragile” state and is on the verge of failing, which would have major security implications for the United States.

“Mexico is a fragile state, and without action, faces the risk of becoming a failing, or worse, a failed state,” writes Alexander Grinberg, a U.S. Army officer and expert in defense policy and strategy.

Noting that the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development defines a fragile state as one that is “unable or unwilling to perform the functions necessary for poverty reduction, the promotion of development, protection of the population and the observance of human rights,” he goes onto point out that a decade ago U.S. Joint Forces Command expressed concern that the Mexican government had the potential to collapse completely.

Grinberg also noted that just last year, because of escalating cartel-related violence, the U.S. State Department was compelled to issue travel warnings for five of Mexico’s 32 states.

“Many other states are still considered dangerous, and the U.S. State Department has advised American tourists caution if not total reconsideration,” he writes, adding that the Mexican government has simply been unable to control the cartels or curb the violence and internecine warfare.

Grinberg notes further:

The Mexican government is in a prolonged state of civil war with various cartels, and the state is losing. Rampant corruption from the local to federal level breaks down the fundamental principal-agent relationship between the government and its population, encouraging locals to turn to militias for protection. The militias are, in part, a result of widespread corruption as well as the Mexican military’s deterioration. Mexico’s military faces large numbers of desertions, while measures to provide security for its population continue to fail. The United States should continue to treat Mexico as a welcome economic partner but accept that Mexico is a fragile state, and thus a serious security risk.

“The drug war in Mexico is escalating, and it is creating a spillover effect in the United States. In the United States, the majority of the concern from the Mexican drug war focuses on its impact on the opioid epidemic, a growing topic in both countries,” Grinberg wrote.

His warning comes as President Donald Trump is considering declaring a national emergency along the U.S.-Mexico border.

“Now is the time—this is the moment—to finally secure the border and create the lawful and safe immigration system Americans, and those wanting to become Americans, deserve,” the president said during his State of the Union Address Tuesday.

According to a White House backgrounder:

— Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has arrested 266,000 aliens with criminal records in the last two years.

— Deadly drugs are flowing across our borders, taking far too many American lives.

— 1 in 3 migrant women are sexually assaulted on the dangerous trek to the border.

— The number of criminals arrested by Border Patrol and ICE includes aliens charged or convicted of 100,000 assaults, nearly 30,000 sex crimes, and 4,000 violent killings.

“We are facing a humanitarian crisis as human smugglers exploit our immigration system for profit and drive migrants to make the treacherous journey north to the border,” the backgrounder states, noting that the president has requested nearly $6 billion in new funding to shore up border security.

Grinberg notes further that the security infrastructure throughout Mexico is failing, especially the military.

“One of the reasons Mexico cannot gain ground over the cartels is because its military is deteriorating through ineffective leadership,” he wrote. “The first indicator of the military’s breakdown is the deterioration of discipline where there is a growing number of unlawful killings and human rights violations.

“As the drug war continues, and the federal government does not crack down on the human rights violations, the Mexican military will further deteriorate. The Mexican military leadership’s lack of control over the behavior of their forces indicates an erosion in the chain of command and the respect for their Code of Military Justice, and it suggests further corruption,” he added.

Fox News reported that by 2012 more than 56,000 soldiers deserted. And as of 2016, the approximate number of deserters was around 150,000.

PBS interviewed local reporters in Cancun as well as a former police officer; the public network found that cartels offered payments of $26,000 compared to a soldier’s salary of about $600 per month.

Some analysts were hopeful that Mexico’s new president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, would usher in changes and reforms that will curb the influence of the cartels and the violence they produce. But so far, there is little reason for optimism.

“Obrador’s amnesty proposal, a way to attack cartel funding and offer a peaceful alternative for certain low ranking and non-violent cartel members, is idealistic but naive,” Grinberg writes.

“Continuous gun battles and the failing military and police force raise concerns over Mexico’s stability as a state. The power dynamic continues to shift where the state continues to lose any monopoly on the legitimate use of force, and there’s a real possibility that Mexico can fail as a state and one that is on the United States’ border. The United States needs to take a hard look at Mexico and treat it as a growing security threat,” Grinberg concluded.

Russian defense head says military must develop game-changing ground-based cruise, hypersonic missiles by 2020

The head of Russia’s armed forces said Tuesday that it was imperative the country’s military develop ground-based cruise and hypersonic missiles by 2020 to counter rising threats from the U.S. and the West.

In particular, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said during a conference call, the military will be looking at developing a ground-based version of the sea-launched Kalibr missile within the next two years, a requirement ahead of creating a longer-range hypersonic missile system.

“The General Staff has submitted to the supreme commander-in-chief a list of measures, which he has approved. In 2019-2020, we need to develop the ground-based version of the sea-launched Kalibr system with the long-range cruise missile, which has proven its worth in Syria,” Shoigu said, according to TASS.

“Within the same time limits, we need to develop the ground-based system with the long-range hypersonic missile,” he added.

The development comes in response to the Trump administration’s decision to suspend the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty after the administration determined Russia has been cheating for years by developing missile systems with ranges that violate its terms, which Moscow has denied repeatedly.

“At the same time, they [the United States] are actively working on creating ground-based missiles with the range capability of over 500km (310 miles), which is outside the treaty-stipulated limitations. In this situation, the Russian president has set the task for the Defense Ministry to take tit-for-tat mirrored measures,” Shoigu said.

The defense minister noted further that “the use of sea-and air-borne missiles in their ground-based version will help considerably cut the time of manufacturing new missile weapons and the volume of their financing.”

“Besides, it is necessary to increase the firing range of ground-based missile systems being developed today,” he added.

Shoigu ordered Deputy Defense Minister Alexei Krivoruchko “to start the corresponding experimental design work within a short period of time within the appropriations allocated under the defense procurement plan for 2019 and for the planned period of 2020-2021 by re-distributing funds for the fulfillment of this work.”

Meanwhile, in a separate report by TASS, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov claimed that U.S. deployments of anti-missile systems in Japan was also a violation of the INF Treaty.

As for the INF Treaty and the Kuril Islands, there is a certain link here, since the placement of the US global missile shield launchers on Japan’s soil is among the problems that exist in our relationship with our Japanese neighbors in the sphere of security,” Lavrov told an audience in a speech at the Russian-Tajik Slavic University.

“These launchers are similar to the systems that have already been deployed by the Americans in Romania and will be deployed in Poland, the so-called Mk-41 launcher,” Lavrov said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin alluded to the development of a hypersonic missile during a State of the State address about a year ago.

Since then, the Russian military has conducted successful tests of a hypersonic system including one in December, which could be ready for deployment by 2022.

The latest test of the device, which is known as dubbed “Tsirkon,” was conducted Dec. 10. The device achieved a top speed of Mach 8, or eight times the speed of sound — two miles per second.

“What we are seeing with this particular weapon is that the Russians designed it to have a dual-purpose capability, meaning, it can be used against a target on land as well as a vessel at sea,” one source told CNBC. “Last week’s successful test showed that the Russians were able to achieve sustained flight, a feat that is crucial in the development of hypersonic weapons.”

The U.S. and China are also developing hypersonic missiles, considered game changers by defense experts, though the United States is playing catch-up.

U.S. defense officials have said that no American anti-missile system is currently capable of interdicting a hypersonic missile. But that would also mean that, should the U.S. develop and field a successful hypersonic missile, adversaries likely would also not have the ability to defend against it.

That said, The National Interest reported that the U.S. is already working on hypersonic missile defense — using hypersonics.

“Proposers may also assume a range of velocities above Mach 5 and a range of altitudes up to 50 kilometers [31 miles]. Solutions could have applicability to small interceptors, such as projectiles shorter than one meter [3.2 feet or larger interceptors, such as missiles over 5 meters [16.4 feet] long,” says a research proposal published by the Missile Defense Agency.

Russia’s Poseidon unmanned underwater system could autonomously avoid U.S., NATO defenses

Russia’s new nuclear-powered Poseidon unmanned undersea vehicle (UUV) system will be able to autonomously avoid enemy defenses on its stealthy way to targets, according to a report by TASS.

The oceanic multipurpose system is designed to skirt U.S. and NATO undersea detection networks while delivering conventional or even nuclear weapons to targets.

“On its way to a target, Poseidon will be able to avoid and overcome any antisubmarine barriers and other enemy defense systems due to the fully automated operation system,” a Russian defense source told the state-owned news agency.

The source added that the UUV’s operational depth will exceed 1 km and that “new technical solutions will ensure a maximum speed of 200 km/hr.”

“Altogether, the intellectual and performance characteristics of the vehicle will make it invulnerable and secure a guaranteed target destruction,” he noted further.

TASS noted further that the Poseidon, a system designed for many missions, will also include a special purpose nuclear submarine and unmanned underwater vehicles.

The source repeated that “the vehicle from the system is intended not just for strategic tasks, but for destruction, for example, of enemy carrier groups.”

The multi-purpose system Poseidon will include a special-purpose nuclear submarine and unmanned underwater vehicles on board. The source reiterated that “the vehicle from the system is intended not just for strategic tasks, but for destruction, for example, of enemy carrier groups.”

TASS said it could not independently verify the source’s information.

Still, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Saturday that a key testing stage for Poseidon was completed.

In December, a defense industry official told TASS that testing of the UUV’s nuclear power system was taking place as part of sea trials. The official said the nuclear reactor was mounted on the hull of the operating vehicle for testing.

In March 2018 during his State of the State Address, Putin said that the Poseidon systems will be equipped with conventional and nuclear payloads and will be capable of destroying an enemy’s carrier groups, ports, and other infrastructure.

Also known as “Status 6” and by the NATO code name Kanyon, Russian state TV has said that it may be able to deliver a thermonuclear cobalt bomb of up to 100 megatons against enemy naval ports and coastal cities.

The U.S. Nuclear Posture Review included information about the Poseidon, noting that Moscow is in the process of developing a “new intercontinental, nuclear-armed, nuclear-powered, undersea autonomous torpedo.”

New images surface of massive Russian stealth drone ‘Hunter’

Last summer, the world got its first glimpses of a massive, 20-ton stealth drone fighter being developed by Russia when defense industry sources passed them along to the Russian state-owned news outlet TASS.

Though the aircraft (shown above) “has not yet taken full shape, its main features are already known,” a defense official told the newswire.

Since TASS is completely run by the Kremlin, it’s safe to say that the images were ‘leaked’ on purpose.

The defense official noted further:

“First of all, it should be unmanned and capable of performing any combat task in an autonomous regime. In this sense, the stealth drone will become the prototype of the sixth generation fighter jet,’ the source said, adding that the drone will be able to “take off, fulfill its objectives and return to the airfield.”

“However, it will not receive the function of decision-making regarding the use of weapons – this will be decided by a human,” he said.

Now, as LiveJournal now reports, brand-new images of the first prototype of this sixth-gen unmanned reconnaissance-strike drone, nicknamed “Hunter,” have been taken at the airdrome of the Novosibirsk Aviation Plant.

Reports note that designers have been putting the model through testing at the plant since November 2018. Prototype flights have been scheduled for sometime this year.

A second defense expert told the Russian newswire the drone/jet has a top speed of about 621 miles per hour:

The Russian Defense Ministry and the Sukhoi Company signed a contract for developing the 20-ton Okhotnik (Hunter) heavy unmanned strike aircraft in 2011. The drone’s mock-up model was made in 2014. According to unconfirmed reports, composite materials and anti-radar coating were used to create the Okhotnik. The drone is equipped with a reaction-jet propulsion and is supposed to develop a speed of 1000 kilometers per hour, said TASS.

Sam Bendett, a researcher at the CNA Corporation and a member of CNA’s Center for Autonomy and AI, previously told Defense One, “Sounds like Russia wants everything to be included into the new design at once.In reality, they will probably have to compromise, selecting more realistic qualifications for the new aircraft.”

He added: “Most importantly, this will be an expensive endeavor, further pushing Russian designers and the Ministry of Defense to be more selective in approving the final aircraft specs. However, some qualifications, like optional manning, autonomy and some form of artificial intelligence will probably be included.”

In the end, Bendett says, Moscow’s objective may be to move away from manned aircraft altogether.

“Ohotnik is barely flying yet and some time will pass before it becomes an operational variant. Nonetheless, this unmanned aerial vehicle and Russia’s future combat aircraft plans offer a glimpse into Moscow’s thoughts on future warfare,” he noted.

The U.S. military is also testing unmanned drone aircraft.

For instance, the Navy recently selected the MQ-25 aircraft tanker/refuelling drone built by Boeing, which the service plans to use to refuel carrier-based planes at sea.

Also, the U.S. is looking at other designs, including the Kratos XQ-222 Valkyrie, a swarm drone platform for the Air Force, and the Lockheed TR-X, designed to replace the SR-71 spy plane.

The Chinese are also in the combat drone business, with its CH-7 — an apparent clone of a U.S. Navy design, the X-47B, which has since been discontinued.

The CH-7 could also be based on another U.S. design, however, as We Are The Mighty reported:

Some observers suggested the Chinese drone is a sort of copy of the famous Lockheed Martin RQ-170 Sentinel, the stealth drone captured by Iran in 2011 and then reverse-engineered by Tehran: according to the information circulating on the Chinese Defense forums, a group of 17 Chinese experts flew to Iran 4 days after…the Sentinel drone had crash landed in Iran during a spy mission, not only to inspect, but also to collect and bring back to China some key components of the RQ-170.