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The Soviet-era arms race between the US and Russia is officially back on.
To wit, Moscow is reportedly building a fleet of nuclear submarines armed with hypersonic ICBMs capable of delivering a nuclear payload ten times larger than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, according to CNBC, which cited a US intelligence report on the new weapons. Russian President Vladimir Putin hinted at six new super weapons during a speech back in March where he also revealed that Russia is working on a nuclear missile capable of evading NATO’s ring of ABM defenses.
The new Borei II submarine, also known as the Borei-A, is a fourth-generation nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine that will reportedly join the Russian Navy’s Northern and Pacific Fleets once it’s completed in 2024, according to the report. Each sub can carry up to 20 Bulava intercontinental ballistic missiles, which can deliver a nuclear payload of 100 to 150 kilotons. The sub will be the first new Russian sub developed in the post-Soviet era.
What’s worse is that, as of now, the US doesn’t possess adequate defenses to protect against Bulava missiles.
What’s more, unlike a traditional missile, which carries one warhead, the Bulava missile is capable of carrying up to 10 nuclear and hypersonic weapons on its tip. That means one Borei II submarine could potentially launch 200 hypersonic weapons, a threat the U.S. is currently unable to defend against.
A hypersonic weapon can travel at Mach 5 or higher, which is at least five times faster than the speed of sound. This means that a hypersonic threat can travel about one mile per second.
Back in March, Putin showed a digital representation of how one of Russia’s new weapons could evade ABM defenses by traveling high into the stratosphere. The Russian president also criticized the US and NATO for forcing Russia to resort to these weapons. He also dared any of Russia’s geopolitical rivals to call the country weak.
“I want to tell all those who have fueled the arms race over the last 15 years, sought to win unilateral advantages over Russia, introduced unlawful sanctions aimed to contain our country’s development: You have failed to contain Russia,” Putin said during his March national address.
A hypersonic weapon can travel at Mach five or faster, which means it is five times faster than the speed of sound, traveling at about one mile per second.
And the new sub isn’t the only super-weapon that Russia is preparing to add to its arsenal. Of the six weapons Putin unveiled at his speech earlier this year, CNBC reported that two of them will be ready for war by 2020.
“We don’t have any defense that could deny the employment of such a weapon against us,” Air Force Gen. John Hyten, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee in March, following Putin’s comments.
With this in mind, perhaps Democrats in Congress can stop complaining about the ostensibly friendly relationship between President Trump and Putin and also stop agitating against Trump’s plans to allocate more money to the military.