A flying Chernobyl? Why the US is obsessed with Russia’s global nuclear missile

A flying Chernobyl? Why the US is obsessed with Russia's global nuclear missile
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The development of the Burevestnik nuclear-powered intercontinental cruise missile thwarts America’s strategic plans to seize the nuclear balance advantage. But the technologies used in the missile could also be applied in space flights.

The theme of the new Russian intercontinental cruise missile was discussed during the meeting with the US Special Envoy for Arms Control, Marshall Billingslea, in the US Senate.

At this meeting, dedicated to Billingslea’s possible appointment as undersecretary of state for Arms Control and International Security Affairs, the senior official spoke about the works to create the Burevestnik missile – Skyfall, under the NATO. In particular, Billingslea stressed that the new weapon is not safe in terms of its effects on the environment.

In his speech in the US Senate Billingslea said that “frankly” he considers that missiles of this type should not exist.

“Why do you need a nuclear-powered cruise missile with a nuclear warhead? That is nothing more than a flying Chernobyl. Just think of the radioactive cloud it will generate as it soars through the skies. There is no reason or logic to have such doomsday weapons systems,” he told the Senate Committee on Foreign Relation.

Billingslea recalled that he had told his Russian partners that this was a huge expense and that it was necessary to suspend these destabilizing works. It is not the first statement by the senior American official regarding this missile. On July 3, he said the Burevestnik and Poseidon systems were “terrible.”

But are there reasons to be concerned? And does the US really care about environmental security or is it just envy and fear?

How the US shields itself in good intentions

First, the United States itself carried out similar work in this field in the 1960s. The Pluto project envisaged the creation of a massive nuclear-powered cruise missile known as SLAM. This missile was going to destroy everything in its path due to its shock wave.

Furthermore, as the missile flew it would leave behind a radioactive cloud that would contaminate everything in its path.

The US tested two experimental nuclear engines under the Pluto project. The tests that were carried out at the test site in the state of Nevada in 1961 and 1964 turned out to be successful, but, in the end, the USA did not continue with this technology.

Washington was not guided for environmental safety reasons, but because intercontinental ballistic missile technology seemed less complicated and more affordable to it. Russia, for its part, takes into account the possible surrender of such missiles and thinks more about the security of the country.

Even if the Russian Burevestnik missile is not ecological at all, its use as a doomsday weapon reduces to zero the importance of pollution it produces because, in the event of a nuclear war, we will not have to worry about ecology as it implies total destruction. In other words, these engines are hardly planned to be used in peacetime—the exception would be the evidence—hence minimal environmental damage.

The Burevestnik project, which is a missile with virtually unlimited range, is currently in the flight testing phase. At the same time, the United States is already 10 to 15 years behind Russia when it comes to this technology, according to Igor Korotchenko, director of the Center for Analysis of World Arms Trade.

The US statements actually have bad intentions because they are trying to delay the development of this type of missile in Russia, he added.

In short, it is obvious that the outstanding characteristics of the new Russian weapon is the reason why the North American authorities are so obsessed with it. It has nothing to do with alleged “damage to ecology” or “overspending” that the Russian military budget directs towards creation works and the Burevestnik tests.

Space dreams

The Russian Skyfall is more modern technology and is one of the main innovations of the Army in the field of strategic weapons creation in the Eurasian country. This cruise missile with an atomic warhead has the so-called global range because nuclear power will allow it to cover any distance.

Burevestnik is rated as a stealth missile with an unpredictable flight path. It flies at low altitudes and is impossible to intercept. It is invincible to all existing anti-missile and anti-aircraft systems and those that will appear in the future.

In other words, it is not Russia that spends too much money on its new nuclear-powered missile, but the US that invests in anti-missile systems that will prove useless in the face of the Russian Skyfall.

The Burevestnik program could also bring more benefits. The technologies used in it could be applied in other areas, not only in the military. The technologies of the Burevestnik project are of great scientific importance and, to be more precise, could be used in the creation of aircraft capable of flying into space.

Today, no country in the world except Russia has such technology. The existence of a powerful and at the same time compact reactor, which is undoubtedly one of the most modern on the planet, could be applied in the short term in the creation of a turbojet engine for an aircraft of unlimited range. This will not produce radioactive contamination.

Like the new cruise missile project, these new aircraft will have a global reach. In other words, the Burevestnik missile could be just the first step on a very long and promising path.

Even if the new Russian intercontinental cruise missile is not used for civilian purposes, its use as a weapon will serve to preserve nuclear deterrence in the world.

It makes no sense for Russia to abandon the project, as offered by US officials, especially considering that the US has recently come out of a series of agreements on controlling the proliferation of different types of weapons. It is about the national security of the Russian Federation and that is the most important thing.