Category Archive 'Weapons Systems'
03 Feb 2011

Wikileaks: US Sent Message to China

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The Telegraph also found in the Wikileaks leaked documents the account of the United States responding to China’s showing off its Star Wars capabilities by launching a ballistic missile to destroy one of its own weather satellites by promptly popping off a missile from a US Aegis missile cruiser and potting a US satellite. Message: “Not only can we do that, too. We have been able to for a long time, and we can even launch the missile from a ship. Guess what else we can do.”

The “star wars” arms race was began in January 2007 when China shocked the White House by shooting down one of its weather satellite 530 miles above the Earth.

The strike, which resulted in thousands of pieces of debris orbiting the earth, raised fears that the Chinese had the power to cause chaos by destroying US military and civilian satellites.

In February 2008, America launched its own “test” strike to destroy a malfunctioning American satellite, which demonstrated to the Chinese it also had the capability to strike in space.

America stated at the time that the strike was not a military test but a necessary mission to remove a faulty spy satellite.

The leaked documents appear to show its true intentions.

07 May 2010

Testing the Army’s Latest Weaponry

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video frame shows XM25 round exploding just inside window target

The Army’s equipment development and procurement office, Program Executive Office (PEO) Soldier, was kind enough to invite Wired’s Nathan Hodge to the Aberdeen Proving Ground to test a variety of toys including the XM25 (25mm) grenade launcher, a non-lethal green laser, improved night-vision goggles, a new easily-changed (no headspace or timing adjustment needed) barrel for the ever-popular M2 .50 caliber Browning machine gun, and a Modular Accessory Shotgun system, consisting of a straight-pull bolt-action 12-gauge shotgun that can be used as a standalone weapon or as an under-barrel accessory on a rifle or carbine. The shotgun makes a useful tool for opening locked doors and is an effective close-range definitive argument as well.

Let’s hope PEO Soldier adds NYM to its list of journalist invitees next time. I’m not too far from Aberdeen.

19 Mar 2010

Obama Administration Blocks Bunker Buster Delivery to Israel

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The World Tribune reports that the Obama Administration is punishing Israel by denying it the necessary tools to serve as America’s surrogate in destroying Iran’s nuclear capability. How absolutely brilliant.

The United States has diverted a shipment of bunker-busters designated for Israel.

Officials said the U.S. military was ordered to divert a shipment of smart bunker-buster bombs from Israel to a military base in Diego Garcia. They said the shipment of 387 smart munitions had been slated to join pre-positioned U.S. military equipment in Israel Air Force bases.

“This was a political decision,” an official said.

In 2008, the United States approved an Israeli request for bunker-busters capable of destroying underground facilities, including Iranian nuclear weapons sites. Officials said delivery of the weapons was held up by the administration of President Barack Obama.

Since taking office, Obama has refused to approve any major Israeli requests for U.S. weapons platforms or advanced systems. Officials said this included proposed Israeli procurement of AH-64D Apache attack helicopters, refueling systems, advanced munitions and data on a stealth variant of the F-15E.

“All signs indicate that this will continue in 2010,” a congressional source familiar with the Israeli military requests said. “This is really an embargo, but nobody talks about it publicly.”

Obama’s recent creation of a relations crisis with Israel is, of course, yet another flagrant example of the open and insolent implementation of precisely the kind of hard-left ideological policy agenda that he assured the voting public back in 2008 played no part in his future governing intentions. Good-bye, moderation once again.

17 Dec 2009

Insurgents Have $26 Advantage

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The Wall Street Journal reports on an interesting feat of technical ingenuity by the enemy.

Militants in Iraq have used $26 off-the-shelf software to intercept live video feeds from U.S. Predator drones, potentially providing them with information they need to evade or monitor U.S. military operations.

Senior defense and intelligence officials said Iranian-backed insurgents intercepted the video feeds by taking advantage of an unprotected communications link in some of the remotely flown planes’ systems. Shiite fighters in Iraq used software programs such as SkyGrabber — available for as little as $25.95 on the Internet — to regularly capture drone video feeds, according to a person familiar with reports on the matter.

U.S. officials say there is no evidence that militants were able to take control of the drones or otherwise interfere with their flights. Still, the intercepts could give America’s enemies battlefield advantages by removing the element of surprise from certain missions and making it easier for insurgents to determine which roads and buildings are under U.S. surveillance.

12 Dec 2009

Mysterious Blue Spiral

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Unfortunately dim 0:30 video

The Escapist describes the mysterious sign that appeared in the Norwegian skies, appropriately timed to mark Barack Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize.

Astronomers and Norwegian citizens alike have been baffled by the appearance of a strange blue spiral light in the sky above the Scandinavian country last night: Was it aliens, evil Russians, or just a Dante’s Inferno marketing stunt? …

Witnesses in the north of the country reported an unusual atmospheric phenomenon that began when “what appeared to be a blue light seemed to soar up from behind a mountain. It stopped mid-air, then began to circulate … Within seconds a giant spiral had covered the entire sky. Then a green-blue beam of light shot out from its centre – lasting for ten to twelve minutes before disappearing completely.”

The Norwegian Meteorological Institute was hammered by a flood of telephone calls after the light show had concluded, though astronomers say that the startling display was not connected to the Aurora Borealis.

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Daily Tech reports that Russian news sources have identified the source of the phenomenon, and it had nothing to do with peace.

on Thursday the Russian newspaper Vedomosti cited a military source as saying the phenomenon was caused by a failed test launch of a intercontinental missile, dubbed Bulava. Past launches had failed on the first stage, but this launch reportedly went off without a hitch, before experiencing the strange failure on the third stage.

The Russia armed forces initially denied these reports. However, another source, stationed in Severodvinsk, told newspaper Kommersant that the Russian nuclear sub “Dmitri Donskoy” launched Monday for a program of test launches at sea. The “Dmitri Donskoy” is reportedly the only sub capable of launching the Bulava missile.

On Thursday, more than 24 hours after the incident Russia decided to take responsibility for the incident. The Ministry of Defense’s press service told ITAR-TSS that the strange show was indeed generated by a third stage failure of the missile.

There are still unexplained details about the event that are sure to excite conspiracy theorists. First of all the blue-green light would suggest the presence of copper(II) chloride in the rocket flame. However, copper chloride, while commonly used in pyrotechnics, isn’t hasn’t traditionally been used in rocket fuel (though it has been reportedly investigated as a catalyst in propellant reactions). Also strange is that a similar spiral and explosion occurred over China last year, according to the Daily Mail. If it was indeed the third stage that caused the scene over Norway, and no previous launch had made it past the first stage, it’s unclear what might have caused the similar scene in China.

25 Sep 2009

“Dead Hand:” Soviet Doomsday Device Still in Operation

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Wired tells us Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove (1964) film accurately predicted a system put on-line in 1985 by the Soviets that would assure an automatic Soviet response to a Western first strike.

The Cold War ended years ago, but apparently the Russians never turned off their Doomsday device.

Valery Yarynich glances nervously over his shoulder. Clad in a brown leather jacket, the 72-year-old former Soviet colonel is hunkered in the back of the dimly lit Iron Gate restaurant in Washington, DC. It’s March 2009—the Berlin Wall came down two decades ago—but the lean and fit Yarynich is as jumpy as an informant dodging the KGB. He begins to whisper, quietly but firmly.

“The Perimeter system is very, very nice,” he says. “We remove unique responsibility from high politicians and the military.” He looks around again.

Yarynich is talking about Russia’s doomsday machine. That’s right, an actual doomsday device—a real, functioning version of the ultimate weapon, always presumed to exist only as a fantasy of apocalypse-obsessed science fiction writers and paranoid über-hawks. The thing that historian Lewis Mumford called “the central symbol of this scientifically organized nightmare of mass extermination.” Turns out Yarynich, a 30-year veteran of the Soviet Strategic Rocket Forces and Soviet General Staff, helped build one.

The point of the system, he explains, was to guarantee an automatic Soviet response to an American nuclear strike. Even if the US crippled the USSR with a surprise attack, the Soviets could still hit back. It wouldn’t matter if the US blew up the Kremlin, took out the defense ministry, severed the communications network, and killed everyone with stars on their shoulders. Ground-based sensors would detect that a devastating blow had been struck and a counterattack would be launched.

The technical name was Perimeter, but some called it Mertvaya Ruka, or Dead Hand. It was built 25 years ago and remained a closely guarded secret. With the demise of the USSR, word of the system did leak out, but few people seemed to notice. In fact, though Yarynich and a former Minuteman launch officer named Bruce Blair have been writing about Perimeter since 1993 in numerous books and newspaper articles, its existence has not penetrated the public mind or the corridors of power. The Russians still won’t discuss it, and Americans at the highest levels—including former top officials at the State Department and White House—say they’ve never heard of it. When I recently told former CIA director James Woolsey that the USSR had built a doomsday device, his eyes grew cold. “I hope to God the Soviets were more sensible than that.” They weren’t.

The system remains so shrouded that Yarynich worries his continued openness puts him in danger. He might have a point: One Soviet official who spoke with Americans about the system died in a mysterious fall down a staircase. But Yarynich takes the risk. He believes the world needs to know about Dead Hand. Because, after all, it is still in place.

Read the whole thing.

22 Sep 2009

Russia Not Canceling New Missile Deployment

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Reuters quotes the head of the Russian General Staff asserting that, despite Barack Obama’s surrender to Russian objections to basing US missile defenses in Central Europe, Russia is intending to proceed with placing new offensive short-range missiles in the Kaliningrad Oblast.

Russia’s top general said on Monday that plans to deploy missiles in an enclave next to Poland had not been shelved, despite a decision by the United States to rethink plans for missile defense in Europe. …

President Barack Obama’s decision to scrap a land-based missile defense system has been welcomed by Russia, which had threatened to deploy short-range Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad if the United States refused to drop the plans.

The Kremlin always said Russia would only deploy the missiles as a counter-measure if Washington went ahead with its missile shield. Moscow said the shield threatened its national security and would upset the strategic balance in Europe.

On Saturday Russian deputy defense minister Vladimir Popovkin said in an interview that “naturally we will scrap the measures that Russia planned to take” in response to the shield and specifically named Iskander deployment as one of them.

When asked about the matter on Monday, the chief of Russia’s general staff, Nikolai Makarov, said: “There has been no such decision. It should be a political decision. It should be made by the president.”

“They (the Americans) have not given up the anti-missile shield; they have replaced it with a sea-based component,” Makarov told reporters on a plane from Moscow to Zurich.

The general was accompanying President Dmitry Medvedev on a trip to Switzerland.

07 Sep 2009

The Arctic Sea Mystery Unravels

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Mystery of the Arctic Sea
, 8/20

The Telegraph
reports Intelligence leaks indicating that the hijacking was done by Mossad (not a peep from Debkafile!) and was done to prevent an unauthorized shipment of advanced Russian air defense missiles from reaching Iran.

Mystery has surrounded the ship, officially carrying a cargo of timber worth £1.3 million from Finland to Algeria, since its crew first reported a boarding in Swedish waters on July 24 after a raid by 10 armed English-speaking men posing as anti-narcotics police officers.

It was eventually recovered off the coast of west Africa on August 17. Russia has since charged eight men from Estonia, Latvia and Russia with kidnapping and piracy.

Russian officials have said the alleged pirates demanded a $1.5 million ransom but speculation has grown that the freighter was carrying contraband cargo.

Israeli and Russian security sources have questioned The Kremlin’s official explanation, instead arguing that the ship was carrying S-300 missiles, Russia’s most advanced anti-aircraft weapon, while undergoing repairs in the Russian port of Kaliningrad, a notorious Baltic smuggling base.

According to reports, Mossad is said to have briefed the Russian government that the shipment had been sold by former military officers linked to the black market, and Russia then dispatched a naval rescue mission. Those who believe Mossad was involved point to a visit to Moscow by Shimon Peres, Israel’s president, the day after the Arctic Sea was recovered.

Crew members of the Arctic Sea have since told Russian news reporters that they have been told not to disclose “state secrets” further fuelling the speculation.

A Russian military source told The Sunday Times: “The official version is ridiculous and was given to allow the Kremlin to save face.

“I’ve spoken to people close to the investigation and they’ve pretty much confirmed Mossad’s involvement. It’s laughable to believe all this fuss was over a load of timber. I’m not alone in believing that it was carrying weapons to Iran.”


S-300PMU2 Favorit

Russian news agency RT News (Moscow) has the same story on this 4:42 video

11 Jul 2009

Russian Air Force Suffered in War with Georgia

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Spook 86 explains, on the basis of a Russian defense analysis described in Aviation Week, how Russian air losses in the brief war with Georgia last summer were twice as bad as were reported, and Russian air defense systems were responsible.

In its latest assessment, (Russia’s Center for the Analysis of Strategy and Technology) CAST confirms that Russian forces lost eight aircraft to adversary air defenses and fratricide. The four additional aircraft–which the Russian Air Force has reported as combat losses–include the following:

–SU-24MR Fencer E reconnaissance aircraft, shot down on 8 August
–SU-25 Frogfoot CAS aircraft, lost on 9 August
–SU-24M Fencer frontal strike aircraft, downed on 10 or 11 August
–Mi-24 Hind helicopter gunship (loss date undetermined)

CAST also reports that Georgian air defenses damaged at least three other SU-25s, which managed to return to base.

Officially, Moscow has claimed that it lost only four aircraft during the Georgian campaign, a TU-22M Backfire bomber and three SU-25s, all shot down on the first day of the war (8 August). Russian Air Force officials say the four jets were downed by Georgian SA-11 SAM batteries.

As for those “other” losses, CAST claims the Fencers fell victim to shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles while the SU-25 was downed by friendly fire–specifically, a MANPAD SAM launched by a Russian ground unit.

The think tank also repeats its assessment that Russian Air Force units were unprepared for operations against a relatively modern air defense system. We second that notion, and believe it’s worth repeating a related point, which we made last August. Moscow’s lack of preparation is largely inexcusable, since it already knew that Tiblisi had purchased the SA-11 (and other air defense systems) from Ukraine. The embarrassment is compounded by the fact that the systems which knocked down those Russian aircraft were originally designed–and built–in Russia (emphasis ours). …

For 50 years, Russian scientists and engineers have produced some of the world’s most lethal air defense systems. But Moscow never believed its pilots would have to fly against Russian-built SAMs. That’s one reason the Russian Air Force learned a hard lesson in Georgia last summer.

10 Jun 2009

XM25 Grenade Launcher

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There is also a camo version

The New Scientists calls it a rifle, though it’s really a new grenade launcher. The XM25, developed by Heckler & Koch and Alliant Techsystems, has a range-finder and the ability to determine the range at which the projectile will explode. I bet it’s easier to use, but they used to be able to do the same thing back in the black powder era, simply by cutting fuses to pre-determined lengths. In the old days, of course, they lacked hand-held miniature howitzers, and they had to estimate the range by eye, the hard way.

A rifle capable of firing explosive bullets that can detonate within a metre of a target could let soldiers fire on snipers hiding in trenches, behind walls or inside buildings.

The US army has developed the XM25 rifle to give its troops an alternative to calling in artillery fire or air strikes when an enemy has taken cover and can’t be targeted by direct fire. “This is the first leap-ahead technology for troops that we’ve been able to develop and deploy,” says Douglas Tamilio, the army’s project manager for new weapons for soldiers. “This gives them another tool in their kitbag.”

The rifle’s gunsight uses a laser rangefinder to calculate the exact distance to the obstruction. The soldier can then add or subtract up to 3 metres from that distance to enable the bullets to clear the barrier and explode above or beside the target (see diagram).

As the 25-millimetre round is fired, the gunsight sends a radio signal to a chip inside the bullet, telling it the precise distance to the target. A spiral groove inside the barrel makes the bullet rotate as it travels, and as it also contains a magnetic transducer, this rotation through the Earth’s magnetic field generates an alternating current. A patent granted to the bullet’s maker, Alliant Techsystems, reveals that the chip uses fluctuations in this current to count each revolution and, as it knows the distance covered in one spin, it can calculate how far it has travelled.

The rifle would allow a soldier faced with a sniper firing from a window to take a distance measurement to the window, add a metre, fire through the window, and have the round detonate 1 metre inside the room. The same method could be used to fire behind a wall or over a trench. …

“This airburst shell gives the close-combat capability of a grenade launcher, combined with the ability of indirect fire weapons to hit stuff on the other side of the wall,” says John Pike, a defence analyst with Washington DC think tank GlobalSecurity.org.

02 Jun 2009

CIA Using Targeting Chip Against Taliban

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The Guardian is repeating whispers heard around nomadic campfires near the Khyber Pass.

The CIA is equipping Pakistani tribesmen with secret electronic transmitters to help target and kill al-Qaida leaders in the north-western tribal belt, in a tactic that could aid Pakistan’s army as it takes the battle against extremism to the Taliban heartland.

As the army mops up Taliban resistance in the Swat valley, where a defence official predicted fighting would be over within days, the focus is shifting to Waziristan and the Taliban warlord Baitullah Mehsud.

But a deadly war of wits is already under way in the region, where tribesmen say the US is using advanced technology and old-fashioned cash to target the enemy.

Over the last 18 months the US has launched more than 50 drone attacks, mostly in south and north Waziristan. US officials claim nine of the top 20 al-Qaida figures have been killed.

That success is reportedly in part thanks to the mysterious electronic devices, dubbed “chips” or “pathrai” (the Pashto word for a metal device), which have become a source of fear, intrigue and fascination.

“Everyone is talking about it,” said Taj Muhammad Wazir, a student from south Waziristan. “People are scared that if a pathrai comes into your house, a drone will attack it.”

According to residents and Taliban propaganda, the CIA pays tribesmen to plant the electronic devices near farmhouses sheltering al-Qaida and Taliban commanders.

Hours or days later, a drone, guided by the signal from the chip, destroys the building with a salvo of missiles. “There are body parts everywhere,” said Wazir, who witnessed the aftermath of a strike.

Declan Walsh reports on 5:27 audio

21 Apr 2009

China Hacks Pentagon’s Joint Strike Fighter Project

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Bad news at the Pentagon, and especially bad news at the corporate headquarters of certain defense contractors.

Wall Street Journal:

Computer spies have broken into the Pentagon’s $300 billion Joint Strike Fighter project — the Defense Department’s costliest weapons program ever — according to current and former government officials familiar with the attacks.

Similar incidents have also breached the Air Force’s air-traffic-control system in recent months, these people say. In the case of the fighter-jet program, the intruders were able to copy and siphon off several terabytes of data related to design and electronics systems, officials say, potentially making it easier to defend against the craft.

The latest intrusions provide new evidence that a battle is heating up between the U.S. and potential adversaries over the data networks that tie the world together. The revelations follow a recent Wall Street Journal report that computers used to control the U.S. electrical-distribution system, as well as other infrastructure, have also been infiltrated by spies abroad.

Attacks like these — or U.S. awareness of them — appear to have escalated in the past six months, said one former official briefed on the matter. “There’s never been anything like it,” this person said, adding that other military and civilian agencies as well as private companies are affected. “It’s everything that keeps this country going. …

The intruders compromised the system responsible for diagnosing a plane’s maintenance problems during flight, according to officials familiar with the matter. However, the plane’s most vital systems — such as flight controls and sensors — are physically isolated from the publicly accessible Internet, they said.

The intruders entered through vulnerabilities in the networks of two or three contractors helping to build the high-tech fighter jet, according to people who have been briefed on the matter. Lockheed Martin is the lead contractor on the program, and Northrop Grumman Corp. and BAE Systems PLC also play major roles in its development. …

Investigators traced the penetrations back with a “high level of certainty” to known Chinese Internet protocol, or IP, addresses and digital fingerprints that had been used for attacks in the past, said a person briefed on the matter.

25 Feb 2009

Raptor on the Chopping Block

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F-22 Raptors

One might think that if one believed it appropriate to spend federal money just to create jobs that jobs for Lockheed Martin workers would be at least as worthy of creation as jobs for community organizers and social workers. It could be argued as well that investing in long-term American Air Supremacy is far more likely to contribute to the welfare of the nation than funding uneconomic energy projects or pouring more dollars into Amtrak. Of course, as decisions on spending priorities are made, it isn’t very likely that Barack Obama is going to look at it that way.

In the Atlantic, Mark Bowden discusses the meaning and consequences of the probable termination of F-22 purchases.

[US] complete dominance is eroding. Some foreign-built fighters can now match or best the F‑15 in aerial combat, and given the changing nature of the threats our country is facing and the dizzying costs of maintaining our advantage, America is choosing to give up some of the edge we’ve long enjoyed, rather than pay the price to preserve it. The next great fighter, the F‑22 Raptor, is every bit as much a marvel today as the F‑15 was 25 years ago, and if we produced the F-22 in sufficient numbers we could move the goalposts out of reach again. But we are building fewer than a third of the number needed to replace the older fighters in service. After losing hope of upgrading the whole F‑15 fleet, the Air Force requested 381 F‑22s, the minimum number that independent analysts said it needs to retain its current edge. Congress is buying 183, and has authorized the manufacture of parts for 20 more at the front end of the production line, enough to at least keep it working until President Obama decides whether or not to continue building F-22s. Like so many presidential dilemmas, it’s a Scylla-and-Charybdis choice: a decision to save money and not build more would deliver a severe blow to a sprawling and vital U.S. industry at a time when the nation is mired in recession. And once the production line for the F-22 begins to shut down, restarting it will not be easy or cheap, even in reaction to a new threat. Each plane consists of about 1,000 parts, manufactured in 44 states, and because of the elaborate network of highly specialized subcontractors needed to fashion its unique airframe and avionics, assembling one F-22 can take as long as three years. Modern aerial wars are usually over in days, if not hours. Once those 183 to 203 new Raptors are built, they will have to do. Our end of the fight will still be borne primarily by the current fleet of aged F‑15s.

When Obama unveiled his national-security team in December, he remarked that he intended “to maintain the strongest military on the planet.” That goal will continue to require the biggest bill in the world, but the portion that bought aerial dominance for so long may have become too dear. …

The Air Force fears that the dominance of U.S. airpower has been so complete for so long that it is taken for granted. The ability of the United States to own the skies over any battlefield has transformed the way we fight. The last American soldier killed on the ground by an enemy air attack died in Korea, on April 15, 1953.

Russia, China, Iran, India, North Korea, Pakistan, and others are now flying fourth-generation fighters with avionics that match or exceed the F‑15’s. Ideally, from the standpoint of the U.S. Air Force, the F‑22 would gradually replace most of the F‑15s in the U.S. fleet over the next 15 years, and two or three more generations of American pilots, soldiers, and marines would fight without worrying about attacks from the sky. But that isn’t going to happen.

“It means a step down from air dominance,” Richard Aboulafia, an air-warfare analyst for the Teal Group, which conducts assessments for the defense industry, told me. “The decision not to replace the F‑15 fleet with the F‑22 ultimately means that we will accept air casualties. We will lose more pilots. We will still achieve air superiority, but we will get hurt achieving it.”

23 Dec 2008

Russian Sea-Based Missile Fails Fifth Test

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The current Russian government, emboldened by a tremendous windfall of revenue from recently surging petroleum and other commodity prices, has been flexing its muscles and promising to update Russia’s strategic weapons arsenal. After all there’s nothing like pointing a missile loaded with multiple thermonuclear warheads at the rest of the world’s civilian population centers to give a backward country with a dismal record of self government a major voice in world affairs.

Now with the world economy contracting, production, demand, and commodity prices falling, Russia is going to be experiencing a shortage of cash, so competing with the US on a strategic triad (land, air, and sea-based strategic weapons) is going to be much more difficult. And things haven’t been going all that satisfactorily right now.

SF Chronicle:

Russia’s new sea-based ballistic missile has failed in a test launch for the fifth time, signaling serious trouble with the highly advertised key future component of the nation’s nuclear forces.

The Bulava “self-destructed and exploded in the air” after a launch from the Dmitry Donskoy nuclear submarine beneath surface of the White Sea, said Navy spokesman Capt. Igor Dygalo.

Russia has been making an aggressive effort in recent years to upgrade its missile forces after years of post-Soviet underfunding and a lack of testing.

The Kremlin has hailed the missile as capable of penetrating any prospective missile defenses. …

The Bulava is reportedly designed to have a maximum range of about 6,200 miles (10,000 kilometers) and carry six individually targeted nuclear warheads. It is expected to equip three new Borei-class nuclear submarines that are under construction.

“This is a serious blow to Russia’s military plans to deploy the Borei submarines,” said independent military analyst Pavel Felgenhauer. “The failure delays (Bulava’s) production and deployment indefinitely.”

Russian news agencies said that Tuesday’s test was the fifth failure out of 10 launches since 2004.

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