Russia begins new trials of nuclear-capable underwater drone

The Russian navy has begun trials of a nuclear-capable undersea drone that U.S. military officials believe could be used to stealthily target ports in major American cities.

The Tass news agency, quoting unnamed sources, reported that testing of the Poseidon strategic drone, mentioned by Russian President Vladimir Putin during his state-of-the-nation address to both houses of Parliament earlier this year, was now underway.

“In the sea area protected from a potential enemy’s reconnaissance means, the underwater trials of the nuclear propulsion unit of the Poseidon drone are underway,” the source told the news agency.

The drone’s nuclear reactor is reportedly positioned in its hull. Tass said that tests are being conducted as part of experimental design work, not full-fledged sea trials.

Tass noted further:

According to the source, the works on the drone are included in the state armament program for 2018-2027. The Poseidon is due to be delivered to the Navy until the program’s expiry, the source added.

In his state-of-the-nation address to both houses of Russia’s parliament on March 1, Russian President Putin mentioned for the first time the country’s efforts to develop a nuclear-powered unmanned underwater vehicle that can carry both conventional and nuclear warheads and is capable of destroying enemy infrastructural facilities, aircraft carrier groups and other targets.

Poseidon drones together with their carriers - nuclear-powered submarines - make part of the so-called oceanic multipurpose system. The drone got its name following the results of open voting on the website of Russia’s Defense Ministry.

Testing of the Poseidon has been taking place at least a couple of years.

The Washington Free Beacon reported in December 2016 that U.S. intelligence agencies became aware of the unmanned undersea vehicle, then code-named “Kanyon” by the Pentagon, as it was launched by a Savor-class submarine the previous month.

Development of the new drone submarine was first disclosed by the Washington Free Beacon in September 2015 and summarily confirmed by the Russian military two months later.

U.S. intelligence agencies believe that the Poseidon will be equipped with megaton-class warheads, the largest nuclear weapons in existence.

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