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Russian Ministry of Defense recently published a video of its new autonomous torpedo, the Poseidon strategic attack drone.
Russia boasts that the high-speed autonomous torpedo currently under development is “unstoppable,” and can deliver a multi-megaton thermonuclear warhead to an enemy coastal target. The video shows Poseidon shot out from what appears to be an underwater ejection port.
The autonomous drone is designed to target a coastal asset such as a submarine base, port, or coastal city. The warhead’s explosive yield is said to be 2 megatons, or 2,000 kilotons, according to
Poseidon is 70 feet long and 6.5 feet wide, and is meant to be carried externally by Russian submarines or internally within special carrier submarines. The nuclear-powered drone is designed to cross entire continents, dive up to 3,280 feet, and travel up to 80 miles per hour underwater. This combination of deep diving capability and high speed will make Poseidon difficult to intercept.
The footage of Russian sailors hustling up staircases and through waterproof hatches suggests that this test took place aboard the submarine Sarov. The footage of the foaming water illuminated by glowing green lights also suggests this was taken at sea. Commissioned in 2009, Sarov is a nuclear-powered test submarine with a large compartment in the nose for test-launching Poseidon drones.
Relatively slow compared to ballistic missile and cruise missiles, the nuclear-powered drone is too slow—and likely too noisy—to be used as a first strike weapon. Instead, it is meant to be launched after a nuclear attack on Russia, literally going under America’s ballistic missile defenses. Poseidon is meant to be a chilling second-strike terror weapon, making a nuclear attack on Russia too terrible to contemplate.
Poseidon is expected to enter service sometime around 2027. In January, Russian state media reported Moscow will procure 32 Poseidon torpedoes, with 16 based with the country’s Northern Fleet and sixteen based with the country’s Pacific Fleet.