On August 19, analysts reported that new satellite images obtained by the station suggest that Russia may be preparing for a test of a nuclear-powered cruise missile, known as ‘Skyfall’ – a controversial weapon designed to defeat American defences.
The images, taken on August 16 by commercial satellite imaging company Capella Space, give “strong indications that Russia is preparing to test a cruise missile,” said Middlebury Institute experts. powered by nuclear energy”. US officials know that Russia may be preparing another test of the missile as part of its advanced weapons program, according to a source familiar with the matter.
Using a nuclear reactor would in principle give cruise missiles zero range. confined in and around US missile defence radars and interceptors.
However, there are “important questions about whether the system can work successfully, let alone the threat that testing this system could pose to the environment and human health”.
in August 2019, to recover a missile that had fallen into the White Sea resulted in an explosion that killed five Russian technicians.
At the time, satellite imagery showed the incident could be related to the development of a nuclear-powered cruise missile.
Russia conducted at least one test of a nuclear-powered cruise missile from the same location near the Arctic Circle in November 2017. Moscow is said to have carried out several more tests in the months that followed, although none were deemed successful.
In March 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin released a video of the test of a nuclear-powered cruise missile, allowing open-source researchers, including analysts at the Middlebury Institute, to identify the location
Researchers have been monitoring the site in recent months, and satellite images taken over the summer by commercial satellite imaging company Planet show cargo ships visiting the site,
More recently, Russia issued a “notice to navigation” warning of dangerous activities to be conducted from August 15 to 20 near the Burevestnik test range.
A high-resolution radar image taken on August 16 shows that “Russian personnel have erected a large environmental bunker to protect the missile and the crews are preparing to launch from time to time. harsh weather”.
“This shelter has been retracted, revealing a large object on the launch pad, possibly the SSC-X-9 Skyfall launcher,” he said. There is also a significant number of objects besides the launchpad that are likely vehicles and shipping containers.”
Russia has been modernizing its strategic nuclear weapons and distribution systems to counter the US and NATO, while reinforcing its claim to be a military power, raising fears of an arms race. another nuclear site when the US is also about to upgrade its nuclear arsenal.
While the US and Russia renewed the New START Treaty in February, shortly after President Joe Biden took office, the US withdrew from two landmark arms control treaties with Russia, the Long-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, and the New START Treaty. mid-2019 and the Open Skies Treaty in 2020.