|Type||Nuclear-powered cruise missile|
|Place of origin||Russia|
|Maximum firing range||Virtually unlimited|
The 9M730 Burevestnik (Russian: Буревестник; "Petrel", NATO reporting name: SSC-X-9 Skyfall) is a Russian experimental nuclear-powered, nuclear-armed cruise missile under development for the Russian Armed Forces. The missile is claimed to have virtually unlimited range.
The Soviet Union and later Russia have been uncertain since the 1980s to what extent their ICBM nuclear arsenal is nullified by the United States' anti-ballistic missile system Strategic Defense Initiative, proposed during the Reagan Administration and commonly known as the Star Wars program. This type of weapon flies under the ballistic weapon shield and is part of President Putin's broader program to attempt to re-balance his nuclear strike capability.
The Russian defense industry began developing an intercontinental-range nuclear-powered cruise missile capable of penetrating any interceptor-based missile defense system. It is said to have unlimited range and ability to dodge missile defenses. The name of the weapon was chosen by the unusual route of a public vote. A major stage of trials of the cruise missile of the Burevestnik complex, the tests of the nuclear power unit, were successfully completed in January 2019.
Nyonoksa radiation accident
On 9 August 2019, the Russian nuclear energy agency Rosatom confirmed a release of radiation at the State Central Navy Testing Range at Nyonoksa near Severodvinsk in northern Russia and stated it was linked to an accident involving the test of an "isotope power source for a liquid-fuelled rocket engine". Nonproliferation expert Jeffrey Lewis and Federation of American Scientists fellow Ankit Panda suspect the incident resulted from a test of the Burevestnik cruise missile. However, the researcher Michael Kofman, Fellow at the Wilson Center disputed the assertions, and believes the explosion was probably not related to Burevestnik. Five weapons scientists were killed in the accident.
On 26 August, Aleksei Karpov, Russia's envoy to international organizations in Vienna, stated that the accident was linked to the development of weapons which Russia had to begin creating as "one of the tit-for-tat measures in the wake of the United States' withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty".
On 10 October, Thomas DiNanno, member of the United States delegation to the United Nations General Assembly First Committee, stated that the "August 8th 'Skyfall' incident [...] was the result of a nuclear reaction that occurred during the recovery of a Russian nuclear-powered cruise missile", which "remained on the bed of the White Sea since its failed test early last year".
- Supersonic Low Altitude Missile – an American project to develop a nuclear-powered cruise missile, cancelled in 1964
- Project Pluto – the nuclear ramjet engine development program for the above
- Status-6 Oceanic Multipurpose System (Poseidon) – a Russian nuclear torpedo / drone submarine, also built around a miniature nuclear propulsion unit
- Panda, Ankit [@nktpnd] (20 November 2018). "Update from a source: Russia's Burevestnik nuclear-powered cruise missile has a NATO designator – SSC-X-9 SKYFALL. (USIC also calls this missile the KY30.)" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
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- Digges, Charles (20 August 2019). "Russian radiation detectors went dark in wake of mysterious explosion". Bellona Foundation.
- "Ракета 9М730 / Крылатая ракета с ЯЭУ". militaryrussia.ru (in Russian). 4 March 2018.