Russia is preparing to begin flight tests on prototypes of the enhanced Burevestnik (“Thunderbird”) cruise missiles. The missiles are powered by a nuclear engine, and have virtually “unlimited” range.
The tests were announced on Thursday by the Russian Defense Ministry.
“Based on the refined specifications, we are improving the construction of the missile components,carrying out ground tests on them, and preparing for flight tests on missile prototypes,” the department stated.
“At the same time, we are developing the technical means for preparing and executing launches, and improving the technological manufacturing, assembly and testing processes. The work we are doing will make it possible to transition to the creation of a fundamentally new type of weapon – a strategic nuclear weapon complex with a nuclear-powered missile,” the military department explained.
Sergey Pertsev, a senior researcher in the Russian Defense Ministry, said that the tests would enable Russian scientists, engineers and manufacturers to confirm the correctness of their technical decisions, and to “gain the valuable experimental information needed to refine the specifications for the product and the system as a whole”.
The Russian Defense Ministry claims that a nuclear warhead-bearing stealth cruise missile with virtually unlimited range would be invulnerable to all existing and prospective anti-missile and anti-air defense systems.