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The Military

Pentagon Document Confirms Existence of Russian Doomsday Torpedo (popularmechanics.com) 375

Popular Mechanics reports that "a key U.S. nuclear weapons document confirms that the Russian government is developing the most powerful nuclear weapon in more than a half century...a 'new intercontinental, nuclear-armed undersea autonomous torpedo'" with a range of 6,200 miles. But what really makes "Kanyon" nightmare fuel is the drone torpedo's payload: a 100-megaton thermonuclear weapon. By way of comparison, the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima was 16 kilotons, or the equivalent of 16,000 tons of TNT. Kanyon's nuke would be the equivalent of 100,000,000 tons of TNT. That's twice as powerful as Tsar Bomba, the most powerful thermonuclear weapon ever tested. Dropped on New York City, a 100-megaton bomb would kill 8 million people outright and injure 6 million more.

Kanyon is designed to attack coastal areas, destroying cities, naval bases, and ports. The mega-bomb would also generate an artificial tsunami that would surge inland, spreading radioactive contamination with the advancing water. To make matters worse there are reports the warhead is "salted" with the radioactive isotope Cobalt-60. Contaminated areas would be off-limits to humanity for up to 100 years.

Slashdot reader schwit1 adds that "being sea-based makes it immune to ballistic missile defense."
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Pentagon Document Confirms Existence of Russian Doomsday Torpedo

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  • by dryriver ( 1010635 ) on Sunday January 21, 2018 @10:38AM (#55971637)
    Can it?
    • "Pentagon Document Confirms Existence of Russian Doomsday Torpedo"

      I would be be far more worried about this if it was a Russian document, of any sort. The headline basically says "The Pentagon thinks the Russians have this torpedo". If I wrote "I am Donald Trump" on a piece of Pentagon-headed paper, it wouldn't make it true, now would it?

      Same with recent "dossiers"...

      • Re:Hmmm (Score:5, Insightful)

        by TheDarkMaster ( 1292526 ) on Sunday January 21, 2018 @12:27PM (#55972085)
        It looks too much like "Hey, look!! The evil child-eating communists are deploying bigger doomsday weapons!!! We must spend another trillion dollars in weapons NOW!!!" (many time later someone points that the document about the russian weapon is fake or just speculation, but it does not matter anymore because money has already created new millionaires)
        • Re:Hmmm (Score:5, Informative)

          by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Sunday January 21, 2018 @03:31PM (#55973055)

          I decided to read TFA, and it appears you are correct. The document in question compares the number of “New Nuclear Delivery Vehicles Over the Past Decade” between Russia, China, North Korea, and the US. The other three countries show numerous new ways to kill Americans, while the US section is woefully blank except for one only little blip in the far right corner.

          It really is apparent the referenced one-page infographic’s sole purpose is to convince politicians that we need to spend lots of money on new nukes.

          I wouldn’t be surprised if the back side of the sheet had some sort of graphic spelling out the economic damage all those unemployed Bechtel engineers are inflicting on the US economy.

      • The Pentagon is warning us about a new weapon enemies have. Good way to get funding.
        Kind of the same way antivirus companies sell lots of software during a new scare.
  • by harvey the nerd ( 582806 ) on Sunday January 21, 2018 @10:43AM (#55971647)
    WTF is going over there, Vlad ? Are you guys having some kind of retro movie festival (Dr Strangelove, Wargames, On the Beach) with free vodka and meth ?

    Large exchanges of salted weapons is mindlessly catastrophic.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Brett Buck ( 811747 )

      What the hell do you expect from the former head of the KGB? They were monsters from day one, and that hasn't changed.

      • KABOOM, comrade! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by TiggertheMad ( 556308 ) on Sunday January 21, 2018 @02:10PM (#55972593) Homepage Journal
        Putin isn't a lunatic who wants to end the world. He has murdered and robbed his way to the top, and he very much wants to retire with all his loot somewhere and enjoy it. Greedy materialists aren't really the type to want to destroy the world. North Korea isn't likely to shoot first unless Kim thinks that the US is about to kill him, and Putin is no different. His life is great, he has an entire country under his thumb. Both of these guys are monsters, but they are somewhat predictable in that they have motivation to want to keep their money, power, and health intact. They will act to preserve these things first and foremost.

        Any investigation into doomsday weapons will be colored by these motivations. A super torpedo would be very, very slow compared to a ICBM. It would also be very large, and if detected in transit, it would give an opponent quite a bit of time to react. Moreover, there is the Dr.Strangelove problem: Unless you tell everyone about it, it serves as no deterrent so you cannot keep it secret. By telling people about it, you are giving them a first strike target and making it less likely that it will survive to complete its mission. This weapon is also limited to hitting coastal targets, that is quite a limitation.

        This seems like a really expensive and risky weapon to construct. Wouldn't it just be simpler to restart the nuclear arms race, and start cranking out thousands and thousands of more conventional nuclear weapons to saturate anti-missile systems? You only need one or two to connect with a target.

        However, this doomsday weapon is a great disinformation weapon if you want to 'leak' its existence and cause your opponents to worry. How much time and money will they spend trying to detect and defend from such a weapon?
        • He did organise the risky annexation of the Crimean peninsula though. He's an oppressive tyrant, we all know this - but that doesn't mean he is acting entirely selfishly. Perhaps he really does believe in rebuilding the glory of Russia and his people. A superweapon could be a valuable tool in achieving this aim, as it would reduce the risk of NATO getting involved in any further conquests for fear of escalation.

          • by quax ( 19371 )

            The Russian public opinion clearly regarded Crimea as Russian. As bad as he is, there are worse hardliner than Vlad, and he needs to keep them at bay.

            He is not an old school imperialist, but his fear of NATO encirclement is real.

            • The Crimean public opinion clearly regarded Crimea as Russian. Not all of it, sure. But the majority. Crimea was illegally separated from Russia. Russia just took it back.

        • Not to mention that nukes don't work that way in diplomacy. They're only useful for deterrence, or if you intend to start a nuclear war, which Putin isn't. Other than that, they're pretty much useless. So it's a new way to deliver a really big nuke; it's still just a way to deliver a nuke.

          In 1982, Britain and Argentina fought over the Falklands (or Malvinas, as you prefer). The fact that Britain is a nuclear power, and quite capable of annihilating Buenos Aires simply didn't play a part.

    • Maybe the past year show of nuclear force and ballistic missile defense on the part of the US before North Korea gave Russia strong incentive to build something of importance.
      • by CrimsonAvenger ( 580665 ) on Sunday January 21, 2018 @12:07PM (#55971991)

        Maybe the past year show of nuclear force and ballistic missile defense on the part of the US before North Korea gave Russia strong incentive to build something of importance.

        Umm, no.

        Assuming this isn't someone's fantasy, it wasn't developed in the last year. It would probably have had to be in development for a decade or two.

        Note also that it's never been tested. And I'm not talking about the bomb, I'm talking about the torpedo. Until it goes through a real test, it's not worth wasting time with.

        And then there's the bomb. Until one is detonated, you never really know if it'll work as designed. And one hasn't been detonated....

        • And then there's the bomb. Until one is detonated, you never really know if it'll work as designed. And one hasn't been detonated....

          Not really. A common-or-garden H-bomb has a yield of a few MT. To achieve more BANG! the thermonuclear core is surrounded by more fissile material. Essentially it is an atomic bomb to initiate the fusion weapon and then more fission. I do not know if there is an upper limit, apart from a practical limit on the device's weight, to how much this scales.

        • by sphealey ( 2855 )

          = = = And then there's the bomb. Until one is detonated, you never really know if it'll work as designed. And one hasn't been detonated....= = =

          The Soviet Union conducted an atmospheric test of a weaponized device with a nominal 100 MT yield. Actual yield was around 65 MT - sufficient for the pressure pulse to cause damage hundreds of kilometers away - reputedly because a non-fissionable metal was substituted for uranium in the jacket of the final stage. Google "Tsar Bomba" for details.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by stabiesoft ( 733417 )
          The Tsar bomb was detonated, and the scientists went against orders and made it smaller than it was supposed to be. As I recall the original design called for 100MT. The scientists were concerned at 100MT, it would set the atmosphere on fire. I completely believe both the US and Russia are more than capable of building 100MT nuke. The torpedo I don't know. But again, seems like fairly old tech. Frankly the real problem I see with stopping nuclear proliferation is it has become old tech. Like most tech, stuf
          • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 ) on Sunday January 21, 2018 @04:40PM (#55973487)

            You're conflating a few different things.

            There was some thought by US scientists that the first nuke test might start the atmosphere on fire.

            The tsar bomba was designed with a max yield of 100 megatonnes if the jacket material was uranium. But that would cause a huge amount of fallout so they tested it with an inert casing, which made it one of the cleanest nukes ever detonated, proportionally.

            Everyone stopped making giant nukes because they're pointless. It's better in pretty much every way to scatter lots of little ones than detonate one big one. Which is what makes this story so unlikely to be true.

        • Until one is detonated, you never really know if it'll work as designed. And one hasn't been detonated....

          Oh, I think we've got you covered [wikipedia.org].

        • by Cederic ( 9623 )

          Note also that it's never been tested. And I'm not talking about the bomb, I'm talking about the torpedo. Until it goes through a real test, it's not worth wasting time with.

          How do you know? It's not exactly hard to test. Launch it in the South Atlantic, see if it gets home.

        • Sadly, I will bet that the torpedo HAS been tested. Send it from Parts of EUrope to Cuba, with no warhead.
          This would have to be nuclear powered.
    • The US has been riling up NATO against Russia for some time now. You had the whole debacle of trying to force all NATO countries to spend 2% of their GDP on their defence budget, even though the US alone has an ~8x larger military budget than Russia. Then you have the new military activity along their border, such as the deployment of US soldiers to Værnes in Norway, even though there are already NATO bases along most of the Russian border. Then the US spent most of the past couple of years accusing Ru
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by haruchai ( 17472 )

        How about by not fucking meddling & fixing my own domestic problems?
        Russia's been playing games a long time, long before Obama was elected.
        Aside from oil, Russia has nothing America wants & they can get it in trade. If they should be worried about anyone, it should be the 2 very large nearby nations filled with billions of brown & yellow people and who also have nukes.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 21, 2018 @12:00PM (#55971963)

        Exactly, this is America's fault.

        Did Russia invade and annex the Crimea? No. It was America.

        Was MH17 shot down by a Russian missile? No. It was American.

        Has Russia violated numerous trade encumbrances with North Korea? No. America has.

        Has Russia provided North Korea with nuclear missile technology? No. It's all American.

        Does Russia have a troll farm trying to exploit divisions in rival countries in an effort to destabilize them? No. That's the American way.

      • by Kjella ( 173770 )

        The US has been riling up NATO against Russia for some time now. You had the whole debacle of trying to force all NATO countries to spend 2% of their GDP on their defence budget, even though the US alone has an ~8x larger military budget than Russia.

        IMHO that was way overdue. The US went to war all over the globe to stop the spread of global communism, so naturally they'd aid Europe if they came under attack by the Soviet Union. But after the Soviet Union fell most of Europe has massively cut their military spending relying on US backing through NATO, while the US has lost their main ideological reason to send their soldiers to fight in our wars. The Ukraine/Crimea situation became the opportunity to remind the other NATO members that it's a mutual def

        • by Archtech ( 159117 ) on Sunday January 21, 2018 @05:08PM (#55973673)

          The US went to war all over the globe to stop the spread of global communism...

          Yes, and that worked out really well. One of the classic cases, of course, was Vietnam. Several US presidents and other Washington officials solemnly assured us that, if "the commies" were allowed to "overrun" their own country, there would immediately ensue a "Domino Effect" with all the rest of South-East Asia going communist, followed by India, the Middle East, Africa, Europe, South America... and eventually they would come for the good ol' loveable US billionaires and take away their hard-earned dollars to give to worthless starving poor people.

          Anything was preferable, so the USA spent over a decade and about 50,000 of their own soldiers' lives to kill over 3 million Vietnamese, Cambodians and Laotians while destroying villages, farms, and forests with napalm, Agent Orange and other pleasant substances.

          And when they finally got ignominiously kicked out, having to fight for places on the last helicopters out, what happened? How many nations did the Domino Effect claim? Did the Red Tide reach the shores of the USA? South America? Africa? Europe? India?

          No, it didn't. So those 3 million people died for nothing at all, except to boost the MICC's profits and to prove that the Domino Theory was complete and utter nonsense.

  • wpold be more effectivw

  • Part of Ronald Reagan's "Star Wars" program was satellite based ballistic missile defense. I've seen little sign that its various researched programs ever worked, but there were several theoretical programs, such as the nuclear device triggered orbital X-ray lasyers, that might theoretically have been effective against such an attack. Part of the difficulty is that such a "defensive" technology is far easier to target against ground targets than against moving ballistic missiles: it would have constituted a

    • The speed of that torpedo is 100 knots (180 km/h), much less than an ICBM. However it could be launched from a submarine close to the US coast.
      • Why launch anything. Blow it underwater in the harbor. 100MT is a lot
        • Well, you have to launch it from your submarine anyway - you don't want it to detonate on top of you, do you?
          • by Hal_Porter ( 817932 ) on Sunday January 21, 2018 @12:02PM (#55971979)

            The whole story sounds like complete and utter bollocks quite frankly.

            Consider

            1) How big is the torpedo. There's a picture of the original Tsar Bomba here

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

            It's enormous. Way larger than a torpedo tube.

            2) How far away from the launching submarine would 100 Mt warhead need to be? 100 Mt is obviously an enormous amount and explosions under water are more damaging.

            3) How is an 'intercontinental torpedo' propelled? It seems the propulsion system would add more weight to an already heavy concept

            4) How is it guided? GPS won't work because it's underwater. Submarines use all sorts of subtle techniques like passive sonar to avoid revealing their location and ultra low frequency radio transmissions. A human crew on a sub can do this. It's far from clear a drone submarine is viable

            5) Why salt the bomb? That would poison the oceans over a vast area.

            It just sounds like the Russians have leaked this in attempt to make the US give up on missile defence. There's no evidence this project got funded. And Russia is so cash strapped it didn't even an SLBM subs patrolling as recently as 2006. Putin has pushed for new SLBMs and new subs to put them with the result the US no longer has nuclear primacy but that process was not exactly embarrassment free - tests failed for a while.

            E.g. here in 2013

            https://www.military.com/defen... [military.com]

            The idea Russia is going to get what is effectively a drone submarine working anytime soon when it seemed to have significant teething troubles doing what was the Russian equivalent of an Ohio class replacement is absurd. Most likely they're bullshitting in the hope it gives the US left an excuse to say that 'ballistic missile defence can't non ballistic missile threats, therefore it's not worth doing'.

            Actually what it reminds me of is the US announcement of 'Star Wars' aka SDI. It wasn't technically practical then but the Russians didn't know that. If you read Gorbachev's autobiography him and Shevardnadze used SDI to make the case that the USSR had lost the Cold War and it was time to surrender. Rumours of this device are presumably intended to cause the same sentiment in the US.

            • by Orgasmatron ( 8103 ) on Sunday January 21, 2018 @12:21PM (#55972063)

              Actually what it reminds me of is the US announcement of 'Star Wars' aka SDI. It wasn't technically practical then but the Russians didn't know that. If you read Gorbachev's autobiography him and Shevardnadze used SDI to make the case that the USSR had lost the Cold War and it was time to surrender. Rumours of this device are presumably intended to cause the same sentiment in the US.

              SDI was part of the Strategy of Technology [wikipedia.org]. It was an economic strategy, not a military one. The wikipedia page is awful, by the way. I only link to it to show that it was a real thing that people took seriously. To learn about it, it is better to go straight to the source [jerrypournelle.com].

              The goal here isn't to demoralize us, it is to force us to spend money to develop underwater anti-drone technology.

              Unfortunately for them, I think it will backfire. We can afford it. We'll end up with underwater drones and underwater anti-drones and our economic growth will still outpace Russia.

            • It is only named 'torpedo'.
              It does not mean it is launched from a sub from a torpedo tube.
              It could be launched from a port in Russia, and then need 2 days to reach its target.
              The propulsion could be nucear, after all it is a small submarine.
              Navigation via ineritita navigation plus magnetic field detection. Basically every cube meter of ocean water and especially sea floor is mapped for the orientation of the earth magnetic field.
              So: navigation is most likely the most simplest problem.

              • Basically every cube meter of ocean water and especially sea floor is mapped for the orientation of the earth magnetic field.

                ...which has been changing substantially of late. It's normal for it to change, but right now it's changing a lot.

                I think you have to get it pretty close manually. That means attaching it to another vessel somehow. It doesn't necessarily mean putting it into a torpedo tube. You could put it into a missile tube, if you wanted to.

            • Regarding SDI, you must be a moron.
              If the russians are good at some things then it is math, physics, making robust tech from thin air and Vodka.
              They likely know more about any imaginary space weaponary than the US ever will.

            • If it is fast enough it would not need to try to be stealthy in attack mode, but the propulsion method seems to be the key logistics issue.

              My guess is that it would be more of a manned submarine that has a 100MT warhead built in, and the crew is sacrificial.

            • You forgot to add that US attack subs and various deployed sonar systems from ships, planes and undersea installations routinely follow all Russian subs from the time the leave their base to the time they return. It's not difficult, as there aren't very many of them any more and it gives the attack sub commanders something to do.

              Like you say, this is more of an imagined threat than a real one.

            • Ivy Mike weighed 82 tonnes and was the size of an aircraft hangar.

              So obviously there's no way they'll ever be able to produce any hydrogen warhead that can be carried by a missile or torpedo.

            • by Cederic ( 9623 )

              It's enormous. Way larger than a torpedo tube.

              So tow it behind the sub. Grab onto it with external brackets. Launch it from a large surface ship. Drop it in the water in Murmansk and let it drive to New York.

              2) How far away from the launching submarine would 100 Mt warhead need to be?

              6200 miles is probably enough.

              3) How is an 'intercontinental torpedo' propelled? It seems the propulsion system would add more weight to an already heavy concept

              I'm guessing they put an engine of some form onto it.

              Weight is less of a concern in the sea. Things weighing 97000 tons float on top of it, I'm guessing this will come in a bit lighter.

              4) How is it guided? GPS won't work because it's underwater. Submarines use all sorts of subtle techniques like passive sonar to avoid revealing their location and ultra low frequency radio transmissions. A human crew on a sub can do this. It's far from clear a drone submarine is viable

              With a 100MT detonation you don't need to be terribly precise. Not to mention ease with which you could just float up a GPS receiver (o

            • It's not a torpedo. It's a really large undersea drone.

              It avoids one issue you might have with a sub-launched nuclear torpedo, namely that underwater nukes would probably be a suicide mission for any sub crew launching them.

              I don't know what level of communications are really feasible with subs, but I'd expect this to be primarily programmed navigation, with occasional coded status/location reports and the ability for remote controllers to choose from a set of pre-programmed changes at appropriate decision
          • by Goetterdaemmerung ( 140496 ) on Sunday January 21, 2018 @12:03PM (#55971981)

            Well, you have to launch it from your submarine anyway - you don't want it to detonate on top of you, do you?

            This is a "Drone Torpedo" capable of 6,200mile range. It *is* the submarine.

  • Murphy's Law (Score:3, Insightful)

    by InterGuru ( 50986 ) <jhd AT interguru DOT com> on Sunday January 21, 2018 @10:51AM (#55971675) Homepage

    Murphy's Law, everything that can go wrong will go wrong, has not been abolished. Nuclear weapons have prevented major wars for 70 years, but this may be the conservation of catastrophe. Putting out many small forest fires builds up to a huge one. Connecting our cities to a large electric grid stops frequent small blackouts but builds up to occasional huge, multi-state blackouts.

    • Re:Murphy's Law (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Alain Williams ( 2972 ) <addw@phcomp.co.uk> on Sunday January 21, 2018 @11:11AM (#55971775) Homepage

      Nuclear weapons have prevented major wars for 70 years

      5 years ago I planted a greengage tree in my back garden. I have not had an elephant sit on my fence in 5 years. Behold the protective effect of my greengage tree.

      Correlation is not causation.

      • by djinn6 ( 1868030 )

        Nuclear weapons have prevented major wars for 70 years

        5 years ago I planted a greengage tree in my back garden. I have not had an elephant sit on my fence in 5 years. Behold the protective effect of my greengage tree.

        Correlation is not causation.

        Being afraid of being nuked into oblivion is plenty of reason not to start a major war. We have lots of evidence that people behave in a self-preserving manner, and we have 70 years of history that corroborates the MAD theory. If that's not enough proof for some people, that's okay, since in real life, no one will ever prove causation sufficiently to satisfy a nut-job.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        I planted one too at about the same time as you and ever since then I can't get rid of the god damned elephants!

        What's your secret??

    • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Sunday January 21, 2018 @11:52AM (#55971941)
      globalism is. The Aristocracy is global now. They don't own countries, they own the world. More specifically they have property all throughout the world and don't want to see it blown up. They'll allow a few bush fire style conflicts to keep war profiteering going (Iraq, Afghanistan, etc) and they'll put down rebellions (Yemen) but they won't allow another full scale war to dip into their profits and break their stuff and, well, they're the aristocracy so they're in charge.

      Hell, maybe about a decade ago Pakistan basically looked the other way while a major terrorist incident happened in India and nothing came of it. That's because an India/Pakistan war would be bad for business.
      • by gordguide ( 307383 ) on Sunday January 21, 2018 @12:38PM (#55972125)

        I like your use of the word "allow" and the phrase "they won't allow". It's quaint.

        History tells us, and with startling consistency, that wars don't start based on who allows what, they don't play out based on who allows what, and they don't end based on who allows what.

        They start because of brinkmanship (check), territorial ambitions (check) and unexpected, often improbable and generally unanticipated (by both sides) events which lead to ad-hoc responses that weren't in the playbook devised by those who plan for such things.

        They play out in such a way that the weaker employs tactics that negate the stronger's advantages, and the stronger applies force that the weaker doesn't possess. Lord help everyone if there is no demonstrably weaker and stronger side, because then the Shit Really Hits The Fan, and for longer than everyone, often including the eventual losers, would like.

        The latter often means bigger and nastier weapons, often of a type yet deployed in battle, because ... well ... it's a perfect proving ground, there's a justification (to win the war and save {our side's / innocent civilians / the enemy's conscripted soldiers etc} lives ... and interested minds want to know how effective the thing is, and what's the weakness we need to engineer out for the next war, or this one, if it lasts long enough.

        Today we have a complex web of alliances and treaties that tends to prevent big conflicts by addressing small ones, but when the improbable and unexpected happens, that just means you get a bigger war. Throw in some widely held beliefs about the other side (one widely held by America's foes is that the US domestic population can't stand a prolonged conflict and will force political concessions to the enemy), regardless if they are actually true or not.

        Really, I don't see much "allowing" going on. More like stumbling, guessing, thrashing, and suffering. Oh, and let's not forget the best one of all, "testing".

        • you might have been right. The aristocracy couldn't coordinate and communicate. Misunderstandings would happen and could escalate. Like a certain arch duke being assassinated. But that's not true anymore. The wealthy don't fear each other. They work together. Sure wish the working class would do the same.
      • globalism

        Unless of course we are actually fighting a war now - but nobody recognises it?

        What is the point of conquering an adversary and having to go to the trouble and expense of occupying it, suppressing it and only then being able to exploit it. When you can simply buy it, or its assets without causing damage. It seems to have the same beneficial results but without the hassle.

        Maybe the "war" we have been fighting for the past 20, 30 ... 40 years is one of economic conquest rather than military conquest. The

        • Interesting angle.

          Trans-national efforts (wars, colonization) are done for few reasons (this isn't an exhaustive list but I think the most weighted issues):

          1) Glorification of the leader
          2) Improvement of the country's economic status, which ancillarily benefits the population
          3) Turning young men's aggressive tendencies and tribalism outwards instead of inwards to the country

          Economic conquest satisfies 1) and 2). I think 3) has been solved for Europe and Asia with the slaughter of nearly a 100 million peopl

  • "being sea-based makes it immune to ballistic missile defense."

    What would its performance be in a situation whereby a target is inundated with hundreds of such missiles?

    That's why I sometimes laugh when I hear our PHBs brag about the marvelous missile defense systems we in the USA have. The Russians must be laughing even harder.

    • by Jeremi ( 14640 ) on Sunday January 21, 2018 @11:03AM (#55971743) Homepage

      Our missile defense systems are designed to deter the guys who can launch one, or a handful of missiles (read: Iran or, until recently, North Korea). They were never seriously expected to defend against a full-scale Russian attack.

      • The US does have an effective defence against a full-scale Russian attack. They have their own missiles, and procedures for a final retaliatory strike. That's how deterrence works: "I can't win this war, but I can sure as hell make you lose."

    • I've never heard anyone every brag about "marvelous missile defense systems".

      The closest I've every heard have been counter-battery systems, where the missiles/shells origin point is pounded by artillery. But that's just about preventing launch #2.

  • by alvinrod ( 889928 ) on Sunday January 21, 2018 @10:57AM (#55971705)
    Considering that this is a torpedo and those travel through and under water, does it really make sense to talk about what a 100 megaton atomic weapon would do if it were dropped on a city?

    Something like this is scary enough in its own rights, if only because there may not be as good of defenses in place which make it individually more likely to succeed, but even a much smaller warhead would be effective if it came to nuclear war. Never mind that if we're in that situation at all, both the U.S. and Russia already have enough conventional nuclear weapons to destroy each other several times over and neither of us could stop the others entire arsenal.
    • by Jeremi ( 14640 )

      Considering that this is a torpedo and those travel through and under water, does it really make sense to talk about what a 100 megaton atomic weapon would do if it were dropped on a city?

      New York city is located on the coast, so yes. If you're quibbling about the altitude of the detonation, I don't think it matters that much with a 100 megaton payload. At 2000 feet ASL or -100 feet, New York would be toast.

    • by gweihir ( 88907 )

      Indeed. Probably one of the reasons this design (if it actually exists) needs a warhead this big to be effective at all. Sound much more to me that some (utterly insane) people stand to benefit from this rumor, for example by being the ones that supply the designs the US uses to counter this.

      A pity we cannot identify (and then reliably contain) such people at birth.

    • Something like this is scary enough in its own rights, if only because there may not be as good of defenses in place which make it individually more likely to succeed,

      Russians can build supersonic torpedoes. If they can build intercontinental supersonic torpedoes, that dramatically changes the nuclear superiority game. We could detect it coming with our sonar network, but we probably couldn't stop it without bombing the shit out of the ocean, if even that would work.

    • by c ( 8461 )

      Considering that this is a torpedo and those travel through and under water, does it really make sense to talk about what a 100 megaton atomic weapon would do if it were dropped on a city?

      It might not be easy, but I imagine something like this could be built with a secondary booster to launch out of the water when it reaches the coast and detonate a few miles inland.

      But it's not necessary for attacking a port city. Once you wipe out the docks and surrounding infrastructure, you've basically destroyed the u

      • Probably easier to just make it really, really big. Say, 100MT. The destructive potential might be slightly lessened with a sub-optimal detonation altitude, but that's still enough boom to wipe out a city. 100MT is huge, even by nuclear standards.

  • Title makes it sound like some kind of a secret

  • by king neckbeard ( 1801738 ) on Sunday January 21, 2018 @11:03AM (#55971745)

    I don't find this scary in and of itself because we're already at the point where we could destroy human civilization several times over, and have been for decades. I'm far more concerned that so many are goading Trump into escalating with Russia to "prove" he isn't a puppet.

    Such information being made public so quickly seems to be in line with the "make people fear the Russians" campaign that's been going on since the election. Normally, this kind of thing would be classified (we overclassify EVERYTHING, and Russian nuclear capabilities is a legit secret), so a public release likely indicates an attempt to shape policy. IIRC, US intel overestimated the number of Soviet nukes by an order of magnitude, which made an easy sell for building a fuckton of nukes.

    Yes, Putin is bad. Russia is bad. That doesn't mean we should trust something the Pentagon releases.

    • > Trump into escalating with Russia to "prove" he isn't a puppet. I'd think the fact that the whole "colluding" thing has crashed and burned as a GPS Fusion scam paid for by the DNC has fixed that well enough.
  • It's not like manned submarines are immune to getting lost and into possibly the wrong hands - but unmanned drones will be even more likely to lose contact, getting lost and later found by someone who sells them to those willing to put some effort into hacking the fuse. Sounds like a new generation of "ransomware" will emerge - like "transfer us $$$$$$$$$ or we'll detonate the flotsam we just got hold of"...
  • Does anyone know whether this weapon (assuming it actually exists) would fall within any of the current US-Russia arms control treaties?
  • by wisebabo ( 638845 ) on Sunday January 21, 2018 @11:18AM (#55971797) Journal

    At first thought, it would appear that this wouldn't be suited at all as a first strike weapon. Despite the immense damage it would cause, it would not directly cripple a retaliatory strike. The U.S.'s bombers and missiles are far inland and it would only sink the nuclear subs that happened to be in port nearby.

    However, it COULD be used to decapitate much of the the political "leadership" (if one were to call the Trump administration that) and also much of the military leadership if it were detonated right off of Washington D.C. In fact, assuming that it could get close enough to be used (which of course is the only way it could be useful) it would be an almost instantaneous first strike weapon. Unlike a ballistic missile launched from a sub offshore on a depressed trajectory (5 min.?) or a nuke disguised as a satellite that suddenly de-orbits (20 min.?) it would be able to wipe out its target with too little time to escape. That, coupled with a "normal" first strike that would take out the land based bombers and missiles might be enough to keep the retaliation to a minimum. Or in the words of General 'Buck' Turgidson, "10-20 million (casualties) tops. Sure (they'd) get their hair mussed but (they'd) win".

    Insane? Well so is the idea of an autonomous (meaning I presume there's no way to call it back) doomsday torpedo. Sounds like one could remake "The Hunt for Red October" with just a few changes; a robotic submarine capable of ending the world (or just the coast of many large nations) is accidentally launched and it must be found and destroyed before it gets within range (or becomes sentient).

    Since Russia isn't nearly as vulnerable as the U.S. from coastal attacks but seems to be way behind and falling further in space technology (thanks Elon!); why not put a big rock in the sky that, with just a little nudge, would fall down the gravity well and give a non-radioactive 100MT blast? Or, if the Russians are going to go ahead and violate the nuclear arms treaty (I'm pretty sure developing a whole new strategic nuclear weapon system is not allowed), use America's lead in new biotechnologies that could target specific regions or exact populations (I'd tell you how but probably not best to talk about such things publicly).

    • Just to clarify, by "put a big rock in the sky" I don't mean literally lift a large rock up there; until we have anti-gravity (or a space elevator) that'll be way too expensive. Instead, just find an appropriate sized NEO asteroid and, using a (very big) and slow ion engine or mass driver, bring it into a chaotic orbit between the earth and the moon. That was NASA's goal until Trump; to bring a (much much smaller) asteroid into cis-lunar space. It can then just be "nudged" carefully of course to impact i

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      With ICBMs it's easy to see who launched them and retaliate. With a torpedo it's more difficult... Okay, only Russia has these, but if one takes you by surprise can you be sure it wasn't a Chinese submarine launching a shorter range one or on some kind of suicide mission? And in a decade or two other countries will have nuclear armed drones too.

    • Won't we still have second strike capability though? The vast network of nuclear missiles in the American West and the nuclear missile submarines. Sure, it would not be instantaneous, but eventually systems would come back online, the population would be clamoring for vengeance on those who carried this out, and we'd have massive targeted strikes on wherever Russian political and military leaders were thought to be.

      The world would sink into WWIII.

  • "Contaminated areas would be off-limits to humanity for up to 100 years. "

    That would launch a planetary destruction and no humanity would be left to wait for a hundred years.

  • by SigIO ( 139237 ) on Sunday January 21, 2018 @11:56AM (#55971959)

    While the article, true or not, is ripe with fearmongering...I wonder what our geopolitical rivals have to say about our undeclared "Doomsday" arsenal.

  • People should watch "The Power of Nightmares" and learn about Team B, a set of Ronald Regan advisers who made up a bunch of shit about Russia and gave them capabilities they didn't have.

    You remember the Caterpillar drive from Hunt From Red October? That came from a real Team B memo, where they couldn't identify all the Russian submarines, so they assumed they must have some super secret silent drive that makes them undetectable. Not the obvious answer of "We over estimated the number of Russian submarines."

    • I am with you on this one.

      There have been many claimed bizarre Soviet/Russian super weapons that never existed. The mighty Soviet particle beam program. Red mercury. Vast nuclear armed ABM networks that rendered U.S. weapons impotent. And an incredible civil defense program that was able to protect every Soviet citizen under ground with a years worth of food creating the conditions for a Soviet first strike.

      First problem is the fundamental ridiculousness of the described weapon from any military or strateg

    • I don't know how that drive is called in english, but it exists.
      It uses the MHD effdect and propells the water around the vessel backward, it is extremely inefficient, that is why no one uses it.

    • The ultimate source of all this stuff is the reliably unreliable Bill Gertz formerly with the Moonie paper Washington Times and now with the right-wing rag Washington Free Beacon. Gertz is a conspiracy theorist who has a long history of "breaking" nonsense stories of horrible new super weapons in the hands of our potential adversaries that turn out to be vapor.

  • Underwater explosion can't create any remotely dangerous tsunamis. Look it up.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by iggymanz ( 596061 )

      obligatory XKCD what-if: https://what-if.xkcd.com/15/ [xkcd.com]

      Summary: even with twice Tsar-bomb level yields, trying to create a wave dangerous to cities is a waste of a good nuke. Instead just nuke a city with ordinary sized nukes, it'll ruin inhabitant's day in a much worse manner

  • Wants on too!

    We have a Doomsday Weapons Gap!

  • So this thing is slow, can only get at the coasts, and with a boom that big, there'd be no doubt the Russians did it. Thus, 40 minutes later, they die.
    • by Cederic ( 9623 )

      I believe the main benefit is that the US can no longer launch first, relying on its ABM defences to prevent retaliation.

      With this thing around, they can still launch first, but only if they're willing to wave goodbye to major US coastal cities.

  • Dr. Strangelove: Of course, the whole point of a Doomsday Machine is lost, if you *keep* it a *secret*! Why didn't you tell the world, EH? Ambassador de Sadesky: It was to be announced at the Party Congress on Monday. As you know, the Premier loves surprises.
  • So Russia with a GDP the size of Italy is now magically creating wonder weapons like this? Looks like oropaganda to me.
  • "Cobalt thorium G has a radioactive half-life of ninety three years. If you take, say, fifty H-bombs in the hundred megaton range and jacket them with cobalt thorium G, when they are exploded they will produce a doomsday shroud. A lethal cloud of radioactivity which will encircle the earth for ninety three years!"

    "Mr. President, we must not allow a mine shaft gap!"

  • Fewer marketplaces when the Russian mafia sells the fuel. I think a better deterrent would be a plethora of rural civilization bootstrapping stations. Some of the robots predicted to take all the jobs can manage not to live in cities.
  • Because of it's yield, minimum safe distance to fire that thing would be like 500 miles, and with a range of 6000 miles, the torpedo must look more like a small submarine. On top of that, the top speed of something that size is only going to be 30 knots or so. A few hundred sonar buoys/beacons up and down each coast in a grid from 100 miles offshore to 400 miles offshore (ideally a moving grid, so you never know where a buoy will be) and you can intercept this behemoth with anti sub weapons deployed from

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