By Tom Davidson
A nuclear-powered underwater drone capable of destroying enemy naval bases and causing huge tsunamis is under construction in Russia, according to a state news agency.
The Poseidon will be able to carry a nuclear warhead with a capacity of up to two megatonnes, a source told TASS.
The source said: “It will be possible to mount various nuclear charges on the ‘torpedo’ of the Poseidon multipurpose seaborne system, with the thermonuclear single warhead… to have the maximum capacity of up to 2 megatonnes in TNT equivalent.”
With its nuclear munition, the underwater drone “is primarily designed to destroy reinforced naval bases of a potential enemy,” the source said. The drone will have a speed of 60-70 knots and will be operational at a depth of more than 1km. TASS has not been able to confirm the information.
Rex Richardson, a physicist, told Business Insider: “A well-placed nuclear weapon of yield in the range 20 MT to 50 MT near a sea coast could certainly couple enough energy to equal the 2011 tsunami, and perhaps much more.
“Taking advantage of the rising-sea-floor amplification effect, tsunami waves reaching 100 meters [330 feet] in height are possible.”
The Russian leader said that these drones could be armed with both conventional and nuclear munitions and would be capable of destroying enemy infrastructure, carrier-led naval forces and other objectives.
Russia’s president claimed the Poseidon will have “hardly any vulnerabilities” and said it would carry a “massive nuclear ordinance”. He added: “There is simply nothing in the world capable of withstanding them.”
Russian Navy Commander-in-Chief Sergei Korolyov later said that the new weapon would enable the fleet to accomplish a broad range of missions in waters adjacent to the enemy territory. According to the chief naval commander, the trials of the drone’s basic element, the small-sized nuclear powerplant, have already been carried out.
Poseidon drones together with their carriers make part of the so-called oceanic multipurpose system. The drone got its name following the results of open voting on the website of Russia’s Defense Ministry.