Putin's much-hyped nuclear-powered cruise missile still isn't working right as Russia restarts testing

Russian President Vladimir Putin test firing the Chukavin SVCh sniper rifle in September 2018.Russian President Vladimir Putin test firing the Chukavin SVCh sniper rifle in September 2018.Reuters

  • Russia is again testing its Burevestnik nuclear-powered cruise missile, according to The Diplomat.
  • The first test of the year and the thirteenth test overall took place on Jan. 29. The result was characterized as "partially successful," indicating that problems persist.
  • The arms race between the US and Russia is heating up over conflicts on missile defense and the end of a nuclear arms agreement.

Russia is reportedly back to testing its much-hyped nuclear-powered cruise missile after a pause last summer.

The Russians on Jan. 29 tested the Burevestnik cruise missile, which is reportedly powered by nuclear reaction; it's NATO designation is SSC-X-9 SKYFALL, The Diplomat reported Tuesday, citing US government sources with knowledge of Russia's weapons programs.

The test, the first of this year and the thirteenth overall, was apparently only "partially successful," The Diplomat explained, meaning that ithe weapon still doesn't work. No country has fielded a nuclear-powered cruise missile, although the US briefly flirted with the idea decades ago.

US intelligence assesses that Russia has only had one moderately successful test, and it resulted in the Russians having to send out ships to find the missile, which was lost at sea after it was test-fired in November 2017. Last March, Russian President Vladimir Putin boasted that the missile was "invincible," asserting that the powerful weapon has "an unlimited range, unpredictable trajectory and ability to bypass interception."

Read More: Putin lost his supposedly 'invulnerable' nuclear-powered missile at sea - now he has to go find it

The latest test comes on the heels of the release of the Trump administration's Missile Defense Review, which emphasizes the advancements being made by strategic competitors China and Russia. The Russian Foreign Ministry warned that America's actions "will inevitably start an arms race," yielding "the most negative consequences for international security and stability."

The ongoing testing appears to be part of an arms race that may have just been kicked into high gear by US withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, a Cold War nuclear arms agreement that the Trump administration ripped up last Friday over allegations that Russia violated the pact.

Read More: Trump is ripping up the INF Treaty, ending a key Cold War nuclear arms pact with Russia

President Trump warned the US will "move forward with developing our own military response" to Russian developments.

"We will respond quid pro quo," Putin stated in response to US moves. "Our American partners have announced they were suspending their participation in the treaty, and we will do the same. They have announced they will conduct research and development, and we will act accordingly.

Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced Tuesday that Russia will develop a new land-based cruise missile (a variant of the sea-launched Kalibr missiles) and a hypersonic missile by 2021.

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