A senior official in Russian military has claimed that the Kremlin is making good progress on an orbital bomber, armed with nuclear warheads. The space plane will be capable of firing megaton atomic bombs anywhere on Earth within just 2 hours of its launch and could be ready by the year 2020.
Yes, you need to read it again because if it’s true, it could start a new nuclear arms war between Russia and the US – for domination in space. The announcement was made on Sputnik, a state-owned website for Russia.
The plane has resemblance to the US Air Force’s Boeing X-37B- which is like a remote controlled version of ISS- International Space Station or a mini-shuttle. Working on the plane isn’t a bad thing. But questions will be raised if the said plane is nuke-lobbing robotic space bomber.
“The idea is that the bomber will take off from a normal home airfield to patrol Russian airspace,” Lieutenant Colonel Aleksei Solodovnikov said in an announcement, Sputnik reports. “Upon command it will ascend into outer space, strike a target with nuclear warheads and then return to its home base.”
Nope, not cool.
David Axe, an author for the Daily Beast comments:
“That’s not only a gross violation of international law, it represents a fairly profound act of hypocrisy on Russia’s part. It wasn’t long ago that the Russian government accused the United States of weaponising space by sending aloft the nimble, versatile X-37B, basically a quarter-size, remote-controlled version of the Space Shuttle that could, in theory, carry weapons – but does not.”
Outer Space Treaty:
In April 2010, US launched the X-37B for its first flight and Russia accused US Air Force of sneaking weapons on the plane and consequently breaching the “Outer Space Treaty”. It is important to note here that Russia is also a signatory to the same treaty signed in 1967 by about 104 countries in total, barring all parties from the militarization of space- in other words, sending nuclear weapons in orbit.
After six years, Russia is working on a technology that would be able to do exactly what the fore-mentioned treaty stood against. But, lets not get carried away as this is only reported by the Russian media and is not confirmed by the Kremlin officially. It won’t be the first time that a military tech project by Russia does not materialize.
How Does The Plane Work?
Again, the details are scarce and somewhat unreliable. But from the report we can deduce that the technology could be similar to that used by Virgin’s space planes, which ride on transport planes before shooting off into orbit. It is also possible that the space bomber launches by itself like a SABRE engine: burning liquid propellant, then cooling the hot oxygen, eventually using it as a fuel to reach hypersonic speeds. An anonymous Russian official claimed that Kremlin has built this technology:
“We have accomplished the task of developing a powerplant for a plane that allows it to alternate between the air-breathing regime during a flight in the atmosphere and rocket propulsion regime during a flight in space,” he told reporters in October 2015.
Sputnik announced that the engine for the space bomber will be showcased at the 2016 IMTF- International Military Technology Forum in Moscow this September. It is highly likely that this claim is merely a wild assertion. Claims of such advancements in weaponry and ambitious projects have been made regularly. Many of these weapons do not even make it to the army parade, let alone the battlefield- or in this case: Battlespace.