Russia’s nuclear-powered cruise missile, The Burevestnik (Storm Petrel), is back! It has been designed to evade the US defenses. It flies for hours or even days for the sake of exploiting any weaknesses in the missile defense networks that most of the weapons are unable to find. Russia didn’t test the weapon for almost a year, until the end of January 2019.
The test took place on 29th January at Kapustin Yar. Kapustin Yar is among the Russian’s major weapon-testing grounds. The Burevestnik is known in the US intelligence community as the KY30 or the SSC-X-9 ‘Skyfall.’ The Burevestnik, Skyfall, had a ‘moderately successful, test back in November 2017 as well. It was conducted at the Pan’kovo test site and ended on the Arctic island of Novaya Zemlya causing many Russian ships to fish for debris and nuclear materials from the Barents Sea.
Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, announced the official existence of the Burevestnik back in March 2018. He said, ‘The launch and the set of ground tests allow [Russia] to get to creating a radically new type of weaponry—a strategic nuclear weaponry complex with a missile fitted with a nuclear-powered engine.’ Putin also further said that the Burevestnik has ‘unlimited range and unlimited ability to maneuver.’
The biggest advantage that Skyfall is its range. The modern cruise missiles make use of turbofan or turbojet engines and have a range of around 1,000 miles. Whereas a nuclear missile, such as the Burevestnik, can continue flying for days looking for weaknesses and exploiting them. However, as of right now, the Burevestnik or Skyfall as the US intelligence community is calling it is nowhere near actual flight. There have been a total of 13 test flights so far, and only two have been partially successful.
We have got our fingers crossed to see how this pans out because if it does become successful; the US would have to upgrade its missile defense systems quite hastily and expensively.