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Skyfall

Note: This is a NATO designator for a Russian surface-to-surface missile and has nothing to do with a James Bond movie.

Failed missile test:

London and Moscow (CNN) — An explosion. An abruptly-canceled village evacuation. Five dead nuclear experts. And a few traces of radioactive iodine in the air over the northern Norwegian coastline.

These are the fingerprints of what appears to have been Russia’s latest failed bid to test its Burevestnik missile, also known as Skyfall.

It’s claimed by its owner, Russian President Vladimir Putin, to have unlimited range and be able to outflank all US air defenses. But this month, it proved, for a Kremlin keen to emphasize its growing military muscle, yet another high-profile hiccup.

It wouldn’t be the first time that a test of the missile wasn’t entirely successful, according to US officials.

The 9M370 Burevestnik, or SSC-X-9 Skyfall, is a cruise missile that is supposed to have unlimited range, meaning it can loiter almost indefinitely before striking its target. It would appear that it launches with auxiliary rocket engines and then continues flying using air heated by a small nuclear reactor to stay airborne. The Soviets used reactors to power some of their satellites, making life a bit risky when they eventually de-orbit and return to earth.

As a weapons system, the nuclear heating of the air to power the device would leave a radioactive trail making them rather easy to detect and target. These are disasters waiting to happen. Calling them Буревестник (Storm Petrel) is a nice Soviet act of remembrance of the 1905 poem of Maxim Gorki that has been used for numerous Soviet Naval weapons systems, but more accurate for this system given the design calls for lingering in the air.

August 19, 2019   6 Comments