|Type||Nuclear-powered, nuclear-armed UUV|
|Place of origin||Russia|
|Blast yield||2–100 Mt|
The Poseidon (Russian: Посейдон, "Poseidon", NATO reporting name Kanyon), previously known by Russian codename Status-6 (Russian: Статус-6), is an autonomous, nuclear-powered, and nuclear-armed unmanned underwater vehicle under development by Rubin Design Bureau, capable of delivering both conventional and nuclear payloads.
On 10 November 2015, a page of a document that contained information about a secret "oceanic multi-purpose system" called "Status-6" was "accidentally" revealed by Russian NTV television channel. The leak happened during Russian President Vladimir Putin's speech denouncing American plans concerning defensive missile technology. Speculation arose as to whether this was a warning signal or disinformation intended to mislead foreign intelligence services. The CIA has concluded the leak was intentional.
According to the Pentagon, Russia conducted the first test-launch of Poseidon on 27 November 2016, using the B-90 Sarov special purpose submarine. The test was reportedly carried out in the Arctic Ocean.
In March 2018, the system was officially named "Poseidon", following a public vote.
In January 2019, Russian Navy announced plans to procure at least 30 Poseidon unmanned underwater vehicles, deployed on four submarines, two of which would serve in the Russian Northern Fleet and two in the Pacific Fleet.
On 2 February 2019, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced completion of the key stage of trials of Poseidon.
On 20 February 2019, the Russian Defence Ministry released a video, showing a Poseidon being test-launched by a B-90 Sarov special purpose submarine.
The Poseidon is intended as an asymmetric counter to U.S. missile defense systems, such as anti-ballistic missiles, railguns, or laser weapons, ensuring Russia's capability to overcome such systems.
The Poseidon warhead can contaminate a large area with radiation. According to NukeMap simulations, the size of the radioactive area will be about 1700×300 kilometers. For this purpose, the Poseidon is believed to be equipped with a cobalt bomb. Poseidon appears to be a deterrent weapon of last resort. An aircraft carrier battle group would have reduced chances of defending itself against it. The drone could detonate its very large warhead at standoff range, and anti-submarine warfare units would have very little time to react because of the speed at which it travels.
The Poseidon appears to be a torpedo-shaped robotic mini-submarine which can travel at speeds of 185 km/h (100 kn). More recent information suggests a top speed of 100 km/h (54 kn), with a range of 10,000 km (5,400 nmi; 6,200 mi) and a depth maximum of 1,000 m (3,300 ft).
Typical depth of the drone may be about 50–100 meters for increased stealth features in low-speed stealth mode. Low depth in stealth mode is preferred because sound waves move to ocean floor and reduce radius of detection. Submarines use the same strategy in silent running mode.
It is 1.6–2 metres in diameter and 24 metres long. The warhead shown in the leaked figure is a cylinder 1.5 metres in diameter by 4 metres in length, giving a volume of 7 cubic meters. Comparing this to the volumes of other large thermonuclear bombs, the 1961 Soviet-era Tsar Bomba itself measured 8 metres long by 2.1 metres in diameter, indicating that the yield is at least several tens of megatons, generally consistent with early reports of 100 megatons. Some reports suggest the yield of the Poseidon's warhead is as low as 2 Mt.
The National Interest compiled several unclassified defense sources from General Electric experts about the similar 601B project and they predicted low weight and compact gas-cooled nuclear reactor in the drone. Russian submarine designers say that a low-power reactor is preferred for Poseidon because a smaller reactor is less noisy.
The development includes also use of stealth technology, to elude acoustic tracking devices. Poseidon uses a silent running strategy like other submarines. Its main stealth feature is its very low speed before it reaches the target area. Its high-speed mode activates upon reaching a short finish range (2–3 kilometers), when the probability of detection of the drone is considerably higher. It could travel for weeks toward enemy port cities, reaching high-speed only in the final stage.
Russian designers estimated the radius of detection of the drone will be about 2–3 km (1.2–1.9 mi) for 55 km/h (34 mph). A second important stealth feature of the drone is the special design of the pump-jet for clearance of the drone's acoustic signature to imitate the noise of civil ships.
|Speed of the drone (km/h)||Detection range (km)|
The Poseidon is a family of drones rather than a single type, with some Poseidons designed only for destroying coastal cities and thus relying on "stealth" capabilities rather than on high speed, and other ones primarily designed to attack carrier battle groups, where the later ones may use the supercavitation, like the VA-111 Shkval torpedo, to be able to gain extremely high speed in attack mode (more than 200 km/h (120 mph)). However, supercavitation devices have not been observed on the available footage of Poseidon. The Pentagon estimates maximum speed of the Poseidon to be about 56 kn (104 km/h; 64 mph) without the supercavitation option.
The two boats that are speculated to carry the Poseidon are the Project 09852 modified Oscar-class submarine Belgorod and the Project 09851 Khabarovsk submarines. Oscar-class submarines could carry six Poseidon torpedoes at the same time for a total yield of up to 400 megatonnes.
According to some reports, Poseidon may also have a seabed or mobile site launch option. In the seabed option, known as Skif (Скиф), Poseidon can wait on the sea floor in a special container as long as necessary. It is known that the Russian auxiliary vessels Zvezdochka (Project 20180) and Akademik Aleksandrov (Project 20183) with ice-breaking capability are being used for testing of the Poseidon drones, thus it's believed the ship can be also used as the platform for deploying and retrieving a seabed version of the drone. The seabed launch option was patented (RU 2135929 patent) by the Poseidon designer Alexander Shalnev.
Following the Russian President Vladimir Putin's statement in March 2018, in which he referenced to the Poseidon as a weapon which could hit U.S. port cities, U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis stated Russia already has the capability to hit U.S. port cities with missiles, and said that Poseidon "does not change at all the strategic balance".
Russia is also developing at least two new intercontinental range systems, a hypersonic glide vehicle and a new intercontinental, nuclear-armed undersea autonomous torpedo.