The Russian Navy will deploy four submarines able to carry multiple Poseidon drones for combat duty, a defence industry source has revealed.
Designed for covert underwater attacks, Poseidon drones can carry nuclear warheads with yields of up to two megatonnes – enough to destroy a naval base.
“Two Poseidon-carrying submarines are expected to enter service with the Northern Fleet and the other two will join the Pacific Fleet,” the source told Russian news agency TASS.
“Each of the submarines will carry a maximum of eight drones and, therefore, the total number of Poseidons on combat duty may reach 32 vehicles.”
Special purpose submarines and underwater cruisers of the Northern and Pacific fleets may be used as Poseidon carriers “after their appropriate upgrade,” the source added.
Russia’s Defence Ministry is yet to confirm these reported plans.
The unmanned nuclear-capable underwater vehicle is one of the weapons Putin claimed he was developing during his annual state of the nation speech last year.
He said Poseidons can carry both conventional and nuclear warheads and are capable of destroying enemy infrastructural facilities, aircraft carrier groups and other targets.
“Each of the submarines will carry a maximum of eight drones”
Russia defence industry source
Codenamed “Kanyon” by US security services, Poseidon drones are able to evade all known anti-missile defence systems, according to Russia.
Putin been talking up Russia’s weapons capabilities since US president Donald Trump threatened to pull out of the Soviet-era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.
The INF treaty, signed by ex-US president Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail S Gorbachev in 1987, bans the development and deployment of cruise missiles with ranges between 500km and 5,500km.
It has prevented the deployment of US nuclear-tipped missiles to Europe since its inception.
But Trump has threatened to pull out based on allegations Russia has been violating the INF Treaty – accusations Moscow vehemently denies.
Putin has said Russia’s “serious breakthrough” in the development of “unparalleled weapons” should give adversaries who make threats against his country pause for thought.