Don't Forget That The Recent Russian Nuclear Accident Happened While Developing A Truly Insane Weapon

Illustration for article titled Don't Forget That The Recent Russian Nuclear Accident Happened While Developing A Truly Insane Weapon
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A few days ago, on August 8, there was an explosion on a barge in the White Sea near Nyonoksa, Russia. That explosion tragically killed seven people, nuclear engineers and technicians working on a project. The project was described as “an isotopic power source for a liquid engine installation,” but let’s be completely clear here: they were developing the nuclear propulsion system for a genuinely brutal and terrible weapon.


That weapon is known as 9M730 Burevestnik, known to NATO as the SSC-X-9 Skyfall, but is perhaps best understood as a modern rebirth of a terrifying American weapon concept from the 1960s known as the Flying Crowbar.

The Flying Crowbar was a nuclear-powered scramjet missile, capable of flying at hypersonic speeds with an almost indefinite range, spewing extremely radioactive exhaust and nuclear bombs all over the place.

Here’s a little video we did explaining this absurd nightmare:

This same concept was resurrected by Russia, and announced to the world last year by Russian President Vladimir Putin in his annual address to the Federal Assembly. Here’s the video of the announcement of the missile (1:28.50):

The missile he’s describing, with its near-unlimited range, ability to change course at will, and stay aloft for vast amounts of time is effectively a modern Flying Crowbar, complete with all of the associated terrors, including the highly radioactive exhaust.

While this accident is absolutely a tragedy because of the loss of life and the significant radiation exposure in the area, the blow to the development of the 9M730 Burevestnik missile is not the tragic part.

The Burevestnik is not a defensive weapon; it’s a weapon to attack at long range and spread death and destruction all along its path, even over people that have no involvement in whatever bullshit reason this thing was launched for.


It’s a cruel machine, and the world would be better off if it never gets built.

Senior Editor, Jalopnik • Running: 1973 VW Beetle, 2006 Scion xB, 1990 Nissan Pao, 1991 Yugo GV Plus, 2020 Changli EV • Not-so-running: 1977 Dodge Tioga RV (also, buy my book!:


I have a hard time wrapping my head around what Putin sees as his end game. I highly doubt global destruction is it. All of his wealth is worthless if there’s nothing left. I like to think his game is just to make/take as much money as he can for as long as he can, and these doomsday weapons announcements are just rallying cries designed to keep his people pumped up about their country while he bleeds it dry. BUT then we learn that he’s maybe actually trying to build this shit. So, what’s he really after?