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Russia’s new ‘unlimited range’ missile flew only 22 miles before crashing, report says

Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting with Russian Defense Ministry top officials and representatives of the Russian Defense Industry, at Bocharov Ruchei residence. (Klimentyev Mikhail/TASS /ZUMA Press/TNS)
May 23, 2018

Russia’s newest nuclear-power missile – touted as having “unlimited range” by President Vladimir Putin earlier this year – flew just 22 miles before crashing during its most successful test.

The failed test aligns with the view of many in the intelligence community who doubt Russia’s current military capabilities, CNBC reported this week.

According to sources familiar with a U.S. intelligence report on Russia’s weapons program, the supposedly state-of-the-art cruise missile has been tested four times between November 2017 and February of this year.

Each test has resulted in a crash.

Its longest test flight lasted more than two minutes and covered 22 miles before losing control and impacting the ground. The shortest of the test flights lasted four seconds with a total flight path of five miles.

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Russia has reportedly been developing the weapon since the early 2000s. The missile is believed to be gasoline-powered for take-off before switching to nuclear power for flight.

The tests show that the nuclear power fails to initiate, which causes the missile to achieve a flight path that falls short of Putin’s estimates.

Sources told CNBC that the tests were ordered by senior Kremlin officials and went against the suggestion of the program’s engineers who voiced concerns about the system. One of the biggest issues in failed nuclear missile tests is the environmental and health impact of radiation following a major crash.

The report outlining Russia’s failed missile tests showcases a weapons program that does not match up to the words spoken by Putin during his state of the union address earlier this year.

Putin bragged that Russia had missiles capable of delivering warheads to any location in the world while evading defense systems.

He even played a mock video of a Russian missile striking Florida.

Putin went as far as to say that Russia’s new arsenal of hypersonic weapons was “invincible.”

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Russia has successfully tested a myriad of other weapons technology.

This month, Russia unveiled a new hypersonic glide missile that is rumored to be ready for war by 2020. The hypersonic missile was developed to conquer air defense and anti-ballistic missile defense systems, and is designed to be launched by a MiG-31. It is a type of weapon the U.S. cannot currently defend against.

“We don’t have any defense that could deny the employment of such a weapon against us, so our response would be our deterrent force, which would be the triad and the nuclear capabilities that we have to respond to such a threat,” Gen. John Hyten told the Senate Armed Services Committee earlier this month.