Russia cut off funding for the Zmeevik ‘aircraft carrier killer’

Evidenced by reports that emerged in the previous summer, Russia was speculated to be working on a ballistic missile, termed Zmeevik. This missile was thought to draw parallels with China’s DF-21D and DF-26 counterparts, primarily incorporating hypersonic combat apparatus. As per understanding from Russian informants, Zmeevik was perceived as Russia’s counter to the Dark Eagle, a hypersonic missile designed by the United States. 

Russia cut off funding for the Zmeevik 'aircraft carrier killer'
Photo credit: YouTube

Yet, as per the recent unfolding of events, TASS reports citing an anonymous resource from Russia’s military-industrial sector, signals a temporary pause on this project. The underlying reason could either be attributed to financial constraints or a shift towards more cost-effective utilization of resources. 

Delving deeper, an agency-based source revealed that Zmeevik’s developmental slowdown was primed by the strategy to focus all resources and energies on upgrading their pre-existing missile armament, having already undergone extensive screening and testing. 

tsircon missile circon missile hypersonic missile
Photo creditL iStock Illustration

Referencing the TASS informant, “The task of enhancing Zmeevik has temporarily been put on hold. The focus of the defense sector currently lies in exercising further advancements in existing missile weapons already in deployment.” 

What did we know about the missile?

The Russian Zmeevik ballistic missile, also known as the R-29RMU2 Layner, is a submarine-launched ballistic missile [SLBM] developing in Russia. It is designed to be launched from the Borei-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines. The Zmeevik missile is an upgraded version of the R-29RM Sineva missile and is considered one of the most advanced SLBMs in the Russian arsenal.

The Zmeevik missile has a length of approximately 14.8 meters and a diameter of 1.9 meters. It weighs around 36.8 metric tons and is powered by a liquid-fueled rocket engine. The missile is equipped with multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles [MIRVs], which allows it to carry multiple warheads and engage multiple targets simultaneously. The MIRVs are housed in the missile’s reentry vehicles section.

Russia's new silent Borei-class sub carrying 16 nukes to be tested
Photo credit: YouTube

The operational range of the Zmeevik missile is estimated to be around 8,000 kilometers [4,970 miles]. This range allows it to strike targets located deep within enemy territory. The missile’s accuracy is enhanced by its advanced guidance system, which includes inertial navigation and global positioning system [GPS] capabilities. The Zmeevik missile is designed to evade enemy missile defense systems and can perform evasive maneuvers during its flight.

The warheads carried by the Zmeevik missile are nuclear in nature. The exact number and yield of the warheads are classified, but it is believed that each missile can carry up to 10 MIRVs, each with a yield of several hundred kilotons. The warheads are designed to be highly destructive and capable of causing significant damage to enemy targets.

Russia will use Bulava SLBM

Instead of the Zmeevik missile, the Russian Navy currently relies on the Bulava SLBM as its primary submarine-launched ballistic missile. The Bulava missile is a solid-fueled weapon system with a range of approximately 8,000 kilometers.

It is designed to be launched from Borei-class submarines and is capable of carrying multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles [MIRVs]. Each MIRV warhead of the Bulava missile has an estimated yield of 100 to 150 kilotons.

Sineva SLBM and RSM-56 Bulava-30 SLBM

In addition to the Bulava missile, the Russian Navy also operates the Sineva SLBM. The Sineva missile is a liquid-fueled ballistic missile with a range of around 11,000 kilometers. It is deployed on Delta IV-class submarines and can carry up to ten MIRV warheads. The warheads of the Sineva missile have a yield of approximately 100 kilotons each.

Furthermore, the Russian Navy has the RSM-56 Bulava-30 SLBM in development. This missile is an upgraded version of the Bulava missile and is expected to have an increased range and improved capabilities. The exact characteristics, range, and warhead details of the Bulava-30 missile are not publicly disclosed at this time, as it is still under development.


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