PYONGYANG, NORTH KOREA — The Russian Poseidon nuclear torpedo has long been rumored. Dubbed by many as “Doomsday”, Moscow may have developed its best deterrent. At least that’s what the Russian media claim. However, there are still no more in-depth analyzes of his abilities. What is known is that the torpedo is capable, through a nuclear explosion, of causing a natural disaster, such as a tsunami, to submerge the coastal shores.
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Russia has already announced that Poseidon has been tested. Recently, Moscow officially acknowledged that the first Poseidon nuclear warhead had been produced. Poseidon’s blast yield is currently speculated to be the equivalent of 100 Mt or more. One of the known facts is that Poseidon will be launched by specialized submarines called carriers. The most mentioned name among them is the modified submarine Belgorod, Oscar class.
According to media reports, there is already another country that has advanced the development of its version of a nuclear torpedo, an equivalent [copy] of the Russian Poseidon. This is North Korea. According to the national media KCNA, Pyongyang has two developed torpedoes. According to reports from KCNA, the second underwent a three-day underwater test [71 hours and 6 minutes] after which it detonated a warhead [unspecified type] in the Sea of Japan.
Here’s what we know
Our information is based on open sources and statements on the Korean media KCNA. North Korea has two torpedoes – Haeil-1 and Haeil-2 [meaning “tsunami” or “tidal waves” in Korean].
Pyongyang has been tight-lipped about its two nuclear torpedoes. This is somewhat unusual, considering that North Korea skillfully uses propaganda channels to advertise and “scare the West” even with weapons that are either not yet developed or not as effective as supposed.
Haeil-1 and Haeil-2 have the same purpose as their Russian prototype Poseidon. Detonating a nuclear explosion underwater should cause large devastating waves, tsunamis, to submerge coastal enemy cities.
The latest test [71 hours] was carried out near the coastal North Korean city of Tanchon. According to KCNA, the Haeil-1 or Haeil-2 can hit targets more than 600 miles away. “They have the capability of a fatal attack,” KCNA said.
Since we don’t have any information, we have to make assumptions. This would be incorrect as it is not clear how advanced North Korean technology is compared to the Russian original Poseidon. Therefore, we will note the main points about Poseidon, based on the fact that Haeil-1 or Haeil-2 may have been developed based on provided but limited know-how and technology from Moscow to Pyongyang.
Poseidon looks like a small submarine. It will be remotely controlled by an operator. Poseidon is supposed to have integrated artificial intelligence. The Russian torpedo will float at a depth of up to 100 meters. If his speed is low, Poseidon will have a very effective stealth mode.
According to American experts, Poseidon’s power unit will be a low-weight compact gas-cooled nuclear reactor in the drone. According to Pentagon calculations, Poseidon’s top speed could reach between 104 km/h to 110 km/h without the supercavitation option. Poseidon is designed not only to strike coastal shores, but also a group of aircraft carriers, or submarines.
Some sightings of the two North Korean underwater drones lead us to identify them more as Mini-Me [the alter-ego version of the character Dr.Evil from the film series about British bohemian spy Austin Powers] of the Russian original.
H I Sutton is one of the most knowledgeable experts in the field of submarine warfare. His articles on all types of submarines have always given a clearer picture of the condition, characteristics, and combat capabilities of these underwater weapons.
He also commented on the North Korean copies of Poseidon. In his opinion, they are a reduced version of the Russian original. They look more like a torpedo or some kind of underwater drone. Sutton says that, unlike Russia, North Korea has not developed a nuclear drive on its Haeil-1 or Haeil-2. The speed of the torpedoes is very small – 4.6 knots, which makes them very far from the definition of “torpedo”.
At this point, it appears that Haeil-1 or Haeil-2 are used more as propaganda messages than as a devastating military capability. KCNA called North Korea’s two new weapons “beneficial and promising military potential of the [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] armed forces.”
But their characteristics so far do not confirm such a claim. It seems that the situation with the two North Korean torpedoes is of the type “look, we also have such a toy”, but in reality the toy was bought from some Chinese online store, imitating Western products, but with degraded quality.
But Pyongyang at least used the news of its “nuclear torpedo” tests as the United States, South Korea, and Japan began discussing the threat posed by North Korea. We are used to seeing such actions from North Korea in recent years.
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