Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Channeling The Flying Crowbar ...

The Cuban Missle crisis almost blew mankind away. The flying Crowbar, a thankfully abandoned weapon of doom of America's making, could have done the same thing without issue.

To whit ...

At its core, Project Pluto was just a cruise missile. Well, not “just” a cruise missile. It was a cruise missile designed around a nuclear ramjet engine, and the acronym for it should give another big clue about the pants-filling nature of it: SLAM, for Supersonic Low Altitude Missile. That means that this giant, nuclear-powered beast would be screaming around at oh, treetop level or so.

The nuclear ramjet engine at the heart of Project Pluto is key to what made this weapon so horrific. A ramjet is a very simple engine design, with essentially no moving parts. Once the missile was launched with conventional rocket boosters, the air velocity going into the ramjet’s intake would be fast enough to let the engine function, and an essentially unshielded nuclear reactor would heat the air as it entered, where it would expand and be expelled out of the engine’s nozzle, providing both lots of thrust and plenty of radioactive material.

Kubrick should have highlighted this beauty in Dr. Strangelove, IMHO. :)

The Russians channelled this fubar but its version of this doomsday device failed, for now ...

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.

A mysterious explosion at Russia’s Nenoksa Missile Test Site on Aug. 8, 2019 killed at least seven people and caused a radiation spike that sent everyday Russians hurrying to pharmacies to buy anti-radiation pills.

The explosion reportedly involved a small nuclear reactor that powers a new kind of long-range cruise missile.

“United States intelligence officials have said they suspect the blast involved a prototype of what NATO calls the SSC-X-9 Skyfall,” The New York Times reported.

“That is a cruise missile that [Russian president Vladimir] Putin has boasted can reach any corner of the earth because it is partially powered by a small nuclear reactor, eliminating the usual distance limitations of conventionally fueled missiles.”

An accidental explosion is exactly the risk that Jeffrey Lewis, a nuclear expert at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, feared when he described the SSC-X-9 as “batshit crazy.”

Batshit crazy kinda says it all, doesn't it?

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