Russia’s nuclear-powered cruise missile, a throwback to crazy-sounding Cold War weapons tech, is back. Whether it’ll ever work is a separate issue.
The Burevestnik (“Storm Petrel”) is designed to evade U.S. defenses, flying for hours or even days to exploit holes in missile defense networks that most weapons can’t reach. Russia hadn’t tested the weapon in nearly a year—until last week, that is.
According to The Diplomat, the test took place on January 29 at Kapustin Yar, one of Russia’s major weapon testing grounds. The website quoted anonymous sources in the U.S. government with knowledge of the weapons program. The missile is known to the U.S. intelligence community as the KY30, or the SSC-X-9 “Skyfall.”
In November 2017, a “moderately successful” test of Skyfall from the Pan’kovo test site on the Arctic island of Novaya Zemlya resulted in several Russian ships fishing debris and nuclear materials from the Barents Sea. The Diplomat’s sources describe the most recent test as “partially successful.”