Poseidon_Torpedo

Comments and corrections welcome.

Russian 'Poseidon' Intercontinental Nuclear-Powered Nuclear-Armed Autonomous Torpedo
'Poseidon' (Посейдон) / 'Status-6' (Статус-6 / 'Skif' (Скиф) seabed launched varient / NATO: KANYON

The Poseidon is the largest torpedo ever developed in any country. At around 2 meters (6.5 ft) in diameter and over 20 meters (65 ft) long, it is approximately twice the size of submarine launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) and thirty times the size of a regular ‘heavyweight’ torpedo.

Original artwork - CLICK IMAGE FOR HIGH-RESOLUTION:

The weapon is viewed primarily as part of the nuclear deterrent acting as a Second Strike weapon hitting coastal populations centers like New York and Los Angeles. In this scenario its lack of reliance on satellites and the fact that it literally goes underneath missile defenses make it a slow but inevitable death. Critically this is a diversification of Russia’s nuclear deterrence and not a replacement for submarine launched missile; Russia is still planning to completely replace remaining older ballistic missile submarines with the new Borei-A (NATO: DOLGORUKIY Class) boats.

Russian official sources have repeatedly positioned it as a multi-purpose system with a tactical nuclear anti-ship role, shown striking carrier battle groups. Its usefulness against moving targets is less clear, but it must all the same be taken seriously. If anything this tactical-nuclear role makes countering this system more pressing since traditional /mutually assured destruction’ (MAD) is undermined.


Collage of Poseidon torpedo based on Russian MoD video released July 2018 - CLICK IMAGE FOR HIGH-RESOLUTION.


Poseidon has been tested aboard the purpose-built Project 20120 Sarov Class boat. When it enters service in 2027, it will be carried by two operational submarines; a) a modified OSCAR-II class boat, the Project 09852 Belgorod and b) the purpose-built Project 09851 Khabarovsk. Further deployment is likely to be on the as-yet unnamed Project 09853 Class being designed by Rubin.
Pr.09852 Belgorod
Pr.09851 Khabarovsk
Sub Pr.20120 Sarov

As well as submarine launch, there are reports and rumors that Poseidon has a seabed launch option, waiting on the sea floor for as long as necessary. In this mode the system may be known as Skif (Скиф – possibly named after the Scythian nomads who once Eurasian steppes 1500 years ago). It is unclear whether it will be deployed by Host Submarines (above) or surface vessels. In the latter case, the Pr. 20180 Class weapons ship ZVEZDOCHKA 600 is known to be involved in Poseidon testing and is a likely candidate for both laying and retrieving a seabed version. Due to the weight of the system (possibly 100 tons) deployment from surface vessels is likely to be simpler and more practical, but potentially exposes position of the launchers. The launchers also require a reliable and secure means of communicating with their base and a way of receiving the order to launch. The Pr.20180 has an ice-breaking bow allowing Arctic operations:
Poseidon Skif Status-6 KANYON - Covert Shores

Deployment of nuclear weapons on the seabed beyond the 12-mile territorial limit contravenes the Seabed Arms Control Treaty 1972 (formally: Treaty on the Prohibition of the Emplacement of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction on the Seabed and the Ocean Floor and in the Subsoil Thereof).

Specifications
Length: 24 meters (79 ft) (estimate)
Diameter: 2m (6.5 ft) (estimate)
Speed: 70 knots (reported)
Range:
Operating depth: >1,000 meters (3,280 ft) (reported)
Propulsion: nuclear
Warhead: 2 megatons (reported)


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Countering KANYON
Although reliable specifications are illusive, indications are that Poseidon will go deeper and faster than current undersea direct threats. Therefore, countering this system will not be straightforward and will force Western planners to reconsider anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and undersea sensor/weapons investment.

The last time that Russia deployed a weapon system that pushed the operating boundaries of undersea warfare, it took the US and UK about a quarter of a century to field key counter systems (Ref. Alfa Class). Development of the Poseidon has already been underway for nearly twenty years and deployment is reportedly planned within the next ten years, and yet Western observers have only recently started taking this weapon seriously.

Currently, anti-submarine warfare is enjoying renewed focus after years of relative neglect after the end of the Cold War. While Poseidon will require a rethink of capabilities and priorities, many promising platforms and technologies are already emerging which could form parts of the solution.

Selected relevant technologies:
a) b) c) d)

a) Persistent trailing of submarines by unmanned systems to provide quick-kill capability before launch. Picture shows Anti-Submarine Warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV) program demonstrator.

b) Maritime Patrol Aircraft can deploy sensors (e.g. Sonarbuoys and Seatooth (see below)), torpedoes and depth charges to chase down the weapon after its launch. New lightweight torpedoes may be required to reach target depths. Shown is the appropriately named Boeing P-8 Poseidon.

c) WFS Seethooth subsea wireless technology may allow rapid deployment of persistent sea floor sensor networks (e.g. from aircraft) across the likely path of the weapon.

d) Deep diving long endurance torpedoes with greater autonomy. Current generations of US and UK torpedoes (Spearfish shown) offer a starting point for development, but tomorrow's torpedoes will be even deeper diving and feature long endurance with loiter modes, surface communications and possibly carriage of multiple smaller systems (e.g. Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (UUVs) to act as a target-area sensor network, and/or lightweight torpedoes).


Open Source Analysis timeline
The OSINT trail starts with the special test submarine B-90 Sarov. Originally laid as an improved KILO Class submarine, she was heavily modified over a protracted construction cycle to serve as a special test submarine. She was commissioned in 2008. A key feature is a very large hangar-like weapons bay in the bow which is much larger than would be needed if she was only intended to test regular sized torpedoes. In the past the Russians had grafted additional test torpedo tubes onto the bows of old diesel-electric submarines – Sarov is a completely different beast and only makes sense in the context of Poseidon.
Poseidon Skif Status-6 KANYON - Covert Shores

Oct 2001 - 2007 Decision to complete the sole unfinished PL 877B submarine taken. New configuration re-designated Pr. 20120 in June 2003, and named B-90 Sarov on May 26th 2007.

24 Dec 2007 B-90 Sarov launched. Commissioned 7th Aug 2008. Initially B-90 Sarov was involved in testing regular torpedoes. The below photo, from 17th Oct. 2009 shows her being loaded with test torpedo in external tube, presumably in the hangar. The weapon appears to be 533mm or 650mm. Geolocated to 64°34'41.69"N, 64°34'41.69"N in Severodvinsk on the White Sea where Sarov is based.
Poseidon Skif Status-6 KANYON - Covert Shores

2008-9 Bow of B-90 Sarov extended, approximately 5 meters. New hangar hatch, and other subtle updates. This suggests that the size of Poseidon had increased during development:
Poseidon Skif Status-6 KANYON - Covert Shores

Original artwork of Sarov with Poseidon torpedo - CLICK IMAGE FOR HIGH-RESOLUTION.

14th Sep 2009 Commercial Satellite imagery (GE) of Zvezdochka shipyard shows B-90 Sarov in dry dock. 64°35'11.14"N, 39°49'0.44"E

17th Oct 2009 Photos appear on a Russian forum showing a test torpedo in external tube being loaded onto B-90 Sarov. It is not as large as expected for Poseidon, so the weapon appears to be 533mm or 650mm. Geolocated to 64°34'41.69"N, 64°34'41.69"N
Poseidon Skif Status-6 KANYON - Covert Shores

23rd Jun 2010 Commercial Satellite imagery (GE) shows B-90 Sarov at 64°35'10.89"N, 39°49'18.41"E. Hangar hatch is open. Poseidon lifting frame is visible on quayside at 64°35'2.85"N, 39°48'38.84"E and possible dummy container at 64°35'3.29"N, 39°48'40.89"E. “Star” pr.20180 is visible at 64°34'41.69"N, 64°34'41.69"N where Sarov previously loaded test torpedoes on or before 17th Oct 2009.
Poseidon Skif Status-6 KANYON - Covert Shores

30th Jul 2010 Commercial Satellite imagery (GE) shows B-90 Sarov on dry dock at 64°35'16.97"N, 39°49'9.18"E. "Star" pr.20180 support ship present at 64°35'14.49"N, 39°49'25.93"E.

30th Jul 2010 Commercial Satellite imagery (GE) of wharf near Zvezdochka shipyard shows possible Poseidon lifting frame and related pr.20210 barge at 64°34'59.92"N, 39°48'31.78"E. White boat visible appears in later photo. Frame is approximately 16m long. Barge’s working deck is about 23m long. Satellite imagery suggests that the test Poseidon round is only 18-19 meters long, compared to the stated length of 24 meters revealed by Russian media in 2015.
Poseidon Skif Status-6 KANYON - Covert Shores

Jul 2011 Photo posted on Russian social media showing B-90 Sarov at 64°35'10.89"N, 39°49'18.41"E with hangar hatch open

13th Aug 2011 Commercial Satellite imagery (GE) shows B-90 Sarov at 64°35'10.89"N, 39°49'18.41"E. Hangar hatch is open. The lifting frame and related pr.20210 barge at 64°34'59.92"N, 39°48'31.78"E.

21st Aug 2011 Commercial Satellite imagery (GE) of wharf near Zvezdochka shipyard shows B-90 Sarov at 64°35'10.93"N, 39°49'18.89"E with hatch open. “Star” pr.20180 is visible nearby at 64°35'14.05"N, 39°49'25.08"E. The Poseidon dummy test round and pr.20210 barge at at 64°34'59.92"N, 39°48'31.78"E

9th Feb 2012 In a Russian media interview CIC Ru Navy Admiral Vladimir Vysotsk stated that K-139 ‘Belgorod’ was to be completed as “as a special project. Before the boat is a whole complex of special tasks” https://ria.ru/interview/20120209/560467768.html

14th Feb 2012 Photos of lifting rig, believed for Poseidon, shown among photos of modernization of Pr.877 "Kaluga" (KILO) at Zvezdochka Shipyard

4th May 2012 Photo of unidentified weapon tube (Poseidon) reportedly being loaded aboard B-90 Sarov.

23rd May 2012 Photo posted on Russian social media showing B-90 Sarov at 64°35'10.89"N, 39°49'18.41"E with hangar hatch open.

28th Aug 2012 Commercial Satellite imagery (GE) of wharf near Zvezdochka shipyard appears to show Poseidon dummy test round. 64°34'59.92"N, 39°48'31.78"E

29th Oct 2012 Reported by Military Russia that B-90 "Sarov" put out to sea to for unspecified test

20th Dec 2012 K-139 ‘Belgorod’ re-designated Pr.09852 in laying down ceremony at Sevmash

9th May 2013 Commercial Satellite imagery (GE) of wharf near Zvezdochka shipyard appears to show Poseidon etc. Blurred. Minimal change. 64°34'59.92"N, 39°48'31.78"E. B-90 Sarov at 64°35'10.89"N, 39°49'18.41"E.

18th May 2013 Commercial Satellite imagery (GE) of wharf near Zvezdochka shipyard appears to show Poseidon etc. Blurred. Minimal change. 64°34'59.92"N, 39°48'31.78"E. B-90 Sarov is in floating dry dock at 64°34'43.07"N, 39°47'6.01"E.

21st May 2013 Russian TV channel 24KZ segment states that Skif (ОКР Скиф) is able to be on the seabed in standby mode, and also to hit land and sea targets. Youtube. The images and discussion suggest SS-N-23 SKIFF ballistic missiles

21st May 2013 Russian press reports on Skif (Скиф) per TV media off same day (above). Repeated in Western press. i-mash.ru. The images and discussion suggest SS-N-23 SKIFF ballistic missiles.

22nd May 2013 Military Russia blog forum thread created. Describes weapon as OCD Skif (ОКР Скиф). Suggests weapon project goes back to 1988 but was re-entertained more recently.

2nd Jun 2013 Commercial Satellite imagery (GE) of wharf near Zvezdochka shipyard appears to show Poseidon etc. Blurred. Minimal change. 64°34'59.92"N, 39°48'31.78"E. B-90 Sarov is in floating dry dock at 64°34'43.07"N, 39°47'6.01"E.

22nd Jun 2013 Commercial Satellite imagery (GE) of wharf near Zvezdochka shipyard appears to show Poseidon etc. Blurred. Minimal change. 64°34'59.92"N, 39°48'31.78"E. B-90 Sarov is in floating dry dock at 64°34'43.07"N, 39°47'6.01"E.

8th Jul 2013 Commercial Satellite imagery (GE) of wharf near Zvezdochka shipyard appears to show Poseidon etc. Minimal change. 64°34'59.92"N, 39°48'31.78"E. B-90 Sarov ist at 64°35'11.02"N, 39°49'19.02"E.

18th Jun 2014 Commercial Satellite imagery (GE) of wharf near Zvezdochka shipyard appears to show Poseidon etc. Minimal change. 64°34'59.92"N, 39°48'31.78"E. B-90 Sarov ist at 64°35'11.02"N, 39°49'19.02"E

27th Jul 2014 Pr.09851 Khabarovsk submarine laid down at Sevmash shipyard in Severodvinsk (TASS).

8th Aug 2014 User on Russian language forum comments that Pr.09851 Khabarovsk submarine is related to ‘Скифов’ (‘Scythian’) system – variation of Скиф (Skif).

10th Sep 2014 Commercial Satellite imagery (GE) of wharf near Zvezdochka shipyard appears to show Poseidon etc. Minimal change. 64°34'59.92"N, 39°48'31.78"E. B-90 Sarov is not present, possibly at sea. “Star” pr.20180 is visible at 64°35'11.02"N, 39°49'19.02"E.

26th Dec 2014 Russian media article stating that B-90 Sarov is helping to test a new generation of “robotic means for submarines” (TASS).

9th May 2015 Commercial Satellite imagery (GE) of wharf near Zvezdochka shipyard appears to show Poseidon etc. Minimal change. 64°34'59.92"N, 39°48'31.78"E. B-90 Sarov and “Star” pr.20180 are visible at 64°35'11.02"N, 39°49'19.02"E.

2nd June 2015 Commercial Satellite imagery (GE) of wharf near Zvezdochka shipyard appears to show Poseidon etc. 64°34'59.92"N, 39°48'31.78"E. Barge (Pr.20210) moved to position 64°35'2.95"N, 39°48'50.42"E. B-90 Sarov and “Star” pr.20180 are visible at 64°35'11.02"N, 39°49'19.02"E

8th Sep 2015 Bill Getrz, writing in The Washington Free Beacon, reveals the existence of ‘Kanyon’, citing defense officials.

17th Sep 2015 A post on a Russian Forum, discussing the Bill Gertz article (8th Sep 2015) included the 4th May 2012 photo of the Poseidon dummy test round with the filename Скиф (Skif).

21st Sep 2015 Commercial Satellite imagery (GE) of wharf near Zvezdochka shipyard appears to show Poseidon etc. 64°34'59.92"N, 39°48'31.78"E. Barge (Pr.20210) returned to usual place. B-90 Sarov and “Star” pr.20180 are visible at 64°35'11.02"N, 39°49'19.02"E

9th Nov 2015 Leaking of the Status-6 strategic nuclear torpedo on Russian TV station NTV (Youtube)
Status-6 (Статус-6) KANYON mega-torpedo

21st April 2016 Photo posted on MilitaryRussia but purportedly from 2009 of Poseidon test round. Geolocated to 64°35'0.33"N, 39°48'32.16"E
Poseidon Skif Status-6 KANYON - Covert Shores

28th April 2016 Commercial Satellite imagery (GE) of wharf near Zvezdochka shipyard appears to show Poseidon etc. 64°34'59.92"N, 39°48'31.78"E. Barge (Pr.20210) not present. B-90 Sarov and “Star” pr.20180 are visible at 64°35'11.02"N, 39°49'19.02"E

16th May 2016 Commercial Satellite imagery (GE) of wharf near Zvezdochka shipyard appears to show Poseidon etc. 64°34'59.92"N, 39°48'31.78"E. Barge (Pr.20210) returned to usual place but outside other vessel. B-90 Sarov visible at 64°35'11.02"N, 39°49'19.02"E

25th July 2016 "Rubin-Sever" (Severodvinsk) annual report mentions Pr.09853 design study. Media states it is under construction. Possible Pr.09851 follow-on Poseidon equipped submarines.

21st Aug 2016 Commercial Satellite imagery (GE) of wharf near Zvezdochka shipyard appears to show Poseidon etc. 64°34'59.92"N, 39°48'31.78"E. Barge (Pr.20210) returned to usual place. B-90 Sarov visible at 64°35'11.02"N, 39°49'19.02"E

24st Aug 2016 Commercial Satellite imagery (GE) of wharf near Zvezdochka shipyard appears to show Poseidon etc. 64°34'59.92"N, 39°48'31.78"E. Barge (Pr.20210) in usual place. B-90 Sarov visible at 64°35'11.02"N, 39°49'19.02"E

2nd Oct 2016 Commercial Satellite imagery (GE) of wharf near Zvezdochka shipyard appears to show Poseidon etc. 64°34'59.92"N, 39°48'31.78"E. Barge (Pr.20210) in usual place. B-90 Sarov not visible, possible at sea. “Star” pr.20180 visible at 64°35'11.02"N, 39°49'19.02"E

8th Dec 2016 Bill Getrz, writing in The Washington Free Beacon, reports that Russia conducted a test of ‘Poseidon’ on 27th Nov 2016. Note that B-90 Sarov was absent in satellite imagery of 2nd Oct 2016, supporting analysis that this was a period of at-sea activity.

12th May 2017 Image of Poseidon test round being loaded or unloaded aboard ZVEZDOCHKA 600 (Pr. 20180) posted on Russian internet forum. Believed to be an older photo. The vessel is normally moored next to B-90 Sarov in Severodvinsk and is known to be involved in supporting Poseidon testing.
KANYON (Status-6) strategic weapon

15th May 2017 Commercial Satellite imagery (GE) of wharf near Zvezdochka shipyard appears to show Poseidon dummy test round moved from previous home near 64°34'59.92"N, 39°48'31.78"E. Location unknown.B-90 Sarov visible at 64°35'11.02"N, 39°49'19.02"E

16th May 2017 Commercial Satellite imagery (GE) of wharf near Zvezdochka shipyard appears to show Poseidon dummy test round moved from previous home near 64°34'59.92"N, 39°48'31.78"E. B-90 Sarov visible at 64°35'11.02"N, 39°49'19.02"E

14th Jun 2017 Commercial Satellite imagery (GE) of wharf near Zvezdochka shipyard appears to show Poseidon dummy test round and Pr.20210 barge returned to previous home near 64°34'59.92"N, 39°48'31.78"E. B-90 Sarov not visible, possible at sea. “Star” pr.20180 visible at 64°35'11.02"N, 39°49'19.02"E

21st Jun 2017 Commercial Satellite imagery (GE) of wharf near Zvezdochka shipyard appears to show Poseidon dummy test round and Pr.20210 barge near 64°34'59.92"N, 39°48'31.78"E. B-90 Sarov not visible, possible at sea. “Star” pr.20180 visible at 64°35'11.02"N, 39°49'19.02"E

2nd Jul 2017 Commercial Satellite imagery (GE) of wharf near Zvezdochka shipyard appears to show Poseidon dummy test round and Pr.20210 barge near 64°34'59.92"N, 39°48'31.78"E. B-90 Sarov visible at 64°35'11.02"N, 39°49'19.02"E

3rd Jul 2017 Commercial Satellite imagery (GE) of wharf near Zvezdochka shipyard appears to show Poseidon dummy test round and Pr.20210 barge at 64°34'59.92"N, 39°48'31.78"E. B-90 Sarov and “Star” pr.20180 are visible at 64°35'11.02"N, 39°49'19.02"E

2nd Aug 2017 Commercial Satellite imagery (GE) of wharf near Zvezdochka shipyard appears to show Poseidon dummy test round moved from previous home near 64°34'59.92"N, 39°48'31.78"E. Location unknown. B-90 Sarov visible at 64°35'11.02"N, 39°49'19.02"E

5th Sep 2017 Commercial Satellite imagery (GE) of wharf near Zvezdochka shipyard appears to show Poseidon dummy test round and Pr.20210 barge returned to previous home near 64°34'59.92"N, 39°48'31.78"E. B-90 Sarov visible at 64°35'11.02"N, 39°49'19.02"E

21st Nov 2017 Russian media reports that Skif bottom missiles are in service with Russian forces, citing ex-Chief of the Aerospace Force and Head of the Federation Council Defense and Security Committee Viktor Bondarev. http://tass.com/defense/976672. The report again implies it relates to Ballistic Missiles

Feb 2018 US DoD released a Nuclear Posture review citing the ‘Status-6 AUV’ as having been tested.
Poseidon Skif Status-6 KANYON - Covert Shores

Mar 2018 Computer generated images of KANYON featured in Russian MoD video showing new Russian strategic weapons (http://vote.mil.ru/vote/oms.htm):
KANYON (Status-6) strategic weapon
KANYON (Status-6) strategic weapon
The video showed KANYON being launched against an aircraft carrier (Note: debatable merit) and against a coastal port.

Mar 2018 System named 'Posiedon' (Посейдон), after Russian citizens vote on new name.

Mar 2018 Images of transport container shown on Russian media. Some images appear to show to the construction of a submarine, possibly Pr.09851:


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