The 9M730 Burevestnik (Russian: Буревестник; “Petrel”, NATO reporting name: SSC-X-9 Skyfall) is a Russian experimental nuclear-powered, nuclear-armed cruise missile under development for the Russian Armed Forces. The missile is claimed to have virtually unlimited range.
The Burevestnik is one of the six new Russian strategic weapons unveiled by Russian President Vladimir Putin on 1 March 2018.
Design and development
The Russian defense industry began developing an intercontinental-range nuclear-powered cruise missile capable of penetrating any interceptor-based missile defense system. It is said to have unlimited range and ability to dodge missile defenses. The name of the weapon was chosen by the unusual route of a public vote. A major stage of trials of the cruise missile of the Burevestnik complex, the tests of the nuclear power unit, were successfully completed in January 2019.
The “sister” project of Burevestnik, the Poseidon (Status-6) nuclear torpedo / drone submarine, is also built around a miniature nuclear propulsion unit.
On 9 August 2019, the Russian nuclear energy agency Rosatom confirmed that a release of radiation at the Nyonoksa missile testing site near Severodvinsk in northern Russia was linked to an accident involving the test of an “isotope power source for a liquid-fuelled rocket engine”, leading to the deaths of eight people, including five scientists. This was later reported as an “isotope power source in a liquid propulsion system”. Journalists mentioned a possible connection between the accident and Burevestnik tests. The Russian Ministry of Defense revealed little information, but nonproliferation expert Jeffrey Lewis and Federation of American Scientists fellow Ankit Panda questioned some of the ministry’s assertions about the type of propulsion of the rocket.
- Panda, Ankit [@nktpnd] (20 November 2018). “Update from a source: Russia’s Burevestnik nuclear-powered cruise missile has a NATO designator – SSC-X-9 SKYFALL. (USIC also calls this missile the KY30.)” (Tweet) – via Twitter.
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