Through news site Sputnik, Russia says they are building a robotic mini-shuttle, much like a smaller, remote-controlled replica of the International Space Station—filled with nukes.
The robotic plane, similar to the U.S. Air Force’s secretive X-37B robotic mini-shuttle, will be loaded with nuclear warheads, and can launch an attack anywhere in the world within a matter of two hours. The Russian military says the project is making good progress and could very well be up and running by 2020.
“The idea is that the bomber will take off from a normal home airfield to patrol Russian airspace,” Lieutenant Colonel Aleksei Solodovnikov told Russia’s International News Agency. “Upon command it will ascend into outer space, strike a target with nuclear warheads and then return to its home base.”
“I think that its lift-off mass must be 20-25 metric tonnes for it to be a strike aircraft,” Solodovnikov told Sputnik. “It will [be able to accelerate to] hypersonic speed in rocket mode.”
Sputnik is run by Russian Federation-owned and controlled agency Rossiya Segodnya and has garnered the reputation of being a biased, propaganda-driven outlet with little-to-no credibility. With Russia choosing this source for the announcement, the news is, in the very least, suspect.
However, whether this is a bluff or not, the mere thought of fast-nuking space planes lurking about and ushering a new era (and arena) of warfare is beyond unsettling and is an act of violation against the Outer Space Treaty, signed by 104 countries in 1967—including Russia.
The treaty declares that: “States shall not place nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction in orbit or on celestial bodies or station them in outer space in any other manner.”
Sputnik reports that the engine for this alleged nuclear space bombing machine will be presented at the Army-2016 International Military Technology Forum, happening this September in Moscow. Until then, we’re all going to have to keep hoping this is nothing more but a ruse.