CHINA has unveiled plans for fearsome nuclear drone torpedoes that would be able to fire swarms of devastating torpedoes across the entire Pacific Ocean.
Beijing scientists claim the new torpedo could be mass-produced, allowing it to be fired from virtually any warship or submarine.
Chinese news sources brag that the new torpedoes would be an improvement on Russia's underwater Poseidon nuclear drone, which Putin first flaunted back in 2018.
The Poseidon was hailed by the Kremlin as the world's first nuclear-propelled underwater drone.
It is designed to bypass US missile defences and attack coastal targets by using its cobalt warhead to generate a 300ft radioactive tsunami, according to the US ODIN military training database.
In January this year, it was reported that the Belgorod, Vlad's 600ft "city killer" nuke submarine will be primed for war this year.
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It was hailed as a "game-changer" for Putin's forces when the sub was launched for the first time in June last year.
However, China claims that, unlike Russia's model, their torpedo will be easier to produce, and can be placed into a standard torpedo tube, rather than needing a custom-designed tube.
The unwieldy and expensive Poseidon is too large and overpowered for mass production, the South China Morning Post notes and is restricted to use as a strategic-level weapon with Russia's Belgorod special mission submarine.
Researchers in Beijing say they have completed the design for its small, low-cost nuclear reactor which would be able to unleash a swarm of torpedoes across the Pacific Ocean in around a week.
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Each torpedo would use a throwaway nuclear reactor to keep it at its cruising speed of over 30 knots (35mph) for 200 hours before dumping it on the seafloor.
A battery would then power a conventional weapon strike, Interesting Engineering reports.
Lead scientist Guo Jian from China's Institute of Atomic Energy claimed in a paper published this month by the peer-reviewed Journal of Unmanned Undersea Systems that there is a key difference between their design and the Russian "Poseidon".
"Thanks to its high flexibility and low cost, this unmanned underwater vehicle equipped with the nuclear power system can be used as a conventional force like an attack nuclear submarine, rather than as a nuclear missile."
Russia's Poseidon was touted as being capable of flattening an entire city or larger area using its two-megaton nuclear weapon – around 100 times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.
But Chinese researchers claim such a weapon would spark a nuclear war that would destroy the world, making it unlikely to ever be developed.
This unmanned underwater vehicle equipped with the nuclear power system can be used as a conventional force like an attack nuclear submarine
Instead, Guo says China's weapon would be able to be used "in reconnaissance, tracking, attack and strategic strike".
The low-cost reactor would produce more than 1.4 megawatts of heat from less than 8.8lbs (4kg) of low-concentration uranium fuel.
This would be enough energy to power the torpedo across the Pacific Ocean.
"When the manufacturing cost is low enough, even if the nuclear-powered device can only be used once, the overall cost will be low," the researchers said.
"This, in turn, stimulates us to make the system simpler and smaller."
According to the team, the rector could run for up to 400 hours while travelling some 10,000km, roughly the distance between Shanghai and San Francisco.
THE Poseidon nuclear drone that can trigger tsunamis
- Putin’s massive Poseidon drone will carry a two-megaton nuclear weapon
- It could be in regular operation this year
- Putin said the weapon was designed so Russia could destroy enemy naval bases
- If deployed underwater, it could cause a tsunami as big as 300ft
- It will travel at speeds of 60-70 knots underwater in a specially built submarine
- The weapon was unveiled by Vladimir Putin during his State of the Nation address on March 1, 2018
- Experts have warned the damage could match Japan’s 2011 tsunami when 20,000 people died
As it travels across the ocean, the reactor would separate from the torpedo and sink to the bottom of the ocean, triggering a safety mechanism to kill the remaining chain reaction.
This, the scientists claim, would prevent any form of nuclear accident from being triggered by the torpedos.
"Even if the hull is broken, the interior is filled with water, and the whole body falls into the wet sand on the seabed, the reactor will not have a critical accident," they added. "Safety is ensured."
Last year, US diplomat Robert Wood claimed that China is looking at exotic nuclear delivery systems such as Russia's Poseidon drone and Burevestnik nuclear-powered cruise missile, the Associated Press reported.
However, Asia Times reported that the weapon may never get beyond a prototype.
Hans Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, said that China is known for following the lead of the US and Russia and then leaving its designs unbuilt.
While a study last year by the Nautilus Institute found that the Poseidon drone may only have marginal military value despite its devastating capabilities.
Sources told Russia's Tass news agency in January that the final sea trials are almost complete and it will be ready by the end of this month.
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"The transfer of the Belgorod nuclear submarine to the fleet is planned for the summer of 2022," it reported today.
"It is assumed that this event can be timed to coincide with the Day of the Russian Navy, which will be celebrated on July 31."
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