Could the new plance also carry atomic arms?
Many Russia experts such as Olya Oliker have cast doubt upon the notion that Moscow has lowered its nuclear threshold. Oliker notes that Russian military strategy documents from 2010 actually tighten the Kremlin’s policies on the use of nuclear weapons. Indeed, most experts on Russian nuclear weapons such a Nikolai Sokov—a former Soviet and Russian arms control negotiator—believe that Russia is reducing its dependence on non-strategic nuclear arms.
Russia’s Sukhoi Su-57 PAK-FA fifth-generation stealth fighter is listed in the Trump Administration’s new Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) as a developmental dual conventional and nuclear capable strike aircraft. If the NPR is correct, the Su-57 could potentially supplant the Su-34 Fullback bomber—which is Russia’s current nuclear-capable strike aircraft—for intermediate range missions against heavily defended airspace.
Indeed, the NPR contends that Russia is continuing to modernize its arsenal of non-strategic nuclear arsenal of roughly 2000 nuclear warheads.
“Russia is modernizing an active stockpile of up to 2,000 non-strategic nuclear weapons, including those employable by ships, planes, and ground forces,” the NPR reads. “These include air-to-surface missiles, short range ballistic missiles, gravity bombs, and depth charges for medium-range bombers, tactical bombers, and naval aviation, as well as anti-ship, anti-submarine, and anti-aircraft missiles and torpedoes for surface ships and submarines, a nuclear ground launched cruise missile in violation of the 1987 INF Treaty, and Moscow’s antiballistic missile system.”
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