What happens now?
At the end of the day, it might not matter too much. While the United States might not have a countermeasure to defeat the Status-6—assuming it actually exists—it will not take the Navy long to build a weapon to intercept it. It will be expensive and it will not be easy, but Congress would certainly appropriate the money if the Status-6 were a real problem to be solved. “I think the U.S. Navy could defeat this potential capability given some time and sufficient funding to develop or modify weapons and develop CONOPS [concept of operations] to most effectively detect, locate and kill the UUV,” Callender said. “It would not be easy or cheap.”
A leaked version of the Trump Administration’s Nuclear Posture Review posits that Russia is developing a new nuclear-tipped torpedo with strategic ranges that can be used to target coastal areas of the continental United States. The weapon—called Status-6—would, in the short-term—present the United States Navy with a challenge that it could not counter without significant investment in new weaponry.
“If we assume that this is a real capability—that it will have a prototype built in 2019 and become operational in early 2020’s—then this is a significant disruptive capability that the U.S. must be able to counter,” retired U.S. Navy submariner Thomas Callender, currently a senior research fellow for defense programs at the Heritage Foundation told The National Interest. “Taking its top speed of greater than 56kts and depth of greater than 3280 feet into account, this would be a difficult target to kill with current weapons.”
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