The Status-6, also known as Kanyon, is a nuclear-powered and nuclear-armed unmanned underwater vehicle being developed by the Russia. It would supposedly be able to deliver a thermonuclear cobalt bomb of up to 100 megatons against enemy’s naval ports and coastal cities.
The first public report about the Kanyon was in September 2015 and cited Pentagon sources. On November 10, the Russian television station NTV “accidentally” showed a document in the hand of a Russian general during a report in which Russian President Vladimir Putin denounced American plans concerning defensive missiles. There was debate afterwards about whether this was a warning to the West or disinformation.
A Pentagon draft Nuclear Posture Review report leaked in January 2018 stated that the Status-6 is a real weapon and is under development.
In this video, Defense Updates analyses Status 6 and it’s deadly capabilities.
Lets get started.
Limited information is available on Status 6.
It appears to be a deterrent weapon of last resort. It is reported to be designed to be a torpedo-shaped robotic mini-submarine, that can travel at speeds of 100 knots (185 km/h). More recent information suggests a top speed of 56 knots (100 km/h), with a range of 6,200 miles (10,000 km) and a depth maximum of 3,280 feet (1000 m). This underwater drone is perceived to be cloaked by stealth technology to elude acoustic tracking devices.
The Russian super-weapon is more or less like an underwater intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
Status 6 is rumored to posses a very destructive payload. It is expected to be large enough to carry a 100 megaton warhead.
This weapon could create a tsunami wave up to 500 m tall that will radioactively contaminate a wide area on an enemy coasts with radioactive materials.
Status 6 could be armed with a cobalt bomb. A cobalt bomb is a type of “salted bomb”: a nuclear weapon designed to produce enhanced amounts of radioactive fallout, intended to contaminate a large area with radioactive material.
Upon detonation, cobalt-59 would be transmuted into cobalt-60, a highly radioactive particle with a half-life of more than five years. It will ensure that “everything living will be killed,” including those hiding in bunkers. No country in the world has yet tested a cobalt bomb due to the devastating radiation it would unleash.
It will cause “guaranteed devastation,” rendering the target areas unusable for economic, military or other activities for years.
Bryan Clark, a former U.S. Navy submarine officer and current senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments said “It certainly is a threat U.S. forces will need to take into account”.
The U.S missile defense systems like Ground-Based Midcourse Defense , Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System or Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) are designed to take out traditional missiles.
If the Status 6 proves to be feasible, the main concern for Washington is that the weapon would be able to bypass these missile defense systems altogether as it will travel underwater.
The U.S. Navy would need to look for Status 6 using similar systems as it does for Anti-Submarine Warfare, though it will be harder to detect being much smaller and less noisier than a tradition submarine.
While the weapon could potentially be detectable to American sonar, the problem then would be how to engage it.
As Mr Clark said. “A submarine could be deterred or harassed by active sonar or unsuccessful torpedo attacks. The Status-6 would not respond like a submarine crew, though, and would just keep going until physically stopped. The U.S. has not deployed Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (UUV) stopping weapons or technology yet.”
So basically Status 6 could be unstoppable once fired.
Oscar-class submarines and Yasen-Class submarine could carry four Staus-6 torpedoes at the same time. Especially arming the Yaseen class with Satus 6 torpedo makes for a very deadly combination, as it nuclear powered and hence has an unlimited theoretical range. The submarine could potentially sneak very close to US before firing the torpedo.
The US and NATO members are developing an anti-missile defense system. The US claims that the system will be deployed to counter the threat of Iranian and North Korean missiles. But the air defense systems will be eventually installed in Poland and Romania to neutralize Russian nuclear attacks. Vladimir Putin says it will pose a serious threat to global and regional stability.
Though Russia is developing offensive systems capable of penetrating the US air defense shield , the Status-6 could be an alternative mechanism. Even if the US neutralizes Russian ICBMs, it could launch Status-6 to cause irreversible damage to the enemy.