Jeffrey LewisRussian Underwater Drone Slide

I am going to write something longer on the (accidental?) leak of the slide showing a Russian UUV.  But I wanted to share the best quality image I could make.  Comments solicited.

Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 9.30.16 AM


  1. Cheryl Rofer (History)

    No classification markings.

  2. Nikolai Sokov (History)

    My cut: The pic appeared first at, but apparently not everyone paid attention, so Peskov had to make sure it would not go unnoticed. Recall Sakharov’s idea of a tsunami bomb. The entire project smacks of 1950s or, at latest, 1960s.

  3. George William Herbert (History)

    Can someone who still reads Russian confirm that the “1.6 M” is preceded by something approximating “diameter”?


    • Nikolai Sokov (History)

      Yes, the word they use is “caliber,” which is the right term to use for the diameter of a torpedo. Please note that Sakharov’s tsunami bomb had the diameter of 1.55 m.

    • Allen Thomson (History)

      So if the copper-colored cylinder just behind the nose is the warhead, it’s noticeably bigger than the W53 physics package? Oooo…

    • George William Herbert (History)

      At least it’s only 1.6 meter diameter. Scaling by the length depicted on the subs (about 40m) and the detailed illustration’s length to width ratio gives about 3.5-5 meter diameter. That was ludicrously huge for a warhead. I was tweeting about that, before we were able to confirm the actual diameter number was the 1.6 meters.

      5-20 megatons is only ginormous. 2-400 was the number with the larger estimate…

  4. Kyle Mizokami (@KyleMizokami) (History)
  5. Aki Heikkinen (History)

    Sure looks like an anti-Reforger weapon.

  6. Stephen Young (History)

    Here is the video of the briefing with Putin that this came from, broadcast on Russian TV:

    • Allen Thomson (History)

      I’d ask someone with better Russian than mine to opine, but that briefing looked totally staged and not very well staged at that. Putin was reading from cards (shades of Reagan!) and didn’t seem totally at home with the material. The guys in uniform, notably Shoygu, were looking down at the table and didn’t appear to be really happy to be there. So what was that about?

  7. Russian Navy Blog (History)

    FWIW, Sarov and some torpedo retriever looking thing are referred to as “support equipment” using the exact same words the Russians call the specialized vehicles that a company road mobile ICBMs “средство обеспечение”

  8. Allen Thomson (History)

    So it’s an area-denial weapon armed with a nuclear bomb designed for dirtiness to create “an extensive zone of radioactive contamination” in coastal regions? Sounds kind of extreme.

  9. Allen Thomson (History)
    • Nikolai Sokov (History)

      There is an interesting detail, which Pavel and all comments missed: the original blog (see link above) is still live. Relevant video frames were only removed from TV channels, but information is still there. I seriously doubt no one in the government noticed – in fact, that link was available yesterday at very pro-government, nationalistic even sites.

    • Pavel (History)

      Here is an update of the story – In brief, the picture of the drone is fake, which explains the large size of the “combat module.” But other elements of the slide are real and the program may well exist in some form.

  10. foarp (History)

    Amateur comment here: I can’t help thinking about other obviously-for-show Russian weapons projects. The Father-Of-All-Bombs, for example, was obviously just an attempt at grabbing some prestige for being able to engineer a bomb of a class that is unlikely to ever be used that is more powerful than the US’s. As another example, the Armata tank is a barely-functioning tank with many new and untested features which supposedly make it a match for NATO tanks that is supposed to be manufactured in large quantities – quantities that Russia likely can’t build in the timescale requested.

    This is more of the same: a superficially awesomely powerful weapon that in reality is unlikely ever to be produced or be useful, produced (and disclosed) only for prestige purposes.

  11. Seb Tallents (History)

    Surely this is just a deliberate leak for arm twisting purposes. If Russia can provoke the US to establish greater norms against use of nuclear weapons, it undermine the credibility of US security guarantees; particularly tactical nuclear weapons on allies soil.

    This then allows Russia a greater envelope for conventional and asymmetric threats and blackmail in it’s so-called near-abroad. The US counter – greater deployment of tripwire forces – stretches the US in a time of cut-backs and in any case tripwire forces can be countered or even become liabilities under Russia’s hybrid war approach.

    E.g. If a few hundred US marines are surrounded by a rent-a-mob throwing petrol bombs coordinated by little green men – they either withdraw, take losses, or open fire. If they withdraw, the credibility of the country at threats government; if they take losses there will be calls to withdraw and confidence in the ability of the US to protect the countries government is shattered, and if they open fire – they undermine the legitimacy of the countries government and potentially provide a pretext for Russia to send forces into the country as “peacekeepers” to guarantee the security of rebels.

    • Allen Thomson (History)

      > Surely this is just a deliberate leak for arm twisting purposes.

      That’s my tentative read on it. The Bill Gertz piece of 8 September certainly seemed to be talking about this megatorpedo, and now we have it showing up two months later on Russian TV in what seems to be an arranged briefing.

      So Russia seems to want to put the megatorpedo message out — in the context of US ABM developments. I don’t think the Bill Gertz piece could have come from any deep spy stuff (because the US isn’t any good at all at that kind of deep spying), and I don’t think the TV disclosure was accidental. Meaning that Russia has been trying to put the message out and that Putin and the General Staff have been recruited as messengers.

      As I doubt that this message is going to have any effect on US ABM work, just whose arm is intended to be twisted and for what purpose is a bit of a question. Most puzzling.

      Random thought: Going back to the Able Archer 83 story, I wonder how much perceptions of reality are diverging between Moscow and Washington.

  12. Sasha (History)

    This is a complete joke that would come from some right wing pulp news source. The technical description is totally absurd and directly contradicts practicality and reality. First of all, speed makes it vulnerable and completely unstealthy. Fast moving underwater objects are very very loud and can easily be detected . It could only be effective if it was fired at close range which would be suicidal for the sub launching it which leads to my next observation is its range. No mention whatsoever of what sort of range it has. If it’s screaming for several hundred knots it can easily be intercepted and destroyed by ASW helos or P8s. Besides its megatons it is a total liability and worthless compared to missiles.