Status-6 Oceanic Multipurpose System

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Poseidon (Russian: Посейдон) (previously known by the Russian codename Status-6 (Russian: Статус-6) and by the NATO code name Kanyon) is a nuclear-powered and nuclear-armed unmanned underwater vehicle under development by the Russian Federation that can deliver conventional and nuclear payloads. According to Russian state TV, it may be able to deliver a thermonuclear cobalt bomb of up to 100 megatonnes against enemy's naval ports and coastal cities. In 2018, the U.S. Nuclear Posture Review stated that Russia is developing a "new intercontinental, nuclear armed, nuclear-powered, undersea autonomous torpedo".[1]

"Kanyon" is the name given to this drone by the Central Intelligence Agency.[2][3] In March 2018, Russian Ministry of Defence officially named the drone "Poseidon" following a public vote.[4]


The Poseidon weapon is designed to create a tsunami wave up to 500 metres (1,600 ft) tall, which would contaminate a wide area on an enemy's coast with radioactive isotopes, as well as being immune to anti-missile defence systems such as anti-ballistic missiles, laser weapons and railguns that might disable an ICBM or a SLBM.[5][6][7][8]

An aircraft carrier battle group would have reduced chances of defending itself against it. The drone could detonate its very large warhead at standoff range, and anti-submarine warfare units would have very little time to react because of the speed at which it travels.[9]

Two potential carrier submarines, which would allegedly carry the Poseidon externally,[10] the Project 09852 Oscar-class submarine Belgorod, and the Project 09851 Khabarovsk submarine, are new boats laid down in 2012 and 2014, respectively.[11][6][12][13] Oscar-class submarines could carry four Poseidon torpedoes at the same time for the total yield of up to 400 megatonnes.[14]

Poseidon appears to be a deterrent weapon of last resort.[8][12][13] It appears to be a torpedo-shaped robotic mini-submarine which can travel at speeds of 185 km/h (100 kn).[8][12][15] More recent information suggests a top speed of 100 km/h (54 kn), with a range of 10,000 km (5,400 nmi; 6,200 mi) and a depth maximum of 1,000 m (3,300 ft).[16] This underwater drone is cloaked by stealth technology to elude acoustic tracking devices.[12] Its size appears to be 1.6 metres in diameter, and 24 metres long.[10] The warhead shown in the leaked figure is a cylinder 1.5 metres in diameter by 4 metres in length, giving a volume of 7 cubic meters. Comparing this to the volumes of other large thermonuclear bombs, the 1961 Soviet-era Tsar Bomba itself measured 8 metres long by 2.1 metres in diameter, indicates that the yield is at least several tens of megatons, generally consistent with early reports.


The first public report about Poseidon was in September 2015 and cited Pentagon sources.[17] 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.[2] Russian government newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta speculated that the warhead would be a cobalt bomb.[18] The CIA has concluded the leak was intentional.[2]

Russia may have tested Poseidon for the first time in Arctic waters on 27 November 2016, or perhaps in a landed mockup, though no evidence of any test is available.[19][20]

A Pentagon draft Nuclear Posture Review report leaked in January 2018 stated that Poseidon was under development.[21][22]

Footage of Poseidon was released in July 2018.[23]


Vladimir Putin in March 2018 referenced an autonomous torpedo that could hit a U.S. port city, presumably a reference to Poseidon. Addressing the torpedo, U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis stated Russia already has the capability to hit U.S. port cities with missiles, and told reporters in Oman that Poseidon "does not change at all the strategic balance".[24]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "US says Russia 'developing' undersea nuclear-armed torpedo". CNN. 2018. Retrieved 8 February 2018.
  2. ^ a b c "CIA: Leak of Nuclear-Armed Drone Sub Was Intentional". The Washington Free Beacon. November 19, 2015. Archived from the original on 2015-11-20.
  3. ^ "Pentagon Confirms Existence of Russian Doomsday Torpedo". Popular Mechanics. 2018-01-16. Retrieved 2018-01-21.
  4. ^ "New Russian weapons named". Jane's 360. 23 March 2018. Retrieved 5 April 2018.
  5. ^ "What Is The Purpose Of Russia's Deadly Status-6 Torpedo". ValueWalk. 2015-12-08. Retrieved 2017-12-16.
  6. ^ a b Russian Mystery Submarine Likely Deployment Vehicle for New Nuclear Torpedo. USNI News. [1]
  7. ^ "What Is The Purpose Of Russia's Deadly Status-6 Torpedo". 8 December 2015. Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  8. ^ a b c Steven Pifer S. Russia's perhaps-not-real super torpedo. Brookings Institution. November 18, 2015 [2]
  9. ^ Pentagon Confirms Russia Has a Submarine Nuke Delivery Drone Popular Mechanics. By Kyle Mizokami, Dec 8, 2016.
  10. ^ a b Insinna, Valerie (12 January 2018). "Russia's nuclear underwater drone is real and in the Nuclear Posture Review". DefenseNews. Gannett. Retrieved 3 February 2018.
  11. ^ Franz-Stefan Gady. "Revealed: Russia's Top Secret Nuclear Torpedo". The Diplomat. Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  12. ^ a b c d Oliphant R. Secret Russian radioactive doomsday torpedo leaked on television. Telegraph. 13 November 2015 [3]
  13. ^ a b 'Assured unacceptable damage': Russian TV accidentally leaks secret 'nuclear torpedo' design — RT News [4]
  14. ^
  15. ^ Lockie, Alex (24 December 2016). "Trump questions the US's nuclear arsenal: Here's how the US's nukes compare to Russia's". Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  16. ^ "Pentagon Confirms Russia's Thermonuclear Submarine Bomb Is Real". 8 December 2016. Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  17. ^ "Russia Building Nuclear-Armed Drone Submarine". The Washington Free Beacon. Sep 8, 2015. Archived from the original on Nov 20, 2015.
  18. ^ "Russia reveals nuclear torpedo plan". BBC News. 12 November 2015. Retrieved 8 February 2018.
  19. ^
  20. ^ Pentagon Confirms Russia Has a Submarine Nuke Delivery Drone Popular Mechanics. By Kyle Mizokami, Dec 8, 2016.
  21. ^ "Russia has underwater nuclear drones, newly leaked Pentagon documents reveal". 14 January 2018. Retrieved 21 January 2018. Russia is also developing at least two new intercontinental range systems, a hypersonic glide vehicle and a new intercontinental, nuclear-armed undersea autonomous torpedo.
  22. ^ Farley, Robert. "Russia's Status-6: The Ultimate Nuclear Weapon or an Old Idea That Won't Die?". The National Interest. Retrieved 21 January 2018.
  23. ^
  24. ^ "Russia says it has successfully launched powerful new missile". the Guardian. 11 March 2018. Retrieved 12 March 2018.