What irks me is when the press labels Russia's current modernization and replacement efforts as some covert plan to stage some military buildup hostile to the free world.
Bothers me too... in addition to needing replacement because they are old, many systems also need replacement because they are not Russian, so it makes sense to create an all Russian replacement so spares and support are not an issue with a foreign country... friendly or not friendly.
It was a ramjet, so maybe that meant a higher radioactive death zone behind it, I'd have to go back and reinvestigate nuke propulsion to see if there are any legitimately cleaner ideas.
There were several ideas including clean and not so clean options, but the stumbling block was the shielding of the reactor made the payload pitiful, and in the conventional jet models the flight speed plus the 90 tons of lead shielding meant the nuclear bomber was as vulnerable to conventional air defences as any other bomber but with a fraction of the payload.
The beauty of a missile is to remove all that shielding as there is no crew.
Problem of course is that an ICBM is a much faster and more efficient delivery system...
The advantage of a nuke powered cruise missile is that you can launch it in any direction to get to its target area, and a ramjet model flying at mach 3 at low level the shockwave would be lethal to unprotected people on the ground... the exhaust is just gravy as you command your missile to zig zag all over your enemies territory for the next 10 years...
Crazy weapon. On so many levels.
Arguably, one of the reasons for the end of the Cold War was the B-2. The USSR pretty much balked at the amount of money the IADS would require to keep up (I'm speaking in broad strokes here, be quiet and listen a minute).
I totally agree, though I would include the threat of the Cruise missile along with a fleet of 100 or more B-2s they were planning was going to mean more radar sites, more S-300 class systems, more Mig-31s... more more more... at a time when they had just spent a fortune to get ICBM parity finally in the 1980s.
Now look at the state of the US economy. Want to be REALLY sneaky? Announce plans to introduce a modernized Meteorit program. Watch the US defense budget crap its pants over the new threat that there really is no plan to remotely counter over a large scale.
I for one think the threat from Iran and the European ABM system is an example of a sneaky plan in operation.
Of course it would be even sneakier to announce a plan and then outwardly go through the motions of implimenting that plan without ever actually spending any real money on it. Give it a huge budget but siphon the money off in devious ways to other programs like Health and Education.
And to be truly SUPER sneaky, couple this with the announcement of an INF pull-out, and hint at Meteorit GLCM variants for Kaliningrad or the Southwestern MD.
Of course perhaps they actually already are... Brahmos II with scramjet propulsion?
Perhaps they can invent an all new class of ballistic missile?
A sub delivered missile with a 10-12m long payload section that holds 5-6 cruise missiles. The SLBM could have a ballistic range of maybe 5-6,000km, but as it reenters it releases a heat resistent pod containing 6 cruise missiles that splits in half as it reenters... one half bursts open and hypersonic cruise missiles are ejected and remain at high altitude and high speed using scramjet propulsion to fly 3-4,000km to their target... they can afford to have a huge fuel capacity because the SLBM accelerates them and lifts them to altitude saving them a lot of energy that can be translated to range.
The other half of the pod deploys a parachute and releases its cruise missiles which descend and fly at subsonic speed at very low altitude with stealthy designs and 5,000km ranges.
This would mean a reach of up to 11,000km and a variety of threats for the defence to deal with without too much complication for the attacking force.
In many ways I think hypersonic scramjet powered missiles are the future "warhead" of Russian ICBMs... designed specifically to defeat ABM systems.