Russia Fires Off Multiple ICBMs and Cruise Missiles During Massive Nuclear Drill

This exercise was likely an “end-to-end” test of Russia’s sprawling strategic weapons apparatus.

byTyler Rogoway|
Russia photo


Details remain scarce but Russia has officially stated that they executed a major strategic snap drill today that saw three submarine launched ballistic missiles, an ICBM, and an unknown number of air-launched cruise missiles being fired off in a very short period of time. 

The official statement from the Russian Ministry of Defense reads (automatic translation):

"October 26, 2017 in accordance with the Armed Forces Training Plan RF [Russian Forces] conducted training on the management of Russia's Strategic Nuclear Forces.

To participate in the training, forces and means of the ground, sea and aviation component of the Strategic Nuclear Forces of the Russian Federation were involved.

During the training, the practical actions of the combat calculations of the command posts of the Missile Forces with the strategic purposes, crews of nuclear missile submarines of the Northern and Pacific Fleets, strategic missile carriers and bombers of the Long-range Aviation of the Air and Space Forces.

Long-range aircraft Tu-160, Tu-95MS and Tu-22M3, which took off from the basic airfields "Ukrainka", "Engels", and "Shaikavka", launched airborne cruise missiles based on ground targets at the "Kura" Kamchatka), Pemba (Republic of Komi) and Terekt (Kazakhstan).

From the State Plesetsk cosmodrome, the combat calculation of the Strategic Missile Forces launched the launch of the intercontinental ballistic missile Topol on the Kura test range.

The nuclear submarine of the Pacific Fleet launched a salvo launch of two ballistic missiles from the water of the Sea of Okhotsk along the "Chizha" (Arkhangelsk region), from the water area of the Barents Sea the nuclear submarine of the Northern Fleet launched a ballistic missile at the Kura landfill.

The tasks of the training were carried out in full, all the learning goals were successfully amazed."

Here is footage supposedly from the drill released by the Russian Ministry of Defense:

The exercise is among the most comprehensive in recent memory, with the nuclear-capable missile launches occurring in both hemispheres and from the sea, land, and air. The War Zone began tracking reports of peculiarly heightened communications and air traffic among Russia strategic forces earlier in the day. Those reports turned out to be accurate, with Moscow disclosing the exercise shortly after it concluded.

Nuclear posturing is becoming far more in vogue than it was just months ago, and it's not just a foreign phenomenon. NATO just wrapped up a major nuclear exercise, which was clearly aimed at Russia whether they admit it or not. The Pentagon has also becoming far more cavalier when it comes to discussing, if not outright showcasing, its own nuclear capabilities and readiness in recent months. This attitude shift has even spilled over into social media.

With the relationship between the U.S. and Russia at an all time low and a potential conflict with North Korea brewing, not to mention a White House that seems far more casual about nuclear weaponry than past administrations and billions being funneled into new American nuclear weaponry, this "new normal" is likely to get even more pronounced, not less. Even China is becoming more inclined to brandish its strategic weaponry as of late. 

But these drills, which likely were an "end to end" test of Russia's nuclear weapons apparatus, including the complex command and control network that goes along with it, was an especially ominous display. 

Now we'll have to wait to see how Washington reacts. 

We will updated this post over the next 12 hours if more information becomes available.

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