Russia has launched its new Belgorod submarine, which is designed to carry devastating underwater nuclear drones.
Moscow’s development of nuclear-powered drones has been closely watched in recent years, amid concern that Russia could be adding a “doomsday” weapon capable of unleashing tidal waves to its arsenal.
During Tuesday's visit to a military shipyard in St. Petersburg, President Vladimir Putin viewed the departure of the Belgorod sub at the Sevmash plant in Severodvinsk in northwestern Russia via a teleconference.
The submarine, which is also known as Special Project 09852, is attracting plenty of attention. “Russia launches its special purpose deep diving and second nuclear strike submarine at the Severodvinsk shipyards today. A very special ship,” Carl Bildt, co-chair of the European Council on Foreign Relations, tweeted Tuesday.
The Russian Navy said the submarine designed to carry Poseidon drones is set to enter service next year.
The Poseidon can target coastal areas with a heavy nuclear weapon, causing a devastating tsunami wave. Putin has said its tests have been successful.
He first mentioned the nuclear-powered drone among an array of other new weapons in a state-of-the-nation address last year, saying they would render U.S. missile defense systems useless.
The world got its first glimpse of Belgorod from images of the massive vessel’s stern captured during the launch ceremony in Severodvinsk
Experts also noted an unusual bulge on the submarine’s hull.
“The main feature photographed which raises questions is a bulge on the lower hull,” wrote defense analyst H.I. Sutton, in a blog post. “This may relate to retractable steerable thrusters for precise position holding.”
Popular Mechanics reported that, at around 604 feet, Belgorod would be the world’s longest submarine.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers