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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

SKShU Grom / Thunder

U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) commenced Global Thunder, an annual command and control and field training exercise, Oct. 30, 2017. The Global Thunder series is designed to exercise all USSTRATCOM mission areas and assess joint operational readiness. The 'Max Thunder' joint-exercise takes place annually and is the largest military flying exercise held on the Korean Peninsula. It's part of a continuous exercise program designed to enhance interoperability between South Korean and U.S. forces, and is not tied to any specific real-world events or situations.

Autumn is gradually becoming the traditional season for large-scale maneuvers of the Russian strategic nuclear forces (SNF). The exercises of all elements of the nuclear triad with missile launches took place in October 2017 and 2018. The entire nuclear triad traditionally participates in the Grom strategic exercises - the Strategic Missile Forces (RVSN), long-range bombers of the Aerospace Forces, as well as nuclear submarine missile carriers of the Navy. The maneuvers are commanded from the National Defense Control Center in Moscow. The Thunder exercises were first announced in the fall of 2018. According to Russian experts, this was not at all "saber-rattling" to provoke a conflict. On the contrary, this was said to be a kind of response to the major nuclear exercises that are held annually in the United States - "Global Thunder".

According to Rusian military analysts, the Russian "Thunder" fully fits into the country's national defense doctrine. Especially against the backdrop of US plans to withdraw from the Short and Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. As Russian President Vladimir Putin noted, this step "could lead to the collapse of the entire system of arms control and non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction." Thus, Grom will become a logical preparation of the Russian Armed Forces for the most serious external challenges.

The exercises of strategic nuclear forces are held as needed and are not always covered in the media, military expert Viktor Murakhovsky told Izvestia 01 December 2021. “They work out options for retaliatory actions after an attack on our country,” he explained. “ They can be conducted as fairly modest command-and-staff exercises. In this case, all control structures are involved. An algorithm of actions is being worked out on them, but no one launches rockets. Or produce single launches. If necessary, they can take on a different scale: they involve the forces of the Strategic Missile Forces, the army and the navy. Such exercises can test the combat effectiveness of existing and test new weapons systems. In this case, missile launches, including group ones, can be carried out."

The maneuvers with strategic nuclear forces are usually held annually, at the end of the "military" academic year. Typically, as part of these exercises, a Northern Fleet submarine missile carrier fires an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) at the Kura test site in Kamchatka, a nuclear submarine of the Pacific Fleet launches an ICBM at a target at the Chizh test site in northern Russia. A combat training launch of ICBMs from the Strategic Missile Forces is also being carried out, cruise missiles are launched by aircraft of the Long-Range Aviation of the Russian Aerospace Forces.

Grom 2017

In October 2017, the Russian Defense Ministry conducted a strategic nuclear force (SNF) exercise, in which the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Armed Forces Vladimir Putin took direct part. During the Russian training of the nuclear triad, four intercontinental ballistic missiles designed to deliver nuclear warheads were practically launched. Three of them were launched by nuclear submarines of the Northern and Pacific fleets, one Topol ICBM launched from the Plesetsk cosmodrome. The supersonic Tu-160 strategic bombers, Tu-95MS turboprops and Tu-22M3 long-range supersonic bombers were also launched into the air. Both Vladimir Putin and the legendary “nuclear suitcase” took a direct part in the exercises. However, in terms of scale it was far from the American “Global Thunder”, but rather, albeit a large-scale, but planned check in the event of a nuclear war.

In the fall of 2017, American maneuvers acquired a pronounced political underpinning - Russia was chosen as a "potential adversary". In addition, in December 2017, immediately after the exercises, the Pentagon report entitled “Nuclear Review” spoke of the readiness of the States to launch a preventive nuclear strike where it would be “beneficial” for them. In addition to the “Global Thunder”, exercises involving nuclear weapons are carried out through NATO. They are called "Sure Noon". And this is about two hundred nuclear weapons deployed in Germany and Belgium. In the immediate vicinity of the Russian borders, the Saber Strike also took place in 2018, and the US naval contingent became noticeably more active in the Black Sea.

In November 2017, during the Russian training of the nuclear triad, four intercontinental ballistic missiles were practically launched, designed to deliver nuclear warheads. Three of them were launched by nuclear submarine missile carriers of the Northern and Pacific fleets, one Topol ICBM was launched from the Plesetsk cosmodrome. Tu-160 supersonic strategic bombers, Tu-95MS turboprops and Tu-22M3 long-range supersonic bombers were also launched into the air. Strategists and Tu-22 conducted training and combat launches of cruise missiles. The military department of the Russian Federation reported on the successful conduct of these exercises, during which control of the entire nuclear triad of Russia was tested. With this action, Moscow, of course, demonstrated to the West that the Russian means of delivering nuclear warheads work without failure.

The press secretary of the President of the Russian Federation Dmitry Peskov, commenting on the training of strategic nuclear forces, said: "Testing the nuclear triad is a constant, regular process, it is not connected with any international events." That is, Russia simply ensures its security. The Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation called the launches of ICBMs and cruise missiles from strategic bombers "training in the management of strategic nuclear forces", and Peskov - their "tests".

“There are no contradictions on this topic,” Major General Vladimir Bogatyrev, who served in the central apparatus of the Ministry of Defense for a long time, told NVO. “Any exercises, training, especially in the management of strategic nuclear forces, also include elements for testing new, modified weapons. And this happens regularly, especially recently. The limited official information on this subject, I believe, is related to the secrecy regime. To a certain extent, such actions are a response to the US announced concept of an instant global strike against its potential adversaries. We know that in this concepts of Russia are among them".

Major General Oleg Kislov, head of the State Central Interspecific Test Range (GTSMP), Kapustin Yar, told reporters that the test site would be involved in testing promising types of military equipment for land-based and sea-based ICBMs. He said that weapons will also be tested, the operation of which is based on new physical principles. In particular, the Topol research missile system will be used for this purpose. The media and some experts suggested that at the GTsMP, subordinate to the command of the Strategic Missile Forces, projects related to equipping the complexes "

Grom 2018

“Thunder” was announced in the fall of 2018, as part of a whole cycle of all kinds of exercises and maneuvers, which should reveal the degree of combat readiness of all the branches of the Russian troops. It was then, at the next college of the Moscow Region, that Vladimir Putin stated that the possible withdrawal of the United States from the agreement on short- and medium-range missiles "could lead to the collapse of the entire arms control system and the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction."

Grom 2019

Starting 11 October 2019, the Russian armed forces, on behalf of President Vladimir Putin, conducted a strategic nuclear force exercise, according to the Defense Ministry. It is noted that during the maneuvers, the military checked the command and control system of the troops, as well as the reliability of passing combat training orders and signals. The audit affected the entire management vertical - from the National Center for Defense Management to command posts of formations and military units.

The exercises of strategic nuclear forces involved ground, naval and aviation forces, as well as missile attack warning systems. During the maneuvers, launches of cruise missiles and aircraft guided missiles from the waters of the Barents and Okhotsk Seas took place. Practical actions worked out on-duty shifts of command posts and combat calculations of missile regiments. Participants and submariners took part in the maneuvers, in particular the crews of the nuclear submarine cruisers of the Northern and Pacific fleets. In addition, pilots of strategic missile carriers and VKS long-range bombers were involved. It is reported that aircraft flew from the airfields of Engels, Ukrainka and Shaikovka.

The unified space system and ground-based radar stations timely detected all ballistic missile launches from submarines. "Information about them was issued at the points of command of the state and the Armed forces in the prescribed manner," the Ministry of Defense said. The Russian military department noted that the exercises were completed in full. "All training targets at the Kura, Chizh, Pemboy and Terekt training ranges are hit," the report said.

On October 15-16, 2019 Russia hosted the largest post-Soviet strategic nuclear force exercises, Thunder 2019. As part of these maneuvers, four ballistic and 16 cruise missiles were launched. The exercises of the Russian strategic nuclear forces “Thunder-2019” took place on 15-17 October. The Thunder-2019 exercises were held from October 15 to 17, with about 12 thousand military personnel, 213 strategic missile launchers, 105 aircraft for various purposes, including five strategic missile carriers, 15 surface ships and five nuclear submarine missile carriers, and also 310 units of military and special equipment. In general, this year, emphasis was placed on the use of cruise missiles. Strategic forces included missile launchers of sea-based cruise missiles. This is a relatively new strategic “discipline” related to the receipt by the fleet of long-range cruise missiles in both nuclear and non-nuclear equipment.

The exercises of the Grom-2019 strategic nuclear forces were held only at Russian training grounds, foreign contingents were not involved in the exercises, Major General Yevgeny Ilyin, Acting Head of the Main Directorate for International Military Cooperation of the Russian Defense Ministry, said on 14 October 2019 at a briefing for foreign attachés.

He said that formations and military units of the Strategic Missile Forces, commands of long-range and military transport aviation, units and military units of the Western, Southern, Central and Eastern military districts, as well as the Northern Fleet will be involved in the exercises.

Earlier it was reported that the exercises, during which 16 launches of cruise and ballistic missiles will be performed, will be held from October 15 to 17. “I would like to emphasize that all the exercise areas are located exclusively on the territory of the Russian Federation. Foreign contingents are not involved in the exercises,” Ilyin said.

According to him, in the course of working out training episodes, the tasks of deploying groups of strategic forces, preparing them for the use of long-range precision weapons, and comprehensively supporting combat operations in the areas of use of troops will be worked out. "When working out comprehensive support measures, practical actions of the troops are envisaged to counter enemy sabotage and reconnaissance activities, to strengthen the security and defense of military facilities," Ilyin added.

In 2019 the exercise involved about 12 thousand military personnel, 213 launchers of the Strategic Missile Forces, up to 105 aircraft and helicopters, 15 ships, five submarines, 310 units of military and special equipment . More than a dozen launches of cruise and ballistic missiles were also carried out.

Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin led a training session of the strategic deterrence forces as part of the Grom-2019 command-post exercises on October 17, 2019. On October 17, ballistic missile launches were carried out during an episode of the exercises led by Russian President Vladimir Putin. According to the Ministry of Defense, from the waters of the Barents Sea and the Sea of Okhotsk, strategic missile submarines of the Northern and Pacific fleets launched ballistic missiles at the Kura ranges in Kamchatka and Chizh in the Arkhangelsk region.

During the Thunder-2019 exercise, the military intended to verify the coherence of operations in the use of strategic nuclear forces. For this, about 12,000 military personnel, 213 missile launchers of the Strategic Missile Forces, more than 100 aircraft (including five strategic bombers), up to 15 surface ships and five submarines were involved. For three days, 16 practical launches of cruise and ballistic missiles were carried out. Particular attention was paid to ICBM launches: the RS-24 Yars mobile missile system launched on the Plesetsk – Kura highway, and the K-18 Karelia nuclear missile carrier fired from the Barents Sea with the R-29RMU2 Sineva missile. Both launches went as normal.

During the Thunder-2019 strategic command and staff exercises, the final part of which was led by President Vladimir Putin, new systems were tested to reduce the preparation time for launching the Caliber cruise missile from “about three hours to 15 minutes”. About this RBC said a source close to the security forces. In particular, the control system and the mission introduction system were tested, he specified. Launches of the "Caliber", according to the interlocutor of RBC, in the framework of the exercises were carried out from the ships "Dagestan" and "Grad Sviyazhsk".

“It was supposed to work out 15 minutes. But the Caliber team did not leave the first team. As a result, the missiles flew away, but not at the first attempt and after the use of the backup launch systems, ”said a source at RBC, close to the power structures. Caliber cruise missiles really left the second or third attempt, confirmed the interlocutor of RBC, close to the General Staff.

The Ministry of Defense denied reports of an emergency during the Thunder-2019 exercises, which failed to launch an intercontinental ballistic missile from the Ryazan submarine. “The information published by the Vedomosti newspaper about the allegedly abnormal situation during the Grom strategic command post exercises is not true,” the ministry said in a statement. At the same time, the military department confirmed that the launch was canceled, and explained this with the technical condition of the intercontinental missile.

The Ministry of Defense reported that all the tasks envisaged during the exercises, "were completed in full, the missiles reached the specified ranges, hitting conventional targets and confirming the specified characteristics." According to the agency, earlier at a briefing for foreign military attachés “the maximum number of launches of various types of missile systems that could be involved in the exercise” was announced (plans were announced to launch two R-29R missiles at the Chizh test site).

Grom 2020

Russia's nuclear triad makes attempts to blackmail and pressure Russia pointless. This was stated by President Vladimir Putin at a meeting with the leaders of the power bloc, TASS reporte on 10 November 2020. “Despite the changing nature of military threats, it is the nuclear triad that remains the most important, key guarantee of Russia's military security,” he said at a meeting with the leadership of the Ministry of Defense, federal departments and defense industry enterprises. According to the head of state, the modernization of nuclear forces will be continued. Putin noted that analogues of some types of Russian weapons, most likely, will not appear abroad for a long time.

On 09 December 2020 the press service of the Ministry of Defense spoke about the training of strategic nuclear forces under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin as part of the Thunder-2020 exercises. During the maneuvers, the actions of crews of launchers of the Strategic Missile Forces, crews of strategic aviation and a nuclear submarine of the Northern Fleet were worked out, training and combat launches of an intercontinental ballistic missile, a ballistic missile of a submarine, high-precision long-range air-launched cruise missiles took place.

The publication called this training not just training to repel the attack of a mock enemy, but a demonstration of the possibility of inflicting a global strike on this enemy with the probability of its complete destruction. The fact that Putin was in charge of the training emphasizes its level, because in the hands of the commander-in-chief there is a nuclear briefcase, pressing a button in which will destroy half the world.

Grom 2021

According to the combat training plan, as of September 2021 in the near future it was planned to conduct a strategic exercise of the nuclear forces Grom-2021. Instead, from 24 to 28 September 2021 in the Republic of Armenia, an unrelated special exercise "Thunder-2021" was held with special units of anti-drug services, internal affairs bodies and special services that are part of the special forces of the Collective Rapid Reaction Forces (FSSN CRRF) of the CSTO.

Grom 2022

The Financial Times reported 05 February 2022 that "US military and intelligence officials believe that Russia is planning to hold a big nuclear weapons exercise this month as a warning to Nato not to intervene if President Vladimir Putin decides to invade Ukraine. General Mark Milley, chair of the joint chiefs, and Avril Haines, director of national intelligence, told lawmakers in the House of Representatives on Thursday that Putin was planning to start the exercises in mid-February, according to a Congressional aide with knowledge of the closed-door briefing. Russia generally holds its annual nuclear exercises — which involve testing intercontinental ballistic missiles from land, sea and air — in the fall. But the US believes Putin has decided to hold them earlier this year as a show of strength in the event that he orders his military to further invade Ukraine."

On 30 November 2021, Vladimir Putin, speaking at the Russia Calling forum, called the development of hypersonic weapons Russia's forced response to NATO's actions. Experts note that the use of such types of weapons in exercises means the start of work on their integration into the global national defense system. It was planned to test the new weapon, as well as methods for its use, as part of the Thunder maneuvers . This is the name given to strategic military exercises, where options are being worked out to respond to a surprise attack against our country with the use of nuclear weapons - within the framework of the Thunder, the nuclear triad is involved.

“Things have come to the point that missile defense systems are deployed in Poland and Romania,” the president said. - And the launchers that are there, Mk-41, they can also be equipped with Tomahawks - strike systems. But it also poses a threat to us. Well, this is an obvious fact , an obvious thing. To all our persuasions and requests not to do this, what happened? What we are seeing now. In response, we were forced, I want to emphasize this, we were forced to start developing hypersonic weapons. This is our answer."

The Russian armed forces will hold two strategic command-and-staff exercises, headlined Vostok and Grom, in 2022, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said at the ministry’s enlarged board meeting on 21 December 2021. Shoigu named "preparing and holding" these drills among goals for 2022. The enlarged board meeting of the Russian Defense Ministry was held with the participation of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Grom (Thunder) is a strategic nuclear forces exercise. The Vostok (East) drills are a key combat training event for all Russian troops. Strategic command and staff exercises (SKShU) "Thunder" with the participation of all three components of the strategic nuclear forces (SNF) of the Russian Federation will be held in early 2022. This was reported to TASS by a source close to the Russian Defense Ministry. "Thunder exercises with the participation of the Russian nuclear triad are scheduled for early 2022," he said 03 January 2022.

On February 19, 2022, under the leadership of the Supreme Commander-in-Cheif of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin a planned exercise of the strategic deterrence forces was held, during which ballistic and cruise missiles were launched. The forces and means of the Aerospace Forces, the Southern Military District, the Strategic Missile Forces, the Northern and Black Sea Fleets were involved in the exercise.

The Aerospace Forces successfully launched the Kinzhal hypersonic ballistic missiles. Ships and submarines of the Northern Fleet and the Black Sea Fleet launched Caliber cruise missiles and Zirkon hypersonic missiles at sea and ground targets. In the Astrakhan region, at the Kapustin Yar training ground, the Iskander ground-based cruise missile was launched.

From the position area of Plesetsk state test cosmodrome, Yars intercontinental ballistic missile was launched at the Kura training ground on Kamchatka Peninsula. Air-launched cruise missiles fired from Tu-95MS long-range strategic missile carriers hit targets at the Pemboi and Kura training grounds. From the waters of the Barents Sea, a strategic nuclear submarine cruiser Karelia of the Northern Fleet launched Sineva ballistic missile at target at the Kura training ground.

The exercise of the strategic deterrence forces was planned earlier, during which the readiness of the military command and control bodies, launch combat crews, crews of warships and strategic missile carriers to perform the assigned tasks, as well as the reliability of the weapons of strategic nuclear and non-nuclear forces, was checked. The tasks envisaged during the training of the strategic deterrence forces were completed in full, all missiles hit their targets, confirming the specified characteristics.

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Page last modified: 12-03-2022 17:33:48 ZULU