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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)


SKShU Grom / Thunder

U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) commence 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. 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.

“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."

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.

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).




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