In the 2012 presidential campaign, Mitt Romney said he still considered Russia to be the most important foe the United States was facing. President Obama mocked that claim and suggested that Romney was out of touch with current geopolitical realities, and that Russia was, in essence, a “has-bin,” and we had little to be concerned about from that country. Obama has also been aggressively downsizing our military, and reshaping it into a dispirited, politically-correct social organization rather than a world-class fighting machine.
Imagine his surprise, then, as Russian Premier Putin has become the true world leader with incursions into Ukraine and Syria, growing military might, and once again showing the determination to rebuild the old USSR and to create a military second to none, all of which is making Obama look weak, naive and impotent. Now the Soviet military is announcing a new buildup in their navy that is truly frightening.
Obama has worked strenuously to decrease our nuclear weapons capability and strength, even as Russia (and now Iran) are growing their nuclear firepower. It makes one wonder what Obama’s end-game is, and the reality is that we must recognize it is a dangerous world, and influence must be backed by power, not by incessant talking and “making nice” with our enemies. Russia, on the other hand, sees that raw military power will make it easier for them to “talks softly but to carry a big stick,” though Putin does not seem inclined to talk softly either. But Russian capacity to project power over the entire globe has increased substantially with their submarine delivered nuclear warhead program.
Two of Russia’s newest strategic nuclear submarines are ready to leave for the Barents Sea. One of them will shortly be launching 16 intercontinental ballistic missiles in one salvo. The Northern Fleet plans to repeat the Soviet military operation “Behemoth”, Izvestiya writes.
Borey-class submarines are the main element of the naval part of Russia’ nuclear triad. Capable of carrying 16 Bulava missiles, each with six to ten nuclear warheads, they can stay hidden under the Arctic ice cap and reach targets more than 9000 kilometers away.
Russia plans to build a total of eight such submarines. Three are already in active service, and the next four are being tested or are under different stages of construction.
“Behemoth” was an exercise the Soviet Union conducted in 1991. It was viewed as a possible scenario of a nuclear war against the United States and was executed to confirm the possibility and safety of a quick underwater salvo.
On August 6, 1991, the Delta-IV submarine “Novomoskovsk” performed a full salvo underwater launch, launching all 16 SS-N-23 missiles on board. The whole salvo took 3 minutes and 44 seconds, with a 14 second interval between launches. During this time the submarine expelled more than 650 tons of weight. The 1st and the 16th missiles hit their targets at Kura testing range on the Kamchatka peninsula, while the rest were self-destructed in flight, according to Wikipedia. This event is still considered to be a world record, Izvestiya writes.
The objective is to have eight nuclear submarines that can stay hidden indefinitely, each with the ability to launch 16 missiles with a range of 9000 kilometers, and each missile with a payload of six to ten nuclear warheads. Hopefully, the new U.S. president that is elected in 2016 will recognize that the world is not a safe or peaceful place, but one that respects power and leadership.
Putin is certainly not spending the billions of dollars this requires simply as an exercise in ego, but as a means to reconfigure global power. Obama does not understand that, or actually welcomes having the U.S. “put in its place” so that we are not the sole world power. Regardless of what his motivation is, it is wrong, and it is dangerous. Hopefully the next president will understand the need for strong leadership and military might.