In a first for the U.S., a draft version of the upcoming Nuclear Posture Review acknowledges the existence of Russia’s undersea nuclear drone.
“In addition to modernizing ‘legacy’ Soviet nuclear systems, Russia is developing and deploying new nuclear warheads and launchers,” stated an unclassified draft of the nuclear posture review.
“These efforts include multiple upgrades for every leg of the Russian nuclear triad of strategic bombers, sea-based missiles and land-based missiles. Russia is also developing at least two new intercontinental range systems, a hypersonic glide vehicle and a new intercontinental, nuclear-armed undersea autonomous torpedo.”
A chart detailing Russian nuclear delivery vehicles developed over the past decade reveals the capability again, including a small illustration for an “AUV,” or autonomous underwater vehicle, called Status-6.
It appears as though the Russian undersea drone — which is nicknamed “Kanyon” by the Pentagon and goes by the full name Ocean Multipurpose System Status-6 — has been tested at least once.
On Nov. 27, 2016, U.S. intelligence detected Status-6 after it was launched from a Sarov-class submarine used to test and validate new technology.
Russian reports indicate Kanyon could be equipped with a 100-megaton nuclear warhead. According to a document shown on Russian television, the drone has a range of 6,200 miles, a top speed in excess of 56 knots and can descend to depths of 3,280 feet below sea level. It was designed to be launched from at least two different classes of nuclear submarines, including the Oscar-class, which can carry four Status-6 drones at a time. [source]