Russia Develops Nuclear Explosion Simulator

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Russian scientists have produced a simulator that mimics a ground-based nuclear explosion to better train Moscow’s Ground Forces for combat operations involving atomic weapons.

According to a report by the Kremlin-backed news outlet TASS, the simulator was developed by researchers at the Russian Military Academy of Logistics. The device provides “a clear simulation of the visual features—the impact effect, light flash and mushroom-shaped dust cloud of a ground-based nuclear explosion,” read the report.

“The invention will be used in exercises and practical training with military units to improve the quality of training of the Ground Forces for combat operations in the context of the use of nuclear weapons, as well as radiation, chemical, biological ground reconnaissance units to determine the parameters and detect the epicenter of a nuclear explosion,” according to TASS’s report.

Visitors look at a model of a Soviet AN-602 thermonuclear aerial bomb, also known as the Tsar Bomb, while visiting the Atom Pavilion at the All-Russia Exhibition Centre (VDNH) in Moscow on November 4, 2023. Russian military scientists have developed a new simulator that is intended to mimic the “visual features” of a ground-based nuclear explosion.
TATYANA MAKEYEVA/AFP via Getty Images

The new device will replace Russia’s outdated IU-59 nuclear explosion simulator, which according to TASS’s report is “now obsolete.” Moscow’s military also uses the IAB-500 nuclear simulator that mimics the combat use of an RN-24 bomb—a thermonuclear bomb design. However, TASS reported, citing a report from Russia’s Military Academy of Logistics, that the IAB-500 was developed “only for front-line aviation,” meaning that using the device to train military units involved in radiation, chemical and biological reconnaissance “was not economically feasible.”

Newyork Verified reached out to Russia’s Defense Ministry via email for more information.

Tensions over the risk of nuclear conflict have risen in recent years in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin sparked concern last year after Moscow announced that it was transferring some of its nuclear arsenals to Belarus, where President Alexander Lukashenko has served as a close ally to the Kremlin.

Putin said in July 2023 that the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons to Minsk’s control was “an element of deterrence so that all those who are thinking about inflicting a strategic defeat on us are not oblivious to this circumstance,” a direct warning to the United States and other NATO members who have supported Kyiv’s military through the war in Ukraine.

Other allies of Putin have also raised anxiety around the potential for nuclear conflict between Russia and the West. Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev warned in a post to his Telegram channel last week that Moscow could respond with a nuclear strike if Ukraine launches an attack on Russian soil with help from Western-provided long-range missiles. Medvedev, who is now the deputy chairman of the Security Council of Russia, previously warned in December 2022 that NATO countries assistant Ukraine could be “legitimate military targets” as the war goes on.

The U.S. Defense Department (DoD) announced in October 2023 that Washington was working on the development of a new nuclear bomb with the capacity to hit unspecified targets. The decision to build an updated weapon followed the DoD’s 2022 Nuclear Posture Review, in which the authors of the report identified the need for the U.S. to advance its nuclear arsenal to deter adversaries like Russia and China.

Russia and the U.S. are the world’s biggest nuclear powers, accounting for roughly 89 percent of the total inventory of atomic weapons worldwide.