There is talk going around that the Russian military is developing a very interesting piece of technology.
RIA Novosti reports that Colonel Alexei Solodovnikov, Russian commander of the Strategic Missile Forces, has referenced the development of a nuclear hypersonic plane that will be revealed at the International Military Technology Forum in September. The so-called “nuclear bomber” is capable of flying to outer space at hypersonic speeds, whereby it could fire nuclear warheads at targets on Earth. It will allegedly be able to travel any distance on Earth in one to two hours.
The specifics of the prototype have not yet been reported. Although, Solodovnikov told RIA Novosti: “We are cooperating with Russia’s Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute on the design of an airframe and the aircraft's characteristics. I think that its lift-off mass must be 20-25 metric tonnes [22 to 27.5 tons] for it to be a strike aircraft. It will [be able to accelerate to] hypersonic speed in rocket mode."
However, the Russian military has since refuted these rumors. In a statement to the Russian news agency TASS on Thursday, Russia’s Defense Ministry said that they hypothetically have the technology available, however, claims that they have been actually developing a prototype were “obviously misinterpreted".
Others are also skeptical about the hearsay. Popular Mechanics said that the solution to creating enough engine power for the plane would be problematic at best. As they explain: “Afterburning turbofan engines used on fighter planes need oxygen to operate, something that isn't feasible in space. Scramjets aren't powerful enough, and ramjets wouldn't be fuel-efficient enough to use in regular atmospheric flight.”
Main image source: militaryrussia.ru