Russia is experimenting with a new missile it has named the 9M730 Burevestnik. NATO has given it the designation SSC-X-9 Skyfall. After a nuclear contamination incident in Russia was reported in August 2019, international analysts concluded that Russian scientists were working on a miniaturised nuclear powered engine that accidentally exploded, suggesting that they were testing an experimental cruise missile powered by a small nuclear reactor.
The possibility of an extremely long-endurance cruise missile was first revealed during the 2018 State of the Nation address by Russia’s President. The operationalisation of a nuclear-powered missile, enabling extremely long-range missile trajectories, may disrupt traditional air power doctrine, traditional thinking of designs and functions of air defence systems, and norms for the risks of nuclear contamination. Nuclear engines may be a game-changer that disrupt both technological and political strategic-thinking, potentially necessitating a need to enhance the delivery and effectiveness of air power through new concepts in multi-domain operations.