A nuclear strike is the ultimate attack, annihilating all in its path. Yet modern military hardware must be able to survive this force and it turns out Russia has the perfect place to test if its latest gear meets this challenge.
Russia’s Zvezda TV has pulled back the shroud of secrecy over one of the Russian military’s unique test facilities, which helps test modern equipment for its durability in the face of various damages, including a nuclear explosion.
And no, Russia does not conduct secret undetected nuclear blasts just to see if its tanks and howitzers live through them. What the high-security facility creates is a near-perfect modelling of the effects of a nuclear explosion – from the avalanching blast wave to thermal radiation and a blast’s electromagnetic pulse. Apart from that, the military research institute also helps make sure that newly-developed equipment survives things like lightning strikes.
This time, in the limelight is a new ‘family’ of military KUNGAS unmanned ground vehicles that includes five models ranging from a tiny 12-kilo unarmed reconnaissance robot to an armored personnel carrier-sized 13-ton monster, which can vary between carrying troops and a human driver and laying down fire support while controlled by a remote operator.
It was not just the robots that were tested, though, as the specialists at the facility – known as the Russian Defense Ministry’s 12th Central Research Institute – also put the command post that hosts the robots’ operators through some of the trials associated with a nuclear blast impact.
One of the most impressive-looking tests is the one where a blast wave is simulated using a special blast tube, which is almost 113 meters long. An explosive charge at one end of the tube is used to create a focused shockwave rivalling what happens in a nuclear blast, albeit at a distance from the epicenter – but still enough to send a seven-ton Soviet BMD-1 infantry fighting vehicle tumbling like a papier-maché model.