Russian attack submarines carrying hypersonic missiles have reportedly been running “deep penetration” missions in the Norwegian Sea between the Shetland Islands and Iceland.
The practical limit for most modern attack subs is around 1300 feet, but the Borei-class nuclear powered subs are thought to have been diving far deeper in a bid to enter the North Atlantic undetected.
Technically, the craft could reach depths approaching 3,000 feet, but that limit is rarely approached in peacetime.
Defence analysts say the Borei subs are believed to be capable of carrying Russia’s “truly unparalleled” Zircon 3M22 hypersonic missile, which travels at speeds of over 6,000mph.
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The new breed of hypersonic missile is not only incredibly fast, but uses onboard AI to make rapid and unpredictable changes of speed and direction – making them virtually impossible to intercept.
Russian leader Vladimir Putin described the Mach 8 Zircon as “truly unparalleled in the world”, and Kremlin military chiefs say the nuclear-capable delivery system is “unstoppable”.
A source told the Mirror that most military analysts aren't sure why the subs are undertaking these dangerous extreme depth missions, "but it could be simply to access the Atlantic with stealth".
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“There has been an increase in Russian submarine activity of late, as there has with much of Moscow’s armed forces as it tests the resolve of NATO," the source added.
“Russia is keen to exert as much power and influence as possible around the globe, in particular for the Northern Fleet, which is integral for passage into the Atlantic.”
Russia has taken a more aggressive stance in recent months, as demonstrated by the controversial confrontation with the Royal Navy warship HMS Defender in the Black Sea in June.
And during the G7 summit in Cornwall there were concerns that a Russian cruise missile sub could have been prowling in waters off the Cornish coast after NATO anti-sub aircraft were spotted on repeated low-level missions off St. Ives .
Military expert Bruce Jones said: “The mood of Russian defence has been alarming for months now.
“That is highlighted by the recent military build-up close to the Ukraine border.
“This latest move could be aimed at posturing up against NATO just to make countries feel nervous.
“But it certainly marks an escalation and now they appear to be turning their sights towards sub-surface missions.”
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