TechRussia's new nuclear warfare simulator: training innovation or threat to the West?

Russia's new nuclear warfare simulator: training innovation or threat to the West?

Russian Su-30SM with a nuclear bomb simulator IAB-500
Russian Su-30SM with a nuclear bomb simulator IAB-500
Images source: © Defense Express
1:20 PM EST, January 25, 2024

The TASS agency shared the details of this new simulator. However, technical specifics were lacking in the report. The general information suggests that the simulator aims to reproduce the phenomena that accompany a nuclear explosion: a shockwave, a flash of light, and a mushroom cloud.

The intention behind this new simulator is to facilitate the training of soldiers for operations on a nuclear battlefield without exposing them to harmful radiation. Moreover, it will aid in preparing personnel tasked with reconnaissance in gauging the parameters and epicenter of a nuclear explosion.

This new system replaces outdated simulators - the IU-59 and IAB-500. These particular models were designed to mimic a nuclear explosion as realistically as possible during their detonation.

The Element of Intimidation

The message released by the TASS agency, which serves as an extension of Kremlin propaganda, could potentially be construed as an act of information warfare and a bid to intimidate the West. It might also suggest that Moscow is not ruling out the use of tactical nuclear charges as a means to achieve supremacy in Ukraine, considering the ineffectiveness of conventional methods.

It is worth mentioning that since the period of relaxation after the end of the first Cold War, the West has nearly entirely abolished its tactical nuclear weapons. Primarily, the purpose of these weapons is not deterrence and attacks on logistics or industrial centers but for direct use on the battlefield.

Real Explosions Substituted with Simulations

The effort from Russia on nuclear explosion simulators signifies significant progress. During the era of the USSR (and in the United States), warfare practice on an atomic battlefield incorporated the use of regular nuclear charges as opposed to simulators. These charges, as seen during the Snowball exercises at the Totskoye training ground, were detonated near the practicing troops.

The findings from these experiences led to modern Russian tanks accommodating a 3-person crew. The tests revealed that heightened levels of radiation tend to eliminate the loader first, who handles heavy shells during combat. They later decided to substitute him with an automatic loader, which resulted in Russian tanks having one fewer crew member than most Western counterparts. This change also means that an explosion in the ammunition depot can cause a significant detachment of the tank tower from the hull.

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