Moscow/Washington – Yan Novikov, Chief of a Russian defence company, made a sensational claim that the X-37B spacecraft of the United States can carry six nuclear weapons, and the United States plans to deploy eight such spacecraft in space by 2025. The spacecraft X-37B tested successfully for the first time in 2006 was developed for the air force. But now, the responsibility of the spacecraft is with the US Space Force.
Yan Novikov, General Director at the Russian Defence company Almaz-Antey, claimed, ‘On the official level, the X-37B spacecraft is said to have been developed for scientific studies and surveillance. But considering the capabilities and possibilities associated with it, the spacecraft can carry up to three nuclear weapons. On the larger variant, even six nuclear weapons can be deployed.’ He made this claim during the New Knowledge seminar recently held in Russia.
Almaz-Antey is known as the leading defence manufacturing company in Russia that makes air defence systems, missiles and radars. Sanctions had been imposed even against this company, in 2014, for participation in the Ukraine conflict. Yan Novikov, General Director at Almaz-Antey, said that six X-37B had been deployed in the space by the United States. Novikov said that the United States plans to send two more X-37B into space by 2025. He also warned that this becomes a warning for Russia.
In 1999, NASA entrusted the responsibility of developing a new orbiter aircraft to the Boeing company. The project was handed over to the US defence department in 2004. After that, in 2006, the first tests of the X-37B were conducted. This defence department has maintained extreme secrecy regarding the missions and objectives of this spacecraft, falling under the Reusable Robotic Spacecraft category. Therefore, this is also referred to as the ‘mysterious space plane’.
Operating in low earth orbit is considered to be the highlight of the X-37B. The spacecraft created a new record by remaining in orbit for 780 days from September 2017 to October 2019. The US agencies informed that the X-37B had been relaunched into space on 17th May 2021.
Meanwhile, the United States has dismissed the possibility of joining the Open Skies Treaty again. The US state department refused to re-join the treaty, saying that the Russian violations have weakened the pact. Last year in May, former US President Donald Trump announced withdrawal from the Open Skies Treaty. Two weeks ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin presented a bill in the Russian Parliament for withdrawal from the Open Skies Treaty, with a membership of 34 nations.