RUSSIA’S “city killer” submarine has set sail for the first time packed with nuclear drones capable of triggering monster tsunamis.
The 604ft Belgorod – which is twice the size of the Royal Navy’s Astute-class attack subs – reportedly took to the sea for the first time on Friday.
The 14,700-tonne war machine bristles with nuclear-tipped underwater drone torpedoes – each guided by artificial intelligence.
The secretive launch came after Vladimir Putin’s navy vowed to sink British warships the next time they sail too close to Crimea.
The war talk followed a face-off in the Black Sea where HMS Defender was accused of making a “deliberate provocation” by the Kremlin as it entered waters deemed to be Russian territory.
Experts fear the Belgorod’s huge torpedoes could be detonated underwater sparking 300ft high waves which could devastate coastal cities.
The giant sub is reportedly operated on behalf of the nation’s secretive Main Directorate of Undersea Research and is thought to be fitted with up to eight nuclear-armed torpedoes.
Each of the 79ft weapons is capable of carrying warheads with an explosive power of two megatons.
Dr Sidharth Kaushal, from the Royal United Services Institute, told The Mail on Sunday the underwater war machines are key for the Kremlin.
Dr Kaushal said: “The Belgorod is large enough to act as a mother ship for a unique set of smaller vessels which have deep-diving capabilities and the ability to tamper with undersea infrastructure.
“It’s well equipped for sabotage and clandestine operations. Its Poseidon nuclear torpedoes could also be a very effective means of attacking an aircraft carrier in wartime – one against which at present no defence exists.”
The Russian Navy believes the submarine is a real game changer.
And Putin has boasted its torpedoes can completely destroy coastal targets more than 6,000 miles away.
They are specifically designed to thwart NATO underwater defences as it heads to targets in cities, naval bases or aircraft carriers anywhere in Europe or on America’s eastern coast.
The drone torpedoes are much larger than the conventional weapons – which is why they need to be carried by specially designed submarines.
Once launched, the weapon can be controlled remotely to bypass defences and has a theoretically unlimited range thanks to its nuclear reactor engine.
Reports on its speed have varied, putting it as low as 70mph and as high as 124mph, making it very difficult to stop.
The sub is also fitted with an underwater dock which allows it to launch a 180ft mini-sub and intelligence gathering drones.
The mini-subs are operated by a shadowy branch of the military that answers directly to Putin – with a mission to deliver a catastrophic blow to the West.
They are carried beneath a larger undersea vessel and are built to lurk at the bottom of the ocean.
They then use robotic arms to tamper with or even cut key cables that help keep the world’s economy moving with potentially devastating consequences.
It comes as Putin has opened up a new front in the North Pole as he builds new military bases in the frozen wastes – giving him control of polar waters across 11 of the world’s time zones.
Tensions continue to simmer between the West and Russia who have both beefed up their presence in the polar region, which is believed to hold significant natural resources.
And cutting the undersea cables could be a key element in any conflict between the two sides.
Undersea cables crisscrossing the seafloor carry 97 per cent of internet traffic with $10 trillion worth of daily financial transactions dependent on them.
Cutting enough of the network in the Atlantic could cause chaos for Britain, with Air Marshall Sir Stuart Peach previously warning such a breach could be “catastrophic”.
It could shut down the internet, cut Britain off from the rest of the world, paralyse financial transactions, and damage communications with the military overseas.
And the US is also under threat, with a report Director of National Intelligence urging Washington to push for stronger protections for the undersea cables.