Russia has started real-environment testing of its Poseidon drone — an underwater weapon that could carry nuclear warheads with an estimated yield of up to two megatons and destroy naval bases of enemies.

On July 19, the press office of Russian Defense Ministry confirmed that all experimental work and system checks related to the underwater weapon have been completed, making it ready for going into the trial phase, state news agency TASS reported.

"Trials have been organized at the [testing] ranges of the Defense Ministry of Russia to confirm the dynamic characteristics of the apparatus during launches in a real environment and to check the parameters of the apparatus’s movement along the route in autonomous mode,” the Defense Ministry stated. “All the measures for creating the Poseidon system are being carried out in compliance with the work schedule".

The drone has been in development for years but was first announced by President Vladimir Putin a few months ago in his address to the two houses of the Russian parliament.

The weapon, as described in the report, has been designed to carry both conventional as well as nuclear warheads and enhance Russia’s marine defense capabilities. In fact, Sergei Korolyov, the commander-in-chief of the Russian Navy, had previously noted that the unmanned drone’s basic capabilities such as nuclear propulsion unit have already been tested, leaving the advanced elements to be checked.

Poseidon, when ready for introduction into the navy, will be integrated into Russia’s nuclear-powered submarine. This would make a nuclear-capable oceanic multipurpose system that would aid the fleet on a range of sea missions.

"As its main advantage, the Poseidon is actually 100% invulnerable to enemy counter-measures,” the Defense Ministry added. "The drone’s unique capabilities [when in operation] will enable the Russian Navy to fight carrier-led and surface action groups of a potential enemy in any areas of the oceanic theater of operations and strike coastal infrastructure facilities at an intercontinental distance."

That said, it is worth noting that this underwater drone is just one of the many weapon systems Russia is developing to include in its military arsenal. For instance, in another report, the ministry confirmed that the development of hypersonic Avangard gliding missile system has also been completed.

The weapon has now gone into serial production, according to the ministry. "A set of organizational and technical measures is underway in the position area of the Dombarovsky large unit of the Strategic Missile Force to accept the Avangard missile system for operation," it said.

The warhead launched from this system could cover an intercontinental distance at speeds beyond Mach 20 and make sharp high-speed maneuvers during flight in order to remain hidden from sophisticated missile defense systems.