When we talk about doomsday weapons, we think about a new or a super secret weapon system that could destroy a country and even end all life on the planet. These doomsday weapons are very capable of destroying our planet Earth, by making our planet uninhabitable for any forms of life, which include animals and plants.

The term doomsday weapons started becoming more common in many science fiction movies during the Cold War-era, mainly because of the growing fear of nuclear war and total annihilation.

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A well-known example of the science fiction movie that focused on doomsday devices was the 1964’s film "Dr. Strangelove." That movie featured a Russian doomsday device that was very capable of total destruction.

However, doomsday devices or weapons, like the one on "Dr. Strangelove movie," also exist in the real world in today’s militaries. Countries such as the United States and the former Soviet Union, Russian now, have made their own versions of doomsday weapons or devices. These doomsday weapons are capable of ending life on Earth. Fortunately, these weapons have never been used before and countries have doubts about using them due to the destructive effect on humanity and the environment. Below are listed some of the most feared doomsday devices ever developed.

US Air Force’s Project Thor

The USAF have experimented with lots of weapons systems, including space-based weapon systems that were placed outside the Earth’s orbit. The most secretive of these space-based weapon systems is Project Thor, the USAF [VIDEO]-led weapons program that can be to fire a tungsten rod to hit a target or city with a devastating result.

Development of the Project Thor first started during the Vietnam War, where they used what they called the Lazy Dog projectiles. This weapon system used a solid steel piece and relied on pure kinetic energy to destroy its target, instead of an explosive device. The Lazy Dog bombs were made of solid steel pieces; around 2 inches long with fins for gliding, and could reach speeds of up to 500 mph as felt to the ground. The weapon system can penetrate up to 9 inches of a concrete slab and destroy it with a devastating result, much like a nuclear strike but with no radioactive fallout.

The idea is to use a projectile-like bullet at a target, relying on pure kinetic forms of energy. As the bullet drops in mid-air, the projectile starts to gain velocity and energy that will be expanded upon impact. Once it hits the ground, the explosion would be on par with that of a ground-penetrating nuclear weapon, with devastating effect. The weapon can also destroy hardened targets in just a few minutes, making it a potential weapon for carrying out a surgical strike against enemy’s territory.

According to Business Insider, the USAF’s Project Thor used large projectiles that were placed a few thousand miles above the Earth. The Rods of God uses a tungsten rod of about 20 feet long and 1 foot in diameter. When dropped from the Earth’s orbit, it can reach a speed of up to Mach 10 or 10 times the speed of sound. Such a weapon system holds huge potential, especially for a country which constantly faces increasing threats.

Russia’s Dead Hand

Remember the 1960s’ political satire black comedy movie "Dr. Strangelove"? The movie, which was directed and produced by Stanley Kubrick, satirized the Cold War fears of a nuclear exchange between the two superpowers, the Soviet Union and the United States.

But the most interesting part of the move was the final stage, where it mentioned certain Russian doomsday devices. The doomsday device was designed to ensure mutually assured destruction or MAD, in case the Soviet leadership on Kremlin faced being wiped out by the US nuclear strikes.

Based on the movie, a high-tech apocalyptic weapon would encircle the planet in a radioactive doomsday shroud, making life very miserable for humans and animals. And finally, it would wipe out anything on the planet and make it uninhabitable for 93 years.

In reality, doomsday devices or weapons really exist, but in total secrecy and away from the prying lenses of the media. A good example of the real-world doomsday device was the highly secretive Dead Hand system, which was reportedly developed by the former Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War.

According to reports, the Dead Hand, also known as Perimeter, was some sort of Cold War-era automatic nuclear-control system to be used by the Soviet military, especially during tough times. The Dead Hand is a good example of a deadly and mutually assured destruction (MAD) deterrence because the system can automatically trigger the launch of a massive retaliatory strike, without any human intervention. The system was also reinforced to survive a direct hit from a nuclear strike.

The main reason why the Soviets had decided to build such kind of apocalyptic weapon was to maintain a second-strike capability and to ensure the destruction of its enemy. The fully-automated system, in theory, would allow the Soviet military to respond to a massive nuclear attack even if the Soviet political and top military leaders were destroyed in the enemy’s nuclear first strike.

Nuclear-armed ballistic missiles typically are detectable, and the target country generally has about 30 minutes of warning and response time. This means the target country has just 30 or fewer minutes to launch a countermeasure, resulting in a miserable nuclear exchange that benefits no one.

However, during the 1970s and 1980s, Americans managed to gain impressive technological leap that could give them an edge in a future nuclear showdown with the Soviet Union. The US forces were getting better and better accuracy with their submarine-based missile launch systems, the dreaded Trident-equipped nuclear attack submarines of the US Navy. The advancement in US missile technology means that the American could now be able to launch precision nuclear strikes anywhere in the Soviet Union, reducing the warning time and leaving the Soviet military with a very short reaction time. This makes the nuclear first strike or surprise attack a more effective option for the US military.

For the Soviet, the US missile achievement meant only one thing - that the balance was now upset and there was now an actual incentive for the US nuclear first strike. Fearing a sneak attack from American nuclear attack submarines, the Soviet took steps to ensure that nuclear retaliation, and ordered the development of the fully automated weapon system called Dead Hand.

The Dead Hand’s main job is to monitor whether there have been nuclear explosions on Soviet territory and check whether the entire Soviet communication network still working or badly damaged. If the system finds out that the Soviet’s communication system has been severely damaged and the Kremlin leadership has been wiped out, then it will activate all remaining nuclear arsenals and order a full-scale nuclear attack against its enemy. The Dead Hand will provide nuclear launch codes to all Soviet land-based ICBMs, command posts, bombers and nuclear-equipped submarines. The system is linked to dedicated hardware control and launching equipment to facilitate remote execution of the nuclear launch order.

The Dead Hand went operational in January 1985. After the collapse of the former Soviet Union, the world heard nothing more about this doomsday device or weapon. However, many still believe that such a weapon exists even in the post-Soviet world, or Russia now.

The Russian Navy’s nuclear-armed unmanned underwater vehicle

Under the aggressive leadership of the former KGB Vladimir Putin, the Russian military has embarked on massive military buildup and development. These include introducing new weapon technologies and adding new aircraft, missiles, tanks, warships, nuclear attack submarines and even nuclear-capable underwater drone to its current weapon inventory.

Last year, the Russian military made huge headlines around the world when a state-run news agency revealed a potential new Russian weapon. The latest addition is a nuclear-capable underwater vehicle (UUV), which is launched from a B-90 Sarov-class Project 20120 diesel electric-powered submarine that was specifically designed for testing new Russian weaponry. The secret UUV was first mentioned in a report by a Russian state-run TV station, which showed footage of a classified presentation of the long-range nuclear-capable underwater drone.

According to The Diplomat, the footage features a long-range, self-propelled underwater vehicle. The robotic mini-submarine or UUV can travel at speed of over 100 knots (115mph) and has a range of up to 10,000 km. The underwater drone is also capable of operating in depths of up to 1,000m, making it harder to track by any US Navy’s submarine hunters. The potential new weapon could be equipped with a thermonuclear warhead with a layer of the highly radioactive cobalt-59. Reports said that it was designed to obliterate entire coastal cities and naval installations

Based on the released footage, the self-propelled underwater drone is designed to destroy important economic installations of the enemy in coastal areas. The unmanned underwater vehicle reportedly has a range of up to 10,000 kilometers. It will carry a doomsday weapon that could be guaranteed devastating damage to the enemy’s coastal installations by creating a wide area of radioactive contamination, making the coastal installations unusable for a long period of time. A prototype was already being planned for 2009 with the first test to arrive around 2018 and 2020, according to the reports.