Current Nuclear Weapons Development

Josh_TN

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@ Forrest Green, thanks for the details...surprised there are any public numbers for W76-2. So it sounds like the entire force could be roughly doubled if necessary.
 

Forest Green

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@ Forrest Green, thanks for the details...surprised there are any public numbers for W76-2. So it sounds like the entire force could be roughly doubled if necessary.
Yup and if they take some warheads out of storage they could add another 400 to the MMIIIs. At the moment there's only 800 warheads between 400 missiles, could be 1,200, which would give 3,120 and nicely balance out Russia and China.
 

Josh_TN

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@ Forrest Green, thanks for the details...surprised there are any public numbers for W76-2. So it sounds like the entire force could be roughly doubled if necessary.
Yup and if they take some warheads out of storage they could add another 400 to the MMIIIs. At the moment there's only 800 warheads between 400 missiles, could be 1,200, which would give 3,120 and nicely balance out Russia and China.
I *think* that the changes made to the 200 MMIIIs with W87 precludes easy uploading (presumably with enough effort they could be restored to MIRV). So there might only be +400 W78s and +150 additional W78s for reactivating the 50 non deployed MMIII silos.
 

Trident

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EDIT TO ADD: is it definitely confirmed that D5 can carry 12 W76? I've seen it reported both ways. I assume some confusion is due to the W88 being an option and also reported as having up to eight warheads per bus, despite being a significantly larger RV. But I've never seen it definitely settled either way.

I don't think you're going to find an official confirmation of the capability, if it exists. It's a bit of a touchy subject because there is a potential treaty compliance problem, with the missile officially counted as having a maximum load of 8. In the 1990s, the Russians gave the US a hard time about this, as they thought they had circumstantial evidence to suggest it could in fact carry 12. In one instance, they suspected the shroud during inspection could geometrically hide more than 8, in another they intercepted telemetry from a British launch that indicated up to 12 (simulated) warheads. Now, the UK (not being party to the START treaty series) would be entirely within its rights to fit more than 8, of course. Since it doesn't even own a separate missile fleet but draws from the same pool as the USN, the implications are obvious, however.

 

zen

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We (UK) should certainly consider increasing sustainable warheads to allow for max loadout.
 

zen

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Forest Green

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We (UK) should certainly consider increasing sustainable warheads to allow for max loadout.

The country had previously been reducing its nuclear weapons stockpile, and in 2010, the government set a cap of 180 warheads for the mid-2020 period. Johnson scrapped the earlier limit and said the number would now rise to a maximum of 260.
 

Josh_TN

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Is the British RV for the D5 of a similar size to W76? Presumably up to eight could be carried? If the force is just 180 warheads that makes for on average 2-3 warheads per missile...which is a very light load. Are missiles cross decked from boat to boat when one returns?
 

Forest Green

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Is the British RV for the D5 of a similar size to W76? Presumably up to eight could be carried? If the force is just 180 warheads that makes for on average 2-3 warheads per missile...which is a very light load. Are missiles cross decked from boat to boat when one returns?
Don't know, it's a British designed warhead.
 

zen

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500 always seemed like a nice sensible number for me, or maybe 512 (64x8).
I think it's more intriguing to ponder the spectrum of weapons at the moment.
For example, the US keeps a number of big Megaton warheads available to my understanding. Presumably for a specific reason.....

While at the moment we (UK) have no tactical system since retirement of WE.177 free fall bombs. Though briefly a successor was being studied prior. At the time using a common warhead with the Trident System.
This lack also applies to submarine environment.

All that said 500 warheads is maybe 300 actually getting to target and working.......
 

Forest Green

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I think it's more intriguing to ponder the spectrum of weapons at the moment.
For example, the US keeps a number of big Megaton warheads available to my understanding. Presumably for a specific reason.....

While at the moment we (UK) have no tactical system since retirement of WE.177 free fall bombs. Though briefly a successor was being studied prior. At the time using a common warhead with the Trident System.
This lack also applies to submarine environment.

All that said 500 warheads is maybe 300 actually getting to target and working.......
TBH I like the French tactical system, the ASMP-A, or the ASMPA-R (getting replaced with a Mach 8, 1000+km ASN4G in the future). Bombs are difficult to deliver over target, even with stealth aircraft, unless the stealth aircraft is doing Mach 18 or something.
 

Josh_TN

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The Brits are rumored to have low yield single warhead Tridents for tactical use. Basically their flavor of W76 mod2.
 

zen

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Certainly there's a persistent rumour of one missile loaded with a single RV.....

But I suspect this emerges after retirement of WE.177 and other tactical options.

Frankly the lack of a tactical option that doesn't look or move like a Trident is not a good thing.

Much as I question the small numbers.
If we are to have a nuclear arsenal, it ought to be convincing inofitself. Not an adjunct to the US arsenal.
 

bobbymike

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Posted on the GBSD thread two days ago I should have cross posted my apologies
 

sferrin

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500 always seemed like a nice sensible number for me, or maybe 512 (64x8).
I think it's more intriguing to ponder the spectrum of weapons at the moment.
For example, the US keeps a number of big Megaton warheads available to my understanding. Presumably for a specific reason.....
The B53s are all gone. The only warheads, of any type, the US has left that are a megaton are the B83s. Russia still has some of the 25Mt weapons left.
 

Ravinoff

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For example, the US keeps a number of big Megaton warheads available to my understanding. Presumably for a specific reason.....
Nothing "really" big, not in the open sources at least. Biggest in the current acknowledged arsenal is the B83, with a max yield of about 1.2Mt, and those are set up as plain gravity bombs for use on the B-2 Spirit (and one presumes probably the B-21 Raider). What exactly they'd be useful for is...unclear to me, since the B61 is/was being developed into a bunker buster warhead.

Big is relative, of course, when I say the B83 is small I'm talking in comparison to the multi-megaton beasts of the Cold War era. The last of the B53/W53 (Titan II warhead) 9Mt hard site killers were disassembled in 2011 - with the interesting possibility that several physics packages ("canned sub-assemblies") are being retained for reasons unknown, the lead speculation being asteroid defense. And of course the biggest American nuke was the B41, with a three-stage design comparable to the Tsar Bomba and an estimated yield of 25Mt (retired in 1976).

What 25 MT weapon does Russia have?
I'm assuming something probably lurking from the R-36M/SS-18 Satan single-warhead variants, the Russians release a lot less data on what they've got and what the designations are from what I've seen. Likely candidate, the ten or so 20Mt warheads built for the R-36M2 Voevoda that was retired in 1991.
 

Josh_TN

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For example, the US keeps a number of big Megaton warheads available to my understanding. Presumably for a specific reason.....
Nothing "really" big, not in the open sources at least. Biggest in the current acknowledged arsenal is the B83, with a max yield of about 1.2Mt, and those are set up as plain gravity bombs for use on the B-2 Spirit (and one presumes probably the B-21 Raider). What exactly they'd be useful for is...unclear to me, since the B61 is/was being developed into a bunker buster warhead.

Big is relative, of course, when I say the B83 is small I'm talking in comparison to the multi-megaton beasts of the Cold War era. The last of the B53/W53 (Titan II warhead) 9Mt hard site killers were disassembled in 2011 - with the interesting possibility that several physics packages ("canned sub-assemblies") are being retained for reasons unknown, the lead speculation being asteroid defense. And of course the biggest American nuke was the B41, with a three-stage design comparable to the Tsar Bomba and an estimated yield of 25Mt (retired in 1976).
The US has explicitly stated in documents that it retains the physics packages/"CSAs" for "planetary defense", in addition to being a source of nuclear pits for future weapons, a hedge against aging out of assemblies in deployed assets, and as a stockpile of HEU material for future development.


It's been rumored that B-53 CSAs had been to be stored specifically for planetary defense mission but I've never found a document explicitly stating that, though it seems like perfectly reasonable explanation.
 

Desertfox

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I'm pretty sure the US explored such options, but there was no need to go forward with their development. US and China have very different needs.
 

kaiserd

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Because they fielded ground based and sub based ICBMs (then MIRV armed ICBMs) instead. They then also fielded bombers armed with large numbers of low flying cruise missiles
Because these were all better for the US’s purposes; more efficient, more survivable etc.
And the USSR didn’t field an air launched ballistic missile either.
So it’s not exactly a mystery.
 

Flyaway

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As regards the alleged test last year do people think China is genuinely developing a FOBS system or was it more a proof of concept test?
 

Josh_TN

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As regards the alleged test last year do people think China is genuinely developing a FOBS system or was it more a proof of concept test?
I think they are developing a global PGM capability that happens to be sub orbital for part of its flight path. The difference from the SS-18 based FOBS is that it likely will be a precision guided projectile that impacts the ground as opposed to a high altitude detonation and also that it wouldn’t necessarily be exclusively a nuclear delivery system - it would potentially put targets in the US at risk of conventional attack. As it stands now, the US could probably volley off a hundred cruise missiles from a half dozen bombers or alternatively a single SSGN at targets inside China and the PRC would be limited to engaging allied bases and units in theatre while the bulk of US forces and infrastructure was safely out of range.
 

sferrin

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It's all good. At least we're unilaterally stopping any ASAT development.


I'm sure it's all imaginary though.
 

bobbymike

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Funds zeroed out for SLBM-N warhead :mad:
 

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