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Re- Modern U.S. ICBM's ???

uk 75

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Finally, given what happened with Peacekeeper and Midgetman and resistance to missiles moving around even on government land is there a credible system on offer? or are you simply stuffing a new weapon in old silos?
oh and while I think about it, with B1 and B2 to leave service to pay for the unflown B23, the B52 force in a nuclea role is dependent on its cruise missiles
 

sferrin

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I am always happy to learn, so I rephrase my assertions as questions.
What targets require an ICBM rather than a Trident to hit and kill them?
Hitting the target is but one (and possibly not even the most important) piece of the puzzle. What's it's deterrent value? How much does it reduce the likelihood of a war? How secure is it? How easy is it to neutralize? How flexible is it? All of these matter.

How many of the various Russian ICBMs and SLBMs match the Trident D5 in reliability and effectiveness? Same for China?
Not really a good question. D-5 has been around for decades with ~200 test flights. That doesn't negate the ability of Russian or Chinese missiles. The Soyuz space launcher has flown probably as many flights as everything else put together, with a very high success rate. Does that mean Ariane 5, Delta IV, Atlas 5, and Falcon 9 are useless or ineffective? Obviously not.
 

sferrin

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Finally, given what happened with Peacekeeper and Midgetman and resistance to missiles moving around even on government land is there a credible system on offer? or are you simply stuffing a new weapon in old silos?
Mobile would be preferable but it's not a deal-killer. And Peacekeeper didn't get relegated to silos because it was mobile. The controversy was over how much resources the "shell game" would consume. Midgetman got killed by the Cold War ending. Nobody was upset that it was mobile. Putting a new missile in existing silos, like Peacekeeper, would be an acceptable alternative to a mobile ICBM.

oh and while I think about it, with B1 and B2 to leave service to pay for the unflown B23, the B52 force in a nuclea role is dependent on its cruise missiles
There is no such thing as a B23 and the B-1B and B-2 aren't leaving to pay for it. As for the B-52, again, you are either purposefully or through ignorance, mischaracterizing the picture. The B-52 isn't so much "dependent" on cruise missiles as much as it ALLOWs you to do things you couldn't do any other way.
 

uk 75

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Sorry can someone answer my question about Russian and Chinese missiles.
Published sources like the Economist have suggested that a high failure rate in tests and pointless design bureau rivalry led to short run production of often not very good weapons
 

uk 75

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You have still not explained why the taxpayer should pony up for three highly expensive nuclear delivery systems when one is perfectly adequate for the job.
Seems to base on the argument, the Russkies have them so we must.
I would add to that pressure to develop a new generation of medium ranged missiles which can only be deployed on the soil of US allies. Good luck with that one.
 

sferrin

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You have still not explained why the taxpayer should pony up for three highly expensive nuclear delivery systems when one is perfectly adequate for the job.
Because it's not, "perfectly adequate for the job".
 

uk 75

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What is Trident not able to do? I am happy to learn.
 

sferrin

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What is Trident not able to do? I am happy to learn.
Not get killed by a torpedo. Not deter nuclear war as effectively. Not carry conventional weapons without impacting the number of nuclear weapons that can be deployed. etc. etc.
 

uk 75

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Chances of a Russian submarine taking out a Trident sub versus chances of taking out an ICBM silo?
ICBMs cannot use conventional weapons either.
Long range delivery of conventional weapons can be done by low cost platforms like uavs or cruise missiles.
 

sferrin

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Chances of a Russian submarine taking out a Trident sub versus chances of taking out an ICBM silo?
Odds of the US launching a nuclear strike upon losing an SSBN vs a silo being nuked?

Long range delivery of conventional weapons can be done by low cost platforms like uavs or cruise missiles.
You're going to put a 20,000lb ALBM on a drone? Or launch 20 cruise missiles from a drone?
 

Forest Green

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I am always happy to learn, so I rephrase my assertions as questions.
What targets require an ICBM rather than a Trident to hit and kill them?
How many of the various Russian ICBMs and SLBMs match the Trident D5 in reliability and effectiveness? Same for China?

Has any British, French or US submarine ever come close to being compromised given the range of their current generation weapons?

Chances of a Russian submarine taking out a Trident sub versus chances of taking out an ICBM silo?
ICBMs cannot use conventional weapons either.
Long range delivery of conventional weapons can be done by low cost platforms like uavs or cruise missiles.
Well the Trident is quoted at 100m CEP, so 50% of the warheads will land outside of 100m and, as you can see from Figure 2 in this link posted earlier by bobbymike, you need to land a missile inside 100m to guarantee a silo kill. Now the Peacekeeper had a 40m CEP, so 50% of the warheads landed inside 40m and you can roughly guarantee 100% falling inside 2xCEP. So with Triidents you would be likely to require 2 warheads per silo and with Peacekeepers only 1 (ignoring ABM defences for now). Submarine launches missiles are less accurate without terminal homing because the launch position isn't as accurately known. Perhaps with GPS it will be but you can't guarantee the availability of that.


That next question is very tricky to answer. No one really knows. But technology improves with time and even the D5 is past 30 years-old now.

That's difficult to know since the enemy doesn't tend to let you know when he's found you but, when roaming international water, it's always a possibility and therefore has to be factored into strategy. What also needs to be realised is that a submarine could be taken out without you necessarily finding out about it in an appropriate time-frame, whereas an attack on a silo is likely to be very apparent.

Cruise missiles an UAVs operate on different timescales to a nuclear attack. A nuclear attack will be over and everything toast before those tortoises get anywhere.
 

marauder2048

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I repeat: The future of the silo based Minuteman force was questionable in the face of Soviet silo busters
Launch Under Attack was one of the responses (since the 70's) pursued and still in place.
The UK didn't have the luxury of doing this.

The B1 and even the B2 would have to carry cruise missiles to penetrate the Soviet Air Defence network.
SRAM 1/2 for air defense suppression followed by bomber penetration. Unless you are arguing that SRAM was a cruise missile.
Bomber bases being many thousands of miles from the coastlines wasn't an option for the UK.
 
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kaiserd

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You have still not explained why the taxpayer should pony up for three highly expensive nuclear delivery systems when one is perfectly adequate for the job.
Seems to base on the argument, the Russkies have them so we must.
I would add to that pressure to develop a new generation of medium ranged missiles which can only be deployed on the soil of US allies. Good luck with that one.
There is are good arguments for maintaining a sensible triad of missile subs, ICBMs & bombers. The most convincing is that it discourages a potential opponent concentrating time & expenditure on countering any 1 of the 3 components.

However I (and the US, as reflected in the balance of their current triad) would agree with you that the missile sub arm is most important (survivable and powerful) of the 3 parts of the triad, and how much capability you chase for in each component is a cost/ benefit trade-off in that context.

And as you have noted there no shortage of contributors in this site with ICBM envy (“why can’t my ICBM be as big as theirs”) on here, who are rather less interested in more nuanced discussions taking into account systems like Trident and the lack of infinite money trees or political will for such things.
 

uk 75

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Forest Green
Thank you for your answers. I had assumed that GPS was available to Trident already.
I agree that technology might at some point make the submarines more vulnerable.

A new ICBM in the existing silos seems reasonable given the limited number of silo busters available to Russia and China.

I remain a bit confused about the nuclear rather than conventional role of a future bomber force. But that is another thread
 

sferrin

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A new ICBM in the existing silos seems reasonable given the limited number of silo busters available to Russia and China.
I am curious as to why you think this is the case. Re. the R-36 (SS-18):

The newer, more accurate SS-18 Mod 5 version placed in converted silos allowed the SS-18 to remain the bulwark of the SRF’s hard-target-kill capability. The Mod 5 carries 10 MIRVs, each having a higher yield than the Mod 4 warheads. The Mod 5 warheads have nearly twice the yield of the Mod 4 (approximately 750 kt to 1 Mt) according to Western estimates, though Russian sources suggest a yield of 550–750 kt each. The increase in the Mod 5's warhead yield, along with improved accuracy, would, under the START treaty, help allow the Russians to maintain their hard-target-kill wartime requirements even with the 50 percent cut in heavy ICBMs the START agreement required. The technical proposals to build a modernized heavy ICBM were made in June 1979. The missile subsequently received the designation R-36M2 Voevoda and the industrial index number 15A18M. The design of the R-36M2 was completed in June 1982. The R-36M2 had a series of new engineering features. The engine of the second stage is completely built into the fuel tank (earlier this was only used on SLBMs) and the design of the transport-launching canister was altered. Unlike the R-36M, the 10 warheads on the post-boost vehicle are located on a special frame in two circles. The flight tests of the R-36M2 equipped with 10 MIRVs began in March 1986 and were completed in March 1988. The first regiment with these missiles was put on alert on 30 July 1988 and was deployed on 11 August 1988. SS-18 Mod 5 is the only operational variant.[citation needed]

One of the missile's most important features is its storage/basing in a container, inserted in the silo. The container doubles as a mortar barrel - it has a "piston" at its bottom, beneath the missile. The drum-like "piston" is filled with a slow-burning, gas pressure-generating charge that pushes, mortar-like, the missile from the container. Only when several meters above the silo with the now empty container the "piston" is pushed sideways by a small rocket motor to avoid being accelerated towards the silo by the ignition of the missile's main engine. Thus the silo is a) spared the burning-out by the main engine flames, and so b) the empty container could be quickly removed and a new container with missile could be inserted by a ready transporter/erector into the intact silo, allowing for a second salvo before the adversary's warheads arrive. This feature was a deep concern for the US side during the SALT/START negotiations, as it gave Soviet Union the possibility to strike US targets again after the first missile exchange was concluded.


The RS-28 Sarmat (SS-18s more capable replacement) is in flight testing right now.

Current strength of Russian ICBM force:
Number of systems
Total warheads
Missile system
Warheads
Deployment
R-36M2 (SS-18)
46
10
460
Dombarovsky, Uzhur
UR-100NUTTH (SS-19)
30​
0​
0​
Tatishchevo
Topol (SS-25)
36​
1​
36​
Barnaul
Topol-M silo (SS-27)
60​
1​
60​
Tatishchevo
Topol-M mobile (SS-27)
18​
1​
18​
Teykovo
RS-24 mobile
84​
4​
336​
Teykovo, Yoshkar-Ola, Novosibirsk, Nizhniy Tagil, Irkutsk
RS-24 silo
12​
4​
48​
Kozelsk
Total
286
958
 
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uk 75

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sferrin thank you for posting this info
However, as kaiser pointed out the Trident force helps make up for this. Various sources have pointed out the unreliability of Russian missiles hence even now the 7 types ranged against Minuteman and Trident.
The problems of cost, public concern and weight issues that affected MX and small ICBM remain. Russia has the advantage of a more controlled society. The bulk of the US deterrent is still likely to stay at sea.
 

sferrin

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sferrin thank you for posting this info
However, as kaiser pointed out the Trident force helps make up for this. Various sources have pointed out the unreliability of Russian missiles hence even now the 7 types ranged against Minuteman and Trident.
The problems of cost, public concern and weight issues that affected MX and small ICBM remain. Russia has the advantage of a more controlled society. The bulk of the US deterrent is still likely to stay at sea.
The existence of the D-5 doesn't negate the fact that Russia has real hard target capability. China is less known but there's no reason to believe they couldn't get there. They have more experience with guided RVs than anybody on the planet. Probably more than everybody else put together.
 

marauder2048

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The problems of cost, public concern and weight issues that affected MX and small ICBM remain.
Or you just launch under attack which the US has planned to do and will continue to do.
Trident operation and sustainment costs is equal to the ICBM + bomber fleet.

And the ICBM and bomber fleets aren't totally at the mercy of another Walker spy ring.
 
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uk 75

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Thank you this has been an interesting discussion.
I am somewhat clearer on possible options.
Trident will remain the most survivable part.
An ICBM to replace Minuteman seems certain from what you have all said. What it will look like and how it will be deployee is unclear?
The long range strike bomber or whatever B number it has to replace the current force is being developed. How many can be afforded and what their capabilities will be is unclear?
 

Desertfox

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The Trident is definitely the primary arm of the US triad, but the Minutemen do definitely play a part. Their value lies in being one heck of a warhead sink. The best case scenario (for the Russians) requires at a minimum 400 warheads to take out the MM3s, these are likely to be the biggest and most accurate warheads in the Russian inventory and account for almost a third of their deployed warheads. While China can not at the moment threaten more than a fraction of the MM3s. Also MM3 allows the US to ride out a limited nuclear strike without having to retaliate while under attack. That is also why the US retained the MM3s over the Peacekeepers. The Peacekeeper was a better system but was also more vulnerable and did not provide these benefits. That's also why it is better if GBSD ends up being closer to the 400 MM3s than say 40 Peacekeepers.
 

JFC Fuller

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The resilience and value of the triad, over a single delivery system deterrent, has always been in its totality rather than the strength of any one system. Others have outlined the advantages of individual systems:

Fixed sites as warhead soaks
SSBNs and land mobile launchers as hard to track
Bombers driving an opponent to sustain a significant IADS in addition to ABM etc.

Another way of looking at it is insurance, the triad prevents deterrence from being rendered ineffective by any one sudden technology change (e.g. something that makes submarines easy to detect). A further lens through which to view it; the combination of aircraft, subs and mobile land based launchers delivering both cruise and ballistic missiles that ultimately allow a country to strike any point on earth from any other point on earth, with missiles that have very different attack profiles, puts a massive risk/defence burden on a defending state. Both US and Soviet defensive/counter-force plans in the Cold War demonstrate this, I also suspect it is part of the motivation for some of the more out there new Russian creations (nuclear powered UUVs and cruise missiles).

With regard to the future, China is modernising, and seemingly expanding, its strategic nuclear forces. It appears to have zero interest in being constrained by any international treaty (though it is happy for the US to be). They have more SSBNs than they used too, they are testing new SLBMs, they are deploying new road mobile ICBMs. It will be a controversial view here but I think it is aimed more at India, there are a lot of nukes in China's backyard - few of them are American, than it is at the US though I have no doubt they have the US in mind too. The key point is, as with the INF treaty, the SALT arrangements are Cold War relics whose existence is rendered redundant if not dangerous (from a US perspective) in a world with a wildly different power balance.
 

sferrin

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The Trident is definitely the primary arm of the US triad, but the Minutemen do definitely play a part. Their value lies in being one heck of a warhead sink. The best case scenario (for the Russians) requires at a minimum 400 warheads to take out the MM3s, these are likely to be the biggest and most accurate warheads in the Russian inventory and account for almost a third of their deployed warheads. While China can not at the moment threaten more than a fraction of the MM3s. Also MM3 allows the US to ride out a limited nuclear strike without having to retaliate while under attack. That is also why the US retained the MM3s over the Peacekeepers. The Peacekeeper was a better system but was also more vulnerable and did not provide these benefits. That's also why it is better if GBSD ends up being closer to the 400 MM3s than say 40 Peacekeepers.

The reason I like ICBMs is because of options (you aren't fitting an SS-18 on an SSBN for example) and because they really do raise the barrier of entry to nuclear war. Sink an SSBN and the US probably won't nuke you. Seriously. Nuke the equivalent in ICBMs and there is no way there won't be a nuclear response. That's going to make a potential attacker think REALLY hard before doing that.
 

uk 75

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sferrin
Very much enjoying this and learning a lot.
If I read you Right (sorry German language Keyboard hence the caps) then more Silos and more Missiles to create a sink perhaps in a smaller area? Would this be more Midgetman than Peacekeeper?
 
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