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The Triad After The Nuclear Posture Review

bobbymike

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Hope this is the right thread for this, From Global Security Newswire - http://gsn.nti.org/gsn/nw_20091001_4226.php
 

alertken

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Many thanks for this. (Kristensen is GreenPeace). How grateful am I not to be POTUS: to do what I think is right on nukes...I must conflate with what I want to do on health care...?
 

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This is very interesting. A recommendation to cut 150 Minutemen from the force?

About time.

They're incredibly fixed targets, and horribly vunerable to both offensive and defensive weapons -- offensive because they can't move stealthily unlike a SSBN; defensively, because unlike a SSBN, they can't move -- if you wanted to launch a Minuteman against say, a soviet missle field, there's only one path it can take from North Dakota to Siberia; and the other side could easily place ABM in that path.

Should be interesting to see what happens with the next generation bomber. If it's killed, that's it for our nuclear deterrence force; as ABM is going to be proliferated all over the world as more and more unsavory characters gain ballistic missile capability.
 

sferrin

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RyanCrierie said:
This is very interesting. A recommendation to cut 150 Minutemen from the force?

About time.

They're incredibly fixed targets, and horribly vunerable to both offensive and defensive weapons -- offensive because they can't move stealthily unlike a SSBN; defensively, because unlike a SSBN, they can't move -- if you wanted to launch a Minuteman against say, a soviet missle field, there's only one path it can take from North Dakota to Siberia; and the other side could easily place ABM in that path.

Should be interesting to see what happens with the next generation bomber. If it's killed, that's it for our nuclear deterrence force; as ABM is going to be proliferated all over the world as more and more unsavory characters gain ballistic missile capability.


Okay so why would you want to kill 150 Minutemen BEFORE you find out if the next generation bomber gets killed? The thing about ICBMs is they're hard to hit, they're accurate, and they're fast. And let's not forget CHEAP. SSBNs are the proverbial "all your eggs in one basket". One cheap torpedo can take out 24 D-5s. I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss silo-based ICBMs.
 

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Well, I bet land-based ICBM's would no longer be in service if they had no advantage to other weapon systems.

Same goes with the B-52. Personally I don't like it, but it's hard to argue against that it's still an effective and reasonably economic cruise missile launcher and tactical bomber (despite the constant need for upgrades), maybe more so today then during the Vietnam War.
 

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sferrin said:
RyanCrierie said:
This is very interesting. A recommendation to cut 150 Minutemen from the force?

About time.

They're incredibly fixed targets, and horribly vunerable to both offensive and defensive weapons -- offensive because they can't move stealthily unlike a SSBN; defensively, because unlike a SSBN, they can't move -- if you wanted to launch a Minuteman against say, a soviet missle field, there's only one path it can take from North Dakota to Siberia; and the other side could easily place ABM in that path.

Should be interesting to see what happens with the next generation bomber. If it's killed, that's it for our nuclear deterrence force; as ABM is going to be proliferated all over the world as more and more unsavory characters gain ballistic missile capability.


Okay so why would you want to kill 150 Minutemen BEFORE you find out if the next generation bomber gets killed? The thing about ICBMs is they're hard to hit, they're accurate, and they're fast. And let's not forget CHEAP. SSBNs are the proverbial "all your eggs in one basket". One cheap torpedo can take out 24 D-5s. I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss silo-based ICBMs.

One cheap torpedo might take out the Trident sub, but finding the sub isn't exactly easy, to the extent that there's no one out there who might be a plausible nuclear war opponent who could do it anymore, and I'm quite doubtful of the Soviet Union's ability to do so had it gone hot back in the 1980s.

Quite frankly, our arsenal would be completely secure residing simply in SSBNs with nary an ICBM or NGB.
 

bobbymike

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I'm more in the Curtis LeMay camp. I want 450 new ICBM's, the remainder of the warheads on Trident and 10 to 20 heavy lift conventional prompt global strike missiles based in California plus I would have one of the SSGNs loaded with ATK conventional medium range strike missiles. Oh and I would build the NGB but for conventional strike. :D
 

RyanCrierie

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Bobbymike, why?

450 new ICBMs would be obsoleted by ABM even before you finish R&D and prototyping.

A better use of those now surplus minuteman silos would be as GBI silos. Put 1,000 GBIs in the ground, using the existing Minuteman silos and C3I Network; and watch as we've obsoleted ICBMs around the world without firing a shot.

Then we build 100+ B-70s. As much as I would like to build 1,500 B-70s to recreate SAC to it's glory days, that wouldn't fly in today's fiscal and budgetary environments.
 

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sferrin said:
The thing about ICBMs is they're hard to hit, they're accurate, and they're fast. And let's not forget CHEAP.

Hard to hit? Not quite. We were potting ICBMs in the 1960s; and interestingly many of those were skin-to-skin hits with a system not designed for skin-to-skin hits (Nike-Zeus).

Accurate? Well, compared to a SLBM, but not as good as a well laid gravity bomb or SRAM from a bomber.

Fast? The dirty little secret of nuclear war is that Launch on Warning doesn't work. You have to wait until there are actual nuclear devices initating over your territory before you can actually launch ICBMs at the enemy. This is because of the fact that once fired, there is no way to recall or blow up an ICBM in flight, or disarm it's warheads.

Being able to do that is pure Hollywood; which makes me roll my eyes so far they fall out of my head when I encounter it in a novel, movie, TV show, or video game. If you had such a system, how long would it last before the enemy figured out how to spoof your ICBMs into blowing themselves up or dudding themselves? So you can't get warheads onto a target until an hour into the exchange.

If you're attacking just one target; like say a crazed North Korean Dictator who just gassed the US Troops in South Korea with Nerve Agent; an ICBM launch to take care of him would cause a lot more problems than a F-16 or B-52 taking off with nukes to fix the problem -- because ICBMs when they are initially detected, have a very wide area of impact probability -- it's why Moscow went to full nuclear alert when they detected a Black Brandt missile that matched many of the parameters of a SLBM (radar signature size, time between staging, etc); because it could be a decapication strike on Moscow. It wasn't until the missile had been tracked long enough to determine that it's trajectory carried it away from Moscow that they calmed down.

Cheap? While the missiles themselves may be relatively cheap (IIRC, the current pricing for a Trident D-5 is about $50-$75 million); you have to constantly upgrade and maintain the hardened C3I network for them -- and the C3I network has to be able to survive a nuclear strike on it -- because the ICBMs can't be recalled once fired. Plus; ICBM maintenance isn't cheap, because in the absence of the ability to fly the thing until something breaks like an aircraft, you have to replace entire components of the missile at regular intervals to maintain readiness.

I know that they've done a very expensivish motor refurbishment program for Minuteman III which basically consisted of taking the motors and pressure washing the old propellant solids out of it; checking the motor casing for cracks, refilling with new propellant, testing some random samples to see if they work; in order to maintain readiness rates as the fleet aged.
 

bobbymike

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RyanCrierie said:
sferrin said:
The thing about ICBMs is they're hard to hit, they're accurate, and they're fast. And let's not forget CHEAP.

Hard to hit? Not quite. We were potting ICBMs in the 1960s; and interestingly many of those were skin-to-skin hits with a system not designed for skin-to-skin hits (Nike-Zeus).

Accurate? Well, compared to a SLBM, but not as good as a well laid gravity bomb or SRAM from a bomber.

Fast? The dirty little secret of nuclear war is that Launch on Warning doesn't work. You have to wait until there are actual nuclear devices initating over your territory before you can actually launch ICBMs at the enemy. This is because of the fact that once fired, there is no way to recall or blow up an ICBM in flight, or disarm it's warheads.

Being able to do that is pure Hollywood; which makes me roll my eyes so far they fall out of my head when I encounter it in a novel, movie, TV show, or video game. If you had such a system, how long would it last before the enemy figured out how to spoof your ICBMs into blowing themselves up or dudding themselves? So you can't get warheads onto a target until an hour into the exchange.

If you're attacking just one target; like say a crazed North Korean Dictator who just gassed the US Troops in South Korea with Nerve Agent; an ICBM launch to take care of him would cause a lot more problems than a F-16 or B-52 taking off with nukes to fix the problem -- because ICBMs when they are initially detected, have a very wide area of impact probability -- it's why Moscow went to full nuclear alert when they detected a Black Brandt missile that matched many of the parameters of a SLBM (radar signature size, time between staging, etc); because it could be a decapication strike on Moscow. It wasn't until the missile had been tracked long enough to determine that it's trajectory carried it away from Moscow that they calmed down.

Cheap? While the missiles themselves may be relatively cheap (IIRC, the current pricing for a Trident D-5 is about $50-$75 million); you have to constantly upgrade and maintain the hardened C3I network for them -- and the C3I network has to be able to survive a nuclear strike on it -- because the ICBMs can't be recalled once fired. Plus; ICBM maintenance isn't cheap, because in the absence of the ability to fly the thing until something breaks like an aircraft, you have to replace entire components of the missile at regular intervals to maintain readiness.

I know that they've done a very expensivish motor refurbishment program for Minuteman III which basically consisted of taking the motors and pressure washing the old propellant solids out of it; checking the motor casing for cracks, refilling with new propellant, testing some random samples to see if they work; in order to maintain readiness rates as the fleet aged.

Ryan - do you know what tendentious reasoning is? You tell us "this is my strategic nuclear warfighting principles" and then make your arguemnt that just happens to support "your" original thesis. You have summed up 60 years of strategic thought in two or three paragraphs, where were you during the cold war we could have avoided the entire arms race with your incisive although obviously simplistic analysis. I have to go to work and your post requires a much more detailed refutation. If I were you, I would read Herman Kahn's "On Thermonuclear War" for starters
 

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bobbymike said:
Ryan - do you know what tendentious reasoning is? You tell us "this is my strategic nuclear warfighting principles" and then make your arguemnt that just happens to support "your" original thesis. You have summed up 60 years of strategic thought in two or three paragraphs, where were you during the cold war we could have avoided the entire arms race with your incisive although obviously simplistic analysis.

The thing is, the attempts to avoid the nuclear arms race actually lengthened the Cold War. The original plan under Eisenhower went:

1.) Build up Massive Offensive Force in the 1950s (achieved by the close of the 1950s with SAC's 1,000+ bombers).
2.) Build up Massive Defensive Force in the 1960s (we saw some sparks of this in the various Nike-Zeus proposals, but they were killed by McNamara).

If the Soviet Union tried to match us, they'd collapse from the economic strain. As it is it took a very concerted effort by the Soviet Union from the 1960s to the 1970s (with a lot of precious resources) to begin to match the US Offensive advantage.

Imagine how much worse it would have been for the Soviets if the US had not stopped expanding it's offensive forces once they reached McNamara's final goals, supplementing the silo-based minutemen with train-mobile minutemen, air launched minutemen, etc; plus actually replaced the B-52 in reasonable numbers with AMSA (McNamara was the sole reason that the B-1A took so long to fly -- he kept delaying the program when he was in office -- and it took his departure from SecDef to actually allow progress on the program to begin, rather than paper studies.)

I have to go to work and your post requires a much more detailed refutation. If I were you, I would read Herman Kahn's "On Thermonuclear War" for starters

I own OTW and his other supplemental books; On Escalation, Thinking about the Unthinkable in the 1980s; and Brother Herman was of the opinion that a Nuclear War can be fought and won; especially in OTW.
 

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Rosdivan said:
sferrin said:
RyanCrierie said:
This is very interesting. A recommendation to cut 150 Minutemen from the force?

About time.

They're incredibly fixed targets, and horribly vunerable to both offensive and defensive weapons -- offensive because they can't move stealthily unlike a SSBN; defensively, because unlike a SSBN, they can't move -- if you wanted to launch a Minuteman against say, a soviet missle field, there's only one path it can take from North Dakota to Siberia; and the other side could easily place ABM in that path.

Should be interesting to see what happens with the next generation bomber. If it's killed, that's it for our nuclear deterrence force; as ABM is going to be proliferated all over the world as more and more unsavory characters gain ballistic missile capability.


Okay so why would you want to kill 150 Minutemen BEFORE you find out if the next generation bomber gets killed? The thing about ICBMs is they're hard to hit, they're accurate, and they're fast. And let's not forget CHEAP. SSBNs are the proverbial "all your eggs in one basket". One cheap torpedo can take out 24 D-5s. I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss silo-based ICBMs.

One cheap torpedo might take out the Trident sub, but finding the sub isn't exactly easy, to the extent that there's no one out there who might be a plausible nuclear war opponent who could do it anymore, and I'm quite doubtful of the Soviet Union's ability to do so had it gone hot back in the 1980s.

Quite frankly, our arsenal would be completely secure residing simply in SSBNs with nary an ICBM or NGB.

That's one opinion. History doesn't support the idea of any particular system remaining invincible which is the whole point of the triad.
 

sferrin

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RyanCrierie said:
Bobbymike, why?

450 new ICBMs would be obsoleted by ABM even before you finish R&D and prototyping.


Whos ABMs?


RyanCrierie said:
Then we build 100+ B-70s. As much as I would like to build 1,500 B-70s to recreate SAC to it's glory days, that wouldn't fly in today's fiscal and budgetary environments.

Even if they just blew the dust off the original XB-70 drawings they'd still find a way to make it cost over a $billion a pop.
 

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Whos ABMs?

Active Programs

United States with our actively deployed SM-3s, GBIs and THAAD

Russia with the Moscow system and the more modern S-400/S-500 missile complexes.

France is developing the ASTER Block II exoatmospheric interceptor.

Germany operates large numbers of PAC-3 BMD interceptors, and is funding/developing MEADS which will have ABM capability against SRBMs.

Japan has bought into the US Sea Based BMD Program and is acutally funding a lot of SM-3 Block II development, so that means they get to see the good stuff.

South Korea has been running a BMD program by buying parts from various people; they've IIRC bought the Israeli Arrow BMD radars, or have stated their intent to buy them. They're also acquiring AEGIS destroyers; which means that they can easily buy into the SM-3 complex.

India with their Prithvi Exoatmospheric Air Defense Misisle (it's basically a modified IRBM that's command guided like the old NIKEs).

The Chinese are developing an ABM/ASAT system; and have actually tested it -- there really is no difference between an ABM/ASAT; they both go to a predetermined point in space at a predetermined point in time and get in the way of the satellite or ballistic missile. The Chinese also did some early ABM experiments back in the day with modified SA-2s.

Israel is developing their Arrow system (although with a lot of US funding through SDIO/MDA)

People who are considering buying into/or are buying into active programs

Singapore
Taiwan
Pakistan
Australia
The Netherlands
Spain
Italy

I wouldn't be surprised if for example, in the near future, the Chinese or the French packaged together a turnkey ABM system for worldwide export and sold it, like the Russians are doing with their S-400 and S-500 complexes in varying forms.
 

sferrin

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RyanCrierie said:
Whos ABMs?

Active Programs

United States with our actively deployed SM-3s, GBIs and THAAD

Why would the US shoot down it's own ICBMs? ???

RyanCrierie said:
Russia with the Moscow system and the more modern S-400/S-500 missile complexes.

The S-400 has no ICBM-killing capability and the S-500 is still on paper.

RyanCrierie said:
France is developing the ASTER Block II exoatmospheric interceptor.

Which is more along the lines of THAAD and still 15 years down the road to service.


RyanCrierie said:
Germany operates large numbers of PAC-3 BMD interceptors, and is funding/developing MEADS which will have ABM capability against SRBMs.

Japan has bought into the US Sea Based BMD Program and is acutally funding a lot of SM-3 Block II development, so that means they get to see the good stuff.

Again, why would we shoot down our own ICBMs?

[/QUOTE]South Korea has been running a BMD program by buying parts from various people; they've IIRC bought the Israeli Arrow BMD radars, or have stated their intent to buy them. They're also acquiring AEGIS destroyers; which means that they can easily buy into the SM-3 complex.

India with their Prithvi Exoatmospheric Air Defense Misisle (it's basically a modified IRBM that's command guided like the old NIKEs).

The Chinese are developing an ABM/ASAT system; and have actually tested it -- there really is no difference between an ABM/ASAT; they both go to a predetermined point in space at a predetermined point in time and get in the way of the satellite or ballistic missile. The Chinese also did some early ABM experiments back in the day with modified SA-2s.

Israel is developing their Arrow system (although with a lot of US funding through SDIO/MDA)

People who are considering buying into/or are buying into active programs

Singapore
Taiwan
Pakistan
Australia
The Netherlands
Spain
Italy

I wouldn't be surprised if for example, in the near future, the Chinese or the French packaged together a turnkey ABM system for worldwide export and sold it, like the Russians are doing with their S-400 and S-500 complexes in varying forms.
[/quote]

Af all those only the S-500 or China's efforts would be in opposition to US ICBMs. ICBMs are a LONG way from being obsolete. Even silo-based missiles.
 

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Why would the US shoot down it's own ICBMs?

I'm just listing the known worldwide ABM programs.

It's also important to note that the US has a large number of technical memorandums of understanding signed with a lot of countries around the world for shared BMD program progress; so after a bit, the latest BMD advances by the US get known and filter out to those countries; from thence on it filters out to the wider world as a whole.

The S-400 has no ICBM-killing capability and the S-500 is still on paper.

Actually, the S-400 has ICBM killing capability. So does just about every modern high performance SAM.

It's just a matter of systems integration done right -- getting everything to work right. High performance SAMs would have very small defended footprints versus those of a dedicated exoatmospheric interceptor -- but they would be large enough to defend a point target like a command/control center against a limited number of ICBM warheads.

There's a very good book out there which has the first known equations that let you predict the performance of an ABM system -- it's The Missile Defense Equation: Factors for Decision Making by Peter J. Mantle. However, it's a special order from the AIAA library. I was able to locate a copy in the Howard University Library and make a copy of it's performance calculations chapter.

Which [Aster Block II] is more along the lines of THAAD and still 15 years down the road to service.

So is the hypothetical SM-3 Block II that the Obama Administration killed GBI in Europe for. Given the very long development times of modern military weapons, we have to start making the decisions and projections for equipment that will be in service from the 2020 timeframe onwards.

Again, why would we shoot down our own ICBMs?

The Germans have physical custody of PAC-3 hardware and software, while the Japanese are buying into the SM-3 Sea Based BMD program and funding SM-3 Block II with a lot of their own money. That means they can look really closely at our hardware and software; see how it works, and then develop indigenious designs, or disseminate the information about how it works around. You only need to look at the Israel/Chinese arms deals of the 1980s to see where I'm going with this.

Of all those only the S-500 or China's efforts would be in opposition to US ICBMs.

The point is, the technology of ABM is proliferating VERY fast, in response to the increasing proliferation of ballistic missiles as a third world dictator's status symbol -- and a lot of nations don't like the possibility of being held hostage to crazies like the Iranians or North Koreans -- which is driving a lot of the worldwide interest in ABM systems.

ICBMs are a LONG way from being obsolete. Even silo-based missiles.

Right now, they're still viable systems because there are very few ABM systems deployed worldwide. But what will the situation be in the 2020s or 2030s? Silo-Based ICBMs will be the first to die, because of their limited utility -- there are only a limited number of trajectories that go from launch fields to targets, so the defender can stack ABM systems along that arc so that silo-based ICBMs run through a self-defined kill zone.

For this reason, mobile ICBMs like Topol-M and SSBNs will last longer than their silo-based counterparts -- about 15-20 years longer, because they can attack from more than just one threat axis.

But eventually there will be so many ABM systems ranging from missiles to lasers around the world that launching a ballistic missile is just a very expensive way of destroying a nuclear weapon.

That's one of the big problems the U.S. Navy is facing in defining it's Strategic Forces Modernization plan for the 2035s and beyond -- what will replace the Ohios?

The F/A/E/K/C-18 Super Hornet doesn't have the range, speed, and altitude needed for a deep nuclear strike from a Carrier Deck; and the Ford Class CVNs are no longer optimized for the nuclear strike role like the Nimitzes were (The Ford magazines, bomb lifts, etc are optimized more for sustained conventional bombing programs than a single massive all out alpha strike effort).

One of the ideas being floated around for the strategic strike role is a scramjet powered drone that makes it's attack run at around Mach 12+ and 200,000 plus feet, executing canned manouvers as it goes in to avoid incoming fire. Another school of thought is that we should instead focus more on stealth as a way of evading defenses.

Either way, the big fear right now is that if the anti-ABM people in the US get their way, the US in 2035 will have deployed a new class of SSBN with Super-Trident just as the Chinese do an all-up test of their new integrated ABM shield, ultimately negating the 20 years of development effort and billions of dollars in the notational Super-Trident.
 

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RyanCrierie said:
One of the ideas being floated around for the strategic strike role is a scramjet powered drone that makes it's attack run at around Mach 12+ and 200,000 plus feet, executing canned manouvers as it goes in to avoid incoming fire. Another school of thought is that we should instead focus more on stealth as a way of evading defenses.

SLAM.jpg


;)


On the other hand I'm not entirely convinced that ABMs would make ICBMs obsolete. It may change the traditional characteristics but I still see it as viable as long as it's still cheaper for the attacker. For example, say instead of a Peacekeeper with a post-boost vehicle and ten RVs maybe you have Peacekeeper with no PBV but seven 50kt GPS guided RVs each with their own PBV consisting of a storable liquid "kicker" motor for restartability and cross-range and an attitude control system. As SM-3 and NCADE has demonstrated these can be very compact so size isn't really going to be a problem. These would effectively be seven different missiles coming in that a defender would have to worry about. And GBIs aren't cheap. SM-3s are running $10-$17 million depending on the report and GBI is much more. And you'd need multiple per warhead shot down. On top off that, with sensors becoming more and more widespread you gain the ability to launch an attack BEFORE the enemy's first strike lands. When you can use sensors to actually SEE the missiles taking off and heading your way means less room for doubt wondering if it's a computer glitch or some such thus making the possiblity of losing your silo-base missiles much smaller.

On the other hand. . .directed energy weapons will probably do it in the end. Sure, you can do things like spin the missile or have layered ablative/reflective coatings or what not but eventually the power levels will get to the point where you're going to have to armor your RVs like tanks for them to make it through and maybe you have HEDI-like missiles to kill those leakers. The furthest out concept I've heard of would be something like a supercavitating Pluto underwater that pops out offshore and sprints in at very high speed and low altitude. Obviously that's a ways out.
 

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Just some observations, in no particular order:

1. A number of the systems being listed by folks under the category of ABM are actually designed and intended to counter theater ballistic missiles. The capabilities do not necessarily scale up. An ICBM/SLBM is much harder (though not impossible) to kill.

2. There is nothing to indicate that today an SLBM is less accurate than a silo based system. Originally, Polaris was. Part of this was due to the sub not knowing its exact position with extreme precision at the moment of launch, whereas an immovable silo pretty much knows where is and doesn't move all that much (now that we don't have any in California). This was rectified initially by having the SLBM take a starsight prior to reentry and final motor burnout, to update its position. With modern navigation aids, a boomer knows exactly where it is with exactitude and I'm sure the missiles still update themselves.

3. It is true that a torpedo (which isn't "cheap") could kill 24 Trident missiles. However, saying that is on the same order of the comedian Steve Martin's plan on how to be a millionaire and not have to pay any taxes: "First, get a million dollars. Next...". Getting that torpedo into launch position is VERY hard and VERY expensive. Even more than SSNs, which already pretty much go where they please when they please, SSBNs are incredibly hard to find, especially when you consider their tactic is to avoid, rather than engage any contacts. And, of course they can shoot back. Using the torpedo argument against an SLBM is valid, but on the order of saying that 24 shotgun rounds can disable 24 Minuteman missiles. This is true, but first you've got to get the gun up to the missile.

4. Sea based BMD is a very good idea if you can afford to have the navy where you can spare the resources.

5. Anything that's 20 years down the road is not something you can count on, offensively or defensively given politicians' constant tactic of kicking the can down the road.

6. What's going to replace the Ohios is a big unknown right now, as is future submarine design (Once you lose that expertise, you'll probably never be able to get it back). Said replacement design should be starting about now, but it's questionable given the current state of affairs, whether there's much in interest by the Administration in addressing this. Oh well there's always a lot of road available down which Washington can kick the can.

7. Launch on Warning can work depending on the circumstances. If the a country detected multiple launches of missiles all headed toward them, and assuming it had given into the insanity of the loons (guess I feel strongly about this) who feel all ABM capability should be dismantled, yes I would think that they'd launch as those missiles came over the horizon. On the other hand, what if only one was on its way, and was described by the launching country as a malfunctioning rocket that was intended to deploy a satellite that would broadcast Cat Stevens singing "Peace Train", it would probably have to go off before there would be a return launch.

8. The above, though, does bring about a macabre point in "favor" of land based missiles. In the case of bombers or SSBNs, the enemy strikes at the deployed weapons. Maybe the target nation wouldn't have the stomach to launch a retaliatory nuclear strike if only deployed weapons were targeted, but attacking the homeland itself is a whole 'nother thing. Point I'm making is with the silo systems there, the attacker may not want to go that far.

9. The other thing with a silo system is that it helps guard against technical surprise. What if Karl Stromberg did perfect his systems and the world didn't have James Bond to stop him? The silo systems would be our insurance policy.

10. Of course, we're approaching the point where we can't be sure that our insurance policy (or other options) will still work, and the system that could have addressed that was canceled earlier this year.


11. I totally agree with sferrin, directed energy is going to change everything. Those possible counters he mentions really aren't feasible because they all take weight. ON an ICBM (or SLBM) there's only one place that weight can come from, and that's the warhead. You have to have fewer or smaller. In this case the directed energy system has accomplished part of its goal without having fired a shot.
 

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For example, say instead of a Peacekeeper with a post-boost vehicle and ten RVs maybe you have Peacekeeper with no PBV but seven 50kt GPS guided RVs each with their own PBV consisting of a storable liquid "kicker" motor for restartability and cross-range and an attitude control system.

Such a system would probably be able to debuss all of it's warheads and begin independent manouvering immediately after the end of boost phase; allowing it to escape long ranged midcourse interceptors from destroying the warhead bus with all or most of the warheads aboard; but it would impose significant virtual attrition costs.

I find it very dubious that you would be able to basically go to each warhead having it's own fully autonomous guidance and propulsion system without a major reduction in the number of warheads carried.

Without a decently large number of MIRV warheads, ICBMs, whether they're sub launched or silo launched, become very expensive.

Also, virtual attrition comes into play here. If you have to download your 450 ICBMs loaded with 10 warheads on a single PBV to one that carries 5 independently propelled PBVs; the enemy has shot down half your force without firing a shot.

On top off that, with sensors becoming more and more widespread you gain the ability to launch an attack BEFORE the enemy's first strike lands. When you can use sensors to actually SEE the missiles taking off and heading your way means less room for doubt wondering if it's a computer glitch or some such thus making the possiblity of losing your silo-base missiles much smaller.

The problem is that ICBMs cannot be recalled. Once you've launched them, you've irrevocably committed your nation to a Game of Global Thermonuclear War. So you have to be absolutely absolutely sure that yes, that was a nuclear armed missile. Realistically, the only way to be sure is to get someone on the phone at one of the predicted impact sites on an open line, talking right up to the moment of predicted impact and see if he's still alive at that point.

This might actually have been the true objective of our field forces in Europe and the United Kingdom, ghoulishly enough, to die first, so that we could confirm that this was for real.

Either that or Norfolk getting hit by a SS-N-15 Starfish / SS-N-16 Stallion SUBROCSKI launched from a Soviet submarine off the US East Coast to kill the carriers in port, among other things.

Sure, you can do things like spin the missile or have layered ablative/reflective coatings or what not but eventually the power levels will get to the point where you're going to have to armor your RVs like tanks for them to make it through

One of my colleagues is Stuart Slade; who was actually at the Red Team Review in the Eighties where that concept was raised.

At a Red Team Review, basically anything goes, anything can be thrown into the pot; no matter how crazy or outrageous. This Red Team Review concerned the use of lasers as ABM weapons.

At the RTR, the guys from Martin Aerospace claimed that lasers could be negated by spinning the missile so that no one part of it was exposed to the laser long enough to do any damage.

The thing was, nobody had ever built a missile that spun at the speeds needed for this to work; so a study was put forth. The answers turned out to be really interesting.

A.) If the missile was solid fuel, spinning it caused the plasticizers in the fuel to migrate away from the core towards the circumfrence of the rocket motor. That made the whole assemby unstable and the rocket motor would fragment and explode.

B.) If the missile was liquid fuelled, spinning it caused the fuel to surge against the tank walls and they needed to be strengthened to the point where the payload of the missile vanished in structural weight.

Another story from Stuart concerned how back in the good old days, they actually bought a high grade mirror that was the best money could buy, and tested it against a laser. Basically the mirror exploded. The problem was that even a small absorption of energy from the laser damaged the mirror finish of the mirror and increased its absorptivity in a vicious exponental cycle.
 

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Now this is a good discussion. I like a lot of the posts. Ya think we should send this thread to Global Strike Command ;D
 

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Hmmmm.....

If there is a 'gap' in defences its against a hypersonic bomber, however the costs of going this route are potentialy quite high, today the ICBM and SLBM are cheap in comparison.

The slower the bomber, the easier it is to shoot down, yet the slower the bomber, the cheaper it is and the higher a fraction of its weight can be used for ordinence. Virtual atttrition does not just have its effect on ballistic missiles.

The faster the bomber, the less of its weight is ordience, so its no good having thousands of bombs if you cannot carry them all to target.
However speed does not confer invisibility, so the greater the ability of the enemy to track your fast bomber the higher the probability it can try and succeed in bringing it down.

Alternatively you could go down the route of cruise missiles, but considering they will be going up against a fully operative air defence system, the logic of that approach is to swamp the enemies defences with numbers. That means number of bombs to targets, plues number shot down, plus number that will fail etc.... is the minimum number of missiles needed.

Of course you could just blast a path through their defences, starting at the edge of their defence systems range, you just keep dropping bombs until you have a corridor of destruction through which you can reach your intended target. Which at least could give them time to think about surrenduring.

So in some sense we are all going to have to accept some degree of virtual attrition. The payoff is getting the required number of bombs to targets for the desired effect.

Then there is the strange world of skip, thrust and glide, hopping in and out of the atmosphere to both change direction and boost the vehicle further on. Getting up there and at speed of course is the problem.
 

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sferrin said:
RyanCrierie said:
One of the ideas being floated around for the strategic strike role is a scramjet powered drone that makes it's attack run at around Mach 12+ and 200,000 plus feet, executing canned manouvers as it goes in to avoid incoming fire. Another school of thought is that we should instead focus more on stealth as a way of evading defenses.


On the other hand. . .directed energy weapons will probably do it in the end. Sure, you can do things like spin the missile or have layered ablative/reflective coatings or what not but eventually the power levels will get to the point where you're going to have to armor your RVs like tanks for them to make it through and maybe you have HEDI-like missiles to kill those leakers. The furthest out concept I've heard of would be something like a supercavitating Pluto underwater that pops out offshore and sprints in at very high speed and low altitude. Obviously that's a ways out.

I suspect DEWs are a nothing but a chimera. You either need their missiles on their periphery in order to allow you to camp with an air or seaborne asset with sufficient defenses, or you need to put it into space which is horrifically expensive and is, in any event, still vulnerable to preemptive attacks, saturation, and building missiles that can defeat it through various methods (I think the most likely and most capable is just going fast enough and releasing low enough that orbital systems won't have any effect; apparently the studies indicate it's possible to do with acceptable accuracy while still in the upper atmosphere, around the mesophere).

RVs, by virtue of their construction for reentry, haven't needed any armoring in proposals I've heard of. As I understand it, the only DEWs capable of feasibly harming them are particle beams, but they suffer the drawback of messing up the internals, so you aren't sure that you've killed it or not, and of course that requires space mounting.

RyanCrierie said:
I find it very dubious that you would be able to basically go to each warhead having it's own fully autonomous guidance and propulsion system without a major reduction in the number of warheads carried.

Wasn't that one of the early proposals for Polaris A3 or Poseidon? They now have inertial measurement units fitting on single chips, so the guidance shouldn't be an issue, and I don't think it'd be much more than a few pounds per RV to account for loss of efficiency in one larger engine on the bus.

The true solution is obviously self-propelled intercontinental artillery guns with optional nuclear warheads. ;D
 

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RVs, by virtue of their construction for reentry, haven't needed any armoring in proposals I've heard of. As I understand it, the only DEWs capable of feasibly harming them are particle beams, but they suffer the drawback of messing up the internals, so you aren't sure that you've killed it or not, and of course that requires space mounting.

Rosdivan, right now, they have laser systems that kill artillery shells in flight. They've been tested as stoping a barriage of shells. How they do it is very interesting. They don't burn a hole right through the shell and set off the explosives inside. What they do is burn off enough of the shell casing to cause aerodynamic instabilities which cause the shells to tumble, and eventually break up or go out of control.

Imagine the problems that a laser could cause a RV coming in at much faster speeds than an artillery shell -- if you managed to burn off some of the ablative coating or cause a dimple in the RV's skin -- when it re-entered the atmosphere, it's non uniform surface would cause localized heat spots that burn through, or it becomes unstable enough that it goes wildly off course, or is spun so hard that the internals exceed their maximum gee limit and become mush -- then the RV might kill someone if it actually fell on them, but wouldn't go off, since the precision workings of the internals got trashed...
 

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Except that when the RV is sheathed in plasma, since that will absorb the laser's energy instead of the RV itself. So it needs to be hit either prior to that phase of reentry or after it.
 

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Aside from the plasma, there's also the speed and distance problem and also creating said effects in a thicker and more heat proof skin instead of a rather thin steel wall. You'll need some fairly hellacious power levels in order to create a thermal or impulse kill in the RV and the site is going to be weather dependent most likely (Seattle and the UK are doomed). Range issues also result and you might need to install one or more facilities in every urban area you wish to protect. With the resultant, and quite reasonable, NIMBYism regarding hundreds of tons of highly unhealthy chemicals in the neighborhood, not a chance of such a project getting off the ground. Admittedly, if you can cause enough damage, it would work (ironically, quite possibly not feasible against early generation RVs with heavy ablative protection). But that just leads us into the next phase of the action-reaction cycle and so on and so forth until one or both sides say "screw it."
 

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