US Airpower in this Global Thermonuclear War scenario

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snypa777

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Unread post14 May 2017, 11:45

That brings me to another item worth consideration, lots of targets would have taken multiple hits. As mentioned, a particularly deep bunker called the Chekhov Command Bunker outside of Moscow, I have seen numbers around 70 to 90 warheads assigned to it.
Bloody hell how deep was it!
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mixelflick

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Unread post14 May 2017, 16:30

Ummmm....

Wouldn't the atmosphere turn into a radioactive, all encompassing cloud if all these warheads went off? Maybe I missed this, but I can't imagine how people would live through so many nuclear devices going off on both sides. One thing I'm VERY concerned with is the lack of virtually any THAAD type defenses for US East Coast cities - whereas Moscow (and presumably more) Russian cities enjoy robust protection.

Now I'm sure there may be classified systems that protect NYC or Washington D.C. but then again... maybe not. It was frightening how naked the US was on 9/11.
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armedupdate

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Unread post14 May 2017, 17:21

mixelflick wrote:Ummmm....

Wouldn't the atmosphere turn into a radioactive, all encompassing cloud if all these warheads went off? Maybe I missed this, but I can't imagine how people would live through so many nuclear devices going off on both sides. One thing I'm VERY concerned with is the lack of virtually any THAAD type defenses for US East Coast cities - whereas Moscow (and presumably more) Russian cities enjoy robust protection..

Don't need to when AEGIS patrols the sea.
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arian

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Unread post14 May 2017, 21:24

mixelflick wrote:Ummmm....

Wouldn't the atmosphere turn into a radioactive, all encompassing cloud if all these warheads went off? Maybe I missed this, but I can't imagine how people would live through so many nuclear devices going off on both sides.


Atmospheric detonations don't create fallout (other than the radiation they emit at detonation). So that would be a lot safer scenario than one with small kt-sized warheads hitting hardened targets since those would create a lot of fallout.

One thing I'm VERY concerned with is the lack of virtually any THAAD type defenses for US East Coast cities - whereas Moscow (and presumably more) Russian cities enjoy robust protection.


There's really no "robust" protection of Moscow. Ancient ABM system which relies on nuclear warheads and has very marginal capability against MIRVs. And THAAD isn't for ICBM defense. GMD is for ICBM defense. It works very differently from Moscow ABM since it is designed to intercept ICBMs exoatmospherically, not their warheads once they re-enter. At some point SM-3 will also have this capability. So if anything, the US is way ahead in actually having a useful ABM system.

snypa777 wrote:We don`t really know how accurate our missiles are going to be since we test east to west, not the other way around, in a shooting war we would launch west to east over the pole.


We also don't test missiles to find out how accurate they are, but to test their operational readiness. There are many ways of testing how to make an accurate guidance system without actually having to launch an ICBM, and the physics of it would have been figured out many decades ago. And the same applies to any country as well. Nobody is launching ICBMs over the pole to test them.
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arian

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Unread post14 May 2017, 21:36

snypa777 wrote:The D5 Trident II was the first SLBM to really have this capability.
There is a reason why the US has most of its counterstrike force at sea and the Russians are trying to do the exact same thing in catch up.

Those missile silo`s are very difficult targets to destroy and they are built to withstand massive overpressures. They are not targeted with one warhead, they would receive multiple hits because you basically have to get a direct hit on one to take it out and guarantee its destruction.


Yes these were my main points as well: simply looking at the raw number of warheads and missiles tells us little because a) hardened targets will get multiple warheads each, not just one, and hence the seeming Russian superiority in numbers is negated by the fact that they have lots of hardened targets to engage, while we don't , and b) our missiles are much more accurate to the point of getting adequate single-warhead kill probabilities which...probably...no one else has. And hence one Trident II warhead can have the same effectiveness as 3,4 or 6 Russian warheads.

Which is also an important thing for those who love to complain about how inadequate and forgotten out nuclear forces are: they really aren't. Our ICBM force is of secondary importance for a reason. The Trident II is such a revolutionary leap in capability that it hardly makes sense to worry about ICBMs anymore. But it does make sense to keep them around to force the Russians into addressing the hardened ICBM shelters.
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armedupdate

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Unread post15 May 2017, 00:57

From what I know THAAD flies at max of Mach 8, and ICBMs in their final phase land at Mach 6. So if ripple fired it may catch and ICBM warhead. Army Col. Charles Driessnack, THAAD's program manager has said THAAD can be used against ICBMs, however probably only against the last remnant not killed by GBI and SM-3. And has to be at perfect trajectories, so based near strategic assets.
http://aviationweek.com/awin/thaad-disp ... inst-icbms

Although classified, SM-3 can probably be modified easily to engage ICBMs in early ascent and descent phases. I remember a modified SM-3 it hit a sattelite flying at over Mach 20+, fast as some ICBMs. We have technology, we just need the funding.

arian wrote:Much of time required for a ballistic missile is spend in the ascent phase. So on average they aren't flying anywhere near that fast over the duration of their flight. It's still going to be 15-20 minutes realistically, since I doubt they would be parked in the Potomac launching their missiles, but probably about 1,500km in the Atlantic Ocean.

Bottom line is this (in my opinion): there is no way to win a first strike scenario, and there is nothing to gain by concentrating on taking out Minuteman III ICBMs. In fact, that would be doing the US a huge favor in a nuclear war if Russia decided to spend the vast majority of its arsenal targeting our secondary nuclear arsenal. As long as our SSBN force is around, is as numerous, and has as capable missiles as Trident IIs, there's no way anyone could be stupid enough to think they can win a surprise attack.

And my broader point was that one can't look simply at the number of warheads and assume that that is the number of targets that can be attacked: 1 warhead with high accuracy is better than 3 warheads with poor accuracy, because one is forced to use all 3 for one target to assure target destruction. Russia has that problem to a greater extent than the US, and hence the math doesn't add up as to one side being really able to take out the other's arsenal, without facing certain destruction.
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It takes 20-30 minutes for ICBMs to hit their targets. SLBMs if parked near US coasts. The main concern is the vulrability of the ICBM force and the parked SLBM force. If one side launches all his subs out of port and then launches ICBMs, he may have more surviving assets. Remember a lot of Russian ICBMs are mobile and can hide.

Have you watched "First Strike"(1979)? It's on Youtube. It looks at the concerns of the ICBM force.
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arian

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Unread post15 May 2017, 05:57

armedupdate wrote:From what I know THAAD flies at max of Mach 8, and ICBMs in their final phase land at Mach 6. So if ripple fired it may catch and ICBM warhead. Army Col. Charles Driessnack, THAAD's program manager has said THAAD can be used against ICBMs, however probably only against the last remnant not killed by GBI and SM-3. And has to be at perfect trajectories, so based near strategic assets.
http://aviationweek.com/awin/thaad-disp ... inst-icbms


An ICBM warhead at re-entry flies more like Mach 25. THAAD may have some capability, but it's certainly not intended or likely to be very useful for this role.

armedupdate wrote:Although classified, SM-3 can probably be modified easily to engage ICBMs in early ascent and descent phases. I remember a modified SM-3 it hit a sattelite flying at over Mach 20+, fast as some ICBMs. We have technology, we just need the funding.


It's not classified that future SM-3 versions want to achieve capability against ICBMs. They advertise that. And no it's not easy, nor currently capable of doing so. Closing speed isn't the only issue here but trajectory, reaction time, range etc. I doubt funding is the issue here either; these things routinely take decades to develop.

But it's not the ascent or descent phase SM-3 is targeted at. SM-3 carries the LEAP...lightweight exo-atmospheric projectile. As the name implies, it is for exo-atmospheric intercepts. It intercepts the warhead last stage or warhead bus in space. Same as GMD. THAAD is for terminal phase, as in the "descent" phase (although not really for ICBMs). We don't have anything for ascent phase (that's what the laser-armed 747 was for. But that would be pretty useless against Russian ICBMs since we wouldn't be flying 747s over Siberia)

armedupdate wrote:The main concern is the vulrability of the ICBM force and the parked SLBM force. If one side launches all his subs out of port and then launches ICBMs, he may have more surviving assets. Remember a lot of Russian ICBMs are mobile and can hide.


Again, it's not so simple. It's already been discussed several times in this thread why it can't happen that they can take out "everything" we have, and have anything left over.
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armedupdate

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Unread post15 May 2017, 19:56

Again I recommend you watch "First Strike"
arian wrote:An ICBM warhead at re-entry flies more like Mach 25. THAAD may have some capability, but it's certainly not intended or likely to be very useful for this role.

When the ICBM begins it's pierce point, yes it goes Mach 25. However by the time it is nearing the target, it slows way down due to atmoshpere. Hence Mach 6.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LTLA1dPby-g
arian wrote:It's not classified that future SM-3 versions want to achieve capability against ICBMs. They advertise that. And no it's not easy, nor currently capable of doing so. Closing speed isn't the only issue here but trajectory, reaction time, range etc. I doubt funding is the issue here either; these things routinely take decades to develop.
But it's not the ascent or descent phase SM-3 is targeted at. SM-3 carries the LEAP...lightweight exo-atmospheric projectile. As the name implies, it is for exo-atmospheric intercepts. It intercepts the warhead last stage or warhead bus in space. Same as GMD. THAAD is for terminal phase, as in the "descent" phase (although not really for ICBMs). We don't have anything for ascent phase (that's what the laser-armed 747 was for. But that would be pretty useless against Russian ICBMs since we wouldn't be flying 747s over Siberia)

"Descent phase" can mean in the midcourse phase. Terminal phase is when it reenters the atmosphere. I think you are thinking of boost phase for the 747.

Some minimal modifications can probably allow current SM-3s to have limited ICBM capabilities. Remember it hit a sattelite moving faster than ICBM.
In February 2008, the United States used an SM-3 interceptor to destroy a malfunctioning satellite, specifically targeting a fuel tank on the satellite.[16] The satellite was travelling at a speed of greater than 7.6 km/s, a speed comparable or greater than that of an ICBM. Three years later, the United States demonstrated that an SM-3 missile can intercept an IRBM in a successful intercept test in April 2011.
[/quote]
https://mostlymissiledefense.com/2016/0 ... e-30-2016/
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arian

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Unread post15 May 2017, 20:22

armedupdate wrote:Again I recommend you watch "First Strike"


I've seen it. It's not very relevant here, I think.

armedupdate wrote:When the ICBM begins it's pierce point, yes it goes Mach 25. However by the time it is nearing the target, it slows way down due to atmoshpere. Hence Mach 6.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LTLA1dPby-g


Quoting Atlas figures isn't very relevant to modern ICBMs. The degree to which it slows down due to air friction is dependent on size, weight, trajectory, and shape of warhead. None of that is comparable from Atlas to modern ICBMs. In either case, they are going very fast. And in either case, THAAD isn't a system designed for that.

armedupdate wrote:"Descent phase" can mean in the midcourse phase. Terminal phase is when it reenters the atmosphere. I think you are thinking of boost phase for the 747.


Technically the missile is always either ascending or descending. So technically, these terms don't describe anything either.
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sferrin

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Unread post15 May 2017, 21:20

arian wrote: In either case, they are going very fast. And in either case, THAAD isn't a system designed for that.


While it isn't specifically designed for ICBMs it does have limited ability against them. THAAD is deployed to Hawaii to defend it from North Korean ICBMs. It was also considered for the ASAT shot which was later performed by SM-3. The limiting factor is getting tracking information to THAAD early enough to get a KKV in place when the RV is coming down.
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Unread post15 May 2017, 21:32

arian wrote:Quoting Atlas figures isn't very relevant to modern ICBMs. The degree to which it slows down due to air friction is dependent on size, weight, trajectory, and shape of warhead. None of that is comparable from Atlas to modern ICBMs. In either case, they are going very fast. And in either case, THAAD isn't a system designed for that.

Atlas travels same similar speeds to modern ICBMs. It's reetry phase will be similar to modern ICBMs only no MIRV.

arian wrote:Technically the missile is always either ascending or descending. So technically, these terms don't describe anything either.

"Ascending in midcourse phase" and "decscending in midcourse phase" is what I meant. Sorry.
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sferrin

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Unread post15 May 2017, 21:36

armedupdate wrote:
arian wrote:Quoting Atlas figures isn't very relevant to modern ICBMs. The degree to which it slows down due to air friction is dependent on size, weight, trajectory, and shape of warhead. None of that is comparable from Atlas to modern ICBMs. In either case, they are going very fast. And in either case, THAAD isn't a system designed for that.

Atlas travels same similar speeds to modern ICBMs. It's reetry phase will be similar to modern ICBMs only no MIRV.


Depends. The early Atlas RVs had very blunt, heatsink based warheads. They decelerated much quicker than modern conical RVs.
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Unread post15 May 2017, 21:47

sferrin wrote:Depends. The early Atlas RVs had very blunt, heatsink based warheads. They decelerated much quicker than modern conical RVs.

I don't think the difference will be huge. It isn't slamming the ground at Mach 20.
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Unread post15 May 2017, 23:00

arian wrote:It's not classified that future SM-3 versions want to achieve capability against ICBMs. They advertise that. And no it's not easy, nor currently capable of doing so. Closing speed isn't the only issue here but trajectory, reaction time, range etc. I doubt funding is the issue here either; these things routinely take decades to develop.



https://www.mda.mil/system/potential_ne ... ogies.html

discusses possible UAV/SM-3 teaming to achieve boost-phase intercepts. SM-3 BlkIIB ie. NGAM would be true ICBM counter if they ever build it.
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Unread post16 May 2017, 01:41

sferrin wrote:
arian wrote: In either case, they are going very fast. And in either case, THAAD isn't a system designed for that.


While it isn't specifically designed for ICBMs it does have limited ability against them. THAAD is deployed to Hawaii to defend it from North Korean ICBMs. It was also considered for the ASAT shot which was later performed by SM-3. The limiting factor is getting tracking information to THAAD early enough to get a KKV in place when the RV is coming down.


May be wishful thinking. Or, just the only option available. Or maybe its ok against a Nork ICBM given the distances and trajectory involved. We don't know enough about all the variables involved to know.

armedupdate wrote:Atlas travels same similar speeds to modern ICBMs. It's reetry phase will be similar to modern ICBMs only no MIRV.


It just doesn't. In any case there's no reason to cite Atlas performance for anything today.

This was the Atlas warhead design: Image

There are modern warhead designs: Image

Obviously very different in size and shape.

armedupdate wrote:I don't think the difference will be huge. It isn't slamming the ground at Mach 20.


Well no one is saying it is traveling at Mach 20 when it hits the ground. But you're also not intercepting it when it hits the ground. Hopefully, you're intercepting it way before that. So the issue is closing speed. THAAD for example is going to start its intercept 100-120km out at a minimum distance.
Last edited by arian on 16 May 2017, 02:02, edited 1 time in total.
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