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ICBM's are the arch-typical weapons of first-strike, even if they have the rapid-communication advantage in second-strike. Submarines are kept in reserve for the future in cold-war doctrine scenarios (using them gives away their location), as a deterrent against possible escalation by other nuclear powers (think: China). Of course, it is still possible to use them in first strike. US would fire from the pacific, they phased out the Atlantic base.

The Russians are still launching satellites regularly to maintain the coverage of their warning network. I am skeptical of the claim they couldn't spot a sub launch (the IR signature is just as big a ground launch) and inclined to believe it is whining for more toys on the part of the good general.

Cruise missiles can escape early warning satellites, but note that Russian cities and silos are too far off the coast for the range of classic tomahawk ammunitions (I only count launches from attack subs, launches from conventional bombers are too easy to spot, they are relatively slow, have low reach or they need a huge apparel of in-flight refueling, etc...).

The asymmetry  of this situation (US cities are highly vulnerable to an attack by sub cruise missiles) had the pentagon in anst for many years.

Now the B2 white elephant: remember that there are only 21 B2 in the US Air Force (like in : twenty-one), they are only stealth if they refrain from firing propelled ammo (no star pattern of cruise with 20 minutes flight time and IR+radar signature), which means no more than 21 targets can be processed in the first wave of the strike. Which makes them totally worthless, wahhahaahahaha !

Slow communication to subs only matters in case a rapid response is required, and for a first strike launch-time can be agreed upon in advance.

Well, that is exactly what I said, except it really means that the acoustically inferior Russian subs (of the present day) are ineffective as a deterrent.

Don't be mistaken: I agree that the morons in the Pentagon are masturbating themselves with dreams of nuking Russia (they've been for 30 years). It's just that they can't do it just so quickly, in any case. And if they do try, >50% of the US population will be eliminated (it may be one of their goals actually).


by Pierre on Thu Dec 20th, 2007 at 10:29:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Without rehashing the whole article by Lieber and Press, as well as the extended discussion in a following issue of Foreign Affairs, it's worth noticing that Putin is talking about the Cuban Missile Crisis without any of the obvious motives you attribute to Russian generals looking for a bigger slice of the budget, and that Arbatov basically agrees with the assessment by Lieber and Press.

Not even the unspeakable Secretary Flory disputes the main facts about the deterioration of the Russian nuclear arsenal, especially the assertion by Lieber and Press that all nine of Russia's nuclear submarines are sometimes sitting simultaneously in port.

The erratic quality of Russian satellites opens a lot of little windows of opportunity, and their communication links are especially vulnerable to jamming.  When Putin talks about the current situation as a technological equivalent of the Cuban Missilie crisis, that's part of what he means.

(I only posted on European Tribune out of admiration for Jerome, and the rest of it is just a sad joke.)

by Jacob Freeze on Thu Dec 20th, 2007 at 10:58:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Discussing improvements in US submarine-based missiles, Lieber and Press write:
The result of these upgrades is stunning. During the last years of the Cold War, a U.S. SLBM warhead had roughly a 12 percent chance of destroying a hardened Russian ICBM silo. Of the two types of U.S. submarine-launched warheads currently deployed, one has about a 90 percent likelihood of destroying such a silo and the other has a 98 percent chance. Despite such progress, the United States continues to improve the lethality of its SLBMs. These steps are unnecessary for deterrence and strongly suggest a desire for nuclear primacy. Only such a goal would justify additional upgrades to U.S. counterforce capabilities.

The Russians have 3500 nuclear warheads, but the number of silo emplacements is in the hundreds. That number is well within the range of possible destruction by submarine launched MIRV vehicles, without relying either on land-based ICBM's or cruise missiles.

(I only posted on European Tribune out of admiration for Jerome, and the rest of it is just a sad joke.)

by Jacob Freeze on Thu Dec 20th, 2007 at 11:49:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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