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TWA772LR
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Nuclear warhead-free ICBMs

Mon Dec 31, 2018 4:58 am

Since chemical and biological weapons are all but banned and dismantled by all nations that use ICBMs, that leaves nuclear warheads as the destruction method of choice for these weapons.

My question is (if a true nuclear weapon-free world is achieved) what would replace the nuclear warhead? Since the aforementioned bio and chemical weapons are not used by nations that use ICBMs that leaves them out. The USs MOAB and Russias 'FOAB' are high yielding explosive devices, and in the case of Russia, used to replace smaller nuclear arms.

Would an extremely high explosive be used to replace a nuclear warhead on an ICBM? Would such an application mean more widespread use of ICBMs in times of conflict? Would an implementation like this make more more efficient/cheaper?

Mods please move if this is not in the correct forum.
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Nomadd
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Re: Nuclear warhead-free ICBMs

Mon Dec 31, 2018 6:36 am

If your fantasy world of countries and people who trusted each other to eliminate nuclear weapons without hiding any or keeping the ability to make a thousand of them ion a moment's notice existed, why would it still be putting warheads on missiles?
You can't ask a realistic answer to a question based on human nature being something other than it is.
 
Ozair
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Re: Nuclear warhead-free ICBMs

Mon Dec 31, 2018 7:11 am

TWA772LR wrote:
Since chemical and biological weapons are all but banned and dismantled by all nations that use ICBMs, that leaves nuclear warheads as the destruction method of choice for these weapons.

My question is (if a true nuclear weapon-free world is achieved) what would replace the nuclear warhead? Since the aforementioned bio and chemical weapons are not used by nations that use ICBMs that leaves them out. The USs MOAB and Russias 'FOAB' are high yielding explosive devices, and in the case of Russia, used to replace smaller nuclear arms.

Would an extremely high explosive be used to replace a nuclear warhead on an ICBM? Would such an application mean more widespread use of ICBMs in times of conflict? Would an implementation like this make more more efficient/cheaper?

Mods please move if this is not in the correct forum.

The US has considered non nuclear warheads for ICBMs previously. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/co ... edirect=on

Obviously there are deterrence issues with a missile that could be either nuclear or conventional so I believe the PGS program https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prompt_Global_Strike moved on to specific hypersonic systems developed for that purpose.

I agree with Nomadd that we won't go nuclear free anytime soon but the expanded use of specific ICBMs in conventional roles is possible although unlikely.

Plenty of IRBMs that have conventional warheads and perhaps some MRBMs.
 
GST
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Re: Nuclear warhead-free ICBMs

Mon Dec 31, 2018 8:25 am

I'd be concerned that any country detecting incoming ICBMs won't have any way to determine whether they are conventionally or nuclear armed, and they or their allies would therefore be highly likely to react accordingly for nuclear incoming. This could be very very bad for everyone concerned, and I'd be surprised if that risk didn't outweigh any specific tactical or strategic advantage of using a non-nuclear ICBM in almost any conventional war.
 
bigjku
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Re: Nuclear warhead-free ICBMs

Mon Dec 31, 2018 2:43 pm

GST wrote:
I'd be concerned that any country detecting incoming ICBMs won't have any way to determine whether they are conventionally or nuclear armed, and they or their allies would therefore be highly likely to react accordingly for nuclear incoming. This could be very very bad for everyone concerned, and I'd be surprised if that risk didn't outweigh any specific tactical or strategic advantage of using a non-nuclear ICBM in almost any conventional war.


This, this a million times over. I am even skeptical of balisticslly launched conventional weapons in the medium range when fired by nuclear powers. I don’t trust calmer heads to prevail and determine that the ballistic inbound isn’t nuclear.

Now most nations aren’t in a launch on warning posture but that’s in peacetime. How would they position their response in wartime? I don’t know and I don’t see wanting to test it but that’s just me.
 
GalaxyFlyer
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Re: Nuclear warhead-free ICBMs

Mon Dec 31, 2018 3:22 pm

Chemical or biological weapons were never used on ICBMs, only nuclear. Just to be pedantic.

GF
 
EBJ68
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Re: Nuclear warhead-free ICBMs

Mon Dec 31, 2018 11:21 pm

Reading the aforementioned article, it appears the conventionally armed ICBM would be used in other than the classic strategic role, i.e. against third world terrorist organizations, for example. I'm not a military strategist by any means, but this seems to be overkill in my estimation.
 
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smithbs
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Re: Nuclear warhead-free ICBMs

Mon Dec 31, 2018 11:42 pm

A GBU delivered by ICBM would be the most expensive GBU ever. I could only think that you'd use it because you have a very sudden need to deliver it really fast such that in-theater assets couldn't respond as fast. I can't think of such a scenario...

A nuclear ICBM is a strategic tool and statement. Taking off the nuclear warhead would basically render it as a non-strategic tool, and a super-expensive one at that. Nuclear weapons exist today for the political statement they make.

The best use for decommissioned ICBMs: orbital launch vehicles.
 
Ozair
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Re: Nuclear warhead-free ICBMs

Mon Dec 31, 2018 11:43 pm

EBJ68 wrote:
Reading the aforementioned article, it appears the conventionally armed ICBM would be used in other than the classic strategic role, i.e. against third world terrorist organizations, for example. I'm not a military strategist by any means, but this seems to be overkill in my estimation.

Perhaps not overkill if there is a time sensitive nature to the target. If the US feels it needs to strike bad guy X who will be at that current location for a specific period of time then a long range weapon like a conventional ICBM that can be on target in 30 minutes is likely better able to accomplish the mission than a slow unmanned UCAV or slightly faster air breathing asset.

They could establish procedures ahead of time with the Russians/Chinese etc to ensure they are aware 2 minutes ahead of a launch that it is a conventional missile going to a specific location. Difficult but not impossible.
 
ChrisKen
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Re: Nuclear warhead-free ICBMs

Tue Jan 01, 2019 12:52 am

Ozair wrote:
Perhaps not overkill if there is a time sensitive nature to the target. If the US feels it needs to strike bad guy X who will be at that current location for a specific period of time then a long range weapon like a conventional ICBM that can be on target in 30 minutes is likely better able to accomplish the mission than a slow unmanned UCAV or slightly faster air breathing asset.

Someone has been watching too many movies. Using an ICBM to deliver a conventional warhead is impractical due to the low payload capacity and completely uneconomical. Not to mention accuracy, it's good with some but not that good (and not reliably).
With the scenario you suggest above. The target of interest will in all likelihood will already have eyes nearby (if nothing else, to confirm it's present and subsequent elimination) . Other assets and methods will be far better positioned, these would used to prosecute the target if need be.
 
Ozair
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Re: Nuclear warhead-free ICBMs

Tue Jan 01, 2019 1:37 am

ChrisKen wrote:
Ozair wrote:
Perhaps not overkill if there is a time sensitive nature to the target. If the US feels it needs to strike bad guy X who will be at that current location for a specific period of time then a long range weapon like a conventional ICBM that can be on target in 30 minutes is likely better able to accomplish the mission than a slow unmanned UCAV or slightly faster air breathing asset.

Someone has been watching too many movies. Using an ICBM to deliver a conventional warhead is impractical due to the low payload capacity and completely uneconomical. Not to mention accuracy, it's good with some but not that good (and not reliably).
With the scenario you suggest above. The target of interest will in all likelihood will already have eyes nearby (if nothing else, to confirm it's present and subsequent elimination) . Other assets and methods will be far better positioned, these would used to prosecute the target if need be.

ChrisKen, read the links quoted above by myself. The USAF prototyped using a minuteman III as the vehicle to deliver a conventional payload in 2010. Clearly it was considered at least feasible enough to spend a significant amount of money on prototyping it, hence the concept is not too "out of the movies"...
 
ChrisKen
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Re: Nuclear warhead-free ICBMs

Tue Jan 01, 2019 1:58 am

Ozair wrote:
ChrisKen, read the links quoted above by myself. The USAF prototyped using a minuteman III as the vehicle to deliver a conventional payload in 2010. Clearly it was considered at least feasible enough to spend a significant amount of money on prototyping it, hence the concept is not too "out of the movies"...

Militaries spend billions on nonsense projects all over the world, all the time. The US prototyped Bat-bombs in the 40s.

Just because it can be done, doesn't mean it's practical to do so. Do you see it service? There's your answer.
 
Ozair
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Re: Nuclear warhead-free ICBMs

Tue Jan 01, 2019 2:09 am

ChrisKen wrote:
Ozair wrote:
ChrisKen, read the links quoted above by myself. The USAF prototyped using a minuteman III as the vehicle to deliver a conventional payload in 2010. Clearly it was considered at least feasible enough to spend a significant amount of money on prototyping it, hence the concept is not too "out of the movies"...

Militaries spend billions on nonsense projects all over the world, all the time. The US prototyped Bat-bombs in the 40s.

Just because it can be done, doesn't mean it's practical to do so. Do you see it service? There's your answer.

I have never suggested it was practical and the reason it isn't in service may have nothing to do with the capability or cost of the respective system and everything to do with political considerations as others have outlined. Neither of us know but to come out swinging against a suggestion which the USAF themselves investigated is rather absurd.
 
ChrisKen
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Re: Nuclear warhead-free ICBMs

Tue Jan 01, 2019 3:08 am

Ozair wrote:
I have never suggested it was practical and the reason it isn't in service may have nothing to do with the capability or cost of the respective system and everything to do with political considerations as others have outlined. Neither of us know but to come out swinging against a suggestion which the USAF themselves investigated is rather absurd.

I pointed out you may watch too many movies, based on the scenario you outlined. You'd almost certainly have eyes on the target, particularly if it was a 'bad guy', rather than infrastructure. Any military worth their salt would do this. If you have eyes on the target, you can bet your arse there will be other assets in the area.
You simply wouldn't blindly launch a conventionally armed ICBM at a person of interest from 10,000 miles away, it's a ludicrous notion and quite frankly it'd miss most of the time.

Militaries look at all sorts of options, usually spending a great deal in the process. The fact the USAF looked at it is far from an endorsement of it's feasibility. I'm sure most ICBM carrying nations have looked at the option and concluded similarly. You can bet your house on it being down to cost and capability. A conventionally armed ICBM costs too much and lacks the capability. ergo, isn't cost effective as well as being impracticable.
A conventionally armed ICBM would be at the wrong end of a very long list of options to take out your bad guy, it'd still be at the wrong end that list in a role to take out infrastructure too (in fact the payload may not be large enough to do so convincingly).
 
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Spacepope
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Re: Nuclear warhead-free ICBMs

Tue Jan 01, 2019 5:33 am

ChrisKen wrote:
Ozair wrote:
ChrisKen, read the links quoted above by myself. The USAF prototyped using a minuteman III as the vehicle to deliver a conventional payload in 2010. Clearly it was considered at least feasible enough to spend a significant amount of money on prototyping it, hence the concept is not too "out of the movies"...

Militaries spend billions on nonsense projects all over the world, all the time. The US prototyped Bat-bombs in the 40s.

Just because it can be done, doesn't mean it's practical to do so. Do you see it service? There's your answer.

The Bat was an early guided weapon using radio guidance. Worked ok, about as well as the Fritz K of Germany. How is that an impractical idea? https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/ASM-N-2_Bat
The last of the famous international playboys
 
Ozair
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Re: Nuclear warhead-free ICBMs

Tue Jan 01, 2019 6:19 am

ChrisKen wrote:
I pointed out you may watch too many movies, based on the scenario you outlined.

ChrisKen, the scenario is not mine, it is the one proposed by U.S. Strategic Command chief Gen. James Cartwright…
U.S. Strategic Command chief Gen. James Cartwright has said he needs a prompt global strike capability to hold fleeting targets at risk. He would like a conventional weapon that could arrive on target within one hour of an order to launch, a capability currently offered only by nuclear-armed missiles. A conventional alternative would make U.S. threats more credible against targets such as a terrorist leader staying briefly at a safe house or a North Korean nuclear missile being readied on a launch pad, defense analysts say.

https://web.archive.org/web/20120130142 ... 16,00.html

ChrisKen wrote:
You'd almost certainly have eyes on the target, particularly if it was a 'bad guy', rather than infrastructure. Any military worth their salt would do this. If you have eyes on the target, you can bet your arse there will be other assets in the area.

Those eyes could be RC -135s, EP-3s, Global Hawk/Triton, RQ-170. All unarmed and all used to operating in locations where other assets are a long way from providing assistance.

ChrisKen wrote:
You simply wouldn't blindly launch a conventionally armed ICBM at a person of interest from 10,000 miles away, it's a ludicrous notion and quite frankly it'd miss most of the time.

I agree the concept isn’t an overly smart idea but it was considered seriously by the US Military.

ChrisKen wrote:
Militaries look at all sorts of options, usually spending a great deal in the process. The fact the USAF looked at it is far from an endorsement of it's feasibility. I'm sure most ICBM carrying nations have looked at the option and concluded similarly. You can bet your house on it being down to cost and capability. A conventionally armed ICBM costs too much and lacks the capability. ergo, isn't cost effective as well as being impracticable.
A conventionally armed ICBM would be at the wrong end of a very long list of options to take out your bad guy, it'd still be at the wrong end that list in a role to take out infrastructure too (in fact the payload may not be large enough to do so convincingly).

I suggest you give the above link a good read to understand how serious the concept was taken, https://web.archive.org/web/20120130142 ... 16,00.html
 
cpd
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Re: Nuclear warhead-free ICBMs

Tue Jan 01, 2019 7:27 am

How does one go about verifying an ICBM is equipped with a conventional warhead (or warheads in the example of multiple ones)?

I call up Ozair on the hotline and say, hey, I'm launching an ICBM, but don't worry, it's only conventional. How does he know that I'm truthful? Prudence dictates that he places all of his strategic missile forces on highest alert too. That is inherently dangerous.

When Ozair talks about "prompt global strike" the kind of thing they are envisioning is actually a very high speed drone, something to be used for strike or recon purposes. That's the exact idea of the SR-72, even though they don't say it. Back in the early days of the design, when it didn't have the SR-72 designation, prompt global strike was one of the purposes of that. And given it was seen so long ago in wind-tunnel testing, I'd say it's likely already operational in a limited capacity.
 
Ozair
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Re: Nuclear warhead-free ICBMs

Tue Jan 01, 2019 10:15 am

cpd wrote:
How does one go about verifying an ICBM is equipped with a conventional warhead (or warheads in the example of multiple ones)?

Probably the same procedure as currently done with the US and Russia, inspections.

Verification measures for New START are based on the 1991 START I Treaty and were modified for the purposes of the new Treaty. These measures include national technical means (e.g. satellites), on-site inspections and exhibitions, data exchanges and notifications related to strategic offensive arms and facilities covered by the Treaty, and provisions to facilitate the use of national technical means for treaty monitoring. To increase transparency and confidence, the Treaty also provides for the annual exchange of telemetry data on a parity basis, for up to five ICBM and SLBM launches per year.

The Treaty provides for 18 on-site inspections per year. These inspections are divided into two types. Type One inspections focus on sites with deployed and non-deployed strategic systems; Type Two inspections focus on sites with only non-deployed strategic systems. Each Party is allowed to conduct ten Type One inspections and eight Type Two inspections annually.

In Type One Inspections, each Party will have the right to count the number of reentry vehicles actually deployed on one ICBM or SLBM, rather than attribute a set number of warheads to each type of missile. If the inspected Party covers its reentry vehicles, each must have its own cover.

https://www.nti.org/learn/treaties-and- ... sive-arms/


cpd wrote:
I call up Ozair on the hotline and say, hey, I'm launching an ICBM, but don't worry, it's only conventional. How does he know that I'm truthful? Prudence dictates that he places all of his strategic missile forces on highest alert too. That is inherently dangerous.

Agree, I'm not an overly trusting fellow... although there is precedent for this given both Russia and the US periodically launch missiles for test purposes. An alternative might be to base all conventional missiles in one location that has never operated nuclear tipped missiles and allow inspection. There is also the potential to change the flight profile of the conventional missiles,

In defending the Pentagon decision to move ahead with the conventional Trident, some defense officials have suggested a conventional land-based alternative could be problematic because Russia or China may misinterpret a launch as a potential nuclear threat to their nations.

Patenaude took pains to make clear the Air Force “has no plans to put conventional warheads on current operational ICBMs or [use] their silos.”

Other defense officials have described how a land-based missile could be configured so it is incapable of carrying a nuclear payload and use a trajectory to its target that would not threaten other nuclear weapons nations. It also could be inspected by the Russians under existing arms control regimes; based on a U.S. coastline in Florida or California so launch debris could fall in the ocean rather than on land; and made capable of being rapidly retargeted.

...

Although there would be some technologies common to both nuclear-armed ICBMs on alert and the new Conventional Strike Missile, the land-based option offers some “unique advantage[s],” says Col. Patenaude.

One is “the ability to geographically separate conventional and nuclear capabilities,” he says. “That separation is a significant factor in reducing international concerns of misinterpretation and misunderstanding.”

A conventional land-based missile also would differ from its nuclear counterparts in its “performance requirements, operational environments and concepts of operations,” according to Patenaude.

https://web.archive.org/web/20120130142 ... 16,00.html

cpd wrote:
When Ozair talks about "prompt global strike" the kind of thing they are envisioning is actually a very high speed drone, something to be used for strike or recon purposes. That's the exact idea of the SR-72, even though they don't say it. Back in the early days of the design, when it didn't have the SR-72 designation, prompt global strike was one of the purposes of that. And given it was seen so long ago in wind-tunnel testing, I'd say it's likely already operational in a limited capacity.

I'm not sure on the specs for a proposed SR-72 but I doubt it would meet the 1 hour to a target essentially anywhere on the globe from order to launch,

He would like a conventional weapon that could arrive on target within one hour of an order to launch, a capability currently offered only by nuclear-armed missiles.

https://web.archive.org/web/20120130142 ... 16,00.html

Of course today we know a conventional ICBM is not happening so the use of an SR-72 is certainly a possibility.
 
ChrisKen
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Re: Nuclear warhead-free ICBMs

Tue Jan 01, 2019 2:27 pm

Spacepope wrote:
[
The Bat was an early guided weapon using radio guidance. Worked ok, about as well as the Fritz K of Germany. How is that an impractical idea? https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/ASM-N-2_Bat

I said bat-bomb not ASM-N-2_Bat. They were literally bombs strapped to bats (mexican free tail bat). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bat_bomb


And once again for Mr Ozair that can't digest a concept. Militaries around the world research all kinds of stuff. Guess what? That research is all taken seriously. It doesn't mean the initial concept was a good or viable one. A lot of military research is blue sky.

Once again, a conventionally armed ICBM is at the moment not a viable choice for threatening 'fleeting targets'. They have neither the accuracy nor the payload capability to make it effective on the target or cost effectiveness to build, maintain and use. You'll also note, your General didn't ask for one.

Mr Orange can threaten the wee fat boy in his North Korean summer palace with his conventionally armed ICBM all he wants. That ICBM will be lucky to hit the palace grounds, never mind the section of palace fat boy is in. See payload restrictions, you can't get enough conventional on board to create a boom big enough. Ergo, it's not like the movies where one wee bomb takes out everything (miraculously leaving the surrounding untouched).
 
GalaxyFlyer
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Re: Nuclear warhead-free ICBMs

Tue Jan 01, 2019 3:37 pm

Minuteman CEP is 200m and the MIRV weighs about 2500# including the bus, so you’d have a 2000# HE warhead that could be terminally guided to JDAM CEP. Alternatively, if SDBs could be made into MIRVs, you could put 5 of them puppies all over his palace. Fully developed, it’d be a very expensive and fast precision weapon.

GF
 
bigjku
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Re: Nuclear warhead-free ICBMs

Wed Jan 02, 2019 2:55 am

GalaxyFlyer wrote:
Minuteman CEP is 200m and the MIRV weighs about 2500# including the bus, so you’d have a 2000# HE warhead that could be terminally guided to JDAM CEP. Alternatively, if SDBs could be made into MIRVs, you could put 5 of them puppies all over his palace. Fully developed, it’d be a very expensive and fast precision weapon.

GF


I am fairly sure you will have communications and sensor issues at reentry speeds they would experience. It just isn’t nearly that simple.
 
Ozair
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Re: Nuclear warhead-free ICBMs

Wed Jan 02, 2019 9:30 am

bigjku wrote:
GalaxyFlyer wrote:
Minuteman CEP is 200m and the MIRV weighs about 2500# including the bus, so you’d have a 2000# HE warhead that could be terminally guided to JDAM CEP. Alternatively, if SDBs could be made into MIRVs, you could put 5 of them puppies all over his palace. Fully developed, it’d be a very expensive and fast precision weapon.

GF


I am fairly sure you will have communications and sensor issues at reentry speeds they would experience. It just isn’t nearly that simple.

I'm not sure its overly hard either. Pershing II used a maneuverable reentry vehicle and the Chinese have the DF-21D MRBM and reportedly the DF-26 IRBM, both armed with conventional warheads with the intent to hit a moving target in the middle of the ocean. In the Chinese case they are reportedly receiving guidance all the way until the missile seeker locks onto the target, at which point it will maneuver independently. In that context, using GPS to guide to a static ground target should be reasonably straight forward.
 
salttee
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Re: Nuclear warhead-free ICBMs

Sat Jan 05, 2019 5:58 pm

How fast can they do a GPS update? The vehicle will be traveling about 25 feet per millisecond; of course they know the velocity beforehand, so they can compensate as long as the updates can be transacted in a very few milliseconds. They can similarly correct for Doppler shifts transmitting to and receiving from the satellites. It does sound doable.

I'm fascinated by the idea of two tons of concrete hitting something like a 40 story building at 17,000 mph. Maybe they could try it out on one of the lesser Egyptian pyramids; if that works the insurance premium on the Three Gorges Dam will probably go up.
 
JayinKitsap
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Re: Nuclear warhead-free ICBMs

Sat Jan 05, 2019 8:55 pm

The D5 can carry 8-11 W88 warheads that have a weight of no more than 800 lb and a CEP of 300 feet. Once out of the platform it is non guided. As reentry is like 25K MPH, the timing to detonate at the correct altitude has to be quite precise. If explosion has not iniated at the surface, it will be crushed as the casing is too light to penetrate. At like $ 40M per it is much better to use a cruise missle.
 
Ozair
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Re: Nuclear warhead-free ICBMs

Sat Jan 05, 2019 10:01 pm

salttee wrote:
How fast can they do a GPS update? The vehicle will be traveling about 25 feet per millisecond; of course they know the velocity beforehand, so they can compensate as long as the updates can be transacted in a very few milliseconds. They can similarly correct for Doppler shifts transmitting to and receiving from the satellites. It does sound doable.

I'm fascinated by the idea of two tons of concrete hitting something like a 40 story building at 17,000 mph. Maybe they could try it out on one of the lesser Egyptian pyramids; if that works the insurance premium on the Three Gorges Dam will probably go up.

Apparently there are civilian GPS receivers that operate at 50 Hz and you would expect a military receiver to be at least capable of that rate. In that case the trajectory would be reasonably easy to predict as would the fusing of any warhead.

JayinKitsap wrote:
The D5 can carry 8-11 W88 warheads that have a weight of no more than 800 lb and a CEP of 300 feet. Once out of the platform it is non guided. As reentry is like 25K MPH, the timing to detonate at the correct altitude has to be quite precise. If explosion has not iniated at the surface, it will be crushed as the casing is too light to penetrate. At like $ 40M per it is much better to use a cruise missle.

So if they traded those eight 800lb warheads for one or two 2000 lb class weapons within a maneourveble platform there isn't a weight issue. With a predictable target height and location fusing should be reasonably straight forward.

The cost issue is less of a problem as the intent was that the target couldn't be hit by any other means within the time required. Of course the US moved to away from the D5 to an alternate solution.
 
salttee
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Re: Nuclear warhead-free ICBMs

Sat Jan 05, 2019 10:36 pm

Ozair wrote:
In that case the trajectory would be reasonably easy to predict as would the fusing of any warhead.

As I understand it, a chemical explosive is of no purpose in a mass traveling at 17kmph. The kinetic energy from the weight of the explosive material would be equal to the blast from whatever explosive is used. Hence, concrete works as good as C4 or whatever.
 
JayinKitsap
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Re: Nuclear warhead-free ICBMs

Sat Jan 05, 2019 10:39 pm

Ozair wrote:
JayinKitsap wrote:
The D5 can carry 8-11 W88 warheads that have a weight of no more than 800 lb and a CEP of 300 feet. Once out of the platform it is non guided. As reentry is like 25K MPH, the timing to detonate at the correct altitude has to be quite precise. If explosion has not iniated at the surface, it will be crushed as the casing is too light to penetrate. At like $ 40M per it is much better to use a cruise missle.

So if they traded those eight 800lb warheads for one or two 2000 lb class weapons within a maneourveble platform there isn't a weight issue. With a predictable target height and location fusing should be reasonably straight forward.

The cost issue is less of a problem as the intent was that the target couldn't be hit by any other means within the time required. Of course the US moved to away from the D5 to an alternate solution.


I assume you mean for the D5 to have an alternate solution for non-nuclear. Right now there is a huge D5 upgrade happening, the new version of the W88 is arriving in 2019. NSB Bangor is completing over $ 1B in improvements, with more planned.

With an error radius of 150 feet and an airburst at 50 to 150 feet it would destroy a typical building, but would be ineffective on a lightly hardened bunker. The W88 is a very streamlined body, as all ICBM's are to survive the heat of reentry, effectiveness might be highest with a cluster of 8 all on the same spot, that would improve the odds of one being within 50 feet of the spot, and a lot of others going off nearby. There are techniques to double burst a pair of warheads at say 50 and 200 feet that focuses the lower burst energy downward vs in a full sphere.
 
Ozair
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Re: Nuclear warhead-free ICBMs

Sat Jan 05, 2019 11:08 pm

salttee wrote:
Ozair wrote:
In that case the trajectory would be reasonably easy to predict as would the fusing of any warhead.

As I understand it, a chemical explosive is of no purpose in a mass traveling at 17kmph. The kinetic energy from the weight of the explosive material would be equal to the blast from whatever explosive is used. Hence, concrete works as good as C4 or whatever.

Perhaps but I'm not sure the impact has to be at that speed. The DF-21D apparently dives onto the target at approx 12kmph and from reports still uses a warhead of some sort. It may be just an inert package or a set of submunitions given the target set. 17kmph is obviously a lot faster but the impact doesn't necessarily need to be, or perhaps could be, at that speed.

This is probably a similar discussion to general kinetic bombardment with the following capabilities,

In the case of the system mentioned in the 2003 Air Force report above, a 6.1 m × 0.3 m tungsten cylinder impacting at Mach 10 has a kinetic energy equivalent to approximately 11.5 tons of TNT (or 7.2 tons of dynamite).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinetic_bombardment

A conventional warhead on an ICBM isn't going to be 6m long but clearly there is potential to not use a chemical warhead and as you suggest do away with any fuzing issues.
 
Ozair
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Re: Nuclear warhead-free ICBMs

Sat Jan 05, 2019 11:11 pm

JayinKitsap wrote:

I assume you mean for the D5 to have an alternate solution for non-nuclear. Right now there is a huge D5 upgrade happening, the new version of the W88 is arriving in 2019. NSB Bangor is completing over $ 1B in improvements, with more planned.

That was the original intent of US StratCom as per the article I linked earlier in the thread.

JayinKitsap wrote:
With an error radius of 150 feet and an airburst at 50 to 150 feet it would destroy a typical building, but would be ineffective on a lightly hardened bunker. The W88 is a very streamlined body, as all ICBM's are to survive the heat of reentry, effectiveness might be highest with a cluster of 8 all on the same spot, that would improve the odds of one being within 50 feet of the spot, and a lot of others going off nearby. There are techniques to double burst a pair of warheads at say 50 and 200 feet that focuses the lower burst energy downward vs in a full sphere.

With a conventional payload though the intent would be for a more accurate impact point over the close enough CEP of a nuclear warhead and possibly at a reduced speed compared to the W88.
 
salttee
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Re: Nuclear warhead-free ICBMs

Sat Jan 05, 2019 11:44 pm

JayinKitsap wrote:
The D5 can carry 8-11 W88 warheads that have a weight of no more than 800 lb and a CEP of 300 feet. Once out of the platform it is non guided. As reentry is like 25K MPH, the timing to detonate at the correct altitude has to be quite precise. If explosion has not iniated at the surface, it will be crushed as the casing is too light to penetrate. At like $ 40M per it is much better to use a cruise missle.
If you're at the point of using W88s, the difference in cost of delivery is meaningless.

Cost for the prompt delivery of a conventional warhead equipped ICBM would also be meaningless. When a time came to use something like that, 40 mil would also be chump change. Another point, a prompt delivery conventional ICBM would not be confused with a nuke attack. A nuke attack would never be by a single ICBM.
 
DigitalSea
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Re: Nuclear warhead-free ICBMs

Sun Jan 06, 2019 9:03 am

Does the USAF have non-nuclear kinetic warheads in orbit right now?
 
Ozair
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Re: Nuclear warhead-free ICBMs

Sun Jan 06, 2019 10:32 am

DigitalSea wrote:
Does the USAF have non-nuclear kinetic warheads in orbit right now?

Not that I am aware of, the scale of doing that would be reasonably significant and noticed by a lot of people.
 
FatCat
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Re: Nuclear warhead-free ICBMs

Tue Jan 08, 2019 11:50 am

delivering non-nuclear warheads through ICBMs is a very costly and mostly ineffective way of delivering ordnance.
standard high explosive ordnance like "moabs" are way too heavy to be delivered by an ICBM.
a MIRV weights much less than a single moab, and has a destructive power (shockwaves, fire and fallout) way too higher than a traditional "tnt" warhead.
plus, if you think that a Minuteman 3 can carry up to 10 W87 single targeted (and with re-targeting capacity) independent warhead, with a yield of about 500Kt (although being restricted by SALT treaties to one warhead per missile) you'll see that those missiles are incredible value for money.
W87 and W78s are largerly being paid off (from the manufacturing point of view, not the stockpiling, by the way) and are quite well tested, so are the Minuteman vectors, that after their life as part of the Triad, can be used as vectors for satellites, like Atlas and Titan missiles.

going back to your question, no warhead can replace a nuclear warhead, not until the nuclear deterrence "rule" is in force. you'd have nukes if someone has nukes, because if he sends his nukes to you, you've got to send yours to him in retaliation. this is what kept our World safe for about 40 years.

there are a lot of useful videos on youtube about stockpile, nuclear deterrence, weapons development, nuclear strategy, previously classified - now for the public. I suggest you to search for the video about the MX Missile development, the videos from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and Sandia Corporation. Also available, 40's and 50's nuclear tests declassified videos, very interesting.
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salttee
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Re: Nuclear warhead-free ICBMs

Tue Jan 08, 2019 4:32 pm

FatCat wrote:
delivering non-nuclear warheads through ICBMs is a very costly and mostly ineffective way of delivering ordnance.
standard high explosive ordnance like "moabs" are way too heavy to be delivered by an ICBM.
a MIRV weights much less than a single moab, and has a destructive power (shockwaves, fire and fallout) way too higher than a traditional "tnt" warhead.
plus, if you think that a Minuteman 3 can carry up to 10 W87 single targeted (and with re-targeting capacity) independent warhead, with a yield of about 500Kt (although being restricted by SALT treaties to one warhead per missile) you'll see that those missiles are incredible value for money.
W87 and W78s are largerly being paid off (from the manufacturing point of view, not the stockpiling, by the way) and are quite well tested, so are the Minuteman vectors, that after their life as part of the Triad, can be used as vectors for satellites, like Atlas and Titan missiles.

going back to your question, no warhead can replace a nuclear warhead, not until the nuclear deterrence "rule" is in force. you'd have nukes if someone has nukes, because if he sends his nukes to you, you've got to send yours to him in retaliation. this is what kept our World safe for about 40 years.

there are a lot of useful videos on youtube about stockpile, nuclear deterrence, weapons development, nuclear strategy, previously classified - now for the public. I suggest you to search for the video about the MX Missile development, the videos from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and Sandia Corporation. Also available, 40's and 50's nuclear tests declassified videos, very interesting.

You talk about nukes, but you don't seem to credit the simple fact that there are many potential missions where nukes are absolutely unacceptable. You also treat this discussion as if we are discussing a new weapons system that will be bought in mass. 40 million or 120 million (if we want three for maintenance and redundancy reasons), is less than the cost of one early F-35 or any F-22 or B-1, B-2, B-21 or SR-71/2 and gives a capability that cannot be achieved any other way and any of those planes can be lost on any mission (with crew).

You don't seem to understand the potential mission set. If an ICBM warhead can be delivered with a CEP of 50 feet, it can provide a way to strike high value targets that would be inaccessible any other way and in quite dramatic fashion. Taking out a rouge leader while he is in the process of giving a speech could prevent a war on the spot. Taking out a truck which is carrying a nuke when it is discovered parked at a rendezvous location might do the same. In the past, it might have prevented war by use against Qiddaffi, Saddam, Bin Laden, a warlord in Somalia or on a Russian ship carrying a nuke as it docked at a port in Cuba. The non-nuke ICBM is not just a long range artillery piece, it is a strategic weapon for use against elusive extremely high value targets.

And afik any chemical warhead would just add complexity and questions of reliability as an error of as little as 2msec in the time of the blast might render it ineffective. I believe that 17,000 mph is the threshold where the kinetic energy of the mass is equal to a chemical blast anyway. As they say, this thing would be quite noisy in operation.

The Air Force is currently in the process of installing a new set of GPS satellites overhead, it might be that the cancellation of this project is just a delay until the new GPS capability goes online and allows tighter targeting for the delivery vehicle. We'll see (or maybe not).
 
FatCat
Posts: 909
Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2018 2:02 pm

Re: Nuclear warhead-free ICBMs

Wed Jan 23, 2019 11:26 am

salttee wrote:
FatCat wrote:
delivering non-nuclear warheads through ICBMs is a very costly and mostly ineffective way of delivering ordnance.
standard high explosive ordnance like "moabs" are way too heavy to be delivered by an ICBM.
a MIRV weights much less than a single moab, and has a destructive power (shockwaves, fire and fallout) way too higher than a traditional "tnt" warhead.
plus, if you think that a Minuteman 3 can carry up to 10 W87 single targeted (and with re-targeting capacity) independent warhead, with a yield of about 500Kt (although being restricted by SALT treaties to one warhead per missile) you'll see that those missiles are incredible value for money.
W87 and W78s are largerly being paid off (from the manufacturing point of view, not the stockpiling, by the way) and are quite well tested, so are the Minuteman vectors, that after their life as part of the Triad, can be used as vectors for satellites, like Atlas and Titan missiles.

going back to your question, no warhead can replace a nuclear warhead, not until the nuclear deterrence "rule" is in force. you'd have nukes if someone has nukes, because if he sends his nukes to you, you've got to send yours to him in retaliation. this is what kept our World safe for about 40 years.

there are a lot of useful videos on youtube about stockpile, nuclear deterrence, weapons development, nuclear strategy, previously classified - now for the public. I suggest you to search for the video about the MX Missile development, the videos from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and Sandia Corporation. Also available, 40's and 50's nuclear tests declassified videos, very interesting.

You talk about nukes, but you don't seem to credit the simple fact that there are many potential missions where nukes are absolutely unacceptable. You also treat this discussion as if we are discussing a new weapons system that will be bought in mass. 40 million or 120 million (if we want three for maintenance and redundancy reasons), is less than the cost of one early F-35 or any F-22 or B-1, B-2, B-21 or SR-71/2 and gives a capability that cannot be achieved any other way and any of those planes can be lost on any mission (with crew).

You don't seem to understand the potential mission set. If an ICBM warhead can be delivered with a CEP of 50 feet, it can provide a way to strike high value targets that would be inaccessible any other way and in quite dramatic fashion. Taking out a rouge leader while he is in the process of giving a speech could prevent a war on the spot. Taking out a truck which is carrying a nuke when it is discovered parked at a rendezvous location might do the same. In the past, it might have prevented war by use against Qiddaffi, Saddam, Bin Laden, a warlord in Somalia or on a Russian ship carrying a nuke as it docked at a port in Cuba. The non-nuke ICBM is not just a long range artillery piece, it is a strategic weapon for use against elusive extremely high value targets.

And afik any chemical warhead would just add complexity and questions of reliability as an error of as little as 2msec in the time of the blast might render it ineffective. I believe that 17,000 mph is the threshold where the kinetic energy of the mass is equal to a chemical blast anyway. As they say, this thing would be quite noisy in operation.

The Air Force is currently in the process of installing a new set of GPS satellites overhead, it might be that the cancellation of this project is just a delay until the new GPS capability goes online and allows tighter targeting for the delivery vehicle. We'll see (or maybe not).


Agree, but not completely.
An ICBM as a weapon system is way more expensive than a cruise missile. And the missions you're talking of have been accomplished by cruise missiles - and also by laser / gps free fall guided bombs, or tactical missiles (AGM-65 ).
Destroying or disabling a ship in the port, killing a rogue leader or penetrating are missions that do no not require a out of the atmosphere strategic missile, launched from inland the Nation - this will scare to death the Nation's inhabitants, social media feeds will run faster than the missile itself, whilst a cruise missile launched from an airbone platform will not be so dramatic. Strategic bombers training sorties happens every day - who knows what's inside a B-2 belly?
Plus, an ICMB launch will trigger all the anti-missile defenses of the Nuclear Nations - just imagine if the NORAD detects a multiple ICBM launch by the russians - will they wait until knowing where those warheads will be aimed to or ...?
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