Outrun Change

We need to learn quickly to keep up with the massive change around us so we don't get run over. We need to outrun change.

Number and alert status of U.S. nuclear weapons in 2020.

Minuteman ICBM, Hill AFB Museum, Utah – Ywmin_1b by Greg Goebel is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Previous posts have described the count of nuclear weapons in the U.S. inventory and how they are deployed. Future posts will dive into the inventory of other nuclear powers. Plan to have some discussion of the U.S. inventory at various times in the past.

Reading the various articles made me wonder how many weapons are available in what time frame.

For example, the Minuteman-III loaded with the Mk12A reentry vehicle can carry 3 warheads but are only loaded with 1. It would take months to reconfigure 200 missiles with another 400 warheads.

Of the 12 Ohio-class subs not in refueling, 8 are usually at sea with 4 of those on-station. The other 4 are hours or days away from their assigned station.

Minuteman II first stage – Ywmin_3b by Greg Goebel is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

There are guessed 200 ALCMs at Minot and 100 gravity bombs at Whiteman which would take a fair amount of time to load. It would take an even long time to transport the remaining 550 weapons out to Minot and Whiteman.

So, I took a wild guess at how many weapons are available to the president immediately and long it would take to get the remaining inventory on line.

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Details behind North Dakota oil production.

With a huge pad, lots of storage tanks, yet only three pumpjacks, notice how much room there is for more wells. Photo by James Ulvog.

Some background data for oil in North Dakota provides insight for the production info.

Drilling rigs have become more productive in recent years. In the past, say before 2014, the number of rigs directly tied into production levels. Now, with a variety of technologies, such as multi-well pads for example, the drilling time is down so the wells per rig are up.

A far lower number of rigs is needed to keep new well production rolling.

Rig count since 2010:

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North Dakota oil production in December 2019 is fourth highest level on record, after setting new production level in 5 of last 6 months.

Workover rig working on well in North Dakota. Photo by James Ulvog.

North Dakota oil production in December 2019 is fourth highest level on record, after setting new production level in 5 of last 6 months.

Average daily production in the state was 1,475,685 barrels of oil per day (bopd) (preliminary) after hitting the highest level ever of 1,519,037 bopd (revised) in November. The November production broke the state’s record for the fifth time in six months, and the twelfth time in the last twenty months.

The routine record-level production is being achieved with stable and low level of drilling rigs and without the wild-west craziness in the local economy that existed before 2014.

Graph of the average daily production in the state and in the Bakken pool:

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Two successful space launches in three days by SpaceX and Northrup Grumman

Starlink Mission on 1/29/20) by Official SpaceX Photos is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0  – 2

Two launches in three days. Behind the Black provides a tally that year-to-date launches are 6 for US companies, 3 for China, and 1 each for Arianespace, Russia, and Japan.

SpaceX launch of Dragon lifting 60 communication satellites

Watched the recorded video of SpaceX’s launch of 60 more Starlink satellites from this morning. This is the fifth launch in the Starlink mission. After the fourth launch there were 182 sat, with 2 on first launch and 60 on each followup launch. Sixty  more on this launch brings the total in orbit to 242 by my count. Eventually the Starlink constellation will have 1,584 sats at a 341 mile altitude.

Video of the launch:

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Gettysburg Address.

A tribute to the memory and legacy of Abraham Lincoln as we remember his birth on February 12, 1809.

The Gettysburg Address, presented at the Lincoln Memorial Shrine in Redlands, California on February 8, 2020.

 

More tidbits on U.S. nuclear forces.

Two B-52H Stratofortress aircraft assigned to the 96th Bomb Squadron fly in formation during Bomber Task Force Europe 20-1 over the Baltic Sea, Oct. 23, 2019.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Duncan C. Bevan)

There is an astounding amount of information on U.S. nuclear forces found in Nuclear Notebook – United States nuclear forces, 2020, published by The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. Not having dived deep into the nuke world for a long time, I’m amazed how much info is available.

Previous posts have gone into a lot of detail on U.S. nukes. This discussion will cover a few interesting tidbits in no particular order with no particular theme.

New START is the name of the current treaty which limits U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons. It went into effect back in February 2011 and will expire in February 2021 unless it is extended for five years by mutual agreement of the U.S. and Russia.  The article is skeptical that it will be extended based on what the articles describes as the “demonstrated disdain” of the current administration for any arms control agreements.

On-site inspections are a feature of this treaty. Article says through the end of 2019 there have been a combined total of 321 on-site inspections.

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Prices of slaves on the eastern shore of Maryland before the Civil War.

Harriet Tubman Memorial Statue in Harlem, New York. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Watched the uplifting and depressing movie Harriet last night. Second time I’ve seen it. Fabulous tale about the efforts of Harriet Tubman in liberating herself from slavery, then liberating most of her family, eventually freeing about 70 people from slavery.

(Cross post from Ancient Finances.)

After watching the movie again, wanted to pull together a recap of the posts discussing slavery on my other blog. Most of this discussion is based on Bound for the Promised Land: Harriet Tubman: Portrait of an American Hero, by Kate Clifford Larson, which is the first adult biography of Harriet Tubman published since 1943.

A thin sliver of highlights from the book, primarily about the pricing of slaves:

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New U.S. submarine launched low-yield weapon, the W76-2.

KINGS BAY (Jan. 11, 2019) The Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarine USS Tennessee (SSBN 734) gold crew returns to its homeport at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Georgia, following a strategic deterrence patrol. The boat is one of five ballistic-missile submarines stationed at the base and is capable of carrying up to 20 submarine-launched ballistic missiles with multiple warheads. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication 2nd Class Bryan Tomforde)

The U.S. has deployed a low-yield nuclear weapon on our Ohio-class submarines. The new warhead is categorized as the W76-2. Its estimated yield is usually described as 5 kilotons (kt). One report says it is in the range of 5 kt to 7 kt.

There have been a lot of articles on the W76-2 recently.

Federation of American Scientists – 1/29/20 – US Deploys New Low-Yield Nuclear Submarine Warhead – Report says the US Tennessee deployed in late December 2019 armed with 1 or 2 of its 20 Tridents carrying the new low-yield warhead. Estimated yield is 5 kilotons.

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Inventory of U.S. nuclear weapons

AGM-87 ALCM Cruise missile, Seattle Museum of Flight – Ywalc_3b by Greg Goebel is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists publishes their Nuclear Notebook which provides extensive detail on the nuclear forces of the world’s nuclear powers.

As I read through some of their publications, some of the highlights and details will be mentioned.

Up first is the Nuclear Notebook – United States nuclear forces, 2020. The document is about 16 pages long including four pages of references.

Want to make one thing clear at the beginning of this discussion. Everything discussed here and the two follow-on posts is based on open source information described in the above cited article. I don’t have any knowledge about any of the information in this article. Even if I did (and I don’t), anything I knew would be completely invisible in this discussion.

Total inventory

The US inventory of nuclear weapons is estimated by the authors at:

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Another post on nuclear weapons; who has how many, history of triad, and upgrade plans.

Capt. ____ , 91st Operations Support Squadron minuteman combat crew commander, and 2nd Lt. ____, 740th Missile Squadron deputy minuteman combat crew commander, review missile alert facility checklists at MAF Delta-01, Max, N.D., Oct. 26, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Alyssa M. Akers) (Names deleted by editor)

This will be my last post clearing out old articles on military topics, particularly on nukes. Will have a few more posts on new articles found will writing this series. Articles mentioned here:

  • what countries have how many nukes
  • history of U.S. triad and details of weapon systems over the years
  • upgrade and modernization plans for U.S. inventory

A Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile successfully launches at 1 a.m. Nov. 5 from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. The missile was configured with a National Nuclear Security Administration test assembly in which a single unarmed re-entry vehicle traveled approximately 4,190 miles to their pre-determined targets near the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. (U.S. Air Force photo/Joe Davila)

Utopia, you are standing in it! – 4/12/15 – Who’s Got Nukes

Article provides a graph with data from 2014 of which countries have how many nukes, and when they tested their first one. Source cited is the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

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Revising U.S. nuclear strategy

AGM-86 ALCM cruise missile, Seattle Museum of Flight, Washington – Ywalc_2b by Greg Goebel is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 – This is the only nuclear load currently authorized for the B-52G.

A few articles I bookmarked a while back describe a shift in nuclear strategy by the U.S.

Some discussion if you are interested:

Free Beacon – 2/7/18 – Mattis Defends Plan to Deploy Small-Nuclear Arms

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SpaceX launches another 60 Starlink satellites.

SpaceX boosted another 60 satellites into orbit this morning. These will be part of its Starlink system providing high speed internet access to any point on the planet.

Video link to replay of launch is at end of this post.

This is the fourth launch for the Starlink project and increases the sat count to 182. The first launch was a test with only 2 satellites. The other three launches, including the one today, each carried 60.

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Airplane photos

While browsing the U.S. Air Force’s website of official photos, came across some pix too good to pass up. So, without any particular connecting theme other than I like the views, here are four nice photos of various airplanes, current and old.

 

History in the sky above Hill:    The Experimental Aircraft Association’s B-17, also known as “Aluminum Overcast,” banks right above Hill Air Force Base, Utah, Aug. 13, 2015. EAA’s B-17 is painted to resemble B-17G No. 42-102515 of the 398th Bombardment Group (Heavy) that flew from Royal Air Force Nuthampstead, England, during World War II. That aircraft was shot down over Le Manior, France, on Aug. 13, 1944, during its 34th combat mission. (U.S. Air Force photo/R. Nial Bradshaw)

 

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More tidbits on nuclear weapons, particularly ICBMs and SLBMs.

Minuteman II at March Air Base Museum, with F-105 Thunderchief in corner. Photo by James Ulvog.

Unclassified, open public source info on nuclear weapons is of interest to me. Here are articles with interesting tidbits I’ve noticed over the last year or two.

One amusing thing I’ve noticed is a range of methods to abbreviate kiloton.  I’ve seen kT and Kt, in print articles.  On-line dictionary says kt.  So, guess that means I can use whichever format I want, right?

Popular Mechanics – 8/10/18 – The Air Force Wants Helicopters to Help Defend Nuclear Missiles. USAF is looking for a new helicopter for use in the missile field. Currently the old UH-1N Hueys are in use. Those are the last Hueys in the Air Force inventory. Four contestants are under consideration.

Article also mentions there are 400 Minuteman IIIs deployed, spread out at Warren, Minot, and Malmstrom. Although capable of carrying three RVs, based on articles I’ve read in the past and articles below, the current configuration is one RV with 300 kt warhead, according to the article.

An unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile launches during an operational test at 11:01 Pacific Standard Time Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jim Araos)

Business Insider – 9/23/18 – Here’s what it would look like if Britain launched an attack with nuclear weapons.

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Photos of U.S. missiles

Minuteman II & III & Peacekeeper ICBMs, Warren AFB, Wyoming – Ywwrn_1b by Greg Goebel is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

In pulling together posts in this series, I found a treasure trove of photos on Flickr by Greg Goebel. He has a photo album of Guided Missiles. He has accumulated views of a large number of air-to-air, surface-to-air, and ground-to-ground missiles.

Very cool.

Here are a few of my favorites, all shared under Creative Common’s Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0) license.

Up first, strategic missiles:

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