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.

Information on nuclear weaponry for future reference

Minuteman II on static display at March Air Base Museum. Photo by James Ulvog.

Minuteman II on static display at March Air Base Museum. Photo by James Ulvog.

I’ve been wanting to put some data on nuclear weapons in print (Yeah, in print isn’t correct, but in pixels just doesn’t sound right).

That way if I want to make reference to some of this info in the future I can point to an unclassified, unverified source for that information. Somewhere in the back of my brain I might remember something I was told on the record so I want to have something in print I can point to instead.

Also, found an article I found disturbing, yet of interest. First the disturbing article:

2/6/16 – The Economist – What lurks beneath – India is hoping to officially commission its first SSBM (a nuclear sub carrying missiles, or SSBN) this week. China reportedly has 4 second-generation SSBNs.

Both countries are trying to dominate their nearby ocean to provide safe operating space for their SSBNs. Article says both their boomers are noisy. That means for the moment they are easy to find.

Just to ponder. Number of SSBNs:

  • 4 – China
  • 1 – India

Article has a graph showing the estimated number of nukes held by India, Pakistan, and China. My interpolation of the graph, rounded to nearest 5s:

 China  Pakistan  India
 missiles:  —-  —-  —-
 short         –           45      35
 medium        80           50        5
 ICBM        85           –        –
 —-  —-  —-
     165           95      40
 aircraft        20           35        –
 —-  —-  —-
     185         130       40

For another set of data, Wikipedia lists active count as SSBNs as follows:

  • France
    • 4 – Triomphant class
  • PRC
    • 1 – Type 092
    • 5 – Type 094 with 8 planned
  • Russia
    • 13 in service (3 Borei, 1 Typhoon, 3 Delta II, 6 Delta IV)
    •   4 under construction
    •   2 Typhoon in reserve
  • UK
    • 4 Vanguard class
  • USA
    • 14 Ohio class
    •   4 Ohio class which are now cruise missile platforms
  • India
    • 1 in service

Reference data

Here is some data I want to have as a public reference point:

7/15/16 – Nuclear Secrecy – A brief history of the nuclear triad – Short, informative background on how the US triad of bombers, ICBMs, and SLBMs developed. Good description of the thinking during the 1950s and early 1960s.

Some numbers I want to put in print as a public estimate.

Rocket family Design started Role Military patron Warhead yield
Redstone 1950 IRBM US Army 0.5-3.5 Mt
Atlas 1953 ICBM USAF 1.44 Mt
Thor 1954 IRBM USAF 1.4 Mt
Titan 1955 ICBM USAF 3.75 Mt
Polaris 1956 SLBM USN 0.6 Mt
Minuteman 1957 ICBM USAF 1.2 Mt

Wikipedia also has some information, some of which is specifically sourced and some not.

  • Minuteman-II – LGM-30F
    • One Mk-11C RV
    • W56 warhead
    • 1.2 Mt yield.
  • Minuteman-III LGM-30G
    • Three RVs
    • W62 warhead
    • 170Kt yield – from context of next article, this looks like the initial deployment

Encyclopedia Astronautica – Minuteman 2 – Select data on Minuteman II:

  • Payload 1,490 pounds
  • Range 7,800 miles
  • One Mk-11B or 11C RV
  • W56 warhead
  • 1.2 Mt yield
  • CEP 0.34 miles or 1,800 feet

Encyclopedia Astronautica – Minuteman 3 Select data on Minuteman III:

  • Payload 2,200 pounds
  • Range 8,000 miles
  • Three Mk-12A RV
  • W78 warhead
  • 335 Kt yield
  • CEP 0.22 miles or 1,200 feet

Nuclear Weapon Archive – page asserts last updated 10/7/97 – The Minuteman III ICBM – Website lists this info for Minuteman III:

  • CEP Accuracy:
    • Mk-12 RV – 900 feet
    • Mk-12a RV – 730 feet; will be increased to 360 feet
  • Armament (1998):
    • 200 MMIII with 3 W62 warhead on Mk-12 RV
    • 300 MMIII with 3 W78 warhead on Mk-12a RV
  • Yields in 1998
    • W62 – 170 Kt
    • W78 – 335 Kt

Combining that info, there were 200 MMIII with three W62 warheads, each with yield of 170 Kt and CEP of 900 feet. There were 300 MMIII with 3 W78 warheads, each with yield of 335 Kt yield and 730 or 360 foot CEP. Or maybe the MMIII has CEP of 1,200 feet. Pick and choose as you wish. But then that is the point of this entire post.

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