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.

Inventory and accuracy of Soviet nuclear weapons in 1990.

 

In my research on nuclear armaments came across a superb resource: Physics and Nuclear Arms Today (Readings from Physics Today)

(Update 4/2/20: Title of post revised.)

The book has lots of articles from the early 1980s through 1991. I bought the book especially for one specific article in 1983 dealing with US and Soviet nuclear forces. The gold mine in that article was a detailed inventory of strategic weaponry as of 1990. It gives a detailed listing of U.S. and Soviet land, submarine, and air based strategic weapons, including count, yield, equivalent megaton, and circular error probable (CEP). Lots of info I’ve been seeking for a long time.

The previous post gave info on US weapons. This post describes the Soviet inventory. Third post will make some comparisons.

First I’ll give my recap of the info and then do a little analysis.  Width limits on web pages mean there will be multiple tables.

 

A few notes on the columns. Yields are listed in megatons. CEP is circular error probable, or the average accuracy of a weapon.  CEP is the distance at which 50% of the weapons would hit closer and 50% would hit further away.

A one megaton weapon is not ten times more powerful than a 100 kiloton weapon. To compare the destructive power a factor called equivalent megaton is used. The article and table explained this, which is brand new information to me.  The equivalent megaton (EMT) is calculated using a formula:  yield in megatons raised to the two-thirds power, or y^(2/3).

For example, a 550 kt SS-25 has .67 EMT.  A 100 kt SS-24 has .22 EMT. The SS-25 has rated power 5.5 times higher but is actually only 3.0 times more powerful.

 

This is the number and power of different Soviet weapons. The number of launchers is listed along with yield and equivalent megaton.  The total MT and EMT is then calculated.

 launcher  yield  equiv mt  total mt  total Equiv mt
SS-11 assume all mod 3          400      1.000        1.00         400        400
SS-13           60      0.600        0.71           36         43
SS-17 mod 3          138      0.500        0.63         276        348
SS-18 assume all mod 4          308      0.500        0.63       1,540     1,940
SS-19 Mod 3          350      0.550        0.67       1,155     1,410
SS-24           30      0.100        0.22           30         65
SS-25          165      0.550        0.67           91        111
 —-  —-  —-
total land based       1,451       3,528     4,316
..
SS-N-5           18      1.000        1.00           18         18
SS-N-6 mod 1          120      0.750        0.83           90         99
SS-N-6 mod 2          120      0.500        0.63         120        151
SS-N-8 mod 2          286      0.800        0.86         229        246
SS-N-17           12      0.500        0.63             6           8
SS-N-18 mod 1           74      0.500        0.63         111        140
SS-N-18 mod 2           75      0.750        0.83           56         62
SS-N-18 mod 3           74      0.500        0.63         185        233
SS-N-20          100      0.100        0.22           60        129
SS-N-23           80      0.100        0.22           80        172
 —-  —-  —-
total sea based          959         955     1,259
..
TU-95 Bear           –           –          –
  Bombs (2 or 3, assume 2.5 ave)           40      1.000        1.00         100        100
  AS-3 ALCM (1 or 2 assume 1.5)           60      0.500        0.63           45         57
  AS-15 ALCM           75      0.500        0.63         300        378
(complete WAG on yields)
 —-  —-  —-
total bomber based          175         445        535
 —-  —-  —-
total of above       2,585       4,928     6,109

 

For those weapon systems, here is the number of launchers, warheads per launcher, and total warheads for the weapon class. The CEP in meters is listed. Last column is the likelihood of destroying a missile silo hardened to 2,000 pounds per square inch. The options there are no, yes, 4 m (site would not only be destroyed but also under at least 4 meters of dirt), and um, no (CEP of 13 kilometers would not only miss the target silo, it would likely miss the squadron).

 launcher  warhead  total warhead  CEP (m) 2000 psi
SS-11 assume all mod 3          400             1         400       1,100 no
SS-13           60             1           60       1,800 no
SS-17 mod 3          138             4         552         400 yes
SS-18 assume all mod 4          308           10       3,080         250 4 m
SS-19 Mod 3          350             6       2,100         300 4 m
SS-24           30           10         300         200 yes
SS-25          165             1         165         200 4 m
 —-  —-
total land based       1,451       6,657
.
SS-N-5           18             1           18       2,800 no
SS-N-6 mod 1          120             1         120       1,300 no
SS-N-6 mod 2          120             2         240     13,000 um, no
SS-N-8 mod 2          286             1         286         900 no
SS-N-17           12             1           12       1,400 no
SS-N-18 mod 1           74             3         222       1,400 no
SS-N-18 mod 2           75             1           75         900 no
SS-N-18 mod 3           74             5         370         900 no
SS-N-20          100             6         600         500 no
SS-N-23           80           10         800         800 no
 —-  —-
total sea based          959       2,743
.
TU-95 Bear           –
  Bombs (2 or 3, assume 2.5 ave)           40             3         100
  AS-3 ALCM (1 or 2 assume 1.5)           60             2           90
  AS-15 ALCM           75             8         600
(complete WAG on yields)
 —-  —-
total bomber based          175         790
 —-  —-
total of above       2,585     10,190

 

I made a number of assumptions to develop the above tables.

Single Post Navigation

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: