# 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.