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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Some updates on nuclear weapons

A U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress makes a flyover at Air Force Station Yelahanka, Bengaluru, India, Feb. 20, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Juan Torres)

Some articles I’ve bookmarked recently provide some background on nuclear weaponry: the B-52 no longer carries gravity nukes; recap of the capabilities of countries with sea-launched nukes, and losing the nuclear launch codes.

The War Zone – 1/13/20 – The Air Force’s B-52H Bomber Force Has Said Goodbye To Its Nuclear Bombs.

A 2019 update to technical document for strategic bombers says that the B-52H is no longer authorized to carry gravity nuclear bombs. The only weapon it is allowed to carry is the AGM-86B Air Launched Cruise Missile with a W80-1 warhead. The only nuclear loads for the B-2A are the B61-7 and B83-1 gravity bombs, which previously were authorized for the B-52H.

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Why is it necessary to have a nuclear defense?

After reading my post on Nuclear launch protocol and timing, you may be wondering why the United States built these,

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

and why we built 550, 450, and 50 of these,

Minuteman II, Minuteman III, Peacekeaper ICBMs on display at Warren AFB. “Ywwrn_1b” by gvgoebel is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

as well as why we had 1,000 of these spread across the country for several decades:

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Nuclear launch protocol and timing

Drawing courtesy of Adobe Stock.

In case I ever want to make reference to such things, I now can cite an article that describes a guess at the nuclear launch protocols in place for the United States. Article also has speculation as to timing for each phase of the sequence.

Someday I may want to cite an unclassified source, so here it is:

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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:

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