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Well, alright, I'd forgotten Tomahawk completely. But the fact of the matter still is that if a target can be seen, it can swiftly be destroyed by nuclear weapons.

You are also arguing from the point that the first strike would be launched solely from missile silos inside Russia, while the task force might just as well be destroyed by nuclear torpedoes or AShM fired from hunter submarines shadowing the surface vessels, or from strike aircraft.

The only way to avoid a nuclear strike is by not being targeted by it.


Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Wed Jul 15th, 2009 at 10:46:01 AM EST
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Yes definitely, if you can have enough ships close then and targetted or enough missiles thrown at the target (depending on warhead size) then this all goes out of the window.  But if you're moving in to attack every UK fleet ship, then that in itself will be an obvious act inviting a retaliatory strike,

I was only arguing on the basis of missiles launched from silos on the basis of flight speeds you were quoting

The only way to avoid a nuclear strike may be to not be targetted by it,  but Strategic Missiles have a horendously high failure rate, you'd need to be certain that you would kill every possible retaliating ship. This lack of certainty is where deterrence lies.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Jul 15th, 2009 at 11:06:18 AM EST
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It's not true deterrence, because while the enemy can't be completely sure he'll knock out all your launchers, you can't be sure enough of your launchers will survive either.

Unless you have subs.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Wed Jul 15th, 2009 at 11:21:33 AM EST
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Its still deterrence, it's just not MAD enough.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Jul 15th, 2009 at 11:26:02 AM EST
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Could a cruise missile actually lift the weight of a MIRV warhead?
by Xavier in Paris on Thu Jul 16th, 2009 at 06:25:20 PM EST
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Tomahawks were built to carry a single 200 kT warhead. Or to put it another way, the conventional Tomahawk carries a 450 kg ordnance while a single warhead in a MIRV weighs a few hundred kg. So in short, no. You could of course build a bigger cruise missile with a higher range and payload, but then you might just as well get an ICBM.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Fri Jul 17th, 2009 at 01:34:02 PM EST
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this is what i was thinking. Furthermore, i believe that nuclear warheads are quite sizeable, which would mean that a cruise missile based detterrence would not really be considered serious.

I remember some information on the topic during the north corea crisis: they have missiles, they have nuclear bombs, but they don't have (seemingly) nuclear bombs on missile.

by Xavier in Paris on Fri Jul 17th, 2009 at 02:49:39 PM EST
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Although I'm still not clear what eliminating a second strike would achieve.

So you take out the UK's entire deterrent and a few cities. Taking out London and maybe Birmingham and Manchester would be enough to put the UK back a century, because so many business and government records, communication systems and infrastructure management systems are based there.

Food deliveries would stop almost instantly, emergency rations would last a few months at the outside, and the UK would be dead as a country. Even without bombing the other cities, you'd lose anything up to 75% of the population over the next year or so.

So - then what? Even if there's enough of a government left to surrender formally, are you going to march in an occupy what's left, and create a new government? Why would anyone bother?

The Soviets had ideological momentum, so it wasn't completely impossible to imagine them wanting to invade Europe and the UK.

Modern Russia, not so much, except as an act of machismo and political spite. Likewise for China.

Iran, India, Pakistan, and NK might all want to try, but they wouldn't have the resources to launch a decapitation first strike - they'd go straight for the cities.

So really if Trident has a purpose at all, it's as a revenge weapon, guaranteeing retaliation against these second and third rate players. And they'd be just as vulnerable to a cruise-launched bomb run as they would be to an SLBM, so the submarine-launched angle starts to look slightly unconvincing.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Jul 15th, 2009 at 11:28:55 AM EST
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