[fa.arms-d] Arms-Discussion Digest V0 #105

C70:arms-d (05/14/82)

>From HGA@MIT-MC Thu May 13 19:57:01 1982

Arms-Discussion Digest                            Volume 0 : Issue 105

Today's Topics:
                           Reloading ICBMs
                  Need to kill silos, retargeting...
                         Reply by ZRM to CJH
                Airfield used for Falklands airstrikes
                     Retargeting Nuclear missiles

Date: 12 May 1982 05:07-EDT
From: REM at MIT-MC
Subject: Reloading ICBMs

If the extra USSR ICBMs can be put into silos and fired within 45
minutes after the previous ICBMs have been fired, then our hard-kill
capability isn't of much use, for the same reason as my idea of
preventing retargeting of ICBMs already in silos. (We can't strike
them until 30 minutes after we Launch On Warning, which is 15 minutes
after they launch their first strike, total 45 minutes after their
first strike launch during which they can reload and refire despite
our MX silo-killers.)


Question, how fast can they reload&fire?


Date: 12 May 1982 05:21-EDT
From: Robert Elton Maas <REM at MIT-MC>
Subject: re: armsd

I don't know whether this reached ARMS-D, but it was pointed out that
although it takes many hours to reprogram an ICBM for a new target,
it's practically instantaneous to select an alternate target among
several that were already programmed in.  Thus by programming in say
ten targets for each missile, except those to be used in the first
strike, and making these lists of targets pseudo-random, or even
better complementary, you can assure that any targets missed during
the first strike can be selected by DIFFERENT missiles in the
remaining force, thus assure that ALL the first-strike-missed targets
can be targeted during the second strike.  If you have time (enemy
didn't destroy your silos yet) you can even reselect your third strike
to any targets missed by the first two.  Asympotically you get 100%
kill, unless the enemy limits you to a small number of strikes by
knocking out your silos, or you use so many missiles that the number
remaining times the number of targets per missile doesn't cover all
targets and the one you need to kill happens to be among the missed
ones. But if one or two targets out of thousands is the only one or
two missed, I don't think you'll worry about it. You will have done a
lot "better" than if you sent all your missiles the first strike and 5
or 10 targets happened to get all duds.

The above arguments were aimed mostly at duds and other random
factors, but retargeting can be useful to overcome defensive measures
too. If some city happens to be defended, and thus escapes your first
strike, you can retarget several warheads for it in subsequent strikes
until you finally kill it.

(Bletch, this whole subject is disgusting. How have I gotten into
devil's advocate position, actually proposing various military plans
of action just to prove a point. It's remotely possible the military
doesn't have the mathematical brains I have and hasn't thought of the
same mathematics I have, and hasn't thought of the same plan, and
somebody in the Pentagon may actually see this message and use my
military plan to make WW3 even more destructive than it would have
been without my plan.)


Date: 12 April 1982 09:48-EDT

In ref to RMS's question about the soviets haveing reload capability
for thier ICBM's, they do have in on some of thier launchers. Generaly
refered to as the 'cold launch' capability, it involves propelling the
missle out of the silo with a compressed gas of some sort, and having
the engines ( motors actualy ) ignight in the air about 100 feet up.
Thus the silo is not damaged by the backblast. The reload time is
generaly thought to be in the 3 to 5 hours range. While this does not
affect teh initial and secondary exchanges between the US and USSR, It
would allow the surviving ( I will assume for the moment that the
attack was launched with the knowledge that there would be a lot of
soviet military survivors, and that this constituted a win for them )
forces to reload the silos from the stockpiled retired nukes ( the
soviets almost never scrap a missle when it is removed from service.
They generaly store them with warhead attached and ready for a short
servicing and launch ).  Once this is done, they can take thier time
in survaying the US and deciding what places needed 'another dose'.
This could be done a week later with no trouble. These nukes also
would be usefull against china, africa, etc.  Whereever the soviets
saw a problem that they would rather not deal with.

This is a rather off the cuff flame, but I hope that it will cause
people to look at what the world might be like after WWIII .

For all the flames here and elsewhere, we dont know for sure that it
will be the end of the world.

Also, on reprogramming the targeting data on ICBMS, I have a chart
around here somewhere that lists estimated times for various missle
types. I will try to find it. I assure you that for the older missles
it takes hours to do. This includes 80 % of the soviet missles, and
half of ours. The MMI takes almost an hour, and has a very short
target list ( I heard someone say 6 elements max once, but I am not
sure ).  Our sub launched missles are much better in this reguard, but
are not as accurate .



Date: 12 May 1982 0844-PDT
From: Herb Lin <LIN at WASHINGTON>
Subject: need to kill silos, retargeting...

    RMS comment: if the Russians have hundreds of extra ICBMs for silo
    reload, this is a reason to be able to kill silos.

I'm skeptical on several grounds.  (1) Where would they be stored?
Certainly not in silos (by definition).  Anything else is soft, and
thus doesn't require hard-target capability.  (2) A near-miss (e.g.
something 1500 feet away, which wouldn't have hard-target kill
capability) would make the immediate area around the silo VERY
dangerous to work in; how would people reload the silo?  (3) What's
the advantage of having lots of reloads in the first place?  Missiles
aren't any good without targets to hit, and the Soviets have enough
missiles to hit essentially everything of significance that's fixed in
place.  Once they expend the missiles already in their silos, what's
left to hit in the US?

    I would expect that cruise missiles would be able to do that job,
    though.  Does anyone know whether they can do it?

Yes.  Cruise missiles have a similar sized warhead to missiles and
CEPs of about 90 feet (if they work), giving them a Pk against silos
of essentially unity.  However, so could bombers, which are
essentially terminally guided (by the pilot and bombadier), and carry
large warheads.

    [From: rae at mit-vax]
    Concerning REM's recent remark on the retargeting the second half
    of one's strategic (read first-strike) nuclear missles.  From a
    talk by Kosta Tsipis, I was lead to believe the retargeting of a
    balistic missle was a non-trivial task requiring many (14 was the
    number I remember) hours to perform.

That may be true for the Soviets, but it's not true for the Americans.
The Command Data Buffer system for reprogramming missiles takes 36
mintutes to set an arbitrary target.  It is true that before the CDB
was installed, it took many hours to reprogram a missile.

Note the distinction between retargeting and reprogramming -
retargeting means hitting a different target, but one which you have
previously selected to be on a list.  Reprogramming means hitting a
completely arbitrary (but fixed) target.


Date: 12 May 1982 19:19-EDT
From: Zigurd R. Mednieks <ZRM at MIT-MC>
Subject:  Nitrates in my politics, the withering of the left,
          perhaps Lenin is apt

First: As has been pointed out to me, Lenin was, after a fashion, an
antidemocrat. His position on elections was that they should be used
in order to gain exposure for the party that would later install the
dictatorship of the proletariat. Still, considering his general
opinions on the evils of beurocracy, radical materialism, and the
withering away of the state, one cannot regard him as a classical
tryrant and autocrat.

Second: Respect for the ballot box is especially warranted in the case
of El Salvador. That election was closely supervised by officials of
various political parties in governments and in opposition in Europe
and elsewhere. Many of these parties had been making much hay over the
evil US warmongers backing the neo facist pig dog puppet Jose Napoleon
Duarte. The Salvadorians seem to think he was soft on terrorism and
surprised everybody by electing a somewhat radical rightist. Now the
British Labor Party, the Socialist International and the CDU are all
mysteriously quiet. And don't tell me the Falklands distracted Labor.
The elections in El Salvador happened well before the Falklands crisis
and election fraud would have been exploited to its full propoganda

Now those previously black-hatted people in the Salvadorean army are
pressuring the government to keep the reform programs going because
they are effective in alienating the guerrillas from the peasants. The
"war" in El Salvador has quieted down quite a bit since the elections.
The next year or so will tell if we really have learned the right
lesson from Viet Nam -- a successful counterinsurgency fight and
economic recovery would vindicate large parts of Reagan's foreign
policy. So far, given conventional thought on how many troops it takes
to quash a guerilla revolt, our experience in Viet Nam, and the Soviet
Union's experience in Afganistan, El Salvador is going quite a bit
better than was expected. You are showing the typical liberal
disregard for the ability of people in other countries to make a
rational decision at the polls. Insulting a Slavadorian peasant's
intelligence won't win you hearts and minds.

As for a lack of representation of the far left in the elections, it
seems somewhat irrelevent considering the huge turnout and clear swing
to the right. In fact, it seems that the Savadorian guerillas missed
the reason the Bolsheviks ran for office in a government they were
going to overthrow anyway. They should, probably, have gone if only
for the exposure.  They were invited, in any case. In the opinion of
the Christian Science Monitor, the election results indicate a desire
for a quick end to the fighting -- bad news for the rebels, the people
are *not* on their side. I guess the main problem with comparing you
with Lenin is that he had a somewhat disparaging view of the leftist
ideas you hold dear.  However, as for your attitute toward

On the subject of civil defense: You seem to think that our President
is in command of the Soviet military as well as our's. There isn't
anything we can do to insure we won't get nuked. If there was, the
whole concept of deterrance, at any level, would make no sense. While
prevention is much much better than cure (if there even is a cure),
the government has the responsibility to save your ass and mine should
"They" drop the big one.

While noone can predict how a nuclear war will start, it seems likely
there will be some warning. In any case, it is impossible to "prepare"
for the somewhat unlikely event of an all out surprise attack against
the population. In that sense CD is worthless. However, if the more
likely scenario of attacks against military and economic targets
occurs, it would be grossly irresponsible not to try to get civilians
out of the way. An attack aimed at killing the most number of
civilians is the most unlikely of all. It invites response in kind,
escalation to biological warfare, etc. There are many good reasons to
think that the Soviet Union is not out to incinerate civilians.

BTW, I didn't like Nixon's foreign policy or his economic policy.
Carter was much better intentioned, at least. Look, on the other hand,
at the Democrat's prospects for the next election: A groteque parody
of the Kennedy heritage, a conservative in Democrat clothes (Mondale),
and a space kadet (Brown). As for reasonable people to fill the
cabinet posts, watch out! I don't think anybody is ready to go back to
the More Government days of Johnson.

"We want Goldwater!"


Date:     12 May 82 20:03:10-EDT (Wed)
From:     J C Pistritto <jcp@BRL>
Subject:  Re:  Arms-Discussion Digest V0 #103

Airfield used for Falklands airstrikes:

	The major airfield the British are using to support the
Falklands expedition is the military airfield on Ascension Island,
which is a British owned island, although the airfield there was built
and is maintained by the United States under the NATO agreement.
Under the operating agreement for Ascension, the US gets to use the
airfield for whatever it wants, with the proviso that the UK has first
rights to use it if necessary.  The rest of the island, including a
large harbor, is administered directly by the UK.  Normally only
periodic resupply flights are made by Britain for that airfield.  At
this time, several Vulcan bombers, 4 Nimrod long range patrol radar
aircraft, and about 20 RAF Harriers are based there, along with Victor
refueling aircraft.  These were all added after April 1, normally the
only combat aircraft there are American.


	The British don't tell us what they're doing because we might leak
it to someone... (like Argentina).


Date:     12 May 82 20:14:16-EDT (Wed)
From:     J C Pistritto <jcp@BRL>
To:       Harold G Ancell <HGA@Mit-Mc>
Subject:  Re:  Arms-Discussion Digest V0 #104

Retargeting Nuclear missiles:

	On the Titan missile, (our oldest), it takes about 12 hours
and 3 men to retarget the missile.  All of this under *INTENSE*
security, (like a guard holding a 45 automatic about 3 feet away from
you while you toggle in the new coordinates and such, I know
personally a person who has had the experience).

	On the Minuteman I, it takes 6 hours or so, I am told.

	On Minuteman II and III, it takes much less time, but still
greater than 30 minutes.

	Cruise missiles are a different problem, as they require a
terrain map to be generated.  While it would not take long to retarget
one, this depends on a new map being generated, (which assumes you
know something about the launch point, which is variable for a
cruise), so I suspect that only a couple of targets are actually
available on-line.  Those terrain maps are BIG, as they are designed
to allow the missile to change course several times in flight. (that
way, even if you designed it, you can't be sure which route it will


End of Arms-D Digest