The events of recent months are leading to a serious change in the international situation and may be a sign of the beginning of a new Cold War. Against their background, a special interest arises in the strategic nuclear forces of future potential adversaries. An interesting look at this problem was published on August 6 by the American Arabic-language edition of Alhurra. An article on this topic received the headline "American Minuteman and Russian Topol: Who Is the Superiority in Nuclear Weapons?"
Alhurra recalls that on the eve of the publication, the United States withdrew from the treaty on intermediate and shorter-range missiles. As a result of this step, according to experts, Russia and the United States may start a new Cold War and an arms race.
After withdrawing from the treaty, the United States announced its plans to create new types of weapons. Russia, in turn, will increase its surveillance of American work in the field of medium and short-range missiles.
The INF Treaty prohibited the creation and use of missiles with a range of 500-5500 km. The US was “forced” to withdraw from this agreement due to “violations by Moscow”. Now the American side is developing new ground-based missile systems. Cruise and ballistic missiles are being created.
Global nuclear environment
The publication points out that since the last Cold War, the number of nuclear weapons in the world has declined sharply. As of 2019, all the world's arsenals contain 13,890 warheads. The peak of the development of this area is considered 1986, when the nuclear powers had 70, 3 thousand nuclear warheads.
According to the Federation of American Scientists, Russia currently has the largest nuclear arsenal. It has 6,500 strategic and tactical warheads. The USA is in second place with 6185 charges.
The third place on the list of nuclear powers is occupied by France with 300 warheads. 290 of these products put China in fourth place. The top five is closed by Great Britain, which has 215 charges. This is followed by Pakistan (150 units), India (140 units), as well as Israel (80) and the DPRK (25).
In such calculations, Alhurra recalls, not only ICBMs and other missile systems were taken into account, but also free-fall bombs used by aviation - historically the first version of nuclear weapons. Further, the publication proposes to carefully consider the nuclear potential of Russia and the United States.
The ground forces of the strategic nuclear forces use the LGM-30G Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile. This product was created by Boeing and is capable of carrying multiple nuclear warheads. The rocket has a launch weight of 36 tons and develops a speed of up to M = 23. The flight range is 13 thousand km, the maximum trajectory height is 1100 km.
Nuclear submarine missile carriers carry the UGM-133A Trident II ICBM, created by Lockheed Martin. The three-stage missile has a length of 13 meters and a mass of 59 tons. The cost of the product is $ 30 million. Experts believe that the Trident-2 is the most effective weapon of the American strategic nuclear forces.
B-52 strategic bombers can use AGM-86B cruise missiles. A 6-meter missile weighs 1,430 kg and costs about $ 1 million. Such missiles can be equipped with nuclear warheads.
Alhurra refers to the B61 tactical free-fall bomb as the main weapon of US strategic aviation. This weapon is approx. 4 m and a mass of about 320 kg. In total, about 3 thousand of such products were produced.
First of all, the Topol-M ICBM is mentioned. This product is 22 m long and weighs 47 tons can be used with silo launchers or on mobile ground complexes. The flight range is 11 thousand km, the maximum speed on the trajectory is M = 22. The missile is equipped with nuclear warheads.
The missiles of the R-36 family, produced in the eighties, remain in service. Such ICBMs with nuclear warheads are used only with silos. The rocket length is 32 m, the launch weight is 209 tons.
Among the carriers of nuclear weapons, Alhurra also lists the 9K720 Iskander operational-tactical complex, and calls it a "medium-range system." It is this complex that is called the reason that the United States withdrew from the INF Treaty. At the same time, the publication immediately writes about a firing range of up to 500 km.
The publication also did not forget about the legendary Tsar Bomba. It is claimed that two items were created. One was tested at the landfill, and the second is still in storage. Such ammunition has a length of 8 m and weighs 27 tons.
Alhurra tries to find an answer to an obvious question and in this case resorts to expert opinion. The authors refer to recent statements by Dr. Jeffrey Lewis published by Business Insider.
J. Lewis believes that the number of nuclear weapons in a country's arsenal is not a key criterion of their power and effectiveness. He also argued that Russian statements of superiority in the nuclear missile sphere "most likely do not correspond to reality."
In one of his interviews, J. Lewis spoke about the opinion of the officers of the US Joint Strategic Command responsible for the use of strategic nuclear forces. For several decades in a row, they have been saying that if they had to choose between Russian and American weapons, they would have chosen domestic ones.
American missiles and warheads, according to Dr. Lewis, cannot "destroy entire continents." At the same time, they are better equipped to deal with strategic tasks determined by the US command. The expert points out that American missiles "look like Ferrari cars." They are beautiful and can carry out their tasks for a long time.
According to J. Lewis, the Russian industry is characterized by the development of systems that require regular modernization. However, the result of this is getting results comparable to the American ones. In addition, the Russian command gives preference to mobile soil systems "on cheap trucks", while the United States mainly uses silo launchers.
Another difference between the strategies of the two countries, J. Lewis sees in the peculiarities of the use of weapons and the wishes of the military. In the United States, they love precision, and the ideal weapon for them is a small charge that can fly through a window and blow up a building. The Russian military prefer to launch a dozen warheads both in the building and in the city. As an argument in favor of this thesis, Dr. Lewis mentions the peculiarities of the work of the Russian Aerospace Forces in Syria.
The Alhurra article is interesting enough that it leaves a lot of questions. It contains factual errors, ambiguous assessments and bizarre quotes. The material ends with a logical and expected conclusion - for an American edition, even if it comes out in a different language.
It doesn't make much sense to go into detail on all of Alhurra's bugs. You can go straight to the search for the reasons for the appearance of such ambiguous publications. Without much difficulty, it will be possible to find several prerequisites at once.
The most obvious reason is immediately apparent. This is the publication's desire to "work through" a topical topic. In early August, the United States officially withdrew from the INF Treaty, which resulted in a mass of thematic publications in the media. Alhurra decided to keep up and also considered a topical issue with far-reaching conclusions.
Apparently, the publication does not pay due attention to the study of military affairs, which is why the article contains a lot of gross errors of various kinds. Incorrect characteristics of weapons are given, the purpose of the products is indicated incorrectly, and experimental models of the past are mentioned as actual and real military weapons.
Finally, the opinion of an expert is given, clearly giving preference to one of the compared parties. His findings are controversial, but may be pleasing to a patriotic American public. All of this is more like trying to get the desired results in line with the current agenda.
In general, we are talking about an attempt by a non-core publication to consider military-technical and military-political issues with obtaining politically correct conclusions. With this approach to business, objectivity suffers, and unpleasant questions arise. However, articles of this kind continue to appear in foreign media and, importantly, continue to influence public opinion.
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