4 thousand cruise missiles that are aimed at Russia

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The weak spots of American “global strike” concept.

4 thousand cruise missiles that are aimed at Russia

Originally appeared at Svpressa, translated by Comrade Korolyov exclusively for SouthFront

In the last few years in the media there is an active discussion about American Global Strike concept. To summarise, we have a very dangerous idea that endangers global security and threatens pretty much every country in the world. At the base of this idea is the statement, that high precision weaponry, in its destructive power, is as effective as nuclear weaponry, and, consequently, its usage can make any US enemy kneel.

But, is this really so? What is this Global Strike concept, and can one really bomb the enemy out of existance today? What kind of threat does the realisation of this strategy pose to Russia and her allies?

The concept calls for creation of an independent combat system that includes, apart from its own combat capabilities, intelligence gathering systems, HQ and communication posts, and electronic warfare systems.

The main component of strike systems is made of ground and sea based ballistic missiles in non-nuclear variation, and long range hypersonic missiles that will be carried by aircraft. In a long term perspective, usage of satellites is also considered.

Non-nuclear ballistic missiles are currently most suitable for Global Strike concept. They are highly accurate, don’t take long to be “delivered” and the warhead can travel at high speeds that can allow it to reach underground targets. The warheads’ carrying capacity can also allow it to carry various armaments including special drones.

But, there are certain conditions, that render the use of balistic missiles in non-nuclear variation quite problematic.

Firstly, the AA systems in Russia (and, in close perspective, possibly China) can classify a group launch of such missiles (and to successfully attack even a single Russian strategic location, you’ll need at least 2 or, better, 3 missiles) as a nuclear attack, which will automatically lead to a full-scale nuclear retaliation from the Russian Federation and total annihilation of all life on the planet.

Secondly, START treaties limit the total number of deployed ballistic missiles and don’t differentiate between a nuclear and a non-nuclear variation. Meaning, putting a conventional warhead on a ballistic missile will cost the US a nuclear ballistic missile, unless they break the treaty (which is highly likely, however).

Another important element is the prospective hypersonic X-51A missile. But, the trials were so far unsuccessful. Even though X-51A is not yet shut down, we can expect it appearing only in distant future, and its serial production – even further away.

So, in near and even distant future, we don’t expect any new weapon systems that will allow NATO (read: USA) to be able to reach the necessary operational effect if they go through with Global Strike.

Because of this, the US currently puts faith in naval, air cruise missiles (Tomahawk), strategic and naval aviation.

The cruise missiles that are currently used by the US Naval aviation (range up to 1600 km) guarantee a hit by a 340-350 kg warhead. This missiles can be used by all modern surface ships and submarines of the American fleet. On the 23 multipurpose “Los Angeles” class submarines there can be up to 12 such missiles.

About the same number can be carried by “Sea Wolf” class (3 submarines) and “Virginia” (9 submarines). According to the refitting program of “Ohio” submarines with “Tomahawk” missiles, there are 4 “Ohio” subs ready to carry 154 missiles. But, the program is closed. May be, this is due to the enourmous spread of a full rocket launch from these subs.

61 newest American destroyers of “Arleigh Burke” have Mk41 launch units with 96 “tubes” and 22 “Ticonderoga” missile cruisers have 122 “tubes” in similar launch units.

Altogether, the American ships can carry 4000 cruise missiles, and about 1000 – on submarines.

In reality, however, considering the necessity of using a part of surface ships as multipurpose vessels, and also the level of operational readiness of American ships, a maximum number of cruise missiles that can be launched from surface ships and submarines of the American navy is about 2500-3000.

Apart form the US Navy, American strategic bombers can also be outfitted with cruise missiles. Currently, USAAF has about 130 strategic bombers that can launch about 1200 cruise missiles. So, in total we have about 3700-4200 cruise missiles that can be launched in a single strike. Apart from the missiles, there can be up to 2500-3000 tactical and naval aviation aircraft that can be used to strike objectives up to 600 km behind a state border. These are undoubtedly formidable forces, and in absence of any effective resistance, they can destroy about 1000 important objects located on US-hostile soils.

However, will such a strike correspond to Global Strike concept? Obviously, not.

Firstly, this strike won’t be quick, because to prepare such an attack the Americans will use up to 2 months or more. During this time USA will need to strategically deploy their Air Force and Navy in the regions close to their targets, they will need to create logistics, gather intelligence about their prospective targets, so, overall, this won’t be a purely missile strike, it won’t be a Global Strike concept attack, it would be just your normal first missile-aviational strike.

Secondly, even though for small, and even medium sized countries, this strike can really mean the end of their existance, it won’t render them totally useless in resisting American ground, remaining air and naval forces. So, one way or another, as the resistance continues, USA will have to resort to traditional means of war. So, the strike only means something if it will be a large scale military operation which uses all American military power. And this means, that the strike won’t be quick or global. It will just be a textbook pre-invasional rocket attack.

Quite often many experts say that this strike is a big threat to Russia’s nuclear capabilities, destroying which will allow NATO to resort to “nuclear blackmail” in dealing with every single country in the world. This is the main purpose the Americans have thought the Global Strike concept up.

It is true, if Russia will take a passive stand and won’t adequately respond to American aggression, this strike will result in almost total destruction of Russian nuclear might. But, in reality, such a strike on Russia is highly unlikely.

Firstly, the US can decide to conduct such a strike against Russia only if the tensions rise very sharply and to a very very bad extend. This is only possible, if Russia’s patience runs out, the power will be assumed by political forces which are willing to openly conflict with the US. These people, if faced with defeat, will use nuclear weapons, even if it is a limited use, to preserve the Russian state. If the power in Russia is held by people who are ready to compromise and talk, the US won’t risk total nuclear annihilation of North America (it, admittedly, won’t care about Western Europe and other NATO countries) by launching an attack against Russia.

Secondly, this strike will be trumpetered by a long and hard threatening period, which will be long enough for Russia to prepare a response. And then, considering Russia’s military might, such an operation by American military is doomed.

Thirdly, the strike will last a few hours (computer simulations show 4-6 hours). This means, that in the first ten minutes, when the Kremlin realises the scale of the attack (if NATO manages to get the surprise factor), it can decide to conduct a full scale nuclear retaliation, and this will be during the time that most of Russia’s nuclear capabilities are still intact. This means, the US will provoke a nuclear war by conventional weapons. They (hopefully) won’t risk that, because Russian nuclear arsenal on its own is capable of total destruction of all life on the planet.

A totally different picture appears if we consider a limited strike on most important infrastructure objects and other strategic positions that will achieve a local success and will require small amount of weaponry.

In this case, there is no need for large, long preparations. The strike can be conducted by constant-readiness forces almost immediatly as the order comes in. This strike can be sudden not only in operational or strategic sense, but also in a tactical sense, because the missiles’ flights to their targets can be at low and extremely low altitudes outside the AA control zone.

But the speed, unexpectancy and globality of the strike (up to 60 minutes as per the concept) can be achieved only if in all vital regions of the world there will be American air and naval forces groups. And this means, that the US can only afford a few dozen cruise missiles for a strike.

These forces can destroy may be 1-2 big industrial plants, 2-3 military or state governing buildings, 1-2 field objects, such as a terrorist training camp or 1-2 scientific and research institutions.

So, currently (in in forseeable future) the concept is going to be able to solve only local tasks. Such as terminating an individual political activist or destroyng the leadership of some organisations (that are conveniently declared “Terrorist” prior to the strike), ridding some countries of capacity to conduct their development programs that the US considers (not in American interests), stopping scientific research in countries, the US considers dangerous for itself.

This is why we can say, that considering the existing situation, the concept is only useful for local targets and against countries that are incapable of attacking targets on US mainland, or don’t have protection guarantees from Russia (or another powerful country).

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  • Nitupsar

    To neutralize the US’ continual and growing threat, Russia along with China should start immediately providing protection guarantees to various countries near their borders. NATO says they consider an attack on one of their members as an attack on all. Russia now has to do the same, one country at a time. They cannot sit and watch the US encircling them ever closer and pointing more guns at them all the time. I hate to say it but what is needed is a revival of something like the Warsaw pact. It should probably start with Russia and China declaring such a protection guarantee. Other countries wary of the US hegemony will watch and wake up and soon wish to join the new alliance. It needs to be announced loud and clear that the US will not be allowed down the path they are on now.

  • Veritas Vincit

    There are various reports that indicate some U.S.-NATO officials believe direct military conflict with the Russian Federation is in time (with reports stating within years, not decades) almost inevitable. In this context, it is evident the pursuit of nuclear primacy (first strike with retaliatory missile interception capabilities/overcoming mutually assured destruction) is accelerating.

    In this context, the U.S. desire for the reduction of nuclear arms would also enhance their progress towards nuclear primacy (fewer retaliatory missiles to intercept). The Russian Federation is correct to identify this situation and demand agreements be inclusive of ABM architecture. However regardless of any existing and/or future agreements, it is well understood the U.S./NATO bloc will resort to distortions to continue towards the objective of achieving nuclear primacy.

    “We are starting to build a deterrent construct that will be better than mutual assured destruction” (General James E. Cartwright: Missile Defense Goes Global)

    “It would be impossible for the system to stop thousands of incoming Soviet missiles at once, so missile defense made sense only as a way of mopping up after an initial US strike.” (Wired)

    “We are perfectly aware that missile defense systems are defensive only in name. In fact, this is a significant component of a strategic offensive potential,” [V. Putin]

    “the approach of dozens of potential warhead carriers with minimum flying time to the Russian borders can be considered by Moscow as a threat to the existence of the Russian state itself….. Every General Staff relies on the fact that if the enemy’s intentions are unclear they should be interpreted as aggressive (otherwise, they could be late to respond). That leaves the military alone in a vicious spiral of inevitable decisions. That’s why the US and NATO went into hysterics in response to Putin’s statement. They thought they would force him to retreat by placing him before an implicit but undeniable military threat. He accepted their proposal to raise the stakes to the max, and now it’s Washington that has to decide whether it’s worth risking uncontrolled nuclear war or retreating in front of the whole world. (NATO Missile Shield Is Practically Guaranteeing a Russian Preemptive Strike, Rostislav Ischenko, RIA Novosti /Russian Insider, 20/05/2016)

    The U.S. will almost certainly not change course. All indications point towards policies of gradual escalation (relating to achieving ‘full spectrum dominance’). It is evident U.S/NATO policies are being developed with a high degree of wishful thinking (and hubris). There are however necessary responses to certain actions. Miscalculations and brinkmanship have limitations.

    It is also worth observing forms of warfare are active (albeit in preliminary stages of proxy warfare; economic warfare; information warfare; destabilising/ partition/ regime change operations, mobilisation of military forces/missile architecture, etc.) and intensifying. What is occurring is more than a cold war but not yet a hot war. This situation is in time likely to change. In the ongoing pursuit of global primacy, the U.S./NATO/allied bloc will logically escalate operations with the intention of maintaining operations short of direct conflict between opposing military blocs. However desired outcomes are often very different from probable outcomes.

    • Veritas Vincit

      p2. It is also evident the Russian Federation is responding appropriately to these developing threats.

      “We make no secret that we have military-technical means to neutralize the possible negative impact of the U.S. global missile defense system on the Russian nuclear forces,” [Russian Chief of Staff Valery General Gerasimov]

      It is self evident that in the situation of a significant escalation resulting in a potential nuclear warfare event (which would likely be conducted in desperation rather than calculation and therefore may occur regardless of efforts to prevent this outcome), those who employ a first strike will be in a significantly better position than those adopting a retaliatory response.

      Similarly, in the event of direct conflict between military blocs, allied states will augment bloc operations. For example, Australia is increasingly hosting U.S. military forces (on a rotational/operational basis), is integrated/interoperable with U.S./NATO operations and its procurements are consistent with its development of allied ‘force posture’/ ‘military projection capabilities’ (language used in policy papers regarding its enhancement of offensive foreign operation capabilities). It is incorporated into the developing Air Sea Battle concept plan (preparations for potential allied military conflict with the PRC).

      It is also worth noting Australia is not only firmly aligned with the U.S/NATO bloc but its adversarial position towards the Russian Federation is well established (evident through its policies and actions such as involvement in allied economic warfare operations; continuing anti-Russian propaganda/an information war including through state affiliated media [ABC, SBS]; the enhancement of Australian military cooperation with the [U.S./NATO] coup installed Ukrainian regime that is conducting offensive operations against many ethnic Russian communities in E Ukraine; involvement in allied destabilisation/ partition/ regime change operations with the Russian Federation; etc.). As with other allies, Australia is and will remain fully integrated into allied bloc operations.

      Fortunately policies of the Russian Federation (including of its strategic forces) can be quietly adjusted accordingly.

      P.S. “…..total annihilation of all life on the planet.”. The assumption in this claim is likely incorrect. Although a nuclear war event would eclipse all previous wars, it does not necessarily translate to human extinction or annihilation of life on the planet. Theories that suggest so remain theories. Furthermore, former cases of atomic warfare shows life can thrive in an area previous subject to such a detonation.

      Although the concept of a nuclear winter is in itself reasonable, if it were to occur it would be of an undetermined severity. Lawlessness, disease and famine would likely be the main causes of post-nuclear war deaths. But I would suggest it is also reasonable to assume that normalisation/recovery would in time follow (as occurred in Nagasaki and Hiroshima). Regardless of the actual outcome, it is clear the implications would be profound.

      If this event does in time occur (despite efforts to prevent it), moral considerations regarding the employment of overwhelming strike capabilities at this stage will be largely irrelevant (such a scenario would translate to kill or be killed). Moral considerations will relate largely to ensuring the best survivable outcome for domestic populations. In this context, it is important that the Russian Federation (in conjunction with key strategic allies) attains nuclear primacy before the U.S./NATO bloc.

  • Pater

    “61 newest American minesweepers of “Arleigh Burke””
    Please, the term “minonosets” equals “destroyer”, not “minesweeper”.

  • XRGRSF

    A situation that will most likely propel the US toward a near term attack on Russia/China is changing electoral demographics in America. Essentially, America, from a voting standpoint, has become a third world nation ruled by entitlement, and emotion. The electorate of the near future will demand a decrease in the war budget, and a significant increase in social programs thus starving the US war beast.

    The economic window on US global hegemony is rapidly closing, and we can be certain that the war establishment is well aware of this. Russia/China prefer to allow the US to wither, and die. However, the US banking, political, industrial, and military classes firmly believe that the only event that can possibly save them is war. War propaganda in America is at the point of hysteria, and in my opinion war, in the near future, is inevitable.

  • chris chuba

    The Tomahawk missile is pretty slow, 550mph. Is it a possibility that an attack of 2,000 of these could be countered by S300/S400 installations and surface ships (not submarines) firing these missiles would be in jeopardy preventing further attacks?

    • Sinbad2

      The problem is the numbers. The US bombing campaign against Germany was also based on numbers. German aircraft were far superior to American aircraft, but the Americans just kept throwing men and planes at Germany. The US lost 4,000 bombers bombing Germany, that would be terrible for most countries, but it meant that US companies made more money, so it was good in American eyes.

      • milomonkey

        it is far easier back then to manufacture bombers and fighters , and to train pilots , than today’s high tech complex aircraft with complex avionics and equally harder to train new pilots for the modern air combat and air strikes..

        if there’s a major war , it will be hard to replace all those attrition losses , especially skilled personel

      • chris chuba

        First of all, I just want to analyze this. This is awkward for me since I am an American I am not cheering for Russia but I certainly do not want the U.S. to attack Russia. I just want to understand the technology of today.

        My understanding is that the U.S. has some arsenal of Tomahawk missiles that they can throw at the Russians from surface ships. 2,000 to 4,000, and I don’t think that our inventory of Tomahawks is all that massive but I don’t know the exact number.

        The Russians have batteries of S3/400’s which are relatively inexpensive but I don’t know how many. So it is a numbers game here. The Russian Sam’s can easily knock the slow tomahawks out, unless the tomahawks have some advantage that I don’t know about. The Russians also have some ability to knock out U.S. platforms launching the Tomahawk missiles. This would either be some long range missiles of their own as well as submarines.

        My gut tells me that the Russians could handle a tomahawk missile attack but this article didn’t mention Russian counter-measures which I found a curious omission.

  • Russia would probably be able to hit down somewhere between 70%-85% of these missiles easily. And once more S-300 systems are replaced with S-400 or later even S-500 systems, then Russian ill be bringing down well over 90% of all incoming missiles.

  • Sinbad2

    The US wants war, as soon as Russia becomes aware of US preparations, it should launch a preemptive nuclear strike.
    If New York and Washington was destroyed, 90% of the Americans that want war, would be eliminated.

    • Boris Kazlov

      You are right, please read my comment above. It is not necessary to hi t USA direclty, just destroy immediately the anti-missile shield in Romania and Poland, that will make them scrap their doomsday plans, I mean the present ones, they will have to think on something else, which they eventually will. Russia is perceived as an “existential threat” by the Zio-maricon empire, hence it is first in the hit list, forget terrorism, Russia is the enemy.

  • Boris Kazlov

    Very few understand the reason for the murican missile shield in Romania and Poland. However, it is simple to understand: Zio-murica is aiming for a first devastating nuclear strike to RUssia, and they want to negate the retaliatory strike, in other words they want a free ride. They are fully aware that in case of a nuclear strike RUssia’s automatic system will retaliate, they want to destroy RUssian ICBMs at theit most vulnerable stage: when they are not fully deployed in flight.. Russia should destroy all these facilities immediately if it wants to survive. If Murica is made aware that they will cook in case of a nuclear strike, they will think twice and avoid the destruction of the planet.