Blatant “tactlessness”: what is behind the aggressive doctrine and US plans to increase the nuclear arsenal

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On the morning of June 7, the Western press, in a manner typical of show business, “delighted” the audience the news, that Washington intends to announce changes in the US nuclear doctrine during the day, which will make it more “aggressive”. Probably, if there had been at least a couple of days left from the announcement to the official announcement, this would have been enough to produce a couple of cars of “analytics” of varying degrees of sanity, but, alas, the intrigue was resolved too quickly.

A member of the National Security Council, Waddy, who is responsible for nuclear issues, revealed a terrible secret, according to whom, in the near future, the United States intends to move from simply modernizing its nuclear arsenal to increasing it. Of course, they will take this step reluctantly and through “I don’t want to,” because “autocracies” do not sleep. Washington’s motives are officially listed as the alleged threat of Russia’s use of tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine, China’s buildup of its nuclear arsenal, and the imminent (February 5, 2026) expiration of the START-3 treaty, the possibility of an extension of which is not visible. It is curious that special emphasis is placed on plans to update American not only strategic, but also tactical nuclear weapons.



The spectacular June 7 announcement appeared to be something of a summary under a whole host of other US nuclear weapons operations. Thus, on May 14, underground subcritical tests took place at the Nevada test site - that is, detonation of a nuclear device simulator without starting a chain reaction. The Pentagon called them “a routine experiment to improve mathematical models,” and other nuclear powers, including the Russian Federation, issued official condemnations.

On June 4, the Minuteman ICBM was launched from Vanderberg Base, and on June 6, a second test launch took place. After a series of very unpleasant failures (in particular, the previous Minuteman launch on November 1 was accompanied by an “anomaly” that forced the missile to detonate in mid-air), both tests were successful, or at least declared as such.

On June 1, the Netherlands announced that the 313th squadron of its air force, which is part of the Nuclear Sharing program and allocated to the use of American nuclear bombs, has completed updating its equipment: instead of the old F-16s, F-35s have taken over duty. And on May 23, the French conducted a successful test launch of their operational tactical nuclear missile ASMP-A. In addition, in May, NATO air and air defense exercises took place over the Baltic to repel attacks by drones and missiles from the Kaliningrad region, which, as we know, is our “advanced launch site.”

Thus, over the past month, the West has conducted a more or less in-depth test of the combat readiness of all types of forces and assets that could be involved in a hypothetical nuclear conflict, with the exception of civil defense forces. This clearly indicates that they would like to be sure that the “doomsday weapon” will not fail on occasion. But is the Pentagon really ready to use it “aggressively”?

Little big argument


A clue is the emphasis on improving tactical nuclear weapons, which Washington seems to be planning to do in the coming years. As is known, tactical and operational-tactical nuclear weapons are intended to solve problems directly after a battle, in the near or operational rear, in general, within the theater of military operations, wherever it is, even in the desert or in the middle of the ocean. This differs from strategic nuclear weapons, the task of which is to destroy the vital centers of a hostile state.

С technical From the same point of view, the main difference between tactical nuclear weapons and strategic nuclear weapons is the range of action, calculated, respectively, in hundreds and thousands of kilometers. It is curious that the power of warheads of different classes can vary quite slightly: for example, the maximum TNT equivalent of both the American B61 tactical bomb and the W78 and W87 warheads of the Minuteman strategic missile is estimated at approximately 300-400 kilotons.

That is, the “tactics” are not at all less destructive, and the shorter range of use of tactical nuclear weapons, on the one hand, being a disadvantage, on the other hand, contributes to its secrecy. Thus, ground-based launchers are compact and relatively easy to camouflage; they are also lifted into the air not by heavy aircraft, which are now in vain, but by special versions of fighter-bombers, difficult to distinguish from their mass-produced counterparts.

Missile attack warning systems, whose “clients” must fly at altitudes thousands of kilometers above the Earth’s surface, are not able to track tactical missile launches. Air defense systems are capable, but they can be overloaded with a host of other targets, false and not so. From all this it follows that with the help of tactical nuclear weapons one can (with reservations) expect to secretly prepare and suddenly deliver a stunning first strike, and if it falls on the enemy capital, then the effect of it will be quite strategic.

There is, however, a nuance: a fair portion of all these theoretical calculations do not apply to modern American tactical nuclear weapons, and it is difficult to call them modern, since only the above-mentioned B61 free-falling bombs, which have long since become morally obsolete, remain in service. The latest modification, B61-13, received a correction system, thus becoming “high-precision”, but the real value of this innovation is questionable, since it does not solve the main drawback - the need for the carrier aircraft to approach the target “point-blank”. Even a hypothetical equipping of the B61 with some analogue of the UMPC with an increase in the range of use to 60-80 km would improve the situation only conditionally.

Meanwhile, the Russian and Chinese armies can boast of modern and numerous military and facility air defense systems, which are capable of shooting down not only carrier aircraft, but even bombs that have already been dropped. De facto, this means that today the United States does not have tactical nuclear weapons that could be used with any confidence against adversaries of equal level. And the announced “increasing aggressiveness” of the doctrine in fact means hope to catch up with this gap.

Dreams of the poor and sick


The tests that took place in Nevada suggest that this time they are taking the issue relatively seriously. Of course, fresh empirical data can be useful when refreshing old munitions (which are regularly sorted and nuclear explosives are melted down to maintain the desired level of enrichment), but they are much more important when developing completely new devices.

The Americans, if they are going to update their arsenal, definitely cannot do without this: even being the most compact of those preserved in metal, the B61 warhead is too large to fit into any of the modern missiles, so the warheads will have to be created from scratch . Although specifics in this regard have not yet been announced, there is an opinion that the JASSM aviation cruise missile and the recently launched PrSM ground-based cruise missile, a replacement for ATACMS, are being considered as promising carriers. Both have a fairly long range (about 1000 and 500 kilometers, respectively) and payload capacity, and several thousand cruise missiles have been accumulated over almost 20 years.

However, there are also many pitfalls along this path. In particular, there are doubts that the nuclear weapons plant in Pantex, Texas, which is currently struggling to support its existing arsenal, will be able to quickly increase capacity. The presence of a stock of weapons-grade plutonium at the enterprise (according to rumors, up to 20 thousand cores from discarded ammunition of various types can be stored there) only makes things a little easier. New samples must first be developed and tested, and then the equipment and qualified personnel for their production must be found - but they are not lying around on the road.

And this has its own cruel irony. Although Washington cites the expansion of Russian and Chinese nuclear arsenals as the official reason for the emphasis on tactical nuclear weapons, in reality the Americans are being pushed towards this by the emerging lag in conventional weapons of all types. Figuratively speaking, not having enough conventional guns with conventional shells and the ability to quickly acquire all this, Uncle Sam decided to compensate for the deficit with more powerful “pyrotechnics”.

It is quite characteristic that Beijing reacted to the American initiative much more sharply than Moscow. This is explained simply: in Europe, the Americans do not even have the hypothetical opportunity to use tactical nuclear weapons without provoking a general nuclear war, unless by dropping a bomb on Berlin when Russian tanks again find themselves opposite the Brandenburg Gate. But in the Pacific expanses there is room to roam: for example, in the format of tactical nuclear weapons strikes against Chinese squadrons on the high seas, to which the PRC is unlikely to dare to respond with its own strategic forces.

The widespread introduction of tactical nuclear weapons in the US Navy and Marine Corps (which has already effectively become “naval missile artillery”) would threaten to seriously upend the balance of power and deprive China of its emerging superiority. Fortunately, for the reasons stated above, Washington’s plans for a new nuclearization of its armed forces are unlikely to be implemented.
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  1. +2
    10 June 2024 17: 39
    Although Washington cites the expansion of the Russian and Chinese nuclear arsenals as the official reason for the emphasis on tactical nuclear weapons, in reality the Americans are being pushed towards this by the emerging lag in conventional weapons of all types. Figuratively speaking, not having enough conventional guns with conventional shells and the ability to quickly acquire all this, Uncle Sam decided to compensate for the deficit with more powerful “pyrotechnics”.

    How conventional weapons of Russia and China can threaten the United States. Even a medium-range missile will not reach. Help your allies. But even our threats to use tactical nuclear weapons only indicate an understanding that in the event of a collision with NATO, conventional weapons. There is absolutely nothing for us now. Our aviation cannot fly into the territory of Ukraine, where should it fight with NATO.
  2. -1
    10 June 2024 18: 18
    I don’t think that the United States has any problems in building up any nuclear weapons against Russia.

    After all, the Russian leadership is raising Russia from its knees by transferring all the weapons material that is in Russia - directly to the United States. Well, “non-weapons” too, because Russia nobly supplies all countries with fuel and builds new nuclear power plants for everyone except for the people of Russia. The “multipolar world” is being built so that our people will be ... without weapons and without cheap electricity. Perhaps this is some kind of “multipolarity”? As under the Tsar or as Trotsky dreamed of, transferring Russian gold mining to the British on the terms of 93% to them, 7% to Russia. Although modernity is “more honest” - it’s just 100% that’s all.

    This is a type of Russian “counter-sanctions” that is truly “asymmetrical” in the literal sense of the word - hand over all your weapons to the enemy. Although it is not “our own”, but “the legacy of the totalitarian soviet”, it was not created by Mannerheim, nor Kolchak, nor Wrangel, nor Nicholas the Bloody and not the philosopher Ilyin, to whom the government gives memorial plaques, prayer services and renaming, so... This “alien” weapons to our newly united society, right? Give it to the Americans, the bad - to the enemies! :)

    And it is difficult for the modern (newest, so to speak...) leadership of the country to refer to the “heritage” and “previous” leadership, “liberal reformers”, etc. The Russian leadership has been disarming our country and arming the United States for the last three decades.
    Or am I wrong again?
    1. 0
      11 June 2024 08: 15
      Remembering Ilyin, I know whose garden the gossips are.
  3. -2
    10 June 2024 21: 01
    Having defeated the Soviet Union in 1991, NATO and the United States are still euphoric. If Russia was defeated in 1991, then it can be defeated in 2024. After 1991, capitalist comprador power was established in the Russian Federation, the NATO elite seized the wealth of the people, and Russia was turned into a colony of the 1960st century. The oligarchs and bourgeoisie of the Russian Federation have risen to their feet and now want to be complete independent masters in the Russian Federation, a “tsar, princes, nobles” appeared and, as a result, a capitalist war began to redistribute property. Capitalism without market expansion and wars will die. As a result, there is a series of ongoing wars in the post-Soviet space. The goal of NATO is the destruction and dismemberment of Russia. The goal of the Russian authorities is to preserve themselves, to preserve the captured wealth. In view of the weakness of the Russian government, not the weakness of the Russian state, but the power, the Russian government will negotiate with NATO. To save herself, she will betray and sell Russia. China is a horror story “for the night”; it will not fight with NATO. One should not expect help from the Russian Federation from the PRC; it already betrayed the USSR in XNUMX. The People's Republic of China is a neighbor, a trader - everything. Proverb. To trust the Chinese means not to respect yourself. The nuclear doctrine of the Russian Federation must be edited taking into account the emerging dangers.
    1. 0
      11 June 2024 08: 18
      . In view of the weakness of the Russian government, not the weakness of the Russian state, but the power, the Russian government will negotiate with NATO. To save herself, she will betray and sell Russia.

      Decipher the sentence!
      What do you see as betrayal, or how will it happen?
  4. -1
    11 June 2024 08: 05
    Can a baby F35 with one engine secretly drop a glide bomb?
  5. +3
    11 June 2024 08: 48
    Only the coffins forced the United States to withdraw from Vietnam and Afghanistan.
    Everything else is chatter.
    Differently - in no way.
    No amount of rhetoric can hide from the aggression of American cannibals.
  6. +2
    11 June 2024 08: 53
    Meanwhile, the Russian and Chinese armies can boast of modern and numerous military and facility air defense systems

    A strange statement against the backdrop of active drone flights into the interior of the country....