Monday, June 7, 2010

Atomic Accounting

"The Pentagon has now told the public, for the first time, precisely how many nuclear weapons the [US] has in its arsenal: 5,113. That is exactly 4,802 more than we need. ... The treaty's ceiling of 1,550 warheads deployed on 700 missiles and bombers will leave us with fewer warheads than an any time since John F. Kennedy was president. Yet the [US] could further reduce its reliance on nuclear weapons without sacrificing security. Indeed, we have calculated that the country could address its conceivable national defense and military concerns with only 311 strategic nuclear weapons (While we are civilian Air Force employees, we speak only for ourselves and not the Pentagon.) This may seem a trifling number compared with the arsenals built up in the cold war, but 311 warheads would provide the equivalent of 1,900 megatons of explosive power, or nine-and-a-half times the amount that Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara argued in 1965 could incapacitate the Soviet Union by destroying 'one-quarter to one-third of its population and about two-thirds of its industrial capacity.' ... In addition, should we want to hit an enemy without destroying its society, the 311 weapons would be adequate for taking out a wide range of 'hardened targets' like missile silos or command-and-control bunkers", my emphasis, Gary Schaub & Joseph Forsyth (S&F) at the NYT, 24 May 2010, link:

David Deming tells us, "Never Give Up Your Weapons", American Thinker, 31 May 2010, link: Right on.

Tom Hoffman writes, "A nation that renounces violence, no matter how just the cause, signs its own death certificate--and for a violent death at that", American Thinker, 31 May 2010, link:

What arrogant, ignorant buffoons. Precisely? In the real world: weapons fail to detonate, miss their targets, etc., etc. What do S&F know about Russian targeting strategy and Russia's concept of "nuclear battles within a war"? I almost titled this piece "Megaton Morons". S&F could be financial engineers and work for the Vampire Squid. McNamara was our worst SecDef in my lifetime, see my 20 August 2009 post: I wonder if S&F realize Russia "hardened" many of its military facilities after 1965? The buffoons "teach" at Air War College and Advanced Air and Space Studies. Wow! What course do they teach? "Road to National Suicide-301"?

Let's do some arithmetic. Would 1,900 megatons be adequate? Would 1,900 megatons have the same war fighting capability on 38 "Tsar Bombas" or 3,800 500 KT warheads? Well? A nuclear weapon's destructive capability is roughly proportional to the 2/3 root of its size. I'll explain. When Little Boy (LB) exploded over Hiroshima, it yielded 15 KT and had a fireball 410 meters in diameter. When Castle Bravo exploded over Bikini Atoll in 1954 with a 15 MT yield it had a 7,000 meter fireball. Whaaaat? 15 MT divided by 15 KT is 1,000. 1,000 x 410 = 410,000 meters, not 7,000. What's going on here? The cube root of 1,000 is: 10 (10 x 10 x 10 = 1,000). Now 10 x 10 = 100. Ergo Castle Bravo only had about 100X LB's destructive capability. 7,000 / 410 = 17.1, not too far from 10. Why square 10? Because the "footprint" an atomic weapon leaves approximates the square of its diameter. See? Two five MT bombs can do more damage than one ten. Similarly, five ones can do more damage than one five.

Tsar Bomba's fireball has been reported at 4,600 and 8,000 meters in diameter. Using 8,000 meters, at least it's larger than Castle Bravo's. Note: neither figure is close to 23,300 meters (7,000 x 3.33). 8,000 / 7,000 = 1.14, close to the cube root of 3.33, 1.49.

Why did the "Rooskies" stop building bigger warheads in the early 1960s? Does anyone remember the SS-6? It had a 3 MT warhead and a 5,000 meter CEP (circular error probable). Why did the Russians outfit the SS-18 with smaller warheads? Because they were more accurate! The SS-18 typically was fitted with ten 600 KT warheads, each with about a 400 meter CEP and 40 "pendevs", penetration devices to confuse potential defenders as to which were the real warheads. More accurate targeting leads to less destruction. That's why we use JDAMs today. After the Big War in the 1940s, the Army Air Corps, now Air Force, estimated that 97% of the bombs we dropped in WWII did not hit their targets, falling in fields destroying crops, not military installations and factories. That's a lot of wasted ordinance.

Guys like S&F, if working for say a manufacturing company, would look at the company's total inventory and ignore its components. You can have plenty of inventory dollars and still suffer "stockouts" if lacking item 15789 while having 5,000 units of 15788. I can imagine S&F endorsing just in time inventory. Of course, if the factory is located in a place which snows in the winter ... S&F's piece is appalling. It's so bad, I'm sure George Stephanopolous would endorse it.


Anonymous said...

Being armed is a necessary evil... hoping your enemies play nice is not a strategy for long term survival.

If we have the weapons already it doesn't seem rational to actively destroy them to meet some one else's threshold...

The nation is losing it's dollar reserve preeminence... being well armed and prepared against enemies becomes more critical not less.

Accounting Jobs Michigan COO said...

Atomic energy is good but atom bomb is the biggest enemy of mankind. Tax payers are worried because their tax is wasting upon these kind of things not on the welfare of American people!