Making Sense of the “Super Fuse” Scare, by the Saker

Here’s is an entirely different, and better informed, perspective than the one yesterday from Paul Craig Roberts on the chances of great power nuclear war. From the Saker at unz.com:

For weeks now I have been getting panicked emails with readers asking me whether the USA had developed a special technology called “super fuses” which would make it possible for the USA to successfully pull-off a (preemptive) disarming first strike against Russia. Super-fuses were also mentioned in combination with an alleged lack by Russia of a functioning space-based infrared early warning system giving the Russians less time to react to a possible US nuclear attack.

While there is a factual basis to all this, the original report already mislead the reader with a shocking title “How US nuclear force modernization is undermining strategic stability: The burst-height compensating super-fuze” and by offering several unsubstantiated conclusions. Furthermore, this original report was further discussed by many observers who simply lack the expertise to understand what the facts mentioned in the report really mean. Then the various sources started quoting each other and eventually this resulted in a completely baseless “super fuse scare”. Let’s try to make some sense of all this.

Understanding nuclear strikes and their targets

To understand what really has taken place I need to first define a couple of crucial terms:

  • Hard-target kill capability: this refers to the capability of a missile to destroy a strongly protected target such as a underground missile silo or a deeply buried command post.
  • Soft-target kill capability: the capability to destroy lightly or unprotected targets.
  • Counterforce strike: this refers to a strike aimed at the enemy’s military capabilities.
  • Countervalue strike: this refers to a strike on non-military assets such as cities.

Since strategic nuclear missile silos and command posts are well protected and deeply buried, only hard-target kill (HTK) capable missiles can execute a counterforce strike. Soft-target kill (STK) capable systems are therefore usually seen as being the ultimate retaliatory capability to hit the enemies cities. The crucial notion here is that HTK capability is not a function of explosive power, but of accuracy. Yes, in theory, a hugely powerful weapon can compensate to some degree for a lack of accuracy, but in reality both the USA and the USSR/Russia have long understood that the real key to HTK is accuracy.

To continue reading: Making Sense of the “Super Fuse” Scare

Advertisements

2 responses to “Making Sense of the “Super Fuse” Scare, by the Saker

  1. I’m not sure that the difference between the two perspectives is that the Saker is better informed. I doubt that PCR would dispute much, if any of Saker’s technical argument. PCR’s point is that elements of USG are disregarding that argument, and actually there’s little difference between them in that regard – the Saker:

    What we are facing today is a nuclear rogue state run by demented individuals who, steeped in a culture of racial superiority, total impunity and imperial hubris, are constantly trying to bring us closer to a nuclear war. These people are not constrained by anything, not morals, not international law, not even common sense or basic logic. In truth, we are dealing with a messianic cult every bit as insane as the one of Jim Jones or Adolf Hitler and like all self-worshiping crazies they profoundly believe in their invulnerability.

    The only real difference I can see between the two of them is that PCR believes that these elements are crazier and more influential than does Saker. and, given PCR’s extensive and first-hand experience in USG, it’s arguable that he is actually better qualified to make that judgment.

    Like

  2. Pingback: Why Bother? by Robert Gore | STRAIGHT LINE LOGIC

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s