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See the results of the first atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima by the B-29 Superfortress Enola Gay.
Nuclear Weapons Delivery systems
Early weapons models, such as the "Fat Man" bomb, were extremely large and difficult to use.The original weapons ("Little Boy" and "Fat Man") developed by the United States during the Manhattan Project were relatively large (the latter had a diameter of 5 feet) and heavy (around 5 tons each) weapons which required specially modified bomber planes to be adapted for their bombing missions against Japan, each of which could only carry one such weapon and only within a limited range. After these initial weapons, a considerable amount of money and research was conducted towards the goal of standardizing ("G.I. proofing") nuclear warheads (so that they did not require highly specialized experts to assemble them before use, as in the case with the idiosyncratic wartime devices) and miniaturization of the warheads for use in more variable delivery systems.
Through the aid of brainpower acquired through Operation Paperclip at the tail end of the European branch of World War II, the United States was able to embark on an ambitious program in rocketry. One of the first products of this was the development of rockets capable of holding nuclear warheads. The MGR-1 Honest John was the first of such weapons, developed in 1953 as a surface-to-surface missile with a 15 mile/25 kilometer maximum range. Because of their limited range, their potential use was heavily constrained (they could not, for example, threaten Moscow with an immediate strike).
The MGR-1 Honest John was the first nuclear-tipped rocket developed by the U.S. in 1953.Development of long-range bombers, such as the B-29 Superfortress, during World War II was continued during the Cold War period. The development of the B-52 Stratofortress in particular was able by the mid-1950s to carry a wide arsenal of nuclear bombs, each with different capabilities and potential use situations. Starting in 1946, the U.S. based its initial deterrence force on the Strategic Air Command, which, by the late 1950s maintained a number of nuclear-armed bombers in the sky at all times, prepared to receive orders to attack the USSR whenever needed. This system was, however, tremendously expensive, both in terms of natural and human resources, and raised the possibility of an accidental nuclear war.
During the 1950s and 1960s, elaborate computerized early warning systems such as Defense Support Program were developed to detect incoming Soviet attacks and to coordinate response strategies. During this same period, intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) systems were developed which could deliver a nuclear payload across vast distances, allowing the U.S. to house nuclear forces capable of hitting the Soviet Union in the American Midwest. Shorter-range weapons, including small "tactical" weapons, were fielded in Europe as well, including nuclear artillery and man-portable Special Atomic Demolition Munition. The development of submarine launched ballistic missile (SLBM) systems allowed for hidden nuclear submarines to covertly launch missiles at distant targets as well, making it virtually impossible for the Soviet Union to successfully launch a first strike attack against the United States which would not guarantee a deadly response.
Improvements in warhead miniaturization in the 1970s and 1980s allowed for the development of MIRVs — missiles which could carry multiple warheads, each of which could be separately targetable. The question of whether these missiles should be based on constantly rotating train tracks (so as to avoid being easily targeted by opposing Soviet missiles) or based in heavily fortified silos (to possibly withstand a Soviet attack) was a major political controversy in the 1980s (eventually the silos won out). MIRVed systems allowed the U.S. to make the Soviet missile defense economically unfeasible, as each offensive missile would require between three and ten defensive missiles to counter.
Additional developments in weapons delivery included cruise missile systems, which allowed a plane to fire a long-distance, low-flying nuclear-tipped missile towards a target from a relatively comfortable distance. This innovation would make missile defense additionally difficult, if not impossible.
The current delivery systems of the U.S. makes virtually any part of the Earth's surface within the reach of its nuclear arsenal. Though its land-based missile systems have a maximum range of 10,000 kilometers (less than worldwide), its submarine-based forces extend its reach from a coastline 12,000 kilometers inland. Additionally, in-flight refueling of long-range bombers and the use of aircraft carriers extends the possible range virtually indefinitely.
For a reminder of the destructive power of these terrible weapons check out the following:
The Neutron Bomb
Which sounds very much like this prophecy: "This is the plague with which the Lord will strike all the nations that fought against Jerusalem: Their flesh will rot while they are still standing on their feet, their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their tongues will rot in their mouths." Zecariah 14:12.
The tactical neutron bomb is a nuclear weapon that maximizes damage to people but minimizes damage to buildings and equipment. It is also called an enhanced radiation warhead. The neutron bomb is a specialized thermonuclear weapon that produces a minimal blast but releases large amounts of lethal radiation which can penetrate armor or several feet of earth.
Sam Cohen is considered the father of the neutron bomb. In the summer of 1958 he began investigating the possibility of large thermonuclear weapons. In his research, Cohen argued that if the uranium casing of a hydrogen bomb were removed, the neutrons released would travel great distances, penetrating even well-shielded structures with lethal doses of radiation and harming anyone inside.
The idea of the neutron warhead has been hotly debated since its inception. At the time of its introduction, some felt that its relatively small initial blast and fallout was ideal for use in densely populated areas, like Europe. Other proponents argued that deployment of the neutron warhead could be used as a bargaining chip against the Soviet SS-20 missile which was viewed as a threat to NATO forces in Europe. Opponents of the weapon argued that the neutron bomb made the idea of using nuclear weapons in war more conceivable. Because the neutron bomb would devastate the whole of a target, military planners might not be as hesitant to use the neutron bomb as they would a standard fission bomb.
Definition of the Neutron Bomb
"Also called ENHANCED RADIATION WARHEAD, specialized type of small thermonuclear weapon that produces minimal blast and heat but which releases large amounts of lethal radiation. The neutron bomb delivers blast and heat effects that are confined to an area of only a few hundred yards in radius. But within a somewhat larger area it throws off a massive wave of neutron and gamma radiation, which can penetrate armor or several feet of earth. This radiation is extremely destructive to living tissue. Because of its short-range destructiveness and the absence of long-range effect, the neutron bomb would be highly effective against tank and infantry formations on the battlefield but would not endanger cities or other population centers only a few miles away. It can be carried in a Lance missile or delivered by an 8-inch (200-millimetre) howitzer, or possibly by attack aircraft. In strategic terms, the neutron bomb has a theoretical deterrent effect: discouraging an armored ground assault by arousing the fear of neutron bomb counterattack. The bomb would disable enemy tank crews in minutes, and those exposed would die within days. U.S. production of the bomb was postponed in 1978 and resumed in 1981."
Last Edited By: quasar Oct 30 13 8:07 AM. Edited 3 times