. asked in Politics & GovernmentMilitary · 1 decade ago

anti nuclear missile weapons?

If a nuclear missile was shot out of the sky with an anti nuclear missile weapon, would the nuclear missile that got shot out of the sky blow up or simply fall from the sky without an explosion, saving the world from radiation?

8 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Best Answer

    The first three answers are ok, but only with certain assumptions. Here is a simplified and unclassified version of what would normally be a highly complex and classified discussion.

    It is possible for the incoming nuclear warhead to have a special fuze such that it is designed to detonate (go nuclear) if it is about to be intercepted. This is called a salvage fuze since it salvages something by detonating over the enemy's territory, even if you primarily get an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) that degrades all the electronic systems below it out to the horizon.

    If the defensive weapon is a kinetic interceptor (direct hit at high relative speed), and assuming no salvage fuze on the incoming warhead, most likely you would not get a nuclear detonation out of the incoming warhead. You may or may not get a lot of little pieces, but that depends on the relative speed and how direct the hit was.

    At very high speeds, you might get more of a hydraulic effect (a splash) much like what you get with armor piercing (shaped) charges. That merely means that the energy levels are so high that the metallic bonds in the metals are relatively small when compared to that energy input. So, in that case being a metallic solid is not much better than being a fluid. That means you can get a thousand pieces, as already pointed out.

    If the defensive warhead is just a high explosive with a proximity fuze, chances are the incoming missile warhead will be disabled but not disintegrated but the defensive warhead detonating at some distance. However, if the high explosive used in the incoming nuclear warhead itself detonates (somewhat likely but not assured), then the fissile material in the warhead could get dispersed as small particles. That fissile material is not very radioactive, although plutonium (if used in the warhead) also has other toxic effects that make it dangerous.

    If the defensive warhead is also nuclear, the defenders have decided that it is indeed better to have nuclear explosions high in the atmosphere to avoid the blast, thermal, direct radiation (gammas and neutrons), and radioactive fallout effects. Then the challenge is to detect and intercept high enough to make it worthwhile.

    The closer the detonation is to the earth's surface, the more solid materials get sucked into high radiation fields and, thus, the radioactive fallout cloud. Materials can get activated (made to be radioactive) by absorbing neutrons from the nuclear detonation. A small detonation of a crude nuclear weapon on the surface of the Earth could result in radioactive contamination of an area from Washington, DC to Phiadelphia such that people would start moving out.

    Overall, your question shows why there was so much uncertainty during the Cold War, where mutually assured destruction really kept potential foes from doing anything, even if barely. You could have anti-anti-missiles and on and on. With the advent of highly accurate kinetic (direct hit) defensive interceptors, we are now able to discourage missile programs, but we still have to worry about other modes of delivery. Thus, we can install defensive missiles around Iran, but we also have to install detection equipment at seaports and even airports.

    The worst case answer to your question is where the incoming nuclear missile has a salvage fuze, detects a defensive nuclear warhead blast, and detonates at a low level over the defender's territory just after the defensive nuclear detonation. That would cause a lot of direct radiation and EMP, but it would likely be too high in the atmosphere to produce very much in terms of radioactive fallout, at least relative to the fallout from a nuclear burst on the Earth's surface.

    Source(s): The answer to all issues: http://technidigm.org
  • becka
    Lv 4
    3 years ago

    Anti Nuclear Weapons

  • 4 years ago

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    Well, first of all, anti-ballistic missiles are still banned under treaty, credit W for breaking the treaty and ruining the safe MAD ground. But the thing about ABM's is, they don't work anywhere near well enough to keep the mutual destruction from still being assured. Even the most rosy scenario would have the ABM's and lasers able to intercept and destroy fewer than half of incoming ICBM's. So an attack from Russia would still wipe out the US, and vice-versa. What makes the Russians nervous about it is the idea that maybe a US president will come along who will say what the hell, maybe it would be ok to have the USA obliterated halfway in exchange for completely obliterating Russia. Remember the Persian Gulf War, where on CNN they made it seem like Patriot missiles were hitting everything incoming, it turned out they didn't really do well at all. The tests they do of the GBMD likewise, they had to try twice just to shoot down something that wasn't trying to not be shot down. The basic problem is a missile is a very, very fast thing and trying to intercept one head-on is nearly impossible. It's like trying to shoot a bullet that's already been fired. Just like air-to-air missiles work when they're behind the target aircraft, then they can steer and hit it. But head-on, there's no way to react quickly enough. Requires too much precision, even if the missile stays on the same trajectory and you know the trajectory exactly beforehand. The Russians have already started working on simple ways for missiles to avoid this. Since hitting a missile depends on knowing its exact trajectory, all you have to do is make the missile change course, or make it wobble in flight, to ensure that ABM's will miss. Another thing you can do is just make a lot more missiles than warheads, so the other side never knows which ones are the real ones and can't shoot down all of them. You can make more MIRV-type missiles, that split into several reentry vehicles before they can be intercepted. You can put simple flares and chaff on a missile just like on a plane. As for laser defense, I remember SDI in the 1980's... it was a bluff. To have enough high-energy lasers in the air or in space to burn up multiple missiles, is pure fantasy. Lasers aren't that effective, particularly at long range. Again, even if they could work, they could be defeated easily just by coating the missile with a reflective surface like aluminum foil.

  • Teresa
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    Too high tech, The threat in the future isn't coming from Russia. Probably there is already some type of anti-missile deterrent in place. Just because it isn't commonly known doesn't mean it doesn't exist. But, if I were a nuclear power, and possibly insane, and I wanted to launch a nuclear attack, the first missile that I would explode would be in the ionosphere over target country. I doubt the electronics that was needed for the high tech counter-measures would survive that. Something to think about.

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  • 4 years ago

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    anti nuclear missile weapons?

    If a nuclear missile was shot out of the sky with an anti nuclear missile weapon, would the nuclear missile that got shot out of the sky blow up or simply fall from the sky without an explosion, saving the world from radiation?

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  • 1 decade ago

    Generally the army would try to shoot missiles out of the sky not because they wouldn't explode but because the problem of fallout would be greatly reduced with an air explosion. Radioactive debris (fallout) would be the big killer in nuclear war. Pray.

  • 1 decade ago

    Depends on if the warhead was armed or not. Some warheads aren't armed until moments before impact, and others require the warhead itself to strike something to trigger the nuclear reaction (and being hit from the side or rear with an anti-missle missle shouldn't trigger the nuclear reaction).

  • 1 decade ago

    The impact would destroy the warhead. It would instantly be reduced to thousands of fragments that would then harmlessly fall to the ground. (The radioactive bits are not that radioactive and they would be dispersed over such a large area that the radiation from them would not be detectable.)

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