Jonny asked in Politics & GovernmentMilitary · 1 decade ago

Soviet Union nuclear weapon capabilities?

What would the destruction radius of nuclear weapons used by the Soviet Union in 1979 be? what would be the difference between the strategic one and the normal ones. If know one knows then whats the destruction radius of other nuclear bombs?

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  • 1 decade ago
    Best Answer

    Answers.com sent me your question since they thought I could be helpful.

    First, the answers so far are not helpful and are mostly BS and off point.

    Strategic vs tactical weapons is one of the primary topics you seem to be interested in. Strategic nuclear weapons are generally considered to be the much bigger ones, more explosive power, and directed at major enemy assets such as industrial cities and major military targets. Strategic nuclear weapons can be dilivered best by major aircraft such as B-52's or by intercontinental missiles such as Minuteman 3. Tactical nuclear weapons are usually much smaller and would be used in a range of lesser combat roles, usually much less than would significantly impact the course of the war, although a tactical use could quickly lead to a strategic use. Tactical weapons are generally low yield and used against concentrations of the enemy's military forces, whether thhose forces are in the air, on the land, or under the sea.

    The Soviet Union typically was better at doing "big" things rather than "elegant" things in terms of warfare, including nuclear weapons. Thus, they had a stockpile of nuclear weapons that was focused on biggest-as-possible designs. The US managed to increase the sophistication of its nuclear weapons and delivery systems in the mid-1980's such that by the early 1990's the Soviets were pretty much outclassed and going broke trying to catch up.

    Any nuclear weapon has a blast effect damage area determined by the people who set up the military targeting. They select the yield of the weapon as well as the height above ground of the detonation so that the damage radius (usually an overpressure transient wave and related factors) is what they need it to be to eliminate the target. We think (or assume) that the Soviets were not nearly as worried as we were in the US about limiting blast damage, and we were probably better at getting the weapons to the target with less possibility of error. As the error distances decreased, smaller weapons could be used to ensure the destruction of a given target. With supposed less accuracy, the Soviets merely relied on bigger explosions.

    Of course, the additional issue is the radiation associated with the radioactive fallout of the irradiated materials caught up in the nuclear exposion. Any nuclear explosion on the ground would pick up more material to be activated or made radioactive than those weapons detonated at some height above the ground. Minimizing the radiation means that you don't really want to wait for the weapon to hit the ground or get close to the ground at detonation. We assume, perhaps incorrectly, that the Soviets did not worry much about that.

    Another issue is the fact that all nuclear weapons cause an effect called the electromagnet pulse (EMP), an electrical effect much like lightning strikes but much sharper or faster, that could overload electrical circuits and cause electrical equipment to fail. This effect is considered to be more serious these days since computer circuits are so sensitive, especially when compared with electronics used before the 1990's. EMP could at least theoretically turn off / damage every computer (for example) for hundreds or thousands of miles radius, and the bigger the detonation the bigger the EMP effect. The higher the detonation, even an hundred miles up or so, the farther the EMP damage radius.

    So, the answer to your question is complex. What 1979 has to do with it is not clear, but that year or period of time could be associated with the height of the Cold War before President Reagan ramped up the challenge militarily and started "winning" the Cold War by coming up with several advanced nuclear weapons as well as their very accurate delivery systems. Again, the Soviets relied a lot on big nuclear yields because that is what they could do, not necessarily what they wanted to do. Yet the thought was a bit intimidating and, thus, the wonder perhaps as to the associated damage radius. The fact that the US started reducing the size of its nuclear weapon explosions indicated that we had achieved the needed accuracy in delivery to be most effective, also an intimidating thought if you are on the receiving end.

    The damage for total destruction was limited to a few miles up to perhaps 20 miles, depending on your definition of total damage. However, the fallout from even a small weapon such as those used in World War 2 over Japan would reach a couple of hundred miles such that the area would really need to be evacuated for a couple of years, at least. The area around the first detonation of a nuclear weapon (the Trinity Test in New Mexico in August 1945) is still a bit radioactive today. It initially spanned a distance equal to that from Washington DC to Philadelphia. That thought probably was more significant than the blast damage thought during the later years of the Cold War. Today I would worry about all that as well as the ease

    Source(s): 43 years doing things nuclear
  • 1 decade ago

    Actually I was going to advise you the Soviet Union no longer exist however I now see that your question is in regards to the 1979 time frame and so I will be more able to answer appropriately.

    The overall power of any one nuclear device once under control by the Soviet Union in the year 1979 would be that a single effective blast will be enough damage culminating in enough radiation and fallout that our future would be very dim to say the least.

    I know that is a statement which is vague and a more accurate element would be to address mega tonnage and radius of the device.

    First of all the weapons are not of a 'strategic' versus 'normal' sort.

    The weapons were of one calibre at that time. A cold war stalemate of intercontinental ballistic missiles which on any good day could wipe out a whole state of our western seaboard.

    44 Mega tonnage in one missile which at first strike would be a 1/4 effective blast detonation which is to say that they would have been using a 'warning' shot example of what they were intending to do.

    The cold war kept us and the USSR from being the world destroyers yet kept our other non-nuclear nations at a seat-edged state for all years post World War II.

    In recent times we have downsized and concentrated the effective blast area and radial damage of our nuclear warhead devices in a manner which provides for use on a conventional battlefield as long as the theatre of operations is a multi-square thousands of miles of desert....get the point?

    In other words...

    ... the use of such weapons on or about a conventional operative area is or would be a very last resort and a somewhat senseless use if in fact any of the IDEAL conditions required were not or could not be met.

    Those particular conditions are not something many of us are at liberty to discuss. The conditions that are not classified are as basic as wind currents, associated weather patterns and altitude of the blast area or ground zero as we generally call it. In order to maintain a control of the total damage it requires a greater knowledge of every relative moment prior to, at blast and post blast while the overall total 'theatre readiness' or immediate reactive measures must be of not only a well state of preparadness but of a perfect state . That is, in fact the only way a use could be realized and we like to think as a national military force as a whole that we are unable to ever reach that state of perfection.

    In the event we did attain such a state that we could deploy such a weapon and do so safely we would be the most feared nation on earth. That fortunately is not our goal. Which is what brings me to my own question for you.

    That question is:

    How and why do you justify not only a consideration to use such a weapon but also justify the probability of its use causing extreme and horrific damage to your own ...those we are at war trying to protect?

    Think about that and I hope I was at least of a bit of help as I have not been of my best and most mentally astute self today.

    Source(s): US Army Cookbook of Effective BS.
  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    The superpowers (and China) made bombs bigger and bigger throughout the 50s and 60s. Then they (suddenly) realized that 50 megaton bombs were practically useless, so they began making them in a range of sizes, from small 'battlefield' weapons to the big city-destroying weapons.

    The bomb that leveled Hiroshima was a 30 kiloton bomb. The biggest bombs made by the US, USSR and China (the biggest that we know of) were 50 megatons, which is about 1500 times bigger. So you do the math. 8^P The smallest ones were 1 kiloton, meant to be shot in an artillery shell to stop advancing troops.

    By the 60s, though, the powers realized that these huge bombs would do damage way beyond their desired target. Fallout would travel around the world and kill thousands or millions everywhere, friend and foe alike. We managed to develop a treaty against testing bombs in the atmosphere or in space. And every nuclear nation has signed a no-first-use agreement (except, of course, the US).

    I like the way Carl Sagan put it. The nuclear arms race, he said, is like two men locked in a room flooded with gasoline, arguing over who has more matches.

  • rudel
    Lv 4
    3 years ago

    Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) weren't stepped forward at that ingredient, so the only thank you to attain the U.S. grew to become into to place the missiles interior a closer geographic selection. This meant Cuba, which grew to become right into a communist u . s . sympathetic to the Soviet Union. The Soviets claimed they did this in step with a similar possibility posed by utilising U.S. missiles in Turkey. The deal that grew to become into struck grew to become into to eliminate the Turkey missiles in exchange for the Soviets removing the Cuban missiles. ICBMs got here on the scene some years later, and rendered the whole situation a nullity by utilising threatening the two worldwide places countless cases over with MIRVs (distinctive re-get right of entry to automobiles) which contained distinctive nuclear warheads.

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  • 1 decade ago

    your question does not make sense. but heres an interesting fact. today the united states harbors enough nuclear weapons to blow up the entire planet 6 times over.

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