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Center for Arms Control, Energy and Environmental Studies at MIPT

Precision Guided Weapons and Strategic Balance

by Eugene Miasnikov

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In November 2000 the Center for Arms Control, Energy and Environmental Studies at Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology has published a new report "Precision Guided Weapons and Strategic Balance" (in Russian), by Eugene Miasnikov. The report is addressed to a broad audience - political scientists, military, technical and arms control experts, diplomats and general public, interested in problems of international security.

See also a transcript of the presentation at the National Press Institute and the review of Nezavisimoye Voyennoye Obozreniye (all in Russian).

To obtain the report please contact (095)-408-6381 or submit a request in a form.

Precision Guided Weapons and Strategic Balance, by Eugene Miasnikov, Center for Arms Control, Energy and Environmental Studies at MIPT, Dolgoprudny, November, 2000, 43 pages; ill.

Executive Summary

Reductions of strategic offensive arms on a bilateral basis with the United States aimed at strengthening stability in the world remain one of the main directions of current Russian foreign policy. At the same time, traditional approaches, many of which were developed during the Cold War, objectively cease to correspond to the changing realities and therefore become less efficient. In the past, only capabilities of nuclear weapons and their delivery systems were taken into account in assessments of strategic balance. Such an approach was justified by the fact that both sides possessed huge nuclear arsenals. In prospective, as strategic offensive arms are reduced numerically, their alert status is diminished and strategic defenses are developed and deployed, the role of other factors, which are not yet taken into account and not covered by agreements, increases as well. Thus, it is very important to reveal such factors in a timely manner, explore their possible impact and take them into account at negotiations on further nuclear cuts, because only balanced and stabilizing approach to arms reductions can be successful and irreversible.

The report studies counterforce capabilities of conventional precision guided weapons (PGW). Importance of this problem is underscored by the fact that development of U.S. precision guided weapons advanced to a new qualitative level in the last decade, and, as the analysis shows, new types of PGWs can present a real threat to the Russian Strategic Forces. It is notable, that there is a clear trend to shift the deterrence role from nuclear to conventional precision guided weapons in developing U.S. military doctrine. Existing plans of the U.S. Department of Defense for the next decade assume deployment of nearly 150,000 PGWs as well as corresponding infrastructure, ensuring efficient use of these weapons. The U.S. proposals on further bilateral reductions of strategic weapons with Russia are aimed to preserve U.S. strategic delivery platforms, and, in fact, U.S. strategic potential, and at the same time - to eliminate Russian strategic potential. These tendencies can not help causing agitation of the Russian side on the background of its growing economical problems and further degradation of its conventional forces. Moreover, the Russian positive attitudes toward the intentions of the West were undermined by a sequence of events in the end of 1990-s: NATO expansion to the East, NATO military operation in Yugoslavia and U.S. preparations for deployment of the National Missile Defense system. The listed events and tendencies are more often perceived in Russia as parts of one chain aimed at depriving Russia of its nuclear deterrence capability, the last symbol of superpower.

The paper presents a detailed analysis of the current status and prospects for development of the U.S. PGWs, technical requirements needed for efficient disabling of land based ICBMs. In particular, the results of research show that by 2010, the existing number of U.S. delivery systems may become sufficient for inflicting a preemptive disarming conventional strike at the Russian land based strategic forces, unless measures are taken to limit strategic delivery systems with conventional payloads.

Russia's positions at the international arena do not look quite strong to achieve a breakthrough in solving the problem of accounting PGWs in the strategic balance, nevertheless, even within the frames of existing negotiation mechanisms it is possible to avoid mistakes, which may severely complicate deep nuclear reductions. In particular, the author suggests, that at negotiations of START III and further reductions, Russia should firmly insist that bilateral cuts must be followed by irreversible elimination of strategic platforms. Russia should very carefully consider and choose measures on bilateral de-alerting of strategic nuclear arsenals. These measures need to be followed by imposing unilateral limits on U.S. conventional weapons. Measures, diminishing destabilizing effects of long range sea launched cruise missiles (SLCM), may include limiting the number of SLCMs allowed for deployment per a submarine and limiting attack submarine patrol areas. One more conclusion of the report is the need of imposing limits on tactical and reconnaissance aviation deployed at territories of new NATO members.




Executive Summary


Problem of Accounting Precision Guided Weapons in Strategic Balance


Problem Formulation


Physical Impact of a PGW on a Protection Shield of the Land Based ICBM Launcher


PGW Accuracy and Disabling ICBM Silos


Targeting Accuracy to Disable Mobile ICBMs


Battle Damage Assessment


Future Counterforce Potential of the U.S. PGWs


Disclosing Features and Possible Countermeasures


What Positions Should Russia Stand On in Arms Control?




Appendix 1. Current Status and Future of U.S. Precision Guided Weapons Development


Appendix 2. Estimates of Physical Impact of PGWs


Appendix 3. Estimates of Hardness of "Topol-M' Mobile ICBMs


Appendix 4. Required CEP and Number of PGWs to Disable an ICBM Silo




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