Friday, September 29, 2023

US Should Retain B83 Bomb

Copyright 2023 by Michael H. Maggelet

  The B83 strategic bomb, first deployed to FB-111 bases in mid 1984 (and later to SAC B-52's), was derived from the B77 thermonuclear bomb. I worked on the first mod of the B83, and since it was a newly deployed modern weapon, there wasn't much maintenance to perform internally. There were several retrofits accomplished just as I arrived at my new base, and the B83 was a welcome arrival compared to the B43 bomb which had been in the stockpile since 1960.

  I won't go into the technical details regarding the B83, only to say that it was quite easy to maintain compared to the labor intensive B43, and made our operations much easier since it contained insensitive high explosive (and it was more versatile for strike aircraft). [1]

  Statements by detractors that the B83 has "too high a yield" are laughable, since the bomb has selectable yields for a variety of targets. [2]

  Given the Russian, Chinese, and North Korean emphasis on building command posts and other high value targets in mountains and in heavily reinforced underground complexes, the US only has a limited number of weapons to destroy these targets. In addition, the B61-11 bomb has an earth penetrating capability. These weapons can only be delivered by the B-2, since nuclear gravity bombs were recently removed from B-52H's.

  While some portion of the ICBM and SLBM force can attack and possibly neutralize some underground facilities, the use of low yield SLBM warheads and air launched cruise missiles cannot be successfully used to destroy deeply buried underground complexes with surface bursts. 

1. "Nuclear Weapon Characteristics Handbook" by Sandia National Laboratories, September 1990. Declassified/sanitized from "Secret/Restricted Data", p. 77. 

2. Low yield option discussed by General C. Robert Kehler during the "Hearing Before the Subcommittee on Strategic Forces of the Committee on Armed Services, House of Representatives, 113th Congress, 1st Session, October 29, 2013".                  

B83 load shapes maintained by the author and other 463X0 personnel at Plattsburgh AFB, NY in the mid '80's (photo  


Soviet Officer “Saves World” Bravo Sierra

Note- I wrote this piece in 2019 on another blog, and unfortunately Leftist propaganda continues to deceive those naive enough to believe such nonsense.  

Copyright 2019 by M. H. Maggelet

  Time and again we read stories about Soviet officers performing their internationalist and progressive duties, and in the face of overwhelming imperialist hegemony and provocation, they manage to save the world from a nuclear holocaust and restore collective peace and international justice, etc. That’s what the Left wing press would have us believe. As we used to say in the military, it’s pure “Bravo Sierra”.

  As with other world nuclear forces, a single individual cannot authorize the launch of a nuclear weapon. It takes many individuals, ranging from security forces to authentication codes, to access nuclear weapons or to initiate the nuclear release process of a combat ready nuclear weapon system.

  Such was the case during the Cuban Missile Crisis, when Soviet submarine B-59 (Project 641, NATO Foxtrot class) was detected by US anti-submarine forces and eventually surfaced after her batteries ran down. Just prior to surfacing, conditions inside the sub were extremely difficult with equipment breakdowns, and temperatures reaching 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

  Several senior officers lost their bearing and argued about using a nuclear torpedo on board the sub (likely a 53-58 T-5 with RDS-9 warhead, 3 or 9 kilotons) on circling US destroyers. One Soviet officer aboard B-59, Vadim Orlov, recorded the incident, and notes Captain Savitsky angrily ordered the assembly of the torpedo to combat readiness, which takes a minimum of three individuals (team chief, and at least two team members to perform mechanical and final assembly tasks).  Additionally, a KGB officer (and communist party representative) were on board, having the final word on preparing nuclear weapons for launch.

  There were at least two versions of the RDS-9 warhead for the T-5, one mod with an internal neutron initiator that required extra steps for installation into the physics package, and a “sealed pit” version. Additionally, a nuclear armed torpedo would also have to be loaded into the tube, another time consuming task with a 24 foot long, 4400 pound weapon.

  The story has been skewed by many in the media and the Left wing press, which  continually ignore the facts regarding the incident.  Orlov writes that after several moments, cooler heads prevailed and Second Captain V.A. Arkhipov and Deputy Political Officer I. S. Maslennnikov persuaded the captain to surface.

  The story doesn’t end there of course, as some anti-nuclear activists have promoted a Soviet officer named Stanlislav Petrov with another glorious internationalist task of “saving the world” in 1983. Lt. Col Petrov was a duty officer in charge of an air defence (PVO-Strany) command center, which was alerted by orbiting Molniya early warning satellites of a missile launch towards the Soviet Union. Petrov ignored the indications, which were later proven erroneous. However, once the Left wing press learned of the incident after 1998, he was showered with awards from activist groups.

  A statement released by the Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the UN noted that multiple sources are used to confirm an attack- “Under no circumstances a decision to use nuclear weapons could be made or even considered in the Soviet Union or in the United States on the basis of data from a single source or a system. For this to happen, a confirmation is necessary from several systems: ground based radars, early warning satellites, intelligence reports, etc.”