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Tactical nuclear weapons: What Russia and NATO have ready for Doomsday
No one believed that war would break out in Ukraine either / collage by Euroradio
Putin may strike Poland with nuclear weapons so that the West would get scared and refuse to participate in a nuclear war and stop supporting Ukraine.
The military channel "Information" tells about this and the arsenal of the opposing sides.
How can NATO respond?
A war that involves strategic nuclear weapons can cause an irreparable global catastrophe. If weapons of mass destruction are to be used in a hypothetical conflict between superpowers, they will most likely be tactical nuclear weapons.
"In 2022, there are about 230 tactical nuclear warheads on the US side and more than two thousand tactical nuclear warheads on Russia`s side", the military observer of the "Information" channel says. "Most of the U.S. warheads are in B61 bombs. There are about 150 of them at the bases in Belgium, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and until recently in Turkey".
The B61 is an ordinary gravity bomb without so-called standoff capability [without the ability to destroy an object while outside the enemy's air defense zone - Euroradio]. It has to be dropped from a height of 8,000+ meters almost over the target, which is practically impossible in the conditions of the air defense system deployed over Belarus or Kaliningrad.
U.S. cruise missiles
In addition to the B61, tactical nuclear charges can be delivered by AGM-86B ALCM type cruise missiles.
"This is quite a good cruise missile," continues the military observer of the "Information" channel. "It was put into service in the early 1980s. There was a more modern version, AGM-129 ACM, but it was removed from the arsenal in 2012 [due to the signing of the disarmament agreements]. The AGM-129 was developed because the AGM-86B did not guarantee delivery of the charge to the target, as it was quite easily detected by the USSR's advanced early detection equipment and the Zaslon and Mech radars mounted on the MiG-31 and Su-27 aircraft".
One would not expect the AGMs to break through a modern echeloned air defense system [a mixed grouping of long-, medium-, and short-range anti-aircraft missile systems working in tandem], and even with the A-50 [Russian long-range radar detection aircraft] circling over Belarus. Moreover, the AGM-86B expired in 2020 even after its extension program.
The current version of the AGM-181 LRSO nuclear delivery cruise missile is still under development and should appear around the same time as the B-21 Raider bombers.
Destroying the enemy with non-nuclear weapons
"According to the doctrine, NATO will respond to a tactical nuclear strike on Polish territory with a limited strike," writes "Information". "For example, the response to a single charge on the Polish city of Rzeszow could be two or three charges at Kaliningrad and Belarus. The effectiveness of such a response is, frankly, doubtful. The West has long ago reoriented its power to conventional (non-nuclear) means of destruction, with which they can deliver a guaranteed bigger and more effective strike".
"In recent years, a power selection option has been added for the W76 warheads used in Trident II missiles placed on submarines. This reduces their power to five kilotons, which also brings them into the tactical category. But their launch would certainly provoke a full-scale retaliatory strike since until the moment of impact and explosion it is not known what kind of warhead is installed on the launched missile".
Russian "dirty bombs"
For the last two decades, Russia has been slow to get rid of its Soviet stockpile of tactical nuclear warheads and has been developing new ones.
"Among them are the so-called enhanced radiation warheads, ERWs," the "Information" columnist says. "Most of these charges' energy is released in the form of fast particles, which cause much less damage from the blast wave but destroy human life and electronics. They are popularly referred to as neutron bombs. They are "dirty" doomsday munitions that contaminate vast areas with cobalt-60 isotopes and make them uninhabitable for decades. Though they are of course strategic nuclear weapons".
The Russian Federation today has a sufficient number of delivery vehicles for nuclear charges.
“These are the 203-millimeter self-propelled guns Malka, which are already actively used in Ukraine [in non-nuclear equipment. — Euroradio]. The X-55, X-102, Caliber, Iskander-K, Zircon cruise missiles, anti-ship P-500/700/800/1000, aeroballistic missiles of the Iskander-M complex. Most of them have in their composition the means of overcoming air defense and missile defense, - notes the columnist of "Information".
"I don't see the point of [Russia] striking Ukraine. Most likely, it will do so out against Poland or Romania. And, in my opinion, it is more likely to be launched than not, ”the military observer of "Information" gives a disappointing forecast.