Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Red Teaming against the US

It is common practice in military strategy development to assign a group to act as a "Red Team" to research weaknesses and develop strategies in order to exploit them against the "Blue Team" in order to try to identify ways in which a real enemy might try to exploit our weaknesses against us. I am about to lay out how a government like ISIS/Iraq/Syria or North Korea or Iran might be able to bring our country to it's knees. This is nothing new to our government. We have known this weakness existed and how it might be exploited for some time. I will show how it can be achieved using the technology that we already know these nations have access to, and how we have failed to address this problem.

The Method:

Setting off one or more simple fission devices in suborbital or low earth orbital altitudes in order to destroy all electrical and electronic systems over very wide swaths of the CONUS, bringing power, transportation, food, medical and fuel delivery systems to a grinding halt. Within days starvation will set in as perishable foods rot, warehouses of food will be broken into and scavenged and will not be replaced, and sewer and sanitation breakdowns will trigger plagues of Typhoid, Cholera, Bubonic plague, and other diseases. Within weeks the population will begin to fall precipitously and the bodies of the dead will add to the already overwhelmed sanitation resources. Ironically simple fission devices are actually much more efficient at creating EMP than three stage Fission-Fusion-Fission devices are.

The Hardware:

  Both the US as well as the Soviet Union tested nuclear devices at high altitudes and accidentally discovered the effects of EMP are nothing to laugh at back in the early 60's. The US with project Starfish Prime, which set telephone wires hundreds of miles away in the Hawaiian Islands on fire. and the Soviet's similar experiences in Kazakhstan on Oct. 22 1962, with 184 K3 (Joe 157), a 300kt device. Since pure fission devices are much more efficient at producing prompt Gamma radiation which is the trigger for the E1 EMP pulse, large and complex three stage hydrogen bombs are not required. A device in the range of 10kt or less is more than adequate to produce a very large EMP pulse. Many people believe that the Taepodong-1 type IRBM's that North Korea have developed do not have enough payload to carry a weapon of any real size and therefore are not nuclear capable. This is a grave error.

   Many people feel that the first nuclear device that North Korea will field will be a "Trinity" type spherical implosion device, simply because that was the evolutionary path the western nations and the Soviets and Chinese followed. There is no reason to believe that North Korea's nuclear evolutionary path will be similar. After all, they already have access to the accumulated knowledge of those who have gone before. Further, they have access to Russian and Chinese Nuclear weapons designers as well. The United States developed a low yeild pure fission device that was small enough to be fired from a 155mm (and later a 130mm) artillery with yeilds of approximately 100 tons, Larger W-54 devices (approximately 10-1/2" O.D.) had variable yeilds up to 1kt and W-45 warheads which were about an inch larger in diamer and weighed about 150 lbs had yeilds up to 15kt. These devices are very inefficient as nuclear weapon designs go, and squander the very valuble plutonium used in the device, which is why they were retired, but they can fit in very small spaces and they are very simple devices. They do not require klystron type triggers or very timing critical spherical shaped implosion charges. Merely an ellipsoid of plutonium that is just subcritical, and two shaped charges on either end of the "egg" that when triggered at the same time drive the ellipsoid towards a spherical shape which then triggers a chain reaction. Use of tampers made from beryllium, tungsten, thorium, depleted uranium or HEU can easily increase yeild without increasing size to a huge degree. The US's most advanced warhead, the W-88 MIRV used in the Trident D-5, uses precisely this type of device as it's primary because of space constraints within the MIRV nosecone.   North Korea's first test device in 2006 was intended to be a 4kt yeild device, precisely the yeild range that is thought to be likely to be used in such an attack.  Seismic data indicates a very low yeild, but this is likely to be in error. North Korea likely used a trick developed by the US in the early 60's in Mississippi. Setting off a low yeild device in a large cavern with a lot of airspace around the device causes the sesmic signal to be "muffled" and look like a much smaller device than it actually was by a factor of 100

Therefore, the belief that North Korea's first device will be a crude device is frankly a bit arrogant on many advisor's part. There is absolutely no reason why North Korea could not leapfrog several evolutionary design steps ahead. After all, they already KNOW that such a device is possible, which our designers back then did not, and that is more than half the battle.

The Taepodong-1, if the third stage were to be fitted would be able to loft an estimated 50 kg (110 lbs) approximately 6000km (3728 miles) which is in the weight range of a W-45 warhead equivalent. The Taepodong-2, if they work the bugs out, could potentially loft a 1100lb payload  5600 miles which is more than enough to put such a device over the CONUS from mainland NK. But there is no reason to believe that NK would necessarily launch from the mainland. The missile could potentially be launched from a disguised freighter in the open ocean far outside the territorial waters of the US and still be able to put a nuclear device well above the visible horizon covering most of the eastern seaboard approximately over Minnesota, and another over Montana or Wyoming impacting the western coast, and potentially a third over approximately Kansas to impact the Gulf Coast.

This is how the opening salvo of WWIII is likely to be launched.

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