Those New Russian Weapons

Vladimir Putin has claimed that Russia is building a suite of advanced nuclear weapon delivery vehicles – Hypersonic missiles, an underwater drone, a nuclear-powered cruise missile. The American Missile Defense Review is, in part, a response to that.

The new Russian weapons sound amazing! The underwater drone, Putin would have us believe, could sneak up on the east coast of the United States and cause a radioactive tsunami! The nuclear-powered cruise missile could cruise around the globe twice and then nuke Florida!

Putin has shown all that on animated videos. A few frames appear to be actual photos, but the videos are mostly animation.

None of these things is completely new. The United States tried to build a nuclear-powered cruise missile back in the late 1950s. I’ve written about that in detail. One big problem with a nuclear-powered cruise missile is that it’s difficult to make nuclear reactors provide the thrust needed for propulsion. Another problem is that pushing all that air through a hot reactor tends to tear the reactor apart. That required a lot of work on the Rover reactors that followed the Tory reactors in the proposed cruise missile. Which, by the way, never flew.

[Quick bleg: I worked pretty closely with Rover reactor folks. I never heard of the Tory reactor until Putin brought this stuff up. Does anyone know how much Rover was a followon to Tory?]

There was some talk a few months back about Russian ships looking for a crashed cruise missile near Novaya Zemlya, where Russia might have tested a Tory-style cruise missile. But nothing seems to have come of this, nor was the kind of radioactivity detected over Europe that might have been associated with such a test. If there was a lost cruise missile, it probably was a chemically-powered mockup.

The underwater drone, which has been called STATUS-6, KANYON, and Poseidon, has recently been claimed to be capable of speeds of 200 kilometers per hour. It’s hard to propel anything through water, which is heavier and more viscous than air. Here is a debunking of that claim. Such speeds would require what is called supercavitation, which is a method of producing low-pressure bubbles at the nose of a torpedo to pull it through the water. If this were applied to Poseidon, it would produce lots of noise, so the torpedo would not be at all stealthy. A more normal torpedo speed might be 60 kilometers per hour.

The claim of producing radioactive tsunamis is also excessive. Natural processes like tsunamis and hurricanes contain far more energy than the largest nuclear weapons. Perhaps a tsunami could be triggered by a nuclear weapon placed so as to precipitate a large underwater landslide. And the volume of water involved in a tsunami would dilute the radioactivity a nuclear explosion would produce.

Russia tested a hypersonic missile, called Avangard, recently. Here’s some history. Putin claims it can evade American missile defenses and is ready for deployment. That’s not a big deal. Any Russian nuclear attack would succeed in getting enormous destruction past American missile defenses. Missile defense has always been largely fictitious, one of the great boondoggles of our time. Another weakness of the Avangard system is that it is launched from silos, the first targets in a nuclear exchange.

Except for Avangard, there is little evidence that these wonder weapons have been tested. At least  two are still in animation. We have no idea of the size of the development programs.

Putin said that Russia was forced to develop Avangard after the U.S. withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile ABM) Treaty in 2002. That withdrawal was a sore point for Russia. In the ABM Treaty, concluded in 1972, the US and Russia agreed that they would not deploy antiballistic missile systems. Ronald Reagan and George Bush were taken with the idea of ABM systems, presented to them as an absolute shield against missiles. Reagan gave the go-ahead to develop the systems. Bush believed that deploying the systems, which barely worked, was more important than adhering to the treaty. We still do not have a working ABM system.

And there’s one weird story related to Avangard – scientists who worked on its development have been jailed for leaking state secrets.

Thus we come to what the new Russian weapons seem to be about. It’s a statement that Russia is still in the nuclear weapons game. Putin sees the fall of the Soviet Union as one of the world’s great tragedies. Some in the US have attributed that fall to Ronald Reagan’s upping the arms race in the mid-1980s. That’s a great oversimplification, but perhaps Putin has accepted it and is trying to start an arms race in which the US damages itself by overspending on fantastical weapons.

Avangard does little, if anything, to change the nuclear war calculus. The other weapons may or may not ever become a part of the Russian arsenal. None is worth stirring up another arms race, but it appears from the Missile Defense Review, that is what the Trump administration is doing.

 

Cross-posted at Nuclear Diner.

 






120 replies
  1. 1

    […] Cross-posted at Balloon Juice. […]

  2. 2
  3. 3
    p.a. says:

    Thanks to the Foxification of a considerable plurality of American voters, our enemies now have good opportunities to manipulate us, Pavlov’s-dog-like, into self-inflicted wound after self-inflicted wound.

  4. 4
    MattF says:

    I had a chat once with an ABM expert about whether there was something real going on. He said that the only ABM strategy that worked was DBL— Destroy Before Launch.

    And… people aren’t going to say much about hypersonic missiles. But if’s obvious that the kinematic constraints don’t leave much leeway.

  5. 5
    Vhh says:

    Fwiw: hypersonic cruise missiles flying at airplane speeds are way easier to detect and intercept than incoming ballistic warheads from space.

  6. 6
    rikyrah says:

    Richard Blumenthal (@SenBlumenthal) Tweeted:
    We should be furious that only now we’re learning about the unspeakable scope & scale of the brutal tragedy imposed on innocent asylum seekers. Trump Admin must come clean & tell us exactly how many kids it ripped away from their families— & how many still haven’t been reunited.

    https://t.co/BRwBso32nP https://twitter.com/SenBlumenthal/status/1085954009003892736?s=17

  7. 7
    catclub says:

    Missile defense has always been largely fictitious, one of the great boondoggles of our time.

    and Trump was visiting the Pentagon just today to push his variation on reagan’s boondoggle. Anybody think he will make it better?

    seriously, after 40 years of development are anti missile systems much better? How good is the Israeli anti-missile system?
    What does that defend against ( and what does it NOT defend against)?

  8. 8
    Punchy says:

    I hear they’re Russian to Finnish those prototypes, so Putin can Sweden his agreement with Trump, and ensure there’s Norway the US would copy them. Denmark this down….that will represent the end of US dominance in world affairs. It’s all so Scandal Navy-ian.

  9. 9
    Mayur says:

    Are we sure that Putin didn’t just happen to have Vin Diesel’s XXX on TV and decide to troll us?

  10. 10
    catclub says:

    @Vhh: I thought terrain following cruise missiles were the bees knees for being hard to detect and track.
    Even if slow and loud. Isn’t ‘hypersonic cruise missiles flying at airplane speeds’ a contradiction in terms?

  11. 11
    Plato says:

    The tide is turning finally?

    In a rebuke to the Trump admin, more than 130 House Republicans broke ranks and joined House Democrats in opposing a Treasury Department plan to lift sanctions against companies controlled by Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska.The vote was 362 to 53.
    https://t.co/caFTQEHrKQ
    — Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) January 17, 2019

  12. 12
    Matt McIrvin says:

    If I recall correctly, those Project Pluto-type nuclear cruise missiles couldn’t even be tested without trashing the landscape they fly over with radioactive shmutz.

  13. 13
    Immanentize says:

    @Punchy: I think this will end with Russia feeding turkey to the hungary US of A.

  14. 14
    trollhattan says:

    @Punchy:
    We have a winnah! And award you one lutefisk smoothie.

  15. 15
    catclub says:

    @Plato: I could have sworn that Democratic senators would block all votes that are not to re-open the government. I guess that is so last week.

    ETA: yes I know that is a House vote, but I am pretty sure there was a senate vote on the same issue.

  16. 16
    catclub says:

    @Immanentize: cooked in Greece, with brazil nuts

  17. 17
    MattF says:

    @Matt McIrvin: Tsk. People get so upset over that.

  18. 18
    trollhattan says:

    Is all this Putin evil lair imaginary weaponry kabuki aimed [heh] at domestic consumption? “Putin good strong man of type we like. Never mind diminishing lifespan and other annoyances.”

  19. 19
    Plato says:

    Nancy Pelosi: "I'm not denying him a platform at all. We're saying let's get a date when government is open. Let's pay the employees. Maybe he thinks it's OK not to pay people who do work. I don't. And my caucus doesn't either." https://t.co/uRfQJwmlLZ

    — Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) January 17, 2019

    The granny starver didn’t have the balls unlike the lady who has the steel to stand up to the traitorous thug.

  20. 20
    Cermet says:

    LOL; really, LOL. An ICBM can deliver 24 massive hydrogen bombs on 24 targets in under twenty minutes of launch, have many hundreds of decoys and a number of jammers so it can’t possibly be stopped but those jokes of weapons he is showing (even if real) are supposed to in any manner or way offer a threat? I hope they are wasting money and resources on those pieces of utter shit. No sub (even small unmanned that can travel a few thousand miles) can evade our sound systems – it’d be killed in no time. Any air bore cruise missile that is hyper-sonic is easy to shoot down – its signature in the ir would be massive (unlike a earth hugging sub-sonic cruise missile.) P Lease shit eating pukin, build those so terrible weapons (as in they are terrible ideas!) LOLOLOL.

  21. 21
    Matt McIrvin says:

    …How does this notion of trolling the US into destroying itself with military overspending work? Our economy, for all the damage Trump is doing, is still way stronger than Russia’s; if anything the disparity’s bigger than it was in Soviet days, so if we got into another arms race it’d probably turn out as badly for them as before. I guess the idea is that their side would be all vaporware, but surely we’d catch on sooner or later. Trump isn’t going to be around forever.

    IIRC, the Soviet buildup under Brezhnev really started *before* the US’s, in the 70s, and they basically trolled themselves into the ground.

  22. 22

    Natural processes like tsunamis and hurricanes contain far more energy than the largest nuclear weapons.

    This isn’t quite true for earthquakes and tsunamis. If you look it up, it turns out the largest nuke ever built produces about as much energy as a magnitude 8.5 earthquake. That suggests you could use it to produce a substantial tsunami. Of course not every underwater earthquake produces a large tsunami, so you’d need to understand a lot about ocean dynamics to ensure your nuke was effective in converting its energy into a big wave.

  23. 23
    Aleta says:

    @Plato: from yr link

    The 362 to 53 vote … comes despite last-minute appeals by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. A similar measure narrowly failed in the Senate this week, despite 11 Republicans breaking ranks to vote with Democrats.

    Treasury said it intends to lift sanctions the U.S. imposed last year against Deripaska’s companies, including a major aluminum producer, while keeping sanctions intact against Deripaska himself.

    Treasury said it plans to lift the company sanctions because Deripaska agreed to reduce his ownership of the companies below 50 percent. His reduced stake would protect the companies“from the controlling influence of a Kremlin insider,” Treasury said.

  24. 24
    trollhattan says:

    O/T Yesterday’s California snowpack report showed us at 90% of average for the date. Today’s is 107%. That’s how quickly a single storm can change things.

  25. 25
    Just One More Canuck says:

    Sharks with frickin laser beams or GTFO

  26. 26
    Fair Economist says:

    @Plato: This tells us Mitch McConnell is working with the Russians. To get so many Republican Senators to accede to Putin’s wishes must have needed McConnell to whip his caucus like a sadistic slaveowner – which I am sure is a longstanding fantasy of his.

  27. 27
    Immanentize says:

    @catclub: with Swiss cheese, served on fine China.

  28. 28
    🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka)  🗳🌷 says:

    That’s a great oversimplification, but perhaps Putin has accepted it and is trying to start an arms race in which the US damages itself by overspending on fantastical weapons.

    If he believes that’s going work then he’s a bigger idiot than I thought he already was. These nuclear missiles are obviously bullshit. They’re something North Korea would come up with and put out.

  29. 29
    trollhattan says:

    @Plato:
    Nancy SMASH is a shining light during this Trump shitstorm. Soooo glad to have her back in the Speaker’s job.

  30. 30
    trollhattan says:

    @Just One More Canuck:
    Right? Is that too much to ask?

  31. 31
    hells littlest angel says:

    Clearly, these super-weapons leave us with no choice but to give Putin whatever he wants. We should start by withdrawing from Syria and lifting sanctions on Russian oligarchs.

  32. 32
    Fair Economist says:

    @Roger Moore: You could make a meaningful tsunami from a really big bomb but it would still cause far less damage than air detonation near a city. Also, you can’t fit Tsar Bomba, or anything close to it, on one of these torpedoes.

  33. 33
    WaterGirl says:

    Cheryl, are you still here?

    I just noticed the comment at #1. Is that something you created manually, or is that automated in some way?

    That is not currently on the list of required features for the Balloon Juice re-build, so I though I had better check with you and see if that’s 1) automated and 2) is it something you care about?

    thanks.

  34. 34
    Plato says:

    @trollhattan:

    The rethugs must be made to feel the pain of powerlessness of minority forever.

  35. 35
    Fair Economist says:

    @trollhattan: We talked before about how important it was to have an experienced leader to face off against Trump but Nancy is surpassing any expectations. I am very glad we don’t have a newbie Speaker right now.

  36. 36
    opiejeanne says:

    @trollhattan: Yolo and Glenn County have a lot of flooding. We almost moved to Willows in Glenn County for a job in 1992.

  37. 37
    Doug R says:

    From what I’ve seen and heard about Russian engineering, I have a feeling that a nuclear powered missile would be heavy, slow and leak radiation like a motherf*cker.
    Not that it’s beyond the realm of possibility as the Russians have surprised us before, as in the space race.

  38. 38
    Plato says:

    @hells littlest angel:

    Preemptive surrender. Mission preaccomplished.

  39. 39
    AThornton says:

    I see Zombie Ronnie RayGuns has taken-over Vlad. Hypersonic speeds means Mach 5 (3,800 mph.) At those speeds terrain hugging is Right Out which means all they’ve got is a slightly better surface-to-surface missile and Who Cares?

  40. 40
    Doug R says:

    @Punchy:

    I hear they’re Russian to Finnish those prototypes, so Putin can Sweden his agreement with Trump, and ensure there’s Norway the US would copy them. Denmark this down….that will represent the end of US dominance in world affairs. It’s all so Scandal Navy-ian.

    Pretty good, but it could use a final Polish.

  41. 41
    Searcher says:

    Any Russian nuclear attack would succeed in getting enormous destruction past American missile defenses. Missile defense has always been largely fictitious, one of the great boondoggles of our time.

    I mean, it took both the original Ant-man and the Wasp to disable ONE nuclear missile.

  42. 42
    Adam L Silverman says:

    Putin sees the fall of the Soviet Union as one of the world’s great tragedies.

  43. 43
    Aleta says:

    @Plato: BTW, I believe the similar Senate measure is the one that B Sanders did not show up to vote on. (Press noted that his vote ‘would not have made a difference’ ). Would it have made a difference to his supporters at the Inter*ept?

    Another reason given for him missing the vote was that he spent *one hour at a meeting that went on for a day.* (The mtg to address sex harassment of campaign staff by individual male campaign leaders.)

    Yeah, he’s a politician.

    (Rolling Stone) “This week, Senate Democrats marshalled an effort to override Mnuchin and preserve the sanctions that took effect last April.

    According to the Treasury itself: “Deripaska has been investigated for money laundering, and has been accused of threatening the lives of business rivals, illegally wiretapping a government official, and taking part in extortion and racketeering. There are also allegations that Deripaska bribed a government official, ordered the murder of a businessman, and had links to a Russian organized crime group.”

    The oligarch, Treasury wrote, is a keen Kremlin loyalist: “Deripaska has said that he does not separate himself from the Russian state.”

    The effort to keep the sanctions in place required 60 votes to succeed, and fell just short Wednesday when 42 Republicans voted to lift them, toeing the Trump line. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) whipped GOP nay votes, calling the effort a “Democratic stunt.” Those backing Trump included onetime Russia hawks Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC).

    “42 Republican senators chose today to stand with Vladimir Putin and his cronies rather than the American people,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) tweeted after the vote. (Vermont Independent Senator Bernie Sanders missed the vote.)

  44. 44
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Plato: No. It doesn’t matter as the bill can’t pass in the Senate.

  45. 45
  46. 46
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @catclub: Congress only has a 30 day window to reverse any proposed changes in sanctions on Russian individuals and/or companies. That window closes tomorrow at close of business.

  47. 47
    Plato says:

    @Aleta:

    gop = groupies of putin

  48. 48
    Martin says:

    Nuclear submarines are first strike weapons. They serve as deterrents. If you have a nuclear submarine deployed, it is effectively impossible to defend against. Since Putin has lost most of his nuclear sub fleet, he’s trying to demonstrate he’s made up for it elsewhere. But at the end of the day, even if all of this shit was true (consider me skeptical that a nation that can’t even keep their navy in service is able to chuck a hypersonic drone across the atlantic) it no more of a threat than the days that my dad was chasing Soviet boomers around the North Sea. We’ve been under a first strike threat for 50 years. So what? The calculus is the same – they create their nuclear tsunami (someone’s been watching too much SyFy) and our dozenish on-station Ohio class subs launch their, what, 2200 or so 100kt W76 warheads. Putin isn’t stupid. None of this is going to happen. Sure, it’s great propaganda within Russia, but Trump remains a greater threat to any of our individual lives than that junk.

  49. 49

    @Matt McIrvin: I didn’t say it was an effective strategy, just possibly what Putin is thinking.

    On the other hand, we have been pouring money into ballistic missile defense since the 1980s, so the assumption that we will wake up to ineffective systems is shaky.

  50. 50
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @WaterGirl: Whenever someone cross posts one of our posts it generates a comment like that. However, because that comment may not come from someone like Cheryl cross posting at her own site, it has to be cleared out of moderation.

  51. 51
    Plato says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Disagree. This puts more pressure on mcconnell when it comes to future russia related bills, sanctions etc. Cough impeachment.

  52. 52
    Yutsano says:

    @trollhattan: Speaking of which, want a lutefisk taco? Apparently a pub in Poulsbo has decided to take fusion to its extreme limits. Yeah I’m making that same face you are.

  53. 53

    @WaterGirl: It’s automated, and I don’t care about it.

  54. 54
    Mike in DC says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Well, that’s 1 country that wants to reform the Soviet Union. 14 to go. And 8 more if he wants to reform the Warsaw Pact.

  55. 55
    Mike in DC says:

    We should announce the development of some scary bullshit doomsday weapons too. The “space laser regime change system” sounds spooky. An aerosol bomb that turns Russian men gay. A computer virus that activates whenever “Whataboutism” is detected.

  56. 56
    ...now I try to be amused says:

    The Soviet Union was the Russian Empire by another name. Putin wants to Make Russia Great Again and the Soviet Union was the height of Russian power (though one could make a case for 1814 being the height; Russian troops were in Paris then).

  57. 57
    WaterGirl says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: Thanks. I’m trying to think whether there’s anyone else who cross-posts anywhere else. Do you happen to know?

  58. 58
    smintheus says:

    The crooked Tom Marino (PA-10) is resigning to spend more time with his pharma buddies. It’d be nice to imagine that Dems could make a decent run at his seat, as Republican as the district is. Maybe Dems should try out a slogan like “We’re not the party working with the drug companies to get your friends and relatives addicted.”

  59. 59
    🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka)  🗳🌷 says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Are Mnuchin’s justifications for lifting the sanctions on Deripaska’s companies complete bullshit? Is he in all of this too? And how could McConnell support his assertion that the vote to stop this lifting of sanctions was a “Democratic stunt”?

  60. 60
    Mark Damico says:

    What about sharks with laser beams attached to their heads? Would that work?

  61. 61
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Plato: McConnell just arranged to have the Senate version of this bill killed yesterday.

  62. 62
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka)  🗳🌷: Yes. The French national who is taking over as CEO is a pro-Putin, neo-nationalist apologist.

  63. 63
    Plato says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    I know. All the more reason this immediate overwhelming rebuke from his party’s other caucus is significant. I am unwilling to accept his omnipotence myth.

  64. 64
    Aleta says:

    @rikyrah:
    The US needs to be prosecuted for crimes against humanity.

    Anyone? How and who do we support to help these make records and names of officials public? How and who do we support to find children still separated?
    How do we volunteer to try to help the people we’ve injured?

    What is happening now, esp in the private-contractor centers holding migrants? Is it like what is happening now in prisons — shutdown is causing reduced staff (especially for mental health care), reduced activities, no extra food available ?

  65. 65
    NotMax says:

    Weapons designed by Lysenko Industries?

    :)

  66. 66
    kindness says:

    Come on. Are Republicans going to give up another opportunity to pee their pants and shout loudly about having done so? It doesn’t matter if it’s all computer generated vaporware. Peeing, pointing & screaming is what they do.

  67. 67
    Comrade Colette Collaboratrice says:

    @smintheus: Indictment in 3 … 2 … 1 …

    In addition to your slogan (and I approve this message), Democrats should point out that his soon-to-be-former constituents will now have to pay for a special election when this greedy fuckhead must have had some inkling he’d be out the door within 3 weeks of the start of his term. I wonder what grift he needed to complete between November and January.

  68. 68
  69. 69
    jl says:

    On topic, sort of, because we are speaking of existential threats….
    Letter signed by over two dozen Economics (fake) Nobel laureates and additional prominent economists advocating immediate carbon tax.
    I was a little surprised to see Greenspan’s name there. But his mix of maliciousness and delusion maybe somewhat different than I imagined before. He actually admitted his ideas on deregulation were BS and a completely unregulated financial market did not self-generate safeguards against crises like the Great Recession and associated financial crisis. So ever admitting that even one of his loony ideas was wrong has probably blackballed him from Trumpster or national GOP power circles. Greg Mankiw also supports.

    Found via Paul Krugman’s twitter.

    Four former Fed chairs call for US carbon tax
    Yellen, Bernanke, Greenspan and Volcker suggest using levy to pay cash rebates to Americans
    https://www.ft.com/content/e9fd0472-19de-11e9-9e64-d150b3105d21

  70. 70
    Comrade Colette Collaboratrice says:

    @🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka)  🗳🌷: 1. Yes. 2. Yes. 3. Reptiles have no limbic systems and feel no shame.

  71. 71

    @WaterGirl: Can’t think of anyone. I put a notice at the bottom of the posts (that’s what generates the notice in the comment list) so that people don’t read both and try to remember where they saw it.

  72. 72
    jl says:

    @MattF: No clicking since I fear it involves asparagus in some unsavory way.

  73. 73
    sigyn says:

    @Yutsano: That is literally what the lefse is used for, by some…
    I take brown sugar and butter on my lefse.

  74. 74
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @NotMax: YoYoDyne!

  75. 75
    The Moar You Know says:

    Huh. Was watching a Russian-government video on YouTube a few weeks back about their anti-missile system.

    That does not exist.

    What they do have, a capability I had not dreamed of, was the ability to turn out near-Hollywood-level production, decent writing, great English speaking, and CGI. Really wows the dumbshit Americans and presumably quite a few Russians. I have utter faith they might manage to stampede your typical Fox viewer into damn near anything.

    Like the last go-round, the new Cold War (hopefully cold!) will be fought with nothing but bullshit and mirages.

  76. 76
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @WaterGirl: @Cheryl Rofer: It’s useful for keeping track of when someone at another website, whether actual journalist or a blogger, cross posts stuff. It tends to be most commonly used in regard to Anderson’s stuff.

  77. 77
    🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka)  🗳🌷 says:

    @rikyrah:
    A Twitter user on that thread starkly revealed how much they hate those migrants for what they are. All the bullshit about “legally” coming here is just that; bullshit:

    Pounce
    Pounce
    @pounce_uk
    2h
    Replying to
    @guardian
    Just think if these people tried to enter the US legally there wouldn’t be an issue.

    🌊 Very Legal and Very Cool Cat🌊⚡⚡😪😭😣⚡⚡
    1h
    Presenting yourself at the border is a legal way to seek asylum both under US and international law. How cruel do you have to be to be okay with abusing children? #yourignoranceisshowing

    Pounce
    @pounce_uk
    1h
    Err the US isn’t abusing children, their parents are. So on that note, how many have you taken in

    They never admit when they’re flat out wrong. They just smoothly move on the next talking point. They blame the victims and then try to turn it around on you. Utter evil.

  78. 78
    Patricia Kayden says:

    @rikyrah: The entire GOP is made up of Russian assets. Hence their willingness to lift sanctions on Russian oligarchs and withdraw the U.S. from NATO. Putin must be pleased.

  79. 79
    Martin says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    What they do have, a capability I had not dreamed of, was the ability to turn out near-Hollywood-level production, decent writing, great English speaking, and CGI.

    Honestly, the average American 14 year old can do all of that for you.

  80. 80
    jl says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Some backup for my claim last night that if Trump continues as he has with the current shutdown, he will be committing impeachable offenses. Many of them. I know nothing we can do about it as long as a vile malfeasant like McConnell runs the Senate, but a good legal explanation of why increasingly serious habit of shutdowns is a very slow motion constitutional crisis.

    IANAL, but from what I have heard on the news, the executive decisions on what government functions continue, who can be forced to work for no pay and who cannot, seem to be increasingly capricious, lawless and arbitrary. The tweet stream linked below is a lawyer person who I think gives a good explanation of why my IANAL hunch was correct.

    @SamBerger, DC
    Trump’s Treasury Dept will be recalling 46,000 IRS workers to send out tax refunds. Here’s a longish thread about why that’s illegal and why you should care.
    Warning: this gets in the weeds, but hopefully will help explain the relevant law + context. /1
    https://twitter.com/SamBerger_DC/status/1085723354005262336

    Edit: found via Josh Marshall’s twitter. And, I guess technically, they are not really, if you look at historical impeachments, not really a crime until Congress tells him to stop and Trump doesn’t. But I think if had a good Congress, would be better to impeach convict and remove Trump, on principle that ignorance of the law is no excuse. Better than the alternative. Constitution is not a suicide pact principle comes into play.

  81. 81
    Robert Sneddon says:

    The only “super-weapon” that the Russians seem to be trying to actually build and deploy is the RS-28 Sarmat, a replacement for the ageing SS-18/R-36M silo-based strategic missile. The replacement program appears to be late and way over budget, even with a reduced deployment plan which should result in fewer missiles with a similar or only slightly improved launch capability over the existing missiles.

    The Russians have about 50 operational SS-18s left. How many of them are actually functional and would actually work properly if launched is debatable. In contrast the US has 450 smaller Minutemen IIIs in silos and a program to regularly test-fire them to ensure their reliability. I don’t know the last time the Russians test-fired an SS-18.

  82. 82
    jl says:

    @The Moar You Know: So, the real threat is their special effects production values threaten US dominance of film SciFi blockbusters? Damn. Maybe Trump should declare a national emergency? I sense a serious economic threat.

  83. 83
    Kayla Rudbek says:

    @jl: I seriously wonder whether the federal employees ordered back to work should file criminal charges under 31 USC 1350. Two years in the slammer per employee should get the IRS commissioner’s attention

  84. 84

    @rikyrah: I haven’t forgotten how many people kept giving Kelly a pass long after he came up with this loathsome idea.

  85. 85
    Litlebritdifrnt says:

    So the Shitgibbon just revealed Nancy Pelosi’s plans to visit the troops in Afghanistan to the world. The twat.

  86. 86
    The Dark Avenger says:

    @Trollhatten, the snow pack was 80% before these storms. We just got 0.6 inches last night in southeastern Tulare County.

  87. 87
    Barney says:

    Wot, no nuclear-powered ramjets? Next you’ll be telling us Thunderbirds is fictional.

    http://lester.demon.nl/superm/.....specs.html

  88. 88
    jl says:

    @Kayla Rudbek: But can they contact lawyers who can find standing and venue to file a criminal complaint and civil damages? Seems like we are entering serious tort-land territory. IANAL, so I don’t know how that would work.

    If federal employees can, I assume sooner or later some of them will try. The situation is getting ridiculous on who is and who is not deemed essential and who is and isn’t required to come in and work for no pay. And don’t many contractors have standing to sue for breach of contract?

    We are seeing evolution of a government of systematic permitted lawlessness by the powerful, a double standard. The lesser people are punished for the smallest legalistic infraction, the power can do as they wish to do, the weak suffer what they must suffer.
    So, OK, I gotta go look up some quotes from King Lear and that Thucydides guy.

  89. 89
    Mike in NC says:

    We really need to address this serious Cartoon Gap with the Russians.

  90. 90

    @The Moar You Know:

    Like the last go-round, the new Cold War (hopefully cold!) will be fought with nothing but bullshit and mirages.

    I have been thinking about this. I think there is a lot of truth to it. I’m not ready to write something up yet though.

  91. 91
    jl says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: Write a post on the Russians closing the Thunderbird gap! If Fox and Friends talks about it and Trump finds out, we’ll have another crisis with the Rooskies.

  92. 92
    Mary G says:

    Not going to link, because we have had way too much rain, and my hands are refusing to cooperate with me on the tablet, but WaPo has a new story that the Toddler-in-Chief has cancelled a previously unannounced trip to Afghanistan Nancy SMASH was going to do today. She is really getting under his skin.

  93. 93
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @jl: I read it this morning. He is correct.

  94. 94
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Mike in NC:

  95. 95
    trollhattan says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    Like the last go-round, the new Cold War (hopefully cold!) will be fought with nothing but bullshit and mirages.

    Our Bullshit and Mirage budget under Trump is yuge, and slated for a 70% bump next fiscal year.

  96. 96
    JR says:

    @…now I try to be amused: No way the English would have let the Russians keep their soldiers anywhere beyond the frontier with Prussia. The restoration was as much about keeping everyone else in line as it was about Napoleon.

  97. 97
    chris says:

    Penetration at all levels!

    Y’all better be watching your northern border! The Russian equivalent of Fox has revealed that Canada’s government is controlled by Ukrainian Nazis. WASF!

  98. 98
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @chris: The maple and stuffed cabbage peril?

  99. 99
    Kent says:

    I’m not a nuclear expert but I am a physics teacher so I know something about how nuclear reactors work. They are basically just giant boilers that heat up water into steam that is then used to drive turbines for propulsion or to produce electricity. So they require an enormous amount of water to function and are going to weigh an enormous amount due to all the required radiation shielding and fail-safe structures to prevent melt downs.

    That’s fine for large nuclear powered submarines and surface ships because they are sitting on an unlimited supply of water and can be enormously heavy due to the buoyancy of water. But cruise missiles? How is that going to work? Are they going to carry tons of lead shielding and tons of water? How is the propulsion actually going to work? Propellers? I just don’t get it. What advantage are you trying to gain over conventially fueled cruise missiles that are basically unmanned jet planes?

    As for nuclear tsunamis? That also seems rather Rube Goldberesque. If you want to destroy San Franciso, just drop the nuke on San Francisco. Why drop it 10 miles offshore and try to destroy the city with a tsunami?

  100. 100

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    On the other hand, we have been pouring money into ballistic missile defense since the 1980s, so the assumption that we will wake up to ineffective systems is shaky.

    It seems pretty clear to me that we gave up on effectiveness as a measure of our defense acquisitions some time ago. The main goal is to provide corporate welfare to the military-industrial complex. That’s how we get boondoggles like ballistic missile defense. Whether or not the function as weapons, they function great as an excuse to shovel money to politically connected defense contractors.

  101. 101
    polyorchnid octopunch says:

    @Roger Moore: Part of it is not just the raw amount of energy, but also the amplitude and wavelength of the waves generated by the initial energetic event. The tsunami generated by the Operation Crossroads test turned out to be high amplitude and short wavelength, which meant that it was still devastating when it hit the shores of the atoll but didn’t travel across the ocean like earthquake generated tsunami can. Low amplitude and long wavelength waves are the ones that can devastate hundreds to thousands of kilometers of shoreline.

  102. 102
    Gravenstone says:

    @rikyrah: The members of the Trump admin need to be tried for crimes against humanity. This report of the revised number of families and children impacted merely increase the number of counts to be charged.

  103. 103

    @jl:
    Would this be a reasonable cause for an unfair labor practice lawsuit? I know a lot of government employees are unionized, and it would be logical for the union to take the lead on a lawsuit.

  104. 104
    Mike in DC says:

    To the extent that anti-missile systems don’t work, it’s not because of flim-flammery by the defense contractors. It’s because BMD is really hard to do well. Even proven systems tend to shoot 2-4 missiles per incoming missile in order to have a realistic shot at successful interception.

  105. 105
    WaterGirl says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: Thanks, that’s helpful!

  106. 106
    WaterGirl says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt: Is twat the new spelling for treason?

  107. 107
    Cermet says:

    If one is serious about stopping a nuclear ICBM warhead attack using missile based interceptors – that is extremely easy to achieve – one just needs nukes on the interceptors to vaporize the incoming warheads in space – that way, all warheads, decoys and no amount of jamming matters. But what is then the point? If one does that (builds such a system) so do the Russians and then all the many thousands of ICBM’s are useless and guess what? The two super powers are no longer the sole super powers – any nation with a large army is also a real power with near equal power. That is why all this is such a ridiculous joke. Of course, cruise missiles are a serious threat, then but they have limited range and are not difficult for many countries to build once they have nukes. So, a dozen nations or more would be equal “super powers”.

  108. 108

    @Mike in DC:

    To the extent that anti-missile systems don’t work, it’s not because of flim-flammery by the defense contractors. It’s because BMD is really hard to do well.

    The flimflam is the regular claim that we’re close to having a working system and we just need a few years more to put it in the field. We’ve been just a few years away from a working system for most of my life. If that doesn’t qualify as flimflam, I don’t know what does.

  109. 109
    chris says:

    @Adam L Silverman: I spent some time in rural Saskatchewan back in the 70s. There were places where Ukrainian was still the first language. The church supper perogies were dangerously subversive.

  110. 110
    Repatriated says:

    @Kent: The US actually started work on nuclear-powered cruise missiles. They’re impractical, to say the least.

    The SLAM (Supersonic Low Altitude Missile) was to have been powered by a nuclear ramjet — basically, an unshielded reactor core used to heat and expand incoming air to produce thrust. As you might guess, the exhaust would have been radioactive. And as a bonus, you couldn’t recover them since without the airflow from flying at supersonic speed, the engine would promptly melt down. Bummer.

    They built and tested one of the engines before realizing it was an insane idea.

  111. 111
    ...now I try to be amused says:

    @JR:

    No way the English would have let the Russians keep their soldiers anywhere beyond the frontier with Prussia. The restoration was as much about keeping everyone else in line as it was about Napoleon.

    I failed to mention that the Russians didn’t stay in Paris for long, but as an achievement it sounds good.

  112. 112
    Mike in DC says:

    @Roger Moore: We have a good working system on our navy ships, at least regarding basic interception of simple IRBMs and possibly ICBMs ala North Korea. And a terminal phase defense against SRBMs and IRBMs. I’m not sure whether the Ground Based Midcourse system has been adequately tested, though. None of these systems really work against an attack involving dozens or hundreds of missiles with multiple warheads, decoys etc.
    But they might be able to intercept most of a small salvo of say 10 missiles, which is enough to keep a small nuke power in line.

  113. 113
    Robert Sneddon says:

    @Kent: Nuclear propulsion rockets, like any chemical rocket work by dumping the heat out the exhaust in the propellant mass which provides the thrust. There have been a few successful test-firings of nuclear rocket motors in the past, such as NERVA. Making them operational and deploying them is another matter.

  114. 114

    @Cermet:

    But what is then the point? If one does that (builds such a system) so do the Russians and then all the many thousands of ICBM’s are useless and guess what? The two super powers are no longer the sole super powers – any nation with a large army is also a real power with near equal power.

    I don’t think it would actually work this way. Ground based ABM systems have limited coverage, so one that protects the USA won’t necessarily protect our allies, and the Russians’ system is unlikely to be able to protect their allies. That means some third country with a big army but no nukes is still going to be vulnerable to any of the nuclear powers.

    If anything, ABM systems would help to solidify the position of the big nuclear powers. Right now, a minor nuclear power like North Korea remains a real threat to the US because even one nuclear bomb would kill enough of us for the losses to be unacceptable. But an ABM system that was anywhere close to capable of dealing with a full-scale exchange with Russia would be able to effectively negate an attack from someone like North Korea. That would negate a lot of the justification for wanting a small nuclear arsenal; it wouldn’t be a serious deterrent to an American or Russian attack.

  115. 115
    J R in WV says:

    @WaterGirl:

    @Cheryl Rofer: Thanks. I’m trying to think whether there’s anyone else who cross-posts anywhere else. Do you happen to know?

    TaMara and JeffryW both cross post to their recipe site / birds and puppies picture place.

    But I don’t recall seeing those comments in their pieces/threads. They must do it differently.

  116. 116
    Uncle Cosmo says:

    @Doug R: Most of the (mostly early) “surprises” the Soviets “sprung on us” had to do with the Big Fucking Rocket now known by its official designation of R-7 & nickname Semyorka – developed by Sergei Korolev’s design bureau. The Rooskies managed to do things in space with the R-7’s sheer throw-weight that the US at first couldn’t match – like launching a half-ton payload containing a dog (Sputnik II). The Americans concentrated on miniaturizing ICBM guidance & payload in order to use smaller rockets because they had real problems building bigger ones. It’s notable that after the two-man Gemini missions (flying on a Titan II ICBM) the US ended up designing & building completely new systems (Saturn I-V, Space Shmatte Shuttle) for more demanding space missions – whereas the current Soyuz launch vehicles are recognizably derivative developments of the R-7 which first flew over 60 years ago.

  117. 117
    Uncle Cosmo says:

    @Doug R: “Pretty good, but it could use a final Polish.” India vent anyone cares. :^p

  118. 118
    Mike G says:

    @catclub:

    Trump was visiting the Pentagon just today to push his variation on reagan’s boondoggle. Anybody think he will make it better?

    Better for defense contractors, which is the whole point, yes.

  119. 119
    Uncle Cosmo says:

    @Martin: “Nuclear [ballistic-missile] submarines are first strike weapons.” Um – no. No they aren’t, not really, not for the most part.

    As implemented by the US, Britain & France, they are quite specifically second-strike weapons.- designed to survive a first strike & be in position to retaliate & deliver unacceptable damage to the aggressor. Their status relies on the firepower – even a single Ohio-class “boomer” can launch a minimum of 160 nuclear warheads (8 MIRVs x 20 Trident IIs) – and the difficulty of locating & destroying them in the vastness of the ocean.

    Now it is possible to use SSBNs in a first strike in an attempt to decapitate the enemy’s command & control functions: simply creep up as close to the target as possible & let fly. I would guess a SLBM launched in a flat trajectory from 250-300 miles offshore could vaporize DC in under 5 minutes. But with C&C & weapons dispersed well inland as well as at sea, there’s no way to stop the second strike without finding & destroying all the opponent’s weapons, specifically including “boomers” – which is, if not impossible, at least waaaay too risky for any halfway sane national command authority to take a chance with.

  120. 120
    The Lodger says:

    @Uncle Cosmo: Lots of puns here, I’ll let ou all know when I tally them up.

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