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    Dead Hand - Soviet Doomsday Machine
    Dead hand the commonly accepted name for a system developed by the former Soviet Union to allow the country to retaliate against a nation aggressor should a nuclear strike destroy or incapacitate the Soviet leadership. Such a strike is known as a nuclear decapitation.|Read More|

    In nuclear strategy, second strike capability is a country's ability to respond to a nuclear attack with an equally devastating counter attack. To have such an ability is considered vital in nuclear deterrence, as otherwise the other side might be tempted to try to win a nuclear war in one massive first strike against the opponent's nuclear forces and command structure.

    Prior to the 1980s, most nuclear weapons were delivered by long-range bomber or ICBM. These early systems were considered too inaccurate and/or slow for a first strike. An opponent with effective radar and satellite surveillance could expect at least 30 minutes warning of an attack, making an effective first-strike impossible.

    The issue of a possible pre-emptive surprise attack became prominent with the development of highly accurate short-range missile systems in the 1980s. The following American weapons were considered by the Soviets as possible first strike weapon systems:
    • Pershing II IRBM - Single 50Kt warhead, 50m CEP* with a 7-minute flight-time, 1,800km range, designed to strike bunkers, air fields, and ICBM silos in Eastern Europe.
    • BGM-109G Cruise Missile - Single 10-200Kt warhead, range 2,500km, CEP 30m.
    • MX Missile (Peacekeeper) - 10 MIRVed 300Kt warheads, CEP 120m.
    • Trident II SLBM - Up to 14 100/475Kt warheads, CEP 90m.
    * CEP - circular error probable; the radius within which a weapon aimed at a given point will land with a 50% confidence; for example, a CEP of 150 m indicates that 50% of the time, the weapon will impact within 150 m of the target.

    The purpose of Dead Hand (AKA aka Perimetr) was to maintain a second strike capability, by ensuring that the destruction of the Soviet leadership would not prevent the Soviet military from releasing its weapons.

    How did it function?

    Perimetr was designed to lie semi-dormant until switched on by a high official in a crisis. It would then would then begin monitoring a network of seismic, radiation, and air pressure sensors for signs of nuclear explosions. If it detected a hit Soviet soil, the system would check to see if the communication links to the war room of the Soviet General Staff remained. If they did, the machine would assume officials were still living who could order the counterattack and itself shut down.

    But if the line to the General Staff went dead, then Perimeter would infer that apocalypse had arrived. It would immediately transfer launch authority to whoever was manning the system at that moment deep inside a protected bunkeróbypassing all normal layers of command authority. At that point, the ability to destroy the world would fall to whoever was on duty.

    Once initiated, the counterattack would be controlled by so-called command missiles. Hidden in hardened silos designed to withstand the massive blast and electromagnetic pulses of a nuclear explosion, these missiles would launch and then radio down coded orders to whatever Soviet weapons had survived the first strike. Soaring over the smouldering, radioactive ruins of the motherland, and with all ground communications destroyed, the command missiles would ensure the destruction of the US.

    The US did build versions of these technologies, deploying command missiles in what was called the Emergency Rocket Communications System. It also developed seismic and radiation sensors to monitor for nuclear tests or explosions the world over. But the US never combined it all into a system of zombie retaliation, fearing that accidents or a mistake could lead to Armageddon.

    It is not known for sure whether Russia continues to use the system, and it is possible that it is still in place.

    | More
    Posted on Thursday, March 18 @ 23:07:38 MDT by sonicbom
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