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Belesarius

Sucessful USN BMD launch carried out in the Atlantic.

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Stuff like this really worries me, because once you have the rough capability to conduct BMD you leave the post-nuclear age of MAD.

 

Being able to contemplate getting away with a first strike, due to having the capability to plausible block retaliatory launches, has all sorts of follow-on consequences that I don't think anyone is prepared for.

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I don't think conventional ABMs like this are too destabilizing, since they're mostly useful against very small numbers of missiles, as would be launched by the DPRK or some such. The amount of interceptors you need doesn't scale one to one with the number of inbound missiles, as more sophisticated states like Russia can use decoys to drive up the number of missiles needed to ensure a warhead kill.

You can get around this somewhat by doing terminal intercept (which limits that geographic coverage of each launch platform), or chucking nukes at the inbounds. Which has its own issues.

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Stuff like this really worries me, because once you have the rough capability to conduct BMD you leave the post-nuclear age of MAD.

 

Being able to contemplate getting away with a first strike, due to having the capability to plausible block retaliatory launches, has all sorts of follow-on consequences that I don't think anyone is prepared for.

 

If the existence of ABM in itself immediately meant MAD is a no-go, and therefore nuclear deterrence falls apart, the British nuclear deterrent hasn't existed in decades.

 

 

I don't think conventional ABMs like this are too destabilizing, since they're mostly useful against very small numbers of missiles, as would be launched by the DPRK or some such. The amount of interceptors you need doesn't scale one to one with the number of inbound missiles, as more sophisticated states like Russia can use decoys to drive up the number of missiles needed to ensure a warhead kill.

You can get around this somewhat by doing terminal intercept (which limits that geographic coverage of each launch platform), or chucking nukes at the inbounds. Which has its own issues.

 

Yep. Getting the vast majority of a small number of inbounds is quite doable, and is probably a good thing in that it increases the barrier for entry to the credible nuclear deterrent owners club, or at least stratifies things in a way that the states with little to lose are a lot less likely to hit those with a lot. Getting all of a great many inbounds no matter where they are targeted is ludicrously expensive.

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I don't think conventional ABMs like this are too destabilizing, since they're mostly useful against very small numbers of missiles, as would be launched by the DPRK or some such. The amount of interceptors you need doesn't scale one to one with the number of inbound missiles, as more sophisticated states like Russia can use decoys to drive up the number of missiles needed to ensure a warhead kill.

You can get around this somewhat by doing terminal intercept (which limits that geographic coverage of each launch platform), or chucking nukes at the inbounds. Which has its own issues.

It doesn't matter so much that it actually works. Rather it's that the actors on both sides think it might. As these things get more capable and relatively cheaper to implement, we'll move closer and closer to the point where someone can do the maths and plausibly imagine winning a small nuclear engagement.

This is simply another step to that point.

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It doesn't matter so much that it actually works. Rather it's that the actors on both sides think it might. As these things get more capable and relatively cheaper to implement, we'll move closer and closer to the point where someone can do the maths and plausibly imagine winning a small nuclear engagement.

This is simply another step to that point.

 

Is winning a nuclear engagement really the goal, or does it take winning and coming out unscathed the goal? Those are two radically different criteria. We could win a nuclear engagement with the DPRK at a whim, but it's not going to happen because the costs are too high. If a country can end another country utterly, but would in all likelihood end up with a blasted and lightly irradiated wasteland where the center of one of their more important cities had been, I'd contend that only a few nuclear powers would even consider it, and they're at the bottom of the list of candidates for being able to pull off a serious counterforce strike and then deal with any stragglers.

 

Personally I'd like to see a stratification of nuclear powers such that baby's first nuclear device isn't a credible deterrent and as major a threat as it is, especially considering the many ways proliferation in the middle east could get severely nasty in the near future (including the US starting something unnecessary and ugly to try and stop it). My main worry is what becomes of the european deterrents in that case, but I don't think that's as likely a cause of problems.

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