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Subject: Pakistan's NOT AT ALL Pointless Cruise Missiles
gandalf    8/17/2005 4:43:36 AM
Come on! How can a strategic nuke delivery platform be pointless? If they can't make nukes capable of missile launch, cruise missiles are the next best thing. They should be easy to proliferate and cheap to test (relative to Theater Ballistic Missiles), making the job of improving accuracy and AD-penetration easier. Even if you only have a half-dozen nukes, your enemy must shoot down ALL OF THEM. Launch 2 dozen cruise missiles at various targets and stretch the enemy air defenses until they break! With programmable way-points, you should be able to saturate a target easily enough from several directions. Actually, and I'm not really sure, if you simply stagger arrival (say 20 min. apart), one cruise missile detonating short of the ultimate target (5-20km) should screw up the defenses so much that a followup missile (one the same heading) can make it through, assuming it can still find the target. The article rightly mentioned that UAVs and their guidance systems benefitted from earlier cruise missile work. Cruise missiles are a great place to start development and grow into other guided platforms (HARPOON, TOMAHAWK, UAV/UGVs).
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hybrid    RE:Pakistan's NOT AT ALL Pointless Cruise Missiles   8/17/2005 6:31:58 PM
I think they said 'pointless' because the Indian AF doesn't have as far as I know any effective defense against even the Pakistani ballistic missiles (mainly because of short flight time to key cities), and while I could be wrong its a somewhat moot point as it would result in a nuclear exchange anyway.
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gandalf    RE:Pakistan's NOT AT ALL Pointless Cruise Missiles   8/18/2005 2:52:20 AM
I get the part of MAD and all that, but look at the HTMW section on Strat Nukes. They say Pakistan is developing cruise missiles as an alternative to ballistic launched missiles bcs. the nuclear hardware isn't rugged enough to survive launch / re-entry. They assert it's pointless bcs. cruise missiles are too easy to detect and shoot down. They completely ignoring the fact that cruise missiles give a distributed, long range means of delivering all kinds of ordinance in a more flexible albeit slower manner than ballistic missiles.
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hybrid    RE:Pakistan's NOT AT ALL Pointless Cruise Missiles   8/19/2005 4:30:06 PM
"They completely ignoring the fact that cruise missiles give a distributed, long range means of delivering all kinds of ordinance in a more flexible albeit slower manner than ballistic missiles." All very true provided that the cruise missiles have the capabilities of changing vector and speeds as necessary, provided they have a relatively low RCS or are small enough to escape detection (which as far as I can tell the Babur doesn't) and provided you have enough data about the target that you can accurately hit it. Cruise missiles have been both a bane and a blessing to the people who operate them. They as you say provide another means of attack, but if you dont have the supporting infrastructure of how to target them, control them in flight (or have missiles that have modified capabilities to vary their flight paths) you end up leaving a huge vector that the missiles can come thru and be detected by ground based radar or by air based radar that is looking down. On top of all that cruise missiles rarely tend to exceed mach 2.5 to mach 3 in speed without sacrificing range. This makes it a lot easier to shoot down than a ballistic missile and that doesnt even count that most cruise missiles are designed to only be stealthy from the frontal aspect. The final point I think that should be made here is that the Babur has only had 1 test. PERIOD. In other words the best case scenario you can expect in missile testing is that this is a very close to exact replica of another missile design thats already been proven (you dont only do 1 test of a missile system and say its succeeded all your expectations). So in conclusion I can only say that unless Pakistan has the infrastructure to control and guide and target key installations or has done the missile testing a lot more secretly than we've heard then we got a lot of boasting about a missile system and not a lot of facts.
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hybrid    RE:Pakistan's NOT AT ALL Pointless Cruise Missiles   8/19/2005 5:26:01 PM
Oh one more thing I forgot...I could be wrong on this but as of last year neither India or Pakistan had been able to pursue miniaturization of their nukes enough to fit on ANY cruise missile (hence why the ballistics are lifting the warheads). Again I could be wrong in this regard and they may have pursued trit boosted fission heads that are miniaturized enough to fit on a cruise missile but I doubt it.
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gandalf    RE:Pakistan's NOT AT ALL Pointless Cruise Missiles   8/20/2005 12:04:13 AM
It'd be funny to think Pakistan could spend enough money to develop THE BOMB, and yet not spend any time or effort on the delivery system. The fact is they will constantly spend time and effort on both ruggedness, miniaturization, yield optimization and delivery method. As they reach the plateau where their bombs can fit in their cruise missiles, I'm sure they will mate the two, regardless whether they have any ballistic missiles armed with bombs or not. Besides, cruise missiles built on earlier drone / buzz bomb research. I'm not sure where you would draw the line between a pre-programmed, air-launched drone plane carrying a simple nuclear bomb and an ALCM - for instance. It may be pointless to use a cruise missile that's only been launched once - that I agree - whether it's nuclear armed or not. Developing any cruise missile technology is very practical. Well, I suppose developing airship-based cruise missiles is pointless, but that's another story. Hmmm, that does bring up one thing... Placed in a minisub and detonated just off a major port, even a simple nuke would make one hell of a splash, wouldn't it? Maybe even hard to find out who did it...
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hybrid    RE:Pakistan's NOT AT ALL Pointless Cruise Missiles   8/20/2005 4:36:36 AM
Well in terms of payload its easier to fit their current ballistics with nukes (since they can lift a ton or so) rather than a cruise missile like the Babur (which seems to be based off the DH-10 although some people are arguing its based off the Tomahawk because of looks). Miniaturization tech is a critical component of delivery systems for nukes, the smaller the head the longer you can throw it but the kind of tech base needed to do it is particularly extensive. From pics I've seen it looks like we're talking no more than 1000 kilos at best, although with the ranges they stated its probably closer to half that for a payload. At a thousand kilos you're able to carry some of the more bulky nukes out there. Of course what kind of guidance package you'd have with the fuel reqs from there would result in a pretty large missile. If I had to say anything it was this missile is currently a conventionally armed one that CAN be armed in the future with a nuke if they ever miniaturize said tech. As for the mini-sub idea, well I'll just refer to the old "Gigaton Mine" idea that floated around in the '60s. Namely these were huge sub/tankers filled with deuterium hydride around a nuke core, sub would go up to an enemy shoreline and detonate resulting in a several gigaton explosion. The resultant tidal waves alone woulda have destroyed a good chunk of countryside.
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