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Subject: Nuclear and Strategic Command & Communications
Roman    6/17/2007 7:01:16 PM
When talking about nuclear weapons, most of the focus tends to be on the warheads and the delivery systems, but there is surely a lot of other infrastructure and associated personnel involved. Nuclear & Strategic Command and Communications must be ensured in order for a nuclear force to function effectively. This command infrastructure, along with the personnel, also needs to be survivable. So, with this in mind, what infrastructure and personnel are needed to provide effective and survivable Nuclear and Strategic Command and Communications? How much would such Nuclear & Strategic Command & Communications system cost to develop, build and operate?
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Herald1234    Survivable.    6/17/2007 7:05:03 PM
After that you make it up as you go along.


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Herald1234    Addendum.   6/17/2007 7:18:56 PM
It would cost about a billion USD minimum and it would entail a 7500 N/cm^2 buried bunker complex that no one knows anything about, 300-1000 staff who know what the hell they are doing, three very powerful radios, also hidden, and at least three airborne command post aircraft, and at least three GSO satellites.

Herald  ..
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Roman       6/17/2007 7:20:52 PM
Well, it is all relative. In a full-scale nuclear war between major nuclear powers with maximum deterrent postures (essentially, the U.S.A. and Russia), they only need to survive long enough to order a counter-strike. In more limited scenarios, the survival feature can be more literal. Besides, being survivable also probably means being somewhat redundant and resistant to being taken out by other than nuclear means (e.g. precision guided munitions, etc.). There are many ways to consider survivability.
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french stratege       6/17/2007 7:55:28 PM
Other solutions are ground wave transmitters , HF radios and ULF radio which can be airborne or truck mounted.
A solution could be to have a ground nuclear explosion detector network in your country which allow local nuclear force commander to get the control automatically of their nukes and ability to use them (with local dual key control) if the country has been bombed and high command killed.
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Roman       6/17/2007 8:17:33 PM
So... the options are:
Dispersed trucks
Flying aircraft
What kind of redundancy is really needed, bearing in mind that one does not want to waste unnecessarily?
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french stratege       6/17/2007 8:19:41 PM
All advanced nations have more than 4 redundants systems.
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Roman       6/17/2007 8:43:12 PM
Uff, that must be expensive! I suppose it makes sense though. When one deals with nuclear issues, it pays to be safe.
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TrustButVerify       6/25/2007 11:20:39 AM

I agree that a survivable system needs at least three separate communications systems operating from three types of installation: HF radio, groundwave (VLF) radio, fixed line and/or satellite, each operating from airborne, road-mobile, and hardened fixed-site. The U.S. uses or has used four, of course, plus line-of-sight UHF such as ERCS.
To support the airborne portion, you need several squadrons of aircraft operating from multiple flightlines and capable of operating from dispersal areas to minimize vulnerability. You need to keep one (if not more) aircraft in the air at all times, or at the very least be able to do so in times of crisis.
This in turn might require aerial tankers. These, too, need to be able to operate dispersed.
One thing which is often overlooked, but is absolutely essential, is secure communications equipment. Hopefully you can established secure and unspoofable command-and-control measures without resorting to the complex bureaucracy which the DoD (and NATO) use for managing COMSEC and the related equipment, but don't count on it- you'll also need some sort of security clearance and background-checking process. Hopefully this can be borrowed from your state intelligence organs.

The good news is that a lot of this can be adopted from existing or COTS hardware. A fleet of medium cargo aircraft can do both tanker and command-post duty. Commercial comm satellites such as Iridium might be used for the SATCOM portion, and the radio systems wouldn't be very hard to establish either. Commercial encryption technology might (or then again, thanks to export controls, might not) suit your secure comm requirements, and any comm infrastructure contractors worth their salt can run hardened fiberop lines. Your big advantage here is that all of the brain-work was done years ago and is comparatively well-documented. I think the biggest headache would be establishing the bureaucracy to run all this stuff. Could you cut out the bureaucracy? That's a good one for discussion.
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Roman       6/25/2007 9:13:58 PM
To Trust but Verify:
Hmm, that is a good redundancy system with communications - I like it. I am sceptical, though, that it could be created with COTS equipment, due to the EMP effects that occur with nuclear explosions, which could render the communications equipment useless exactly at a point when it is needed the most.
As to cutting bureaucracy, that is always a problem. In this case, however, bureaucracy may also help in terms of providing personnel redundancy and in terms of central control of nukes.
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TrustButVerify       6/26/2007 4:53:30 PM

Hmm, that is a good redundancy system with communications - I like it. I am sceptical, though, that it could be created with COTS equipment, due to the EMP effects that occur with nuclear explosions, which could render the communications equipment useless exactly at a point when it is needed the most.

That depends, of course. You could use "hollow state" equipment, by which I mean 1960s-vintage radios which use tubes instead of transistors. It's feasible but decidedly low-tech. A better alternative is to shield your equipment, which means putting Faraday cages (metal boxes, that is) around everything and installing special filters on the antenna lines. It's done with US strategic communications systems, and I'm sure France, Britain, etc. do the same. You're right, though- it does limit your options to a certain extent. Some COTS gear will probably prove unadaptable.

I think another big problem, which isn't directly linked to the C3 systems, is coming up with Permissive Action Links to prevent your warheads from "yielding" without command permission. Apparently they're quite intricate- see here for instance.
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