Russian Experts See Insufficient Attention To Countering PGS, Cite U.S. ‘Geophysical Vulnerabilities’
Moscow Nezavisimoye Voyennoye Obozreniye Online in Russian 17 Mar 17
[Article by Leonid Orlenko: “How To Protect Against Prompt Global Strike. The Invulnerability of Strategic Nuclear Forces
in a Surprise Nuclear Attack Must Be Guaranteed”]
About the author: Leonid Petrovich Orlenko is a professor at the N.E. Bauman MGTU [Moscow State Technical
The United States is preparing several ways to eliminate regimes in power that it deems to be undesirable, which
increases the likelihood of this problem being settled one way or another. Initially it uses “soft power” and “hybrid warfare,”
which is currently being waged against Russia. The “hybrid warfare” concept incorporates a package of different
measures (information warfare, sanctions, armed conflicts with neighbors, color revolutions, and such like), but if these do
not produce the requisite result then a Prompt Global Strike (PGS) is mounted against the country.
Currently, on the instruction of the US Congress, the Department of Defense and the intelligence agencies have to
answer the question: Are today’s armed forces capable of delivering a nuclear missile PGS against Russia and China with
a view to depriving them of their state sovereignty. If the armed forces are not currently able to accomplish this, then what
additionally needs to be done to pursue this objective without in the process receiving a retaliatory strike from Russia’s
Strategic Nuclear Forces (SNF). Colonel General Leonid Ivashov believes that Russia is not at present capable of
protecting itself against a Prompt Global Strike: “Somehow we are paying little attention to the fact that essentially
everything necessary for a prompt strike is already concentrated within the NATO structure… If we are exposed to ballistic
missiles, if we have no means of intercepting and even detecting cruise missiles, then we need to radically alter our
Let us examine what weapons systems the United States possesses for the delivery of a Prompt Global Strike against
Russia and whether it is possible to protect ourselves against it
For several years now the United States has been preparing an armaments system for use against Russia comprising a
missile defense (PRO) and a “Prompt Global Strike.” A fully constructed missile defense must encompass practically the
entire globe and protect US territory against any aerospace attack (missiles of any type, aircraft, UAVs, and so forth).
Under the PGS concept the target country is hit by a massive simultaneous strike by several thousand missiles delivered
against the strategic nuclear forces (SNF) and the command and control centers of the state and its armed forces. The
nuclear-armed missiles that are not destroyed in the PGS are to be brought down by the missile defense system.
Delivering a PGS against strategic nuclear forces makes sense if it is carried out, for example, by cruise missiles, which
are hardly visible to the target country’s radars; or if the missiles’ flight time is no more than 10-12 minutes, during which
period it is practically impossible to organize and carry out a retaliatory strike against US cities.
For the United States, sea-launched cruise missiles (SLCM) incorporating stealth technology are suitable for a Prompt
Global Strike. America’s armed forces possess in excess of 3,000 SLCMs, which are launched from submarines and
ships with conventional or nuclear warheads. With regard to the use of SLCMs for a Prompt Global Strike intended to
destroy Russia’s Strategic Nuclear Forces, our own specialists regard the use of these subsonic cruise missiles armed
with conventional warheads as being improbable for these purposes.
Aside from sea-launched cruise missiles, in a PGS the United States may utilize intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs)
launched from submarines off Russia’s northern shores. American ICBMs will reach Russia’s Strategic Nuclear Forces
(silo-housed and mobile land-based missile systems and others) in a matter of 10-15 minutes.
The US inventory currently contains 18 Ohio-class submarines, 14 of which are each capable of carrying 24 Trident II
intercontinental-range ballistic missiles (SLBMs) (four more Ohio-class submarines are armed with sea-launched cruise
missiles). Each D5-modification Trident II missile carries 14 100-kiloton nuclear warheads. Hence, a single Ohio-class
submarine is carrying 336 nuclear warheads. The Trident II D5’s circular error probable is 120 meters. The detonation of a
100-kiloton nuclear warhead will form a crater with a radius of approximately 90 meters in moderate-strength ground, and
in waterlogged ground — 150 meters. It is planned to use two nuclear warheads for the sure destruction of a silo. With the
surface burst of a 100-kiloton nuclear warhead the effective destruction radius for mobile land-based missile systems is
around 4 kilometers.
The United States has a total of around 800 ICBMs, Russia has around 500, no more than 400 of which are “land-based”
launchers (aircraft and submarines in their parking areas and bases, silo-housed and mobile land-based systems). Three
Ohio-class submarines armed with around 1,000 nuclear warheads, which can hit up to 90 percent of Russia’s Strategic
Nuclear Forces aboard submarines at their moorings, in launch silos, and on mobile land-based systems, would be
sufficient to disable Russia’s Strategic Nuclear Forces. Russia does not currently possess the antimissile defense
essential for the protection of ICBM launchers. The United States is not currently able to guarantee the destruction of 100
percent of Russia’s ICBMs in a Prompt Global Strike. For this it needs to have a completed and effective missile defense,
and on “D-Day” — to securely destroy the Russian submarines performing alert duty at sea.
Over the course of many decades the United States has been developing a system to hunt for Soviet (Russian) SLBMarmed
submarines performing alert duty in the world’s oceans, a system that comprises specialized ships, aircraft, and
acoustic buoys informationally integrated via the space-based GPS system. How reliable is this antisubmarine warfare
[ASW] system? On “D-Day” can this system reliably detect and destroy Russian submarines on alert duty simultaneously
and in coordination with a Prompt Global Strike against land-based targets? Russian specialist Konstantin Sivkov
assesses this problem thus: “Russia does not have effective ASW systems for monitoring the underwater environment,
particularly on the high seas, but the United States has the capability to track Russian submarines in the greater part of
the seas and oceans.”
GAME OF HIDE AND SEEK
The utilization of Trident II D5 missiles against targets in Russia inevitably entails the radioactive contamination of a large
area of Russian territory. The total yield of the nuclear weapons released by three Ohio-class submarines amounts to 100
megatons, which is comparable to the yield of the 58-megaton nuclear device detonated by the USSR above Novaya
Zemlya. It was only around 30 years later that human activity again became possible on Novaya Zemlya — the irradiated
Russian territory, that is to say, will be out of use for a period of several decades. These considerations will not inhibit the
United States from mounting a nuclear strike against Russia for the sake of achieving world domination.
In order to protect Russia’s ICBMs it is essential to exploit the main defect of all precision-guided missiles of whatever
type (cruise, ballistic, space-based, hypersonic, and so forth), which resides in the fact that for the target to be hit, the
target coordinates (static or dynamic) need to be known. Therefore the ICBMs need to be concealed from the adversary’s
reconnaissance efforts (satellites, aircraft, UAVs, saboteurs, and the like). It is possible for this purpose to make more
extensive use of SLBM-armed submarines, as the West does, but America’s ASW system operates on the high seas, and
it is therefore safer to deploy Russian submarines in offshore waters in the north and the east, securely protected against
weapons by the Northern and Pacific Fleets. Some ICBMs can be located in subterranean tunnels, as China does.
Deploying ICBMs disguised as freight trucks in railroad trains and also on motor transport is insufficiently reliable because
of the likely access to transport facilities by terrorists, saboteurs, and such like, and also because of the high probability of
HOW TO OPPP0SE THE HEGEMONIC POWER
The United States must first of all subdue Russia in order to assert its position as the hegemonic power on Earth.
Because Russia is the only country in the world capable of destroying the United States with a preemptive strike of its 500
ICBMs with their 1,500 nuclear warheads. This will be an act of guaranteed suicide, however, because Russia will be
unable to destroy the Trident II D5-armed submarines performing alert duty in the world’s oceans (no fewer than three to
four US submarines plus the strategic missile submarines of Britain and France), aboard which are more than 150
SLBMs. It is also difficult to destroy the Minuteman III missiles located in more than 400 underground silos protected by a
missile defense system.
The question arises: How to protect Russia against an aggressor such as the United States that spends 10 times more
than Russia does on preparations for war. US production is 60 percent fifth-wave technologies, and 6 percent sixth-wave.
In Russia, however, aside from a number of defense enterprises and the aerospace complex, production is
commensurate mainly with fourth-wave technologies.
The principal weak link in Russia lies in the application of the liberal-monetarist model of the economy, which has stymied
the country’s modernization and the accomplishment of a new industrialization. This model was introduced into Russia by
the United States in the 1990s with the aim of transforming the country into a raw material appendage of the West. With
the aid of this model the deindustrialization of Russia was carried out, and the country developed an “oil dependency.”
Russia’s existing financial and monetary system is under the control of the world (American) financial system, which
precludes Russia’s economic development and the strengthening of its defense. The leaders of the government’s
economic bloc have managed and continue to manage the economy with the aid of IMF recommendations. In conjunction
with sanctions they are essentially assisting Russia’s strategic adversaries to weaken the country’s defense and inhibit its
Currently under discussion is the new GPV-2025 [State Armaments Program], for the implementation of which the
Ministry of Defense has requested R24 trillion, but the Ministry of Finance has agreed to allocate only R12 trillion because
— in the Finance Ministry’s opinion — the country does not have the money for this. The program for the army’s
rearmament is threatened with disruption. But our country has the real capability to double or triple the size of the budget,
thereby not only enabling the Ministry of Defense to be allocated the requisite resources but also enabling spending on
other spheres of the economy to be increased substantially. To do this we must replace the existing model of economic
management with a planned market model of economic management that supports annual economic development of up
to 10 percent.
AMERICA’S ACHILLES’ HEEL
The United States has an Achilles’ heel — the geophysical vulnerability of its territory. This same issue was examined back
in USSR times. So, Academician Sakharov proposed mining the western and eastern seaboards of the United States with
anti-removal nuclear mines. If the United States attacks the USSR, a signal for the detonation of the mines is given and
waves hundreds of meters high are generated that obliterate cities on the west coast and the east coast. Similar nuclear
mining had already occurred when the United States laid nuclear mines along the border between Warsaw Pact countries
and the NATO bloc.
It should also be remembered that Yellowstone Park in the United States contains one of the largest volcanoes on the
planet (the volcano’s crater measures around 60 kilometers). The volcano has now begun to “come to life.” In the opinion
of specialists, if a nuclear device of sufficient power, which can be delivered by an ICBM, is detonated inside the crater,
the crater may explode. According to many specialists’ data, this will entail catastrophic consequences for the United
Both these possibilities (mining the seaboard and striking the volcano) were not utilized by the Soviet Union inasmuch as,
firstly, at that period the United States did not possess weapons systems such as missile defense and Prompt Global
Strike. Secondly, the USSR’s security was sufficiently ensured by the Strategic Nuclear Forces then in existence. Now
Russia is in a far worse position. In the contemporary situation, when Russia’s geopolitical adversaries possess an
enormous military, technological, economic, and demographic advantage, they are capable of building weaponry that can
destroy Russia’s SNF without running the risking of a retaliatory nuclear missile strike. As a result Russia would lose its
In order for this not to happen it is essential — as Col. Gen. Ivashov believes — to change Russia’s national military
strategy. And first and foremost we need to exploit the geophysical vulnerability of the Unitec States.
First, mining the oceans off the US coasts with several dozen nuclear mines. This prospect must deter the United States
from undertaking any type of attack on Russia (nuclear missile, from space, biological, and other).
Second, our inventory has to include several heavy missiles with high-yield nuclear devices capable of “crank starting” the
Yellowstone volcano. It is difficult to calculate the yield of these nuclear devices with the requisite accuracy, but obviously
the greater the yield of the device, the greater the probability of the volcano’s erupting. But this may be a 1-megaton
device or a 20-50-megaton device. In the event of a US attack on Russia these missiles will strike the crater of the
Yellowstone volcano, which will entail unacceptable damage to the United States. There are heavy missiles such as these
in the Russian army’s inventory. There is the Voyevoda and, in addition, we are designing the Sarmat missile. These
missiles must satisfy two conditions: they must be able to surmount a missile defense and be securely protected against a
Prompt Global Strike.
It is realistic to assume that in the foreseeable future the United States will be able to build effective missile and
antisubmarine defenses, which will enable it to eliminate 100 percent of Russian ICBM’s in a Prompt Global Strike. In this
event, Russia will find itself in a catastrophic position post-PGS: it will have zero ICBMs, while the United States has
around 700, and that country will present Russia with an ultimatum: total capitulation. If Russia is opposed to this, the
United States will begin methodically and with impunity to destroy various Russian targets, including cities, just like
Hiroshima. In the process, an army armed with new weapons (T-50 fighters, Armata tanks, and others) will be incapable
of protecting Russia. One possible means of protection against a Prompt Global Strike in this event lies in utilizing the
several in-service Voyevoda missiles armed with the 20-megaton nuclear warheads they were armed with in USSR times.
Russia has the solitary Moscow district protected by an antimissile defense, under which protection these missiles could
probably be deployed. The Sarmat missiles will be ready in a few years, they also need protection against a Prompt
Third, in the north and the east it is advisable to establish offshore sea areas protected by the Northern and Pacific Fleets
to accommodate missile-armed submarines that cannot be hit during a Prompt Global Strike, which for the United States
Mining the US seaboard and building heavy missiles and protecting them against a Prompt Global Strike require time and
resources. Right now the quickest and cheapest way to provide protection for several dozen SLBMs is to use the White
Sea as a protected sea area, with dimensions ranging from 100 to 250 kilometers, without bays, and having a depth of
between 70 and 300 meters (with visibility up to 50 meters), where two or three missile submarines can conceal
themselves. For this purpose the roughly 50-kilometer-wide strait leading from the Barents Sea into the White Sea needs
to be protected against enemy ships and submarines, and the airspace above the White Sea needs protection against
The protection of Russia’s Strategic Nuclear Forces against a surprise nuclear attack has to be the number one priority in
the program for rearming the nation’s armed forces, otherwise Russia may lose its state sovereignty. At the same time, we
need to take into account the fact that the United States is preparing not for a land war but a nuclear missile war with
Russia, which, for its part, is preparing for both land and nuclear wars. In this context, Russia is taking insufficient account
of the danger of the destruction of the forces and assets of the nation’s nuclear missile forces — missiles in their silos and
on mobile land-based launchers and so forth — in a Prompt Global Strike, in the wake of which the conventional forces will
prove useless for the protection of Russia.