Why doesn’t the United States have a mobile ICBM?

Recently, Russia held a large-scale nuclear command headquarters exercise called “Thunder-2019”. During the exercise, the Russian army launched more than a dozen cruise missiles and “Yars” intercontinental ballistic missiles. “Yars” is the latest member of the “Aspen” family, with a maximum range of more than 10,000 kilometers, and can carry at least three nuclear warheads of 150,000 to 250,000 tons. At the same time, ultra-heavy special off-road vehicles are used for transportation and launch, and can even be deployed on the railway system when necessary.

In addition to Russia, China’s strategic missiles also like to use road maneuvers, such as the Dongfeng 31B displayed during the parade this year. However, the U.S. military does not have a land mobile nuclear force. All land-based strategic ballistic missiles are deployed in fixed silos. The only Pershing II strategic ballistic missile that has actually been equipped has been reduced after the signing of the guided missile treaty. Why doesn’t the United States like building missile launchers? Have you not mastered the key technology or felt it unnecessary?

Many domestic scholars and commentators believe that the United States certainly has the technology to equip nuclear bomb express trains, but because its nuclear arsenal has an absolute quantitative advantage over China and Russia, it is not urgent to maneuver the missiles deployed on land. In contrast, missiles in fixed silos have the advantages of fast response speed, high accuracy, high power, and relatively low maintenance costs. The safety of fixed silos in nuclear wars can also be improved by strengthening the silos and arranging more false targets. This view makes some sense, but they clearly ignore the new interpretation of the fixed nuclear bomb silo put forward by the US strategic community-the “nuclear sponge theory”.

This theory suggests that the United States currently has hundreds of nuclear missiles deployed in Colorado, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Wyoming, and actually has two functions. First of all, due to the high precision and power of fixed-launched missiles, they can perform the first wave of strike missions, launch a nuclear attack on a certain country, and quickly paralyze the other’s strategic counterattack capabilities. Of course, a nuclear assault on a sovereign country is a bit too brutal, and the US strategic community believes that it is basically impossible to use it in actual wars.

In addition to nuclear raids, another major mission of these ICBMs is to act as a huge “nuclear sponge” to attract nuclear raids from other countries. According to this theory, because the opponent ’s nuclear power is limited, if a nuclear attack is launched on the United States, the first strike must be a nuclear missile silo. Only by quickly destroying these silos can we effectively weaken US nuclear power and gain an advantage in war. But if the majority of missiles are used to attack these silos, it will mean a lot less pressure on other military and political targets.

Because missile silos are mainly distributed in some mountains and Gobi Desert in the central United States, these places are relatively remote and not around major cities, so even if they encounter nuclear attacks from the other party, the casualties caused are relatively small. And because the United States has 14 strategic missile nuclear submarines and more than a hundred strategic bombers carrying nuclear bombs, even if all 500 or so silos are destroyed in the first round of strikes, the United States is still capable of launching nuclear retaliation.

During the Cold War, the Nuclear Sponge Project was once seen as crazy and dehumanizing, but you have to admit that it does have some truth. Although the United States now has fewer than 500 silos that are actually loaded with nuclear bombs, it has deployed more than 2,000 silos, including actual silos that have been loaded with bombs, empty wells that have not been loaded, and used to confuse the enemy Fake well.

At the same time, after the silo is reinforced, it can resist nuclear bombs that explode at a distance of 100 meters away. That is to say, unless it is almost directly hit, these fixed silos can still launch missile revenge. According to the most optimistic estimates that two rounds are guaranteed to destroy one silo, at least 4,000 intercontinental missiles are needed to completely destroy all land-based nuclear weapons in the United States.

Only Russia now has such a nuclear attack capability. However, even after destroying all the US nuclear-launched nuclear missiles, the United States Navy and Air Force still have enough power to bomb the attackers back to the Stone Age. At this time, the United States lost only a few slow-developing states and counties in the central region, and most of the major economic activity areas on the east and west coasts continued to exist.

Although the nuclear sponge does sound a little crazy, you have to admit that this is a helpless choice under nuclear war conditions. After the US government announced a new White Paper on Nuclear Posture Assessment last year, the White House announced that it would invest $ 100 billion in updating its nuclear arsenal, including updating land-based missile launch equipment and missiles. In short, this nuclear sponge will continue to play its role, waiting for someone else to strike.