Discussion: Russia knows more about nuclear weapons technology than the USA

Discussion in 'Formal debates' started by Hercules Rockefeller, Nov 18, 2010.

  1. Hercules Rockefeller Beatings will continue until morale improves. Moderator

    Topic: Russia knows more about nuclear weapons technology than the USA. (Debate thread here)

    Participants: chaos1956 for the affirmative, Dywyddyr for the negative. Only these participants may post in the Debate thread. Commentary and voting from anyone can be added to this discussion thread.
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2010
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  3. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    I'd be interested to know whether Dywyddyr believes Russia knows the same or less than Russia about nuclear weapons technology, although admittedly that distinction is irrelevant to the debate topic.

    chaos1956 doesn't seem to have demonstrated any superiority in Russian technology so far. But he still has two posts left!
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  5. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

    Oops. I'm not allowed to post here until it's over.

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  7. AlexG Like nailing Jello to a tree Valued Senior Member

    Chaos1956 seems to believe that his assertations and suppositions are sufficient.

    He's wrong.
  8. Hercules Rockefeller Beatings will continue until morale improves. Moderator

    This debate wasn’t really a formal competitive debate as I know them; it was more like a typical to-and-fro Sciforums argument. Formal debates as I know them start with opening statements that outline the position/argument, then move on to specific substantiation of the arguments and refutations of the opposing arguments, then conclude with a summation of the position, how it has addressed the topic and why it has successfully won the debate.

    So, it’s hard to adjudicate this ‘debate’ as you would for a formal debate.

    But from my point of view it’s pretty easy to award the debate to Dywyddyr for the negative. Competitive debating is all about arguing the topic that is presented to you and persuading and convincing people that you are correct, irrespective of whether you are actually accurate. Dywyddyr did this quite well, whereas chaos1956 isn’t very good at it. (No offence intended, just calling it as I see it.

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    Chaos1956 continually used phrases that devalued his authority in the eyes of the spectator, such as:

    A good debater is never anything other than 100% sure and confident in the position they argue, even if that’s not the case in reality.

    But then chaos1956 committed the worst debating mistake possible:

    He admitted defeat! Gaaahhh! You might as well not have turned up.

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    Thanks for the effort guys, it was entertaining.

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    Last edited: Nov 19, 2010
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  9. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

    NOW I can reply to James' post:
    I think I can state quite categorically that Russia knows exactly as much as Russia on just about everything.

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    But if you mean Russia/ USA then I'd be forced to admit that, overall, it's a swings and roundabouts thing.
    Russian (Soviet) physicists got quite a bit of respect, even during the Cold War, from their Western counterparts: as far as weapons are concerned Russian ones tend to be less accurate but are cheaper, American ones are "better engineered" but Russian ones are more, er, user-friendly (in that they are designed to used by less-specialised troops - a consequence of Soviet recruiting).
    When I did this sort of stuff for my government* it was generally accepted that Soviet weapons, although "crude" were as good as they needed to be. And no more. The US (and many Western countries) tend to be revolutionary in their weapon designs, while the USSR/ Russia is evolutionary - in general they squeeze the last drop of utility out of a system before incrementally improving it.

    * This is one reason I've been a bit lary of what I wrote. It's easier to take a negative position and not say anything that could send me to jail than it is to to take a pro- position.

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  10. MacGyver1968 Fixin' Shit that Ain't Broke Valued Senior Member

    It made me wonder what the point of this debate was. Even if one side has an advantage over the other in nuclear weapon technology...the difference would only be slight...and it doesn't really make much difference in the whole scheme of things. It's kinda like debating whether it's better to get shot in the face with a Beretta shotgun vs. a Remington....the outcome is the same...no face! It seems to me, delivery systems would be far more important that the weapon itself.

    Plus..the US and Russia really aren't saber-rattling each other. Any nuclear threat in today's world would come from N. Korea or Iran. Why not debate their weapon capabilities?
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2010
  11. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

    Me too!
    But apparently (according to Chaos1956) I started it... :shrug:
  12. chaos1956 Banned Banned

    Yes I lost the battle. Good debate at any case. It was only my first one ever formally. I think I did alright against such a brilliant mind. Hopefully I can only improve from here. I'm hoping this will give us a chance to start over. Still could you try to stop reminding me of my ex? It's all a debate to her which could explain why I had the false belief in you starting whatever this was.
  13. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Sadly, chaos1956 has been permanently banned, as it turns out he was the sock puppet of another user, M00se1989, seeking to avoid a temporary ban.

    Further use of sock puppets by that user will result in a permanent ban of ALL of his accounts. As it stands, M00se1989 has 2 days left on his temporary ban.


    As to the debate, I agree with Hercules. It was not like any of the other formal debates that have taken place in this subforum, or like any formal debate I've witnessed in the past.

    Nevertheless, it did conform to the rules of this subforum and is perfectly valid as a debate, even though it was of generally low quality.
  14. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

    I realize I'm late to the party here, but what possible point is there in holding a public debate here on the subject of how highly-classified knowledge in one country compares to another? By definition, none of the participants can actually know what they're talking about, nor anyone else in a position to evaluate it here. So it seems like a recipe for a pissing contest and nothing more.

    Even debates about actual nuclear weapons capabilities (rather than "knowledge") are guaranteed to be stilted in this way. I'd say that there should be some blanket proviso in the formal debates rules that there be reasonable grounds to assume that the subject matter of a debate is actually knowable to the participants. Otherwise there's no prospect of substantiating any of the claims, and then what's the point?
  15. M00se1989 Banned Banned

    It was more like a forced distraction if you follow the technique of the debate properly.
  16. leopold Valued Senior Member

    true . . . for current technology.
    but if we take the past as a yardstick then i would have to say that russia does indeed surpass the US in weapons grade material.
    russia not only developed the hydrogen bomb before the US but she also developed the means of delivering them to the US on ICBMs, which america totally lacked at the time.
  17. Syzygys As a mother, I am telling you Valued Senior Member

    That's what I thought. Completely meaningless topic...
  18. Mircea Registered Member

    Me too.

    That isn't entirely true.

    Dywyddyr could have won the debate with a single word: "Cray"

    The US had Cray supercomputers, and Russia did not, until Clinton gave them two Cray Super IIs.

    Without a Cray, there is no way to build a cruise missile, so the US had cruise missiles, while the Russians did/do not.

    The Cray performs billions of calculations per second, and that is what allows the US to do modeling and "testing" of nuclear warheads without actually having to conduct underground or above ground tests.

    Also the goals of the two countries were different. The Russians concentrated on "Bang-for-Buck" and the US on "Bang-at-precisely-Point A."


    ...is a bizarre statement. Chaos1956 seems to have conflated devices, but then his knowledge is superficial.

    Both Russia and the US had man-portable nuclear devices. These are devices that one person could carry in a back-pack and easily conceal. They consist of two classes: Artillery Fired Atomic Projectiles (AFAPs) and Atomic Demolition Munitions (ADMs).

    The US had a uranium-based double-gun device for use with 203mm/8" artillery. It weighed about 60-odd pounds (about 75 pounds if it was in its container -- a wooden ammunition crate). We called them RAPs (Rocket-Assisted Projectiles). You mate the warhead to the rocket, load it into the breech, place a special propellant charge, then jump into your fox-hole and fire it using an electric lanyard. The special propellant charge kicks the RAP out of the tube and when it has cleared the rocket motor ignites and carries the warhead to target about 37 miles down range maximum.

    Unfortunately, the RAP tears up the rifling in the gun tube, so you have to place PBX on the gun and destroy it after you fire the RAP. Sometimes it trashed the hydraulics too, and that makes the gun useless as well (when it recoiled the hydraulic breaking system would fail and the gun would flip over backward on the crew).

    The Russians never had anything that big artillery-wise. They did have a 152mm RAP, that was equivalent to the US 155mm/6" RAP. The US RAP was a plutonium-based linear implosion device. The Russian version was a plutonium rod-design.

    The rocket designs on the 152mm/155mm were different, and that allowed the guns fire multiple RAP rounds as well as continue with a conventional firing mission after firing a RAP round.

    The reason the Russians did not have anything larger than 152mm is not because they didn't know how to design one, rather it is because Russian heavy artillery units have a different mission and are employed differently than US heavy artillery units.

    If you read Atomic Audit by the incompetent Steven Schwartz, he disingenuously includes the 155mm RAPs even though the rocket motors were also used with the COBRA system, which was a method of laser guiding the 155mm rounds to target. The point being that if the US never had nuclear weapons, it would still have 155mm/6" RAPs.

    Pukipedia really isn't a valid source of information. It was a little over 52 pounds and it was 9-1/2" by 13."

    That was a plutonium-based spherical implosion multi-yield device. You could double the yield by using a U235 sleeve. The ADM Platoons in engineer battalions at Theater/Army level (echelons above corps) had those (sleeves), but the ADM Platoons at division and corps level did not. At one time the US had 229 of those in Germany (and some more in Italy) before they were secretly withdrawn and shipped to Pantex.

    Those are two different types of warheads. One is fission-fusion, the other is fission only, and the yields were vastly different, so of course they'd be different sizes.

    The warheads for the Lance and Pershing II (but not the Pershing) were the size of small refrigerators (but then they were fission-fusion variable-yield).

    Clinton gave the "football" to the Chinese. That's common knowledge (the "football" is a euphemism for linear implosion -- which is what allows miniaturization). There's even an entire book devoted to that and the transfer of satellite technology to the Chinese (via the Hughes Corporation) by a very well respected investigative journalist who's name escapes me at the moment.

    Also you can read the Congressional Record, since the Republicans weren't very thrilled when they discovered what Clinton did.

    That much is true. The "football" is used with a pressurized deuterium or deuterium-tritium chamber. That's why they are variable yield warheads or if you want to use the media's term: "dial-a-yield."

    The yield is 0.3 kt to 100 kt. The first 12 kt are fission only. That is achieved by venting the gas and manipulating the PBX to get yields from 0.3 kt to 12 kt (thanks to the Cray Super II). The remaining 88 kt is fusion and that is achieved by limiting the amount of gas that is vented. If you don't bleed off any of the deuterium, then the yield is 100 kt, with 12 kt by fission and 88 kt by fusion. When you do fallout predication, you only consider the 12 kt because Helium is not radioactive.

    That is how the warheads for the Lance (the variable yield version used by the US -- not the 10 kt or 20 kt versions used by NATO), Pershing II (but not Pershing) and certain cruise missile warheads. Strategic warheads used in Minuteman, Trident, B63, etc are fixed yield.

    That design was also used in the 1 kt and 10 kt ERWs (aka "neutron bomb"). The Russians still have about 3,000+ ERWs, mostly 5 kt to 10 kt missile warheads, but I don't know what design they use.

    Well, the argument is that better technology leads to fewer nuclear weapons.

    About 10% of all strategic missiles (ICBMs/SLBMs) will fail at some point. That could be the silo doors don't open, the silo doors open only partially, the engine fails to ignite, the engine or 2nd stage booster blows up in the silo, the rocket does not achieve lift and falls over after leaving the silo, the engine/booster blows up before going sub-orbital, the engine fails to separate, the booster fails to separate, the MIRV bus doesn't open its doors, the MIRV platform fails, the MIRV doesn't launch, the MIRV doesn't launch on target, the warhead fails to detonate.

    Aside from that, you need large yield warheads and a lot of them if they aren't accurate (a large CEP). As your accuracy improves, you can use smaller yield warheads, and fewer of them. I mean the goal (for strategic forces) is to generate over-pressure at X-psi to crush the silo doors so the enemy cannot retaliate with its strategic forces, or to flatten the industrial capacity of particular city.

    Okay so, some US MIRV buses have 6-9 warheads (usually 6 plus 3 decoys), but then those are 100 kt warheads. Others have 4-5 warheads (usually 4 plus one decoy) and those are 400-450 kt warheads. So what? They Russians have MARVs (those are re-entry vehicles that maneuver ostensibly to dodge anti-missile systems) and then the Russians have mobile ICBM forces while the US does not.

    Obviously, both countries have different philosophies and doctrines with respect to organizing, deploying and using their strategic and tactical nuclear forces. If you go back and look at the US Pershing II and the Russian SS-20, the Pershing II was a variable-yield MARV with a radar section attached to it, but the SS-20 was an MRV (and that is MRV and not MIRV).

    They were both IRBMs, but they had different functions. The Pershing II was designed to destroy point targets, like headquarters or communication centers (thus they need for a radar section and independent maneuvering to achieve high accuracy and a variable-yield warhead to achieve the desired level of destruction), while the SS-20 was basically a nuclear shot-gun designed to destroy open area targets, like airfields and ports. It flew over head, dumped out all three of its 60 kt warheads and that was the end of it.

    That would be wrong, since the US tested it's first fission fusion device in 1952 (Ivy Mike) and the Russians did their first in 1953.

    Russian nuclear weapons were handled by professional soldiers, not draftees.

    Just like the Russians, the US put the dumbest troops in infantry, and the not quite as dumb in artillery. The only difference between the Pershing II and SS-20 firing systems is the Pershing II had a small fiber optic cable running from the launcher to the command post, and the SS-20 had big thick heavy copper cable.

    A truck is a truck. How smart do you have to drive a truck, park it, and pull a lever to erect the missile?
  19. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

  20. Mircea Registered Member

    What do you mean "why not?" Without a Cray, you can't do the billions of calculations per second that are needed for design.

    That's why the Russians never had cruise missiles. You have to understand the media doesn't know what they're talking about, so they often conflate things. Cruise missile and a non-ballistic missile are not the same thing (even though a cruise missile is a non-ballistic missile).

    A ballistic missile goes "up" and then it comes "down." A non-ballistic missile flies a level path.

    The US developed non-ballistic missiles in the 1950s. Some people might remember the Thor.

    The Russians had non-ballistic missiles too. If you notice, the were deployed on Kiev and Kirov Class cruisers, with certain subs (Juliets, Oscars, Echos, Victors and Charlies) and certain select Bear and Backfire bomber groups who were assigned a specific mission, namely shipping interdiction.

    The common denominator here is water. Lots of it. Specifically ocean-water. What the Russians had was a very non-ballistic anti-ship missile, but it was not a cruise missile.

    The Russians had no land-based non-ballistic missiles. Some of the anti-ship missiles were adapted for use as anti-runway missiles and those were launched from bombers, but to suggest they were cruise missiles would be absurd since they had a cruising altitude of 30,000 feet (and then dropped onto the target area).

    The US had air, sea and ground launched cruise missiles, missiles that flew "nap-of-the-earth." The air and sea launched cruise missiles are of two varieties, terminal guidance (flies from Point A to Point B) and telemetry guidance (can be told in-flight to abandon the primary target and seek one or more alternate targets). The short-lived ground-launched cruise missiles which were never fully deployed were telemetry guidance only.

    Cruise missiles operate by comparing internally stored digital maps of the earth with digital maps the missile "sees" using its forward-looking and downward looking radars. That's how it knows that in 12.2 seconds it needs to reach an altitude of 450 feet in order to safely clear the top of a small hillock, before returning to normal cruise altitude of 75 to 120 feet.

    That's why you need the Cray, so you can plan and design the missile so it reads the digital maps, compares them, and makes adjustments with its maneuvering thrusters in-flight.

    The Russians never had anything even remotely close to a cruise missile, although they probably do now since Clinton gave them two Cray Super IIs.

    Gosh, aren't you the bright one. The issue was AFAPs, not conventional artillery. The US had 105mm and 175mm guns too, but they didn't have nuclear rounds for them. However, I suppose Pukipedia and the Federation of Arsehole Scientists in their infinite wisdom would claim that the 105mm and 175mm US guns were "capable of firing conventional, chemical and nuclear rounds."

    The US did have chemical warheads, but only for the 203mm/8" guns, and not any other.

    Anyway, I going to assume you were with me evaluating Soviet field storage sites during Druzba '86, but I just don't remember you, so you should know which of Soviet artillery guns had nuclear rounds and which ones didn't.
  21. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

    What arrant nonsense.

    No? Really?
    Thor was ballistic.

    Apparently not just the media.

    Ah I see. You have your own private definition of what constitutes a "cruise missile". One not shared by any military in the world.

    Hmm, I wonder what the Brits used for TSR2 (an manned aircraft however) that could fly its mission (except for take-off and landing) at ~200ft and Mach 1.2 with no crew input whatsoever...
    We Brits didn't have Crays in the late '50s and '60s.

    Check again: all of those had nuclear rounds, that's why I listed them.
  22. universaldistress Extravagantly Introverted ... Valued Senior Member

    If by building god knows how many more bombs than anyone else means you know more then yes.

    If dropping them on people and frying them to death means you know more then the americans win.

    If it is the ability to drop a bomb on a target without the target knowing then its the americans.

    If you mean who has got the longest range ICBM then I haven't got that info.

    If you mean yield it is more about who wants to make a stonker of a bomb the most.

    If you are talking about who can get the biggest explosion from a specific weight of material then that is highly secretive as the figures can be falsified.

    I rest my case
  23. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

    Actually "stonker" was never one of terms we used when I was (peripherally) involved in that sort of thing.
    Is it a new technical word?

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