|The Superfuze is undermining strategic stability||March 17, 2017|
|Hans M. Kristensen, Matthew McKinzie, Theodore A. Postol||The Bulletin|
|The deployment of the new MC4700 arming, fuzing,
and firing system on the W76-1/Mk4A significantly increases the
number of hard target kill-capable warheads on US ballistic missile
This vast increase in US nuclear targeting capability, whichs has largely been concealed from the general public, has serious implications for strategic stability and perceptions of US nuclear strategy and intentions.
The significant increase in the ability of the W76-1/Mk4A warhead to destroy hardened targets-including Russian silo-based ICBMs-derives from a simple physical fact: Explosions that occur near and above the ground over a target can be lethal to it. This above-target area is known as a "lethal volume"; the detonation of a warhead of appropriate yield in this volume will result in the destruction of the target.
FIGURE 2. Missiles with fixed height-of-burst fuzes can overshoot or undershoot the "lethal volume" (shown here by a gray, dome-shaped line), limiting their ability to destroy hardened targets.
Sensors add to accuracy and power of U.S. nuclear weapons but may create new security perils
A development flight test for the W88 Alt 370. Although the Defense Department has publicly described the new components as a routine engineering improvement to the W88 series of warheads, those familiar with the process say it will make the warheads significantly more damaging than previous weapons.
A development flight test for the W88 Alt 370. Although the Defense Department has publicly described the new components as a routine engineering improvement to the W88 series of warheads, those familiar with the process say it will make the warheads significantly more damaging than previous weapons. (National Nuclear Security Administration)
A sophisticated electronic sensor buried in hardened metal shells at the tip of a growing number of America’s ballistic missiles reflects a significant achievement in weapons engineering that experts say could help pave the way for reductions in the size of the country’s nuclear arsenal but also might create new security perils.
By R. Jeffrey Smith | Center for Public Integrity
During the W76-1 LEP, the warhead was fitted with a new MC4700 arming, fuzing and firing (AF&F) system. The MC4700 AF&F system increases warhead kill probabilities against hard targets such as silos and bunkers. It achieves this by first calculating the range to the target outside of the atmosphere (i.e. before the atmosphere can alter the warhead's trajectory) and then continuously calculates its position on a line based on acceleration. If the contact fuze is actuated (such as falling short or striking on target) the warhead detonates, but if the fuze calculates it has overshot the target it detonates the warhead before it can leave the kill radius of the target (the kill radius is a sphere, not a circle). In comparison, a warhead without such a smart fuze would when overshooting a target, continue flying, leaving kill radius where detonating would destroy the target, and impact the ground which would actuate the impact fuze and detonate the warhead, outside the kill radius.
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