** DUE THURSDAY OCTOBER 3 AT THE BEGINNING OF CLASS **
INSTRUCTIONSThis is a group assignment. You will work with the same
group as on the first assignment. All members of the group will receive the same
In this assignment, you will evaluate the strategic nuclear weapons
inventories of the US and Russia. This
information is available through the class website.
In addition to the inventory sheet, you will need to use
an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of the results of the strikes.
And you will need to calculate the kill probablities. There are 3 alternatives for this.
- The Java applet on this page (see below). Note: that there have been some security issues with Java so you may not want to use this.
- The computer program kp. However this program does not work on Macs or on Windows 64 bit machines.
- This Excel kp.xls spreadsheet.
Note also that if the name of the spreadsheet after the download is
If the spreadsheet appears in your browser, then save it as an Excel spreadsheet
(ending in .xls).
Eric Rechlin (a former student in the course) wrote the Java applet; thanks Eric!
The Kill Probability Java applet will appear below in a Java enabled browser.
To use it, enter the Yield of the missile's warhead. When you press the Enter
enter, you will jump you to the next field. When you press Enter in the
Hardness field, it will automatically calculate everything. If you click on Clear,
this will erase all of the information so you can do the calculations for the
next type of warhead.
using the computer program for this assignment .
QUESTIONS(50 points) This problem takes you through
a surprise first strike by each superpower on the other's ICBMs with the current
U.S. and Russian arsenals. For your calculations, assume:
Here is how to set up the attacks:
- The reliability of all ICBMs is .8
- The reliability of US SLBMs is .8
- The reliability of Russian SLBMs is .7
- All US silos are hardened to 2200 pounds
- All Russian silos are hardened to 5000 pounds
For a Russian attack on US silos:
- Each missile can be attacked by 2 and only 2 warheads. Thus, no
more than 900 Russian warheads may be used against the 450 US silos, and no
more than 300 US warheads may be used against the 150 Russian silos (note:
a number of Russian missiles are mobile; assume these missiles
cannot be targeted with current technology). If you have
more than the maximum number of warheads which may be used in an attack,
they cannot be used, period!
- Assume that the pair of warheads you will use will come from two different
missiles; therefore, the calculation from the kp program which is of interest
to you is Pk2, 2 launchers.
- Decide which warheads you want to use for the attack. Look over the kp
results for each type of warhead to help make this decision.
- Determine how many silos each type of warhead could attack. For example,
if you had 100 missiles with 4 warheads on each, you could attack 200 enemy
silos (100 x 4 = 400 total warheads; using 2 warheads on each silo lets you
attack 200 silos). Remember, you can only use one pair of warheads to attack
- Calculate how many enemy silos would be destroyed by each type of
attacking warhead. This is determined by multiplying the number of silos
attacked by the Pk2, 2 launchers figure you have calculated for a warhead.
For example, if you have 100 missiles, each with 4 warheads, and the Pk2,
2 launcher value for that type of missile is .45, then you would expect that
of the 200 silos attacked (100 x 4 = 400 total warheads; this is 200 pairs of
warheads and therefore 200 silos that can be attacked); the calculation is
200 warhead pairs x .45 kill probability = 90 silos destroyed.
It is important to recognize this would mean that you have missed 110
silos in this part of the attack. You cannot "re-attack" these missed silos
with other warheads.
- Calculate the total number of silos which would be destroyed by each
side's attack on the other.
- Calculate the total number of attacker's missiles which would remain after
- Looking at the figures described below, decide if each side is capable of
undertaking a successful first strike. You should determine the following
For a US attack on Russian silos:
- number of US ICBMs expected to survive.
- number of Russian ICBMs remaining after their first strike against the US.
- Using the spreadsheet, total US EMT surviving. Total the EMT of the
surviving ICBMs, plus the total EMT of surviving US SLBMs (assume 60 percent
of the SLBM force survives -- that the rest were destroyed in port), plus the
EMT of surviving bombers (assume that 20 percent of the US bomber force can
drop weapons on Russia -- this figure is derived as follows: 30 percent are on
alert, 85 percent of that force survives Russian barrage attacks, and 76
percent of that reaches its targets).
- number of Russian ICBMs expected to survive.
- number of US ICBMs remaining after their first strike against Russia.
- total EMT surviving. Total the EMT of the surviving Russian ICBM force,
plus total EMT of surviving Russian SLBMs (assume 20 percent of the SLBM force
survives -- that the rest were destroyed in port), plus the EMT of surviving
bombers (assume that 10 percent of the Russian force can drop weapons on the US).
Calculations 1 and 2 for each side have something to do with the
remaining ability of each side to hit additional silos, and calculation 3 has
something to do with the assured destruction capability remaining on each side
after a first strike. Note that about 400 EMT is considered sufficient to
destroy the urban area of the United States or of Russia.
In so far as nuclear forces are concerned, what do you consider
to be winning in a nuclear war? Pick a definition of winning that is based
either on counterforce capability (ability to hit hardened targets; the
post-attack ICBM balance) or countervalue capability (ability to hit targets of
value; the post-attack EMT of the target)? Would you judge either
attack a success by this standard?
Some hints on how to
do the assignment.
Here is a FAQ on the assignment.
The assignment is pledged. You may not consult class members outside
of your group. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
Richard J. Stoll
Professor of Political Science
stoll At rice DOT edu