Tactical Nukes

| July 10, 2019


The Pentagon is really going retro now.  The artwork at the head of the article is so 1950s comics. And this article tells us that the Five Sided Chinese checkers building is considering reviving an old proposed weapons system.


From the article: The first sign of a 21st Century nuclear war might be command post sensors lighting up and aircraft radios buzzing as pilots notice a strange-looking cloud forming. Heat rises as ground troops a few dozen miles away feel the winds shift.

Satellite communications are out. So are some ground links.

U.S. and allied command posts can’t reach brigades in the field.

Forward deployed troops would see the intelligence finally come streaming in, followed by orders from the Combatant Command — strike back, use our tactical nukes if you must. And by the way, some unlucky troops will need to roll into that area to assess the damage, counterattack and aid any survivors.

The world has not seen a nuclear strike in combat since 1945. But a nuclear attack from an enemy — and potential U.S. counter strike — is a scenario that’s drawing renewed attention from the Defense Department as the military prepares for the grim prospect of full-scale combat operations involving nuclear weapons. – Article

Shrimp cocktail

My idea of a tactical nuke is when you guys show up at my door, complaining that you ate too many oysters or shrimp and you’re about to explode from within.

Aren’t the nuke subs supposed to take care of this problem? Or is this an effort to revive something from the Cold War, the idea that we could just launch those nuke missiles from gun emplacements and wait a few minutes?  I realize that this proposal is aimed at getting commanders to think about and plan how operations will be impacted should an opponent use nuclear ­weapons, in all service branches. I am also quite aware that the Norks under Fatty Kim da T’ird have nuclear capability which can be weaponized and delivered, which they have in the past threatened to use. Pakistan and India have nuclear missiles aimed at each other, so no, I don’t take this lightly.

If it’s being brought to public attention, even at a modest level, there’s plenty going on that is not in the public eye.

Category: "Your Tax Dollars At Work", Nukes

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having worked with the Lance Missile system in the 1980’s and with the Russians restarting their tactical nuke we would be foolish not to We have the MLRS we would have to re-activate the ATACMS program with a Nuke warhead The would increase as the nuke is lighter than a conventional warhead

cc senor

Maybe they’ll go through a “Davy Crockett” phase. Not exactly a user friendly weapon.



Only safe to use (for the firer) on its lowest yield.


Pretty far if they are only enriching uranium up to 5%. IIRC they need to be in the ~70% U-235 range before the material is usable as a weapon.

What would be of more interest to me is whether they are reprocessing plutonium. Unlike uranium which has to be enriched, Plutonium is weapon-capable “as is.” However, P-238 doesn’t exist on earth and has to be made in a reactor.


Uranium weapons are interesting because they lack some of Plutonium’s bad characteristics, such as pre-detonation and some phase/density considerations.

You can make a simple “gun” bomb from Uranium. A Plutonium version will have … problems.

Also, if you are willing to accept the weight penalty, you can use far less than 100% U235. I think there is design-work down to as little as 10%. The thing is hugely heavier than needed, but will go super-critical in a satisfyingly noisy way. You could move it by ship or large truck. Crude, but it is a nuke.

South Africa, under the prior regime, had working low-enriched Uranium “gun” weapons, air dropable, and a well-developed rocket program.

They had the willingness, the time, and the money.

And some dipshit gave the maniac-mullahs of Iran a crap-ton of free money.


I thought this was going to be discussing Swalwell’s plan to use nukes against US citizens who refuse to submit their “assault rifles” to a “buyback”.

A Proud Infidel®™

As well as torn out of its socket and stuffed up his nostril!


Being able to build a crude nuclear device that goes “bang” in a carefully controlled lab setting is one thing. Being able to build something that is deployable, reliable, and rugged enough to withstand the rigors of the field (to say nothing of the stresses of being fired from a cannon or a rocket) is much, much more difficult.

Last I heard the NorKs most recent nuke test yield was something on the order of 30 – 40 MT. Which is roughly double the Nagasaki bomb but still a fraction of the biggest single-stage (i.e. non-hydrogen) bomb we ever built which was something like 500kt.

A 30-40kt yield also tells me that either this was a simple, single-stage device or a failed attempt at a 2 stage (thermonuclear or hydrogen) device.

Put more simply, there is no indication that I have seen that indicates that NK or any other “rogue” state is capable of deploying any kind of usable nuke that would work on the battlefield.

All this talk about NK being able to “blind” the US with a surprise EMP attack initiated by an ICBM is about as likely as a “Red Dawn” scenario where commie paratroopers invade our Colorado mountain towns to deprive us of our precious bodily fluids (and presumably get stoned out of their minds by eating all the edible gummies at the local pot shops.)


I heard that it was a fizzle too.
These things are quite moody in temperament and don’t like to be mishandled in the early stages of the research and building the device.


As it turns out, Neutrons emitted from fissile material does bad things to sensitive electronics.



well put Martinjumper…though i will say that the movie you mentioned must have been based in denver, boulder, or some other leftist portion of Colorado… should such an attack happen in my neck of the woods, I believe they’d be met with far more led than ass kissing…My neighbors and I would treat commie paratroops as a perfect opportunity for skeet shooting….just saying..


EDIT TO THE ABOVE: I just noticed my 2nd paragraph said the NorKs nuke test was “30 – 40 MT.” Obviously that should read “30-40 KT” 😉

5th/77th FA

Typical politicians thinking that any nuclear exchange can be limited or “won.” Once the FIRST nuc is popped, it will escalate…quickly. Politicians are willing to start world wide destruction just to save their phony baloney jobs. I guess they figure that they will be far enough away from the initial blast areas, in a hardened bunker, that they will not be affected. That’s a puff of cotton candy out of the unicorn’s ass. Not gonna happen.

Those of us that have dealt with the nuclear weapons we’ve had over the years understand that you cannot limit the use of, or the collateral damage that these weapons can cause. It is good on the one hand that higher is discussing training to operate in a nuclear environment, the actual practice and success of that is highly debatable. A more better approach would to try and make sure that they are never used. Knocking out comms may be the FIRST target. The next will be the vaporizing of troop formations and then cities.

You might want to invest in some old school tube radios or a whole bunch of Faraday Cages.

Sabre22, were you with the Lance as the 333rd FA or had it gone to the 32nd (?) FA by then? Or were you with the Korea Battalion? We converted to the Lance as the FIRST/333rd FA in July of ’73


Chicoms and Russkies got ’em. Why not?


Any of yee old 12E hanging in the wings?


I did the ADM officer course in ’81, but they had stood down the ADM companies in Europe before I got there in ’88.


Tactical Nukes? Lest we forget:

Take a few M110A2 8 in Howitzers, several W-79 rounds, some M2A2 Aiming Circles, many crewmen (crewpersons?) and Tower Rats guarding those rounds. Mix thoroughly/some assembly required.

Let er’ Rip./smile


Hoooorah!!! MOS 0812 comin’ back!!!!


Potassium Iodide, halving thickness, stored rice and beans.
Survival is preparedness.

George V

I would think the bigger threat is not a low or ground burst tactical nuke but a higher altitude burst producing an EMP which takes out all high-tech electronic and computer capability. There goes GPS for location and guidance, drone control, networked combat command and control, etc. Unless onboard computer control systems are hardened, vehicles and aircraft won’t work either. Everyone in a large area is blind and immobilized.


That would require (a) a BIG bomb (i.e. a 2 stage or thermonuclear device (b) the ability to loft said bomb into space at exactly the right location and (c) something that is reliable enough to go “bang” when it is supposed to.

All those things are much more difficult than building a low-yield single stage nuke in a controlled laboratory setting.


I have a morbid fascination with the topic of nukes, for several years now. Not sure where it came from since my time in the military I had absolutely nothing to do with anything nuclear (I was a tactical intelligence geek.)

Nevertheless, I’ll recommend a couple of books for those so interested, both by the same author, Richard Rhodes:

The Making of the Atomic Bomb

Dark Sun: The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb

Not only are they both excellent books to read, but they both educated me on nuclear physics, a subject I had never, ever studied before.

My undergrad major was history and I LITERALLY took the LEAST amount of math and science I could take in order to graduate. So to me, the fact that these books made the topic of atomic physics understandable to me is a testimony of how well Rhodes translates these esoteric topics into something a schlub like me can understand.


Getting back to the topic, seems to me the thing about so called “tactical nukes” is that there is very little you can do with a “tactical nuke” that you can’t do almost as well with modern “smart” munitions and those munitions don’t have the problems of collateral damage and radioactive contamination that nukes do.

Really, “tactical nukes” have always seemed to me to be a solution in search of a problem. I get that in the post-Korean war era, nukes were fashionable and got all the attention (and $$) so it makes sense the Army would want to get in on the game, but in the modern world there are just too many down sides to nukes to justify their use on a tactical level.


I disagree. ADM (Atomic Demolition Munitions) solved huge engineering logistics problems. Say you wished to crater all the runways of a major international airport as a denial operation to an advancing enemy. You’d need many tons of conventional explosives, a convoy of transport to haul it and a company’s worth of combat engineers to rig it all in a timely manner. Whereas one backpack ADM took two guys and a jeep…..