Military Review

Arsenal with a beard

Brexit pushed the same passion over the independence referendum of Scotland into the background, thanks to the sober-mindedness of the local electorate, which still preserved the integrity of the United Kingdom. But such an outcome prevented the geopolitical drama associated with the possible collapse of a nuclear power. There is a precedent - the collapse of the USSR.

The nuclear power of Britain is several times inferior and inferior to the forces of the Soviet Union (Russia) and the United States. Nevertheless, Albion has the potential to cause unacceptable damage to a potential enemy. In creating and improving nuclear weapons, the British relied on US assistance. No one else has the Americans provided legal support in the development and expansion of nuclear weapons, except for the British. The action of the Anglo-American cooperation agreement in this field (Mutual Defense Agreement - MDA), signed in 1958, is extended to 2024.

The idea of ​​acquiring an atomic bomb was approved in December by 1941-nd by Prime Minister Churchill, who received a proposal for joint development a month earlier from US President Roosevelt. They agreed not to use nuclear weapons against each other. weapons, keeping information about him in secret from third countries and about the direct participation of British scientists in the Manhattan project, successfully implemented by 1945. However, the following year, cooperation ceased for some time, and in 1947, on the initiative of the new British Prime Minister Attlee, the British started an independent nuclear project.

"Blue Danube", "Yellow Sun"

The country's first-class research and production potential and the experience of participating in the Manhattan project allowed the first nuclear test to be carried out on October 3 1952 in the waters of Trimouilly Island off the northwest coast of Australia.

If the United States and the USSR in the first tests blew up nuclear charges in special towers, the British placed it in the hold of an anchored frigate Plym. Moreover, the guard himself delivered his death in the past, having made the transition with the top-secret cargo from England. The explosion pulled into 25 kilotons, the British coped with the task no worse than the Americans in Alamogordo and the Soviet scientists near Semipalatinsk. 28 on April 1958, the strategic bomber of the Valiant Air Force, dropped the first full-scale hydrogen bomb over Polynesian Christmas Island (operation Grapple Y - “Fight Wye”). The energy release during the test was 2 MT.

In 1952 – 1991, the UK conducted 45 nuclear tests: 21 in Australia and the Pacific, 24 in the United States. Among them were rather unusual: 9 of October 1957 of the year at the Maralling testing ground in Australia, a charge of 25 kilotons was blown up, suspended under three balloons at an altitude of about 300 meters (Antler's operation - “Antler”).

Arsenal with a beardThe first nuclear bombs to enter the strategic arsenal in 1953 aviation UK, became the Blue Danube ("Blue Danube") with a capacity of 15 kilotons (in the latest samples brought up to 40 kilotons). These plutonium and uranium-plutonium products were structurally similar to the American Fat Man (“Fat Man”) dumped on Nagasaki. However, the British bombs were distinguished by an elongated pointed shape, which, according to the creators, increased the accuracy of the bombing. 20 Blue Danube were in service until 1962.

The “Blue Danube” was followed by the more advanced Red Beard (“Red Beard”) with a capacity of 5–20 kilotons (in the years 1961–1971 in the arsenal of the British Air Force and Aviation fleet there were up to 110 of these bombs), as well as the 400-kiloton thermonuclear Yellow Sun ("Yellow Sun") Mk1. They were released a little in 1958, which is associated with the launch of the Yellow Sun Mk2 modification with a charge of 1 MT. About 150 of these bombs replenished the British nuclear arsenal in 1961 and remained in it until 1972. Then, from 1966 they were replaced by thermonuclear WE177s with a variable power from 0,5 to 450 kilotons. They existed in tactical, strategic and anti-submarine variants. And they served 32 years. Perhaps their prototypes were the American B61 and B57. Great Britain allegedly did not produce more nuclear and thermonuclear bombs.

On every brave enough air defense

The first British strategic carriers of nuclear bombs in the 50 were the pre- and near-sound turbojet bombers of the V-Valiant ("The Brave"), Victor ("Winner") and Vulcan ("Vulcan") families. The speed of the last, the most perfect of the three, reached 1200 kilometers per hour, the practical ceiling was 19 thousand meters, the maximum flight range was 7650 kilometers. However, the development of Soviet air defense made it difficult for such aircraft to break through to targets. Therefore, for the Victor and Vulcan bombers, they created a Blue Steel (“Blue Steel”) air-to-air cruise missile with a range of 200 kilometers and equipped with a powerful Mk28 thermonuclear charge. The British Air Force believed that Victor and Vulcan, each carrying one Blue Steel, should not get into the affected area by the Soviet C-25 and C-75 air defense systems when entering the launch line. However, this did not guarantee their invulnerability from the mid-range 60-s of the distant locking supersonic interceptors Tu-128, whose missiles (air-to-air Р-4) could destroy British vehicles even before they reached the launch position. In 1962 – 1970, the British Air Force had 40 Blue Steel ready.

Other aviation carriers of British nuclear weapons of the time — Canberra subsonic tactical bombers and Buccaneer deck-attack aircraft, were also vulnerable to Soviet air defenses. This forced the British to reconsider the program of developing the SNF in favor of ballistic missiles.

Armed to the "Tridents"

Taking into account all the circumstances, London chose atomic submarines with ballistic missiles. They were recognized as the least vulnerable component of the SNF. Four Resolution-type boats (“Resolve”) were built in the 1967 – 1968, each received the American RNPD 16 Polaris A3T with three combat fusion units of dissipating type with a power of 200 kilotons. In total, for SSRBs of the Resolution type, 144 combat units have been released.

Then, according to the secret Chevaline (“Horse”) program, the British replaced the W58 type with six new, individual TK-100 units with 50 – 100 kiloton charges on these missiles. For them, developed and means to overcome the missile defense of Moscow. The upgraded missiles were given the name Polaris A3TK (launch range - 3500 – 4000 kilometers).

Replaced the "Resolve" in the UK Navy came four SSBNs like Vanguard ("Avangard"). They are the only component of the country’s SNF. Each submarine carries a Trident-II D-16 (Trident) American intercontinental SLBM with a range of nine thousand kilometers. The rocket has 5 – 8 English thermonuclear blocks, the power of which in the 12 – 0,3 – 10 – 100 range of kilotons provides the choice of the most suitable for individual destruction of various security and area targets. Which guarantees unacceptable damage.

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  1. inkass_98
    inkass_98 21 January 2017 07: 08
    The main sadness of the English strategic nuclear forces is the location of the submarine base in Scotland. Local already promised two things:
    a) in case of active "Brexit", hold another referendum on secession from the kingdom;
    b) to squeeze this very base of the Navy in its favor.
    The British sailors will have to spend money on a new base in a less convenient place and before that make something like the escape of "Kuznetsov" from the Ruins.
    1. commbatant
      commbatant 21 January 2017 17: 45
      All four boats are part of the 1st submarine division of the Royal Clyde Naval Base, located in the city of Faslane (Faslane, Scotland).
      Faslane himself was chosen as a base at the height of the Cold War due to its geographical location. Relatively isolated, but deep and easy to navigate, Gar Loch and the Firth of Clyde turn it into a protected "bastion" (English) on the west coast of Scotland. At the same time, its position provides convenient and covert access through the North Strait to submarine patrol areas in the North Atlantic and through the Faroe-Icelandic border to the Norwegian Sea. One of the boats was always on alert. And in a politically unstable time, the second went to sea.

      The title of the article could come up with another
  2. Cat
    Cat 21 January 2017 08: 46
    Scottish separatists, ardent haters of nuclear weapons!
  3. Old26
    Old26 21 January 2017 09: 51
    Delivered an article to PLUS, although it is satisfied with the surface. Sergey Linnik (Bongo) has a similar article in more detail. In addition, the author did not indicate yet another characteristic feature of modern British nuclear weapons. Despite the fact that SLBMs can carry a significant amount of nuclear warheads, at present only half of the missiles in boats are sometimes equipped with nuclear warheads. This is one option. In the second - with the exception of one or two, which carry 3-4 nuclear weapons each, the rest are equipped with a single charge. The number of UBZ in the British armed forces is reduced year by year. If a few years ago the aircraft were equipped with 160 EMNIP charges, but by 2016 already 120. Unlike France, the nuclear component of Britain is degrading
    1. Monster_Fat
      Monster_Fat 21 January 2017 12: 04
      That's for sure. Few people know, but nuclear weapons require enormous resources and forces to keep them in a state of readiness due to the degradation of the components of the nuclear charge and the failure of the others by its element from radiation and from time to time.
      1. Aviator_
        Aviator_ 21 January 2017 17: 16
        Quite right (about the huge funds for maintaining nuclear weapons in a combat-ready state). Now, for sure, there is progress in this area, and the first generation nuclear weapons, such as the American "Fat Man", had a polonium neutron fuse, a feature of which was its replacement every six months due to the short half-life of polonium. It is not surprising that there were only 20 "Blue Dunays".
    2. commbatant
      commbatant 21 January 2017 17: 46
      Right. I read it in the "ZVO".
  4. Quzmi4
    Quzmi4 21 January 2017 18: 24
    Little amendment.
    Blue Steel does not translate into the forehead.
    It is enough to doubt and climb into the dictionary to find right translation - "blued steel".
    A much more logical name for a weapon, isn't it?
  5. Robert Nevsky
    Robert Nevsky 21 January 2017 20: 13
    Great Britain is trying to be great ... soldier
  6. Barakuda
    Barakuda 21 January 2017 23: 13
    Personally, I don’t care how British bloodsuckers are there and hedgehog with them. India alone, they must with three boxes. They even climbed into St. Petersburg to Krymskaya, but they raked concrete pills and never rocked further (the 1918th can not be considered). Churchill's nagging is especially hushed up when he asked Stalin to join the war. am
    And somehow, yes, Russia will keep track of 4 British boats with ICBMs. The ponytails are clearly tied there.
    1. inkass_98
      inkass_98 22 January 2017 09: 39
      I want to correct you about bloodsuckers: within the framework of decommunization and in accordance with the reform of the Khokhlomovs from Azarov there is a new version of the word, namely, "krovosisi". Excellent Newspeak wink .