The ability to maintain parity on individual types of weapons and, in particular, in the field of non-strategic (according to American terminology - “tactical”) nuclear weapons (NSNW) depends on the current and forecasted state of military security, which is a complex concept and requires the analysis of the ratio of different types of weapons and military equipment parties.
In the part of the American nuclear arsenal, we note the following. In the USA, four categories of readiness of nuclear ammunition (YaBP) for use are accepted:
1. “Operationally deployed” - nuclear warheads installed on carriers or kept in warehouses at air bases based on carrier aircraft.
2. “Operational storage” - nuclear weapons that are stored and ready to use. They are contained in readiness for installation on the carrier and, if necessary, can be installed (returned) on rockets and airplanes. Deployment dates are determined by the delivery time of the nuclear weapons to the carriers and the implementation of a complex of works on their installation on the carrier. In fact, they represent a “return potential”.
3. "Long-term storage" - backup nuclear warheads, stored mainly in military warehouses in assembled form, but of which the tritium-containing nodes and neutron generators have been removed.
4. "Strategic reserve" - nuclear weapons, retired and awaiting their turn to be dismantled, as well as primary nuclear initiators and units of the second (thermonuclear) stage of charges.
The first two categories constitute the so-called “active arsenal”, the third and fourth - “inactive arsenal”.
The American arsenal of nuclear warheads for NSNWs consists of:
- approximately 300 nuclear warheads (YABCh) for sea-based cruise missiles (SLCMs) of Tomahawk, including 100 YXCh W80-2 “operational storage” and 200 YXCh W80-0 “long-term storage” (all contained in the US);
- approximately 800 nuclear bombs (YaB) of free fall (B61-3, B61-4, B61-10), including 200 “operational deployed”, 200 “operational storage” and 400 - for “long-term storage”. “Operationally deployed” nuclear weapons (B61-3, B61-4) are deployed at the US Air Force depots at six air bases in five European NATO countries — Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, and the Federal Republic of Germany. They are intended for use by tactical aircraft. aviation United Air Force (Air Force) NATO. About 200 “operational storage” bombs (B61-3, B61-4) and 400 (B61-3, B61-4, B61-10) “long-term storage” bombs are located in the United States.
The main part of the US tactical nuclear arsenal consists of В61 aerial bombs.
The return of nuclear weapons to the “active arsenal” from the category of “long-term storage” is theoretically possible, but very difficult and time-consuming, and from the category of “strategic reserve” is practically impossible. Therefore, the number of tactical nuclear warheads, which can be really applied, is determined by the volume of the “active arsenal”.
The United States has approximately 500 of the active arsenal for the NSNW (see tables 1, 2). According to foreign analysts, Russia has 2000-2500 units of ammunition for this purpose.
According to the US nuclear strategy (2011), all of the YBCs for the Tomahawk SLCM will be eliminated in the medium term, and all 400 tactical nuclear bombs B-61 “active arsenal” have been upgraded to extend the service life of 2040-61 to 4. To create a new modification - B2018-61, which, with 12, can become the main (or only) tactical YAB of the USAF. In this case, the number of tactical YAB "active arsenal" will not change.
The collapse of the Warsaw Pact (ATS) and the USSR, as well as the expansion of NATO to the east, led to a significant superiority of the alliance over Russia in general-purpose forces. In the future, this imbalance will only increase if only because the total military budget of the NATO countries is 12 times larger than the Russian in comparable prices. Many military and political figures in the United States have repeatedly pointed out that since the end of the twentieth century there is no one in the world and in the foreseeable future there will be no military threats that America could not cope without using nuclear weapons. The military-political leadership of the United States believes that it is precisely the nuclear potential of Russia, including the NSNW, that is a threat to the national interests of the United States. Therefore, under the guise of a reasonable mutual reduction of nuclear weapons (NW), the United States is striving to achieve absolute military superiority over the still potentially dangerous for them Russia, maintaining the status of a powerful nuclear power.
US Air Force Sgt. Sarah Caron is in charge of serving YAB B61 at Spangdahlem Base in Germany.
This is fully reflected in the words of Zbigniew Brzezinski: "The plan for the destruction of nuclear weapons is a plan for creating a world in which the United States can safely wage a conventional war." In the United States, options for reducing NSNW have been developed and promoted, suggesting its inclusion in the overall offsetting weapons together with strategic nuclear weapons. In particular, Undersecretary of State Rose Gottemoeller said that after the entry into force of the START-3 Treaty, the United States would seek further reductions in nuclear weapons (cumulatively strategic and non-strategic). Former employee of the National Security Council and the US Ambassador to Ukraine Stephen Peifer proposed to establish for the United States and the Russian Federation a limit on the total number of nuclear warheads for strategic and non-strategic carriers in 2500 units on each side. Proposals are also being developed to limit the number of nuclear warheads for NSNW to the level of 400-500 units on each side.
In modern conditions, the role of NSNWs in the US military force system is decreasing due to the priority development of conventional high-precision weapons (WTO) in the USA. And if a parity reduction of NSNWs is in the interests of the United States, then for Russia in modern conditions such an approach is unacceptable due to the need to compensate for the superiority of NATO in conventional forces and means. Moreover, it is unacceptable in the face of the danger of the proliferation of nuclear weapons technologies and the growth of the conflict potential in Asia, including the Far East, where Japan has territorial claims to Russia. Also, in the future, one cannot exclude the possibility that China will try to resolve controversial issues with individual states by force.
Russia's position should not be based on achieving parity on NSNWs with the United States or even with NATO (including French non-strategic or “sub-strategic” nuclear weapons), but on the principles of ensuring equal security of the parties based on defense sufficiency with regard to nuclear and conventional weapons (including the forces of the forward bases of the United States).
The main limitations of conventional armed forces in Europe are defined by the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE), which was concluded in Paris in 1990 by 22 states, of which 16 were NATO members, and six were in ATS. The basis of the Treaty is the quantitative restrictions on the five main categories of conventional weapons in the Treaty areas, which are the European territory of the participating countries, including the Transcaucasus and the Asian part of Turkey. In the summer of 1991, the city ATS ceased to exist. After the collapse of the USSR, its quota under the Tashkent Agreement of 15 in May 1992 was distributed between the new sovereign states of the former Soviet Union, and the NATO bloc expanded at the expense of the former Soviet republics and allied states of the USSR. They were accepted into NATO together with quotas, which, in fact, belonged to the ATS (quotas as of 2007, in the 3 table).
At the Istanbul Summit of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe 19 in November 1999, an agreement on the adaptation of the CFE Treaty was signed, taking into account new realities. But only four of the 30 signatories ratified it - Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia and Ukraine. Russia's proposals to restore the viability of the Treaty were rejected by the NATO country, which forced Moscow to impose a moratorium on the CFE Treaty in 2007.
The Klein Brogel Air Base in a “nuclear-free” Belgium is one of the points where the US NSNW is concentrated.
If we compare the quotas of conventional weapons of Russia and NATO countries in Europe, their ratio is 1 to 3-4 in favor of the alliance. Such an excess of the military potential of NATO requires (according to all canons of military science) measures to prevent the threat of military conflict, since the stability of the defense can be ensured with the superiority of the forces and means of the enemy no more than 2-3 times. However, the leadership of the North Atlantic alliance argues that the quota exceeding is virtual, that the expansion of the bloc to the east, like the implementation of the US plans to deploy troops in Bulgaria and Romania, is not directed against the Russian Federation and that NATO does not pose any military threat to any European state in including Russia. What are such statements vividly illustrated by the unprovoked NATO aggression against Yugoslavia in 1999. And the whole course stories Strictly confirms the relevance of Otto von Bismarck's dictum “... it’s not intentions, but opportunities that should be taken into account,” and even more so, we add, not words.
The balance of forces and means with NATO is not in favor of Russia, and it is even significantly worse than the CFE Treaty quotas (table 4). Comparison in the 5 and 6 tables of the possible compositions of the opposing groups deployed by the parties in the theaters of war (military operations) provides a more realistic picture of the balance of power than a comparison of the composition of the Armed Forces. The composition of the groups adopted the following:
In the West: from NATO - the grouping of the United Armed Forces (OVS), formed from the contingents of the national armed forces of the bloc countries transferred to it; from the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation - the main forces of the Western and Southern military districts, including the Northern, Baltic and Black Sea fleets, as well as part of the forces of the Central Military District.
In the East: on the one hand, the coalition group of the armed forces of the United States and Japan; on the other hand, the opposing grouping of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, which includes part of the forces of the Eastern Military District, including the Pacific Fleet.
Based on the data given in the 5 and 6 tables, it can be concluded that in the main strategic areas, the groups that oppose the Armed Forces of Russia have an overwhelming superiority:
- In the West, the NATO Allied Forces group exceeds the grouping of Russian Armed Forces by 9 times tanks, 5 times for airplanes, 6 times for ships, and also has absolute superiority in long-range cruise missiles of various bases and in the WTO as a whole;
- in the Far East, the coalition grouping of the US and Japanese forces exceeds the grouping of Russian aircraft 5 created in the Primorsky direction by ships, aircraft, tanks, 7,5 times by combat helicopters, and also has absolute superiority to long-range cruise missiles of various bases and in general on the WTO.
In the direction of the main attacks, the opposing side will be able to create a quantitative superiority over the groups of the RF Armed Forces up to 8-12 times.
The US NSNW located in Europe is clearly classified as strategic because it can be applied throughout the European part of Russia, while the Russian NSNW can not be applied across the United States. Therefore, it would be objectively justified to include American NSNWS in Europe in the offset of strategic offensive arms.
Leaving aside political statements about the “NATO’s consolidating bloc of the role of US NSNWS in Europe”, let’s try to determine why there is a significant supply of US nuclear bombs in Europe? The possibility of a "selective" use in the fight against "international terrorism" is highly questionable. Defeat of stationary objects covered by the air defense system with Tomahawk and Trident missiles is more effective than unmanaged YABs from manned aircraft. From a military point of view, the most plausible explanation is that they are intended primarily to impact on moving objects, the destruction of which often requires additional exploration. Such objects, most likely, can be military formations, field control points, as well as mobile missile launchers (tactical and operational-tactical).
Positional areas of mobile ground-based missile systems of the Strategic Missile Forces are located in the eastern regions of the European part of Russia, that is, almost at the limit of the tactical aviation of the Allied Air Forces of NATO from advanced airfields. It appears that the positioning areas of the Strategic Missile Forces - as the most important strategic targets - will reliably hide from the attacks of air attack weapons. Therefore, mobile missile launchers of strategic missiles can be targets for tactical aviation’s nuclear strikes, most likely in the event of the overwhelming air superiority of NATO over the entire European part of Russia.
The B-2 bomber can carry 16 B61 bombs.
Proceeding from this, it can be assumed that the US NNAs are viewed by the NATO leadership, primarily as a means of deterring Russia from using its NSNW to repel the alliance’s aggression, and also as a “battlefield weapon” when the bloc’s aggression develops into a nuclear war.
Considering the superiority of NATO in the general-purpose forces over any other states and coalitions in Europe, the NSNWS of the USA plays, apparently, also the role of a kind of "safety net" of strikes and offensive operations of NATO's Allied Forces using conventional means of destruction. Therefore, the presence of the US JAB in Europe is an indirect confirmation of the existing plans of the alliance for a possible power resolution of contradictions with other states of the region (Russia and Belarus in the first place) and, accordingly, a factor negatively affecting strategic stability.
Adopting parity on NSNWs without taking into account the superiority of the United States and NATO in the general-purpose forces in the context of the deployment of the global and European anti-missile defense systems will ensure the United States and its allies reduce the effectiveness of Russian nuclear deterrence policies at the regional level. When repelling aggression, the nuclear forces of the Russian Federation (especially with their further reduction) already at the initial stage of hostilities can suffer significant losses, which do not allow the full implementation of the deterrence task. Such a development of events will pose a grave threat to Russia's national security and will increase the likelihood of its forced transition to the use of nuclear weapons.
Officials and individual politicians of the United States are trying to convince the world community that the establishment of parity between the United States and the Russian Federation in the field of NSNW will contribute to the strengthening of strategic stability in the world. But it is obvious that this is a way of undermining stability, as when equalizing potentials on NSNWs, the military-strategic balance of the total potentials of nuclear and conventional weapons is disturbed, and the United States and NATO acquire an absolute uncompensated military superiority of general-purpose forces.
It can be stated that parity with the United States on NSNWS in modern conditions is unacceptable for the Russian Federation, and negotiations between the United States and the Russian Federation on imposing restrictions on the levels of non-strategic nuclear weapons can become possible for Russia only if the following conditions are met:
1. The withdrawal from Europe of American nuclear warheads into the national territory of the United States, that is, the United States, as well as the "non-nuclear" Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy and Turkey must fulfill the requirements of the first two articles of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
2. Obligatory consideration of the influence of nuclear and conventional weapons of other countries on strategic stability in regions adjacent to the territory of Russia, when determining the minimum allowable amount of the Russian nuclear weapons arsenal for NSNWs.
Vladimir Vladimirovich DYACHENKO - Candidate of Technical Sciences, Senior Researcher, Reserve Colonel
Vladimir Vasilievich MUSORIN - retired colonel
Igor Vsevolodovich OSTROUKHOV - Candidate of Technical Sciences, Senior Researcher, Professor of the Academy of Military Sciences (AVN), retired colonel
Mikhail Evgenievich SOSNOVSKY - Candidate of Military Sciences, Professor, laureate of them. A.V. Suvorov AVN, correspondent member of the AVN, retired colonel