Saturday, December 10, 2016

New Russian Super Torpedo and the New Cold War


Today we are going to ask some questions about this alleged Russian Superweapon, the Torpedo From Hell, the Status-6. Get your booties on, because we are going to slog through some messy Cold War logic in a few paragraphs.

If you know nothing about this latest scare from Russia, the best article I know about it is on Foxtrot Alpha and can be found here.

Here is what you are supposed to gather about this torpedo. First, it wasn't an accidental leak, the Russians want us to know about it. Second, it may or may not exist, and if it exists, it probably doesn't do everything that it claims to do because some of those things are *really hard* and if you could really do them you might want to keep it a secret. Third, we already knew that they had nasty ways of blowing us up and spreading radioactive death for a long time.

So what is this all about then? The Russians have made it clear that they do not like our little missile shield. Why is a bit of a puzzle and is discussed below but it is very clear that they do not like the shield at all. But we have refused to stop deploying it for whatever reason (also discussed below). So my guess, purely a guess, is that they are presenting this torpedo (underwater missile) as a way of saying “See! We don't really care about your missile shield because we can blow you up anyway! So there!”

Now, what is a little weird about this is that the missile shield that we have and are likely to have in the next decade or so falls loosely into two types. One type is a tactical “Patriot” missile type, developed in part by the Israelis. The other is a strategic missile type developed on our own that uses the Navy SM6 (Standard Missile 6) to the best of my knowledge. The tactical missile defense is a pretty good defense against a fair number of tactical missiles at one time. These missiles that they defend against can certainly cause a lot of damage but they will not destroy Tel Aviv without an awful lot of work.

The strategic missile shield is what we are probably talking about here. The thing about this is that the Russians have nothing to worry about from it. Why? Because in time of nuclear war, the Russians could easily launch enough missiles to overwhelm this shield. This shield is good for a few missiles, maybe, certainly not the tsunami of missiles one would expect if we were in a nuclear war with the Russians.

So what is this shield good for? Two things. The first would be one or two missiles that were launched by mistake or in some way were launched by a rogue site that was not under control of its nominal government. And the second thing it could be useful for is in defense against a few missiles from a country like Iran or N. Korea who only has a few nuclear weapons available at one time and maybe also only a few relatively primitive intercontinental missiles to deliver them with.

So the point of the Status-6 may be to say something like, “We spit on your missile shield! See, we can go around it with our nifty torpedo!”. Ok, fine, but the missile shield was not aimed (so to speak) at Russia, so its all a little puzzling.

Maybe it has more to do with influencing people who are not very sophisticated at this, like the populations of Europe and Asia who are easily frightened? Of course people should be frightened about nuclear war, but I do not see how defending against loony toons like Iran and N. Korea could possibly threaten Russia.

But one thing you can be sure of, this is the kind of nuke vs nuke, spy vs spy thing that happened in the Cold War all the time. And maybe it is about prestige and appearances.  Or maybe it is about something I know nothing about. So welcome to the new Cold War.

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