Thursday, February 21, 2008

Lookit All the Pretty Barges; Part II

As I understood the scenarios, assuming that the Red Army invaded West Germany, the very first thing that probably would have happened would have been a coordinated missile strike against either the NATO navies or anything else floating around. The Soviet Navy had a lot of long-range missile carriers, including Echo-class submarines and the Bear and Backfire bombers. They fired some missiles that were, at least on paper, to be feared. The AS-4 "Kitchen" was one that scared the shit out of me; it cruised at over 75,000' (probably a lot higher) at SR-71 speeds before it would go into a very steep terminal dive with a 2,200lb HE warhead or a nuke.

As an aside, if you look at the size of the warheads on Soviet/Russian anti-ship missiles and compare them to the size of warheads of Western anti-ship missiles, the only reasonable conclusion was that the Soviet designers were trying to kill much larger ships.

The weakness they all shared was targeting information. After the first exchange of fire, any hostiles within contact range would have been killed. One of the reasons the US was interested in developing anti-satellite weapons was to shoot down the Soviet RORSATs. I suspect that the main reason the Phoenix missile was developed for the F-14s was to keep the Bear reconnaissance aircraft far away from the carrier groups, so they could not obtain targeting information to pass along. But that would be a problem only until the Bears had to land; for after that, they would have had to get past the land-based fighters flying out of Iceland and Scotland.

The upshot of it was that the first few hours and days of the war would have been extremely bloody at sea. Most folks who were on the ships and who looked at this probably concluded that if they were alive 72 hours after the war began, they would have been very lucky.

After that initial blood-letting at sea, the survivors would have one real job: Make sure the resupply convoys made it to French ports to keep the Red Army from conquering the rest of Europe.

1 comment:

Jimh. said...

As I understood it, the Soviets' ability to target and hit the target was such that they neede the bigger warheads to make up for inaccuracy...