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"This is a time-lapse photo showing the paths of the multiple re-entry vehicles deployed by the missle. One Peacekeeper can hold up to 10 nuclear warheads, each independently targeted. Were the warheads armed with a nuclear payload, each would carry with it the explosive power of twenty-five Hiroshima-sized weapons."
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55 Responses:

  1. positricity says:

    I envision a very hard variant of Missile Command with multi-warhead missiles.

    Very, very hard.

    • jwz says:

      Dude, WTF. Missile Command always had MIRVs, starting at like, wave 2.

      Speaking of which (dear Lazyweb), what version of MAME sucks least on Intel Macs? I tried both MacMAME (still PPC) and MAMEOSX, and neither of them would run the Missile Command ROMs I have.

      • positricity says:

        The Missile Command missiles don't exhibit the "I maintain my trajectory while dispatching earthbound sub-warheads on their own, linear trajectories" behavior. They're more like scatter bombs, in my opinion.

        Would you like to try my Missile Command ROMs? I've gone to Ubuntu, but I'm fairly certain I used them on OS X circa 2003.

        These are the MD5 hashes of my romset for the game. Is this the one you have?

        541d2636c044471e8c78e7b36b18a26c *035820.02
        fc9bf450bb2dc531fb5be5a3d479f5cc *035821.02
        447a872a605ee1d9cfee1dab98b24419 *035822.02
        be7c7323fff7d9d53574516ec43b5a24 *035823.02
        1ee5878950824d7f25c07cb647625c83 *035824.02
        3787d2f75b732526b7329919a878408c *035825.02

        • jwz says:

          Yeah, those are the sums of the files I have inside the "" archive. I also have a "" and a "" and they don't work either.

      • giantlaser says:

        Are your ROMs still the latest? One of the most annoying things about MAME is that with each release, some ROMs stop working and they are re-released or repackaged. Every time I install MAME, I just pay one of the pirate monkeys to mail me a set of DVDs with the latest dumps.

      • beschizza says:

        Best for me was SDL MAME:

        Missile command works great:

        Missile Command

  2. drbrain says:

    From the MIRV article on wikipedia, each warhead is accurate to within 90-100 meters, and that MIRV type weapons would primarily be used for first-strike against enemy missile silos.

    Good Times!

    • autopope says:

      That CEP is tighter than a WW2 era precision bomber -- mass night bombing by the RAF in 1942 returned a CEP of about 5000 metres.

      And from what I know about slightly older MRVs (e.g. Polaris/Chevaline) the warheads will be on the order of 250Kg to 400Kg, i.e. 500lb to 1000lb bombs.

      You could lift the nukes off those suckers and use them for ordinary policing-by-bomber. Hellish expensive, but if your MX is nearing the end of its shelf-life ...

      • octal says:

        The main problem with non-nuclear (or even sub-strategic nuclear) fired from silos or submarines is that it looks exactly like a strategic nuclear strike (start with EMP from a single weapon high-altitude airburst, or go for decapitation, or just rely on a 20-RV MIRV to do major damage...)

        So, in sending out a few conventional warheads, you might cause ww3.

        • autopope says:

          Well, yes. And they're solid-fuel boosters, so you can't easily use 'em at shorter range -- ISTR the maximum range for Trident D5 is about 8500 nm, but the minimum range, at 4000 nm, is still longer than the maximum range for Polaris.

          • jurph says:

            Can't you combine modern guidance (lofting, energy management maneuvers) with thrust termination (blow out the front ports) to get an arbitrarily short range?

            • semiclever says:

              Maybe you know more about this than me, but my understanding is that a solid-fuel booster is basically a giant firecracker. Once it's lit, there's no practical way to turn it off. I think you'd have to radically redesign ICBMs to get shorter range.

              • jurph says:

                Once the booster reaches the desired velocity (both downrange and vertical velocity) the motor needs to be turned off so you don't overshoot. You can steer the rocket so that the vector adds up differently, but for really short ranges you need to do more than just trajectory shaping.

                So there is definitely a practical way to turn it off. Two- and three-stage solid fuel ICBMs do it by opening holes in the front of the final motor stage. The drop in chamber pressure extinguishes the reaction and vents hot gas from the front and back simultaneously.

                The question is whether the Trident (a) has those ports built into its design, and (b) has the guidance system required to do aggressive trajectory shaping. For instance, this is how THAAD bleeds off excess energy during short-range tests.

  3. bonniegrrl says:

    thanks for the nightmare material for this evening...

    • jwz says:

      Yeah, but that's like, an 80s nostalgia nightmare. You're gonna die from a backpack nuke, not a missile!

      • bonniegrrl says:

        i think i'll just dream about a retro robot invasion instead. or maybe zombies.

      • cdavies says:

        For maximal nightmare value, we need to come up with an equally Orwellian name for backpack nukes. Perhaps "Persuader" or "Pacifier" or something like that.

        • pedxing says:

          I like "Emancipator"

          As in "Emancipate your self from corporeal reality!"

          Who doesn't love freedom?! What can be more freeing than existing in the form of aerosolized particles.

          Away with the dull drudgery of work-a-day joint pain!

      • valentwine says:

        I don't know about that anymore. Have you taken a good look at the thugs ruling Russia lately? We could be in for some serious Cold War nostalgia in another decade or two. They're rearming themselves, laying down new nuclear subs (Borei-class) and have newer ICBM designs on order (Bulava).

        How about a nice game of chess?

        • strspn says:

          You mean we don't get to keep the Republican Tax Cut which was keeping median incomes flat because they got into a pissing contest and started another cold war with Russia and China?

    • krfsm says:

      I've had this picture as my desktop background for some time. It's lovely.

  4. divergio says:

    I liked the picture better when I envisioned it as some kind of space-based laser weapon system. I would call this system "the Hand of God."

  5. rapier1 says:

    God thats beautiful.

    My degree focus in school was strategic arms control negotiation theory. I even was able to study under Ambassador Goodby (he's a rock star in that world). Sometimes, when I see pictures like this, it makes me regret that it didn't work out.

  6. jkonrath says:

    Here's a lazyweb in the form of a consumer purchase you might be into: A few years ago, someone somehow got ahold of MIRV warheads that had been retired and their nasty bits removed. They then sliced the warhead into cross-cut wafers and mounted them onto a glass plate, suitable for framing. They were the coolest looking thing ever, and now I've completely forgotten the URL. Anyone remember what I'm talking about?

  7. scar_crow says:

    Speaking of missle systems tested on Atols... here is fun light reading.

    You get to read up on the people that used to live there.

    • jurph says:

      Get it right: a "missile" (two I's) is the delivery vehicle. A nuclear weapon is what does the damage. The two are separate -- you can put a conventional warhead on an ICBM, and you can drop a nuclear weapon from a tiny propeller-driven plane. The two technologies are essentially unrelated.

      • scar_crow says:

        Right. But I never said that they were different, and an ICBM *is* part of a missile delivery system.

        • jurph says:

          The problem is that they are different. To categorize Bikini as "missile systems tested on atolls" misses the point -- there were no missiles involved at Bikini, just the nuclear weapons erected on test stands.

          We tested live nukes on Bikini Atoll; we test missile reentry vehicles (with completely inert warheads) at Kwajalein Atoll. The Marshallese residents get a ton of cash from the US contractors and gov't employees who work there, and the testing does minimal environmental harm to the island or its inhabitants. If it caused any serious health problems we'd know by now.

          Other than the fact that both are atolls in the Pacific, the Bikini tests and the RV accuracy tests have basically nothing in common.

          • balamuthia says:

            "If it caused any serious health problems we'd know by now."

            Pardon me but...

            Hahaha...hahaha! Did you just seriously say that??

            • jurph says:

              Yeah, I seriously did! HA HA HA!

              They're just big-ass conical objects covered in carbon fiber, and they splash into the ocean. They leave a trail of superheated air and carbon dust behind them.

              Imagine putting a laptop inside a casket, wrapping the casket in carbon fiber, and then setting fire to it. Drop it from outer space into a body of salt water that's hundreds of meters from any human. Anyone on that island who has been in a bar where the patrons smoke is at far more health risk than people standing on the beach watching these tests.

              Oooooooh, it's a completely inert simulated weapon! LOOK OUT!

              • balamuthia says:

                Yes, however to suggest that if it caused serious health problems it'd be disclosed by now is either horrifically naive, or just stupid.

                There are numerous instances of testing that our government has conducted and not disclosed the negative effects for decades, and even then under duress in some of those situations.

                • jurph says:

                  I'm right there with you; lots of testing has negative side effects, and the US gov't has often been a pack of ratbastards about covering up those effects. But there's really very little in these specific tests that could cause any harm.

                  I'm mostly comparing it with the Bikini nuke tests, where people got sick and died within weeks of the testing. My point was not that the government would voluntarily disclose it -- my point was that the facilities at Kwaj are relatively open, and I've personally met people who go out there for the tests. If it was bad for people, then the gov't would have very quietly stopped sending their rocket scientists out there to watch, and then found a place to drop the fake bombs where nobody would get hurt.

                  • gryazi says:

                    The pollution from manufacture of the ICBM motors (and chemicals therefore) is going to be of a ridiculously greater magnitude than that released during a (downright rare, compared to the number built to stockpile) actual launch.

                    Of course, the facilities in that chain are probably much closer to population centers and cranking out stuff like fertilizer and bug spray for other customers as well.

                    [In other news, has a whole bunch of photos -- obviously enough, since others from that collection have already been linked -- but I first found these via the Federation of American Scientists' site, which has extra information and more neat pictures organized by weapons system: (and for the Russian side, too.)]

  8. evan says:

    We have a big printout of this as art in our house. Wikipedia's "best of wikipedia images" are often spectacular and high enough res to make printing them (via costco) look quite good.

  9. conradkilroy says:

    That was always one of my favourite desktop background photos. :-)

  10. editer says:

    Aaaaagh! Sharks!

  11. edouardp says:

    Oh those wacky 1980's types and their newspeak names for things.

    "Peacekeeper" - ho ho ho!

    Seriously, the right wing these days would call that "Deathbringer 5000" and be proud of it. And call on it's immediate use against all those foreign darkies overseas. Like Iran, Hugo Chavez, and, uh, those bad guys in 24.

  12. balamuthia says:

    Wow. I'm not sure what I find more disturbing- the fact that I'm liiking at a test for a missile system that can carry explosive power of twenty-five Hiroshima-sized weapons...

    ...or the dispassionate way people are discussing something that is currently being tested and seriously considered for use. It's disgusting.

    • balamuthia says:

      Allow me to edit befor I'm pounced on by the spelling police:

      *liiking should be spelled "looking".

    • valentwine says:

      the dispassionate way people are discussing something that is currently being tested and seriously considered for use.

      To quote the IT Crowd: I'm sorry, are you from the past?

      Perhaps you could take the time to read the accompanying Wikipedia article and understand that the Peacekeeper missile force has been decommissioned since 2005 and the remaining weapons have been disarmed and await conversion to space launch vehicles. The United States hasn't actively developed a new ICBM since the Peacekeeper and Trident II systems were developed in the 1980s.

      • balamuthia says:

        Pardon my ignorance about weapons designed to kill millions of people.

        You're so much more uber than I am.

        • valentwine says:

          You're right. I can and will and do both read and learn to better my understanding of a situation before commenting on it. I'm fucking rad!

          • balamuthia says:

            I do the same thing- though I don't expect you to know that about me since it's more fun to trade internet insults than actually make an attempt.

            However, when it comes to munitions I could really care less- and I don't see the image as beautiful or even interesting. I see it as terrifying and useless.

            • nexus9 says:

              pffft. nobody insulted you -- ya just got busted for not taking the time to learn what the fuck you were talking about..

      • balamuthia says:

        ..and the accompanying wikipedia "article" was quoted in it's entirety by jwz.

        When you click on the lil' linkie there, it takes you to a picture and a couple of blurbs about the missiles. Not an article.

        And I really don't care to waste my time researching them.