August 31, 1981 | Backgrounder on National Security and Defense
150 August 31, 1981 MX DEPLOWENZ INmEQUAClES b~ THE AIR AND SEA BASED opnavs INTRODUCTION For at least the last four years of its lllife,ll the PIX program has suffered buffeting from winds that have come seemingly from every point of the political compass. Attacked from the Left for its potential for destabilizing strategic deterrence and for its excessive costs (economic and environmental), it has more recently come under fire from some on the Right for its SALT d i ctated basing mode, the physical characteristics of which raise the question of whether it is the most effective means of fielding the new 1.CBM. Much of this criticism has been directed specifically at the chosen land-basing scheme for the missile, a pla n which, as finally approved by President Carter, would have necessitated the construction in the Southwest of some 4,600 concrete shelters in which to both house and hide 200 MX ICBMs.
The Reagan Administration entered office certain of the need for the n ew missile but aware of the troubling political questions surrounding a land-basing concept whose final details had only been settled on in the closing days of the previous administration.
Its uncertainty about the appropriateness of the basing scheme was made manifest by Secretary of Defense Weinberger's decision in March 1981 to establish the Townes Panel to review the various MX basing options and report to the Pentagon on the preferred choice. It proved to be an ominous sign for MX suppor ters because the reopening of the basing question promised to at least delay the current timetable for MX deployment. The magazine Aviation Week & Space Technology noted One of the biggest mistakes in government is to reopen a decision. To do so simply raises all the o ld doubts and adds new ones because the decision maker is, in effect, questioning his own decision i I I I I I i I i I '7 "I 2 What concerns some supporters of a land-based MX is that the Administration is deliberately uncorking a highly charged bottle wh ose eruption will permit the MX to, kill itself off. MX is a complex and expensive program, one with high visibility and a natural budget target, and opposition is already circling around the wagons.
Even as the Townes committee reviewed the matter and as the Air Force's Ballistic Missile Office at Norton Air Force Base in California continued gamely to go forward with the missile program which has already absorbed more than $2 billion, new opposition to the land-based MX was building. On May 5, 1981, the C hurch of I Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the Mormons) issued a two-and a-half page statement opposing the plan to base the MX missile in Utah and Nevada. While not opposing the missile itself, the Mormon statement released by church president Spencer Kinball noted that placing the weapons in Utah and Nevada would mean "one I segment of the population would bear a disproportionate share of the burden, in lives lost and property destroyed, in case of an attack I2 In light of this concern, the statement c ontinued we plead with our national leaders to marshal the genius of the nation to find viable alternatives which will secure at an earlier date and with fewer hazards the protection from possible enemy aggression which is our common con~ern There is reas o n to believe that the Mormon stand will have a considerable impact on public support in Utah, since Mormons make up some sixty-nine percent of that state's population In accordance with its mandate from Secretary Weinberger the Townes Panel since March ha s been hard at work, first attempt ing to bring itself "up to speed" on the intricacies of the various basing options most of which the Air Force had studied to death in the mid- to late-1970s and then rendering advice on the most suitable choice. Among th e basing proposals that have been studied by the Townes committee are two schemes for basing MX at sea Hydra and SUM that managed to garner their share of press attention during the first months of the review and an air-basing option (designated Big Bird) t hat appeared in late July to have won over the Secretary of Defense. Because of the importance of the Administration's final decision on MX, this paper proposes to examine these three concepts in some detail to see how feasible they would be as replacemen ts for land-basing the MX missile William H. Gregory, "Undoing the MX Decision," Aviation Week Space Technology, 114 (March 30, 1981 p. 11.
Quoted in Bill Prochnau, "Mormon Church Joins Opposition to MX Program,"
The Washington Post, May 6, 1981, p. Al.
Quoted in "Mormon Church Opposes Placing MX Missiles in Utah and Nevada,"
The New York Times, May 6, 1981, p. Al. 3 HYDRA I On March 18, 1960, the first firing test of Project Hydra took place successfully at the Naval Tqst Center, Point Mugu California, when a 150-pound r0cke.t was launched from the water.4 During 1960 and the following four years, the Navy's Project Hydra successfully launched more man fifty rockets and missiles that had been placed in the water or had been dropped overboard from a vari e ty of vessels, including the seaplane tender USS Norton Sound and several landing ship docks (LSDs The Navy,.however cancelled the Hydra program in 1965 I I Last year, Captain John E. Draim, USN (Ret the former project director for Hydra, began to draw pu b lic attention with a proposal that rather than deploy its MX missiles in an extremely expensive land-basing system in Utah and Nevada, the Defense Department should put the missiles aboard surface ships, where they could be dropped overboard and launched f rom the water, as had been demonstrated in Project Hydra from several notable people, including retired admirals Thomas Moorer and George Miller and former Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird Draim quickly won support As conceived by Captain Draim, hydralau n ch MX missiles missiles with engine nozzles sealed for waterproofing and equipped with flotati.on collars for increased buoyancy would be deployed aboard a variety of merchant ships. These merchantmen, whose cargoes and missions would be suitably disguise d , would steam the high seas on a continuous basis, always prepared to roll their deadly cargoes overboard on command and to launch the missiles from the water when a safe distance away. As John Draim saw it the advantages of such a basing system for MX wo uld be considerable.
For example, it was argued that this basing scheme would prove significantly less costly than the proposed land-basing plan.
Draim estimated the sea-based alternative could save up to $15 billion over the currently planned system (ori ginally estimated by the Carter Administration at some $33 billi~n One of the major reasons put forth for this cost savings, aside from the elimination of the need for a massive construction project in the Southwest, was the claim that the merchant vessel s to be used for hydralaunch basing would not have to be built since enough were already in the inventory.6 Another advantage, according to the proponents, was that MX missiles secreted aboard continuously moving merchantmen would prove much harder to targ et than would the land-based missiles. As one supporter noted With hundreds United States Naval Aviation 1910-1970, NAVAIR 00-80P-1 (Washington D.C Naval Air Systems Command, 19701, p. 2
33. John E. Draim, "Move MX Missiles Out to Sea," National Review, December 12, 1980, p. 1527 Clarence A. Robinson, Jr Alternative MX Basing Concepts Weighed,"
Aviation Week Space Technology, 113 (October 27, 1980 p. 21. 4 of M-X-laden (and M-X-decoy-laden) merchantpen steaming around the high seas, the Russians would face an'Amponderable probably impossible targeting task. Even if they managed to establish tracks on most of the ships, the costs to them would be enormously higher than those for targeting known land A third advantage claimed for'hydralaunch MX was that depl o g ing the missile at sea would force Soviet military planners to target the majority of their ICBMS on the oceans, away from the continental United States. Finally, the.supporters of the concept argued that unlike the land-basing scheme, deploying the mis siles at sea would arouse little or no environmental opposition.
The benefits promised for hydralaunch deployment by Captain Draim and his associates are actually far less formidable than they would appear at first glance. The following are some of the mor e important liabilities of such a basing plan Lack of Available Hulls It is simply not true that deploying the MX missiles aboard merchant ships would prove considerably less costly than the scheduled land deployment. Most backers of the hydralaunch plan a ssume that MX could be carried aboard U.S. merchant vessels already in commission, thereby incurring few additional costs for the basing mode. This is not feasible. One must examine the merchant shipping assets available to the United States to under stan d just how unrealistic this assumption is.
Ships available for use with the Miltary Sealift Command the component command responsible for the United States' strategic sealift, comprise several categories, the four main ones being the Military Sealift Comma nd-Controlled Fleet, the National Defense Reserve Fleet (NDRF the U.S.-Flag Merchant Marine and the Foreign Flag (Effective U.S. Control-EUSC) Fleet.8 Given the sensitive nature of the hydralaunch MX mission, EUSC ships which are manned by foreign crews, w ould have to be ruled out for use. That would leave only MSC-controlled, NDRF, and U.S.-Flag Merchant Marine vessels available for MX deployment In the 1979-1980 period, the Military Sealift Command controlled fleet consisted of 111 ships the MSC nucleus f leet of 69 vessels (both government-owned and long-term chartered manned partially by civil service crews and partially by merchant marine crews, and the MSC-controlled commercial fleet of 42 Jerry O'Rouke A Sea-Going M-X ICBM Armed Forces Journal, May 19 81, p 24.
Marshall E. Daniel, Jr., Defense Transportation Organization: Strategic Mobility in Changing Times, National Security Affairs Monograph Series 79-3 (Washington, D.C National Defense University, May 1979 pp 11-14 5 ships, manned entirely by unioni zed merchant seaman. Of these 111 merchantmen, only 33 were dry-cargo-capable breakbulk vessel In 1980, the National Defense Reserve Fleet contained only 150 moth-balled ships capable of having value in the military sealift role Of this number, 130 were W o rld War Two-vintage Victory ships, which despite an ongoing active preservation program dehumidification preservation and cathodic hull protection) have been "deteriorating beyond salvation" over a considerable period of time.lo Use of such ships would un doubtedly require an exten sive and costly overhaul and refitting program.
At the beginning of 1980, the U.S.-Flag Merchant Marine consisted of 569 vessels, of which 533 were active.ll Dry-cargo ships useful for military sealift constituted about half of t his fleet 275 ships in 1980 Approximately 226 U.S.-Flag merchant ships 170 dry-cargo vessels) would theoretically be available in non-mobilization contingencies (using phased callups) under the Sealift Readiness Program within sixty days of notification.
However, in addition to its never having been activated, the call-up procedure under the Sealift Readiness Program is extremely complex. It requires, among other things, the approval of both the Secretary of Commerce and the Secretary of Defense to call u p individual ships.l In addition to the time-consuming call-up process, there is the problem that extended use of privately-owned shipping for an MX deployment would prove costly to the United States government and damaging to U.S.-Flag shipping's share of the world market.
As the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Installations and Logistics told Congress in 1975 We have concern for implement ing [the SFW] program, however, since these ships would be removed Ibid p 12. The rest of the ships consisted of ta nkers, tugs and special purpose vessels. Other reports show even lower totals for dry cargo breakbulk ships.
Written statement of Vice Admiral William J. Cowhill, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (Logistics)in House, Committee on Armed Services, Hearings on Military Posture and H.R. 6495 Department of Defense Authorization for Appropriations for Fiscal Year 1981 , Part 3: Seapower and Strategic and Critical Materials Subcommittee, 96th Congress, 2nd session, 1980, p 1
73. The quoted phrase comes from W J. Amoss Sealift and the Reality of American Power," Seapower 24 (March 1981), p 75. There are (19811 however, tw enty-five relatively-low-tonnage capacity ships available on short notice (five to ten days) for use in the NDRF's Ready Reserve Fleet RRF given crew availability. Current plans call for building up the RRF to 35 ships by 1983 United States Naval Institut e Proceedings, 107 (May 198l>, p. 49 portation System: Competition or Complement to the Private Sector Washington, D.C American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, 1976), pp 48-49 lo l1 Brent Baker Naval and Maritime Events 1980 Naval Review 1 9 811 l2 For the call-up procedure, see Clinton H. Whitehurst, Jr., The Defense Trans 1 i i i I i I I i 6 from their normal trade routes and thus if kept for an extended period of time, the U'.S. competitive position in the world ship ping market could be d a maged."13 Of course, a further factor to be considered would be the impact that having MX missiles aboard ships manned'by unionized civilian crews would have on the relia bility of deployment patterns In past years, U.S.-flag shipping has frequently been l eft hostage to union strikes called over relatively insignificant matters.14 The available merchant shipping useable for conversion to the MX hydralaunch mission is therefore extremely limited. Ships of the MSC-controlled fleet are already overcommitted a s far as their wartime sealift responsibilties are concerned, while at the same time their peacetime workload has been steadily increased over the past decade to encompass much of the Navy's underway replenishment responsibility, as part of the Naval Fleet Auxiliary Force.15 As the commander of the Military Sealift Command, Rear Admiral Bruce Keener, commented The U.S. Navy, per se, does not have and will never have organic sealift assets sufficient to meet the demands of more than the very first phases of a ny emergency. The cost in dollars and manpower for DOD to provide the capability would simply be too great. We rely on the U.S. merchant marine for emergency'sealift services and sealift assets, both in peacetime and wartime But] the U.S.-flag merchant ma r ine does not have in large quantities the kind of ship that we in defense see the most need for l6 From the foregoing, it can be concluded that plans for seaborne deployment of PIX using merchantmen would necessitate either an extensive new shipbuilding p rogram or major refitting of moth balled Victory ships now in the National Defense Reserve Fleet.
Either course would be time-consuming and would add considerably to the projected costs of such a dep10yment.l 13 14 15 16 17 Quoted in Daniel, Defense Transp ortation Organization, p. 25 Another question to be raised is the extent to which civilian crew members would have to pass security checks for military clearances.
This mission was initiated in FY 1972 as a money-saving measure. Initial responsibility was limited to oilers, ,tugs store ships and cable-repair ships. Whitehurst, Defense Transportation System, p 41. In recent years, the Navy has turned the majority of its underway replenishment responsibility over to the MSC Quoted in Warren P. Baker, "The S trategic Dimensions of Maritime Power Seapower 23 (November 1980), p. 24.
Utilization of U.S Navy ships would prove equally difficult. As of January 1981, the Navy had only 58 amphibious ships in active commission and six more assigned to the Naval Reserve Force. Norman Polmar, The Ships and Aircraft of the U.S. Fleet, 12th Ed. (Annapolis: United States Naval Institute, 1981 p. 1
32. Of course, at any one time, a significant 7 Vulnerability to Soviet Targeting The assertion that MX-laden merchantmen would be almost impossible to target is also highly doubtful. One must first remember that ships capable of topside storage of large MX missiles 192,000 pounds, 71 feet in length, 92 inches in diameter) and fitted for jettisoning them overboard would be difficu l t to disguise as regular merchantmen. And even if the ships themselves could be suitably disguised, they would have to operate out of ports equipped to provide base maintenance for the missiles ports which would quickly become known to the observant Sovie ts.
Then, once the hydralaunch ships left their home ports, they could either be trailed by Soviet surface vessels or submarines or tracked by long-range aircraft and ocean surveillance satellites.
The Soviets have been deploying ocean surveillance satellites since 19
65. Interestingly, two of these satellites were launched a decade and more ago especially to cover NATO naval exercises 1968 Exercise Silver Tower; 1972 Exercise Strong Express).
One of the most recent Soviet ocean surveillance satellites l aunched was Cosmos 1266, a nuclear-powered satellite sent up in April of this year. These satellites have the capability of providing target data to Soviet missile launch platforms. In this field, the USSR has a clear lead over the United States.
For inst ance, the U.S. Clipper Bow program, designed to develop a tactical support ocean surveillance satellite (furnishing tactical commanders fairly continuous track information on shipping for targeting purposes was initiated in FY 1979 as an austere R69 demon stration for facilitating a production decision in the 1984-85 timeframe.
Once those MX-laden merchantmen not already being trailed by Soviet surface ships or submarines had been located to within a number of these ships is either deployed overseas, in tra nsit or in overhaul or modernization. And as the CNO informed the Senate Armed Services Committee last year, the Navy would soon be experiencing a force level shortfall in amphibious ships. Answer to a question submitted by Senator Gordon Humphrey in Sena t e, Committee on Armed Services, Department of Defense Authorization for Appropriations for Fiscal Year 1981: Hearings on S.2294, Part 2: Nuclear Forces Report, Army Programs, Navy-Marine Corps Programs, Air Force Programs, Navy Shipbuilding Program, 96th C ongress 2nd session, 1980, p 916 around and...to report what it finds and sees in the swath that it.covers and report this back as rapidly as possible to the commanders at sea so to speak Testimony of Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research Engineeri ng and Systems, David E. Mann, Senate, Committee on Armed Services Department of Defense Authorization for Appropriations for Fiscal Year 1979 Hearings on S. 2571, Part 8: Research and Development, 95th Congress 2nd session, 1978, p 62
69. See also Ibid., pp. 6198-6199 l8 "The Navy's requirements is [sic] for a system that will continue to go a few square miles of ocean, they could be readily subjected to attack by long-range cruise missiles.and ballistic missiles armed with nuclear warheads that had been l aunched from submarines a considerable distance away. Soviet submarines currently available for such a strategic counter-ship mission comprise a large and varied force of nuclear- and diesel-propelled ballistic missile and cruise missile-equipped boats. T h ese include some fifty-four SSBNs and SSBs of the Yankee, Hotel I1 and Golf I and II classes and about seventy SSGNs.and SSGs of the Oscar, Papa, Charlie I and u, Echo 11, Juliett, whiskey Long-Bin and Whiskey Twin Cylinder classes.1s The variety of weapo n s available aboard these sub marines run the gamut from the 1600 nautical mile SS-N-6 Mod 2 and Mod 3 SLBMs of the Yankee class boats to the 30 nautical mile SS-N-7 cruise missiles of the Charlie class subs. Certain naval analysts have believed for some t i me that Yankee class submarines have had an additional mission as counter-ship platforms (for targeting American carrier forces). Hydralaunch merchantmen would prove to be targets as least as valuable to these boats as the U.S. aircraft carriers are. Beca u se the long-range SS-N-6 SLBMs aboard the Yankees utilize liquid-fueled propulsion, they can have their thrust terminated by valving at any time during powered flight, thus allowing them minimum ranges of between 100 and 200 miles.20 Use of SS-N-6s on min imum range trajectories against carrying merchant vessels would tend to both increase missile accuracy and reduce the time allowed for evasive action by the ships being targeted.
Because of the lack of protection offered by the flat surface of the ocean, surface ships are vulnerable at sizeable distances to the effects of air-burst explosions of nuclear warheads. A peak overpressure of 5-6 psi will cause fairly severe damage to a s hip's superstructure and ancillary equipment. At optimum altitude the airburst of a one megaton warhead will cause peak overpressures in the 5-6 psi range out to and somewhat beyond three-and-a-half nautical miles.21 Topside damage aboard ship both from b l ast 19 20 21 It should be noted that there were reports in 1980 that the Soviets had begun removing missile tubes from the Yankee class SSBNs in order to convert them into attack submarines, a fact that would (if completed significantly reduce the numbers of SLBMs available for counter-ship mission. .Michael MccGwire A New Trend in Soviet Naval Development,"
Naval War Collese Review 33 (July-August 1980 p 9. However, the Soviets might well reverse this activity if the United States went ahead with plans for a hydralaunch force.
Carl H. Clawson, Jr The Wartime Role of Soviet SSBNs--Round Two United States Naval Institute Proceedings, 106 (March 1980 p. 66 Despite the shorthand use of the term "peak overpressure" in connection with the destructiveness of nuc lear explosions, it should be recalled that target damage is caused both by diffraction loading due to blast overpressure and by drag loading which results from dynamic pressure winds At 3.5 nautical miles, the peak (blast) overpressure from a 1 MT air bu r st would be 5.5 psi and the wind velocity would be 177 mph. 9 overpressure and winds (primarily the latter) would in all proba bility prove more than sufficient to prevent intended jettisoning of the missiles. And the Electromagnetic Pulse (EIvIP) effects from such an explosion would play havoc with shipboard communica tions and other electronic systems out to even greater distances.22 And it is very probable that Soviet submarines would launch salvoes of two or more SLBMs (the SS-N-6 Mod 3 is already equi pped with three MRV warheads) against each ship, thereby decreasing the requirements for high accuracy and increasing the synergistic effects of the bursts.
Sinking the ships would not be required. Soviet targeting against MX hydralaunch merchant vessels w ould be completely successful if the nuclear explosions prevented the launching of the missiles (providing a mission kill Therefore, even the relative inaccuracies of older Soviet SLBMs such as the SS-N-4 and SS-N-5 would not present an overriding problem I Missile Accuracy Another factor mitigating against the MX hydralaunch deploy ment concept is the matter of missile accuracy. The MX has been designed to be an extremely accurate ICBM, with a capability significantly better than that present cn the Minut eman 111.
This major improvement in accuracy, necessary if the missile's warheads are to have a high hard target-kill capability, is to be provided by the missile's inertial measurement unit, known as AIRS (Advanced Inertial Reference Sphere AIRS is a bery llium sphere containing three Northrop Third Generation Gyroscopes TGGs) utilizing the latest advances in bearing technology (for relaying attitude information) and three Honeywell accelerometers to measure velocity).23 AIRS is to be suspended inside a ca s e and surrounded by a thin layer of low-viscosity fluid to cushion it against missile vibration and temperature effects and to allow it to float freely while the missile is in flight. AIRS is also self-aligning and self-calibrating. Together, these featur e s make it all-attitude and all-azimuth capable and enable the inertial guidance system to zero out all of the effects of gravity when it is launched. When combined with its advanced guidance and control flight computer, many times faster than the computer 22 The relative intensity of the Electromagnetic Pulse effects resulting from a nuclear explosion varies according to the height of the burst with high-altitude nuclear explosions producing pronounced EMP effects over the largest geographic area. For a ge n eral discussion of EMP pheno mena see "Nuclear Pulse (I): Awakening to the Chaos Factor," Science 212 29 May 1981 pp. 1009-1012 23 Bruce A. Smith, "Test Scheduled for MX Inertial System," Aviation Week h Space Technology, 112 (April 7, 1980), pp. 67-71; B ruce A. Smith, MX Missile Performance, Throw Weight Improved," Aviation Week Space Techno logy, 112 (June 16, 1980), p. 131; and "U.S New MX Order for Northrop,"
Defense Foreign Affairs Daily, April 2, 1980, p. 2 10 used in Minuteman 111, ut lizing hardened logic devices and plated wire memory, AIRS provides the MX missile an unprecedented accuracy.
Unfortunately, the hydralaunch environment cancels most if not all of the promised improvement in accuracy provided by AIRS.
Next to the inertial sensing equi pment itself, the most important contributors to overall missile accuracy are the initial conditions at launch. For a missile to fly the thousands of miles required of it with the precise ballistic trajectory for its warheads to hit their intended targets with high accuracy, it is necessary that the missile's inertial guidance system be properly calibrated for the missile's exact latitude and longitude coordinates at the time of launch.
Land-based ICBMs are deployed in carefully surveyed, fixed silos to nu llify errors resulting from the inaccurate calculation of launch location. On the other hand, submarine-launched ballis tic missiles, because their moving launching platforms are subject to greater position errors, require guidance systems with the capabi l ity to correct missile trajectories in flight, if they are to achieve greater accuracy. Thus, current SLBMs such as the U.S. Trident I (C-4) and the Soviet SS-N-18 utilize stellar inertial guidance systems, which allow onboard measurement of the missiles' orientation in space relative to one or more stars of known celestial coordinates, for course correction by their inertial guidance units and subsequent steering modification Therefore without some sort of mid-course data update for course correction, MX m issiles (not now configured for such updates) jettisoned from merchant vessels and launched from the ocean would not have sufficient accuracy to have a high probabili ty of success against Soviet hardened targets. With necessary missile guidance modificat i ons, mid-course correction could be provided for hydralaunch MXs through data transmission from military navigational satellites such as GPS and Navstar. However total reliance on such external means for required accuracy of these strategic missiles would be dangerous, because satellites and their transmissions) are susceptible to enemy countermeasures and also because the effects produced by high altitude nuclear explosions can black out transmissions for extended periods of time. In a very real sense, re l iance on external mid-course guidance would render the seaborne MX force no more secure than the satellites on which it would depend 24 Of course some earlier American and Soviet SLBMs also employed stellar inertial guidance. For a useful discussion of ba l listic missile inertial guidance systems, see David G. Hoag, "Strategic Ballistic Missile Guidance A Story of Every Greater Accuracy," Astronautics Aeronautics, 16 (May 1978 11 Ship Security .I One final factor to be discussed here that has not been suffi c iently considered with regard to the Draim hydralaunch proposal is the matter of ensuring security for the MX hydralaunch fleet. It should be remembered that the MX missiles would be put aboard unarmed merchant ships, vessels which could depend for their s ecurity only upon their presumed ability to camouflage their strategic cargoes and missions. If these vessels could not successfully hide their purpose, they could well become priority targets for terrorists and pirates. Imagine the consternation in Washi n gton if an =-laden merchantman were to be seized by a group of desperate men who promised to destroy the missiles unless burdensome ransom demands were met, or worse yet, who managed to separate one or more of the warheads from a missile's bus" and then d isappeared with the deadly package.
Securing the fleet against this realistic possibility would require either arming the merchant ships, as was done during the Second World War, or providing each vessel with its own naval escort. Arming merchantmen with d eck guns (since small arms alone might not prove sufficient to repel boarding by a determined terrorist force) would take time, even if the guns were readily available. Training the civilian crews to reach even minimal proficiency with these guns would pr ove even more time-consuming while the alternative of stationing a permanent detachment of naval personnel aboard each ship to man such guns would only further deplete the already undermanned U.S. Navy.
Yet the second choice is equally troublesome. The Nav y lacks the available destroyers and frigates required for such additional escort duties. As of the beginning of this year, the Navy had 37 missile-armed destroyers (DDGs) and 43 all-gun destroyers (DDs) in the active fleet, with another 16 DDs in the Nav a l Reserve Fleet. Similarly, its complement of frigates (FFGs and FFs) stood at about 70, some 22 below the Service's current force level objective.25 Thus, a fleet of MX hydralaunch merchant men would require for their security the expenditure of addition a l large sums of money and manpower to prevent being seized by armed parties of men while steaming in international waters SUM In the summer of 1978, the Jason Study Group, at the request of the Department of Defense, held a series of meetings at the Stanf o rd Research Institute to explore various concepts for providing ICBM invulnerability. At the end of its three-week 25 Polmar, Ships and Aircraft of the U.S. Fleet, pp. 91 and 113; and "Naval Forces Summary, February 1981 Naval Review 198l), United States N aval Institute Proceedings, 107 (May 1981 p. 237. 12 session, the group, headed by Stanford physicist Sidney Drell recommended that DoD develop a plan for the so-called llwater-basedlt MX.26 In February' 1979, Drell and fellow Jason Group member Richard G a rwin of Harvard testified before the House Armed Service.s Committee on their proposal, which they designated SUM (Submerged Underwater Mobile As orginally envisioned by Drell and Garwin the MX missiles, instead of being based on land, would be placed on fifty small, coastal submarines. Each conventional submarine of some 450 tons displacement and a crew of twelve would carry two to four MX missiles in capsules outside its pressure hull.
Its operating area for its two- to four-week cruises would be a band of ocean 200 nautical miles wide off of the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the continental United States It would receive communications from the National Command Authority through a network of on-shore transmitter The concept was subsequently modified an d refined over a period of months, in part in response to technical criticisms.
During 1980, Dr. Drell testified about SUM before a number of congressional forums, including both the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Defense and Military Construction Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee. In the more refined proposal, the SUM force would consist either of eighty 450-ton submarines, utilizing fuel cell propulsion and carrying two canisterized MX missiles or forty 1,000 ton submarines car r ying four missiles. These submarines would not have their own inertial navigation system for determining their positions but would rely instead on the inertial navigation systems contained in the missiles. Twelve to fifteen man crews would operate the boa t s on their three-week cruises, monitoring the largely automated equip ment and performing routine maintenance authorities on shore would take place by VLF (very low frequency radio signals using expendable "awash-buoy1' antennas. The sub marines, roaming o cean bands out to 200 nautical miles offshore in the Pacific and operating from points between 100 and 300 miles offshore in the Atlantic would prove impossible for the Soviets to effectively target Communication with 26 Bill Keller, "Attack of the Atomic Tidal Wave: Sighted S.U.M., Sank Same," The Washington Monthly 12 (May 1980), pp. 54-55; and Eliot Marshall MX Missile to Room 200 Racetracks," Science, October 12, 1979, reprinted in Congressional Record, November 8, 1979, p. S15321 Press Release), Septe mber 7, 1979; and Stanford University News Service Press Release), November 20, 1979.
The reason for the increased offshore operating distance in the Atlantic is the necessity of the bo ats avoiding possible destruction from tidal waves caused by multiple Soviet underwater nuclear explosions, the effects of which would be drastically increased in power by the shallow water 400 feet or less in depth) of the continental shelf, which extend s to about 100 miles off the East Coast of the United States. This phenomenon known as the "Van Dorn" or surf-zone effect, was one of the points used 27 Marshall MX Missile," p. S16322; Stanford University News Service 28 13 The major advantages suggested b y Drell and Garwin for this undersea basing proposal were several. First, they argued that the submarine-deployed MX force as a whole would be invulnerable to Soviet strategic targeting, unlike MX in the projected land basing scheme, which could be overwh e lmed by increased numbers of Soviet warheads. Sidney Drell testified As a result of its mobility and concealment under water, it [the SUM force] cannot be effectively barraged or pattern-bombed [even] by the entire Soviet ICBM Second, they stated that SUM would prove significantly cheaper than the Carter Administration's land-based deployment plan for MX. Drell estimated it would be $10 billion less expensive (about a third less costly than the $33 billion land-based MX system Third, they claimed that with sufficient national effort, the SUM system could become operational well before the 199Os, making available to the U.S., at an earlier date than the land-based MX plan, a signi.ficant amount of surviv able megatonnage. Dr. Drell noted Alnything less than t he full deployment of the racetrack system against an accurately projected' threat is of little real value to the U.S. since we do not even begin to realize an appreciable gain in retaliatory capability as measured by surviving megatonnage until the deplo yment of most of the shelters has been completed.
The SUM system that has been proposed has no such deficiency contributes significantly to the surviving magatonnage Elach addittonal missile that is deployed Past experience shows that, if we are determined to, we should be able to initiate a SUM deployment well before the 1990 O However, just as is the case with the Hydra concept, on close inspection, the suggested advantages of SUM are seen to be less formidable. These are just a few of the liabilities of this basing scheme to criticize the initial SUM proposal, which envisioned the deployment of a portion of the submarine force in the waters of the continental shelf.
See Sidney D. Drell and Richard L. Garwin, "Statement on SUM and Its Invulnerability to t he Surf Zone (Van Dorn) Effect copy of a one-page typescript document, March 29, 1980 Testimony on SUM as a Basing Scheme for the MX and Its Advantages Relative to the Racetrack by Sidney D. Drell before Defense and Military Construction Subcommittees of the Senate Appropriations Committee, May 7, 1980," copy of a typescript document, p. 8 29 30 Ibid., pp. 8 and 12, respectively. 14 SUM Deployment Schedule Professor Drell asserted in April 1980 that the SUM system could begin to be deployed in 19
86. He te stified before the Senate Armed Services Committee's Research and Development Subcom mittee I see no basis for extrapolating'more than 5 years to develop the very simple submarines we are talking about, which have nothing in guidance beyond what the luM p rogram provides. They are state-of-the-art fuel cells and very simple technology, not even superhard.
The 1986 timeframe is set by the availability of missiles.31 This belief in the early availability was founded upon several premises. One of them was the belief, at least initially, that the small, 450-ton submarine required for carrying two MX missiles could be developed quickly as a modified version of the German HDW (Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft)'Type 206 submarine, which has been in service with the We s t German Bundesmarine since the early 1970 In a November 1979 press release, Drell's feelings on this point were explained in this way The West German navy already operates modern diesel-electric submarines of precisely the size envisioned to carry the MX , 450 tons.'133 Another premise was that if given national priority, the SUM: submarines could be designed and built very quickly. As the basis for this premise SUM supporters pointed to the rapid development in the 1950s of the Polaris nuclear ballistic m i ssile submarines. As Drell testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee A]t the deployment of the Nautilus, the Navy estima ted it would take 10 years to go to nuclear missiles at sea 31 32 33 Statement of Dr. Sidney Drell, Deputy Director, Stanfo r d Linear Accelera tion Center, Stanford, Calif Senate, Committee on Armed Services Department of Defense Authorization for Appropriations for Fiscal Year 1981 Hearings on S. 2294, Part 6: Research and Development, Civil Defense 96th Congress,, 2nd session , 1980, p. 3721.
The HDW Type 206 diesel-electric submarine displaces 450 tons surfaced 600 tons submerged. It has a crew of twenty-two and is equipped with two MTU diesel engines (750 hp each), two 500-kw generators and one 1,500 hp electric motor.. Jean Labayle Couhat, ed., Combat Fleets of the World 1980/81: Their Ships, Aircraft, and Armament (Annapolis: United States Naval Institute, 19801, p. 170.
Stanford University News Service, November 20, 19
79. See also Marshall WX Missile p. 5163
22. In the 1980 congressional testimony, Dr. Drell apparently avoided mentioning the connection between the SUM boats and the HDW-built submarines. 15 There yere a number of technical problems raised against it, but beginning in 1957, when Admiral Raborn was given t h e charge, let us put some ballistic missiles at sea, he managed in 3% years to test a solid-fuel missile with a thrust unprecedented to go to a 1,200 mile range. That was the Polaris A-1 missile. He developed the technique for underwater, launch popup sol i d-fuel missiles, and we, in fact, by the end of 1962 [sic had operational Polaris submarines going from the Nautilus at sea in the deployed forces.34 Neither of these optimistic assumptions is valid. First the 450-ton HDW submarines cannot be easily modif i ed to handle the additional weight of two canisterized MX missiles (180 tons additional displacement They are simply too small. In fact even the larger HDW-600 of some 550 tons displacement was found by the Defense Department's Office of Research and Engi n eering DDR&E) to be too small to handle the missiles. It reported The German submarine (designated HDW-600) has about 10 reserve buoyancy. With the two MX capsules, buoyancy would drop to about 4%, which is insufficient for safe operation. Accordingly, th e ballast and buoyancy control systems would have to be redesigned, necessitat ing other major changes to the submarine layout. Also the submarine structure and control systems would have to be modified to ensure adequate steering, depth, and trim control. 3 5 DDR&E found that a submarine would have to have a pressure hull displacement of at least 1,100 tons (carrying up to four canister ized MX missiles) to be feasible. The independent study of the proposal conducted by the Navy Department, geared toward a l o nger range, deeper-operating-depth submarine, came out with a design minimum of 1,600 tons. Diesel-electric submarines of either displacement would have to specially designed for the mission, a 34 35 Statement of Dr. Sidney Drell I Department of Defense A u thorization for Fiscal Year 1981, Part 6, p. 3721 ICBM Basing Options: A Summary of Major Studies to Define a Survivable Basing Concept for ICBMs (Washington, D.C Office of the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (Strategic and S pace Systems), December 1980 p 21. The Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, William Perry, testified in April 1980 We have discussed the existing submarines the small 500- and 1,000-ton diesel electric submarines with the German manufa cturer, and have concluded that attaching these large missiles on the exterior of those submarines would introduce substantial structural problems and that the system resulting from that would not be seaworthy Statement of Dr.
William J. Perry, Deputy Unde r Secretary of Defense [sic] for Research and Engineering Department of Defense Authorization for Fiscal Year 1981 Part 6, p. 3707. 16 procedure that would take considerable time.. DDR&E estimated the IOC for a 1,600-ton SUM boat to be 19
92. According to another source, Howaldtwerke-Deutsche Werft told Defense scientists that it would take seven years to modify, test and build a larger 1,800-ton boat for SUM deployment.36 The need for a new submarine design would also dramatically increase the 'costs of t he system.37 The premise that a priority program could make SUM operational in the mid-1980s is also doubtful. The analogy with the Polaris program is not very instructive since in the 1950s and 1960s, the Navy had seven shipyards supplying submarines for the Fleet (five privately-owned commercial yards and two navy shipyards Today the Navy is forced to depend upon only two private commercial yards, Electric Boat (General Dynamics) and Newport News Tenne~o As the Congress' Office of Technology Assessment r e ported At present there are only two shipyards in the United States capable of building submarines, and both are backlogged. Bringing additional shipyards to the point where they could build submarines, and obtaining the necessary parts and materials, wou l d probably involve substantial delays. OTA estimates that the first such submarine could not be operational before 1988 at the very earliest, with 1990 a more realistic date Efforts to accelerate this schedule (or, if things went wrong to maintain this sc h edule) could delay other, existing submarine construction programs.39 sys tem' Vulnerability The proponents of SUM argue that the small, low speed (5 knots) submarines would be impossible for the Soviets to effective ly target. This argument is also open t o question It is true that diesel-electric submarines when on battery are extremely quiet and thus difficult to locate and track using acoustic detection equipment. However, such submarines cannot operate on battery constantly and must run their diesel en gines 36 "Washington Roundup: 112 (April 28, 1980), p.
13. Of course, Drell denies that there is a requirement for submarines in the 1,600-1,800 ton range.
For example, the Office of Technology assessment cost estimate for SUM system procurement is $32 b illion for 51 moderately sized diesel-electric boats. 38 "Written Statement of Ah. H. G. Rickover, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Naval Reactors, Department of Energy," House, Committee on Armed Services Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program 1981: Hearing on H .R. 2969, 97th Congress, 1st session, March 9, 1981, pp. 6168 and 6173.
Assessment, 1981 pp. 35-36 SUM Rebuttal ,I1 Aviation Week Space Technology 37 39 MX Missile Basing: Summary (Washington, D.C Office of Technology 17 to recharge the battery a number of times each day. ,To do this the submarine must send up a tube to the s u rface of the water to take in air (snorkle The combination of the increased noise from the diesel engines and the surface disturbance of the water by the snorkle significantly increases the possibility of detec tion. For this reason, Professors Drell and G arwin have recommend ed that the new submarines be powered by large fuel cells, which would have the quiet operating capability of the conventional battery but with the capacity for continuous use. The problem with this concept is that the use of large fu el cells for propul sion is beyond the present state-of-the-art. It is still an unproved technology, one which will take careful management and a I fair number of years to develop.
I Another vulnerability factor which should be considered is the relatively small operating area envisioned for the SUM fleet.
According to Drell, the small submarines would operate in an area of only 500,000 square miles of ocean. This should be contrasted with that of the Trident submarine fleet, which will operate in an ocean area consisting of between fifteen and twenty million square miles (an area 30 to 40 times larger).40 Deploying the SUM boats into this relatively small portion of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans would allow the Soviets to concentrate a significant porti o n of their ASW forces in (and target a good deal of their ICBM megatonnage on) the submarines' operating areas. The slow moving submarines (which, unlike their nuclear-powered counterparts would lack the submerged speed to shake off their surface pursuers could be trailed by Soviet surface vessels upon leaving their I home ports. Alternatively, the USSR could surreptitiously lay a network of passive hydrophone arrays (like our own SOSUS network in the waters just off the continental shelf -in the Atlantic, for example, to help localize the submarines and chart their deploy ment patterns.
I Much of the vaunted invulnerability of a SUM system is dependent upon the Soviet Union continuing to lag behind the United States in its anti-submarine warfare capability . While Soviet acoustic systems and signal processing equipment are currently much inferior to ours, their ASW research and development effort is extensive and oriented toward finding non-acoustic detection methods which could eventually equal or better o u r accoustic detection capability. As Rear Admiral Sumner Shapiro testified in 1978 40 MX Missile Basinq, p 22. Former Secretary of Defense Harold Brown, in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, set the Trident boat's operating area as 1 8 million square miles. The Department of Defense Statement on Strategic Military Balance States Senate 96th Congress, First Session, 11 July 1977, Figure [7 p Military Assessment by The Honor able Harold Brown Before the Committee on Foreign Relations of t he United I. 18 Our general assessment of the state of Soviet ASW is that it is a.big effort, both currently and in the research and development sense The limitations that they have in acoustics I think has led the Soviets to investigate other systems tha t could given them an answer to their acquisition problems The Soviets have taken this route probably because they recognized early on the U.S. lead in quieting our submarines and also the lead we enjoy in acoustic technology in general. They may be trying to end run us and come up with some other capability that would give them an advantage over us.
Research and development on this started in the later fifties. They have accumulated very large compar able data base, have a lot of surface ships and research ships collecting information, and they may understand some of the phenomena that were involved, some of it better than we do.41 The deployment of a majority of our strategic forces in submarines SUM and Trident) would only allow the Soviet Union to furth er concentrate its efforts in the anti-submarine warfare area, thus perhaps leading to an earlier solution to the SLBM threat.
Sidney Drell acknowledged the potential for Soviet detection of the SUM fleet when, in his testimony before the Senate Armed Serv ices Committee in 1980, he commented upon the need to explore actions by the Navy to aid the acoustic masking efforts of the SUM force (through the use of noise generators) and to harass Soviet forces seeking access to the SUM operating areas.42 On a numb e r of occasions, Professors Drell and Gamin have also stressed the need for U.S. Naval forces to protect the SUM fleet. However as Dr. Seymour Zieberg, the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, testified in 1980, the use of such n a val assets would require the procurement of additional ships and aircraft a step which would add some $10 to $15 billion to the cost of the deployed system.43 41 "Statement of Rear Adm. Sumner Shapiro, USN, Deputy Director, Office of Naval Intelligence," Senate, Committee on Armed Services, Department of Defense Authorization for Appropriations for Fiscal Year 1979: Hearings on S. 2571, Part 9: Research and Development, 95th Congress, 2nd session 1978, pp. 6662, 6665-6666.
Testimony of Dr. Sidney Drell, De partment of Defense Authorization for Fiscal Year 1981, Part 6, p 3728 42 43 Testimony of Dr. Seymour Zeiberg, Ibid., p. 3736 19 Missile Accuracy The accuracy of the MX missiles carried by the SUM boats is another factor that downgrades the acceptability o f the basing scheme. As noted previously, under the Drell/Garwin proposal the submarines would not have separate inertial navigation systems to provide accurate location information but would instead rely on the inertial navigation systems in the MX missi les they carried.
According to SUM proponents, the accuracy of the MX missiles would be heightened by the use of early- or mid-course data updates from ground beacons.44 However, ground beacons are subject to the same data trans mission problems that satel lites have. They may be knocked out early in a nuclear engagement and their transmissions can be jammed or garbled by EMP effects. And even if they are able to provide course correction data, the information they provide may not be sufficient to give the M X missiles the hard target kill capability that MX was designed to achieve. It should be noted that under questioning in 1980, Dr. Drell, a strong advocate of arms control, expressed uneasiness with an MX deployment mode which gave the missiles a counters i lo capability.45 Manning the SUM Fleet One other factor which supporters of the small submarine Under the STJM proposal, a crew of twelve to fifteen men would plan apparently did not fully examine is the question of manning operate each submarine on cruis e s of from three to four weeks in length. Because of the size of the boats involved, crew habita bility would not be particularly good. Sleeping and eating quarters would be cramped and recreational activities would prove extremely limited. Given the sched u le of frequent cruises personnel aboard these SUM boats could expect to spend the majori ty of their time either in transit to and from port or on station.46 Such activity in cramped surroundings would prove burdensome to even the most dedicated sailors a n d officers. After initial recruitment for such duty, one would expect to see a major dropoff in crew retention. After all, even in the Navy's present nuclear program (and it should be noted that duty aboard nuclear submarines is far more pleasant than wou l d be the case with SUM boats), the Service has been forced to draft a portion of its officers for the program to maintain its minimum manning requirement 44 45 46 47 See Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program--1981, pp. 31-36 For a discussion of factors affecti ng missile accuracy, see the previous section of this paper dealing with Hydra's missile accuracy problems.
See his exchange with Senator Culver in Department of Defense Authorization for Fiscal Year 1981, Part 6, p. 3725.
Dr. Drell talked of an on-statio n availability of sixty percent and more. 20 In general, it appears that SUM offers no major advantages over the Trident program already underway, while adding certain liabilities not now present. As a substitute for land-basing MX it offers even less use fulness. The MX missiles it would furnish would be neither time-urgent nor reliably hard-target-kill capable.
BIG BIRD: THE AIR-BASING OPTION As conceptually interesting as the two sea-based schemes for MX were, they proved no more intriguing than the air-basing plan that was briefed to the Tomes panel in April of this year.
During the course of Air Force evaluations in the mid-l970s, all sorts of air-basing schemes, from sea sitters to VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing) aircraft, had been studied and rej ected because even the best concepts seemed to founder for failure to meet several critical criteria endurance, survivability and cost. Nonetheless, the fate of the new air-basing proposal initially seemed to be brighter In mid-July, information began lea k ing from the Pentagon that Secretary of Defense Weinberger was favoring an air-basing option for the MX missile. The news undoubtedly came as a surprise to a. great many people, including influential members of Congress and even some senior Air Force offi c ers in the Pentagon. As columnist Hugh Sidey expressed it in Time Dr. Strangelove world of nukes and launchers seem to be moving toward a final shape that has stunned the Pentagon, the industrial complex that builds the military's hardware and the defense experts in congress I Elvents in the Despite its sudden impact, the air-basing proposal now known as Bics Bird started out unpretentiously. The concept of deploying MX missiles aboard large, fuel-efficient, long-endurance aircraft had been developed by tw o men, Ira Kuhn, Jr. of B-K Dynamics and Abe Kerem of Leading Systems, I~C Early this year, with the design for the aircraft in hand, Mr. Kuhn began trying to interest the Defense Department in his proposal. After an initial failure the developer turned to the Tomes panel and succeeded in briefing first a portion of the group and then, in late April, the entire panel. The interest of the Tomes panel in the concept led to Air Force and OSD evaluations in May 1981 and to a request in early June that Boeing pe r form an independent study of the Big Bird proposal.50 According to its developer, the Biq Bird air-basing scheme was given a positive evaluation by Boeing, which found that the 48 Hugh Sidey, "The Next Tough One," Time, August 10, 1981, p. 19 49 Walter Pi ncus 2 Guys' Hatched Air-Mobile MX Concept," The Washington Post, August 13, 1981, p. Al.
Ibid. 21 proposed aircraft was "super good on cost and performance, and 3 good on v~lnerability This favorable report apparently helped bring the idea to the Secretary of Defense's attention.
To Mr. Weinberger, the promise of a viable airborne MX fleet seemed to provide a way out of the severe po litical problems which the land-basing proposal has engendered.52 Reportedly, the Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, Richard DeLauer, presented the approved Weinberger air-basing plan to the Townes Committee at the beginning of AS ten t atively Big Bird air-basing In the first phase decided upon by the Defense Department, the deployment for MX would consist of two phases the MX missiles would be placed aboard newly built models of the C-5A transport, redesigned and equipped with material s for EMP hardening. Some 100 of these huge transport aircraft would be maintained on strip alert at austere landing fields two aircraft to each field. Each aircraft would carry one MX missile on a cradle, designed so that the missile could be extracted fr om the aircraft in mid-air by drogue chutes. Once the missile had reached vertical orientation, it would be ignited and sent on its ballistic trajectory toward the Soviet Union.
The additional guidance information required for initial launching accuracy wo uld be supplied to the MX-carrier aircraft by several of the 1,200 ground-based transmitters (GBS) to be located at Vortac navigation sites around the country In the second phase, the MX missiles would be removed from the C-5A aircraft (which would then b e come an augmentation fleet for U.S. military airlift needs) and would be emplaced aboard a fleet of special Big Bird'long-endurance aircraft. These planes built entirely of composite materials and designed with an extreme ly large wingspan for glider-like aerodynamic lift and flying at a 100-knot cruising speed, would be able to sustain flight unre fueled for 48 hours, and with refueling remain aloft for extended periods of time (3.8 to 5.6 days).54 For launching their missiles 51 Ira Kuhn, quoted in Ibid 5 2 Rowland Evans and Robert Novak, "An MX And an Airplane," The Washington Post, July 17 1981, p. A23 53 Sidey, "The Next Tough One," p. 19 54 The substantial wingspan of the proposed Big Bird aircraft is best judged as a ratio of its wingspan to its fusel a ge length. It wingspan would be approximately 2.19 times longer than its fuselage A comparison of that ratio to those in other American aircraft is useful. The wingspan of the C-5A is only 97 percent of the length of its fuselage, while that of the B-52 b o mber is 1.16 times longer than its fuselage. Even the unique U-2 reconnaissance aircraft has a wingspan only 1.61 times longer than its fuselage (TR-1, UPA/B versions that of the U-2R being slightly greater 1.64 times longer Of course, an additional facto r that is of utmost importance to sustained lift is wing loading, with low wing-loaded aircraft having the advantage. 22 the aircraft would climb to between 10,000 and 20,000 feet and increase their airspeed to between 130 and 180 knots.
The 100 aircraft o f this fleet could be operationally deployed in a number of ways, including ground loiter with planes hopping among many austere airfields; short loiter with aircraft in a time of international tension) alerted for fast takeoff and having an airborne endu r ance of some eight hours while operating from both primary and secondary bases; and long air loiter with the aircraft employed in continuous air operations from primary bases for up to five days.55' However, the deployment proposal for Biq Bird apparently put forth by its designer and the one which would promise the highest system survivability is the ocean loiter plan. Under this scheme, the 100 aircraft would be deployed at two air bases, one located on the East Coast and one on the West Coast. Half of t h e MX-carrying aircraft would be aloft at all times, ranging from their bases out into vast patrol ling areas of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, where they could safely loiter for extended periods.56 Like the sea-basing options, this air-mobile proposal s ufIers from certain significant drawbacks. Several of them are worth some detailed examination in this paper.
System Cost There is every reason to believe that the long-term costs of such a basing scheme would be substantially higher than those of the hori zontal MPS land-basing system. The cost estimate for procurement of the C-5As varies according to the number of aircraft believed necessary to maintain the strip alert requirements.
Proponents of the plan claim that as few as 115 C-5As would be necessary to maintain 100 aircraft on strip alert. Using ballpark procurement figures for the current C-5A design (utilizing the redesigned wing but without re-engining, making structural modifi cations or adding the EMP hardening which would be required for MX dep l oyment these 115 aircraft would cost between $10.35 and 12.74 billion in FY 1981 dollars.57 Other defense experts 55 Clarence A. Robinson, Jr Weinberger Pushes Strategic Airmobile MX Concept," Aviation Week Space Technology, 115 (August 3, 1981 p. 17 56 C larence A. Robinson, Jr ICBM, Bomber Decisions Due in Late July,"
Aviation Week Space Technology, 115 (July 13, 1981), p. 18; Pincus 2 Guys' Hatched Concept," p. Al; and Richard Halloran Some On MX Panel Favor Air System," The New York Times, July 17, 1981, p. A14.
The ballpark figures used in computing procurement costs for the C-SA between $90 and $110 million a copy) come from the testimony of Major General Emil Block, "Briefing on CX," in House, Committee on Armed Services Hearings on Military Posture and H.R. 6945 Department of Defense Authori zation for Appropriations for Fiscal Year 1981, Part 4: Research and Development, Book 2, 96th Congress, 2nd session, 1980, p. 17
98. Current dollar costs (FY 1982) would be higher both because of inflation and increased production and materials costs 57 23 argue, it seems more accurately, that the number of C-5As required to maintain 100 aircraft on strip alert would be much higher.
The Air Force estimates that some 291 would be necessary. This works out to a c ost of between $26.19 and $32.01 billion in EY 1981'dollar on strip alert, it would take an overall requirement of 100 to maintain readiness, according to Air Force The cost for this minimum number of C-5As would be between $9 and $11 billion.60 And incor p orating required design changes in the C-5s Even using a scaled-down deployment of 34 aircraft would add additional millions to the cost of each procured air craft Costs for the austere airfields would also have to be added to any calculations. For a 100- a ircraft deployment, 50 airstrips would be required. Even if the Air Force made maximum use of existing fields in the north central part of the United States which would reduce overall survivability of the airborne portion of the Triad, since only so many a ircraft could take off within the requisite period of time and the bomber force and the PIX carrying C-5s would have to jockey for position on the available runways the air-mobile basing scheme would still require the construction of some 35-40 new airfie l ds. These austere fields would have to have runways a minimum of 10,100 feet in length and 150 feet in width (for turnaround) and surfaced to handle the stress of repeated landings by heavily loaded aircraft. The construction cost of these airfields would also not be cheap.
When the money for four main operating bases, 1,200 ground beacons, the MX missiles'themselves and the O&S costs for the system, with the 32,800 personnel (versus 13,500 for MPS basing is added in, one can see just how expensive the fir st phase of Big Bird would be. The Air Force estimated that the acquisition costs for the high airmobile option (100 aircraft on strip alert would be about $54 billion and its operating costs over a 12.5-year life cycle would be $22 billion.62 To determin e a total system 58 59 60 61 62 See footnote 57, above. A mid-range figure (about halfway between the number suggested by the proponents and that offered by the Air Force) of 200 C-5A would run from $18 to $22 bil1ion;using the same calculations.
Air Force estimates are given in 'WAF Analysis Attacks Airmobile MX Concept," Aviation Week Space Technology, 115 (August 17, 19811, p. 31.
See foonote 57, above.
For example, the aircraft's standard General Electric TF39 engine is already judged to lack sufficient thrust for the C-5A's requirements at or near maximum takeoff weight (766,000 lbs. at the 2.256 load factor).
Given that the deployed weight of the MX missile (192,000 lbs.) and the accompanying cradle would approach the maximum allowable cabin load 242,500 lbs. at the 2.256 load factor) of the C-5A, re-engining the aircraft would undoubtedly be required USAF Ana lysis Aviation Week Space Technology, p.
31. The estimates for the low airmobile option (34 aircraft on strip alert) were $33 billion in acquistion costs and $10 billion in operating costs. 24 cost, the price of the new Bi Bird aircraft would also have to be addecXo these figures Un or unately, it is impossible to come up with reliable cost'figures for an aircraft still in the concept development stage. However, at the very least, the procurement of these aircraft would add additional billions to the alre ady high procurement and operating.costs of the Mx air- mobile basing option.
Survivability The biggest survivability problem that MX will have during the first phase of,Bi are to get off the ground and out of the immediate impact areas in time. Air Force estimated that it would take five minutes.and twenty-two seconds for the C-5A aircraft..to begin taxiing once the Soviet SLBMs broke water. trajectory missile impact times to be between six and ten minutes after launch. Under these circumstances, C-5As lo c ated on air- strips within the earlier portion of the SLBM impact window would still be taking off when the warheads started arriving and would be completely destroyed In fact, under the Air Force study's assumptions (12 of 52 Soviet SLBM boats targeted o n the force and 2,300 ICBM warheads used for selected barraging of some 11,500 square nautical miles of fly-out corridors) only fifty percent of a 100 alert-aircraft force would survive (500 warheads) and only 40 percent of a 34 alert-aircraft force would e scape destruction (136 warheads).63 Bird is simply that the C-5As on strip In its evaluation of the latest air-mobile concept, the Yet they'also'estimated Soviet depressed alert require immedia e warning of Soviet SLBM launches if they Moreover, the Air F o rce's assumptions of survivability appear to be highly optimistic. First, their study assumes that C-5A aircraft can begin taxiing five minutes and twenty-two seconds after SLBM launch. This appears to be somewhat unrealistic. The complex alerting process at SAC NORAD and NMCC will alone consume the first two to three minutes after the PAVE PAWS radars at Beale and Otis have detected the missiles breaking water? That leaves the alert crews two to two-and-a-half minutes to get to their planes, perform minim a l necessary pre-flight checks, start the engines and get them up to full power. acknowledged, if warning or reaction times were delayed by even two minutes, survival of the force would drop to Ifvirtually zero As the Air force 63 64 USAF Analysis Ibid 1,0 00 warhead original force.
See the testimonv and information supplied for the record in House 136 warheads would be only 13.6 percent of the Committee on Armid Services, Strategic Warning System False Alerts I 96th Congress, 2nd session, June 24, 1980, pp. 2 and 27 Hearing YThe Washington Post, 25 Second, the Air Force study utilized a 1981 Soviet strategic forces model on which to base their assumptions of MX survivabili ty. The twelve Soviet SSBNs projected could either be augmented through surging the f o rce or increased through additional fleet construction in the mid-1980s. Also, the number of ICBM warheads theoretically allocated to the attack could well prove significant ly short of those actually so employed. Given the Soviet advantage in throwweight , a Soviet ICBM program unconstrained by SALT I1 limits on MIRVing could significantly increase the number of warheads available for barraging aircraft fly-out corridors.
Given sufficient warheads.of adequate yield (6,200-6,300 warheads of 1 MT yield), Sov iet military planners might choose to barrage the entire north central region of the U.S. instead of just selected corridors. Under such a circumstance, they could blanket some half a million square miles of air space.66 That is the equivalent, for exampl e , of a section of air space 1,000 miles long by 500 miles wide As Brigadier General Guy Hecker testified The genesis of that figure [500,000 square miles] is when we did the air mobile study last summer 119791 and we looked at the entire United States and airfields that would accept the aircraft, either military or civilian or places in the desert, and we found that whereas the numerical number of airfields was great 3 as we separated them out we found that one bomb would kill their airfield, and then the s ubmarine with the depressed trajectory could come in on the early coastal areas and would not provide us warning time to take aircraft off and fly out of the barrage area around the airfield, we then, to defeat the utility of the submarine barrage, had to move to the central United States Then we found that in that central United States which was roughly the area described by you that they the Soviets] then had enough ICBMs with warheads on them to barrage fire over the entire area with one megaton weapons spaced approximately in the air at a certain altitude and the nuclear effects from the EMP blast, all the things that go with it, would knock down all of the airplanes in that central area. Not only would it include the MX carrier, but it would include th e B-52s and the tankers, and any other aircraft that happened to be airborne at that time 67 66 Testimony of Brigadier General Guy Hecker; House, Committee on Appropria tions, Subcommittee on Military Construction Appropriations, Military Con struction App r opriations for 1981: Hearings, Part 5: Strategic Programs 96th Congress, 2nd session, 1980, p. 562 67 Ibid. It should be noted too, that the effects of thousands of air-burst nuclear explosions over the populous north central United States would prove far more devastating to the country than the ground-bursts from similar numbers of warheads in the deserts of the Southwest. 26 Even those C-5A aircraft which had taken off early enough to avoid the effects of the incoming SLBM warheads (having gotten airborn e between six-and-a-half and eight-and-a-half minutes after Soviet SLBM liftoff, from those fields farthest inland would be approximately only between 176 and 193 miles out at the time Soviet ICBM warheads began arriving.68 Such factors would certainly ten d to reduce the theoretical survivability of the airborne MX force, at least until the early 1990s when Big Bird aircraft had reached their full operational capdbility and were flying patrols around the clock.
Missile Accuracy The accuracy of air-launched MX missiles is another factor which mitigates against the Big Bird basing scheme. Achieving high accuracy in missiles dropped from aircraft in mid-air is even more di.fficult than achieving high accuracy from sea-launched missiles When the Air Force condu c ted its limited air-drop tests using Minuteman I missiles in 1974, it was not concerned about the complex missile guidance questions involved in such launching As one Air Force witness testified that same year There is no real problem getting the missile out of the airplane 1 68 Computed on the basis of 30 minute ICBM flight times and C-5A airspeeds 450 knots cruising speed) allowing three minutes at takeoff for reaching minimum altitude and cruising speed.
In the early 1970s the Air Force conducted a series of air drops from C-5A aircraft to demonstrate the feasibility of the air-mobile concept.
After making three "Bathtub" drops (using concrete slabs of increasing size and weight three "mass simulation" drops, and dropping two Minuteman I missiles withou t igniting them (one inert, the other fully fueled), the Air Force culminated its testing program by dropping a Minuteman I and allowing it to "short burn The missile was pulled out of the aircraft by drogue chutes and ignited at 8,000 feet. During its 10 - second burn it successfully climbed to about 25,000 feet. Senate, Committee on Armed Services, Fiscal .Year 1977 Authorization for Military Procurement, Research and Development, and Active Duty, Selected Reserye and Civilian Personnel Strengths: Hearings on S.2965, Part 11: Resear.ch and Development, 94th Congress, 2nd session, pp. 6308-6309; and Senate, Committee on Armed Services, Fiscal Year 1976 and July-September 1976 Transition Period Auth orization for Military Procurement, Research and Development , and Active Duty, Selected Reserve, and Civilian Personnel Strengths: Hearings on S 920, Part 1: Authorization, 94th Congress, 1st session, 1975, p 60. It should be noted, however, that one successful air-launch does not guarantee the reliability of a con c ept requiring dozens of air-launches of missiles two-and-a-half times heavier in a nuclear environment 69 27 One of the problems is telling the missile where it is at the time you fire it off. It is not as if you can survey. It is a lot more difficult tha n when you have a surveyed in-sight on the ground. The missile has to know where it is to start with so it knows where to The Defense Department proposal for Big Bird envisons the use of some 1,200 GBS transmitters and possibly Global Positioning System sa t ellites for providing guidance data updates for the MX missiles. However, while such systems may be able to furnish position and velocity tracking information to the missiles, they may not be able to compensate for errors introduced by the diffi culty of c orrectly calculating launch azimuths.71 And small errors introduced at the beginning of the missiles' trajectory become large enough on re-entry to move the warheads' impact points considerably thereby effectively.reducing hard-target kill weapons to area -target ones.
Aside from the foregoing points, as has been pointed out in connection with the two earlier parts of this paper, external navigation aids are subject both to jamming and to the blackout effects of nuclear EMP. As in the water-launched basing options of Hydra and SUM, reliance by Biq Bird on such mid-course data links might render the entire MX system vulnerable i CONCLUSION It can be argued with some justification that none of the three alternate basing schemes discussed in this study can suc c ess fully compete with land-basing in all three areas of survivability reliability and missile accuracy. The United States can only be served by acquiring a new intercontinental ballistic missile that is at the same time survivable and yet accurate enough to provide the National Command Authority with the military option of destroy ing the enemy's superhardened missile silos and his command bunkers in time of war. A basing system that does not meet both criteria fails to offer sufficient strengthening to a strategic Triad that is in a dangerously weakened position.
Just as the two sea-based MX options lost support when examined closely, the air-mobile deployment scheme that captured O Testimony of General Evans; House, Committee on Appropriations, Subcommit tee on Department of Defense, Department of Defense Appropriations for 1974 Hearings, Part 7: Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation, 93rd Congress, 1st session, 1973, p. 1029 71 See William H. Gregory's editorial, "Magic Elixir for MX Aviation Week Space Technology, 115 (July 27, 1981), p. 11. 28 Secretary Weinberger's favq now appears to be faltering, due largely to the disfavor of important members of Congress and the qualms of senior Air Force officers.72 It is expected that the Administration wi ll eventually swing back to support for a land basing plan for MX, for despite its political costs, it provides the necessary attributes for a survivable ICBM system.
While it is difficult to predict the exact dimensions of a land-based deployment plan tha t has changed so many times over the past four years, the MPS system settled on will probably be scaled down from the originally-proposed 200 missiles and 4,600 shelters of the Carter plan. It is possible that only 100 MX missiles will be 'deployed initia l ly, and these might even be emplaced in single sheiters (horizontal bunkers or existing silos a step which would almost certainly necessitate the deployment of at least a limited terminal ballistic missile defense system to increase survivability of the n e w ICBMs LOADS or a system derived from it. It is possible that other ICBM survivability fixes might also be employed in conjunction with Mx, perhaps the Boeing idea of emplacing small ICBMs in superhardened silos or the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory-backe d plan for deploying ICBMs in silos dug several thousand feet into the Earth's surface I I Whatever land-basing choice is decided upon, however, it is imperative that the Reagan Administration move ahead with this strategic program, which has been delayed for far too long. As each month passes without a firm decision on this system, the United States moves farther into that time of strategic vulnerabi lity from which it desperately needs to extract itself I Jeffrey G. Barlow, Ph.D.
Policy Analyst See, for e xample, Richard Halloran Congress Held Likely to Reject Airborne Missiles The New York Times, August 2, 1981, p. A24; Martha Barnette Tower Says Air-Based MX Could Crash on the Hill The Washington Post, August 2, 1981, p. A7; Bernard Gwertzman Haig to Pre ss Reagan to Abandon Weinberger's Airborne.MX Plan The New York Times, August 15 1981, p. Al; and Wilson House Leaders," p. Al.