Why no Airliner Missile Launchers?

Interesting that you should say that ICBMs cant be used for tactical strikes,
Artillery is artillery. It just becomes "special" when the incoming package has an H-bomb addressed to "Whom It may Concern". There might be some question if the dam vaporized was a "tactical target" or the intent was to drown 15 million people downriver?
 
Not really. Launch on warning is not a panacea because of the turnaround time needed to detect the enemy launch, verify the launch, communicate that to appropriate command authorities, and then communicate launch authorization to the actual launch personnel. This is just about feasible in an ICBM-on-ICBM scenario, but it would be quite possible to undermine this through various approaches. The one that was most acute by the end of the Cold War was the possibility of an SLBM launch on a depressed trajectory from relatively close offshore; the flight time of the missiles in that case would be short enough that ICBMs in silos would be hit before they could reasonably launch.

The Air Force expended a considerable amount of time and energy on this problem, though it ended up not going anywhere because the end of the Cold War meant that no one worried about it any more. The actually selected solution was to build a mobile missile system, either Peacekeeper rail garrison or Midgetman, only ground-based instead of air-based. But various air-based systems were studied and it is not impossible that one could have been selected as preferable to either of those approaches or other Peacekeeper basing proposals.

That is interesting. I recall reading of concerns about depressed trajectory SLBM launches messing up bomber and other air bases, targeting key radar sites, causing EMP effects and maybe targeting a few key hardened C3I targets and what not but I don't recall reading of concerns about depressed trajectory SLBM launches actually destroying significant numbers of hardened missile silos. That being said I can understand if the planners were worried about such things.
 
That is interesting. I recall reading of concerns about depressed trajectory SLBM launches messing up bomber and other air bases, targeting key radar sites, causing EMP effects and maybe targeting a few key hardened C3I targets and what not but I don't recall reading of concerns about depressed trajectory SLBM launches actually destroying significant numbers of hardened missile silos. That being said I can understand if the planners were worried about such things.
It is what Trident is supposed to do. Why would Russian systems not be similar?
 
Sorry am slightly confused , I may have picked you up incorrectly I thought the you meant keeping aircraft on station with nuclear armed cruise missiles ala the ALCM proposals of the 1970s in order to hold targets at risk in the Soviet Union, that's what the B52s were used for.
No, it was not what I meant, as you correctly identified it became an obsolescent meant of transportation for nuclear weapons, the ICBM were superior in every points. I meant as a way to transport cruise missile close to target.

Interesting that you should say that ICBMs cant be used for tactical strikes, perhaps that is the case, however the US and UK have moved to arm their SLBMs with lower yield warheads for precisely the use in tactical strikes where the higher hundreds of kiloton warheads would be overkill. If you envisage a "demonstration of intent" type strike, like retaliating against a North Korean attack on Seoul with nuclear weapons say, then a SLBM or ICBM is possible, infact potentially preferable to a nuclear cruise missile. Perhaps time a time sensitive leadership target that requires a prompt nuclear response, that would favour a ballistic missile over a cruise missile. on two counts, speed of response and higher chance of penetrating air defences compared to CM. I am aware some peer nations have a ABM capability , but that's a different scenario to the one I outlined. If your talking about a wider theatre nuclear conflict then nuclear ALCMs are useful but they are not great against certain hardened targets, C3M bunkers or missile silos for example.
I meant non nuclear tactical strike, e.g. against a country installations either as a "tit for tat" type of retaliation (if the country, be exemple, strike one of your ship) or as part of a wider conventional war, to avoid known AA or ABM concentrations.

Now if your talking about conventional cruise missiles that's a different proposition, Im not sure I understand what you mean when you say greater versatility on the strategic side, do you mean they could be used for other taskings such as CAS ect when not required to be flying attack sorties with ALCMs? If so ,it still suffers from the vulnerability to enemy defences and whilst cruise missiles are long ranged the brochure range has to be cut by a fair margin ( weaponeers dont fly ALCMs directly to the target, they are routed around defences ect so you either risk the ALCM carrier and its loss to the enemy or there are targets that cannot be reached by it ie in Russia for example.
I meant a greater versatility in the targeting, if the target is either too far from the sea to target it with a tomahawk missile, too far from ground based CM launchers or if it would take too much time deploy one on theater, as a plane-based ALCM launcher would be able to reach its firing position in a few hours.
Now obviously their are problems and limitations (that you mentioned like the risk of being shot down before reaching firing position) but it is the case for any weapon.
 
It is what Trident is supposed to do. Why would Russian systems not be similar?

I thought part of the point of Trident was it had a longer range that allowed it to fire from further away from the Soviet coast ? Presumably the longer range precludes the sort of minimal warning close range depressed trajectory launch that certain people worried about during the Cold War ?
 
I thought part of the point of Trident was it had a longer range that allowed it to fire from further away from the Soviet coast ? Presumably the longer range precludes the sort of minimal warning close range depressed trajectory launch that certain people worried about during the Cold War ?
No. The added burn time in the D-5 is for powered depressed trajectory burn. It can be also used for stand-off if so desired.
 
No. The added burn time in the D-5 is for powered depressed trajectory burn. It can be also used for stand-off if so desired.
Thanks.

My limited understanding is that reportedly the US didn't actually test depressed Trident II Depressed trajectory launches until quite recently and I believe there has been speculation that the accuracy of SLBMs suffers when they are fired on a "depressed trajectory." That is probably not a big deal for attacking soft targets (ie bomber bases, radars etc) but may be an issue for attacking missile silos.

That being said I stopped following this type of issue in detail once the cold war ended. I do recall reading during the late cold war era that a formal depressed trajectory SLBM test program would have been seen potentially destabilizing in that era. While I can sort of see cold war era planners being prepared to contemplate the launch of a handful of more or less untested (in the depressed trajectory role) SLBMs on depressed trajectory launches against soft targets relying on them for counterforce strikes against missile silos seems unlikely to me in a historical cold war setting.
 
While I can sort of see cold war era planners being prepared to contemplate the launch of a handful of more or less untested (in the depressed trajectory role) SLBMs on depressed trajectory launches against soft targets relying on them for counterforce strikes against missile silos seems unlikely to me in a historical cold war setting.
Maybe, but that's not actually relevant. The problem wasn't whether the Soviets would use their SLBMs to attack missile bases in such a way that launch-on-warning could not be guaranteed, it was whether they could, especially since in context the Air Force was trying to develop a system that might be in service for several decades (as Minuteman III would have been by the point Peacekeeper or Midgetman could be deployed) and it was very plausible that the Soviets might upgrade their SLBMs by then. I mean, the Peacekeeper survivability studies also considered the Soviets smuggling in spetsnaz teams to physically attack missiles, especially in a rail-mobile or road-mobile road. Compared to that, depressed SLBM trajectories seem pretty reasonable!

In any case, the result was that the Air Force didn't consider launch-on-warning a viable method of ensuring the survivability of the ICBM force in the face of a hostile first strike by the 1980s, or at least not one that could be counted on indefinitely. So they cast around for other methods, including airborne ICBM launchers that could stay on constant patrol and therefore would be much more survivable (however had other problems which led them to select ground-mobile systems instead).
 
Maybe, but that's not actually relevant. The problem wasn't whether the Soviets would use their SLBMs to attack missile bases in such a way that launch-on-warning could not be guaranteed, it was whether they could, especially since in context the Air Force was trying to develop a system that might be in service for several decades (as Minuteman III would have been by the point Peacekeeper or Midgetman could be deployed) and it was very plausible that the Soviets might upgrade their SLBMs by then. I mean, the Peacekeeper survivability studies also considered the Soviets smuggling in spetsnaz teams to physically attack missiles, especially in a rail-mobile or road-mobile road. Compared to that, depressed SLBM trajectories seem pretty reasonable!

In any case, the result was that the Air Force didn't consider launch-on-warning a viable method of ensuring the survivability of the ICBM force in the face of a hostile first strike by the 1980s, or at least not one that could be counted on indefinitely. So they cast around for other methods, including airborne ICBM launchers that could stay on constant patrol and therefore would be much more survivable (however had other problems which led them to select ground-mobile systems instead).
Thanks, and fair enough if the planners were concerned with future proofing things that makes sense. I do agree that launch on warning was not really credible (or the credibility was rapidly diminishing) by the 1980's, (even if ICBM silos were not targeted in the initial surprise attack.)
 
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Because the expensive part of modern war craft is the electronics, not the frame and engine, you don't achieve meaningful savings by fitting those expensive electronics on obsolete one shot weapons systems... the only way it would work would be if you put the missiles in the converted jet liner and the controller in a modern fighter and that gets into a complicated control dance which is vulnerable to jamming, negating the concept.
 
Tu128 had missiles that were capable of hitting agile targets apparently per Alexander Mladenov book on Cold War soviet fighters
Does anyone have any information on that ?
 
So what's the consensus for AAM truck? An air to air plane actually needs its high performance otherwise it's too vulnerable? If it doesn't then you may as well use SAMs?
 
The problem with the airliner missile truck is that it's literally a one trick pony. It can hold large swaths of airspace at risk against bombers but not supersonic bombers or fighters. The Boeing 747 cruise missile carrier was a great idea but again only had one real use and that was the SIOP nuclear role. The conventional ALCM cost like 1 million each so 144 million to load the 747 with weapons. So a 747 was not cheap and cost enough to load with missiles to make it more expensive than a bomber able to use dumb weapons as well as ALCM etc.
 
Not really. Launch on warning is not a panacea because of the turnaround time needed to detect the enemy launch, verify the launch, communicate that to appropriate command authorities, and then communicate launch authorization to the actual launch personnel. This is just about feasible in an ICBM-on-ICBM scenario, but it would be quite possible to undermine this through various approaches. The one that was most acute by the end of the Cold War was the possibility of an SLBM launch on a depressed trajectory from relatively close offshore; the flight time of the missiles in that case would be short enough that ICBMs in silos would be hit before they could reasonably launch.

The Air Force expended a considerable amount of time and energy on this problem, though it ended up not going anywhere because the end of the Cold War meant that no one worried about it any more. The actually selected solution was to build a mobile missile system, either Peacekeeper rail garrison or Midgetman, only ground-based instead of air-based. But various air-based systems were studied and it is not impossible that one could have been selected as preferable to either of those approaches or other Peacekeeper basing proposals.
Thanks for the that goblin, a few posters have beaten me to the punch, suffice to say my understanding was the depressed trajectory shots I understood to be a concern for the soft bomber base type target given the inaccuracy of soviet weapons comparable to us ones in the 1980s. I also was under the impression the Soviets newest generation of slbms were longer ranged which allowed the ssbn fleet to remain at longer range from the us in bastions in the white sea and sea of oshksht for example , doesn't this exclude a depressed trajectory shot? Btw do you know what range you can get a depressed trajectory shot for an slbm? I understood the midgetman was a way to create a land asked survivable second strike threat to the Soviets like and as you said rail and road garrisons as well as airdropping I believe from a c141 was successfully achieved. But my understanding is rail garrisons were expensive and there was concerns about there being a limited number of "oval circuts" the trains could occupy if theynwere to be kept out of us cities. I know they were getting around to building midgetman tels when the cw ended so I take your point in regard to that. IIRC Peacekeeper had a number of basing considerations as well and they ended up sticking them in silos on the grounds of cost and survivability in the end.

Regards

Butch
 
So what's the consensus for AAM truck? An air to air plane actually needs its high performance otherwise it's too vulnerable? If it doesn't then you may as well use SAMs?
It's a no from me, it looks cool, it seems to work on paper buts not in real life.

But a great proposal keep em coming:)
 
Tu128 had missiles that were capable of hitting agile targets apparently per Alexander Mladenov book on Cold War soviet fighters
Does anyone have any information on that ?
I would be stunned if it were monk, its a 1960s weapon like the fiddler itself, and probably similar in capability to the aim4 falcon missiles in the US. Reasonable for knocking down bombers but not great against maneuvering fighter type targets. But I stand to be corrected:)
 
It's a no from me, it looks cool, it seems to work on paper buts not in real life.

But a great proposal keep em coming:)

I'm not a fan, but have never seen it explored and put to bed.

The fact of the matter is government's don't buy weapons and platforms on a whim, it is looked at very closely by smart, diligent people. If airliner missile trucks were good they'd be in service.
 
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