The warning comes as the Pentagon begins an extensive review of its nuclear arsenal.
On Sept., 26, 1983, shortly after midnight, the Soviet Oko nuclear early warning system detected five missiles launched from the United States and headed toward Moscow. Stanislav Petrov, a young lieutenant colonel in the Soviet Air Defense Force, was the duty in the Serpukhov-15 bunker that housed the Oko command center. Petrov was the man in charge of alerting the soviets about a nuclear attack, which would trigger a retaliatory strike. He determined that the Oko had likely malfunctioned and the alarm was false. The Americans would not start World War III with a quintet of missiles (risking total annihilation.) It was a daring judgment call. He was, of course, right. As the U.S. prepares to undertake a new nuclear posture review to determine the future direction of the nation’s nuclear weapons, a report from a United Nations research institute warns that the risks of a catastrophic error — like the one that took place that early morning in 1983 — are growing, not shrinking. Next time, there may be no Lt. Col. Petrov in place to avoid a catastrophe.
On Monday, the U.S. Defense Department commenced a new, massive study into its nuclear weapons arsenal, looking at how weapons are kept, how the U.S. would use them in war and whether they present an intimidating enough threat to other countries not to attack us. The review was mandated by President Trump in a Jan 27, memo.
The Pentagon is scheduled to complete the review by the end of the year, an essential step as the military seeks to modernize different aspects of its nuclear deterrent. But a new report from the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research, or UNIDR, argues that as the modern battlefield becomes more technologically complex, crowded with more sensors, satellites, drones, and interconnected networks, the risks of another nuclear accident are on the rise.
“A greater reliance on automated systems can lead to misplaced confidence while introducing new points of vulnerability,” says the report. Those new points of vulnerability include so-called “hidden interactions.” That means a sensor or computer program misinterpreting some bit of data and possibly presenting false information in a way that could cause an accident.
The 1987 incident provides a good case in point. Oko satellites mistook a very unusual sunspot on top of a high altitude cloud as a missile strike, hence the false alarm.
Take those satellites, combine them with sensors on drones and data from other sources as well, including new, perhaps unproven technologies to detect missile launches and the picture becomes much more crowded and murky.
India will test fire the air-launched version of its Brahmos cruise missile, considered the world’s most formidable, in February next year. The 2.5 metric ton Brahmos air-to-ground missile will be fired from an IAF (Indian Air Force) Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter aircraft that has undergone modifications to accommodate the new weapon. A successful preliminary trial has already been carried out, and two more dummy trials are in the pipeline before the actual test, according to sources from the country’s Defense Research Laboratory.
The successful integration of the Brahmos with the Sukhoi-30 MKI marks a paradigm shift in the capability of the Indian Air Force, enabling it to destroy vital enemy installations from stand-off ranges. It will allow the country’s air force to attack targets protected by powerful air defense systems, within and beyond the pilot’s visibility range
An Indo-Russian joint venture between Brahmos Aerospace, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and the Indian Air Force has been working to achieve this technological feat, which will go down in history as the first time a supersonic cruise missile has been integrated for use with a long-range fighter aircraft.
Other countries with Sukhoi-30s have been keenly monitoring the development, as they hope to acquire missiles of their own to pair with the Russian-made warplanes.
The Russian Defense Ministry has released a video of cruise missile strikes on ISIL targets in Syria, launched over 1500 km away, from the Caspian Sea. Four missile carrier ships participated in the strikes.
Missile carrier ships deployed in the Caspian Sea launched 18 Kalibr-M cruise missiles, targeting 7 terrorist hubs in Raqqa, Idlib and Aleppo. All targets have been eliminated, according to the Russian MoD.
Four cruise missile carriers from the Caspian flotilla surface action group — the ‘Dagestan’, the ‘Uglich’, the ‘Veliky Ustyug’ and the ‘Grad Sviyazhsk’ — launched all 18 missiles, said the flotilla’s deputy commander, Captain 1st Rank Sergey Yekimov.
The Tupolev Tu-95 (Bear) and Tupolev Tu-160 (Blackjack) strategic bombers might have grabbed the headlines following Russia’s massive airstrikes against ISIL in Syria, but it is actually the supersonic Tu-22M3 (Backfire C) that has been largely doing the work.
Just look at the numbers. On November 17, the airstrike operation was conducted by 24 Tu-22M3s, as well as five Tu-160 and Tu-95MS.
A squadron of the Tu-22M3 bombers, according to the Russian Ministry of Defense, targeted six facilities in the provinces of Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor destroying ISIL headquarters, ammunition depots, a plant where militants were making explosive devices, as well as well as a command center and three oil production sites.
The past seven days have brought a wave of competing propaganda from both Washington and Moscow as both East and West scramble to shape the narrative on Syria where Russia’s “intervention” has apparently turned the tide in favor of Damascus, completely destroying the anti-Assad strategy of the Pentagon’s regional allies.
It’s absolutely imperative for everyone to do their best to maintain the public’s trust here. This is how we put it on Wednesday:
The West cannot afford to stand by and watch Russia do in a matter of weeks what the US has failed to accomplish in 13 months. Put simply: if Moscow declares victory over ISIS within the next month or two (and that appears as likely as not), Washington will be left to explain to a bewildered public what just happened. To the uninitiated, it will appear as though Russia’s military is far superior to the US Army when it comes to fighting terror and on top of that, Iran’s now well publicized role will not only cast further doubt on the nuclear deal, but will also raise questions about the contention that Tehran is committed to financing and exporting terror.
For Russia, the powerplay in Syria represents nothing short of a return to the world stage after decades of flying below the radar as a second rate superpower. Putin has now proven that Moscow can project its influence with virtual impunity and as Monday’s “accidental” violation of Turkish airspace suggests, The Kremlin is getting more brave by the day in the face of what certainly looks like a de facto surrender by the West.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards launched cruise missiles at a life-size copy of the US Nimitz aircraft carrier as they started naval exercises in the Strait of Hormuz, the country’s Tasnim New Agency announced.
The aircraft carrier model was sunk with four life-size Nasr cruise missiles, which have an operational range of 35 kilometers and a 150 kilogram armor-piercing high-explosive warhead.
In addition, the Revolutionary Guards launched Khalij Fars (Persian Gulf) ballistic missiles from a coastal port. The missiles have a range of 300 kilometers and can reach mach 3 speeds (at least 1020 meters per second).
The drills, dubbed Great Prophet Nine, take place in the Strait of Hormuz, a 39 kilometer-wide waterway which is the sole entrance to the Persian Gulf.
Iran’s state television said that the war games’ goal is to “demonstrate the power” of the Iranian Navy in protecting the country’s interests in the Persian Gulf.