Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Closer to Armeggedon

Contrary to our Current Nobel Peace Laureate's pledge to reduce the number of nuclear weapons threatening our existence, the United States is planning to spend nearly a trillion dollars upgrading its nuclear arsenal over the next thirty years.  The US and Russia control 93% of the world's stockpile of warheads;  China is a distant third with 260.  According to an international body that monitors nuclear armaments, the world is closer now to a confrontation involving the nuclear 'option'.  An example of increased tensions between East and West is shortly after the Russian re-annexation of Crimea, the US flew four unarmed B-52 Stratofortresses over the North Pole and North Sea in a show of strategic capability.  Each of the aging, but still effective bombers, can carry twenty nuclear cruise missiles each with a range of 1500 miles, more than enough to obliterate targets deep inside Russia.  More recently the US displayed its supersonic B-1 near the border of North Korea after that regime set off an underground nuclear test.

Although Russia has slightly more warheads than the United States--7290 to 7000--we have 140 more deployed warheads than Russia.  Deployed means the warheads are stationed on missiles or at bases with operational nuclear forces.  Many of these are located in Europe, where the basic war strategy is to counteract a massive Russian blitzkrieg with nuclear strikes.  Russia has seen fit to counteract Western aggressiveness towards it with its own strategic responses.  Russia has moved its advanced SA-23 Gladiator missile defense system into Syria [photo].  The Western coalition has the ability to launch missile attacks from neighboring NATO members and from ships in the Mediterranean and Red Seas*.  The US threatened a missile strike against Bashar Al-Assad after his forces attacked rebels with chemicals.  Russian missile brigades are practicing preemptive strikes in the Leningrad region that borders Estonia using short range Iskander missile systems.  NATO recently sent additional alliance troops into the Balkans as well as begun deploying a anti-missile shield in Poland and Romania which Russia strongly opposes.

Since the breakdown of the Syrian ceasefire and the termination of negotiations between the US and Russia, the opportunities for nuclear confrontation, mistaken or intentional, have increase several fold.  Neither of the candidates for the Current Occupant's office have express a willingness to establish a rapprochement with Russia by substituting cooperation for antagonism.  That's too bad for the rest of us, for our very existence depends upon it.

*Whatever technological advantage the US exploited in the last half of the previous century has rapidly eroded.  Russian fighter jets are recognized by third countries such as India as the best in the world.  Meanwhile the US struggles to develop the 'ultimate' fighter, the F-35 Lightening II, while incurring cost overruns and technical failures.  After being grounded for coolant line problems, the $200+ million lemon caught fire at Mountain Home AFB in Idaho.  An F-35A attached to the 61st Fighter Squadron was engaged in ground attack exercises. The cause of the incident is under investigation.  The coolant line problem previously grounded 15 joint strike fighters. Particles of insulation were found in the aircrafts' fuel tank during maintenance.  Spokesmen attributed the cause of that glitch to use of improper materials for coolant line insulation.    Because of the engine fire incident Lockheed Martin was required to review all aircraft under production to insure similar problems do not exist in other units.