SOVIET CAPABILITIES FOR STRATEGIC NUCLEAR CONFLICT THROUGH THE MID-1990S, KEY J

Created: 4/25/1985

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Soviet Capabilities for Strategic Nuclear Conflict Through the

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SOVIET CAPABILITIES FOR STRATEGIC NUCLEAR CONFLICT THROUGH THE

KEY JUDGMENTS

Informationf5 wai utod la the srccaratioa of (hi* Ktfiaiatr. which wu approved bv Die National Forctjn Inteul-fence Board on that date

THIS ESTIMATE IS ISSUED BY THE DIRECTOR OF CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE.

THE NATIONAL FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE BOARD CONCURS, EXCEPT AS NOTED IN THE TEXT.

The following mteBgence ot(,anizofioni participated in the preparation of tho Eitimote:

The Central InteSgenee Aoency. rh* Delenie Intelligence Ap-ney. the Notional Security Agency, ond the Infelrgenee organ! totioni ol the Deportment* of State ond Energy.

Also Participating:

The Aiwitant Chief of Staff for Intelligence, Deportment of the Army

The Director of Navol Intelligence. Deportment of the Navy

The Astotafit Chief of SlofT, Intelligence, Deportment of the Air Force

Tne Director of Intetgervce, Headquarteri. Marine Cor

SCOPE NOTE

This8 summari7.ej the latest developments and projects future trends in Soviet weapons and supporting systems for strategic nuclear conflict. The Estimate contains projections of the size and composition of Soviet strategic forcesariety of circumstances, including the presence or absence of arms control constraints.

We focus on the USSfl's strategy, plans, operations, and capabilities for strategic nuclear conflict as wc believe Soviet leaders perceive them. Wc haveSoviet views on the origin and natureS-Soviet nuclear conflict and how the Soviets would plan to operate and employ their forces during the various phases ofar.

In evaluating their capabilities to accomplish strategic missions, the Soviets differ from us in terms of the operational factors they consider, the analytic techniques they use. and their criteria for success. In this Estimate we have assessed trends in Soviet capabilities in terms familiar to US policymakers and analysts, although these assessments do not necessarily correspond lo those the Soviets would make. We generally do not know how the Soviets specifically would evaluate their capabtli-lies, and we have limited information pertaining to how they measure their ability to accomplish slralegic missions.

This Estimate is in three volumes in addition to separately issued Key Judgments:

I

Summary of Soviet programs and capabilities believed to be of greatest interest to policymakers and defense planners.

Key Intelligence Caps

Bibliography

II contains:

Key recent developments.

Discussion of the Soviets' slralegic doctrine and objectives, including their views on the probable origin and natureS-Soviet nuclear conflict.

Descriptions of Soviet programs for the development and depkstrategic offensive and defensive forces and supporting systems

T

lop dnuilil

Projections of future Soviet strategic forces.

Description of Soviet command, control, and communications capabilitiei and discussion of the peacetime posture of Soviet strategic forces.

Discussion of Soviel concepts and plans for the operations of strategic forces during the several phaseslobal conflict.

in the USSR's capabilities to carry out some missions- of strategic forces in nuclear conflict.

Volume III contains tables wilh detailed force projections and weapon characteristics.

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KEY JUDGMENTS

By llie, nearly all nf ihe Soviels' currently deployed intercontinental nuclear attackand sea based ballistic missiles and heavybe replaced by new and improved systems New mobile intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs)ariety of cruise itiissiles are aboul lo enler the force. The number of deployed stralegic force warheads will increaseew thousand over the neat five years, with the potential for greater expansion in. We are concerned about the Soviets' longstanding commitment to strategic defense, including an extensive program lo protect their leadership, their potential to deploy widespread defenses againstmissiles, and their extensive efforts in directed-energy weapons lechnologies. particularly high-energy lasers. Their vigorous effort in stralegic force research, development, and deploymenl is not new. bul is the result of an unswerving commitment for the past Iwo decades to build up and improve their strategic force capabilities.

Strategic Offensive Forces

The most notable trend in offensive forces is the construction of bases for mobile strategicntermediate-range ballistic missiles (IHBMs) and new ICBMs:

he Soviets embarked on anfor constructing newases, starting morethan in any previous

Soviets have made major strides in preparing for the deployment of their two new mobileroad-mobilend the rail-mobileoviet commitment to mobile ICBMsajor resource decision; suchrequire substantially more support infrastructure than do silo-based systems, and thus are much more costly to operate and maintain-All elements of Soviet strategic offensive forces will be extensively

modernized by the. While the Soviets will continue to rely on bxed. silo-based ICBMs. mobile ICBMs will be deployed in large numbers (secnd major improvements will be made lo the sea-based and bomber forces. The major changes in the force will include:

improved firsl-slrikc capabilily against Itardened targets through further improvement to the heavy ICBM foicc

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Significantly better survivability from improvements in the submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM)quieter submarines and longer rangedeployment of mobile ICBMs. Mobile ICBMs will also improve the Soviets' capabilities to use reserve missiles for reload and refirc.1

A substantial increase in the number of deliverable warheads, for the bomber forceesult of the deployment of new* bombers with long-range, land-attack cruise missiles.

ICBMs

The ICBM force, as shown in figureill have been almost entirely replaced with new systems by the:

The Soviets are preparing to deploy theCBM in silos6 and on rail-mobile launchersc expectlass ICBMs equipped wilhultiple independently target-able reentry vehicles (MIRVs) to replace the MIRVedndilo-based ICBMs. which carry fewer warheads.

The Soviets have started to retire older silo-based single-RV SS-lls as they prepare to deploy the single-RV road-mobile

1 For aa alternative tnew ol lhe Dl'icloi, Bureau of IntelUgenee and Reieatth. Department of State, ue page 22

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e expect theo be operalional by

have evidence of al least three new ICBMs lhat we expect will be flight-tested inime period:

A new silo-based heavy ICBM. to replace theith improved capabilities against hardened targets.

A new version of the

A new version of the mobilehich mayhrce-RV payload option.

SLBMs

An extensive modernization program will result in replacement of the entire MIRVed Soviet SLBM force and deployment of much better nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarineshe major changes, as shown in figureill include:

DeploymentV and additional Typhoon SSBNs. These boats have improvements lhat will contribute to theirsuch as features that facilitate under-ice operations. In addition, we areew class of SSBN to enter the force in the.

Deployment of the newLBM beginning in5 or6VS and probablyIls. The increased range of theelative lo thai of lheissile currentlyIIs. will makequipped SSBNs more survivable. They will be able to operate under the Arctic icecap or closer lo Soviet shores, where the Soviel Navy can betler protect them.

A replacement for then Typhoon SSBNs willbe flight-tested in5issile in thelass will probably be tested later in.

Heavy Bombers

The Soviel heavy bomber force is undergoing its first major modernization since; by the, as shown inost of the older bombers will have been replaced. The heavy bomber force willreater role in inlercontinenlal attack:

ir-launched cruise missile (AI.CM) becameon lhey using newly produced aircraft of an old design, lhe Soviels were able lo deploy ALCMs al least

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four years earlier than if they had wailed for lhe new Blackjack bomber.

project Blackjack will be operalional8arrying both ALCMs and bombs.

Growth of Irrtercoaihnmtd Attack Forces

The projected growth in the number of deployed warheads on Soviet intercontinental attack forces, under various assumptions, is shown in figure 5:

The force currently consists ofeployed warheads oneployed ballistic missile launchers und heavy bombers. Most warheads are in the ICBM force.

Warheads are increasing: new Soviel Typhoonombers, andCBMs will carry many more warheads than the systems they are replacing.

f the Soviets continue to haveissile launchers and heavy bombers and remain within thesublimits of SALT II. the deployed warheads will Brow to

3 Soviet proposal at the strategic arms reduction talks (START) would also result in an expansion inewer0 than under SALT II limits.

The effect of3 US START proposal would be lo reverse this trend and, by, lead to substantial reductions We note, however, that it is highly unlikely the Soviets would modify their force along these lines; in particular, they alnibst certainly would not drastically reduce the number of heavy ICBMs, given the importance they attach to this system.

While the Soviets would not necessarily expand theirattack forces beyond00 warheads in the alxsence of arms control constraints, ihey clearly have Ihc capability for significant further expansion, to00 deployed warheads by lhe. The range reflects our uncertainties about Soviel technological clioices. production capabilities, and the Soviets" own evaluation of iheir military requirements. The lower figureonlinua-lion of recent trends in deployment rates, tlie upper figure isaximum effort but wouldubstantially greater commitment of resourccs-

mitsdes are becoming more uncertain

Kstimatcs of the number of warheads on various Soviet ballistic

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While there are differini> views, we assess that

the Soviets have deployed, and will continue to deploy, some missiles with more warheads than the maximum numbertotal of reentry vehicles (RVs) actually released plus those simulated.

he number of warheads could be significantly underestimaterTunder an arms control agreement that countedwarheads by using the maximum number flight-tested on each missile type. This problem is of current concern^"

it willroblem for future MIRVed ICBMs and SLBM$L

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The Soviets will face important decisions in the next few years, as they proceed with flight-testing for ballistic missiles scheduled for deployment beginning in thend. Specifically, they will have to decide whether to test new ICBMs inay as to conform, or appear close to conforming, with limitations onand improvements from the unratified SALT II Treaty. They appear to have technical options for some of their new systems that will allow them to go either way

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Cruiso Missiles

In4 the Soviets began to deploy theLCM. the firstcries of deployments of long-range, land-attack cruise missiles. Over the nextears, wc expect them to deploy Urge numbers ofALCMs, sea-launched cruise missilesnd ground-launched cruise missiles (CLCMsX Estimated numbers are highly uncertain, but we project an aggregate total. The deployment of cruise missiles provides the Soviets wilh newlow- and high-altitude capabilities against US targets.

Theorce is expected to expandeployed launchersesult of an extensive base construction program. This total is somewhat lower than projected last year, because we did not then anticipate the deactivation ofases In the central USSH to convert toCBMollow-on to therobably designed to Improve lethality, began flight-testing

Strategic Defensive Forces

The Soviets will significantly improve the capabilities of their active and passive strategic defenses over tbe nextears,umber of new types of weapons are introduced and many of the older systems retired. Significant developments in active strategic defenses include the following:

completed byhe improved Moscow antibal-listic missile (ABM) system will consistJ and modified Galosh interceptors, providing an improvedcapability against small-scale attacks on key targets around

Moscow.

By the end of the decade, when the new large phascd-array radar network is expected to be fully operational, the Soviets willuch improved capability for ballistic missile early warning, attack assessment, and accurate target tracking. These radars will be technically capable of providing battlesupportidespread ABM system, but there are uncertainties and differences of view about whether the Soviets would rely on these radars toidespread ABM deployment.

Deployment of new low-altitude-capable strategic air defense systems will Increase. (See figurehe Soviets are continuing to deploy the newll-altitude surface-to-air missilere deploying new aircraft with much belter capabilities

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against low-flying targets, and will deploy the Mainstaywarning and control system (AWACS) aircraft

Theystem, to be deployed in the Soviet ground forces, can engage conventional aircraft, cruise missiles, and tactical ballistic missiles. We are uncertain about its potential capabilities against strategic missiles. On the basisumber of assumptions^

jjwe conclude

that it could have capabilities to intercept some types of US strategic ballistic missile RVs. Its technical capabilities bring to tlie forefront the problem that improving technology is blurring the distinction between air defense and ABM systems. This problem will be further complicated as newer, more complex air defense missile systems are developed.

Ballistic Missile Defense

We are particularly concerned that the Soviets' continuingefforts give them the potential for widespread ABM

We judge they could undertake rapidly paced ABM deployments to strengthen the defenses at Moscow and cover key targets in lhe western USSR, and to extend protection to key targets east of the Urals. Significant ABM forces could be deployed by ther, assuming Ihe Soviets have already begun making some of the necessary preparations.

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(For alternative views of the likelihood that the Soviets would initiate such deployments in the next few years, see

Antisubmorine Warfare

The Soviets still lack effective means to locate US SSBNs at sea. We expect them to continue to pursue vigorously all antisubmarine warfare (ASW) technologies as potential solutions to the problems of countering US SSBNs and defending their own SSBNs against US attackWe are concerned about the energetic Soviet effort toapability to remotely sense submarine-generated effects from aircraft or spacecraft^

Although we continue to improve our understanding of the nature oT^

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the Soviets' overall efforti

remain important uncertainties about the full extent and direction of their program.

We do not believe thereealistic possibility that the Soviets will be able to deploy inystem that could reliably monitor US SSBNs operating in the open ocean. Thereow-to-moderatc probability that the Soviets could deploy in then ASW remote detection system that would operate with some effectiveness if enemy nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSNs) approached ASW barriers near Soviet SSBN bastions.

Di'ected-Energy ond Hypervelocity Kinetic-Energy Weopons

Oirected-energy and kinetic-energy weapons potentially could be developed for several strategicir defense, battlefield use, and, in the longer term, ballistic missile defenseecause of live limited available evidence, there are large uncertainties about the size and scope of the Soviets' research efforts in key technologies, as well as about the status and goals of their weapon development programs'.

There is strong evidence of Soviet efforts to develop high-energy laser weapons:

On the basis of the high-energy laser efforts we have been able to observe, weaser weapon program of thiswould cost roughlyillion per year if carried out in the United States.

Two facilities at the Saryshagan test range are assessed to have high-energy lasers with the potential to function as AS*AT weapons.

We are concernedarge Soviet program to develop ground-based laser weapons for terminal defense againstvehicles. There are major uncertainties, however,the feasibility and practicality of using ground-based lasers for BMD and about when the Soviets might have such systems operational. We expect them to test the feasibility ofystem during, probably using one of the high-energy laser facilities at Saryshagan. An operational syslem could not be deployed until many years later, probably not unlil after the

The Soviets appear to be developing two high-energy laser weapons wilh potential stralegic air defenseground-based and naval point defense-

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The Soviels are continuing to develop an airborne laser.

Soviet researchroject to develop high-energy laser weapons for use in space- We estimate there is an even chancerototype high-energy, space-based laser ASAT weapon will be tested in low orbit in the. Even if testing were successful,ystem probably could not bebefore then alternative view holds there isow probability of such tests by the'

The Soviels are also conducting research under militaryfor the purpose of acquiring the ability to develop particle

believe the Soviets will eventually attempt topace-based PBW. but lhe technical requirements are so severe that we estimate thereow probability Ihey willrototype before the

radlofrequency (RF) weapons to destroy the electronicsarget.are strong in the appropriate

judge they are capable ofrototype RF weapon system.

1 the Soviets have beenarge facility on _tppountain near Dushanbe in the southernmost area of the USSR.

irecled-cnergyaseradlofrequency ASATmost consistent with the availableomewhat less likely, but stillunction is deep space surveillance and/or space object identification. An alternative view holds that the evidence is insufficient to judge lhe purpose of the Dushanbe facility.1

Resources for Projected Developments and Arms Control Considerations

The Soviels are increasing iheir resource commitments to iheir already formidable strategic forces research, development, andprograms. We estimate that total investment and operating exi>enditures for projected Soviet strategic offensive forcesattack and intermediate range) and strategic defensive forces

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(assuming no widespread ABM deployments) will resultrowth in total Soviet strategic force expenditures ofear over the next five years. (The rate wouldoercent if widespread ABM defenses weretrategic offensive and defensive forces account for about one-fifth of total defenseabout one-tenth each.

A growth rateear for strategic programs, combined with the projected growth rate for nonstrateglc programs ofercent, would leadrowth in total defense spending of3ercent perthan the projected growth rateercent for the GNP. Increasing the share of the GNP devoted to defense will confront the Soviets with the difficult choice of reducing the growth in investment, which is critical to modernizing the industrial base, or curtailing growth in consumption, which is an important factor in the Soviet drive to improve labor productivity.

Despite serious economic problems since the. Soviet military procurement has been at high annual levels; in particular, the Soviets have continued to procure large quantities of new strategic weapons. Since thehe Soviets fielded their MIRVed ICBM force, and then improved it; deployed the MIRVed SLBM force on new SSBNs; and deployed their mobileorce. In recent years the Soviets have increased their resource commitments to emerging new systems, particularly with respect to the deployment of costly mobile missile systems-While Soviet economic problems are severe, we see no signs that the Soviets feel compelled to forgo important strategic programs or that they will make substantial concessions in arms control in order to relieve economic pressures. Soviet force decisions and arms control decisions are likely to continue to be driven by calculations of political-strategic benefits and the dynamism of weapons technology. We believe, however, thai,esult of the stark economic realities, decisions involving the rate of strategic force modernization probably will be influenced by economic factors more now than in the past and someprograms could be stretched out. Major new initiatives would involve difficult trade-offs; in particular, if the Soviets decided to expand their ABM defenses far beyondauncher treaty limit they might feel compelled lo alter some of their other nonstrategic military modernization efforts, or to stretch out the ABM deployments somewhat. We judge, however, that strategic forces will continue to command the highest resource priorities and therefore would be affected less by economic problems than any other element of the Soviet military.

'1 non- is an alternative view that Soviel willingness to Day the price required for rapid deployment of an extensive nationwide ABM system will depend on the military and political context. The holder of this view believes historical evidence of the Soviets' ability to make large sacrifices indicates that ihey would make the necessary resource commitments to accomplish rapid deployments if deemed necessary.1

Wc believe the Soviels ore determined lo prevent any erosion of the military gains the USSK has made over the past decade. They recognize that new US strategic systems being deployed or under development will increase the threat to the survivability of their silo-based ICBM force, complicate their ASW efforts, and present their air defense forces with increasingly complex problems. By their actions and propaganda, the Soviets have demonstrated they are very concerned about the US Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) and its focus on advanced technology. In their view, it could force them to redirect their offensive ballistic missile development programs to reduceor couldostly, open-ended high-technologyfor which they probably are concerned that the United States can outpace their own ongoing efforts. They are probably also concerned that SDI will leadustained US effort in strategic defenses- -an area in which the Soviets haveirtual monopoly.

Soviet leaders view arms control policy as an important factor in advancing their strategy of achieving strategic advantage They have been willing to negotiate restraints on force improvements andwhen it serves their interests. Moscow has long believed that arms control must first and foremost protect the capabilities of Soviet military forces relative to their opponents. The Soviets seek lo limit US force modernization through both the arms control process and any resultingalient feature of Soviet arms control policy will be its emphasis on trying to limit US ballistic missile defense and space warfare capabilities The Soviets will try to use arms control discussionseans of delaying or undercutting the US SDI program, but wc do not believe they will offer major concessions lo halt the program as long as it remains in the research stage and is strongly susceptible to unilateral US restrain).

Planning for Nuclear War

Soviet military planning is guided by fundamental Soviet wartime objectives', to decisively defeat enemy conventional and nuclear forces, occupy enemy territory in the theater, and defend the homeland

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against enemy attack. To meet these objectives, (he Soviets train their forceslobal nuclear conflict This training has diversified in scope and become increasingly complex in the operational factors with which it deals.

The Soviets apparently believeajor nuclear conflict, if it occurred, would be likely to arise outATO-Warsaw Pact conventional conflict precededolitical crisis period that could last several weeks or longer. Theyonventional phase as lastingew days to as long as several weeks. The Soviets see little likelihood that the United States wouldurprise nuclear attackormal peacetime posture; we judge it is unlikely lhat the Soviets would mount such an attack themselves. Key object Ives of lhe Soviets in the conventional pliasc would be lo weaken the enemy's theater-based and sea-based nuclear forces with attacks by conventional weapons, while protecting their own nuclear forces. We estimate thereigh likelihood lhat the Soviets would attempt to inlerfcre with selected US space systems that provide important wartime support, using both destructive and nondestructive means. The Soviels believe elements of their stralegic forces would suffer losses during conventional conflict.

The Soviets are unlikely to initiate nuclear useheater conflict unless they perceived that NATO was about lo use nuclear weapons,tbey would probably see it as being to their advantage instead to keep the conflict at the conventional level. Moreover, the Soviets, in our judgment, arc unlikely to initiate nuclear conflictimited scale, wilh small-scale use confined to the immediate combat zone, because they would see the use of nuclear weapons on any scale as substantially increasing lhe risks of escalalion to stralegic nuclear war. We believe, however, lhal the likelihood of Soviet initiation of nuclear strikes would increase if Soviet conventional forces were facedajor defealATO counicroffensive into Eastern Europe.

If nuclear weapons were usedheater conflict, with allacks confined lo the theater area, lhe Soviels would have strong incentives Io Iry Io keep the nuclear conflict from spreading to involve lhe Soviet and US homelands. Thus, the Soviets mighlragmatic approach and attempt tor

Accomplish their theater objectives without carrying outstrikes.

Create conditions that deter the United Stales from attacking the Soviet homeland

Proven! the United States from providing further support to the theater campaign.

We cannot lodge the likelihood lhat the Soviets would actually attempttrategy. Evidence suggests ihey believe that itifficult toheater nuclear conflict and that attempting to do so unsuccessfully could nose additional danger to the USSR. The Soviets would probably see an initial localized use of nuclear weapons as still leaving an opportunity to avoid large-scale nuclear war. However, once large-scale use of nuclear weapons in the theater occurred, imminent Soviet escalation to intercontinental nuclear war would be likely.

As the likelihood of large-scale nuclear conflict increased, Soviet leaders would face the difficult decision of whether to seize lhe initiative and strike, as would be consistent with their general military doctrine, or to be more cautious in the hope of averting large-scale nuclear strikes on the Soviet homeland. There are no easy prescriptions for what the Soviets would actually doarticular set of circumstances, despite the apparent doctrinal imperative to mount large-scale preemptive nuclear attacks:

Wc believe they wouldoordinated theater and intercontinental strike in responsearge-scale theater nuclear strike against the western USSR-

If they acquired convincing evidenceS intercontinental strike were imminent, ihey would try to preempt. While we are unable to judge what information would be sufficientlyto cause Soviet leaders loarge-scale preemptive attack, we believe they would be more likely to act on the basis -of ambiguous indications and inconclusive evidence of US strike intentionsattlefield nuclear conflict were under way thanrisisonventional conflict

We believe the Soviets place considerable emphasis on assessing iheir strategic offensive capabilities under conditions in which the United Stales launched the initial major strike. These would include scenarios in which they were able to launch varying portions of iheir forces on tactiea! warning, as well as the most stressfulwhich they failed to launch on tactical warning and hud toell-coordinated US counterforce altack. For lhe Sovieli. these scenarios would be the most critical in an evaluation of their force requirements and

In intercontinental strikes the Soviets would seek to neutralize US and Allied military operations anddestroy US-based nuclear forces, to disrupt and destroy the supporting infrastructure and control systems for these forces as well as the National Command Authority, and to attempt to isolate the United States from the theater campaign by attacking its power protection capabilities. They probably would also attempt to reduce US military power in the long term byother nonnuclear forces. US military-industrial capacity, and governmental control facilities, although the extent of the attack on these targets in the initial strikes could vary, depending on the circumstances.

The Soviets, following the initial large-scale nuclear strikes, plan to reconstitute some surviving general purpose and strategic forces and to occupy substantial areas of Western Europe, while neutralizing the ability of US and Allied nuclear forces to interfere with these objectives The Soviets would clearly prefei to accomplish their objectives quickly, but recognize that the later phases could be protracted, given the difficulty and complexity of conducting operations following large-scale nuclear strikes. They prepare for combat operations that could extend weeks beyond an initial nuclear phase.

As force modernization proceeds, the Soviets will continue to rely primarily on silo-based ICBMs for use in initial strikes, whilemany of their SLBMs and presumably most of their dispersed mobile ICBMs for subsequent strikes during later phases of nuclear conflict. They also would attempt to reload and retire some ICBMs. many, and probably some SLBMs. using reserve missiles and equipment!

^Taking into account the problems the Soviets are likely to faceostattack environment and the apparently limited extent of preparations they liave undertaken to cope with these difficulties, we estimate they probably wouldable to reload and retire from siloseriod of weeks or monthsmall portion of the reserve ICBMs they maintain in peacetime. The deployment of mobile ICBMs will lead to improved capabilities for ICBM reload.

There is an alternative view that the main text overstates the difficulties the Soviets would have In reconstituting their current silo-based ICBM force in nuclear conflict, given the extensive preparations this view holds they have made, and that consequently they would he able toarge portion of their reserveccording to

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another alternative view, the Soviels do not include ICBM, SLBM, andeload and refire in their war plans. However, the Soviets probably would, in this view, attempt toew launchersontingency basis, if any reserve missiles not required to maintain the online force were available. According to thisovietfor additional warheads would be better met by deployment of additional missiles on launchers. Furthermore, in this view, it is by no means clear that reload and refire operations during nuclear war would be less problematic for mobile launchers than for silos.*

Capabilities of Strategic Forces

The Soviets have enough hard-target-capable ICBM reentrytoday to attack all US missile silos and launch control centers and will have larger numbers of hard-target-capable RVs in the future. There are slightly differing views on the capabilities of the SS-I8 to damage US Minuteman silos, leadingest estimate of the expected damageilo from two Soviet warheads of aboutercent, in one view, lo aboutoercent, in the

JThe projected accuracy improvements for the new heavy ICBM we expect the Soviets to deploy in theould resultubstantial increase in damage capability.

Soviet offensive forces will not be able to reliably target and destroy patrolling US SSBNs, alert aircraft, aircraft in flight, or dispersed land-mobile missiles, particularly those beyond the range of tactical reconnaissance systems- We believe that,risis or conflict, the Soviets would credit undegraded US warning and control systems with the ability to launch ICBMs on tactical warning.

Dispersed Soviet mobile missiles, many SSBNs patrolling in waters near the USSR,arge part of the silo-based ICBM force wouldan attack by current US forces. We judge that the Soviets can launch ICBMs on tactical warning, assuming their warning andand control systems were undegraded. However, with the increasing vulnerability of Soviet ICBM silos during the period of this Estimate if more accurate US missiles are deployed, the Soviels will be faced wilh more difficult problems in assuring adequale retaliatory capabilities in their critical planning scenario in which they are struck first. We have seen no evidencerogram to signiGcantly increase the hardness of their missile silos, and our analysis suggests the Soviets are unlikely lo see much advantage in super harden ing. The Soviets will

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increasingly depend on iheir mobile ICBM and SI.BM forces for their retaliatory capabilities

Current Soviet antisatellite capabilities arc limited and fall short of meeting the apparent Soviet requirement to be able to deny enemy use of space in time of war. In addition to the dedicated nonnuclear orbital interceptor, othernuclear Calosh ABM interceptor and two ground-based high-energythe potential to destroy or interfere with some satellites in near-Earth orbit; these capabilities, however, would notuclear attack. Electronic warfare currently represents the only potential threat to satellites in higher orbits.

The Soviets, while well aware of their inability to prevent massive damage to the USSR with their strategic defenses, even with the improvements taking place in these forces,arge program to provide protection for their leadership We Judge that, with as littleew hours*arge percentage of the wartime management structure wouldarge-scale US nuclear allack. Q

stimate there aref" JgMllMy as manyelocation fadlitiesP" "Tfor leaders at the national and regional"jdeep underground facilities for the top rulional leadership at Sharapovo and Chekhov

(The Soviets may believe that such deep underground structures would assure the survivability of the topkey objective of their wartime management plans.

Any judgment about tlie overall effectiveness of the future Soviet air defense system against an attack by bombers and cruise missiles is subject lo considerable uncertainty. Penetration of improved Soviel air defenses by currently deployed bombers would be more difficult These defenses, however, would be considerably less effective against US cruise missiles. Our judgment is ihal,ombined attack of penetrating bombers, short-range attack missilesnd cruise missiles, Soviet air defenses during the neatears probably would not be capable of inflicting sufficient losses to prevent large-scale damage to the USSR. We judge, however, that the Soviets will be able to provide an increasingly capable air defense for many key leadership, control, and military and industrial installations essential to wartime operations.

There is an alternative view that this Estimate substantially understates the capability of the Soviet air defense system to defend key target areas against low-altitude penetrators. The holder of this view believes that the effectiveness in such areas would be significantly higherombined attack of penetrating bombers, SRAMs, and cruise missiles than the Estimate suggests.'

While significant improvements in the capabilities of both Soviet and US strategic offensive forces will occur throughout the nextears, sizable forces on both sides would survive large-scale nuclear strikes. We believe that the Soviets' confidence in their capabilities for global conflict probably will be critically dependent on command and controlneed for continuity in their own command and control capabilities, and their prospects for disrupting andthe ability of the United Stales and its Allies to command and toiheir forces. Although US attacks could destroy many known fixed command, control, and communications facilities, the Soviets have many key hardened facilities and redundant means of communications.

likely that the Soviets could maintain overall continuity of command and control, although it would probably be degraded. The Soviets could experience difficulty in maintaining endurance and effectiveness for weeks of continuing operations, particularly if subjected to US strikes. Soviet long-range reconnaissance capabilities could be particularly affected.

We believe the Soviets would launch continuing attacks on US and Allied strategic command, control, and communications to prevent or impair the coordination of retaliatory strikes, thereby easing the burden on Soviet strategic defenses, and impairing US and Allied abilitiesarshal military and civilian resources lo reconstitute forces.

Concluding Observations

The evidence shows clearly that Soviet leaders are attempting to prepare iheir military forces for the possibility thai ihey will actually have touclear war and are training to be able to maintainover increasingly complex conflict situations. They have seriously addressed many of lhe problems of conducting mililary operationsuclear war. thereby improving iheir ability to deal wilh the many contingencies ofonflict, and raising lhe probability of outcomes favorable to the USSR. An alternative view notes thai il should, at the same time, be recognized lhal the Soviets have not resolved many of the critical problems bearing on lhe conduct of nuclear war, such as the

Tht haldt'ef Ihithr Assuiom Chltf of Stag fo>f ihc Ajikv

if initiation of conflict, escalation within tlie theater, and protracted nuclear operations. According to this view, while they will try to do the best they can, the Soviets recognize lhat nuclear war is so destructive, and ils course so uncertain, lhat they could not expect an outcome lhal was "favorable" in any meaningful sense.10

The evidence that we have on how tbe Soviets would plan touccessful military campaign provides insight into how they would seek touclear war on ihelrneutralizing lhe ability of US intercontinental and theater nuclear forces to interfere with Soviet capabilities lo prevailonflict in Eurasia.

" The holder of ihuhe Oitttttw. Burram of InliUttwta anil HnaarcA, Orpataumi of

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